One of the most dangerous professions in the U.S. military is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician. These highly-trained military members, who serve in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force, are responsible for disarming, rendering safe and disposing of explosive hazards. An estimated 6,000 brave men and women serve as EOD technicians, willingly putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of others.
Every year, on the first Saturday in May, an EOD Memorial Ceremony is held to commemorate fallen EOD technicians and recognize and preserve the legacy of the service and sacrifices of fallen warriors and their families. This year’s event, hosted by the EOD Warrior Foundation, was the 52nd Memorial Ceremony and recognized 343 fallen. Members of Atlantic Diving Supply, including former EOD technicians who we’re proud to work alongside every day, were honored to attend the ceremony in memory of their colleagues.
Jim Brooks, Maritime Category Manager at Atlantic Diving Supply and former EOD technician, reflected on the service. “It was a combination of different emotions. It started out as a moving, solemn ceremony to pay tribute to those who have fallen and then we started talking about others who had passed and sharing old sea stories. There’s a strong sense of camaraderie in the EOD family.”
Sharing Brooks’ sentiment is Chad Harris, a Business Development Manager at Atlantic Diving Supply and former EOD technician. Having retired in December 2020 after 28.5 years of service, the ceremony was Harris’ first event out of uniform. “It’s amazing to see everyone out here supporting and honoring the fallen. It’s like a big reunion, unfortunately under not the best circumstances.”
Meet Jim Brooks
When asked how Brooks ended up in EOD, he attributes the choice to his father, who told him upon leaving for the Navy, “Be the absolute best at what you do. I want it to be righteous and extremely challenging.” After a year and a half as a Navy technician, Brooks became intrigued with the EOD work as he watched the technicians detonate unexploded ordnance. The EOD team recruited Brooks and took him under their wing.
Brooks held many EOD positions across multiple duty stations, including mobile units, detachments and stints in Puerto Rico, where he detonated disposed ordinance. He trained technicians at EOD school and eventually became the command master chief, mentoring young EOD technicians. He was also an enlisted community manager, helping guide the careers of Navy SEALS, EOD technicians, divers and special warfare combatant craft crewmen.
After 26 years of active duty service, Brooks retired from the Navy in 2006. When the opportunity to work at Atlantic Diving Supply arose, which supplied his first wetsuits in the Navy, he jumped at the opportunity. In his position, he manages everything maritime and diving supply-related -- from snorkels and inflatable boats to underwater systems and vehicles -- and greatly appreciates the culture at Atlantic Diving Supply.
“There are many military retirees and super motivated and smart people who believe in the Atlantic Diving Supply cause, and the military. It’s rewarding to be able to give the military the equipment they need at a fast pace. We see a transition out of the land war to more of a maritime environment, and that makes us feel really relevant,” shared Brooks.
Meet Chad Harris
Inspired and mentored by his uncle who served in the Navy, Harris went from high school directly to the Navy. Harris learned about EOD from his uncle, who wished he had known of the opportunity earlier in his own military career. Harris’ career began as a welder/technician aboard a naval ship, including advanced training to hone his skills. He then took the deep sea diver route, attending dive school followed by 8 years of service as a diver based in San Diego.
It was when Harris was sent to Guam that he got a firsthand look at the EOD world -- a combination of diving, airplane jumps, detonating ordinance and more -- and knew that was what he wanted to do. So, from Guam, Harris went to EOD school, where he found his true calling. He rose through the ranks from operational deployment to leadership roles, including his final role as Command Master Chief.
“I would have stayed longer but I got the opportunity to work at Atlantic Diving Supply and took it,” said Harris. “I still get to be involved with the military post-military, working on EOD robotics and mechanics, and with warfighters like marine combat engineers, and assisting the DOD. I’m huge on team and camaraderie. Atlantic Diving Supply is the place for me. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Atlantic Diving Supply has been a proud supporter of EOD Warrior Foundation for more than a decade. EOD Warrior Foundation holds several events throughout the year to support EOD warriors and their families, including a cycling series, polar plunge, virtual auction, wellness retreats and more, all open to the public.