Ordnance from past is sought

The Army Corps of Engineers will conduct more studies in portions of Augusta where Camp Hancock was located in hopes of finding remnants of military training activity.


Although a preliminary look last fall found little evidence of unexploded mortar shells and other ordnance, a golfer's discovery of a grenade a few weeks ago at a city golf course warrants a closer look, the corps said.

"We do have plans to do further investigation in Augusta," said Julie Hiscox, the program manager for the corps' Savannah District FUDS (Formerly Used Defense Sites) project. "We'd like to be doing that sooner, rather than later, to make sure there aren't additional items out there."

The corps, under a federal edict to evaluate old military training areas for unexploded ordnance, has more than 400 such sites to examine in Georgia. One of the largest, Camp Wheeler near Macon, will require more than $2.5 million in new studies and assessments.

Augusta was chosen as a training camp site in 1917, during World War I, and the resulting tent city established near today's Wrightsboro Road was called Camp Hancock.

According to a history of the camp written by Joseph Lee III -- now retired and living in Covington, Ga. -- 27,122 men lived at the site during its first month and many more thereafter. Officially, the camp covered 1,777 acres, but the entire tract was 13,811 acres.

On March 18, a bad tee shot at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course led to the discovery of a half-buried grenade that was later exploded by the Richmond County sheriff's bomb squad. It was found about 30 yards from the Daniel Field fence.

That area, Ms. Hiscox said, will be examined with metal detectors and other technology to determine whether additional actions are needed.

"It wasn't planned for this fiscal year, but if additional funds become available this year we'd like to get people out there as soon as possible," she said. "It's a public area around the golf course, and, depending on what they find, some of it may need to be removed."

A request for funds for the next assessment is already included in the fiscal 2010 budget, she said.