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The Marine Corps does not have a shortage of candidates to fill the slots, Krebs said.

Meyer said the job is “exhilarating.” It requires math, problem-solving, and quick thinking. Some use bomb suits to protect themselves, but the suits can also pose more of a risk because they are cumbersome and easy to trip in, Meyer said. And, he added, they cannot protect against being hit by a direct explosion.

It is not known whether the four Marines were in bomb suits or what equipment they were using.

The team usually decides those details depending on the situation, said Meyer, who cleared a range at Pendleton in 2010.

Explosives on artillery ranges on bases can vary in size, and clearing ranges can be as dangerous as diffusing bombs on the battlefield, Meyer said. Usually, the team marks a point from A to B, deciding what’s movable and what’s not. The team will group together the movable explosives, and then detonate them.

“With unexploded ordnance, you can do everything right and stuff can still go sideways only because it’s all so unpredictable,” he said.