Heroic acts take place every day
By TSgt Jaclyn Carver, 125th Fighter Wing
/ Published September 18, 2012
Heroic acts take place every day. People risk their lives for others and for the chance to make a difference. As an experienced Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician, Master Sgt. Raleigh Rogers has been a witness to--and a part of--many heroic ac -- Master Sgt. Rogers was recently honored during a commander's call at the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville, Fla., on August 19, 2012. Colonel James Eifert, Commander, had the honor of pinning a Bronze Star to Sergeant Rogers' chest. The Bronze Star is one of the highest military honors and is presented for heroic or meritorious achievement. Rogers received his Bronze Star for his actions while deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. Rogers has also been awarded an Army Commendation Medal and an Air Force Combat Action Medal for previous deployments. As Master Sgt. Rogers stood before the entire Wing, receiving applause and admiration, he couldn't help but think of his fellow EOD Airmen he's known through the years and the team he led and worked with while deployed.
Rogers has been serving since 2000, and became a member of the Air National Guard in 2005. He has deployed twice, once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Each time there have been different challenges, but Rogers says the goals are always the same
" My goals going into this deployment were to bring my team home safe, protect our coalition forces and Afghan civilians to the upmost, while representing the Air Force and Florida Air National Guard well in everything we did."
While deployed to Forward Operating Bases (FOB) and Combat Outposts (COP) throughout Afghanistan, Sgt. Rogers and his team cleared more than 33 improvised explosive devices, destroyed over a thousand pounds of enemy weaponry, and cleared more than 1,200 miles of routes allowing freedom of movement for coalition forces. A particular mission took place close to FOB Ghazni. A cache was discovered where a civilian house had been forcefully taken over by the Taliban to be used to set up attacks on passing traffic. The EOD team was able to enter the house, render it safe, and return it to the owners. This mission led to recovering forensic data to identify previously unknown enemy combatants. Missions like this one are common for EOD technicians. Often people think they are only called in to blow something up. While this is something they are very good at, one of the main jobs of an EOD technician is to identify and dispose of any hazard safely by disabling and removing it quietly before it can be utilized.
Working as a team is an integral part of the job and Rogers was thankful to have Staff Sgt. Steven Gilberg, a fellow EOD tech from the 125th Fighter Wing, with him on deployment. They know each other well and helped keep each other safe. The EOD community is small, representing only 0.3 percent of the total US Air Force population but it has one of the highest killed-in-action rates with 27 percent of all USAF KIA's being EOD Airmen. Master Sgt Rogers has lost friends and former technical school classmates to this statistic. It's a dangerous career, full of heroic acts that may often go unnoticed.
Master Sgt. Rogers and the team he led risked their lives to keep others safe. Four EOD technicians from the 125th Fighter Wing have deployed to warzones a total of eight times in nine years. They know the true meaning of service-before-self and have no choice but to excel in all they do.
Rogers said "At the end of the day you have a job to do and there is no easy button."
Today's EOD force is the best in the world and better than ever before, they have been in combat, completed their missions, and made a difference.