NEAR KARMAH, Iraq -- Explosive Ordnance Disposal, without question, is one of the most stressful occupations in the Marine Corps, and, if at all possible, it makes sense to rid EOD Marines of unnecessary stress and tension.
Enter the Personnel Security Detachment of 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit EOD, also known as “Task Force AWESOM-O,” headed by Staff Sgt. Jason D. Walker, MEU force protection chief. This unit, made up Command Element and Combat Logistics Battalion -13 Marines, enables EOD to focus on their ever-important task of neutralizing IEDs and reducing weapon caches.
“Our mission is to come out here and provide security for the EOD team,” said Walker. “That way EOD can concentrate on their duties while knowing they have security watching their back.”
To build “Task Force AWESOM-O,” sections throughout the MEU were asked to give up qualified Marines who were willing and able to lay their current duties aside. As many Marines were eager to participate, there was competition for the limited number of spots on the team. This, and finding the right people for the job, was a task in itself. Ultimately, the appropriate Marines were identified, put in place and more than two weeks of solid training commenced.
“We had to come a long way and complete a lot of training in a short span of time,” said Cpl. Anthony J. Principe, an infantry assaultman with the 13th MEU and a Placerville, Calif. native. “Very few Marines on the team have an infantry background, but the roles were assumed, just as Marines are trained to do, and the security detachment came together.”
Walker said he has a great group of Marines and is impressed with how they jumped into their individual roles and took the initiative to come together as a team in a very important function.
“I would take any of these Marines into battle with me,” said Walker. “I look forward to watching them grow into their responsibilities and do what they’re trained to do-- so EOD can do what they do.”
Although they have only been called upon a handful of times to date, the Marines of “Task Force AWESOM-O” are standing by and ready to assist EOD.