Box of WWII ammo found in Bellows Falls basement

Thursday October 11, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS -- A collection of World War II munitions were recovered from a village residence on Monday and taken upstate by the Vermont State Police bomb squad to be examined by members of the Vermont Air National Guard.

Bellows Falls Police Detective Sgt. Shane M. Harris said the home is located at the north end of the village, off Minard Pond Road. On a tip from the homeowner, a cache of WWII ammo, including two grenades, high-explosive mortar rounds and anti-aircraft rounds, were taken, he said.

Capt. Ray Keefe, Troop "D" Commander of the VSP, said the bomb squad assessed all the munitions and believed they appeared to be demilitarized, though one grenade was questionable. He said they were brought to the Derby area to be analyzed.

Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow, Vermont Air National Guard public information officer, confirmed that the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team at the Guard was aware of the materiel but had not received them as of Wednesday evening.

"It was explained to me that the military has a ‘cradle to grave' responsibility to care for all such recovered military explosives," he said in an e-mail. "They have not yet been delivered, but are expected."

Keefe said the homeowner is a woman whose father was a military veteran and had brought home some souvenirs. Keefe said the woman, whom he declined to identify, found the munitions with Japanese writing on them in a box in the basement.

Harris, who believes the munitions are nearly 70 years old, said the homeowner immediately took photographs of the ammo and brought it to the Bellows Falls Police Department shortly before 1 p.m. He said he then contacted the VSP.

"It was an awesome response," he said in a telephone interview. "You couldn't ask for a better organization."

A 250- to 300-foot perimeter was established around the home by police and nearby residents were asked to temporarily leave the area for their own safety. Harris said Sgt. Chris Brooks was at the scene and reported there was full cooperation by neighbors.

Keefe said the scene was cleared by 6:30 p.m.

He said everyone from the homeowner, who did the responsible thing by not touching the items, to the authorities did a great job handling the situation. He said the best thing to do when suspicious materials -- like any military munitions that are not known to be safe or legal -- are found is to leave them alone and contact the police.

"Leave it where it is. We'll come to you," he said.

Domenic Poli can be reached at, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.


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