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It's a Real Blast, as Far as Souvenirs Go

November 08, 1987|MARK I. PINSKY | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County man unwittingly drove around for four days with a live 81-millimeter mortar shell in his car until he presented it for sale at a surplus store Saturday.

When Murray Oxman, whose father owns Oxman's Surplus in Santa Fe Springs, removed the shell from its original black cylindrical container, he knew he was looking at trouble: The detonator and primer cap were still intact.

Oxman, who recognized the shell from his Navy training during the Vietnam War, said he told the customer--a regular--that it was live. "He couldn't believe it was a live unit," Oxman said Saturday. "One little bit of fire could have blown his home to bits."

The customer said he found it in the garage of the family home, and that it belonged to his father, who had served in Korea, or his grandfather, who had served in World War II.

"Something that old, with TNT, could have been volatile," Oxman said.

Experts from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department took the shell to Peter Pitchess Honor Ranch in Saugus for storage, until it can be taken to Ft. Irwin, a U.S. Army facility near Barstow, for detonation next week.

The man left before police arrived, Oxman said. "He kind of didn't want to get himself involved."

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