Tillotson, Commander of the service's Expeditionary Combat Command, recently directed the military's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) school, run by the Navy, to remove a potentially offensive motto from the walls of a Florida classroom, where new EOD techs are trained.
The motto: "Initial Success or Total Failure."
Admiral Tillotson, who is qualified as an EOD officer, is concerned the motto (which has been on the wall for years) is offensive to the dozens of EOD techs who have died on the job over the years. As we've noted in the past, EOD duty is perhaps the most dangerous in the military. EOD techs have been at the forefront of ground operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some have made the ultimate sacrifice. Each year, the EOD school remembers its fallen heroes with a moving ceremony at Eglin AFB, Florida, where additional names are added to its memorial. This year, 17 more names will join those already listed on the memorial, which is located at Eglin AFB.
As an EOD officer, Tillotson has a right to his opinion. But he seems to be ignoring the views of other techs, who believe the blunt motto summarizes their profession. As one former EOD troop told the Associated Press:
"...when you are dealing with an explosive device you generally get one shot to render it safe,” Will Pratt, a former Army EOD technician, wrote in an email to the Northwest Florida Daily News newspaper of Fort Walton Beach.
The admiral’s mandate was not popular with some current and former EOD members. A Facebook page has been dedicated to keeping the motto. They wrote on the Facebook page that the motto reminds them of the life or death consequences of their jobs.
If the EOD community isn't offended by the motto--created by one of their own--that's good enough for us. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Admiral Tillotson gets at Eglin, if he attends this year's ceremony.