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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) announced the recipients of the annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Leadership Awards on 28 August.

The Rear Adm. Drapper L. Kauffman Leadership Award winner is Lt. Thomas Cowhey, assigned to Expeditionary Exploitation Unit (EXU) 1. The award is named after Draper L. Kauffman, who was directed to establish a U.S. bomb disposal school at the Washington Navy Yard in 1941, due to his extensive bomb disposal experience in Europe and disarming the first intact bomb after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This school eventually became Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NAVSCOLEOD), which was dedicated to him as the Draper Kauffman EOD training complex at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He served in leadership roles for 32 years (1941-1973), and is the plank owner of Navy EOD. The award is presented annually to one deserving EOD officer who serves in a platoon or company commander position.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award. It is a testament to the entire command and I am proud of the recognition it brings to all of the great work that happens here,” said Cowhey. “From the senior leaders who empower their subordinates to the chiefs who show unyielding dedication to the mission, EXU 1 is an incredible organization that deserves all the credit!”

The Force Master Chief (FORCM) Anthony Santino Leadership Award winner is EOD Senior Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Robert Bayless, assigned to EOD Mobile Unit (EODMU) 2. The award is named after FORCM Anthony Santino, who after twenty plus years of skillfully leading EOD sailors, was named the first force master chief for the newly formed NECC in 2006. In his numerous command master chief positions, he influenced how Navy leadership viewed the Navy EOD community and was ultimately responsible for the establishment and structure of the EOD rating. Prior to this effort, EOD operators came from 21 source ratings at various points in their careers, with no guarantee as to their EOD leadership or performance. His efforts were critical to creating today’s professional Navy EOD force. FORCM Santino preferred action to discussion, and if not for his tenacious efforts, the Navy EOD community would not be where it is today. The award is presented to an EOD chief or senior chief petty officer technician serving in an operational or training leading chief petty officer billet.

“Winning this award has been an incredible and humbling experience. However, the credit truly belongs to all the leaders, mentors, and teammates I have been fortunate to have throughout my career,” said Bayless. “The Santino award is for them.”

The Cmdr. Kevin P. Childre Excellence Award winner is Lt. Cmdr. Dominic Frank, assigned to EOD Training and Evaluation Unit (EODTEU) 1. Cmdr. Kevin Childre entered EOD school in August 1983. Upon graduation, he reported to EODMU 1 as a basic EOD technician. After a wide variety of enlisted EOD assignments, Cmdr. Childre was commissioned in 1999 as an EOD limited duty officer. He was a tenacious leader who stood for excellence in all things, rising thru the EOD LDO ranks to serve as the TEU 1 Commanding Officer. He dedicated his professional career to mentoring, developing, and training EOD leaders. The award is presented annually to one EOD officer or technician dedicated to mentoring, developing, and training EOD leaders.

“I am extremely honored to receive the CDR Kevin Childre award as he was a phenomenal leader and mentor to the EOD force,” said Frank. “Being selected for this award would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from my mentors and the support I have received from my fellow EOD warriors, for whom I have the most profound respect.”

Each of these peer-nominated awards recognizes quiet professionals who demonstrate excellence in leadership and embody the Navy EOD Ethos.

“The leadership and excellence displayed by Lt. Cowhey, Senior Chief Bayless, and Lt. Cmdr. Frank honors those who have worn the crab before us, sets the standard for Our warriors today, and paves the way for our future force,” said Rear Adm. Brian Brakke, former commander of NECC and NECC Pacific. “My sincerest congratulations to them all. Well done!”

U.S. Navy EOD is the world's premier combat force for countering explosive hazards and conducting expeditionary diving and salvage.

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