GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. --
It’s not uncommon to see historical artifacts at a museum, but when an artifact comes with a post-it-note stating ‘Danger, it may be active’ a local call to authorities is warranted.
That call came from the Berrien Springs County Plaza Museum Berrien Springs, Michigan, June 18, when a new employee discovered a Civil War era cannon ball with the message attached.
The employee had been going through old inventory, found the cannon ball with the note attached and immediately notified the museum director, Rhiannon Cizon.
“Our new curator came in with this cannon ball and a note that said ‘danger, it may be active’ and my first thought was ‘this is not good’,” said Cizon. “He then told me that there were three more where this came from.”
In addition, other munitions were also discovered that had the potential of still being active.
The Department of Defense has the responsibility to protect the public from potential hazards associated with military ordnances from any time period.
Grissom’s Explosive Ordnance team owns that responsibility within a tristate region surrounding the base.
Grissom’s EOD team received the call to service from Grissom’s Command Post, and immediately began their investigation to determine if a call for service was warranted.
“We could tell from photos that that the munitions had the potential of being live,” said Staff Sgt. Rogerito Miravete-Disantis, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician and team lead for the incident. “This type of cannon ball in particular often contains an internal charge that can be unstable due to the age and condition of the device.”
With the necessary information in hand, a five-member team was organized and started their way north with their bomb squad emergency responsive vehicle.
“I couldn’t have been more excited when I saw [Grissom’s EOD team] arrive, “said Cizon. “They were extremely professional and explained everything that was happening throughout the entire process.”
Upon arrival, the EOD team cleared the area and began the investigative process to ensure the area containing the munitions was safe.
“Anything can happen from one second to another when you are dealing with explosive devices,” said Miravete-Disantis. “It can be a really stressful situation, but things went really well.”
After ensuring the area was cleared, the team began the process of identifying the munitions to determine the proper methods of disposal.
The team was unable to 100 percent determine if the munitions were live, but due to the high probability, a decision was made to treat them as such and remove the potential threat.
“The team worked really well together,” said Miravete-Disantis. “We had two guys who are currently in upgrade training, and this was a great opportunity for them to get some hands-on training.
“We were able to recover the devices and render them safe using techniques appropriate for the munitions discovered,” he added.
Proper disposal of those items were the exact wishes of museum staff who expressed great relief after they were removed.
“We could have died or been seriously injured,” said Cizon. “When they told us they were taking the [munitions] a huge sensation of relief came over us. We’re so grateful they came and took care of the situation.”
The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.
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