Vice President Joe Biden met Sailors previously assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Platoon 342 who were at G4 Studios today filming for new episodes of the network’s “Bomb Patrol Afghanistan” series that will air this Spring.
The premiere episode of the documentary “Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan” aired on G4 Oct. 25, 2011.
The film showed in detail the deployment of a platoon of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Sailors performing their duties in Afghanistan.
The opening sequence of the premiere launches into heart-pounding action as members of an EOD platoon in Afghanistan find themselves in a firefight, pinned down and taking heavy fire.
G4 greenlit the expensive, difficult and dangerous documentary on the lives of deployed Navy EOD disposaleers. Series producer Big Fish Entertainment embedded a crew of seven cameramen and producers into an eight-man Platoon 342 from EOD Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 Detachment 3 with the express purpose of capturing all aspects of a five-month deployment to Afghanistan, from farewell to homecoming.
They employed 15 cameras on helmets, body armor and anywhere else they could fit them to provide an all-encompassing view of the lives and events of the Navy EOD warriors in the field.
Platoon 342 was deploying to support EOD operations in northern Afghanistan, but once plans for the show were finalized, the deploying Sailors found themselves facing the challenges not only of life down range, but also of being accountable for seven additional personnel. For all parties involved the focus became the safety of the crew in a remote, hostile environment where they were unarmed and untrained for combat.
"The crew didn’t have knowledge of the combat zone, so you had to think outside the box. How would you take someone who is blind and deaf through the war zone," said Lt. Brad Penley, the platoon officer in charge. "There safety was our utmost concern at all times."
The platoon Sailors took time to train the G4 crew on the basics prior to deployment, and also stressed to them the necessity of a chain of command in military operations.
"We familiarized the crew with our procedures, discussed what they needed to do if we have an imminent threat and they knew the team leader was in charge," said Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician John Groat, the platoon’s leading chief petty officer. "They were told very early we would take care of them and their safety came before any video footage, that they needed to do what we said-and they understood that."
Fortunately none of the crew came to harm during the deployment, although one cameraman was rattled when the joint explosive readiness response vehicle (JERRV) he was in was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). The crew integrated with Platoon 342 successfully, resulting in not only great relationships between Sailors and cameramen, but also in unanticipated enhanced capability thanks to the technical acumen of the G4 crew.
"They were confident, competent and their personalities made it easy to make them part of the team," said Groat. "If you’re on my team I put you to work. They were really good with the gyro cam in the JERRV."
Penley adds that some of the best footage in the show is the result of G4 crewmen using the gyro-cams in the JERRV while they assisted Sailors during actual operations. The result of crew and Sailor bonding was the establishment of a fruitful professional relationship that spilled over into friendship and trust.
"Going through the workup we learned how to work together, we sometimes fought like brothers, but in the end it was like a family the team and the crew," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 2nd Class Chase Holzhauer, the youngest member of Platoon 342.
Featured from left to right are: Vice President Joe Biden, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Ricky Thibeault, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer Lieutenant Brad Penley, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Chief Petty Officer John Groat and Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant Dave Bennett.
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