Face of Defense: Marine EOD Technician Continues Family Legacy

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --

Every time Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Derrick Kee puts on the heavy, cumbersome explosive ordnance disposal bomb suit, he is reminded of the important reasons that led him to where he is today.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Derrick Kee, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, poses for a photo at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., July 21, 2017 He is a third-generation Marine. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Skyler Pumphret
Marine continues family legacy as EOD technician
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Derrick Kee, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, poses for a photo at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., July 21, 2017 He is a third-generation Marine. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Skyler Pumphret

In 2008, Kee stepped onto the yellow footprints to continue a family legacy.

"I'm a third-generation Marine," he explained. "My father, grandfather and grandmother all joined the Marine Corps. My grandfather went to Korea and Vietnam and got out in the 1980s, and my dad was a linguist."

After a tour as a Marine Corps security force guard, he carried the legacy even further by becoming an explosive ordnance disposal technician. It wasn't a random decision, he said.

"In 2011, I had a buddy who stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both of his legs," Kee said. That inspired him to switch his specialty three years ago to become an EOD technician, he added.

Today, he is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron here, where he supports an EOD mission that works on both sides of the fence.

Critical Expertise

An explosive ordnance disposal technician locates, accesses, identifies, renders safe, neutralizes and disposes of hazards from all manner of foreign and domestic unexploded ordnance, IEDs and weapons of mass destruction that threaten operations, installations, personnel or materiel. That expertise is critical on the battlefield, but also is highly valued by local law enforcement organizations, which sometimes request military EOD support.

Kee said he soon realized that being an EOD technician requires critical thinking and making careful, quick decisions on the spot. "There's delegation, but more initiative in your ability to think," he said.

An EOD technician has to learn about thousands of types of U.S. and foreign ordnance, Kee said. "There's never a point where you are not learning something new," he added. "That's one of the best things about this [specialty]."

Service members thinking about becoming an EOD technician must be willing to learn and aware that they can never afford to become complacent, Kee said, and they must ask questions, stay physically fit and be critical thinkers.

Though he changed his specialty to become an EOD technician, Kee said, he has no plans to look for something different now. "Never," he said. "This is it."