Even before Donald Trump is sworn-in as 45th President in January, the US Air Force’s elite bomb squad will be helping to secure his Florida compound, military officials say.
Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Schott told Military.com that the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Flight of the 96th Civil Engineer Group at Eglin “have a couple missions already scheduled to go and support him for some … holidays before he takes the oath.”
The 96th Civil Engineer Group’s Engineering Division is made up of 63 Airmen who are “responsible for many of the engineering, construction and renovation projects you see taking place every day across Team Eglin.”
Eglin AFB, located in Florida’s panhandle, is responsible for the “development, acquisition, testing, deployment and sustainment of all air-delivered non-nuclear weapons.” The host unit at Eglin is the 96th Test Wing.
While the mission to protect Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach rates pretty high– as far as stateside missions go—it’s not the highest-profile one. Schott says the Pope Francis visit in 2015 takes that designation, easily.
Mar-a –Lago is the last of Palm Beach’s “most majestic Jazz Age estates to remain intact,” thanks in part to the president-elect. Trump paid $10 million for the house and its furnishings in 1985, according to the Palm Beach Post. He restored the mansion in the early 90’s and later turned Mar-a-Lago into a private club with nearly 500 members.
It’s unclear how many airmen will head to the Palm Beach home, but Trump’s inauguration- which is set to take place on Jan. 20, 2017 in D.C.-is expected to be the “biggest event” in 2017. Schott says it will require up to 200 EOD teams from all the services. The 96th will contribute about 4-6 teams that day, he added.
The team keeps very busy during an election year—with the campaigns, candidates and conventions. They did 50 VIP protected missions this year, Schott said.
The Air Force is reportedly working to boost the EOD tech field to 1,400. It currently has 1,200 airmen.
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