JBLM hosts explosive skills competition


by JANET KIM / KING 5 News

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Posted on May 21, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Updated Thursday, May 22 at 9:59 AM

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- They call it a competition, but what's happening at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord is deadly serious. The soldiers involved know that when it comes to explosives, there is no room for error.

From a suicide bomber to a rocket launcher in rough terrain, the soldiers participating in this simulation are preparing for the realities of the battle zone. Tensions run high among the 3rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion as they go through each test. 

"Usually they need to be far enough away that the blast doesn't hit them," said Staff Sgt. Michael Frechette, who helped coordinate the course.

All of the simulations are part of a military competition to note the best in their field. One of the courses takeS place inside a bunker, where there are triggers in place to test safety. Hitting a trigger will involve a penalty during the course, but in combat it could have cost lives or sent soldiers home with terrible wounds.

"We're trained to handle these things and search for it and find them, and we're there to work and you have to put aside that fear," said SFC Charles Cossette.

Their training won't just be used overseas, because for this particular group their mission follows them home.

"It's one of those jobs that even if we're not in combat, we're actually conducting operation sas we're here," said First Sgt. Daryl Hornbeck. "We're doing everything to keep people safe in the homeland as well."

This is the battalion's annual team of the year competition. The winning team during this three-day event will move to the finals at Fort Carson, Colorado.