ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (U.S. Army Environmental
Command) -- "I thought it was harmless." That was all a
California man could say last year as he fought through his tears. He
had given a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO), a war souvenir, to
some neighborhood children. They were killed when they played with it.
An old rocket, grenade, or mortar round can be a dangerous
enticement to any child. Even adults find an allure in unexploded
"duds" as souvenirs, conversation pieces, or historical
However, duds can be anything but safe.
The Army trains under realistic battle conditions, similar to
the battlefield environment. "'Train as you fight' has been the
watchword for generations of Soldiers," said Col. Michael P.
O'Keefe, commander of the U.S. Army Environmental Command. "But,
live-fire training through the decades has left behind unexploded
ordnance, discarded munitions and munitions debris."
All three of these dangers remain, to some degree, at many
impact areas, training ranges and formerly used defense sites.
These sites could be on or off post. Most are known, but
historical records are not complete.
So, Soldiers need to be aware of this potential hazard and
educate their families as well as themselves.
That's where "Sgt. Woof" comes in.
Sgt. Woof enlisted in 2006 as the "spokesdog" for the
Army's unexploded ordnance safety campaign.
Through posters, coloring books and other materials, this
friendly German shepherd teaches children to "Recognize, Retreat,
and Report" -- the "3Rs" of explosives safety -- any
dangerous munitions they might encounter.
The "3Rs" safety campaign is designed to be easy for
both adults and children to remember according to O'Keefe.
The "3Rs" teach them to recognize a suspicious item
they may come across as dangerous, retreat from it for their safety,
and report what they found to a trusted adult or police authorities.
Sgt. Woof stars in a series of products for parents and
teachers to use to introduce children to the dangers of UXO. He
promotes safety awareness to children who may find remnants of bombs
while playing or exploring. His message is true for all ages.
size, type, age, or condition, all military munitions should be
considered extremely dangerous," O'Keefe said.
He explained that Soldiers and their families need to remember
the "3Rs" of explosives safety to protect themselves and
their friends and neighbors:
Recognize - when you may have encountered
Retreat - do not touch, move or disturb
it, but leave the area; and
Report - call 911 and advise the police
what you saw and where you saw it.
Although usually found outdoors in fields or forests,
unexploded ordnance can turn up in unusual places.
Soldiers and veterans who have served in combat zones are
especially tempted to keep munitions as keepsakes of their service,
according to O'Keefe. Because the UXO may have been previously
handled, this can lead individuals to falsely believe the souvenir is
Regardless of how long they have been around, war souvenirs or
keepsakes remain dangerous, especially when years of handling give a
sense of false security. If you or your family has a souvenir munition
or relic munition from any war, please report it.
For more information about unexploded ordnance, discarded
munitions, munitions components, the Military Munitions Response
Program, and to download the Sgt. Woof safety tools, please visit the
U.S. Army Environmental Command's UXO Safety Education Web page at:
For more information on the U.S. Army Environmental Command,
visit the Web site http://aec.army.mil.