There is not much to do around here, but when you are in a deployed environment there is a real opportunity to see all of the myriad things the war machine does in theater. When times are slow, all of us supply a tour for other military who are here, but just do a different type of job; I have had 2 F-16 pilots shadow me during my shift thus far. Last week I was the highlight of my deployment.
After obtaining eye protection from the OR, and ear protection and some gloves from the helicopter pad, I boarded a MRAP and made my way to the home of the EOD (explosive and ordinance disposal) squadron about 1 mile away. From there, we traveled with our EOD crew onto the flight line. We stopped multiple times for FOD removal, and once for a landing F-16. On the far side of the runways there was a big open space and a large concrete bunker.
We parked adjacent to this bunker, and made our way, in small groups to 5 separate piles of ordinance, each with its own EOD instructor and large pile of C4. The mission of the day's controlled detonation was to destroy - read: incinerate - these materials. We were each given a stick of C4 plastic explosive, and tasked with designing C4 squirrels, balls, hearts or whatever the imagination led one to ply with the doughy explosive. Afterwards we staked the C4 around these expired munitions and enemy UXOs (unidenified ordinances), careful to assure that all of the C4 touched itself in order guarantee ignition of all of the explosive. I learned, among many other things, that C4, while explosive and powerful, was actually quite stable, and if not ignited directly via a power source or through direct contact with other previously lit C4, may not explode at all, even at the high temperatures of the blast. This was deemed quite undesirable of a result for the EOD experts as it may end up mandating that they search the blast radius for pieces of unexploded C4, which they obviously could not just leave lying around the flight line.
After the C4 was packed around each of the piles of munitions, the non-EOD "tourists" were escorted back to the bunker, while the experts placed the blasting caps, and ran over 100yds of wire back to the bunker where we all anxiously awaited. I was lucky enough to get to pull the lynch pin when the time came, and watch, in less than a second's time, a large explosion down range, followed nearly simultaneously with a thunderous boom, and subsequent smell of cordite. [Video and still photos pending].
When I returned to the hospital from my "field trip" to the controlled detonation, I was sad to know that a contractor, new to our base, jumped into a ditch when he heard the explosion as he had thought we were under attack. He was in the ER, safe from major injury, but undergoing a scalp repair from the gash served to him from the rock at the bottom of the ditch. This is not the way I aim to create business!