TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., Feb. 5, 2013 – Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Casey Senn, an explosive ordinance disposal technician here, finished his first enlistment as a combat cameraman and began a new life in 2006.
“I wasn’t fulfilled in my old job,” Senn said. “I didn’t feel like there was anything for me to learn anymore. EOD is an always-evolving and ever-changing field. You’re never going to reach your limit. There’s always something more you can do.”
His family, however, isn’t as enthusiastic about his new field.
“They hate it,” he acknowledged. “I’ve got three kids: Ashlyn, 9; Brayden, 6; and Kaitlin, 3. My oldest has become more aware, but for the other two, they’re too young to understand what’s going on. For my wife, it’s hard when I deploy.”
EOD is a small community, and the risks are high. The basic EOD course is about seven months long, said Senn, looking back almost six years to his days as a student.“I don’t think you’re going to find a more fulfilling job anywhere,” he said. “It’s the amount of pride because of all the [training] we have to go through, all of the school we have -- high-level training that we do to stay on top of our game.”
Keeping fellow Marines out of harm’s way provides tangible results from the job, Senn said. “You see the devices [that can] kill people, and you take them apart with your hands,” he added. “You get instant gratification.”
During his first deployment as an EOD technician to Iraq in 2007, Senn said, EOD technicians noticed a transition from conventional ordnance, such as 155 mm rounds, to improvised explosive devices that Marines now are more familiar with during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“The first real crazy [IED] I had was about five days into my first deployment as a tech,” Senn said. “We had five IEDs at an intersection, and we lost our robot that day. The robot ran over a tertiary IED, and it blew the robot about 20 meters down the road.
“It was interesting going to an IED and dealing with that and trying to stay on par with the changing tactics, techniques and procedures with the enemy,” he continued. “It was adapting to what they were adapting to.”
When the U.S. military would come out with a technical advancement, such as mine rollers or mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, Senn said, the enemy would work to create a tactical way around those advancements.
“It was interesting to try and stay in the loop and bridge the technology gap with how we operate,” he said.
Though he enjoys his work, Senn said, he’s not sure what will come next.
“I don’t know if I’ll stay in an EOD-related field or not,” he added. “I think I might transition into something a little less dangerous afterwards. I’m trying to be really family oriented.”