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Indiana man finds old military aircraft practice bomb in garage

The BDU-33 is a 25-pound training munition used to simulate the M1a-82 500-pound bomb. It is approximately 22 and a half inches long and is blue in color. Although the training munition is inert, it is equipped with a small pyrotechnic charge and should not be handled. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eugene Oliver)

A Charlestown man got a surprise this weekend when cleaning out his garage the day of a city-wide yard sale — he found an inactive military bomb.

Parker Jones, who’s owned a house on Main Street for about a year, said the previous owner had left a lot of things in the garage. He had decided to clean it out, see what could sell. As the yard sale finished last Saturday, Jones was cleaning under some shelves he hadn’t previously been able to get to.

“Under the shelf, there was this rusty kind of metal thing,” he said. “When I pulled it out all of the way, that’s when I thought ‘uh it kind of looks suspicious.'”

Jones called the Charlestown police, who in turn contacted the Indiana State Police South Zone Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. They determined that what Jones had found was a BDU-33 practice bomb used by U.S. Navy and Air Force pilots. About two feet long and weighing 25 pounds, the practice bombs are designed to release a cloud of smoke on impact. However, they do not contain live materials found in real bombs.

ISP Master Trooper Rick Stocksdale, who leads the explosive disposal unit, said finding such a thing is not a surprise — especially in the area.

“It’s not uncommon,” he said. “We see a lot of this especially when we have World War II and Korean veterans at the age where they’re dying, their families are finding stuff.”

Police weren’t certain of the age of the practice bomb, and they’re still manufactured today. However, Stocksdale said it’s more likely that it would have been from one of the older military conflicts.

“Back then it wasn’t uncommon to bring souvenirs back,” he said. “Nowadays the military is really strict and you can’t bring stuff home from war. But the older stuff, it’s very common.

“And Indiana is a big state for military anyway.”

There were previously testing facilities in the state, and Charlestown was home to the army ammunition plant.

Police kept Main Street blocked Saturday from the time of Jones’ call just before 2:30 in the afternoon, to 5:30 p.m. when the all clear was given. They transported the bomb to the military to be destroyed.

Jones said that he’s found a lot of interesting things around the home left by the previous owner, such as a mini metal cannon. In this case, he felt fairly safe but wasn’t sure if the owner had gotten a hold of a live bomb as memorabilia, and wanted to be certain.

“I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be anything serious, but at the same time you never know,” he said. “I’ve heard stories of people finding these things and they can blow up.”


© 2019 The Evening News and The Tribune