EOD immersion serves as eye-opener

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  —Leaving a career field can be a scary proposition for an Airman who has been performing and learning the ins and outs of their job for the better part of a decade. The new career they choose may or may not be a good fit.

Despite that, Staff Sgt. Michael McNally, a 355th Maintenance Group scheduler, recently became eligible to retrain into another career field, so he decided to change directions.

“I’ve filled mainly a support role for eight years now and it’s time to get my hands dirty,” McNally said.

McNally applied for retraining and qualified for his first choice — explosive ordnance disposal technician.

For Airmen who volunteer to retrain into the EOD career field, a 10-day orientation is required with their local Air Force EOD flight. This immersion serves a dual purpose: showing Airmen exactly what EOD technicians do on a regular basis and determining if a candidate is right for the job.

“I’ve been learning all about ordnance and the different types of bombs and projectiles,” McNally said. “It’s a lot of information to take in.”

EOD technicians must be able to perform intricate procedures under high-stress conditions in all kinds of environments.

“We’re always looking for good candidates for the program because it takes a special person to volunteer for this type of duty,” said Senior Master Sgt. Edward Lockhart, the 355th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight superintendent.

EOD is considered one of the most dangerous career fields in the Air Force.

“I make sure they appreciate what our job fully entails and then let them know, honestly, what risk is involved,” Lockhart said. “I have faced tragedy (in this career field); however, the good we do outweighs those negative experiences.”

The career field may attract Airmen because of how the risks involved encourage strong bonds between wingmen.

“My week here has been a big eye-opener to see what else is out there in the Air Force,” McNally said.

(Editors note: This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)

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