CHAMBERSBURG, Pennsylvania – U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers destroyed more than 250 Civil War-era cannon balls during a domestic explosive mitigation mission on Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
EOD technicians from the Fort Belvoir, Virginia-based 55th Ordnance Company (EOD) used shape charges to render the munitions safe.
More than 157 years old, the cannon balls were discovered during a renovation project in downtown Pittsburgh where the Union Army’s Allegheny Arsenal once stood.
Capt. Matthew D. Booker, the commander of the 55th EOD Company, said the cannon balls didn’t pose an immediate threat.
“The cannon balls were full up and had fuzes but were safe to transport due to the style of fuze,” said Booker, a 12-year Army veteran from Buffalo, N.Y., who has deployed to Afghanistan. “The filler was only black powder so they weren’t immediately dangerous. We utilized shaped charges to remove any explosive hazards the fuzes held and in the process they were destroyed.”
The 55th EOD Company’s senior enlisted leader, 1st Sgt. Sean M. Conley, also took part in the response. Conley is a 17-year U.S. Army veteran from Melbourne, Fla., who has deployed to Iraq twice.
The other 55th EOD Company Soldiers involved in the explosive mitigation response were 1st Lt. James E. Fulton from Cape Coral, Florida; Sgt. 1st Class Gregory K. Bryd from Parsons, Tenn.; Staff Sgt. Tommy J. Sergent from Detroit; Staff Sgt. Dylan W. Tyce from Nashville, Tenn.; Staff Sgt. Nickolas R. Brodock from Bend, Ore.; Staff Sgt. Dustin D. Turner from Memphis, Tenn.; Staff Sgt. Daniel P. Meaney; and Spc. Jason R. Stack.
The 55th EOD Company is part of the 192nd EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation. Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 16 bases in 19 states to confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous hazards.
In addition to supporting military operations, the 55th EOD Company covers explosive mitigation missions in most of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, half of Pennsylvania, part of Washington D.C., and part of West Virginia. The company also supports the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of State during Very Important Person Protection Support Activity missions to provide protection to the president, first lady, vice president and foreign heads of states.
According to Booker, the cannon ball response mission was one of the company’s larger explosive mitigation missions.
“We typically have around 50 ordnance calls a year but we only have something as large as this around once a year,” said Booker.