(Editor’s Note: The name Johnny Winters is a fictitious name created to protect the privacy of the individual who found the grenade. Any connection to anyone named Johnny Winters is merely coincidental.)
PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. – Discovering an explosive in the garage while you prepare for Thanksgiving, is probably not on anyone’s to-do list.
When Johnny Winters, a tool technician from Georgia was cleaning out his father-in-law’s garage in Palm Bay, Florida, Nov. 24, he found an MK2 grenade.
“My father-in-law passed away the Friday before Thanksgiving, and while I was cleaning out his garage, I discovered a cardboard tube with the grenade,” Winters said. “I thought it was fake.”
Winters examined the grenade for a few seconds and soon found the words “military issue” inscribed on the bottom, which led him to believe it was real.
“I told my wife to get out of the house,” he said. “It scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Winters carefully transported the grenade to the front yard and contacted the Palm Bay Police Department. Palm Bay PD then requested support from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
Mike Helms, BCSO sergeant and a bomb squad team leader, responded.
“After making contact with Palm Bay PD and examining the device, we placed ammo cans lined with plywood around it to mitigate potential damage from a blast should one occur,” Helms said. “We realized it was a military explosive so we requested support from the Air Force explosive ordnance disposal team at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.”
Two EOD technicians from the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron were dispatched to the scene.
“When we arrived, we were focused on safety, so we asked BCSO officers to ensure everyone stayed in their homes and away from the area,” said Senior Airman Dalton Shaw, 45th CES EOD journeyman. “From there, we secured the grenade in a container, loaded it in our response vehicle and returned to Cape Canaveral SFS where the grenade was disposed of.”
Nobody was injured during the response, which is something Shaw said he appreciates.
“I was ecstatic after we removed the grenade knowing the family of that residence would no longer be in harm’s way,” he said. “It brings me great pride knowing that my job can help protect people and property from the dangers of explosive items.”
Shaw was also part of an EOD response to Satellite Beach Nov. 25 to remove an Mk58 Marine Location Marker that washed ashore. The call once again came from the BCSO.
“When we discover military ordnance we contact the EOD team at CCSFS,” Helms said. “Those devices are out of our wheelhouse and the EOD team at Cape Canaveral has incredible ordnance training. The knowledge they have is immense. We simply don’t get the same amount of exposure to those explosives as they do.”
Helms said the partnership between the BCSO and CCSFS is essential to ensure public safety.
“The amount of information sharing we have between one another and the response time Air Force EOD teams have when we call is simply incredible,” he said.
Shaw echoed that sentiment.
“The cooperation we have between the BCSO and us is great,” he added. “Working together we eliminate hazards and keep people safe.”
The 45th CES EOD team provides support for more than 30,000 square miles in Florida covering nine counties with a population of more than 4 million people.
As of Dec. 1, they have responded to 27 incidents.