LAURINBURG — It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … a projectile training device.
What looks like a small missile, and what has been identified by Fort Bragg spokesperson Ben Abel as a Yugoslavian 74 Projectile Training Aid, was found in some brush on the side of Stewartsville Road on Monday afternoon.
Though the discovery prompted authorities to block off the area for some three hours, the device is an inert replica of a live missile, Abel said, that is used as an example for soldiers who may encounter them during a deployment.
“It’s to show everyone what it looks like,” he said. “The EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team identified the suspected explosive and found markings from the U.S. Marine Corps. It wasn’t a threat. It could not have exploded — there were no explosives in it.”
As for how it got there in the first place, or how long it’s been there? Abel didn’t have a clue.
“They are, at times, misplaced or could be buried,” he said. “It’s just a matter of the way things go over the course of time. Our EOD responds to unexploded ordnances not that frequently, but it happens.”
Police were scratching their heads as well, but didn’t take any chances. After receiving a call at about 2:30 p.m. that a passerby had stumbled upon what looked like a rust-covered rocket, sheriff’s deputies and Laurinburg police officers were quick to respond.
“It resembled a bomb … ,” said sheriff’s Capt. Scott Jacobs. “ It looked like a military device.”
Jacobs said the office contacted Fort Bragg officials, who identified the markings on the 2-foot-long, 30-pound mock projectile and sent a team to retrieve it.
“We blocked the area off for about three hours until they got there,” said Jacobs. “I would assume it’s been there for quite a while based on the condition it was in. It was kind of distorted with the colors but it was found and taken back to Fort Bragg so it’s in their possession.”
Jacobs said the sheriff’s office was contacted by the Laurinburg Police Department after they received the call from the pedestrian, who found the device while walking on the side of Stewartsville Road, just prior to reaching Harry Malloy Road.
Abel advised residents to call local law enforcement if they ever happen upon a dangerous-looking device.
Rachel McAuley can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 15. Follow her on Twitter @rachelmcauley1.