Suspicious Ordinance Boxes and the Bomb Squad

BY T.F. STERN

This afternoon there was an article on Facebook about a French Air to Air Missile that had been found at MacDill Air Force Base, something that put them all on alert.  It included a picture of the bomb squad loading the item onto a transport vehicle to be taken away.

“It’s not every day that the bomb disposal team from MacDill Air Force Base gets called out to deal with a French air-to-air missile. But last Friday was no ordinary day.”

That brought back a memory from when I was a police officer back in 1980.  My partner, Donnie White and I were assigned a walking beat in downtown Houston, part of an attempt by the police department to establish what they called Community Policing.  Basically they wanted us out meeting local business owners and the public in a less threatening manner rather than driving by in a patrol car on our way to a call.

While performing the duties as assigned we observed a delivery truck parked next to a multi-level parking garage owned by Foley’s department store.  In the back of the pickup truck were two OD Green military style ordinance crates strapped together, one being about four foot long and the shorter one about two foot long.

(Image of a similar crate configuration courtesy of Dreamstime)

What got our attention was the stenciling in bold letters.  I wish my memory were better; but the one in the smaller of the two boxes was listed as a Warhead for a certain type of rocket launcher while the box below it was listed as that type of rocket launcher.

We hadn’t seen the delivery truck driver and so we waited a while, and waited some more.  Each passing minute gave us time to be more concerned.  Perhaps something or someone had spooked the driver away as we never would leave.  It was about this time that we called our supervisor and asked if it might be a good idea to have the bomb squad check by our location.

About twenty minutes went by before the bomb squad technicians showed up in their specialty box truck.  They carefully examined the ordinance boxes and were about to open them when the driver of the delivery truck happened to come along.

They asked to see the paperwork for his delivery items, mostly to see what was listed in the two ordinance boxes.  The inventory sheet showed they contained industrial bearings.  Upon opening the boxes, very carefully I might add, it turned out to be just that, industrial bearings for some kind of oil field project. 

Whoever packed the bearings didn’t bother to paint over the military ordinance markings, something which is required by law.  It all made for an interesting dry run for the bomb squad technicians and a memorable day for two walking beat police officers.


t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.


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