Chief Master Sgt. John Mazza, 56th Fighter Wing command chief, watches the 56th CES Explosive Ordnance Disposal team explode undetonated ordnance at the high explosives hill at the Barry M. Goldwater Range. The EOD unit clears the range for maintenance to replace the targets for pilot training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)
Staff Sgt. Zachary Holschuh, left, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team leader, and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Mueller, 56th CES EOD team leader, lay out explosive cutting tape across undetonated ordnance Jan. 30 at the BMGR. The ECT is used to cut through empty and concrete ordnance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)
by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/14/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- After a long day of dropping bombs and firing missiles at targets, hard work and caution are needed to clean up the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
It is the job of the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron to clear the range so maintenance personnel can repopulate it with targets. They remove hazards such as fragments from bombs, scrap metal from targets and unexploded duds.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen, accompanied by Chief Master Sgt. John Mazza, 56th Fighter Wing command chief, performed an annual clearance Jan. 30 of the BMGR and surrounding areas by searching for unexploded bombs or missiles at the high explosive hill and performing sweep line runs at the South Tactical range.
"Because we clear the range of explosive hazards for the safety of the range management office maintenance unit, the maintenance personnel can then either repair or replace targets for the pilots to train on," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Alvarez, 56th CES EOD team leader.
At the high explosive hill, pilots fly over and drop live bombs that sometimes can be duds. To ensure duds are disposed of properly, EOD members are sent in to identify the ordnance, mark it off with flagging ribbon and place C-4 onto the ordnance. After placing C-4 onto the ordnance, EOD backs away to the safe zone where they detonate the duds and any missiles.
"Due to multiple detonations with large radiuses, safety becomes a big issue," said Tech. Sgt. Charles Cowart, 56th CES EOD team leader. "It also gives us a chance to train on a large scale demolition with live munitions."
In addition to clearing out the high explosive hill, EOD performed sweep lines at South Tactical range. Trucks lined up and EOD Airmen scouted the area for scrap metals and other debris that could harm personnel.
"EOD forces accomplish the mission using safe disposal procedures developed to counter U.S., Allied, or enemy explosive ordnance discovered in a hazardous condition due to accidents or other circumstances," said Chief Master Sgt. William Ewing, 56th CES EOD flight chief. "EOD forces must be capable of countering threats from weapons of mass destruction, conventional and chemical unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices that may be from enemy or friendly forces."
As a former CE Airman, Mazza said being in the field with the EOD Airmen reminded him of the pride he has in the career field.
"I had a great time spending the day with EOD Airmen," he said. "What they bring to the fight is immeasurable. Clearing and rendering the BMGR safe is vital to the 56th Fighter Wing's mission. This was also a reunion of sorts, since I was the squadron chief for a couple of these guys a few years back."