It was 1969 and a Stars and Stripes reporter in Vietnam interviewed me for an article about the USAF EOD team I was leading. I used his by-line for this piece.
Forty years later I had the opportunity to view The Hurt Locker, a 2008 movie about a U.S. Army EOD team in Iraq. Much has changed in the realm of EOD over these past decades. Devices designed to kill and maim are much more sophisticated and harder to find and defeat today. And the technology we had at our disposal in Vietnam was absolutely primitive compared to what EOD technicians have in their tool boxes today.
But one attribute among military EOD technicians has not changed to this day. The ability to follow lawful orders and perform tasks as directed by a higher authority.
It was falsely portrayed in The Hurt Locker by the lead actor, Jeremy Renner, and seemed designed to delude those who have no experience with military operations. Renner, who played Staff Sgt William James in the movie, performed his duties in a reckless and unprofessional manner and in real life would never been allowed to jeopardize his fellow soldiers and remain on duty as an EOD Tech.
So, in retrospect I asked myself, "Why?" did Kathryn Bigelow, the movie's Director, merely want to juice up the movie by portraying SSgt James as a maverick, out-of-control military member.
Or did she have another subliminal motive to depict military professionals as dissenters who play only by their own rules in a war that should never have happened?
I believe the latter is closer to the truth.
Karl R. Bossi
Lt Colonel USAF (Ret)