History of EOD
Bomb disposal in the United States dates back to April of 1941. The United States was not yet at war, but we were actively preparing for that eventuality. Embassy personnel and military observers were reporting on the actions of warring nations and as these reports were evaluated by the War Department, Intelligence Sections, recommendations were made concerning actions that should be taken by the United States. One area stood out.
Delayed-explosion bombs were creating havoc in Europe, taking a heavy toll on lives and industry. It was expected that if the United States entered the war, we would experience bombing of our cities and industries. As a result, the need for a bomb disposal program in this country received immediate attention.
In the beginning, it was thought that bomb disposal would be under the Office of Civilian Defense. In April 1941, the School of Civilian Defense was organized at the Chemical Warfare School, Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, and part of the training was to be bomb disposal.
The Commandant of the Chemical Warfare School requested assistance from the War Department to set up the Bomb Disposal School. The request was approved and forwarded to General Julian S. Hatcher, who was the Commanding General of the Ordnance Training Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. General Hatcher selected Major Thomas J. Kane to provide assistance.
It was decided that both military and civilian bomb disposal personnel would be trained by the Army. All responsibility for bomb disposal was placed under the U.S. Army Ordnance Department. The Office of Civilian Defense would be responsible for bomb reconnaissance and the disposal of incendiaries in the United States. The location of the Bomb Disposal School was changed from Edgewood Arsenal to the Ordnance Training Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Newly promoted Colonel Kane was selected to be the school's commandant.
In the interim the Navy, under a directive from the Chief of Naval Operations, instituted a Mine Disposal School in May of 1941. The school was located in Washington, D.C. and was tasked with the training of Navy personnel in the disposal of U.S. and foreign mines and other underwater ordnance. In December of 1941, the Chief of Naval Personnel issued another directive for the formation of the Navy Bomb Disposal School.
In 1947, the Navy was assigned Joint Service responsibility for basic EOD training and in 1971, the Navy was designated as the Single Service Manager for all common EOD training. This training continues to be provided by the Naval School, Explosive Ordnance Disposal School located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.