When dealing with explosive cases, Schofield soldiers team up with local police to defuse the situation

( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On a Schofield Barracks training ground, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Studstrup helps Pfc. Sean O'Keefe strap on 90 pounds of protective gear.

Army explosive ordnance disposal technicians stake their lives on their heavy suit and helmet.

"The suit is mainly designed to protect against blasts and then also fragmentation," O'Keefe said.

On average, the 303rd Ordnance Battalion fields more than a hundred calls a year from local police about suspicious packages and munitions. There are about 40 ordnance technicians in the 303rd battalion.

When they're deployed, the EOD specialists defuse and destroy Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other weapons.

But the high volume of situations involving potential explosives in Hawaii, keeps them busy at home.

"They can be on the ground, people will dig them up in their garden. They're found in land fills," Studstrup said. "They're found on our ranges. People find them in old souvenir trunks from World War II veterans."

A table-top display of recovered munitions illustrates his point. On it, are a variety of hand grenades and mortars.

"This has a damaged fuse on it," Studstrup said, pointing to a 120mm mortar. "This is a very dangerous situation if you come across it."

Last week, several two-person teams competed at Schofield for the right to represent the Pacific region in the Army's annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team of the Year competition. Specialist Matthew Ruben and Staff Sgt. Edward Monczynski of the 718th Ordnance Company from South Korea took the top spot.

Older munitions are the worst because they can detonate if accidentally dropped.

"Under no circumstances should you move or touch any of these things. They're very dangerous," Studstrup said. "They'll always be dangerous."

Specialists advise residents who come across suspicious-looking packages, or anything that looks like military munitions, to get far away from the package and call 911.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.