News: UXOs: A dangerous reality at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis
Story by Lori Newman
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - Camp Bullis - Recognize it, retreat from it, report it.
Those are the three Rs service members are taught to do if they come across unexploded ordinance.
The same holds true for everyone who has access to Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, according to range safety officer Steven Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said UXOs are regularly found at that location.
As an example, he was recently called out to one of the training areas on JBSA-Camp Bullis because a suspected UXO was found.
After surveying the area, 32 devices were actually found and eight of them were still live.
“If a service member is out on JBSA-Camp Bullis for training and finds a UXO -- or anything they suspect may be an UXO -- they need to follow the safety protocols they have been taught,” Gonzalez said.
“Do not touch it. Do not kick it. These devices can be very unstable.”
Gonzalez said a person should move away, exiting the way they entered the area.
Mark the area, if possible, and contact Range Operations via handheld radio or call 295-7510. Report the type and number of munitions, and location grid coordinates.
“Try to mark at least a 10-meter radius around the device, and then move out at least 300 meters away from the device,” Gonzalez said.
“If you don’t have a way to mark it here on JBSA-Camp Bullis, call Range Operations and someone from range safety will come out and mark it.”
Gonzalez or one of the range technicians will go to the site and inspect the suspected device. If it is determined to be an UXO, the 502nd Air Base Wing command post will be notified.
The command post will then dispatch the 502nd Security Forces Squadron, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Fire Department and the 502nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit to go out and dispose of the device.
Anti-personnel shells, 75 mm artillery shells and high-explosive shells are commonly found on JBSA-Camp Bullis.
“The majority are expended rounds, but probably about 10 percent are live rounds,” Gonzalez said.
Munitions training has been conducted at JBSA-Camp Bullis for more than 100 years.
Starting in 1906, the Army began purchasing land near Leon Springs for firing ranges and maneuver camps. By 1917, this area was designated Camp Stanley. Firing ranges and cantonments were set up on leased land and designated Camp Bullis. The Army purchased the land in 1922.
“The whole JBSA-Camp Bullis training site used to have a lot of target firing areas such as Camp Stanley firing range, Camp Bullis firing range, Leon Springs firing range and Shavano Park firing point,” Gonzalez explained.
“All these different places were firing into this general area and good records were not kept in the early- to mid-1900s.”
Munitions also have occasionally been found on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
“There have been firing ranges all over JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at one time or another,” said Jacqueline Davis, acting Fort Sam Houston Museum director.
If anyone should come across one of these devices outside the JBSA-Camp Bullis reservation, they should call 911 and follow the same three rules – recognize, retreat and report.