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Face of Defense: Veteran Airman Changes Career Fields

By Air Force Airman Nathan H. Barbour 355th Fighter Wing

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., July 28, 2016 — Leaving a career field can be a scary proposition for an airman who has been performing and learning the ins and outs of the job for the better part of a decade. The new career he or she chooses may or may not be a good fit.

Despite that, Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael McNally, a scheduler with the 355th Maintenance Group here, recently became eligible to retrain into another career field, so he decided to change direction.

‘It’s Time to Get My Hands Dirty’

“I’ve filled mainly a support role for eight years now and it’s time to get my hands dirty,” McNally said.

McNally applied for retraining and qualified for his first choice of explosive ordnance disposal technician.

“It’s a requirement in the Air Force Instruction that you do a 10-day immersion,” McNally said. “You work directly with EOD for two weeks straight.”

This immersion course serves a dual purpose of showing the airmen exactly what EOD technicians do on a regular basis and determining if the candidate is right for the job.

“I’ve been learning all about ordnance and the different types of bombs and projectiles,” McNally said. “It’s a lot of information to take in.”

EOD technicians must be able to perform intricate procedures under high-stress conditions in all kinds of environments.

‘Always Looking For Good Candidates’

“We’re always looking for good candidates for the program because it takes a special person to volunteer for this type of duty,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Edward Lockhart, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight superintendent.

EOD is considered one of the most-hazardous career fields in the Air Force.

“I make sure they appreciate what our job fully entails, and then let them know, honestly, what risk is involved,” Lockhart said. “I have faced tragedy [in this career field], however, the good we do outweighs those negative experiences.”

The career field may attract airmen because of how the risks involved encourage strong bonds between the EOD technicians.

“My week here has been a big eye opener to see what else is out there in the Air Force.” McNally said. “In the maintenance support role, you don’t really find a brotherhood like you do here.”
Distribution channels: Military