Admiration and respect are often given to the dog soldiers and grunt Marines, whose lives in combat theaters are often characterized by hours of boredom marked with moments of terror. We hold our special forces operators in a kind of awe, for the training they undergo even before they are inserted into hostile situations where speed and stealth – two often contradictory attributes – ensure their lethality and survival.
The folks I think deserve more recognition and honor than they often receive however, are the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians. When they get the call, they go in almost certain that every ounce of their personal courage will be required to perform a task that requires utmost precision in accordance with their rigorous training.
And even then, things can go wrong:
When Navy bomb disposal technician Chad Regelin was named 2011 USO sailor of the year, he couldn’t make it to the October gala in Washington, D.C.
He was in Afghanistan, standing in for a wounded bomb technician.
That job took his life Monday. Regelin, a 24-year-old sailor assigned to a San Diego unit, was killed during combat operations with a Marine Corps special operations company in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced.
His brother Ryan said the sailor was on foot patrol when an explosion occurred. Regelin went to check it out and a second bomb, detonated via a wire, went off…
Regelin was nominated for the USO award — which goes to a junior enlisted person for a specific act of bravery in the prior calendar year — for an earlier Afghanistan tour, from August 2010 to March 2011.
During that deployment, Regelin personally found and destroyed 24 roadside explosives, trained 13 people in bomb detection and took part in 20 firefights.
During a two-day stretch of intense fighting, the sailor stayed calm as the enemy attacked while he was in the process of disarming a 60-pound bomb. His cool head helped save the 10-person unit that he was leading.
The Navy nominated Regelin, a petty officer 1st class stationed at San Diego Naval Base, for the Bronze Star with V for the incident. The sailor’s commander called Regelin a star.
Ave atque vale, frater.