Many area folks likely remember 2013 Big Walnut High School graduate Tim Garwood. Garwood was a member of Big Walnut DACC FFA and Eagle Country 4-H Club. Centerburg residents would know Garwood from his time serving as an Explorer with the Centerburg Fire Department.
Tim Garwood went on the join the U.S. Army, where he became an explosive ordnance disposal team member of 723rd EOD Company, 184th Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group.
Recently, Garwood has been in Senegal at the Tactical Training Center 7 where he provides counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) instruction for Senegalese and U.S. troops as part of Africa Readiness Training 16 (ART16).
ART16 is a U.S. Army Africa exercise designed to increase U.S. and Senegalese readiness and partnership through combined infantry training and live-fire events.
During a recent phone interview from Senegal, Garwood said his team is training Senegalese military personnel to safely operate in areas where there are suspected IEDs.
“The overall mission of this exercise is to support Africa readiness training regionally,” Garwood said. “This exercise is focused on tactics; it’s not a peacekeeping style mission — it’s infantry.”
Garwood said on the day of the phone interview, he and two other U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal team members and several Senegalese engineers had taken a road trip to Bargny, a deep-water port on the west coast of Africa.
“We haven’t had much interaction with civilians during most of this exercise,” Garwood said. “During a day trip to some place like Bargny, it’s eye-opening to see the world from a different perspective, to experience different cultures. Today we got to see some of what the Senegalese have to offer, and what its people are like.
“I like being able to work with soldiers from other nations, developing friendly relationships with them,” Garwood continued. “We’re hoping to get additional training exercises with other military units across Africa to see how their cultures and military operate.”
Asked how he became interested in Explosive Ordinance Disposal, Garwood said when he enlisted in the Army, he searched through options and it seemed interesting.
“Once I got in school, this field really sparked my interest,” Garwood said. “I’m really interested in continuing in this field as a career.”
Garwood’s current enlistment is up in September of 2017, he said, and continuing as an explosive ordnance disposal team member of the 723rd EOD Company hinges on being offered a reenlistment option in a shrinking unit.
“That’s the struggle with a draw-down when you enjoy what you’re doing, getting a reenlistment offer,” Garwood said. “My career field is shrinking at the same time I’m trying to earn a reenlistment. For me, it’s very fulfilling to be a part of this mission here. This is real-world training with other people from other cultures dealing with unexploded ordinance and IEDs.”
Most Big Walnut area folks know that the Garwood family is a family of service. Their father was a police officer when they were growing up, mother a nurse. Specialist Garwood’s brother Andy is an Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper, his sister Rachel is a nurse.
“It was instilled in us to help those around us,” Garwood said. “That’s one of the reasons I joined the military, to lend a hand to those around the world who need it. The Army is a wonderful long-term career, and for some young folks it’s a great job for a few years. The knowledge it provides is eye-opening, and can contribute to any future career choice. I think being in the military is one of the best things you can do.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.