EOD tech loves his job
By Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler, ISAF Joint Command Public Affairs:
If you ask Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Chism how he likes his job, he'll jokingly tell you "it's a blast!" That's certainly one way to describe his job as an explosive ordnance disposal technician.
The Villa Rica, Ga., native joined the Air Force in 2004 as a missile maintainer, but his heart was always in EOD.
"I‟ve always wanted to be EOD, but after joining the Air Force they told me I couldn‟t change my job because I was already locked into another job. I just had to wait," he explained.
After his initial contract was up in 2009, he was allowed to change jobs and he joined EOD. After a year of technical training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Chism emerged an EOD technician.
"I was ready to do this, but I knew that outside of school there was still a lot I had to learn. I‟m a staff sergeant but I lacked the field experience most techs at my rank already had," said Chism.
Soon enough he would get his chance. In late 2011, Chism deployed for the first time and found himself part of a three-man EOD team with the 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron, working under 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, at Combat Outpost Talukan. COP Talukan is located in southern Afghanistan‟s Kandahar province, a hotbed for improvised explosive devices.
"With this being my first deployment, I trained hard and expected the worst," he said. "Luckily it hasn‟t been everything I expected. It‟s been pretty good, actually."
Chism‟s team is responsible for the area around COP Talukan, but has recently started training their counterparts with the Afghan National Civil Order Police.
"We are working on certifying them so they have the proficiency to do this on their own without hurting themselves," he explained.
In order to certify them, his team works closely with the ANCOP, providing training at least once a week using a training area on the COP. The area resembles the type of terrain that would be seen on missions, and is laden with mock IEDs. The goal is for the ANCOP EOD technicians to walk the area using their tools to detect, mark and disarm all explosives they find. Recently, Chism has begun taking the lead on training the ANCOP. Every day is a chance to learn, Chism said, which is essential in such a technical career field.
"The goal is turn all of the training over to Chism because he has done so great with it," said Air Force Staff Sgt. James "Fitz" Fitzgerald, EOD team leader. "He‟s highly motivated and has been an open sleeve for information- he takes everything in but still asks those „how‟ and „why‟ questions, which is important for a tech to do."
Chism said he is excited for the continued partnership between his team and the ANCOP EOD technicians. He hopes their training can help the Afghan soldiers to be able to better secure their country and take the lead in future operations.
Chism said he plans to continue to absorb everything he can from his team, as well as from the ANCOP EOD technicians, but that doesn‟t of what he wants to do when he returns home early next year.
"It‟s not as bad as it seems, but I can‟t wait to get home. As soon as I do, I‟m definitely going to have some cheeseburgers. It‟s all about cheeseburgers," he joked.
After months of handling IEDs in southern Afghanistan, he certainly deserves those cheeseburgers.