CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- As a young boy, Cpl. Robert C. Richardson III was taught the value of being able to fix things with his own two hands. He was only 12 when his father taught him to weld, and at 13 he received his first chainsaw.
Richardson, a machinist with Maintenance Repair, General Support Combat Logistics Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, put his skills to good use recently here when he helped 1st Explosive Ordinance Disposal Company, CLR-2, construct sickle sticks, a tool used by EOD teams to locate and identify improvised explosive devices.
“When (insurgents) bury wires, they dig a trench and then lay the wire in so we needed something that would be able to find that edge and help us see that definite drop of the sickle in the ground,” said Sgt. Daniel Bocksnick, EOD assistant team leader with 1st EOD Company.
Bocksnick, a native of Kalispell, Mont., said to construct the sickle sticks the unit purchased collapsible aluminum poles that do not twist or bend and expand to about 12 feet long. At the Intermediate Maintenance Activity maintenance repair lot, Richardson took measurements and designed a sickle, or hook, to specially fit the poles.
Richardson hand-drew the design for the sickles, then transferred the drawing to design software used with the shop’s jet-machining center, a machine that uses a mixture of water and abrasives to easily cut through metal.
“(EOD) was looking for something lightweight but strong, so we went with a thick aluminum,” said Richardson, a native of Limerick, Maine. “Aluminum is a fairly light-weight metal compared to others, but we made it thicker to make it more durable.”
Bocksnick said because EOD Marines have to carry extra equipment, it helps to make gear as lightweight as possible.
“We have to pack a lot of extra gear, so we have to cut weight wherever we can,” said Bocksnick. “We need something we can pack around all day.”
Sgt. Robert Miller, motor transportation chief for 1st EOD Company, said it was also important the sickles were strong and had good curvature.
“Some of the initial (sickles) we had were having trouble digging in the (ground) because the dirt is packed harder here than say at the Twentynine Palms, (Calif.) training area, so it was becoming an issue,” said Miller, a native of North Jackson, Ohio.
Richardson designed the new sickles with an angle so that a Marine could scrape them on the ground without digging too deep into the dirt. The exaggerated curvature allows for greater sensitivity and nimbleness when being used.
“They have been working great out on the training lanes,” said Miller.
Richardson produced 30 sickles for EOD, who uses them at the IED training lanes here and on missions throughout Helmand Province.
“I love working on things,” boasted Richardson with a grin. “My father taught me at a young age that if something broke, you fixed it, and if you couldn’t fix it then what was the point of having it.”