A government air strike on a government school. Civil war. Syria. 2012.
Preparing a Shrine.
This weekend will mark the 2013 E.O.D. Memorial Ceremony to honor techs killed in action in the past year.
Who are EOD techs? These are the men and women who, among many other things, find, identify, disable and gather evidence from makeshift bombs — weapons that have become the leading cause of injuries to American service members and that were used in the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks. It is hard to conceive of a profession that is both more essential and more dangerous than this one, and often, as the memorial above suggests, more selfless.
The ceremony is held each May at the E.O.D. Memorial, located directly across the street from the main building of the E.O.D. school on Eglin Air Force Base. The four plaques on the wall list techs killed in action — one plaque for each of the four American military services. The lower photograph, above, shows several Air Force techs killed in recent years.
For each name there was a life. Consider, for just one example from the center of the small section of the list shown above, Technical Sergeant Anthony L, Capra. Sergeant Capra was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in early 2009. He was the father of five. He was killed on his fourth combat tour.
More names will be added to the lists, and read aloud, on Saturday.
To support the EOD Memorial Foundation, go here.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS
Top, a working party cleans the memorial ahead of the ceremony. This morning. Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Bottom, detail of the Air Force list.
Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
Those of us from The New York Times who have the assignment and the privilege of reporting inside Syria say it often and so now we say it again: None of our coverage would be possible, or even imaginable, without the Syrians who help and host us. For every detail gleaned, every image made, every analysis developed and every understanding deepened there are Syrians who cut path, often at risk and always with great courtesy during their own time of hardship and need. At top, Karam Shoumali, running with a medical kit across a sniper’s alley. Bottom, Abdulkader al Dhon, pulling up a chair to a fire (with furniture for fuel) made by fighters from the Tawhid Brigade. Inside Aleppo during dark days, and cold, wet nights. These two young men have been essential to our work. All credit belongs to them.
What Was Different About That Explosion? The Answer.
Introducing the VMODS, a new(ish) variant on the concept of a disruptor charge. A minor exposition on counter-IED tools, and the pursuit for a safer, lighter touch. On the NYT.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
Gunnery Sergeant Pierre Anthony, USMC, background, and three VMODS modules, between the front and back seats of a Honda Civic, soon to be destroyed. By the author, a tellingly not-very-well done effort at a portrait. At the Advanced Improvised Explosive Device Disposal course. Eglin Air Force Base. Last week.
Fire and Russia.
Andrew Kramer on the latest fire to kill Russians by the dozen. The rate at which Russians perish in smoke and flames is one of the dark indicators of a dysfunctional state.
Background (from here, six years ago):
MOSCOW, Nov. 6 — Sergei Babayan was trapped. Minutes before, wisps of smoke had begun flowing through cracks in his classroom door at the private Moscow Institute of Government and Corporate Management.
There had been no other warning, he recalled, not even an alarm. Now smoke filled the room and flames roared in the corridor, where the steel door to the sole fire exit was locked. The only escape was out the windows, four stories above the street.
Students jostled at the sills and screamed. One young woman scrambled to the ledge and fell, slamming onto a canopy two stories below. Gasping, Mr. Babayan, 17, crawled out and clung to an air-conditioner.
There, he said, he saw his chance: a cigarette-thick cable dangling nearby from the roof. He grabbed hold and descended — a sensation, judging by his injuries, like sliding down a knife. Other students and teachers started to leap, shattering themselves on the ground. So far 11 people have died as a result of the fire, including 5 whose blackened remains were found in a classroom after firefighters cut through the locked fire door.
Eight years into the administration of President Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian government has filled its coffers with cash and its ministries with swagger, allowing the Kremlin to reclaim a place on the world’s stage. But the fast-moving fire on Oct. 2, and the grotesque panorama of desperation, injury and death that accompanied it, underscored the enduring disorder beneath Russia’s partial revival.
Respect for law, safety and public health, and the Russian government’s ability to govern, still lag far behind the Kremlin’s restored sense of self, as evidenced by the scale at which Russia’s population suffers from fires.
More than 17,000 people died in fires in 2006 in Russia, nearly 13 for every 100,000 people. This is more than 10 times the rates typical of Western Europe and the United States, according to statistics from Russia’s government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States and the Geneva Association, a Swiss organization that analyzes international fire statistics.
There are many factors, including the enduring popular disrespect for law, including fire safety and building codes, and the corruption that undermines fire-safety and building inspectors. High rates of alcoholism and smoking indoors also contribute, creating conditions under which more fires start and some victims are in poor condition to react.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
A fire in St. Petersburg, and equipment not quite up to the job. By the author. 2007.
Countering Makeshift Bombs.
A brief account of a drill last week at the Advanced Improvised Explosive Device Disposal course, on the NYT.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
A shelf inside a simulated bomb-makers work shop, part of one of the course’s scenarios. By the author. Eglin Air Force Base. Last week.