Explosives experts make impact in Iraqi community

27 Jul 2004 | Staff Sgt. Demetrio J. Espinosa

Marine explosives specialists spend most of their time in Iraq disposing of improvised explosive devices that target U.S. forces.  Occasionally, though, they can apply their skills in more direct service of Iraqi citizens.

Recently Marines from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, had the opportunity to remove some of the remnants of the coalition’s war with the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Our [executive officer] had been out to meet with a local sheik when it was brought to his attention that the sheik’s property contained possible unexploded ordnance,” said Warrant Officer Kerry T. Fryer, 24th MEU EOD Det. officer-in-charge and Apollo, Penn., native.

It wasn’t long before Fryer and his Marines were dispatched to the sheik’s home to remove what was thought to be unexploded ordnance.

At the site, members of Fryer’s team used several pieces of sensitive equipment to precisely locate the explosive.  Once it was found, it was up to them to carefully uncover the ordnance and remove it.   In this instance, it was important to remove.

“We came out here to take [the ordnance] out and bring it back so that some kid doesn’t come across it and get blown up,” said Fryer, who has served 17 years in the Marine Corps.

This time his team was lucky.  They uncovered the empty shell of a 122-mm illumination mortar and removed it.  Although the ordnance didn’t pose a danger, the Marine’s teamwork with locals will continue to reap benefits for both Marines and the Iraqi citizens here.

“Whenever we get together with community leaders, things like this come up, and we will do whatever we can to help them,” said Fryer.