Thursday, May 19, 2011
"I want them to get an orientation of different things the Navy does," said retired Cmdr. Fred Duckworth, a former surface warfare officer and senior naval science instructor at King George High School NJROTC for the last 12 years.
"There are a wide variety of things going on [aboard NSF Dahlgren]. Hands-on stuff like this is good."
Though the NJROTC group enjoyed all the tour stops, Duckworth suspected the highlight of the cadets' trip would be their time spent with EOD, a guess that proved to be on target.
"It was fun," said NJROTC Seaman Justin Taylor, a sophomore at King George High School who said he planned to seek a commission in the Navy after attending college. "We got to get our hands dirty."
Lt. Allison Moon, officer-in-charge of EOD Mobile Unit 12 Dahlgren Detachment, helped guide the cadets through three stations demonstrating the capabilities of the unit responsible for Naval Support Activity South Potomac and Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The cadets got to test their abilities driving a Talon Robot Mark 2, conduct a mine strike exercise and see a static display of EOD equipment.
"EOD has gotten a lot of publicity with the war so the kids are interested in what we do," said Moon. "I hope [the visit] stimulates an interest in what we do."
For NJROTC cadets interested in becoming EOD Sailors, Chief Petty Officer Kenneth Simpson didn't sugarcoat the intensive training required to earn the EOD designation.
"They're going to weed out the weak," said Simpson, describing the EOD training process to the cadets. "There are two years of training, and that's if you make it. The attrition rate is 60 percent."
Simpson encouraged the young men and women to ask questions to any of the EOD Mobile Unit 12 Detachment Dahlgren personnel, most of whom have served multiple tours with the operating forces. "Between us, we've got hundreds of roadside bombs ... and unexploded ordnance disarmed," said Simpson.
The prospect of daunting training did not discourage NJROTC Cadet Daniel Oursler, a junior. Oursler said he has always wanted to be an EOD Sailor since joining NJROTC three years ago.
"[The tour] makes me want to do it even more," he said, after the mine strike exercise. "[EOD] is something I've chosen to do. Somebody has got to do it."
Oursler appreciated the knowledge he gained on the tour. "It definitely helps us have an insight into different Navy careers."
For Naval Support Activity South Potomac's events coordinator Susan Prien, showing the cadets around NSF Dahlgren was a light burden. "It's always about them," she said.
"This is the best part of my job, showcasing the base to people who we hope will come back to work here one day. When you listen to the kids on the bus chatter about what they saw, that makes it worth it. I love it."