US forces man a mounted MK19 40mm grenade launcher in Afghanistan, 2003.
Photo: AP

Hello! Did you happen to be walking down a gravel road in or near Mountrail County, North Dakota and find a big ol’ crate of explosive grenade rounds? The US Air Force meant to fire those somewhere else, and would really like it if you return them.

According to the Washington Post, the 91st Missile Wing Security Forces of Minot Air Force Base—one of the detachments that protects US nuclear missile facilities from attacks—lost a cache of MK 19 automatic grenade launcher munitions during shipment between ICBM sites. Despite an intensive search by personnel, they have not located said boom box, the paper reported:

Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing Security Forces team were traveling on gravel roads May 1 in North Dakota when the back hatch of their vehicle opened and a container filled with the explosive ammunition fell out, according to a statement from Minot Air Force Base.

On May 11, the Air Force sent more than 100 airmen to walk the entire six-mile route where the grenades were probably lost, according to a statement from the local Mountrail County sheriff. But two weeks after it was lost, the box of explosives still hasn’t been found.

The Air Force said it does not consider the missing grenades a criminal matter and is now offering a reward of $5,000 to return them. That seems well below market rate compared to, say, the time Japanese police offered a $1,250 bounty for every illegal grenade that good Samaritans tipped them off to. But hey: Whoever found these was probably either going to return them or play finders-keepers regardless of whatever bounty is offered.

Air Force Lt. Col. Jamie Humphries told the Post that “We are hoping to get contacted by someone soon with information that leads to the can’s return.” He additionally cautioned that mishandling the crate of grenades could result in them performing their intended function at an unintended time. Mountrail County Sheriff Kenneth G. Halvorson added in another statement to the Post that attempting to fire the rounds out of anything other than an MK 19 automatic grenade launcher could result in “catastrophic failure,” so also don’t do that.

Obviously, being in possession of said crate of grenades without notifying authorities to come get them is both a really stupid thing to do and could eventually result in a heavily armed tactical team kicking in the doors of your house. Anyone with information on the explosives—or who has found them and does not desire to spend a long vacation in federal prison—should contact the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at 701-723-7909.

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[Washington Post]