By John Vibes
For more than two weeks, the United States Air Force has been scrambling to locate a crate of explosives that fell off one of their vehicles. Officials claim that the package was dropped in Mountrail County, North Dakota, on May 1 when a team from Minot Air Force Base was making an ammunition delivery between two ICBM sites.
It was not until 3 days later, on May 4, that the package was actually reported missing. Another twist of irony is the fact that this route was actually in the middle of the Fort Berthold Reservation, home of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, Native American Tribes.
Mark Fox, reservation chairman is concerned that this could be a potential hazard for people in his tribe.
“Being a veteran myself, I fully understand that accidents happen at any level. But my hopes and prayers are that it is found soon somehow, to avoid any possible injury or tragedy,” Fox said.
The 91st Missile Wing Security Forces, a division tasked with protecting US nuclear missile sites from attacks, was allegedly responsible for the shipment. In the box was a cache of MK 19 automatic grenade launcher rounds weighing 42 pounds.
On May 11, the Air Force finally sent a search team of over 100 soldiers to comb the 6-mile route where the grenades were apparently lost, but they were unable to find anything. Now the Air Force is asking for help from the public and offering a $5,000 reward.
Sheriff Kenneth G. Halvorson told the Washington Post that these grenades can only be fired with specific government-issued weapons.
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“This ammunition is specific to that launcher and will not operate in any other launching device without catastrophic failure,” he said.
However, Air Force Lt. Col. Jamie Humphries, a spokesman at Minot Air Force Base said that there is still a potential for danger because tampering with the container could result in an explosion.
On Wednesday, Minot Air Force Base spokeswoman Danielle Lucero told the Bismarck Tribune that they were giving up the search, but still hope that someone turns in the grenades. What this essentially means is that the Air Force is no longer willing to spend any money or time finding the grenades, but is instead hoping that someone else cleans up their mess.
“The Air Force does not consider this a criminal matter at this time. It is seeking the public’s help to ensure the safe return of the ammunition,” a US Air Force spokesperson said to VICE News.
However, it is safe to say that anyone who finds these grenades and keeps them without notifying authorities could end up with a SWAT team at their door.
It is actually extremely common for the military and police agencies to lose track of weapons and explosives, sometimes by mistake, and sometimes on purpose. For example, a 2014 investigation found that nearly 200 state and local police departments were suspended from Department of Defense contracts for losing military-grade weapons that were given to them by the Pentagon.
Even more concerning, last year, declassified Department of Defense documents showed that the US military intentionally gave rebel groups associated with ISIS a large cache of weapons and explosives to help them orchestrate regime change in targeted areas. Although this was an intentional exchange, the Pentagon attempted to sweep it under the rug and play it off as a mistake.
Officials are asking anyone with information on the lost grenades to call 911 or the Minot Munitions Reporting Hotline at 701-723-7909.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. John just won a 3-year-long battle with cancer, and will be working to help others through his experience, if you wish to contribute to his treatments consider subscribing to his podcast to support. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.