06/23/11 — It's a grenade

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It's a grenade

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 23, 2011 1:46 PM

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David and Susan Crooks stand next to the sewing machine in which they found a World War I grenade.

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This World War I-era German egg frag hand grenade was found in a sewing machine passed down from Daniel Crook to his son, David. The grenade was live.

It started with a thoughtful gesture -- the passing of a family heirloom from parents to their son and his wife.

But when David and Susan Crooks started working to restore the antique sewing machine that recently made its way into their home, they made a discovery that left the couple feeling lucky to be alive.

At first, Susan thought the object sitting in one of the machine's drawers was an "old oil can."

"But then I got to thinking, 'This looks like a grenade,'" she said. "But why would there be a grenade in a sewing machine?"

She had no idea that hours later, a team of Air Force explosives experts would identify her find as a live piece of ordnance that dates back to World War I.

"I'm just glad I'm here to tell you about it," Susan said.


At just after 1 p.m. Wednesday, a call came into Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

It was a member of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department requesting support from the 4th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight.

"They were concerned that it was an actual live grenade," said Tech. Sgt. Tracy Passerotti, an EOD team leader.

Not long after taking that call, base officials had approved sending a group of airmen to the Crooks' home, which is located at 508 W. Hill St.

And after a "visual reconnaissance" mission, they confirmed what Susan suspected but still couldn't quite believe.

"The airman, he came out grinning, so I thought he was gonna say it was a fake," she said. "But he said, 'No ma'am. It's live.'"

EOD Flight Commander Capt. Taylor Valentine described the grenade as a World War I-era German egg frag grenade.

"And it was in fairly good condition," he said.

And there was certainly a chance, Valentine said, that, if handled improperly, the grenade could go off.

So armed with that knowledge, the EOD team transported the grenade to the Sheriff's Office's firing range and "disposed of it with explosives."


Back at the Crooks home, Susan called her father-in-law, Daniel.

"I said, 'Did you know there was a grenade in there?'" Susan said. "He said, 'What?'"

His wife, Doris, though, was not all that concerned.

"She said, 'Lord, I forgot it was in there,'" Susan said. "Apparently, her brother-in-law had brought it back."

And since it had made its way to the United States, the grenade, Doris insisted, had been tossed around by her son and his friends -- even taken to his elementary school for show and tell.

"She was adamant that there was no way it could have been live," Susan said.

The EOD team knows better.

And its members said they are happy to know they helped neutralize a potential tragedy.

"It's definitely gratifying knowing we can give back to the community," Valentine said. "It's not every day we get to see a World War I grenade."