Story by Andrew Patterson on 09/16/2019Since Sept. 11, 2001, 20 USAF explosive ordnance disposal technicians have made the ultimate sacrifice, protecting the freedoms of others. As a way of honoring these members, the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) flight hosts an annual memorial ruck march to remember and honor fallen EOD technicians. The march journeys 220 miles from Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska to the Arctic Circle (05W NP 97133 83675), which entails participants carrying 20 lbs of weight in rucks, representing the 20 fallen EOD members.
"This opportunity is undoubtedly one of those things that you hear about when you're joining any branch of the military, "you'll see the world!", said Brady.
This year, Staff Sgt. Dean Brady, a 502d CES EOD technician at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)-Lackland, Texas, received a rare invitation to join the 354th EOD for the annual voyage. He accepted without hesitation. The 220-mile march from Eielson AFB to the Arctic Circle started on Aug. 29 and ended Sept. 8, 2019.
To prepare for the event, Brady added marching with a pack of weights over a few miles to his normal fitness routine. Along with the distance goal, he added a walking time goal of 5 to 12 minutes per mile. This helped build the stamina for the expected 22 miles per day average distance.
"For me, I've never felt stronger about being a part of a community than when I became an EOD tech. It's a brotherhood, a true family," said Brady.
EOD technicians are trained to detect, disarm, detonate and dispose of explosive threats all over the world. EODs are the specialists who bravely serve as the Air Force's bomb squad. They perform tactically harrowing and technically demanding tasks in diverse environments worldwide.
After the march, SSgt Brady commented that it took them eight full days to accomplish the march, rucking approximately 20-30 miles each day. "The veteran arctic ruck guys have it down to a science," added Brady. Those completing the march included 12 participants and camp daddies in total. Adding to his comment, he stated that this Arctic Ruck was his resiliency tactical pause. "While this event is not for everyone, everyone likes something. For us doing this ruck, it's that we love our EOD community; the past, the present and without a doubt not least, our fallen brothers and sisters."