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Salty Weasel prepares EOD Airmen

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Evan Cooling, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) apprentice, left, and Senior Airman, 20th CES EOD journeyman, right, prepare to board a McEntire Joint National Guard Base UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 20, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Evan Cooling, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) apprentice, left, and Senior Airman, 20th CES EOD journeyman, right, prepare to board a McEntire Joint National Guard Base UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 20, 2018. The Airmen flew to their training area on the helicopter and ruck marched four miles to reach their base camp. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class BrieAnna Stillman)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight fly on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to McEntire Joint National Guard Base at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 20, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight fly on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to McEntire Joint National Guard Base at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 20, 2018. The Airmen began a four-day exercise simulating deployed conditions and operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight ruck march at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight ruck march at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018. The Airmen participated in four mile ruck march to their primary objective of the day. The primary objective was to capture a simulated deserting American service member, disabling all improvised explosive devices on the route. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Evan Cooling, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) apprentice, left, Senior Airman Elias Omar, 20th CES EOD journeyman, center, and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Leonard, 20th CES EOD journeyman prepare to assault a simulated hostile village while being observed at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Evan Cooling, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) apprentice, left, Senior Airman Elias Omar, 20th CES EOD journeyman, center, and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Leonard, 20th CES EOD journeyman prepare to assault a simulated hostile village while being observed at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018. The Airmen’s movements were observed by experienced EOD Airmen for feedback later. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron simulate a prisoner capture at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron simulate a prisoner capture at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018. The prisoner’s cell was booby trapped with simulated explosives to test the Airmen’s problem solving skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elias Omar, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) journeyman, left, and Staff Sgt. Wesley Clayton, 20th CES EOD craftsman, right, simulate life-saving treatment to Airman 1st Class Evan Cooling, 20th CES EOD apprentice, at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elias Omar, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) journeyman, left, and Staff Sgt. Wesley Clayton, 20th CES EOD craftsman, right, simulate life-saving treatment to Airman 1st Class Evan Cooling, 20th CES EOD apprentice, at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018. The Airmen were simulating being wounded by enemy fire and required a medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight carry simulated patients into a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight carry simulated patients into a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018. The helicopter returned the Airmen to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., ending the four day exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elias Omar, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal journeyman, looks out the window of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., over Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elias Omar, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal journeyman, looks out the window of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., over Columbia, S.C., Aug. 23, 2018. The helicopter ride was the final event in a four day exercise Omar participated in. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The team stepped off the UH-60 Black Hawk under the blazing South Carolina sun. Their gear had been tested, their muscles fatigued, but with grins on their faces the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal teams triumphantly returned to Shaw.

Two EOD teams participated in exercise Salty Weasel at McCrady Army National Guard Base training area near Columbia, Aug. 20-23, gaining experience in a simulated deployed environment.

“We were out here to determine the areas our two teams that are deploying need to improve on,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Parillo, 20th CES EOD equipment noncommissioned officer in charge. “We are running through counter improvised explosive device scenarios, tactics and movements, rucking and anything else associated with a deployed environment.”

The week began with a ride to the training area in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and a four mile ruck march to the teams’ base camp. The teams ran operations over four days simulating the workload and living conditions an EOD Airman might face in a deployed environment.

“The point of doing the long insert was to get them stressed and tired,” said Parillo. “Everything in the career field is a mental game, and we wanted them to be in the habit of working in that environment.”

The exercise tested the operational skills of the unit’s team leaders, the capabilities of newer EOD Airmen to rise to the occasion if needed and the Airmen’s ability to think on their feet and adapt to changing circumstances.

“My overall experience with Salty Weasel was a positive one,” said Senior Airman Tyler McMillanwammack, 20th CES EOD journeyman. “I got to fully function as a P2, which is a safety backup for our team leaders, and one of the days I ran operations as a team leader by myself. We responded to a hazard, which was a pressure plate connected to two landmines. It was complicated for my first problem, but I handled it the best I could and took it apart piece by piece.”

Members of the South Carolina National Guard also participated in the drill by providing a medivac for simulated wounded Airmen.

“The helicopter flights were awesome,” said McMillanwammack, “It was the first time I’ve called in a nine line medivac call. We provided simulated life-saving support for two Airmen and they flew them back to Shaw. It was good to provide them training as well.”

Salty Weasel was an example of how EOD Airmen pursue initial success or face total failure in a real world situation. As their deployments draw nearer, the Shaw EOD teams preparing to go down range will continue to train in the environment they will operate in.