MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines continuously put their lives on the line when disarming explosives.
One EOD tech with 1st EOD Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine
Logistics Group, was named this year’s enlisted EOD Tech of the Year by the Marine Corps Engineer Association.
Gunnery Sgt. Donavin G. Bender, 29, Bismarck, N.D., was selected as the enlisted EOD Marine who provided the
Marine Corps with the most outstanding contribution to the Marine Corps as an enlisted Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, according to the association.
“Gunny Bender is one of the most hard-working, dedicated, and most proficient EOD techs I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph M. David, Bender’s platoon commander, 1st EOD Company. “He will go above and beyond what is required or expected and he amazes anybody he works with.”
Bender’s work ethic is one that makes a difference, and puts the EOD community in a positive light, according to David.
“On a scale of one to 10, he’s a 10 with the volume knob maxed out,” said David. “He only knows how to do hard
work. Anything that he does he puts max effort into, never having to be told to do anything.”
Bender was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Forward), from October 2010 to May 2011.
During that time, Bender organized large operations in which he led clearing missions in southern Marjah, Helmand Province.
“One of the most impressive things I saw was that he was providing support for Weapons Company, [2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment],” said David, 32, Naperville, Ill., “As an EOD guy, you’re a combat enabler in a support role, but he was writing the five-paragraph orders, briefing it and leading a named operation.”
Along with planning operations, Bender participated in multiple patrols, and along with his team, disarmed many
“He would always train and talk to the Marines within the unit to make sure they were set up for combat success,” said David. “He made sure they were going to be safe negotiating through a heavily IED-laden
When he heard he had been named EOD Tech of the Year, Bender was in a state of disbelief.
“I knew EOD Tech of the Year existed, but I never thought I would be put up for it,” said Bender. “It’s pretty cool to be selected for something like this.”
Bender said he became an EOD tech because he felt if someone should be putting their life on the line, it should
“[I became an EOD tech] to save lives and make a difference in the Maine Corps,” said Bender. “That’s why I’m willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice, so that young Marine can go home and see his family.”
The hard work Bender put in to support the Marines of 2nd Bn., 6th Marines, did not go unnoticed.
“He was the only Marine I had submitted for two Bronze Stars within a single tour, and that was because of the action that he saw, his actions that he performed,” said David. “It was very impressive. He was doing what Marines are expected to do. A lot of Marines in other MOSs forget that infantry skill set, and Gunny Bender grabbed that bull by the horns.”
Bender said he will accept the award in honor of the EOD techs who have lost their lives while fighting alongside him. He said he knew about half of the Marines featured on the memorial wall who have lost their lives since the beginning of the War on Terror.
“I’ve lost a lot of friends, and I think they would agree and say I should accept it, so I’m going to accept it on their
behalf,” said Bender.