Navy EOD Reenlistment Checklist: Bathing Suit, SCUBA Tank, Africa
With a stream of bubbles emerging from his SCUBA system, the American explosive ordnance technician looked through the clear water off the African Coast at his officer and gave the signal. They were ready to begin their task.
The reason U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Geoffrey Shepelew, 221st Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 EOD technician, and U.S Navy Lieutenant Scott Pennoyer, 221st EOD Mobile Unit 2 EOD officer, both with Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, were underwater February 12 wasn't to neutralize explosives or search for threats—it was for a Shepelew to reaffirm his Oath of Enlistment to the U.S Navy.
The day you reenlist is "kind of like your birthday," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tara Gaiski, a fellow EOD technician "He should do whatever he wants for it."
"I thought I would do a standard reenlistment, then I took … (Gaiski's) advice to heart and I thought we'd try something fun," Shepelew, a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, said with a smile.
Shepelew weighed his options for his ceremony. The petty officer's first thought was to reenlist at the back of a military aircraft and then perform a static-line jump out of it with his team after he reenlisted.
When that plan fell through because of timing, he turned to another one of his passions—SCUBA diving.
Well before he joined the military, Shepelew, 35, earned his open-water dive certification in Australia and has been diving ever since.
Years later at the Navy recruiting office, a recruiter pitched the idea of being a diver. Shepelew mulled it over.
"I was considering commercial diving as a career but the training was very cost prohibitive, so the Navy could be my lead into diving," Shepelew said.
He was going to enlist as a diver, but was encouraged to go into EOD by a friend in the career field. In addition to diving, Shepelew was enticed by EOD opportunities to use explosives, weapons and jump out of airplanes, so he signed up for EOD school.
Since becoming an EOD technician, he has enjoyed the career field and consequently reenlisted for six more years. "I love my job because it's always an adventure. I really can't believe we get paid to do this," Shepelew said.
Pennoyer, who shares Shepelew's passion for the EOD career field, was thankful he was able to witness his shipmate continue his career.
Pennoyer said he was honored Shepelew asked him to be his reenlisting officer. "We told him he could do anything he wanted, within reason. He chose to do an underwater reenlistment, which not many people get the chance to do," Pennoyer said. "Since Navy EOD technicians are divers at heart, we chose to do it underwater … It went swimmingly."