I Really Enjoyed Being An Army Ordnance Officer (thankfully, I Never Saw Combat)

I was an eagle scout, a regular all american Indiana boy.  As college time approached the military seemed a great route to a college education and a fulfilling career.  I was awarded a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship just before High School Graduation.  I graduated (Purdue University) was married to my hometown honey, and reported to active duty all in a three week period in December 1982.  That was probably the most exciting month of my life thusfar.


I finished Ordnance Officer Basic Course at Aberdeen Proving Ground and served my first duty assignment at Red River Army Depot.  It was a wonderful life for a young officer with a new beautiful bride.

I wanted a command and the Army was short of Explosive Ordnance Disposal qualified officers.  I graduated from Ordnance Officer Advanced Course at Redstone Arsenal and then the EOD school at Indianhead, MD.  I graduated top in my class and had my crab pinned on by Brigadier General Foot, the only female general officer I ever saw in person.


I commanded the 28th Ordnance detachment (EOD) for just a month shy of four years.  It was the best duty I ever had.  Lots of protection details in support of the Secret Service.  Many week of duty in the Old Executive Office building next to the White House.  Also a team leader on a Special IED team that provided opportunities for some very cool training and training exercise opportunities.  Also went to Fort Lee for Material Acquisition Management (my secondary speciality) and CAS3 at Fort Leavnworth.


My last duty station was at Yakota AFB, Japan.  A very unusual assignment for an Army Captain.  The Science and Technology Center - Far East was by far the most unique assignment I have ever heard of for an Ordnance Officer.  The position required an EOD qualified officer with a secondary specialty in Material Acquisition Management.  I traveled all over Japan and throughout the Far East.  I handed out more Scotch and Jack Daniels than you can ever imagine.  I had a Japanese "man friday" who traveled with me in Japan as interperter, translator, and assistant.  Three visits to Red China.  Also South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong (it was Brit then).  Almost got to USSR and Pakistan but both events got shot down by our State Department.


I separated from Active Duty under the Voluntary Separation Incentive program (VSI).  I still have four years of annual paychecks coming from that program.  It wasn't as good a deal as retirement as a Colonel would be but you never know how things will turn out.  I am happy about my decison to leave and alway remember my service years with positive memories.  The only thing I really miss is popping a cap every now and then.  It is just a lot more difficult for a civilian to play with explosives.


Initial Success or Total Failure!

xtheduke xtheduke
46-50, M
4 Responses Mar 8, 2010

Hi there. I was just branched OD and will commission this May out of the ROTC program at the University of North Dakota. OD was not what I expected to be branched considering it was rather far down on my list. But needs of the Army dictated my military path would be ordnance for the next 3 1/2 years. In truth all top five of my picks were combat arms, I did the maintenance side of the Navy and sat in an air conditioned workshop on an aircraft carrier and watched a 1.4 million dollar computer do my job for me. Hated the hell out of it. I've accepted my career path, so now I'm trying to find a little light at the end of the tunnel. My fraternity brother is going through EOD school as we speak; he is my same boat. He said you can have a shot at Ranger school too, but what is there for a Ranger qualified OD officer? I have no clue where you can stationed as OD officer. Things are probably different now, but I plan on doing the full 20 and would like to make the most out of my career. My thing is I don't want to get stuck behind a desk. At 29 my body is still holding together and until my knees are shot and 1000mg of Bayer is a daily part of my diet I would like to say I did something exciting before they force me behind a desk. Thanks for any input.

ricktherick,<br />
<br />
You are welcome, glad you found it interesting. Number one, don't join the Army Reserves if you are not mentally prepared for deployment. The reserves are an integral part of the fighting force and the majority of the combat service support units (Ordnance is a combat service support branch) are in the reserves (National Guard units are mostly combat units, Infantry, Armor, Artillery)<br />
<br />
The great thing about the Ordnance Corp is that the officer personnel structure is an inverted pyramid. There are more senior officer slots than there are junior officer slots. It is just the opposite in combat branches. There are far more junior infantry officers than there are senior infantry officer slots. Therefore, as combat officers approach promotion many are weeded out (not promoted) or have to branch transfer.<br />
<br />
I liked being an EOD Officer but the field is very small and out of the main stream. My EOD Control Center (HQ) was at Fort Meade. I don't believe there has ever been an EOD qualified General Officer in the history of the Army. But Mechanical Maintenance is huge and is a challenging job in peace and war (stuff breaks and needs to be fixed on training exercises just like in combat with fewer bullet holes.)

Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am actually looking to be an Army Reserve Officer and there are currently a few slots open in Fort Meade for Ordnance officers, hoping maybe to then go active. Do you have any insight or thoughts about Reserve Ordnance units? Any advice for looking into the Ordnance branch in general?

Thank you for sharing. I am glad you enjoyed your experience in the military and you never know how things may have worked out had you stayed in.