Hill EOD; no other like it in the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Donovan Potter, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Hill’s 775th Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit routinely accomplishes a mission at the Utah Test and Training Range that makes them stand apart from any other EOD in the Air Force.

Recently, they did something on the main base that no other Hill EOD has ever recorded doing.

They responded to an unexploded ordnance that was unearthed on the flight line and rendered it safe.

“We were pretty surprised to get the call about civilian contractors digging up a UXO while rerouting electrical lines on the flight line,” said Master Sgt. Jason Bierman, 775th EOD superintendent. “According to base records, this is the first documented UXO unearthed on Hill Air Force base.”

After arriving onsite, the team leader used a digital publication to identify the item as a bazooka round.

“We used a remote safeing procedure that involved one of our explosive tools and determined that the round was fired, so there were zero hazards,” Bierman said.

The team took it back to the shop where they x-rayed it several times, to be 100-percent sure there are no hazards associated, and then donated it to the Hill Aerospace Museum.

Bierman said he thought the munition was buried there for decades, since the data plate indicated it was manufactured in 1954. 

“When they expanded the flight line back in the 50s, we think they got dirt from the impact range part of the base,” he said. “They may have scooped it up unknowingly. Thankfully, it was a practice munition.”

What makes Hill’s EOD unique is accomplishing the thermal treatment unit mission at the Utah Test and Training Range.

They are responsible for “treating” expired, damaged, on non-functioning Minuteman III rocket motors there.

“We are the only EOD unit in the word that has this mission because we have the infrastructure and we have the space,” Bierman said. “We’re the ones who put the explosives on the motor, set it up so it functions correctly and then we’re the ones who explosively treat it by detonation or burn-out. It’s a lot of fun.”

Other responsibilities at the UTTR, that Bierman said he enjoys, is clearing targets among the old tanks, vehicles, and buildings that pilots use for efficiency practice on the range.

“Pilots come in and drop live ordnance and sometimes they don’t explode,” he said. “We actually watch them drop those live and when they’re done dropping, we go out and physically clear the area to get the pad clean so they can drop again.”

Bierman said no one can go back out until they sweep all the targets.

“If there’s any explosive hazards, we collect them if it’s safe to do so, or we detonate them,” he said. “Any piece of scrap that we pull off the range must be inspected and certified to be sure there’s not a lose munition item within there.”

Besides the unique mission that includes all the aircraft, the range missions, live ordnance and the rare UXO discovery, Bierman said what he really loves about EOD at Hill is working with outstanding people.

“We have so many amazing people here who just want to get the mission done,” he said. “I’m impressed with their commitment and I’m proud to work with this group every day.”