Bomb squad legend/alum dies at 78

Subheading: Brodie helped develop modern day bomb dismantling devices.

Major Greg Terp of the Miami-Dade Police Department was working downtown when a sharp black Firebird rolled up to the curb in front of him, the license plate reading “Boom Boom.”

Terp, a rookie at the time, wondered aloud who was behind the wheel.

“That’s Brodie the bomb guy,” the other officers said, their eyes reverently following the bomb squad legend as he approached.

This wasn’t the last time Terp would hear the name Thomas Graham Brodie.

When he attended Hazardous Devices School in Huntsville, Alabama in 1982 he found that Brodie’s sphere of influence went beyond South Florida.

“As soon as people heard I was from Miami-Dade they’d ask me if I knew Tom Brodie,” Terp said. “They called him the father of the modern day bomb squad.”

Brodie served in the Miami-Dade police department from 1955 to 1983 after graduating from the University of Miami.

“He was a die-hard Miami Hurricane fan,” Steve Brodie, a lieutenant in the Miami-Dade Fire Department, said of his father who recently died at the age of 78 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. “He never let us leave a football game before it was over–win or lose.”

The connection to the university did not end at sporting events. In April of 1969, he investigated a pipe bomb that was set off in a dean’s office and dismantled a hazardous device found in student housing.

After just eight years with the Miami-Dade Police Department, Brodie became its youngest captain. He fearlessly worked hands-on with explosives, dismantling them with makeshift tools such as ballpoint pens or string.

Brodie once used a lawn mower and metal shield with two poles attached to it to ride onto a device to dismantle it.

Today the Miami-Dade Police Department has forklift-like machines strong enough to lift cars and trucks equipped with bomb-disposal chambers based on Brodie’s inventions.

“He was always thinking of new ways to address what we were facing out on the street,” said Sean Klahm, an officer bomb technician.

When Brodie started there was no formal training for bomb technicians. Today Hazardous Devices School trains bomb experts from around the country to safely disarm explosives.

“He was one of the driving forces in the creation of HDS,” Terp said.

In 1968 Brodie removed a bomb from an English cargo ship in the Miami harbor, earning him an induction into the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Brodie was a founding member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI) and a published author. His guide Bombs and Bombings: A Handbook to Protection, Security, Disposal, And Investigation for Industry, Police and Fire Departments is still widely used in the field today.

Brodie died on Aug. 13. He leaves behind three children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Donations can be made in his memory to the Police Officers Assistance Trust, 1030 NW 111 Ave. Suite 232, Miami, FL 33172.

September 27, 2009


Nina Ruggiero

Contributing News Writer

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