Police destroy live WWI 'potato masher' grenade

News editor

A bomb squad from Wichita Police Department destroyed a live hand grenade Aug. 14 after it was turned in to Marion police.

Jean Case decided to take a box of World War I mementos that her father-in-law, Alex H. Case, had brought back from Germany to the Marion Historical Museum. Included with a helmet, gas mask, and canteen was a German Model 24 grenade.

“I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had that box out,” Case said Thursday. “I think maybe I’m lucky.”

Cynthia Blount at the museum told her they couldn’t take the grenade until it was verified to be safe by police. Explosives can become unstable over time.

“Good cheese and fine wine age well, but not live grenades,” Blount said.

It was three days before Case gave the grenade to police for inspection, because nobody was in the office when she first tried. Officer Bryce Suffield took the grenade, set it on his desk, and contacted Police Chief Tyler Mermis about what to do.

Mermis told Suffield to clear the office, and police blocked off 5th St. with police cars. Mermis contacted the Wichita police bomb squad, who arrived about 90 minutes later. The bomb squad determined it was a live grenade and took it to Martin Marietta Quarry, where they detonated it in a controlled explosion.

“I’m glad it ended up here, instead of in the wrong hands,” Mermis said.

He reiterated that old explosives can become unstable and more dangerous over time. Anybody who has old grenades should contact the police, Mermis said.

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