Family's 80-year military keepsake turns out to be live bomb

A Whitman family’s military souvenir stored at their home for 80 years turned out to be a live training bomb.

Jeremy Bechen was cleaning out his family’s garage Saturday morning when he found the device, which he said his grandfather brought home after serving in the U.S. Navy in the 1930s.

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“My parents had always told me that this was a dummy - not a real device - and on closer inspection you can see the charge in there,” Bechen said. “It was kind of a heart-skip moment. You look down the tail pipe of it and see, ‘Oh, there’s something in there!’”

Bechen, who has a degree in chemistry, had an inkling the device was no dud. He snapped a picture of the small but heavy family keepsake with serial numbers on the side, and brought the photo to police.

Police, fire and bomb technicians arrived at the School Street home. Experts examined the device, took an X-ray of it and determined that it was live, before detonating it across town.

The fire department warned residents of the loud boom they would hear before they counter-charged the device.

The State Fire Marshal told Boston 25 News Monday the device was an old military training bomb.

“It is not uncommon for older veterans to have war souvenirs and for relatives to find them when the veteran passes away or moves for care in old age,” said Jennifer Mieth, public information officer for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, by email. “In this case the souvenir was an old practice bomb that was determined to be live.”

Mieth urged family members inheriting such souvenirs to call police.

“The correct thing to do is contact local law enforcement who will work with the State Police bomb squad to remove the item,” Mieth said. “In most cases the items are inert but they must be treated as if they are live until we can be sure they are not.”

A portion of School Street was blocked off as bomb techs examined the bomb Saturday.

“It was wild. It was a huge production,” Bechen said. “The police were pretty excited. I mean, it’s Whitman. When’s the last time you’ve had some incident like this?”

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