By Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Ensign Brie Coger was a theater major in college who dreamed of being a stunt woman. After receiving an email about joining the Army, she thought, “I want to be in the water.” So, the next day she went to see a Navy recruiter who talked about a select group of U.S. Navy sailors who eliminate hazards from conventional ordnances, weapons of mass destruction, sea mines and improvised explosive devices. She also learned these elite warriors conduct diving and salvage operations.
“It turned out to be everything I wanted in stunt work, but I would be able to do it serving my country,” said Coger.
Coger, currently serves as an explosive ordnance disposal officer at EOD Mobile Unit One in San Diego, California, and credits part of her success in the military with lessons she learned growing up in Staten Island, New York, and attending college at the University of Miami.
“I always had a thirst for leadership, since I was a young kid,” said Coger. “I was captain of my high school swim team and had a leadership role in representing synchronized swimming athletes at a national level. I swam competitively for a Division I school, but I didn’t become a better technical swimmer until after I started coaching and having to understand and explain techniques in different ways to people of different ability levels.”
Women have served proudly in the Navy EOD community for almost forty years, with the first female EOD technicians graduating from Navy School Explosive Ordnance Disposal in 1980. Today, the number of women in the community is approximately 2 percent of the overall Navy EOD force and includes 27 EOD technicians and 17 EOD officers.
“Every woman I’ve met in EOD has been an inspiration to me,” said Coger. “I am constantly in awe of the women who have come before me to help pave the road for everything I’ve wanted to accomplish. I can only hope to smooth out any speed bumps on my own journey.”
Coger has many memorable experiences in the Navy, including some opportunities to influence how women are viewed by members of foreign militaries.
“While stationed in Spain I was given so many opportunities to work with foreign nations, training them, training alongside them, all the while experiencing these different people and different cultures,” said Coger. “I would look at each interaction as another opportunity to improve the perception of women in the military. Training with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates in 2015, I was the one organizing, supervising and leading men from cultures that often have a less than open mindset on working with women, let alone taking direction from one. It was a wonderful multi-lateral exercise and I hope that my contribution made a difference in the lives of a few of those men.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Coger and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I love a challenge, and EOD is the most challenging, both physically and mentally,” said Coger. “The diversity of five separate mission areas, combined with very high physical expectations, delivered a seemingly insurmountable challenge that I was hungry for.”