Air Force EOD embeds with Army units, part 2: Veteran female

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston
  • 506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
When Secretary of Defense Les Aspin directed the Military Services to open more specialties and assignments to women in April of 1993, it opened a door that nine years later Angela Danene Olguin would walk through.

Now, Staff Sgt. Olguin is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal journeyman with the 506th Air Expeditionary Group here, and forward deployed to FOB McHenry where she and other EOD Airmen are embedded with Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division.

For some, joining the military ranks is a patriotic calling to defend their country. For others, the reasons vary from one extreme to another.

With college not going the way she wanted, and the prospects of living at home for the rest of her life if she dropped out looming heavy on her mind, the military was the way to go, said Sergeant Olguin.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do," she said. "So, when the recruiter told me, 'you look like someone who would like to blow (stuff) up,' I replied 'Yep."

Training at the EOD School on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., presented a couple of challenges to Olquin, who could be described as a woman of small stature.

"There were no problems until we had to run in formation. The guys up front were 6 feet 5 inches and I'm in the back sprinting," Sergeant Olguin said, who is deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

"EOD School is a joint-service school and we're supposed to be a brotherhood, so everybody tries to help out everybody," Sergeant Olguin said. "If someone is weak in an area, the whole class will try to help you.

"I was loosing a tool one time because it was real heavy, and I just started dropping my arm. My instructor just picked it up and helped me walk with it," she said with a chuckle.

Now, in her third deployment to Iraq since 2005, Sergeant Olguin is taking on a great deal of responsibility at her own initiative. As one of eight EOD technicians deployed here from the Nellis AFB, she has responsibilities as a supervisor while she trains to become a team leader.

"She has the experience of a team leader and is a capable operator," said Master Sgt. Timothy Sterner, 506th EOD flight team leader.

Experience and training paid off for Sergeant Olguin and a member of her team, Senior Airman Aaron Skelton, after he was shot by a sniper during a post blast investigation.

"We were standing there discussing how were going to jimmy the hood open, and I heard a loud crack," said Sergeant Olguin. "I grabbed (Skelton) and ran to the truck. I bandaged (him) up to stop the bleeding and put in an IV.

"If I had not have gone through (Combat Life Saver) training, I wouldn't have known how to give an IV, which I'm glad I did, because (Skelton) was starting to go into shock a little bit," said Sergeant Olguin, who calls Cortez, Colo., home. "I knew that because of CLS, but I think common sense would have told me to stop the bleeding."

Sergeant Olguin has earned the respect of her subordinates, peers and superiors with her actions, performance and her attention to detail in Iraq.

"I have a lot of respect for Sergeant Olguin," said Senior Airman Joshua Brum, 506th EOD journeyman. "Actually, I think I get a little bit of strength from her after being in such close proximity here. She's going in the direction she wants.

"When she wants something, she says hey I want to do this. Even though she's not the team leader, she gets a lot more responsibility for what she wants to do. I have a lot of respect for that," said Airman Brum, who is also deployed from Nellis AFB.

As an EOD technician, Sergeant Olguin has her own hopes for how the actions of her unit during the last four months will affect the Iraqi people.

"I think (the Iraqi people) know we're here to help them. Our job is to minimize collateral damage when we dispose of ordnance," Sergeant Olguin said. "If we just go around blowing up all their (stuff), well, they're not going to call us anymore. Then the insurgents can use the stuff (on us)."