In Alaska, if you find some piece of weathered metal, dont pick it up


716th EOD

“If you don’t know what it is and it gives you any concern or suspicion, take a picture of it, leave it and call police,” Pratt said. “If you don’t have a camera, don’t go get one and go back.”

Not all residents heed this warning. Military officials have found people using heavy artillery from World War II as doorstops, displaying it on mantels and storing it in attics.

In June 2013, someone called authorities after having second thoughts about a purchase at a Wasilla estate sale — two white rusted mortar rounds, said 1st Lt. Steve Latulipe with the ordnance company. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported in 2010 that a 600-pound bomb was on display outside of Jim’s Diamond Bar in Kodiak for years with “U da bomb” inscribed on its casing.

In both incidents, military professionals destroyed the explosives.

Pratt said he has never heard of anyone going to court for possessing an old war weapon.

“Generally, there’s a whole lot of amnesty,” he said. “We’re just trying to get it off the streets.”

As the dirt wears away, explosives begin to surface. Last summer, a couple walked the beach at Point MacKenzie and found a foot-long, 75- millimeter-wide artillery round. Pratt and two other soldiers responded, stopped air traffic for 15 minutes and blew up the artillery piece, sending a smoke plume more than 70 feet into the air.

“To the untrained eye it would just look like a rusty piece of pipe,” he said.

Read more about the work of the 716th EOD Company at JBase Elmendorf-Richardson here

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