Thursday, March 04, 2010

EOD Experience Benefits Guard Soldier

By Army Spc. Kelsey Blankenship
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 4, 2010 - Army Staff Sgt. Tracy Dice was a 12-year veteran of the law enforcement field when she decided to become an explosive ordnance disposal technician in the North Carolina National Guard. "I wanted to come out of the military with a strong cap for my law enforcement resume, and as we were looking at jobs, EOD popped up, and I asked if females could do that," she said. "When they told me yes, I said that it was for me. It was like the clouds parted and the angels sang."

Dice, who is a member of the 430th EOD Company, said EOD is a lot like law enforcement and sky diving, because they are both thought of as unsafe.

"There are a lot of safeties we have to adhere by in EOD, and you have to rely on your teammates," she said. "If you adhere by those safeties and trust in your teammates, it can be a relatively safe job."

Dice said she believes that everyone can do the same work as long as they put their minds to it.

"I always did my work, and I always had a good work ethic, and when you put that first and foremost, nobody doubts you," she said.

Dice demonstrated her mettle during a deployment to Iraq from 2006 to 2008. She earned her senior badge after three years of conducting EOD missions and became the unit's first female team leader.

When she joined the Guard in 2004, there was one female EOD technician for every five companies, Dice said. Now, as many as four or five women serve in most EOD companies in the active Army. But the National Guard, Dice acknowledged, has yet to achieve those kinds of numbers.

Dice said she likes the bond that is formed among EOD specialists.

"I like the brotherhood," she said. "An EOD technician accepts another EOD technician like nothing else."

For example, if an EOD technician came into town and needed a place to stay, they are always willing to open their homes without any questions asked, Dice said.

"We understand what each other has gone through and are going to go through," she said.

(Army Spc. Kelsey Blankenship serves with the North Carolina National Guard.)

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