The history of the IABTI is rich with stories of men and women that have dedicated themselves to the betterment of their profession. Written years ago, this is Ron Howell’s account of how it all began . . .
By: Ron Howell
With the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators having its founding roots in Sacramento, California back in 1973, I have been especially proud to see the IABTI grow over the years to become an internationally recognized professional organization. It’s continued success is a tribute to the dedication and efforts made by the past and Present International Officers, and equally important is the enthusiastic support of all IABT's members.
When I was asked to tell about how the first two conferences came about in Sacramento, California in 1973 and 1974, I felt it important to go back prior to the first conference and tell how it came about because it was then that the spirit of I.A.B.T.I. was born.
Having been with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department since 1963, and directly involved with putting together the first and second conferences, I feel I can provide firsthand information about how, where, and when the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators actually began.
Prior to 1970, my agency, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, was like many law enforcement agencies in California, and the United States, when it came to dealing with explosive-related matters. Generally, there was an officer in the Department who had limited explosives experience and we called upon him. Or, we relied on local military EOD Units. In our particular case, we called upon the 87th and 548th EOD Detachments, Presidio, San Francisco.
It was at about this point in time, late 1960’s and early 1970’s, that the anti-war demonstrations and acts of violence were beginning to escalate. Sacraments had its share of problems, “want-a-be” type situations, but the Bay Area demonstration problems far exceeded ours. Though the activity in the Sacramento area was below the level in other major areas, the violence we did experience got the attention of the law enforcement community and State governmental agencies. The number of bomb and explosives-related incidents began to increase; i.e. in 1967, we handled a grand total of sic (6) incidents, in 1968 we handled thirty-two (32) incidents. By 1970, the bomb explosives-related calls increased to fifty-six (56). While these are not large numbers by today’s standards (in the month of July, 1992, the Sacramento Area EOD Unit responded to fifty-two bomb calls), in those days, we did not have trained technicians and the specialized equipment that we have today to handle calls. Also, the area population was one-fourth what it is today. Having the nearest military EOD Unit two hours away, the majority of incidents were handled by law enforcement personnel, with very limited training. There were many times during the winter months when die to heavy fog we had to wait until the following day before the military EOD unit could respond. On critical bomb calls, they responded in the fog, which caused a three or four delay.
In 1970, Sacramento County had a newly elected Sheriff, Duane Lowe, Sheriff Lowe had been an inspector with the Department before he was elected Sheriff, working his way up through the ranks. I had worked with him when he was a Sergeant in our correctional facility; then again in the Detective Division on arson investigations. As a result, we got to know each other and developed a very good rapport. I believe the first pipe bomb call that Lowe and I received was at the residence of the then Sheriff John Misterly, whom Lowe later ran against for Sheriff (in 1969). The pipe bomb was 1 ½” X 12” galvanized pipe, end caps, time fuse protruding from one end. Someone had thrown the bomb on top of the Sheriff's house, and it got stuck in the rain gutter. Not having experienced the render-safe procedures for pipe devices, we called upon an officer who “ supposedly" had military EOD training to deal with it. He picked up the pipe bomb, walked over to the car trunk, and unscrew!
When Duane Lowe took office in January 1970, he completely reorganized the department, similar to how the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was structured. The reorganization resulted in the Detective Division to be reorganized into special details, one being an Arson/Explosives Detail. So, having worked with Lowe on arson investigations previously, He Told me of the new unit and asked if I would like to be a part of the new detail. Since I was working arson's anyway, I told Lowe that I would not mind working arson part, but I was not sure about the explosives part. Lowe then assured me that “I will see to it that you and your partner get all the necessary training." After telling low that I would work the detail, he assigned another detective, Inspector William Ravenscroft (now retired), to be my partner. However, after about eight months Ravenscroft decided explosives were not for him and requested to be assigned to another detail.
