It was more than two weeks ago when a 102-pound artillery shell landed in Rich and Kathy Nelson's 80-acre property - located four miles south of Pillager on Cass County Road 1 - just missing their home.
The incident still concerns the Nelsons.
Kathy Nelson said for as close as the shell was to her home the outcome could have been a different story.
The story is about how an inert, wax-filled 155-millimeter artillery shell, fired out at Camp Ripley, flew over Nelson's home and damaged several trees on their property before landing on the ground.
Capt. Ross Nieber, Camp Ripley, said Tuesday that the incident occurred April 7. He said a global defense company called BAE Systems was testing weapons that day, as it has done for the past two years at Camp Ripley. Nieber said the company fired eight inert rounds and one of the rounds flew about 800 meters off Camp Ripley property, over the Nelson's home and landed about 400 meters from their home.
Sgt. 1st Class Danny Perseke removed a 102-pound artillery shell from Rich and Kathy Nelson's home just south of Pillager after it errantly landed April 7 on their property.
"It skipped a couple of times and made some holes to their property," said Nieber. "There was a construction crew there at the time, but no one was hurt. If the round would have went into the home it would have caused some damage, but it wouldn't have exploded. The rounds all were to land in an impact area but there was some frozen ground that caused the one round to skip.
"He (Rich Nelson) was definitely concerned (about the incident) and we were, too."
Nieber said Camp Ripley shut down its artillery firing after the incident "to make sure this type of incident doesn't happen again." Nieber said Camp Ripley added a larger buffer to companies testing weapons and is changing the way weapons are shot. Nieber said normally weapons are shot north to south and now they'll be shot east to west.
"We've always worked closely with (the company), but now we'll work even closer," said Nieber.
Nieber said this is the first time this type of incident has happened.
The Nelsons were not home when the shell flew over their home, but a construction crew from Patnode's Custom Cabinets of Brainerd was there installing cabinets.
Kathy Nelson said the construction workers were on the back deck when the shell flew over the garage and they thought "they were done for."
"The projectiles missed them, it was just a matter of feet," said Nelson. "I'm glad they were here otherwise we wouldn't have known what had happened. We're glad no one got hurt. It's scary to think that could have hit our home.
"The military was really nice about the whole thing, but we still have not had an apology from the company or the Camp Ripley commander. I don't think that is right."
Loren Patnode, owner of the construction company, said he was in an upstairs bedroom when the shell flew over Nelson's house.
"It sounded like a huge bottle rocket," said Patnode. "I was like, 'What the heck was that?' I ran down to the other guys to make sure everyone was all right and they were a hemming and a hollering ... No one saw it, it was going so fast. We thought it was a missile from camp or a misfire since we were so close to Camp."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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