Remember that scene in Lethal Weapon when Danny Clover is stuck on the toilet, ‘cuz some bad guys wired it to explode? All those bomb disposal people in bulky gear show up placing blankets and covers over things. Then they use liquid nitrogen to cool the bomb and Gibson yanks Clover into the bathtub just before the whole thing blows up, leading to a smoking toilet smashing the hood of the cop car. Air Force EOD is usually nowhere near as cool as that. And most people probably never get to meet Mel Gibson or Danny Glover.

Pity, really, because the job is dangerous, and perks like meeting movie stars would be nice…

What Is an Explosive Ordnance Technician?

Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal units do just what they say: dispose of explosive ordnance. If you’ve spent any time in the military, you have heard the term UXO. If not, rest assured it stands for unexploded ordnance. When a mortar falls but doesn’t explode, that’s a UXO. When bombs drop but one doesn’t detonate, that’s a UXO. Or, when you’re cleaning out your grandfather’s old shed and find a grenade he brought home from Korea, that is a UXO. 

An Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician
U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Staff Sgt. Scott Rice from the 673rd Civil Engineering Squadron, EOD flight, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, prepares to conduct a controlled detonation of unexploded ordnance, March 14, 2012. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Denoris Mickle/USAF)

When a convoy is traveling through Kandahar and the lead sees a strange-looking pile of garbage and wires on the curb, that is probably an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Chances are, in that convoy there are EOD technicians. Their job is to detect, disarm, and dispose of, that IED.