During those first months, Sheriff Lowe made good on his promise to get us some explosives training. At that time, the only the people with experience with explosives was the military. My partner and I were provided a detail car, 1968 Plymouth, given a gas credit card, and told to go find out who would be willing to share explosives training. Armed with our car and credit card, Ravenscroft and I set about contacting the various military units. Our travels took us from the Presidio, to the USMC Camp Pendleton, to San Diego. All the military EOD units were extremely cooperative. I recall the US MC Pendleton EOD unit could not believe we had traveled that far, so they took time out and provided us with two days of training on explosives, military ordinance, and booby-traps. We had known that the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had explosives units, and the San Diego Fire/Sheriff bomb squad. So, we proceeded to San Diego and contacted the San Diego Fire Department and San Diego County Sheriff's Department. We had heard that the San Diego Fire Department had built and tested one bomb trailer and were just completing a second trailer. We were seeking ideas and sources for specialized equipment. Up to this point, we had found that there was virtually no specialized equipment available for civilian bomb squads. We also found during our travels that there was no established training or information exchange among military and civilian law-enforcement. We found the exchange of EOD related information was limited to certain agencies and anyone outside their respective areas was isolated from that information.
Later in 1970, the California State Legislature Joint Rules Senate hired a trained explosives technician to handle the increasing threats that were being directed toward the California state capital. That technician was recently retired U.S. Navy EOD GMCM James T Wooten. Wooten was in San Diego installing radar on ships when he was asked to come to Sacramento to check things out. Ronald Reagan was the newly elected governor in the threat level at the Capital was increasing. Wooten was put to work as soon as he arrived in Sacramento and stepped off the airplane. Anyway, he must have like Sacramento, because he stayed on as the explosives technician for the California State Capitol, becoming an assistant Sgt. at Arms.
The only training available in explosives was from military EOD units and a local FBI agent, Special Agent Cliff B. Harriman (now retired). There were no specialized schools for law enforcement personnel. Harriman was conducting special in-service training in explosives recognition to local law enforcement. Having attended several of Harriman's classes we establish a good rapport. Harriman offered any assistance from himself and the FBI that we needed in dealing with explosives-related matters. about this point in time that I encountered James T. " Jim" Wooten. Wooten was out and about checking with the local law-enforcement agencies in Sacramento to find out just what was available in the way of EOD assistance. Wooten was trying to determine just whom he could call upon should an explosive incident occur at the Capital. I do not know what Wooten had been told about EOD assistance in Sacramento, but he was surprised to find there was no specialized equipment. What specialized equipment we had consisted of tape, line, knives, and counter-charges. Also, Wooten soon learned that he was the only EOD technician for eighty-seven miles.
Since there were no schools available for law enforcement in dealing with explosives and improvised explosive devices, we in Sacramento continue to rely upon military EOD Units for any specialized training. Is it later turned out when we went to contact the Concord Naval Weapons EOD Unit, Concord, California, we were an instant hit. They understood our dilemma. Wooten, being a former Navy EOD technician, paved the way for us. Soon we were part of the group. Concord Naval Weapons EOD was being called upon by the local law enforcement to handle IED's found in the surrounding communities. Therefore, we were able to learn about the various types of devices and some render-safe techniques. As our training with the Concord Naval Weapons EOD unit continued, they were in turn invited to come to Sacramento.
We had outstanding cooperation from the Concorde Naval Weapons EOD Unit Commanders, Commander "Sam" Henderson and CWO Robert G. Lutz who provided training in IED's, explosives, and military ordnance recognition. It was during these training sessions, and also during training sessions with the US Army EOD, Presidio, California, that talk began about some type of formal EOD training, where both civilian and military EOD Units could attend and exchange information. As the bombing incidents and investigations continued, they resulted in more and more contacts with other law enforcement agencies, and there was always a keen interest among the military EOD units and civilian bomb squads for some type of "bomb training." However, no one wanted to take the bull by the horns and get things started.
Then, on June 16, 1971, a one-day explosives and improvised training session was hosted by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department Arson/Explosives detail. We invited the surrounding law enforcement agencies who were interested in explosives training to participate in the one-day session. 15 individuals from eight different agencies attended that first one-day training session. At the conclusion of the training session, the Sacramento of Police Department, Placer County Sheriff’s and the California State police decided to join forces with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Capital Sgt. at Arms, and the local FBI in a combined effort. This is when the Sacramento area EOD unit was finally formed and recognized. The Sacramento area EOD unit is still in operation today, and consists of nine agencies and twenty-two Hazardous Devices School Technicians.
It is important to explain how that training session in 1971 came about because it was there that interest was expressed in a future training conference, which eventually led to the first national EOD conference being held.
While traveling to the various EOD units and law-enforcement bomb squads in California, we had made contact with the San Diego Sheriff/Fire Department Bomb Unit. They were at that time very active in IED's and explosive incidents, so when we decided to put on a one-day training session, we decided to call upon San Diego. When asked, San Diego said they would be glad to come to Sacramento, however, due to budget restraints they could not. So, while at one of our Sacramento area EOD unit meetings held at the Capitol building, we tried to figure out who we could get to do the training, and/or how to fund San Diego's travel to Sacramento.
