WWII-era grenade detonated near Eagle Lake

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 24, 2001

Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director L.W. Callaway III, left, Sheriff Martin Pace, center, and Deputy John Elfer inspect a live World War II-era pineapple grenade at Eagle Lake before it was detonated by weapons experts Wednesday. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[05/24/01] When Mark Sutherland brought home a paperweight from his grandfather’s home in Laurel, he got a bit more than he bargained for.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said Wednesday that what was originally believed to be nothing more than a grenade-shaped novelty turned out at closer inspection to be an apparently live World War II explosive.

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“We have no way of knowing if it was live or not, but we treated it as if it was,” Pace said.

Sutherland’s grandfather, a WWII veteran, had apparently brought the device home from the war, Pace said. After his grandfather’s death, Sutherland found the grenade at his grandfather’s home and decided to bring it home to Eagle Lake.

A couple of days later, Sutherland showed his prize to friends and one noted that the “paperweight” looked a little too authentic. The Sheriff’s Department was called.

“What we had was a World War II pineapple grenade with the pin still intact,” Pace said.

The pineapple grenade gets its name from its shape. WWII-era grenades typically contain gunpowder and a fuse activated after a lever called a spoon is released, but with age, the explosive becomes less stable.

Once officials realized what they had, they called the U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Pace said. The unit specializes in destroying unsafe explosives.

The weapon was taken to a remote area owned by Warren County resident Crosby Simmons off Mississippi 465, where it was wrapped in plastic explosive and safely exploded around 8 p.m.