By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsJuly 31, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The 20th CBRNE Command's senior enlisted leader has seen it all: an unpinned hand grenade in a garage, practice bombs in a basement and an armed landmine on a mantle.
Command Sgt. Maj. Harold E. Dunn IV from 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives) said unexploded ordnance (UXO) is not only found on military proving grounds, training ranges and battlefields but also in residential, commercial and recreational areas.
Dunn said UXO can be found just about anywhere.
"You name it," said Dunn. "Mantles in homes, basements, scrap yards, trash cans, dumps, offices, garages and on desks."
In one case, residents gathered UXO rounds from an Army training range and sold them to scrap metal businesses. Army EOD technicians spent days finding and disposing of the rounds, recovering enough to fill three large bins. Among the recovered explosives were M918 practice rounds, 40mm target practice rounds, two Mk 27 fuses, a mortar tail section and an M430 high-explosive, dual-purpose round.
In other cases, people are simply searching for souvenirs like the visitor to the proving ground who ending up bringing home a chemical round.
A seasoned U.S. Army EOD technician, Dunn has responded to more than 400 EOD incidents. But he clearly remembers his first mission.
"I remember walking out on a grenade range for the first time with 100 or so troopers hunkered down in the bunker," said Dunn. "I was a young staff sergeant and remember thinking 'this is something else.'
"I verified details with the range (non-commissioned officer-in-charge) and then walked into the pit," said Dunn. "Remembering my training, I grabbed the grenade with my hand and taped it. That was a great feeling."
Dunn also recalls his first encounter with a remote control improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq.
"It was a SA-2 warhead in a culvert," said Dunn, a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia. "I ended up falling about four feet in a sewer, looked to the left and saw the wires running from the warhead to a remote control device. I tied them off with a rope and ran as fast as I could."
After decades of defusing dangerous explosive devices, Dunn's advice on unexploded ordnance is straightforward.
"Stay away and notify your local authorities and/or your chain of command," said Dunn.
Serving on 19 military posts in 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th CBRNE Command counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), eliminate CBRNE threats and defeat Improvised Explosive Devices. The 20th CBRNE Command trains and operates with allied, interagency and joint partners around the world.
Every month, 20th CBRNE EOD units respond to dozens of unexploded ordnance calls, both on and off post.