Bought at Oregon sale, 60-year-old shell is live

Man got tank round at estate sale for $5; state police will destroy it



PENDLETON, Ore. — A Pendleton man got a surprise when he found out an old tank round he bought for $5 was live ammunition.

Paul Melton, 51, said he makes a living buying items and selling them online.

“Anything I think I can make money on, I’ll buy,” he said, and the 90 mm tank round looked like a good deal when he bought it Aug. 2 at an estate sale in Pendleton.

Melton said he thought the device was inactive and had a lovely patina.

He hauled it home in his blue Ford Ranger pickup and kept it there during the weekend. It was even in his vehicle when he had a fender-bender.

Later he examined the lengthy round at his kitchen table, and something caught his eye.

“The primer was intact,” he said.

He called Pendleton police and carried the round to his front yard. Police Sgt. Howard Bowen watched over the round until explosives experts arrived.

Melton said members of an Air Force explosive ordnance disposal unit determined it was from 1953 and “was absolutely live.” He said they stressed not to jostle the device because it was so dangerous.

Pendleton police Lt. Bill Caldera said the Air Force experts gave the round to the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad for denotation. Police also checked the estate sale location and didn’t find any more ammo.

Melton said he had no qualms about handing over the tank round.

“It needed to go bye-bye,” he said.