As a civilian, Tech Sgt. Jarrod Mills, 43, does fiber optic work for AT&T in Georgia. When he’s deployed, he hunts bombs.
Since 2008, Mills has been deployed three times to Afghanistan doing EOD, explosive-ordnance-disposal missions. “And I’m trying to go back again,” he said.
His last deployment was particularly intense. He was working with a British reconnaissance unit hunting insurgent bombmakers. They were dropped into villages in the early morning hours when it was dark, and did door-to-door searches.
In one firefight, an insurgent threw a grenade over a wall, injuring two British soldiers. Sprinting into a hail of gunfire, Mills and others beat back insurgents on three sides so a helicopter could evacuate the injured soldiers.
When the fighting was over, Mills said he finally noticed something jabbing into his side: It was a machine gun bullet that had smashed into the plate of his body armor and got caught in the inner webbing next to his skin.
On another occasion, a rocket-propelled grenade landed 15 feet away. “I hate RPGs. They’re ridiculously loud.”
He said his ears rang for a couple days, but the blast forces went in a different direction and he wasn’t injured.
Mills is a husband and father of four daughters. “I have a sense of mission at home,” but he said taking out IEDs gives him a profound sense of purpose. “I take it personally. I want to protect people from them.”