Texarkana, Texas, resident Mike DeLaughter thought he would have a blast getting in some pleasant springtime yard work this weekend.
But, to his surprise, that blast could have had a literal meaning.
"I had just spent Saturday mowing the lawn," DeLaughter, who has spent the last eight years living in his 1930s vintage home, in the 3000 block of Magnolia Street, said. "I was outside Sunday evening about 6:30 p.m., surveying my handy work and looking at some shrubs on the house's south side when I notice what looked like a small coffee thermos laying on its side and buried about halfway into the ground."
But as DeLaughter extracted the object from the ground, he notice that it appeared to have an odd military tank or artillery shell look about it. The object also had a seriously corroded look about it — like it had been just under the ground service for years and perhaps decades.
"It was about 10 inches to a foot long and it seemed to weigh a couple of pounds, so I took it to my next door neighbor because she had worked at the Red River Army Depot as far back as 50 years ago," DeLaughter said. "I hadn't had any military experience, so I didn't really know what I had found."
As it turned out, DeLaugther's neighbor knew exactly what the military round was and she even identified the ordnance's fuse attached to the shell's cone head."
From there, DeLaughter decided to notify police about his finding, since there was still a chance that even aged military ordnance could still be explosive.
Once police arrived on the scene, they decided to notify Shreveport's Barksdale Air Force Base, which had the closest military explosive experts available. The base sent out a U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal team Monday morning.
The EOD team arrived at the scene before 9 a.m. to investigate the type of ordnance it appeared to be, as well as to determine whether or not it still had live potential explosive power or if it had become benign.
"We couldn't really determine if the shell was either a tank or artillery shell, but we knew its a projectile, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland, Barksdale's public affairs craftsman.
Once determined not to have any immediate explosive potential, the team wrapped the shell, placed it in a container, drove it to secure place and detonated it as a public safety precaution, said Texarkana, Texas, Police Department Public Information Officer Shawn Vaughn.
The explosion ensured that the shell's fragments were blasted into the ground and not upward — as a safety measure — McCasland said.
Following the shell's detonation, a portion of its fuse timing ring indicated that the projectile could have been produced as far back as 1908 to 1910.