A local hero

by Donna Lampkin Stephens

Scott Weaver, one of Conway’s hometown heroes, is between military deployments, but he said he sure would like a shot at some of the Islamic State militants wreaking havoc in the Middle East.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Weaver, a 1994 graduate of Conway High School, is stationed with the Navy in Virginia Beach, Va. After three deployments that have covered such places as Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Oman, Jordan and Bahrain over the last 15 years, he has received a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and won three Working Wounded Warrior Championships.

“Unfortunately, with my job, we definitely have job security,” Weaver said. “Bad people are out there. I’ve got five years left and likely one more deployment before I hang it up.

“With ISIS going on, a lot of guys are licking their chops. I would probably come off shore duty if they told me I could go over there with a team.”

But for now, his role is as EOD Master Tech Team Leader, assigned to EODMU 12, as part of his shore duty rotation. Sea duty means the unit is deployable.

“This is like a training command for three years,” Weaver said. “For the next three years, I’ll be training teams going out the door.”

He said he enjoys the training aspect of his job.

“Passing on that experience and knowledge can mean life or death to these guys,” he said. “We take it very seriously, but of course I miss it. I was in this new command for two weeks and I was ready to get back on a team.”

He described himself as “pretty much a young punk” when he graduated from CHS. (The family had moved to Conway when he was in eighth grade.) His decision to join the military was a spur-of-the-moment one.

“I started at 18 in boot camp and did my first tour, four years, then got out and did reserves and came back to Conway for a while,” he said. “Then 9/11 happened, and like a lot of Americans, I felt like I needed to do something.”

He went back full-time in early 2003.

“I hadn’t decided if I was going to do the whole career thing,” he said. “First was a four-year stint.”

He said he didn’t then know much about explosive ordnance disposal. “Then I met somebody who came and talked about it, and I started researching,” he said. “It seemed perfect for me and my personality. Everybody says it’s a Type-A personality thing. Growing up, I was always doing something, playing football, always active.

“That type of personality, that drive, that never-quit mentality, is part of it, plus being part of a community where you aren’t the only one. You look to your left and right. It’s a brotherhood.”

He said all branches of the military have EODs, but the Navy’s is the only one considered special operations.

“We’re the bomb techs,” he said. “We are free-fall qualified, dive qualified, small unit combat — all that training. That way, we can deploy. Most of us were with Navy Seals, but we’re also with Green Berets, with Rangers — everybody.”

He finished his EOD training in January 2008.

Most EOD teams, he said, start with eight to 10 men.

“You do your six months of drills with those guys, then you’re shipped over to a special team — Seals, Rangers, Green Berets — and you break into a two-man unit,” he said. “Each one goes to a different platoon of whatever. When we operate in a country, we operate in two-man units.”

In January, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in April 2012.

According to a Navy press release, during a combined reconnaissance patrol in the Arghandab River Valley, Weaver and his patrol came under enemy fire from multiple locations. His squad commander was hit in the leg.

“Weaver, with total disregard for his own safety, ran to his position to help,” the press release states. “He pulled his squad commander from the area and immediately began stabilizing medical treatment before transporting him to a safer location and then returned to his comrades to continue fighting.”

Later during that same deployment, Weaver was injured while working to clear a path for military vehicles and personnel when a truck backed over an improvised explosive device (IED). The explosion tore off his left calf, but EOD1 Zach Phillips, now stationed in Florida, was there for him.

“He came and got me when I was blown up,” Weaver said. “He’ll be one of my best friends until the day I die.”

Weaver’s service was recognized by a section of Conway’s Tucker Creek Bike Trail named the “Weaver Mile.”

After a long rehabilitation, he re-qualified for EOD and was deployed again from March-October 2014.

“I was pretty much all over the Middle East, but we home-ported in Bahrain, and we did a lot of traveling around to Egypt and Oman, where we worked with partner military,” he said.

That deployment, certainly compared to the previous one, was fairly uneventful and “very successful.”

Weaver lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, Catherine. His three children — Hope, Noah and Haley — live with their mother nearby.

h he’s been gone from the 501 for some time, his mother, Kathy Timmons, lives in Jacksonville, and his sister, Holly Perkins, and her family, including twin sons and a daughter, are in Conway. His father, Mike Weaver, lives in Idaho Springs, Colo.

But his family roots go back to Conway’s early days, and he will return, he said.

“One thing I love about Conway is, especially for a small town, the appreciation they have for the military,” he said. “I was, pardon the pun, blown away when they did the Weaver Mile. It just totally floored me. I was at a loss for words.

“That’s why I love Conway. When I retire, my plan is to move back. The support from the town there is unsurpassed.”