Probably the most embellished soldier in an elite Military explosive ordnance disposal firm retired final month after a legendary profession that included defusing a whole bunch of bombs, saving the lives of numerous service members, receiving the nation’s second-highest award for valor, and almost dying underneath hearth a minimum of twice.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Dawson, a member of the twenty eighth Ordnance Firm (EOD), which frequently deploys with the Military’s seventy fifth Ranger Regiment and different particular operations models, retired on Might 17 after recovering from a gunshot wound he sustained in Afghanistan in 2019. The bullet left him paralyzed from the chest down, however with the assistance of bodily therapists and his personal ‘never-quit’ angle, he discovered to stroll once more and accomplished a 3.1-mile unassisted stroll lower than a 12 months after he was shot.
In recognition of his achievement, Dawson turned the primary Military bomb tech to be upgraded from an “honorary member” of the Ranger Regiment to a “distinguished member,” which the soldier stated was the spotlight of his profession.
“I used to be surrounded by individuals who needed to be there,” Dawson stated, in line with an Military press launch. “It has been an honor working with the seventy fifth Ranger Regiment. Their experience and professionalism set the usual for others to look as much as.”
Dawson’s profession is a microcosm of the distinctive strains of the International Warfare on Terror on the U.S. army and on the explosive ordnance disposal neighborhood specifically. After first deploying to Iraq with the 722nd EOD Firm, the Coalville, Utah native was chosen for the twenty eighth Ordnance Firm, a small unit of handpicked, highly-trained EOD troopers. Throughout his six years with the twenty eighth, Dawson deployed to Afghanistan seven occasions. Different EOD troopers confronted related burdens, as coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan contended with 1000’s of improvised explosive gadgets that wanted to be disabled.
“Many maneuver parts relied closely on the ability and competency of EOD technicians. Not simply from the Military however all providers.” Dawson stated. “I usually overheard many members of the weather we’ve supported say that they’d by no means go outdoors of the wire with out EOD on the manifest. That’s what makes EOD techs so necessary to the army.”
EOD troops rendered secure greater than 100,000 improvised explosive gadgets in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006, the press launch stated, a number of hundred of which had been defeated by Dawson himself. The tech disabled a number of throughout one significantly brutal mission in 2013.
“As an EOD tech, probably the most memorable missions stand out as a result of they had been both actually good or actually dangerous,” Dawson stated. “Working with particular operations forces, you usually end up in conditions the place the end result can sway in both route in a second’s discover.”
A kind of missions occurred in Afghanistan on Oct. 5, 2013. Dawson and a number of other different troopers got down to seize or kill a Taliban chief. The specter of improvised explosive gadgets was low and the chief was presupposed to be a simple goal, Dawson defined.
“Upon infiltration every little thing modified in minutes,” he stated.
The difficulty began when three explosives detonated on the gate of the enemy compound nearly concurrently, together with two stress plate IEDs and a suicide vests worn by a girl dwelling within the compound, wounding eight troopers. A Taliban fighter additionally detonated one other suicide vest, killing the group’s army working canine, Jani. The blast additionally critically injured Dawson within the leg, however he was the one bomb tech on the group, and with stress plate IEDs surrounding them, Dawson stayed to complete the job.
The EOD technician checked for extra explosives and cleared a route in the direction of the casualties from the sooner blasts. However whereas troopers handled the wounded, troopers one other string of stress plate IEDs went off, immediately killing a fight nurse assigned to the group. Two extra troopers had been fatally wounded by IEDs mere moments later, and one other soldier serving to evacuate wounded troopers onto a helicopter was additionally critically wounded. Dawson established a casualty assortment level and started the tedious work of clearing lanes via an IED-infested space for evacuating casualties.
“This situation, one of the crucial complicated in explosive detection, required Sergeant Dawson to repeatedly expose himself to energetic [pressure plate IEDs] underneath restricted visibility situations,” stated Dawson’s award quotation. “His markings of secure paths ensured environment friendly motion throughout the target and restricted further casualties, as members of the assault power continued to maneuver in an effort to render support.”
The soldier used his metallic detector and his personal eyes to find the explosives, after which he used chemical lights to mark secure paths, however the horror was not over. At one level, a soldier set off a tenth explosive, shedding each his legs, rupturing one in every of Dawson’s ear drums and sending much more fragmentation into his physique.
“Utterly disregarding his personal wounds, Sergeant Dawson instantly moved to help the platoon medic treating Corporal Hargis,” the quotation learn.
