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EOD Airmen test explosive skill

Tech. Sgt. Erich Sanford and Senior Airman Joshua Wilcox, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal, review location coordinates prior to their training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team was able to use their training exercise to clear a waterway of debris for the Juneau County Forestry Department. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Tech. Sgt. Erich Sanford and Senior Airman Joshua Wilcox, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal, review location coordinates prior to their training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team was able to use their training exercise to clear a waterway of debris for the Juneau County Forestry Department. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Senior Master Sgt. Ed Smith, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal superintendent, briefs people from the Juneau County Forestry Department and the Department of Natural Resources prior to an EOD training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team cleared a waterway for the Juneau County Forestry Department using various explosives. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Senior Master Sgt. Ed Smith, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal superintendent, briefs people from the Juneau County Forestry Department and the Department of Natural Resources prior to an EOD training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team cleared a waterway for the Juneau County Forestry Department using various explosives. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing load their rucksack with explosives during a training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team used their training exercise to clear a waterway for the Juneau County Forestry Department using their explosive knowledge. The exercise gave the young Airmen a chance to see the benefits of their training live. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing load their rucksack with explosives during a training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team used their training exercise to clear a waterway for the Juneau County Forestry Department using their explosive knowledge. The exercise gave the young Airmen a chance to see the benefits of their training live. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Tech. Sgt. Erich Sanford and Senior Airman Joshua Wilcox, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal, prepare the detonation cord prior to an explosive training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team used their training exercise to clear a waterway for the Juneau County Forestry Department, preventing possible floods in the local area. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Tech. Sgt. Erich Sanford and Senior Airman Joshua Wilcox, 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal, prepare the detonation cord prior to an explosive training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team used their training exercise to clear a waterway for the Juneau County Forestry Department, preventing possible floods in the local area. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

The 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal team pauses for a photo following their successful explosive training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team used their knowledge to clear a waterway and prevent future flooding for the Juneau County Forestry Department. Once the ice melts, this area will have free-flowing water running through it. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

The 115th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal team pauses for a photo following their successful explosive training exercise in Finley, Wis., March 6, 2015. The EOD team used their knowledge to clear a waterway and prevent future flooding for the Juneau County Forestry Department. Once the ice melts, this area will have free-flowing water running through it. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

FINLEY, Wis. -- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing applied their expertise to solve a real-world problem during a training exercise in Finley, Wisconsin, March 6.

The Airmen supported the Juneau County Forestry Department by clearing a beaver dam, allowing water to drain properly and preventing further forest destruction and flooding throughout the local area.

"Last year our department was informed, by an adjacent private land-owner, of significant flooding occurring in a remote area of the Juneau County Forest," said Brian Loyd, Juneau County Forestry Department administrator. "The flooding was impacting the county forest as well as backing up on the neighbor's land."

After investigating the flooded areas, a series of beaver dams were located in a drainage ditch used to drain a significant area in northern Juneau County. The remote location and high water table prevented heavy duty machinery from entering the area to clear the way. Another solution was needed.

Following conversations at Hardwood Range about the dam, Loyd was put in contact with Senior Master Sgt. Ed Smith, 115 EOD superintendent. In coordination with Wisconsin Air National Guard leadership, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and the Adjutant General, Smith gained approval to fulfill this request for assistance by using it as a real-world training opportunity for his young Airmen.

The Juneau County Forest Department and the EOD team worked together to ensure safety precautions were followed and a plan was well distinguished ahead of time.

"Demolition training of this nature would typically be accomplished on Hardwood Range, and would not show the working potential of the explosives like this did," said Master Sgt. Gilbert Holcomb, 115 EOD flight resources non-commissioned officer in-charge. "Everything went as planned."

The team started by using two shape charges on the top of the dam.
"This provided two cylindrical holes in which we could place our main charges of dynamite and C-4," Holcomb said. "The main charges removed the dam and allowed the free flow of the retained water."

The team was able to use the opportunity to train its Airmen and help the local community at the same time.

"EOD did an excellent job and accomplished the dam removal," Loyd said. "Water was already beginning to drain rapidly through the channel. The Juneau County Forestry Department greatly appreciates the effort and skill used."

The dam removal was part of a 10-day training exercise EOD Airmen participated in at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin. They were able to see a 40-pound shape charge, a 15-pound shape charge, 20-pounds of C-4, 20-pounds of dynamite, and 120 feet of detonation cord in action, vital training for the team.
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