What’s it like to work on a military bomb squad? What does it take to deal with explosive ordinance devices on a day-to-day basis, and do you think you could hack it? Read our exclusive interview with David Barraza – member of the U.S. Army Bomb Squad (actually called Explosive Ordnance Disposal or EOD) for about 7 years in which he was deployed twice to Iraq and once to Kuwait.
David’s disclaimer: I am doing this as a private person, and speaking only from personal experience. I am not speaking as a representative of any group, especially not as a representative of the United States Army or its EOD. Any misrepresentation of that intent may result in civil or criminal punishment on the parties involved, including me.
MM: What does it take to be on a bomb squad? Is it like “Operation?”
DB: Training and common sense are the most vital traits to a good bomb technician, mixed with good dose of enjoying blowing things up. We train for that “bomb squad” moment you see in the movies, but it is rarely ever like that. Technology has given us the tools to keep ourselves safe as well as the public.
MM: What’s your favorite part about your job?
DB: I love blowing things up. The bigger, the better.
MM: Did you start off knowing you wanted to be in EOD?
DB: Actually, I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a little kid. I did blow things up in my backyard as a teenager, but they were small. Still, I think I love this job more than I ever would have being an astronaut, even though they have a pretty cool job too.
MM: How do your friends and family feel about your profession?
DB: Pride mixed with fear and concern. I imagine the same is true for any family with a loved one in the Military, Police, Fire Department, or other high-risk job.
MM: What kind of special equipment do you use? Any canines on your squad?
DB: There are innumerable specialized tools used by bomb squads throughout the country and around the world. Simply listed by type they are disruption tools, water charges, bomb suits, detectors, and my favorite: robots. The military does not include K9 within EOD or vice-versa, but I believe that most Police forces do.
MM: Have you ever been in an explosion? What’s the scariest thing you’ve been through?
DB: So far I have never been any closer to an explosion than I would want to be. I would definitely say that scariest thing happened while deployed to Iraq. It was a car bomb, also known as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED). The original attempts with the robots had failed to gain access to the device, so I had to walk down to the VBIED in my bomb suit. I did successfully disable bomb inside, but it still worried me at the time.
MM: What do you do if you have to pee?
DB: I use the toilet like everyone else.