November 6, 2016
Fort Bragg-based explosive ordnance disposal soldiers took another step in the continuing evolution of their jobs last week.
The step was out the door of an Air Force C-17 Globemaster as it soared over Sicily Drop Zone.
One-by-one, seven soldiers from the 767th EOD Company took the leap among fellow Fort Bragg paratroopers. In doing so, they made history.
The jump was the first time the unit had participated in a larger airborne training mission tied to the Global Response Force.
Their jump is believed to be the first in Army history for a conventional EOD unit.
The company, one of two in the 192nd EOD Battalion that have recently gained airborne status, are in the process of fully integrating into the GRF’s first echelon forces – those trained to deploy on a moment’s notice and, if needed, jump behind enemy lines to secure airfields and other strategic positions.
Previously, EOD troops had to be flown in and land with other troops and equipment hours after the first paratroopers hit the ground.
Two Fort Bragg EOD companies – the 767th and 722nd – are the first conventional EOD units to gain airborne status, officials said.
Standing on the edge of Sicily Drop Zone, Capt. Zachary Abood, commander of the 767th EOD Company, said the jump was a step toward a larger goal of fully integrating a platoon of the company into the GRF ready battalion.
“It’s a new experience,” said 1st Lt. Sean Connors, who leads 2nd Platoon, 767th EOD and was one of the jumpers. “It’s something we’re excited to be able to offer.”
The changes to conventional EOD forces have been in the works for years, officials said. But airborne positions were not officially approved until last month.
That’s when soldiers from the two Fort Bragg EOD companies were able to start their airborne training, with the soldiers jumping individually as the part of routine training on post.
Thursday’s jump was the first time they had did so as a group with a follow on mission with a ground commander.
For the EOD troops, the daytime jump was “Hollywood” – meaning the paratroopers were not burdened with their combat gear, unlike the 82nd Airborne soldiers they jumped alongside, Abood said.
That’s because the unit’s soldiers have not yet reached the required number of day and night jumps before they can leap, fully loaded, from a plane as part of a battalion mass tactical exercise.
They’ll reach that goal by the end of the year, Abood said. And will be ready before they are asked to assume part of the Global Response Force mission.