Friday, Jul 01, 2016
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Police & Fire

Family's WW II souvenir turned out to be a bombshell

Last September, the Filas family unwittingly brought more into their West Toledo home than they bargained for.

They thought it would be only their grandmother.

It turned out that they also got what was believed to be an unexploded, vintage U.S. Navy anti-aircraft round.

The saga began when Erica Filas' family cleaned out their grandmother's garage in the 1000 block of Olson Street and found what appeared to be military ammunition.

"It was cool," Ms. Filas said.

The ordnance, apparently a World War II-era 37-millimeter shell, belonged to the grandmother's husband, Edward Brighton, a World War II veteran who died three decades ago.

They tossed the foot-long shell into a tub in the back of a relative's sport utility vehicle, where it stayed for at least a week, Ms. Filas said.

Then it took up residence in the Filases' new home at 5240 Carlingfort Drive.

And there it remained until Ms. Filas saw two recent episodes of the television series Grey's Anatomy.

On the show, a bazooka round became lodged in a man. It was surgically removed, but exploded and killed a member of the bomb squad.

"I said, 'Oh, those blow up?' " Ms. Filas recalled.

"I didn't realize it was something that could explode until I watched Grey's Anatomy."

Thinking of her two children, ages 4 and 8, she called a few gun shops. "They were like, you have a what?" she said.

She described the round, how its casing was intact. They declined her offer to bring it in for a closer look.

So she called police.

"The funniest thing was the bomb squad pulling up in front of our house," Ms. Filas said.

She wondered what her new neighbors would think.

"They all got a kick out of it," she said. "They did. We all laughed."

But Toledo police Sgt. Chuck Nearhood, head of the Northwest Ohio Bomb Squad, said the shell was a serious matter.

"It's my understanding that the nose cone was pushed in, which potentially makes it a lot more dangerous," Sergeant Nearhood said.

With more and more World War II veterans dying, Sergeant Nearhood said his department has averaged five to 10 such incidents in recent years, as family members come across unexploded war souvenirs.

"I've seen people using them as wind chimes," the sergeant said. "Grenades, bazooka shells. I'm like OK, hope we don't get a real strong wind."

After World War II, the military became much more strict about what veterans could take with them when they returned to the civilian world.

And for the bomb squad, the touchy thing is getting such rounds to a secure location.

"These aren't things you can just [blow up] in the middle of the city," he said.

Sergeant Nearhood said the round will be blown up during the squad's next training exercise.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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