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Fort Campbell EOD detonates World War II-era explosive

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE. Tenn. -- An aggressive campaign to educate and protect people who use and work in the wooded areas on and around Arnold AFB paid off in late December.

A seven-person team from the base's Aerospace Testing Alliance Natural Resource Management Office discovered a World War II-era rocket about one-third of a mile off of Substation Road while burning underbrush.

Once they discovered the unexploded ordnance, a member of the team immediately notified appropriate base agencies and a team of experts went into action. Security forces roped off a 2,500-square foot area and called in AEDC's Weapons Safety Manager Tech. Sgt. Carl Miller and Hazardous Material Manager Mike Brumer.
A munitions troop with 15 years under his belt, Sergeant Miller quickly identified the projectile and called in an explosive ordnance disposal team from Ft. Campbell, Ky.

The three-man team of EOD soldiers arrived here within three hours of notification and, using a portable X-ray machine, verified that the UXO was "live."

"This was the second time we've been called down to Arnold in the last year," said Army 1st Sgt. Tony Moore, a 20-year EOD veteran who headed the team from Ft. Campbell.

"The people down there were extremely knowledgeable -- dead on the money right -- in identifying the ordnance."

After assessing the find and the location, Sergeant Moore and his team detonated the ordnance at the scene.

"Ninety percent of the time we end up blowing it up," he explained. "That's the safest means. It's more dangerous to transport it on public highways."

Sergeant Moore and his team made the trip to Arnold in May to set up a display booth at the center's annual Safety Day. Using posters and inert ordnance, the EOD specialists reached a large portion of the base population -- arming them with more knowledge in terms of recognizing various types of explosives, a better understanding of the dangers involved, and information on what to do if they find something.

The small size of the rocket found Tuesday -- 2.36 inch diameter -- is no indication of the lethality and power packed inside, Sergeant Miller warned.

"If you find a UXO and think it would make a good World War II souvenir, think again. These items are filled with high explosives and are highly dangerous if handled. If you see something -- do no touch it. Mark the location, evacuate the area and call security forces or the operations center immediately."

Of the more than 39,000 acres of base property, about 35,000 acres are open for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities for the public, according to Mark Moran, ATA Conservation Natural Resource Management Office. Arnold AFB is on land that was (Camp Forest) part of around 100,000 acres that was used to train Army infantry, artillery and mechanized troops from 1941-1944.

Armed with that knowledge, base safety and environmental officials set out more than a decade ago to increase public awareness and ensure safety of the hunters and wildlife enthusiasts who might use the areas.

Hunters inside the gated area must attend a safety orientation briefing when they apply for their hunting permits and also receive a pocket-sized reference card that tells them what to do and who to call if they happen to find a UXO.

"We go over the rules and regulations, where you can and cannot go, and what to do if you happen upon a UXO," Mr. Moran explained. "We also give them a brochure with phone numbers to call."

For those that utilize the woods outside the fenced-in area, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency includes information in the state hunting guide issued to hunters when they apply for permits.

"ATA and AEDC weapons safety representatives have also posted more than 200 signs-- one every 300 feet -- around the areas outside the fence," Sergeant Miller said.
The signs are posted at normal, easily accessible areas where hunters usually enter the woods warning them of the dangers. And, while the potential danger does exist, there's only a small portion of the population that will ever be affected, safety officials assured.

"You have to think about the fact that the UXOs that are out there have been there for more than 60 years," Sergeant Miller said. "You have to be careful, but it's not like a mine field where you have to watch every step you take."

Another effort to narrow down the areas more likely to have UXOs started earlier this month, according to Sergeant Miller.

Air Force Materiel Command officials hired an aerial research firm to fly around the base using specialized equipment to identify areas that appear to have "craters" under the vegetation.

"The fact is, this was an old training camp," said Pam King, 704th Civil Engineering Squadron Environmental Flight chief. "Periodically, someone discovers a UXO."
The safe disposal of Tuesday's discovery is testament to the old adage, "Knowledge is power."

"This was one of the smoothest operations I've ever seen -- getting rid of a UXO," said Sergeant Miller who has only been at Arnold for five months.
"The team here -- AEDC and ATA-- is outstanding. I was amazed. We are doing a great job informing the public on the hazards of the UXOs here."