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Law enforcement officers gather for ceremony to honor bomb technicians killed in action

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) - Public service bomb technicians have a lot in common: they attended the FBI's Hazardous Devices School on Redstone Arsenal and they never know what their work day will bring.

Many law enforcement officers attended the National Bomb Technician Memorial on Monday morning. For officers like Tony Blassingame with the Garland, Texas Police Department, it's a sobering reminder.

"We know what could happen, but we don't think about it til we're actually faced with one of these ceremonies," Blassingame said.

Blassingame said honoring officers killed in action brought back bad memories for him.

"May 3rd of last year in Garland, Texas, we had a terrorist attack," Blassingame said. "We spent a lot of time taking vehicles apart, taking everything inside of those apart and if you started panicking it wasn't gonna get done."

Over the years, 15 police officer bomb technicians have sacrificed everything to save others. Their fellow officers honored them during Monday's service.

"It's to help remind the guys that come in and out of these doors of the potential that they face every day," George Durst with Pennsylvania State Police said.

The FBI's Hazardous Devices School is the only one in the country that certifies the 3,100 bomb technicians in the public safety sector.

"IEDs is the first choice of weapons for terrorists - all the coalitions have agreed to that, all the United States commands have agreed to that, and that's why this school is so important," FBI Hazardous Devices Director Jeff Warren said.

The memorial statue at the school honors those killed in action through mounted plaques. The 16th plaque is blank. Warren said this is a challenge to officers.

"It reminds us that when they drive in to this property, reminds us that our job is to keep more names from going on that wall," Warren said.