In early January, we reported on the deaths of three Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians in Iraq. Master Sergeant Tim Weiner, Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki and Senior Airman Daniel Miller were killed as they approached a massive truck bomb near Camp Liberty, Iraq. Sergeant Weiner, a 16-year EOD veteran, was on his second tour in Iraq; Airman Loncki and Airman Miller were on their first rotation. But all shared a devotion to that most dangerous of military jobs--disabling explosive devices--where even the slightest mistake can be fatal.
This past weekend, members of the EOD community paid tribute to their fallen dead in an annual ceremony at Eglin AFB, where military EOD specialists are trained. Sergeant Weiner, Airman Loncki and Airman Miller were among 15 EOD techs who died in the line of duty in 2006--the community's highest death toll since World War II. Seven of those technicians were blue-suiters. Their names will be added to the Eglin memorial which honors all military EOD technicians killed in the line of duty.
Associated Press writer Melissa Nelson attended this year's EOD Memorial Service, and filed a moving account that features profiles of Weiner, Loncki and Miller--"Team Lima"--which responded on that fateful day in January. When you consider their valor and sacrifice, remember this point as well: In Iraq, coalition forces locate over 40% of IEDs and VBIEDs before they go off. And each those devices that is disarmed or safely detonated in place is a testament to the skill and courage of our EOD technicians.
Hat tip: Noah Shachtman at the Danger Room.