One of reasons we met at the Capital Was that Wooten was a Sergeant at Arms and we were able to Meet in the Senate and Assembly coffee room, where fresh coffee and donuts were usually available. Was at one of these unit meanings that we were talking about San Diego not being able to come to Sacramento for presentation. Usually present at these meetings was Wooten's boss, Chief Sgt. at Arms Tony Beard, Senior, who would always greet and introduce the Assembly/Senate members who happen to stop by for coffee and donuts. When Tony Beard heard of our funding problem, he said, "I think I know someone who can help." Tony Beard picked up the telephone, called the senator and said "Jack, come up to my office. I've got something here I believe you can handle." Shortly thereafter, Sen. Jack Schrade from San Diego walked in. After telling Sen. Schrade about the training and who was to conduct it, Sen. Schrade said "when do you want them here?" As a result, the entire San Diego Fire/Sheriff Bomb Unit, along with their training aids, were flown to Sacramento. They not only conducted the one-day training session at the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, they repeated the same training for the California State Capitol Sgt. at Arms, California State Police, and other invited law enforcement personnel over at the Capitol building.
It was in the latter part of 1971 that my partner (Inspector Ravenscroft) decided he did not care to continue dealing with explosives and explosive devices, so he asked for a transfer to another detail. Replacing him as my new partner was Inspector Tom McGill, who readily admitted that he knew little about explosives and explosive devices, but was willing to learn. With McGill is my new partner; we continue to look for some type of organized training and specialized equipment for handling explosives. We found that L. E. A. A. was trying to get a Hazardous Devices School started at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama. During our contract with Wayne Burnett, Project Specialist with L. E. A. A. at the time, we learned about our grant funds available under the provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (PL 90 – 351).
There were no budget monies readily available with which to obtain special UD training and/or specialized bomb handling equipment, so after several telephone calls and written correspondence throughout the United States, we decided to try to obtain L. E. A. A. grant funds. In 1972, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department Arson/Explosives Detail applied for a federal grant to fund training, equipment, and researching explosives. We were successful in obtaining a three-year L. E. A. A. grant for explosives training in specialized equipment. The grant was through Title 1, Part C, Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (PL 90 – 351). The application was made to the California Council on Criminal Justice; the title of the project was Sacramento Area Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit, #1276, A-878 – 72, for $102, 545.00, dated October 1, 1972.
During 1971, Inspector McGill and I had traveled to and made personal contact with each and every law-enforcement agency in O. C. J. P.'s (Office of Criminal Justice Planning) Region D of California, which includes 20 cities and eight counties surrounding Sacramento.
As we proceeded with the grant, we soon found this was the first grant of this type anywhere, which made it more exciting because we were going for something no one else had yet tried. So here we were, two Sheriff's Deputies taking on the bombing problems and training for eight counties and 20 cities in California. Inspector McGill was the Grant Project Director and I was the Grant Assistant Project Director. This being the first grant of its kind, we were obviously apprehensive about its success.
If you're wondering what all this has to do with the IABTI, just bear with me because you will see how the grant and its objectives had a direct bearing on how the first two conferences came about. It was during the preparation of the EOD grant that the intent for EOD training began to grow and develop toward a "conference." The following is the grant project summary: as the bombing incidents increase throughout the nation, California funds itself receiving the major share of these incidents. No longer can civilian law-enforcement agencies shrug off the responsibility by relying completely on military EOD Units to solve these bombing problems for them. However, extremely high cost of the highly specialized training and equipment that is required makes it prohibitive for even some of the larger police agencies to assume this burden on an individual basis. Obviously, the answer lies in the cooperative arrangement among several agencies.
This need to cooperate and pull resources was made evident by the overwhelming response that this concept received from the law enforcement agencies contacted throughout the eight counties of Region D. And, recognizing the gravity of this problem may cause this to be the first time that law enforcement agencies ALL EIGHT COUNTIES OF REGION D have banded together in unison to solve a common problem.
To solve this problem, eight key objectives were developed along with the sound evaluation system to ensure their achievement. Several these objectives consist of innovative aspects. Combined, they provide a prototype project that can later be used as a guide by other law enforcement agencies desiring to combine their efforts in solving the serious bombing and explosive incident problem.
