Souvenir goes out with a bang

Staff writer

A World War I model artillery round found its way to the county sheriff’s department Monday, and Explosive Ordinance Disposal from McConnell Air Force base was called to blow it up.

A family from the western part of the county who did not want to be identified had possession of the round for the past 50 years, Sheriff Robert Craft said.

“A family member just showed up with the round in a backpack and set it on the desk of one of our deputies,” Craft said. “They didn’t want it in their house anymore, and I didn’t want it in the office.”

Craft said the family member told the deputy that the artillery shell had been disassembled and reassembled multiple times.

Standing outside the jail in the parking lot, Staff Sergeant James Burnett and Senior Airman Ryan Garvey of McConnell’s EOD team aimed a portable X-ray machine at the round.

The machine clicked as it shot X-rays at the shell. Burnett and Garvey retreated to their specialized truck to examine the findings.

“We X-ray it to see what explosive elements, if any, are present,” Burnett said. “We use what we find to determine blast radius and what we’ll need to use when we explode it.”

However, the parking lot’s cement didn’t seem to agree with the X-Ray machine. They tried several times but it was unclear if the round was still explosive or not.

“It feels empty,” Burnett said. “It’s probably just the case.”

Garvey said the fuse appeared to have the bore pin in it.

Eventually, they packed the round into a “frag bag” and transported it to an open area in the country near Marion where they packed C-4 explosive on top of it and detonated it.

“We try to mitigate the fragmentation,” Burnett said. “Putting C-4 on top forces frags down into the ground and minimizes lateral frags.”

The shell was about 3 inches in diameter by about a foot long. Craft estimated the round to have about a 50-foot blast radius, plus collateral damage.

Last modified Aug. 11, 2016

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