UXO Incidents

Intentionally touching, moving or handling munitions has caused a number of fatalities and injuries.  Protect yourself, your family, friends and community by following the 3Rs of Explosives Safety!

The Department of Defense (DoD) has an ongoing effort to prevent accidents involving military munitions; however, such accidents do occur. The Army has developed this web site to educate the public about the hazards associated with military munitions, particularly unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Army-wide analyses of accidents involving military munitions and civilian personnel indicate that failure to respect the explosive hazards associated with munitions, particularly UXO, is the main cause of accidents involving munitions. Remember military munitions are designed to destroy enemy weapons, kill, or incapacitate the enemy. Soldiers are only allowed to handle and use military munitions after extensive training. Soldiers that respond to UXO, known as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel, are highly trained and specially equipped teams. Their training and equipment are highly specialized and extensive because of the explosive hazards involved. EOD personnel are only authorized to respond to requests from local law enforcement personnel for support in addressing munitions encountered by the public.

The best way to avoid an incident, and avoid becoming another true story on this website, is to learn and follow the 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, and Report). Remember, if you encounter or think you have encountered a munition, do not approach, touch or disturb it, but call 911.



In 2013, two civilians (peddlers or scrappers) illegally collecting metal on an operational range in Texas were seriously injured when a grenade they had picked up exploded.  These trespassers failed to recognize the danger of ignoring warning signs and entering an operational range where munitions, including unexploded ordnance or UXO, of different types are present and of collecting metals, including munitions, for sale.  

As a result of this incident, military police and federal law enforcement agencies subsequently visited 90 local scrap recyclers and identified four yards that had purchased munitions from peddlers.  A military Explosive Ordnance Disposal team worked with law enforcement to recover and destroy numerous munitions and a significant amount of munitions debris from these yards.  Law enforcement had to close portions of these yards for an extended time while Explosive Ordnance Disposal team searched the scrap yard and recovered the munitions and munitions debris present.

The failure of these two individuals to recognize the danger of trespassing on an operational range and collecting scrap metal, which included munitions, resulted in their being seriously injured.  In addition, these individuals may now face criminal charges for trespassing and theft.  Failure of the recycling yards to recognize the hazards posed by the metals the peddlers brought to the yard placed their workers and the public at risk,  Additionally, it disrupted the scrap yards normal business.





In 2007 while on a Scout outing at a park on a former military installation in Oklahoma, a boy digging for crystals broke a glass vial causing his eyes to water and his throat to burn.  Following a response to the site, the military identified the vial as part of a chemical agent identification set or CAIS.  Soldiers used CAIS to become familiar with the odor of chemical agents.  The boy reacted quickly when he recognized he had encountered something unusual and immediately reported the incident.  Ultimately, 162 intact CAIS vials, a number of broken vials, and several bomblets were recovered.



In 2004, an antique bottle hunter searching a wooded area in Georgia uncovered an unusual item. Initially, the item was suspected to be an old bottle, or even a flashlight. On further inspection, it was suspected to be a munition. Once the hunter recognized the potential hazard, he contacted the local police and a bomb squad responded. After determining the item was a military munition, the bomb squad requested support from a military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit. The the EOD team safely removed and properly disposed of the munition, which was identified as a WWII era 40mm anti-aircraft round.


In Charleston, South Carolina, at the end of 2003, construction workers encountered a civil war-era military munition while digging up a cobblestone driveway. The workers did not identify the munition until the next day, when a Civil War re-enactor recognized it as a Parrott shell. The black-powder filled projectile was about eight inches long and three inches in diameter. The local bomb squad responded and properly disposed of the projectile. Some munitions are difficult to identify, and not everyone recognizes the danger that even old munitions can present.



In 2000, a nine year-old boy playing near a former artillery range found a munition and kept it as a souvenir. More than a year and half later while the boy was playing with the munition in his garage, the munition exploded. As a result, the boy lost his left hand and forearm. Failure to recognize the explosive hazard posed by munitions irreversibly changed this boy’s life

In 2000, an incident occurred that involved military munitions removed from an operational range. Like most operational ranges, this range had signs warning the public not to enter the area and of hazards present. Nevertheless, some teenagers entered the range and removed some munitions. The teenagers took the munitions, handling and passing them around between themselves and their friends for several days. After changing hands many times, one of the munitions was dropped and exploded. As a result, a 16 year-old boy was killed and another was left in critical condition. Witnesses reported that, at one time, there were up to 20 children handling the munition that eventually exploded. This munition exploded even though it had been handled and moved, including between homes, several times. After investigation, three local youths were arrested for trespassing into a restricted area and taking government property–the munition. Sadly, none of those involved recognized the danger posed by the munitions until it was too late


In 1995, a family on vacation near an active military base found seven unidentified items and took them home. These items turned out to be munitions (unexploded ordnance or UXO). Two of these munitions exploded while children were playing with them. As a result, five children were injured and admitted to the hospital. Two were in serious condition, one with head injuries. An Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team responded from a local military base and destroyed the munitions. Unfortunately, the family did not recognize the items were munitions and the result was serious injuries. This incident demonstrates one reason the Army advises its soldiers and warns the public, “if you did not drop it, do not pick it up.”




Youngsters recognized that they had encountered a munition and some discarded military equipment in a wooded area near their home. The children carefully retreated and ran home to tell their mother. Their mother reported the munition and equipment to the police. Subsequently, an Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team went to the location where the munition and equipment were encountered to investigate. It turns out the munition was very dangerous and had to be destroyed in place. The children were very smart to follow the 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report) because had they disturbed the munitions, they could have been killed or seriously injured. The community should be grateful to the children for following the 3Rs because their action allowed EOD to remove the danger.