I have attached as part of the IABTI history copy of the grant. Also included is a copy of the first year's grant monitoring report, which lists the project objectives. In Part B Project Personnel it outlines how we were able to use grant monies to pay for the conference speakers expenses. Also, the last paragraph of section C reflects that "this conference has resulted in an International Association of EOD Technicians being formed."
In 1972, after the grant was approved on October 1, 1972, I recall sitting in the Arson/Explosives Detail office with McGill, trying to figure out how we could satisfy some of the grant training objectives, when we decided to go ahead with the possibility of holding a "National EOD Conference." We first contacted other nearby bomb units, including San Francisco Police Department Inspectors Don Hansen and Russ Ahlgrim. Everyone contacted thought it was a good idea and gave their support. We then contacted Sheriff Lowe, who liked the idea and gave his full support, along with any resources needed from the entire Sheriff's Department.
THE FIRST CONFERENCE
in the days and weeks that followed, McGill and I made telephone calls to what seemed like every fire department and law enforcement agency in California. At first, we had decided to begin with holding a "Northern California EOD Conference;" however, as more phone calls were made, the interest spread to all of California and neighboring states. We then decided to try a "Western States EOD Conference." After contacting Bill Costello of the Phoenix Police Department, Ron McCracken of the Dallas Police Department, Tom Brodie of Dade County, Florida and Al Gleason of the New York Police Department, we found they were all very interested in having a national conference. By this time, he had decided to go ahead and make it the "First National EOD Conference."
The Conference Committee was set up, which consisted of personnel from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. McGill and I had contacted a few Sacramento hotels for a conference site. One declined when they found out it was for "bomb technicians." They feared reprisal or something. We are able to obtain the Woodlake Inn in Sacramento and secured the dates of March 19, 20, 21, 1973 for the "First Annual National Explosive Ordnance Disposal Conference," hosted by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
As soon as the conference states were set, McGill and I began the task of preparing mail-out notification/announcements. It seemed like we mailed an announcement to every police, Sheriff, fire, and federal agency in the United States. We even send announcements to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We had obtained a list of agencies from the International Association of Police Chiefs for the conference mailings.
The first responses were overwhelming, so the Conference Committee began the various preparations. We began locating and contacting prospective speakers. The speakers who agreed to participate were asked to submit a copy of their presentations in advance of the actual conference. Most speakers complied; however, several were concerned about sensitive matters being in written form, so their presentations were not submitted in advance. The purpose of the advance presentation transcripts was to prepare and compile a bound transcript of the conference. This transcript would then be available for those in attendance to use as future reference material. I provided an original copy of the "First National EOD Conference" transcript, along with conference program.
Having attended the Hazardous Devices School in Redstone in February 1972, I felt I could call upon the school personnel to help get the word out about the conference. A special thanks should go to Major Ralph O. Ekonen, USAR (retired), Major Sterlyning Parish, and Staff Sgt. Norman J. McCain for their help.
When we contacted the various speakers, we encountered another problem with "sensitive" material being disseminated to the "non-technicians." As a result, and upon the speakers’ requests, some presentations were "restricted" to technicians only. However, we had to provide the non-technicians with information also, so we had to hold a simultaneous non-restricted presentation.
To resolve the confusion as to who the technicians and non-technicians were, we made the photo identification background thread for technicians and blue for non-technicians. At the first EOD conference, you could not attend the "restricted" presentations unless you were a bomb technician. We resolve this by the next conference by making all the presentations available to all attendees, whether they were technicians or investigators.
A memorable event at the first EOD conference occurred on Monday evening, March 19, 1973, at 1830 hrs. We had local transportation buses pick up the conferees and their gas at the hotel and take them to a rural Park site, where they were treated to a real live western band and a western barbecue. Any of those members you encounter today who were at the first conference still talk about the Western barbecue. The first conference was only three and half days; however, anyone who has been involved with a "national" conference can certainly appreciate the effort involved in total support needed to undertake such an endeavor.
The presentations at the first conference consisted mainly of "new" programs for dissemination of information and available training. We had excellent cooperation and support from both the FBI and US Treasury Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The FBI had just acquired the National Bomb Data Center in June, 1972, the conference gave Mr. Gib McNeely, FBI, an opportunity to present the .N. B. D. C.'s objectives and plans.
