Two Capital Region Soldiers to represent National Guard during Army-wide explosive ordnance disposal contest

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Staff Sgt. Evan Putman (left) and Spc. Michael Wing,maneuver a Talon EOD robot through a lane during the 52nd Ordnance Group's Best Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team competition .

LATHAM, NY (09/06/2017) (readMedia)-- Two Capital Regional Army National Guard Soldiers will represent the Army National Guard's explosive ordnance disposal community at the Army's 2017 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team of the Year Competition at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia.

Staff Sgt. Evan Putman, a Charleton resident, and Specialist Michael Wing, an Albany resident, were selected for this honor based on their performance during an explosive ordnance disposal competition held at Indiana's Muscatatuck Urban Training Center August 5 to 12.

The two Soldiers are members of the Glenville-based 1108th Ordnance Company (EOD).

EOD Soldiers are called on in combat zones when an improvised explosive munition needs to be disposed of. Here in the United States they respond to potential terrorist threats or dispose of the old World War II hand grenade which somebody found in an attic.

The two will compete in the U.S. Army Ordnance Crucible from September 11-15. The crucible competition is designed to test Soldiers' teamwork and critical thinking skills as they apply technical solutions to real world problems.

Putman and Wing's outstanding performance is "a very big deal" according to Command Sgt. Major Kevin Conklin, the top non-commissioned officer for the New York Army National Guard's 501st Ordnance Battalion (EOD). The 501st is the higher headquarters of the 1108th.

"What it really shows is despite our limited time and resources, we have Soldiers who are keeping pace with the active component," Conklin said.

"Neither one of these guys have ever been on active duty. They are purely Guard trained," he added.

The Indiana event was a joint EOD competition held by the 52nd Ordnance Group and the 111th Ordnance Group at The 52d group is the headquarters for all active Army EOD units east of the Mississippi, while the the 111th Ordnance Group is the higher headquarters for all Guard EOD units.

Putman, a full-time National Guard Soldiers, has been an EOD Soldier and a New York Army National Guardsman since 2009. When he's not acting as an EOD team leader he's the supply sergeant for the 1108th EOD.

Wing enlisted in the 1108th two years ago, but just finished up with training in April this year. Neither Soldier has deployed to combat. In civilian life Wing is a code inspector.

Putman said he joined the Army National Guard to be an EOD Soldier because: "I just really wanted to help people."

"Back in 2009 it seemed the most helpful thing I could do," he added.

"It fits my personality pretty well," he added. "I was that kid who took his dad's drill apart and put it back together again. It is challenging."

Wing said he joined EOD because of the challenge.

"It is because it has that specialist quality to it. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you busy. It is a unique skill set," Wing said.

The Muscatatuck competition challenged the EOD teams with a wide variety of explosive disposal problems. The events also tested physical fitness and stamina.

The competitors were tested on their ability to identify ordnance and use specific EOD tools. They operated and conducted trouble shooting on EOD robots.

The judges evaluated the Soldiers on their ability to identify and handle homemade explosives properly, as well as dealing with a depleted uranium munition and identifying radiation sources.

Putman and Wing had to employ X-ray devices effectively and deal with landmines and improvised explosive devices.

At the same time they were also tested on basic Soldier skills; land navigation, weapons use, troop leading procedures, tactical movement and land navigation.