EGLIN AFB, FL – Two Sailors from Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NAVSCOLEOD) were awarded the Bronze Star Medal, for meritorious service in support of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, during an award presentation held onboard Eglin Air Force Base Sept. 11.
During the command’s 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Memorial next to the Kauffman EOD Training Complex, NAVSCOLEOD’s Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Garrett Pankow presented the medals to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Skyler Gronert and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Brian Oberley.
For Oberley, the occasion was also a recognition of a family legacy. His father, retired Master Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Patrick Oberley, attended the ceremony and is also a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, where he was involved in extensive mine countermeasures operations in the northern Arabian Gulf.
“When Brian was young, I could have never dreamed that he and I would share the greatest job in the world’s finest Navy, but today we also share a much smaller brotherhood,” said Patrick Oberley, who worked to instill the Navy’s core values and the fundamentals of the Navy EOD Ethos as he raised his son. “Watching him while he received the Bronze Star brought a sense of pride, I’m sure only a few fathers have ever felt. He is more of a warrior than I had ever hoped to be.”
Brian Oberley, a native of Panama City, Florida, graduated from A. Crawford Mosley High School in 2005 and Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2009. He is currently the leading petty officer for NAVSCOLEOD’s training department and will be an instructor during his tour.
He received the Bronze Star for improving the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by Special Forces Operational Det. Alpha to fit a highly dynamic operational environment from June to December 2017. He supported 65 combat patrols with advance preparation and in-depth knowledge of enemy improvised explosive devices, resulting in 222 enemy positions destroyed and the disposal of 900 pounds of unexploded ordnance. His explosive hazard clearance expertise was critical to Special Operations Forces ground maneuver in establishing friendly fighting positions, and he led an operation to sample, package and dispose of six improvised chemical ordnance items posing a grave threat to U.S. forces, coalition partners, and the local populace.
“Receiving the Bronze Star Medal today meant the world to me,” said Brian Oberley. “Not only is it a highly respected award, but the fact that I grew up listening to the story of how my father, a fellow Navy EOD tech, received his, I knew I wanted to be an EOD tech and hopefully earn the same medal in a similar fashion. This Bronze Star puts me at the same level as my father, and I couldn’t imagine a better club to join than this one, with my dad.”
Gronert, a native of Inverness, Florida, and Lecanto High School graduate, received the Bronze Star for his support for Special Forces Operational Det. Alpha from January to July 2017. Gronert is cited for his personal courage and tactical proficiency enabling successful combat operations by supporting 46 combat patrols resulting in 55 enemy positions destroyed and the reclamation of 300 square kilometers of enemy territory. His explosive hazard clearance expertise and leadership were critical to Special Operations Forces positions, where he personally reduced 300 pounds of enemy unexploded ordnance and led a complex operation to render safe four buried improvised explosive devices targeting coalition troops.
“I just would like to recognize the sacrifices of my fellow Navy EOD techs, Scotty Dayton and Kenton Stacy, and the sacrifices of their families, in support of U.S. operations in the region,” said Gronert, who now teaches for NAVSCOLEOD’s underwater division.
As instructors, both Brian Oberley and Gronert will be able to apply their past experiences and expertise to prepare EOD technicians to locate, identify, render safe, and explosively dispose of foreign and domestic ordnance, including conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, underwater, and terrorist-type devices.
NAVSCOLEOD, located on Eglin Air Force Base, provides high-risk, specialized, basic and advanced EOD training to U.S. and partner nation military and selected U.S. government personnel each year.