Another memorable presentation was made by Fred P. Smith, Unit Chief in Charge of Explosives, FBI lab, Washington DC. Fred Smith began his presentation by telling about the most "terrifying" experience he had the previous night. As the story goes, it seems some ducks, whose current home was the pond at the Woodlake Inn, had wandered into a hotel room for the night rather than spending it by the pond. As it happened, that same room had been reserved for Fred Smith. What took place when Fred returned to the hotel room is a tale only Fred could tell. Fred's fondness for ducks thus began, in the incident has become part of IABTI’s folklore.
The First National EOD conference was a total success and there was a lot of interest among the conferees to hold another such conference in 1974. But, where? So, McGill and I decided to see if Sheriff Lowe would be willing to host another national conference. A second conference would also help with our EOD grant project objectives. When the proposal for a second national conference was presented to Sheriff Lowe, he thought it was a good idea and agreed to provide any assistance and department support needed.
During the first conference, all the conferees expressed a desire to establish some type of a formal explosives organization. So, at the conclusion of that first conference, a "Committee to Form a National Association" was established, within Inspector Tom McGill of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department as the chairman of the committee and Inspector Don Hansen of the San Francisco Police Department as the Secretary.
There were 15 original committee members from all over the United States and Canada. Some of those members listed in the First EOD Conference transcript were replaced, and new Committee members were added. There were many committee meetings that resulted in very lively discussions and debates.
Before the first conference had concluded, the conferees voted their unanimous approval for a formal organization, and for a "Second EOD Conference" in 1974 to be held in Sacramento, California.
THE SECOND CONFERENCE
With the first conference over and faced with putting together a second one in 1974, Inspector McGill and I had to begin planning a speaker's agenda, lining up speakers, and obtaining a commitment from them. After gaining experience from the first conference, we decided to make the second conference of full five days. Again, the Conference Committee wheels were put into motion, getting everything ready.
Just prior to the 1974 conference, the FBI-NBDC held a seminar at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Participants were invited from the United States, England, and other countries. Inspector McGill was invited by Mr. Gibb McNeely, FBI-NBDC to attend the seminar. The timing was perfect because the international participants at the FBI seminar were able through advanced contact to extend their stay and to be speakers for our second conference. We were able to get permission from our grant project representatives to use grant funds for the various speaker’s travel and accommodations. Being able to secure that vast array of notable and distinguished speakers certainly enhance the conference program. I've submitted a copy of the second conference program and you can see the scope and variety of topics presented.
Being in charge of registration at both conferences, I wanted to come up with a nametag for the conferees that was different. We did not differentiate between "technicians" and "investigators" like we did at the first conference. Also, to cut down on the cost of nametags, a new nametag was designed. Since I had designed the Sacramento Area EOD Unit logo, bomb/flame and wreath with the outline of the Capital building, I wanted to use that logo on the second conference nametags. However, the logo with the Capital outline would not fit on the tag, so it was left off, leaving only the bomb/flame and wreath. That same logo was later submitted to the Logo Committee for consideration as the IABTI logo.
There were 258 in attendance at the second conference, including numerous local, state, and federal officials who stopped by and said in on presentations to gain an insight as to what EOD was all about. There were those who made a special effort to attend, the Council General of England stationed in Washington DC, and the Council General of England station in San Francisco, California also stop by.
At the conclusion of the second conference, a transcript like the one at the first conference was not provided; however, copies of the audiotape presentations were made available to the conferees at a nominal fee.
At the time of the "Second National EOD Conference" was scheduled, there was no formal EOD organization established. The committee to form a national organization had been gathering information and rough drafts on Constitutions and bylaws. Though I was not formally appointed to the committee, I was fully involved and participated on the Formation Committee as a result of being McGill's partner. McGill and I spent many hours talking about the various ideas, and I recall many of the lively debates. Finally, during the second conference, there was an agreement on the final Constitution and bylaws to be presented to the conferees. I recall one of the debates was regarding what to name the Association. At first, the Association was to be for only "bomb technicians." However, we had conferees and participants who were not bomb technicians, but were active in post blast scene investigations. Eventually, the committee agreed that the Association should include both technicians and investigators. The name International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators was voted in by the conferees during the business meeting portion of the conference. So, at 1115 hours on Friday, March 22, 1974, the Association became officially known as the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators.
