By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 1, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Although Fort Rucker provides many recreational opportunities for Soldiers and families, the post is a training installation first and foremost.
Being a training installation, Fort Rucker is no stranger to live-fire exercises, which can sometimes leave munitions and other devices undetonated, resulting in unexploded ordnance, according to Larry Powell, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Training Division chief.
"Since the early 1940s, the (Army) has conducted live-fire training on Fort Rucker, and these exercises required the firing of various rockets, grenades, mortars and other munitions, which contain high explosives," said Powell. "Some of these munitions failed to detonate -- which are extremely dangerous and could explode if tampered with in any way."
Most UXOs are found in training areas, which are areas that people should avoid unless authorized, but some can be found in recreational areas that have been converted from training areas in the past, such as the Silver Wings Golf Course.
"Years ago, those areas were ranges, so as the rain comes and erodes the ground, sometimes the UXOs can resurface," said the training division chief.
In the event that someone encounters a UXO, Powell said they should not touch or tamper with the device. Some can be hard to identify and come in many shapes, sizes and types, but when it comes to lethality, the size, age or look doesn't matter.
"If you suspect you may have encountered a UXO, consider it extremely dangerous," he said, adding that people should remember the three R's -- recognize, retreat, report.
"Recognizing when you may have encountered a munition is key to reducing the risk of injury or death," said Powell. "It may not look deadly, but it is. Leave it alone and try to remember where it is."
When retreating, people should do so immediately, but carefully, and leave the area following the same path from which they entered. If possible, Powell said to mark the general area of the munition and call either range operations at 255-4303 or 911.
When reporting the UXO, people should describe it as best they can, provide the location, a point of contact and how the location is marked.
"We will make contact with Fort Benning (installation in Georgia that has an explosive ordnance disposal unit) and they will have a team that will respond, take the appropriate precautions, determine what the item is, and whether it can be relocated and/or disposed of," said Powell. "A UXO can kill you, so if you find a UXO, leave it alone."