December 12, 2012 -- MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – He is nondescript—not too tall, not too muscular. He seems like any average person you might meet at a coffee house, pleasant even.
After giving college a try, he decided it was time for a change and he turned to the Marine Corps. While in the Marines, he served as an avionics technician for five years before deciding to give another career path a chance.
A far cry from mundane college classes and highly-technical aviation work, he has chosen a career marked by moments of heart-pounding, gut-wrenching fear.
“Every one of the people I’ve told [I was doing this] who were in the military told me I was stupid or crazy,” said Sgt. Corey Jones, a San Diego native who is training to become an explosive ordnance disposal technician aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
“For the past couple of years I’ve been completely fascinated with explosives,” said Jones. “I love the fact that this job is going to be a challenge, the camaraderie and the amount of respect that EOD Marines have earned not just from each other, but from countless others as well. I wanted to be a part of that, so here I am.”
As part of his on-the-job training, Jones shadows his soon-to-be peers as they carry out their daily missions. One of these missions is to train and keep in constant mastery of their skills, calling for training sessions in many different fields, much like the inert training Dec. 12.
“We try to mitigate hazards so others can carry out their missions,” said Staff Sgt. Kris March, an EOD team leader with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 and a Greenwich, Conn., native. “[Jones] was an air wing Marine and decided he would like to do something a little more exciting; he wanted to feel like he was a part of something bigger than himself. It was a big decision to make, especially when in the field, his team leader could be injured while doing his job and [Jones] would have to take over. That’s a huge responsibility for a young sergeant and he will have to be able to step up when the time comes.”
The minimum rank required to join the EOD family is sergeant. As a sergeant, most Marines are resident experts in their occupational fields, they know the workings of the job and most other Marines come to them for information.
“For [Jones], it’s a whole new Marine Corps,” said Master Sgt. Dennis Williams, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the MWSS-373 EOD technicians and a Youngstown, Ohio, native. “This is an aspect of the Corps that not a whole lot of people get to see. He was a resident expert in his field and that’s all he knew for his five years in the Marine Corps and now he’s starting almost all over again.”
As a trainee, Jones’s mentors think highly of the newly promoted sergeant.
“He soaks everything in like a sponge,” said Williams. “He’s very intelligent and loves to be hands-on while learning. He just sucks in the information as fast as we can give it to him and wants to be as prepared for his training as possible before he goes. He’s performing at a very high level at this point, because he wants to touch everything, wants to learn and ask questions. It kind of motivates me to see this young sergeant jump out there to learn something new to better himself and the Corps at the same time.”
While bettering himself with the teachings of the EOD Marines stationed with MCAS Miramar, Jones also has another ordeal ahead of him.
“The process to become an explosive ordnance disposal technician is pretty rigorous,” said March. “The school has a screening process to weed out the people who are trying to join this field for the wrong reasons, like a potential bonus or because it’s ‘cool’ and outside the norm. School lasts for up to eight months, possibly even longer, and even after he finishes his schooling he’s never going to stop learning. Jones understands that, and I think he’s going to be a good fit in this field because of it.”
While thinking of joining this career field, Jones would talk to his peers in the Marine Corps and other services and receive exclamations of a matching tune.
“It’s not just a bunch of stupid, crazy kids going around blowing stuff up for the heck of it,” explained Jones. “These are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met and had the pleasure of working with.”