To the National Guard troops, it was an event that provided an explosive conversation piece for their next day at work.
"When they go back to work on Monday morning at their civilian jobs, they'll say, 'You're not going to believe what I did this weekend,"' said Capt. Victor Brown, commander of Graniteville's Charlie Company, which is part of Edgefield's 122nd Engineer Battalion Unit of the South Carolina National Guard.
It was a demolition training exercise, which took place earlier this month at Fort Gordon's artillery impact area. The training involved all members of the Edgefield unit. Those who participated were from throughout the Augusta area.
"We've got people from North Augusta, Augusta, Martinez, Evans - really all over," Brown said.
The training taught soldiers how to use certain explosives for everything from blocking roads to destroying bridges in a combat zone.
"We've got soldiers in Afghanistan that have used the same type of explosives to blow up bunkers and render some roads impassible," Maj. Brad Owens said.
A battalion typically has about 500 soldiers, Owens said. He said that although the exercise was designed to train soldiers, his unit always makes sure to keep the noise of blasting under control for those who live close to the fort.
"The environmental guys say 'This is your (noise) limit,"' he said. "Anything over that will travel too far."
On Sunday, Brown had his own take on the noise.
"That's the sound of freedom," he said.
Still, the post limits simultaneous detonations of explosives to 150 pounds. Capt. Brown said few people probably noticed the explosions last weekend. But if they did, it was most likely from C-4 explosives and bangalore torpedo blasts.
One of the weekend's exercises involved what are called crater charges, which uses 50 pounds of explosives for each detonation. Crater charges explode beneath the ground and "heave dirt" to render a roadway or airfield useless, Capt. Brown said.
"To go after a real target, you do at least five charges," Brown said. "We're limited to three (charges at a time). But we like to be good neighbors."
Another explosive being tested was the bangalore torpedo. Sections of the torpedo, which are the diameter of a soda can, are connected to form a long charge that shears through wire obstacles and posts when detonated.
Then, there was the C-4 explosive. It was used on a steel beam, which represented the foundation of a bridge.
"It cuts more than it pushes," Owens said. "It cuts (the steel beam) in half just like a torch."
The C-4 also was used to knock down several scrap telephone poles to block a road. The poles represented trees.
All together, Owens estimated, there were about 60 explosions each day during the weekend's training.
It's an exercise soldiers have received for several years, but Owens said it has become all the more crucial in the midst of a war.
"If we were not to provide the training, we would have a lot of people coming home in body bags," he said.
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