Do I cut the red wire or green wire? Bomb Tech returns home in one piece

19 Dec 2000 |

A Marine returned home for the holidays from a deployment to Europe with an invaluable gift for his family - himself.Captain Kelvin F. Dudenhoeffer, officer-in-charge of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group, returned in one piece from Bosnia-Herzegovina following an incident that occurred Nov. 28, severely injuring two other Marines there and left the Grand Field, Okla., Marine with a fractured wrist and shrapnel wounds.Reluctant to discuss the incident, which is still under investigation, the officer said, "The incident is not as important as why we were over there."Members of the Marine EOD team were there assisting the U.S. Army and Bosnian Stabilization Forces to disable thousands of unexploded ordnances."We would disarm and inert mines and grenades to make training kits for NATO and Allied Forces," he said. "We disarmed more than four thousand items in four and a half months."The kits will also be used at Marine Corps and U.S. Army Engineer Schools and service EOD schools, according to Dudenhoeffer."It is a confidence builder to use and find actual ordnance instead of plastic models while training," claimed Dudenhoeffer.The training aids assist military personnel to recognize the devices of destruction and also rid the land of mine contamination affecting thousands of Bosnians already devastated by war, he explained."There are more than one million mines scattered throughout the country. A woman lost her life walking in a field near her house. It was common for people to find ordnance and place them along the roads for us to find," he said.Since aerial photography or satellite imagery won't reveal mine placement and their mostly plastic construction hides them from metal detectors, the only way to safely locate them is by the methodical probing of trained personnel. However, a cleared or "proofed area" is only 99.6 percent clear, the bomb destroyer said."The battle lines were so fluid, the minefields would be set with no discernable pattern," reported the engineer. "With current technology, it will take forty years to clear populated areas and four hundred years to clear the country."According to the Earth Science Institute of Sarajevo, from 1996 to November 2000, there have been 322 people killed, 690 seriously wounded and 267 have received minor injuries in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a result of mines or other ordnance.