by Blake Herzog
Joseph E. Shaffer III and Dr. Paula Kapp Greene, retired Northern Arizona University professors who have lived in the Prescott area for more than 20 years, are passionate promoters of their book about Greene’s son and others like him who have taken on the dangerous task of defusing and disposing of explosives for the U.S. Navy, many of them underwater.
Inspired by a 2019 awards ceremony they attended and then being unable to find any books that had been written about this elite group, the husband and wife spent two years interviewing 47 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, officers and family members to share their little-shared triumphs and tragedies, not as widely known as those of their Army counterparts.
UNSUNG: Quiet Voices of the U.S. Navy’s EOD Warriors and Their Families covers the wide range of experiences and environments experienced by these service members, also known as operators. Greene’s son’s background is a good overview of this diversity.
She says: “EOD does their own thing and they’re also attached to every special forces group. He’s been with SEAL teams, he has been with strictly Naval EOD teams, he has done work with other special forces from around the world, and he absolutely loves what he does, loves it.”
He and the other active-duty personnel and families are identified by pseudonyms for security reasons — the book was approved by the Navy’s chain of command, which helped the authors find interviewees. Shaffer and Greene also interviewed retirees.
“These guys don’t talk, these families don’t talk. This is the ‘shhh, quiet profession,’” Greene says with a whisper. “We were just so thrilled that they literally opened up their hearts and told their stories, both positively and negatively, with us.”
Shaffer, a Vietnam veteran, says, “First and foremost, they have a desire to protect people. Every single guy that we talked to stressed that it is work designed to take explosives and render them harmless, and that means for everyone, including civilians and noncombatants.”
WHERE TO PURCHASE:
Greene and Shaffer self-published the project in October as a paperback book on Amazon. It is available for $22.50 and can be found by searching the website’s Books section; a direct link is also available at the Facebook group named after the book. Fifty percent of proceeds are donated to the EOD Warrior Foundation and the Navy Special Operations Foundation.