1983 was the beginning of a ten-year adventure. I volunteered and was accepted for training to be an EOD Technician. After passing the initial physical screening, I was sent to Chemical Training at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. What followed was one of the hardest, most demanding periods in my life. Not only the physical fitness requirements, but the academic challenges pushed me to my limits - or so I thought at the time. I learned later that Redstone was just the appetizer.
In March of that year, with the successful completion of chemical training, we were sent to Panama City, Florida for Second Class Diver training. This next phase of our training just happened to coincide with Spring Break!
Diver training helped me to banish a particularly obstinate demon that had plagued me all my life: a fear of water. Needless to say, after countless hours in the water, that demon died.
The final phase of EOD School was located at Indian Head, Maryland. It is here that I discovered and came to embrace what I would later choose as my personal motto:
"Your only limitation is motivation."
To say that Indian Head was a challenge would be an understatement. In fact, it was here that I learned humility as well as how to remain motivated. During the underwater phase of our training, my team was punished for a diving-related safety offense that resulted in the four of us being "rolled back" into the next class: 9B-83.
Ultimately, I graduated and was assigned to EOD Mobile Unit One in Barbers Point, Hawaii. For the next three years I worked at learning how to be the best EOD Tech I could be. Monthy excursions to Kahoolawe Island for ordnance cleanup, and a six-month deployment aboard the USNS Kilauea (an ammunition ship) helped accomplish this feat, as did participating in Triathlons and one Honolulu Marathon (1985).
Before departing from Kings Bay for my ultimate duty station: EOD Mobile Unit 6, I was finally promoted to E-7, where after a thoroughly humiliating and humbling initiation, I was made a Chief Petty Officer. Two years later I was promoted to Senior Chief (E-8).
Charleston, South Carolina was to be my final destination and I enjoyed every moment. That being said, deployment to Operation Desert Storm was serious business. But even in a combat zone we found time to have fun. What sort of fun you may ask? Read Chapter 1 of my first novel: Critical Response and you'll see.