The Colorado Springs Gazette debunked reports Tuesday that a group of soldiers at Fort Carson is on mandatory lockdown because of a lost nuclear artillery shell.
What has actually gone missing is a lost pistol.
The nuclear rumor seems to have been started by Whatdoesitmean.com, a site with 1990s-era web design that purports to give you “the news you need today for the world you’ll live in tomorrow.”
The “missing nuke” story is attributed to “Sorcha Faal,” who (the site says elsewhere) is the latest leader of an order of Irish mystics with connections to Russian scientists.
According to the report, the Kremlin is on high alert because of this supposedly missing ordnance, which the site says is a W48 155-mm low-yield nuclear artillery shell with the explosive punch of 72 tons of TNT.
“The specific U.S. weapons platform designed to fire the W48 … is the Paladin M109A6 155mm Artillery System which is currently operated by forces belonging to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division,” the article states.
Considering its breathless tone, it seems unlikely to have been taken seriously, but the Gazette put the rumors to rest Tuesday, reporting that the missing equipment is a 9mm pistol.
Originally, the lockdown involved as many as 800 soldiers, who were confined to base while they searched for unspecified “government property.” The lockdown, now in its fifth day, now involves just one battalion of soldiers who are busy retracing their steps looking for the missing pistol.
The paper based its reporting on unnamed sources; the Army hasn’t made an official comment about what is specifically being sought.
The Gazette also noted that W48 shells have been pulled from Army bases worldwide beginning in 1992.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. John Kurak told the paper that lockdowns have lasted for months at Fort Carson for similar reasons. The longest he could remember was a three-month lockdown when an M-16 rifle went missing in the 1980s.
But they don’t last forever.
“Eventually it’s going to get to the point where they determine the item is actually lost,” retired Command Sgt. Maj. Terrance McWilliams told the Gazette. “Then they will determine what actions to take against the person responsible for the item.”
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