Casualties of War

So, slowly but surely, a staff of about 300 military officials work with contractors around the nation, engaged in the unenviable task of digging up old, unexploded bombs.

FUDS officials work closely with state environmental agencies, neighborhood boards, and other local agencies, to field questions, reassure troubled residents, and generally explain how and what they plan to do about whatever problem has been discovered beneath a particular neighborhood.

"We try to do this, based on 'worst-first' basis, and yes, something where a subdivision is being built, should have higher priority than a pasture,'' Davis said. "That put us into what we call a time critical removal action."

Davis said new sites are identified all the time.

F.U.D.S. officials have undertaken an awareness and education campaign to avoid situations like that of Henry Owens, the Tennessee boy whose hand was blown off.

"People have found these things, and they think they are souvenirs, and they bring them home,'' Davis said. While "in most cases, there has to be some kind of force [to detonate a buried ordnance], we really stress what we call the three Rs: recognize, retreat and report. We do not want people picking things up and driving them to the police, or bringing them home,'' Davis said.

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