Nine from Aberdeen
|Author||Jeffrey M. Leatherwood|
|Publisher||Cambridge Scholars Publishing|
ISBN 1-4438-4723-2 (paperback)
Written by Jeffrey M. Leatherwood, Nine From Aberdeen is an academic history book dedicated to the U.S. Army Ordnance Bomb Disposal service branch in World War II, which served across the globe. These elite Army Ordnance soldiers, which included some members of the Army Air Forces, were among the forerunners of today's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) branch. First published in June 2012, this 380-page book includes an afterword from retired EOD Command Sergeant Major James H. Clifford, the chief military consultant for The Hurt Locker, the Motion Picture Academy's Best Film of 2010.
The product of nearly ten years, Nine from Aberdeen began in 2003 as the author's original master's thesis at Western Carolina University's Hunter Library. This expanded and revised book relies chiefly on veteran interviews and unit histories to present a cross-section of the whole World War II bomb disposal experience. Nine From Aberdeen also includes many rare photos from private and government collections, as well as charts and diagrams. The hardcover edition features a dust-jacket cover modeled on the U.S. Army Bomb Disposal School's distinctive unit insignia, approved by the Department of the U.S. Army.
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Major Thomas J. Kane and eight other American soldiers traveled to wartime England in order to study methods pioneered by the Royal Engineers. At the time, the U.S. lacked any bomb disposal organization, while the British had the most advanced program at that time. Graduating from the Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal training course, the Americans were honored with honorary membership in the British service. Kane and his cadre returned in early 1942 to supervise the U.S. Army’s very first explosive ordnance disposal school at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
Originally conceived to defend the American homeland from aerial attacks on both coasts, Kane's bomb disposal branch realized its fullest potential in overseas battlefronts, from the Aleutian Islands to the Italian Alps. Kane's school was directly responsible for training eight companies and over 200 squads for field service with the U.S. Army and Air Forces. Three of Kane’s original cadre members from the British training mission volunteered to lead bomb disposal squads across the Mediterranean, European, and Pacific Theaters, where they repeatedly distinguished themselves for heroism and leadership. Capt. Ronald Felton's 12th BD Squad weathered the Italian mud. Capt. Joe Pilcher’s 17th BD Squad crossed over during the Normandy campaign and liberated Paris. Capt. Richard Metress died on Mindanao in June 1945 along with three 209th BD Squad technicians while liberating the Philippines. They are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery.
Promoted to colonel, Kane carried out two significant missions for the War Department and Office of Civilian Defense, and later capped off his wartime career as Director of Bomb Disposal for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in Western Europe. After the war, Col. Kane remained on active duty with the Army, supervising bomb removal operations with occupation forces in Japan, and overseeing the newly constituted U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal branch during the Korean War. Kane died in 1965 and is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. He was inducted to the Ordnance Hall of Fame in 1969.
Ultimately, the Army (and Air Force) Bomb Disposal service took part in nearly all landings and ground operations in World War II, suffering ten percent casualties in the European Theater alone. After the Axis surrender in 1945, bomb disposal technicians aided with post-war reconstruction efforts across the globe. However, Army bomb disposal's small unit increments and wartime secrecy kept them in relative obscurity for most of the duration of World War II. Matters were further complicated when some missions performed by Ordnance were credited to the Army Corps of Engineers, whose battlefield jurisdiction occasionally overlapped with that of Bomb Disposal.
In 2004, the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD) dedicated Kane Hall at Ft. Gillem, GA. In the wake of Fort Gillem's closure in 2006, the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD) relocated its headquarters to Ft. Campbell, KY in 2009. Dedication for a new Kane Hall took place on 29 March 2013, presided over by Col. Marue "Mo" Quick, the 52d EOD Group commander. Jeffrey Leatherwood, author of Nine From Aberdeen, delivered the keynote address in honor of Col. Thomas J. Kane.
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