During that first business meeting on Friday, March 22, 1974, election of officers for the new Association was held. Nominations were made from the floor and later voted on. Since Tom McGill had been Chairman of the Formation Committee, his name was considered for Director. However, when McGill was asked to run for the position, he was very adamant and vocal as to why he should not run. McGill felt he had already served as a director since he had served as Chairman of the Formation Committee and Logo Committee, and he felt someone else should be the International Director. Russ Ahlgrim looked at me and said "how about you?" I told Ahlgrim thanks, but no thanks. I also told Ahlgrim about Jim Wooten's contributions to the Formation Committee, his background and qualifications. Thus, the campaigning began for Jim Wooten to become International Director. When asked if he would consider being the International Director, Wooten was at first reluctant to say yes because he felt McGill should run for the office. Finally, when it was clear to Wooten that McGill did not desire the position, Wooten agreed to let his name be placed into nomination, along with others. Wooten tried to get me to run; however, I told him I did not have the time to properly devote to IABTI due to my current involvement with the major three-year grant project. Wooten was told he would get any and all the support he needed during his directorship. Thus, the name of James T. "Jim" Wooten, EOD Technician for the California State Assembly/Senate, was placed into nomination for International Director. Later that day, Wooten won the election to become the first International Director of IABTI. The offices at the time were won by the most popular votes received, and those first to hold IABTI office were:
James T Wooten
Sgt. At Arms
|First Assistant Director:||
William "Billy" Poe
Louisiana State Police
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Second Assistant Director:||
William "Bill" Costello
Phoenix Police Department
|Third Assistant Director:||
San Francisco Police Department
San Francisco, California
San Francisco Police Department
San Francisco, California
After elections were held four International Directors, the conferees broke into various groups according to region. Each region elected their Directors and those first IABTI Regional Directors elected were:
|Region I:||Jack Shadduck|
|Region II:||John Wiseman|
|Region III:||Edward Schallian|
|Region IV:||Robert Wade|
|Region V:||William Borbridge|
|Region VI:||Alfred Ralston|
During the elections, a bomb call came into the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department concerning a suspected explosive device. As Jim Wooten (California State Capital) and I were preparing to leave the business meeting (having already voted), Billy Poe (Louisiana State Police), John Flinn (US Secret Service, White House, Washington DC), Major Ralph Ekonen (U.S. Army, HDS Instructor), Alan Rennison (England), and Arleigh McCree (Los Angeles Police Department) decided to go along and lend their technical assistance. The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department had just taken delivery on our new EOD vehicle (Dodge Maxivan), along with some new grant equipment. However, before we could leave the hotel parking lot, we encountered 6 to 8 other conferees who decided that we needed their assistance… Just to go along as observers. So, most of the "non-essential" EOD equipment was off-loaded so everyone could fit into the van. I believe the main reason they all wanted to go on this particular call was that the explosive device have been found in the same general area of a major explosion. That major explosion involves twenty-one DODX railcars full of 250 pounds Tritonal aerial bombs, which exploded and burned on April 20, 1973. A presentation of the explosion and disaster response had been made at the conference and there was a great deal of interest to view the damage caused by the explosion.
We finally arrived at the site of the suspected device, with little equipment and a van full of "distinguished assistants." The reason we had little equipment was not that the ride-alongs had set the equipment out, but due to not having taken delivery as yet of most of the equipment from the years grant funding. This particular EOD response was possibly the first international/multi-agency EOD response to a local bomb call. The suspected device was not the remains of a 250 pound Tritonal bomb as we had anticipated, but rather a single "railroad torpedo." So, after the prescribed render-safe procedures are made, all are "distinguished assistants” boarded the EOD van for a return trip back to the conference and business meeting. Upon arriving back at the conference, we learned that the earlier votes for International Director had been counted and the election results were in. Jim Wooten had been elected International Director, and Billy Poe as First Assistant Director of IABTI. So, I suppose this bomb call could be recorded as the first phone call made by IABTI International Directors.
A few months after the conclusion of the second conference, Tom McGill requested to resign, no longer working as an EOD Technician. McGill had been promoted to Lieutenant an assigned to the Correctional Facility until his retirement from the sacrament of County Sheriff's Department.
Jim Wooten, currently a trustee with IABTI, is enjoying retirement, and is always interested with any developments in IABTI and EOD matters. Without Sheriff Duane Lowe's total interest and support during the first four years, we would not have been able to host the first two conferences or obtain an EOD grant. He is currently Chief Duane Lowe with the California State Police, Headquarters in Sacramento. He continues to support the bomb technicians and their concerns.