Arizona Army Guard explosive ordnance disposal unit in send off ceremony

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PHOENIX -- A send off ceremony was held Tuesday in Phoenix for 10 soldiers of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company (EOD) of the Arizona Army National Guard who will be deployed to Afghanistan.

The 363rd EOD flew to Fort Bliss, Texas Wednesday morning to train for about a month before they go to Afghanistan.

“These are the guys you see in the big bomb suits like in the movie ‘The Hurt Locker’,” said Sgt. Edward Balaban. “That’s their job, and it’s enormously dangerous.”

Balaban explained the unit’s mission will be to eliminate all explosive hazards in assigned areas and provide explosive ordnance disposal support to military and civilian organizations.

Sgt. Chad Ackerman is a single father who is facing his third deployment.

“It actually gets harder as they get older,” said Ackerman. “It’s easier when the kids are young and they don’t realize what’s going on.”

Ackerman's mother, Sally,  was at the ceremony to show her support but she will also be there for his children while he is deployed.

"It's a lot of responsibility as I'm the girls caregiver now," she said.

The unit is expected to be in Afghanistan for about 10 months.

According to Balaban, more than 500 Arizona and Air National Guard members are serving on active duty in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and within the continental U.S.