EOD Major Nick Drury to train in India
Wed, 02/01/2017 - 11:04am admin
Major Lindsey Elder
After Sept. 11 happened, I started seeing a lot of my friends getting ready for deployments and I just felt like I needed to be a part of it."
When you talk to Major Nick Drury you can tell right away he is proud of what he does, and remarkably calm for serving in one of the most dangerous professions in the Army. Raised in Philip, S.D., he credits the patriotism and support of his small community as the strongest reasons for his enlisting in the Army when he graduated from Philip High School.
"There were a number of WW2 veterans, and Vietnam veterans in my town that I knew. I needed a job and from talking to people, it sounded like it would be a good fit for me. I've always told people that there's two things that basically saved my life and that's the Army and my wife," Drury said.
The explosive ordnance disposal officer and father of three daughters has seen a lot. With a gamut of duty assignments including Baumholder, Germany, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, professional military education at the Naval War College and deployments to Bosnia and Iraq under his belt, he currently serves as the deputy chief of operations for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command on Fort Shafter, Hawaii. Yet it's his selection to attend the Civil Defense Officers Bomb Disposal Course at the Indian Army College of Military Engineering in Pune, India, that brings one of the most unique learning opportunities of his career.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity. Not only to work with another partner nation, but also understanding the bomb disposal techniques and procedures. How they teach it, how students learn it and how it’s incorporated into the Indian Army,' he said.
The United States Army Pacific and Indian Army relationship is an important one to regional and global security. Drury is one of only 10 officers from across the entire United States Army selected to attend professional military education at the invitation of the Indian Army this year.
In addition to this professional achievement, Drury had a more personal reason to celebrate: he recently celebrated his 20th anniversary with his wife and high school sweetheart, Heidi Drury.
"We've basically known each other our whole lives. We grew up in a small town in South Dakota, knew each other as kids, and started dating in Philip High School. After graduating I enlisted, so she's been in the Army as long as I have. Throughout all the deployments, schools, moves and the training; we've done it all together. I couldn't do it without her," he said.
Drury served as an infantryman for three and a half years in Germany with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, before transferring to the South Dakota Army Reserve. He served as a basic noncommissioned officer course instructor as a sergeant while attending National American University full time. It was the attacks to the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, that led him back to serving full time.
"After Sept. 11 happened, I started seeing a lot of my friends getting ready for deployments and I just felt like I needed to be a part of it," he said. However, despite the small amount of time he had been away from the active Army, Drury was surprised by all the additional requirements the Army had for him to come back as a noncommissioned officer like he wanted to. Knowing he wanted to serve again without the restrictions he was finding, he visited the local Reserve Officers' Training Corps program instead.
"I didn't necessarily want to go back into the infantry, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to go back in as an EOD NCO, but there was a whole bunch of conditions. I wasn't willing to lose rank and I didn't want to go back to an additional basic training. So, I stood my ground and went over to the university's ROTC department," he said. He completed an accelerated program with his previous service experience and commissioned from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Army ROTC in 2003.
Officers must volunteer to become qualified for EOD, and for Army officers only those in the ordnance branch are eligible to apply. It is considered one of the most demanding and dangerous military specialties.
"Earning my EOD badge would really rate up there as one of the proudest moments in my career so far. The school is long, and academically it was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. Anyone who has been through it will understand that it's not just academics, it's a very anxiety driven school in that you're being challenged so much for fear of failure. There's a constant pressure on you to do well," Drury said.
While his training may be of the greatest value to the EOD community, his presence represents the USARPAC and Indian Army shared appreciation for professional military education.
"I'm really looking forward to this opportunity to increase my understanding of India and the Indian Army and their cultures. There's just this common link between the people who serve. I look forward to not only that shared understanding, but also because this is a bomb disposal school, learning the technical knowledge that everyone brings," he said.