MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
A group of Marines from Yuma's Marine Wing Support Squadron 371’s explosive ordnance disposal team travelled to Beijing in support of President Barack Obama’s visit there, Nov. 12-18, 2009.
The four Marines, along with EOD technicians from the Army and Air Force, cleared buildings and vehicles carrying officials to keep the president and official party members safe from possible explosive devices.
“It was a find or function mission,” said Sgt. Joshua Laudermilk, MWSS-371 EOD technician. “We looked on, above, under, inside, anywhere a possible device could be. If there was a button or switch, we pushed or flipped it.”
The mission came shortly after the team’s return from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
“It’s the nature of the job,” said Laudermilk. “We stay busy and travel a lot. It’s something you have to make sure your spouse understands and is OK with.”
EOD Marines routinely support American officials abroad.
“EOD Marines support the Secret Service all over the world,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Simon Wade, MWSS-371 officer in charge. “We have supported the president, the vice president and the first lady numerous times. We provide EOD support for the U.N. General Assembly, the G-20 Summit and to any dignitary that requires Secret Service support to include former presidents of the United States. Our Marines are currently with President Carter in Georgia.”
EOD Marines receive special clothing allowances, training and credentials that enable them to blend in with the Secret Service while conducting their missions.
The team didn’t find any explosive devices during the mission in China, and there were no incidents during the president’s visit to the country.
“These men are relied on by the highest echelons of our government because of their consummate professionalism, experience and knowledge,” said Wade.