When Hargis was stabilized, Dawson then helped clear a route again to the casualty assortment level and reported the state of affairs to newly-arrived bomb techs earlier than a employees sergeant realized how badly Dawson was wounded and ordered him to get on the following casualty evacuation. As dangerous because the mission was, it may have been even worse if not for Dawson’s heroic actions clearing paths for medics and reinforcements.
“Regardless of being wounded by two separate IED detonations, Sergeant Dawson endured probably the most horrific circumstances whereas persistently pursuing the preservation of life,” the quotation learn. “Sergeant Dawson remained on the target for over two hours traversing an ambiguous and chaotic goal the place he positioned three confirmed PPIEDs and an extra six suspected gadgets.”
The EOD tech was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for valor, for his actions, however that was removed from the tip of Dawson’s bomb disposal days. Like the remainder of his profession subject, Dawson and his abilities had been desperately wanted on the entrance strains, regardless of them usually not having the identical degree of sources and staffing as their fellow troopers.
“Whereas fewer than 100 bomb techs have served within the [28th Ordnance Company] throughout its decade-long existence, they’ve carried out greater than 5,000 fight missions, in line with members of the unit,” The New York Occasions reported in 2019. The Occasions additionally reported that members of the twenty eighth needed to combat to get the identical uniforms, physique armor and medical care issued to their particular operations colleagues. Dawson himself suffered from infections in his proper arm when it took him seven and a half months to get a medical appointment at Fort Bragg to tug out the remaining fragments from one of many bomb blasts he sustained in 2013. It was solely when his arm swelled up whereas making ready for one more deployment that he lastly obtained an appointment.
“It could get actual scorching, so I used to be like, ‘This stuff are an actual concern. They should come out,’” Dawson instructed the Occasions, including that the process took a mere quarter-hour.
The EOD tech went on to combat one other few years earlier than he was by chance shot by an American advisor whereas on a mission in Afghanistan in July 2019, in line with the New York Occasions.
“Once I was shot, it got here in my proper arm and got here to relaxation upon impacting and fracturing my left shoulder blade, collapsing each lungs and exposing my spinal wire within the course of,” Dawson stated within the current Military press launch. A medic saved his life through the use of a chest tube to inflate the soldier’s collapsing lungs.
“I’m grateful for the experience of the medic that carried out life-saving remedy which allowed me the chance to stay regardless of all odds,” he stated.
Dawson was airlifted to Germany for surgical procedure earlier than finally touchdown within the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida, which makes a speciality of spinal accidents. Little doubt utilizing the identical mentality that obtained him via seven deployments and the horrific 2013 mission, Dawson slowly discovered to face and stroll once more, and inside a 12 months of his damage, the soldier walked 5 kilometers unassisted. He has since walked a 10k and took half in a triathlon the place he swam a quarter-mile, biked 11 miles, and walked a 5k with out assist.
“The important thing to my restoration was principally psychological,” he stated. “I misplaced management of every little thing from the chest down, with that I misplaced any bodily conditioning previous to my damage. I primarily needed to begin over as a new child in a 33-year-old man’s physique … Since I’m nonetheless attempting to relearn every little thing, I’ve to maintain a constructive psychological angle so I can proceed to progress.”
One would possibly assume that seven deployments and recovering from paralysis is sufficient for one lifetime, however Dawson is continuous to push himself bodily and intellectually. The 35-year-old North Carolina resident desires to “stay energetic” as a lot as attainable, he stated. “I take pleasure in searching, fishing, mountain climbing and different out of doors actions that get my coronary heart pumping. Sooner or later, I wish to full a mud run.”
The Military veteran has additionally enrolled in faculty and needs to seek out methods of serving to different vets, the press launch stated. That form of outreach appears to be in line with Dawson’s humble spirit, as described by Maj. Stephen Knudsen, commander of the twenty eighth Ordnance Firm.
“He’s a legend within the profession subject, but he’s such a lightweight hearted, humorous and real individual,” he stated. “If there was anybody who has earned the proper to be tremendous boastful or macho, it’s him, however as a substitute you’re greeted by a humble man with a heat grin carrying a cat shirt.”
Dawson himself would most likely say he’s no completely different than every other member of the twenty eighth.
“What makes the twenty eighth an ideal firm is that it’s crammed with specifically chosen and properly educated troopers who won’t ever settle for defeat and by no means fail to finish the mission,” he stated. “Troopers who’ve the willingness to shoulder greater than their share of the duty, no matter it could be, 100% after which some.”