Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing applied their expertise to solve a real-world problem during a March 7 training exercise in Finley, Wisconsin.
The Airmen supported the Juneau County Forestry Department by clearing a beaver dam, allowing water to drain properly and preventing further forest destruction and flooding throughout the local area.
“Last year our department was informed, by an adjacent private land-owner, of significant flooding occurring in a remote area of the Juneau County Forest,” said Brian Loyd, Juneau County Forestry Department administrator. “The flooding was impacting the county forest as well as backing up on the neighbor’s land.”
After investigating the flooded areas, a series of beaver dams were located in a drainage ditch used to drain a significant area in northern Juneau. The remote location and high water table prevented heavy duty machinery from entering the area to clear the way. Another solution was needed.
Following conversations at Hardwood Range about the dam, Loyd was put in contact with Senior Master Sgt. Ed Smith, 115th Fighter Wing EOD superintendent. In coordination with Wisconsin Air National Guard leadership, Wisconsin Emergency Management and the adjutant general, Smith gained approval to fulfill this request for assistance as a real-world training opportunity for his young Airmen.
The Juneau County Forest Department and the 115th Fighter Wing EOD team worked together to ensure safety precautions were followed and a plan was well distinguished ahead of time.
“Demolition training of this nature would typically be accomplished on Hardwood Range, and would not show the working potential of the explosives like this did,” said Master Sgt. Gilbert Holcomb, 115th Fighter Wing EOD flight resources non-commissioned officer in-charge. “Everything went as planned.”
The team started by using two shape charges on the top of the dam.
“This provided two cylindrical holes in which we could place our main charges of dynamite and C-4,” Holcomb said. “The main charges removed the dam and allowed the free flow of the retained water.”
The team was able to use the opportunity to train its Airmen and help the local community at the same time.
“EOD did an excellent job and accomplished the dam removal,” Loyd said. “Water was already beginning to drain rapidly through the channel. The Juneau County Forestry Department greatly appreciates the effort and skill used.”
The dam removal was part of a 10-day training exercise EOD Airmen participated in at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin. They were able to see a 40-pound shape charge, a 15-pound shape charge, 20-pounds of C-4, 20-pounds of dynamite, and 120 feet of detonation cord in action, vital training for the team.