Citizen soldier: A call to disarm bombs

Courtney Buck, Econ’03, was just finishing his senior year at Missouri S&T when the United States invaded Iraq. After graduation, he started work at Missouri S&T public radio station KMST as marketing manager, but the thought of American soldiers fighting overseas weighed heavily on his mind.


“I’m intelligent and physically fit,” Buck says. “So many others like me were serving their country and I figured I should, too.”

“Every time I successfully dismantled a bomb… I would feel like Superman the whole day. It’s a phenomenal feeling.”

After a heart-to-heart talk with his family, Buck enlisted on June 2, 2004. The longest of his two overseas deployments took him to Afghanistan for seven months. His job as explosive ordnance disposal technician was to dismantle roadside bombs, IEDs and other explosive devices. Sounds frightening, but it’s the job Buck requested.

“I’m an adrenaline junkie,” Buck says. “I love the excitement.”

Most of his missions took place at night. “If the soldiers patrolling a village or mountainside found an unexploded device, my unit was called in to dismantle it – sometimes by hand.

“Every time I successfully dismantled a bomb, that’s at least one person, one U.S. soldier or one civilian, that didn’t get hurt. I would feel like Superman the whole day. It’s a phenomenal feeling.”

Buck also helped patrol the Pakistan border. Part of his job was trying to catch suicide bombers in the act. Occasionally they got past his patrol.
“Our base was attacked by a suicide bomber at the gate,” Buck says. Fortunately, no U.S. soldiers were killed in the incident. “My team had to wade through the carnage to find as many pieces of the bomb as we could. By matching fingerprints, we could determine who made the bomb.”

Buck, now a financial advisor with his own Edward Jones office in Austin, Texas, says he gets just as big a rush from helping people as he does from the excitement of a mission. Among the medals Buck received for his service is the Outstanding Military Volunteer Medal. While on patrol in a remote Afghan village, Buck noticed kids running up to him patting their left forearm. The sleeve of his own left forearm is where he, like most soldiers, kept his pens. The kids, he learned, had schools in their village, but nothing to write with.

Buck sent out an immediate call for help, emailing friends, family and church members. By the time he was finished, 300 pounds of school supplies had been delivered to the students.

Buck’s active duty ended June 3, 2008. He will spend the next four years as a reservist, and he can be called back into active duty at any time. Some people might dread that phone call, but not Buck.

“I wouldn’t cry a bit if they called me back,” he says. “I love it.”

Buck sent out an immediate call for help, emailing friends, family and church members. By the time he was finished, 300 pounds of school supplies had been delivered to the students.

Buck’s active duty ended June 3, 2008. He will spend the next four years as a reservist, and he can be called back into active duty at any time. Some people might dread that phone call, but not Buck.

“I wouldn’t cry a bit if they called me back,” he says. “I love it.”

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