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Mike
17 May 2000, 17:05
from Navy News

EOD Divers recover drowned Solider in Germany
SIGONELLA - The Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division in Germany recently called for the Navy's help with a possible drowning accident at Lake Der Bostalsee. NAS Sigonellaís Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit EIGHT (EODMU-8) responded immediately and began the search for a missing Army soldier. "The Army helped us every step of the way," said BM2(DV) Lee Allrid. "The General stayed on station the entire time." Detachment 16, consisting of seven divers and EOD technicians, was at the bottom of the lake searching within 21 hours of the original call. A general area was established to search for Sgt Kenneth Johnson, 30, of V CORPS in Germany, using both hand held sonar and standard circle line searches. "The sonar will pick up any solid mass in the water," said Lt. Ronny Jackson, Officer in Charge (OIC) of the detachment. To accomplish line searches, buoys were set in the water with lines affixed to a weight that dangled to the bottom of the lake. Divers followed the line down and swam in various sized circles with the line as a reference, methodically searching the bottom of the lake. They dove to depths of 35 feet in temperatures of 48 degrees with zero visibility. The initial dive lasted for three hours before lightning halted the day's work. The second day, Det. 16 members dove for 18 hours with no luck. The search ended on the third day at 1340 when BMCM(MDV) Stephen Smith tugged the line to indicate to PR2(DV) Jason Thompson, the dive supervisor for this particular dive, that he had found something. Army medical technicians immediately took over and transported the body to Landstuhl for positive identification. The Det. 16 team consisted of Jackson, Smith, Thompson, Allrid, HM1(DV) Michael Worley, ABF1(EOD) David Kimball, and BM3(EOD) Alex Sonnenberg. They dove a combined total of 30 hours in three days. During this time, the Army conducted land and helicopter searches. "We were cautious because we had to do a very thorough search," said Kimball. "The job we were doing was important." The divers also met and talked with Johnsonís family, and they thanked all seven of them for their help, according to Worley. "I'm just happy we found him for his family and friends."