The rapid advance of the German military through Europe and chaos from their delayed-action bombs and other ordnance, created fear of German attacks on the continental United States with no capability to counter their advanced ordnance.
The United States first thought that civilians should be trained for bomb disposal and in April, 1941, while bombs were still falling on Britain, the School of Civilian Defense at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, added bomb disposal training. However, by November it was decided that military personnel, not civilians, should handle enemy ordnance and the Army was given that responsibility.
During these same months, the U.S. Navy was also sensing the same urgency and established the U.S. Naval Mine Disposal School in Washington, DC. The first class graduated in August.
The first American school focusing on bomb disposal school was also established by the Navy in mid-January 1942 in Washington, DC. The following month, the Army opened its bomb disposal school at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
In late January 1942, Army Major Thomas Kane, commandant of the Bomb Disposal School, attended the British Bomb Disposal School with some of his staff to learn procedures that helped establish the first U.S. Army bomb disposal school.
The British then sent a team of bomb disposal men to Aberdeen the next month to teach the first class of the Army bomb disposal school. The graduates became the instructors for the following classes.
With three schools operating, the United States was rapidly developing the capability to disarm unexploded German, and later, Japanese enemy ordnance. The Navy completed the first class of graduates, which included four Army officers.
Army and Navy bomb disposal school graduates were used throughout the European and Pacific regions of World War II operations, serving in an extremely hazardous line of work with many unknowns to be learned – the hard way.
They were sent out with very limited training, crude tools and equipment. All services experienced heavy casualties. Aircraft bombs, the fear at the beginning, made up only 20-25 percent of their wartime work, with booby traps and other ordnance making up the remaining percentage.
At the end of the war, many bomb disposal units were deactivated, including the Army Bomb Disposal School at Aberdeen. Limited training was shifted to the Army Ordnance School as a sub-course.
The Navy training course was re-named Explosive Ordnance Disposal from the lessons learned in WWII that bombs were not the major workload, and moved to Indian Head, Maryland, in 1946. This was the beginning of the EOD designation. Army officers and senior enlisted men, along with airmen from the newly-established Air Force, began training at the Navy school in 1947. The Army continued training junior enlisted men at Aberdeen.
In 1951, EOD training and support was consolidated. The Navy was assigned jointservice responsibilities for basic EOD training, research, and development of tools and equipment. In 1954, the Army established the U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Center at Aberdeen as a focal point for developing render-safe procedures on Army ordnance, doctrine, and other operational areas. This office moved to Picatinny Arsenal in 1960. In 1955 the US Army ended EOD training at Aberdeen when EOD training for all military services was consolidated at the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal.