Thursday, January 27, 2011

"So, you wanna go EOD," EOD Book Round-up

A master chief twin-pin (read SEAL & EOD qualified - an increasingly rare breed) from EOD Mobile Unit Two assembled a group of EOD and SEAL "wanna-bes" on the pool deck near SEAL TEAM TWO's compound onboard Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Virginia. They were about to begin a physical screening test for EOD or Naval Special Warfare starting with the first step, the 500yd swim.

Before they began the master chief asked a question. "Who knows who Draper Kauffman was?"
Only one candidate who stuck out his hand.
"Draper Kauffman is the father of the Navy EOD and Special Warfare communities, Master Chief."
"That's right, sir. Hooya."
The master chief asked a few more questions about Rear Admiral Kauffman. The lieutenant was able to answer most of them.
"All of you should know about Draper Kauffman. It is important to understand the heritage of this community, where we came from," the master chief announced to the whole group. "All of you need to get up to speed with the lieutenant here."

Next, the master chief went down the line asking each sailor what his scores on the test were going to be. Some expressed that they had no idea, as he got closer in line to the lieutenant, others started guessing.
"I'm going to swim in about 8:58, Master Chief. I will max push-ups and sit-ups at 100 each, then get eight to ten pull-ups, followed by around 11 minutes on the run."
The scores that the lieuntenant announced we good, but not stellar. He was certain others in the group would have more pull-ups and a much faster run time.
"Sir, that's pretty specific. How do you know those will be your scores?"
"Because I perform the EOD screening test myself every Friday afternoon in preparation.

The lieutenant has made a positive impression upon the master chief. As a result, the second part of his interview ended before it started. The EOD officer who was assigned ot interview him to ascertain his suitability for EOD said words to the effect, "Master Chief already told me you've got the gouge and that you are serious about this community. As a result, you are going to get the highest recommendation from me."

The lesson learned from this yarn is that many are attracted to the EOD/NSW communities, but few demonstrate serious commitment. They talk a lot about the warfare pins, the social life, the machismo. The lieutenant's actions portrayed someone who had researched the EOD community thoroughly and prepared seriously to apply. It made a lasting impression.

I employed this same technique when interviewing EOD candidates. My first question would always be "Who was Draper Kauffman?" Those who knew and could tell me more about the community they were applying for got my highest recommendations for EOD school or BUD/S. For those that did not, I recommended that they do some research and find out more about the community.

The best book available to learn about Draper Kauffman and the origin of the EOD community is America's First Frogman, The Draper Kauffman Story by Elizabeth Kauffman Bush. I reviewed it here on this blog and on Amazon. This is the first book anyone should read who wants to be an EOD Tech or a SEAL.

A Cold War Story by Jim Conkey is a novel about Navy EOD that takes place in the 1950's. I've also reviewed it on this blog and on Amazon. This also provides invaluable insight into the U.S. Navy EOD community's heritage.

The third book I'd recommend for those who want to learn about the U.S. Navy EOD community is The Day We Lost the H-Bomb by Barbara Moran. This is a true account of a B-52 crash and the loss of four nuclear weapons in 1966. One of the key figures is a legend in Navy EOD, Commander "Red" Moody. Add this to your required reading list if you wanna be a crab-wearer.

It is equally important to understand the EOD world today, what it means to serve as an EOD Tech in the global war on terrorism. Currently, there are not many good books about American forces conducting EOD, but there are two that cover our UK brethren. They are Eight Lives Down by Major Chris Hunter and Red One: A Bomb Disposal Expert on the Front Line by Capt Kevin Ivison. Again, I've written detailed reviews on this blog and on Amazon. Note that in the British Army tradition, EOD Techs come from the logistics corps and are called "Ammunition Technical Officers" or "ATOs."

Much of the modern counter-IED techniques evolved from ATOs' efforts battling the IRA in the Northern Ireland conflict they called, "The Troubles." There are also several good books on this subject. In particular, I recommend A Special Kind of Courage by Chris Ryder and The Longest Walk by Peter Birchall. The are both excellent sources of historical accounts of valor by British ATOs in Northern Ireland and other theaters. I've also reviewed these through this blog and on Amazon.

For all those who seek to become an EOD Tech - get in physical shape - but also start with the lessons learned and the history encompassed on these pages to ensure you're on the  right track.

1 comment:

Jeffrey M. Leatherwood said...

Stephen, please check out my website and book: While it is not Navy EOD, the Army's WWII origins story had been neglected until I researched my MA thesis back in 2003. Since then, I expanded it into my first book, and I have attended several EOD events as a guest of honor. I would appreciate any insights, etc. Dr. Jeffrey Leatherwood.