11/23/11 — No bomb, just scare, again

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No bomb, just scare, again

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

For the eighth time since January -- and the third time this month -- members of the 4th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight responded to a bomb scare outside the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base gates.

But the team was not the only from the Goldsboro installation mobilized late Tuesday morning as a threat unfolded at the new Cherry Hospital construction site.

This time, military working dogs from the base kennel -- and their handlers -- also entered the fray.

Cherry Hospital police would not allow media coverage at the scene and a request for details about just what prompted them to call on locally based airmen did not produce any information.

But base officials confirmed that the EOD team responded just before 10:30 a.m. after a bomb threat from an unknown individual was called in to local authorities -- that after more than three hours of searching the grounds, it became clear to the airmen that there was never any viable threat to the local community or the residents and employees of the current Cherry Hospital.

Tuesday's non-event is the third false alarm airmen from Seymour Johnson have responded to this month.

On Nov. 3, a small black briefcase left next to a gas line prompted the evacuation of several stores along Ash Street.

And less than two weeks later, the EOD unit was asked to meet Goldsboro police officers at a firing range off Old Mount Olive Highway in Brodgen to inspect an object that was recovered from a local residence earlier that morning.

Still, Master Sgt. Van Hood, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the flight, said when Wing Commander Col. Patrick Doherty gives the OK, he and his comrades are happy to help ensure the communities that house Seymour Johnson remain safe.

"When Col. Doherty gives us the approval ... we dispatch a team," he said. "We go out in both an advisory and assistance role and help with whatever we can."

And while false alarms have been the norm as of late, the airmen have, since the beginning of the year, responded to more significant threats to public safety.

In January, a pipe bomb was found by a Department of Correction cleanup crew along U.S. 70, just two miles west of the Rosewood Walmart near Riverbend Road.

And just a month later, EOD was mobilized again when an envelope containing a cellular phone prompted the lockdown of the area immediately surrounding two post office drop boxes located near the intersection of Eastgate and Drives.

Then, in June, another unexpected find prompted a response -- when David and Susan Crooks started working to restore an antique sewing machine, they discovered what was later identified as a live grenade that dates back to World War I.

They even disposed of a live mortar round discovered by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office Dive Team during a search for stolen guns Oct. 18.

But the threat that created the biggest stir unfolded the day after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when more than 100 people were evacuated from the Wayne County Courthouse after a device that appeared to be a bomb was found on the property.