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NEWS | July 21, 2016

74th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Co. Wins USARPAC Team of the Year Competition Two Years Running

By Staff Sgt. Taresha Hill 8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The best U.S. Army-Pacific Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams gathered together July 11-15, here, to compete in the annual EOD Team of the Year (TOY) competition hosted by 8th Military Police Brigade's 303rd EOD Battalion.

The weeklong event showcased USARPAC's best EOD teams from Hawaii, Alaska and Korea. From basic Soldiering skills to real-world training exercises, all four teams had to push themselves past their physical and mental limits to make it through the competition each day.

"Having one problem after another was physically and mentally challenging," said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Barlow, team leader, 74th EOD Company, 303rd EOD Bn. "We just had to take it one problem at a time."

Unlike most competitions where the competitors are told their scores after an event, the EOD TOY competition adds to the pressure with the unknown, keeping the scores from the teams to the very end.

"It was tough," said Spc. Catherine Davis, team member, 74th EOD Co. "Not knowing how well we did after an event really forced us to keep moving forward and to stay motivated every day."

Davis said she enjoys the physical and mental challenges being an EOD specialist gives her and competing in the TOY was another way to use the skills she has learned.

"I'm a very hands-on type of person," said Davis. "You have to be able to think on your feet and make quick decisions- I love it."

The competition tested the four teams with an array of events ranging from the Army Physical Fitness Test, to marksmanship with several different weapons, ordnance identification, unexploded ordnance procedures, improvised explosive devise procedures, a written test and an information brief.

Command Sgt. Maj. Johnny Strickland, senior enlisted adviser, 303rd EOD Bn., said that not only do the teams have to be technical experts; they also need to know how to communicate.

As emergency responders, communication is a crucial skill set that all EOD Soldiers need to have in order to work as a cohesive team and to work with the other agencies that arrive on a scene.

"They have to be able to talk and tell their story," said Strickland.

The EOD TOY competition proved to be intensely competitive with just a few points separating second and third place. However, it was 74th EOD Co. who emerged victorious and took first place for the second year in a row.

"I'm very proud of the 74th and I hope the other teams got some good training they can take back with them," said Strickland. "I hope to see them again next year."
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