July 4, 2010
On Hatteberg's People this Fourth of July weekend, we think about those who do jobs the rest of us wouldn't do in a million years. Staff Sergeant Eric Farley of McConnell has one of those jobs. He's a bomb disposal expert for the Air Force and through his deployment has become a hometown hero for the rest of us.
"I've always been drawn to exciting situations,” Farley said. "I was looking for something to propel my life forward, I get that better here than anywhere else."
"Here" is McConnell Air Force Base where Staff Sergeant Eric Farley continues his training on explosives.
"There" is Afghanistan, where he has completed two tours of duty as an ordinance disposal specialist.
"You have to be constantly aware of everything that is going on around you,” Farley said. “All situations, so you are very focused, very concentrated."
Here at McConnell in a demonstration in how he works with robots to diffuse bombs-- it is technology and sweat all coming together to make his work in bomb disposal a life-changing experience.
"It, in the way it is designed, serves every function that the human arm does. It's designed to work that way," Farley said.
From a console Staff Sgt. Farley has complete control of the robot as it picks up a suspicions package and moves it to a location where it can be disarmed.
"The toughest thing you deal with by far, is the loss of friends, because we are a very tight knit community, so when you lose a friend it is by far, the hardest thing to deal with," Farley said.
Back in training at McConnell, Staff Sgt. Farley dawns an incredibly heavy Kevlar protection suit to move a device into place that will destroy the would-be bomb.
"It weighs about 90 pounds for the large suit," Farley said.
"You can definitely feel the adrenalin, you can definitely feel the pressure of the situation around you and yet again, you just fall back on your training. You just stay focused on what you are doing and do your job and you rely on the guys around you to be doing their job.
"Everyone has a grasp that we're the ones who disarm bombs and anybody who does that has to be an interesting character," Farley said. "Everyone's goal is to save the lives of the people around them. We're there to make sure our guys are staying alive."
At McConnell since 2005 and with the Afghan tours under his belt, Eric has no plans to leave the job and the life he loves.
"I'm going to do 20 years at least,” Farley said. “I enjoy it that much."
So from the Afghan countryside to the safe confines of McConnell, Staff Sgt. Farley is one of those quiet heroes who just does his job, no matter how dangerous it may be.
"I absolutely love my job,” Farley said. “I couldn't imagine doing anything else."