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U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Paul I. Padilla, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, demonstrates how to operate the 310 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle tablet to an attendee of San Clemente High School’s military appreciation day at Thalassa Stadium, San Clemente, California, Sept. 8, 2023. Padilla demonstrated the equipment used by EOD Marines to locate, neutralize, and dispose of hazards with remote control robots and a bomb suit to students and parents of San Clemente High School. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jennifer Sanchez)

Photo by LCpl. Jennifer Sanchez

Marine EOD Tech Inspires Students at San Clemente High School's Military Appreciation Night

19 Sep 2023 | By Lance Cpl. Jennifer Sanchez 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

As the sun set on a Friday night football game at San Clemente High School, a different kind of spectacle captivated the crowd during the football team’s military appreciation night, Sept. 8. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Paul I. Padilla, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, showed high school students, family members, and teachers how to handle Marine Corps robotic systems and helped them don bomb suits. 

Padilla’s son, Esteban Padilla, is a freshman at San Clemente High School and player on the football team that hosted the military appreciation event to recognize and connect with active duty and veteran family members of their students. 

“Hopefully, seeing us out here would give them a positive perception and a better idea of all the different types of jobs they can do in the Marine Corps,” Padilla said. “See that there are more opportunities and responsibilities to develop better as a person.” 

Students used a remote controller and a tablet to control a Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle and the Man-Transportable Robotic System robots. These robots remotely investigate and defuse explosive devices and can access confined spaces, approach potential threats, and carry specialized tools and equipment to safely handle neutralized explosives. Attendees also had the opportunity to don the bomb suit and perform small movement tests, providing them with hands-on experience of one of the Marine Corps’ many combat capabilities and equipment sets. 

“When I was in high school, I didn’t think I would need math, but now that I’m an EOD tech, I use math every single day,” Padilla said. 

An EOD technician supports Marines, special operations forces, other U.S. government agencies, and international Allies and partners by detecting, locating, accessing, diagnosing, rendering safe, neutralizing, recovering, exploiting, and disposing of hazards. 

“There’s no misconception of how dangerous my job is, but my children know the importance of my job and why I’m out here doing what I am doing,” Padilla said. “My wife and I push our son to pursue a higher education, but the military is an option if he chooses.” 

An EOD technician is not an entry-level military occupation specialty; Padilla began his career as an Aviation Ordnance Systems Technician. While deployed to Afghanistan, Padilla met several EOD technicians and observed their work, handling explosive devices and hazardous materials. Padilla was inspired to transition and pursue a career as an EOD technician. 

“EOD is an incredible job to have in the Marine Corps because of all of the advantages we have, such as education. There is a wide variety of follow-on schools to be more proficient in our job. We get to travel all over the world,” Padilla said. “I would like to retire in the Marine Corps, but ultimately it’s going to be a family decision.” 

Padilla emphasizes the importance of education to his son, as he begins looking at his future. 

“It’s pretty cool seeing my dad out here. I usually don’t really have a lot of friends with military parents or relatives,” the younger Padilla said. “I’m proud to be a military kid, and maybe when I’m older, I’ll join the Marine Corps.” 

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