JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HI -- The Air National Guard’s newest Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight was activated at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on May 31, as the unit transitioned from the Air Force’s Active-Duty branch.
This changeover was observed by Hawaii Air National Guard leaders and EOD professionals from around the nation during the 154th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD Flight standup ceremony, held in tribute of the unit’s history and onward trajectory.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists are known for providing life-saving capabilities in deployed environments by neutralizing explosive hazards, such as improvised explosive devices. But as a primary duty at JBPH-H, they offer a wider range of proficiencies in servicing and troubleshooting live-aircraft munitions.
Lt. Col. Nhut Dao, 154th CES commander, said that his squadron has been planning to secure an EOD mission set since the 154th Wing first received F-22 Raptor aircraft in 2010 to help broaden the overall effectiveness of the organization.
“This moment has been 13 years in the making,” said Dao, “We are here today to say, ‘thank you’ and recognize the perseverance and the foresight of all the hard work of so many people who were a part of this initiative. So many have retired and moved on to other jobs, but we are here at the receiving end because of their hard work and dedication.”
While the unit has been redesignated as an ANG asset, it carries on JBPH-Hʻs growing EOD history. The 154th EOD flight remains located in the same Senior Airman William N. Newman EOD Facility. The facility is named in honor of the second, Hickam-based EOD Airman who was killed in action.
Master Sgt. Steven Dauck, the previous 647th EOD Flight chief, volunteered to oversee the transition of the flight to the Hawaii ANG, which included his own career as a ‘packaged deal.’ Halfway through the ceremony, Dauck was called on before the audience to raise his right hand and reenlist as a guardsman, effectively reinstating him as the first 154th EOD Flight chief.
The enlistment was followed by a resounding applause and gave space for Dauck to share his remarks, focused on the unit’s operational history, which go back more than half a century.
Dauck’s overview spanned from the 647th EOD flight’s nearly 900 in-garrisons missions to the thousands of unexploded ordinances and improvised explosive devices that have been mitigated throughout the Pacific, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
“I mention all of this today so that we may remember the past and those who gave their lives while assigned to this unit,” said Dauck. “It is with great joy that even though the Active-Duty EOD mission’s sun is setting here at Hickam, the legacy of the EOD flight will live on within the 154th and the Hawaii Air National Guard and I’m very honored to be a part of it.”
Following the final remarks, the audience was directed outside to witness the official unveiling of the new unit’s signage. Dao, along with the three original members of the 154th EOD Flight gripped the white drape together and proudly revealed the new 154th Civil Engineering Squadron sign, branded in memory of Senior Airman Newman.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen are provided extensive training and called upon to perform tactically harrowing and technically demanding tasks in diverse environments. The Hawaii ANG will be seeking skilled and motivated individuals as they continue to build up a highly capable team of EOD specialists.
“I am so thrilled about this new addition; that we are finally adding EOD to the ‘Guard’ and it’s a perfect fit to our mission,” said Brig. Gen. Duke M. Ota, Hawaii Air National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Air. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work between [154th Wing operations,] Pacific Air Forces, and the National Guard Bureau. We definitely want to welcome this EOD mission and are looking forward to everything you guys are going to accomplish.”