It was “fire in the hole,” or, in this case, fire in the flower garden on Tuesday afternoon in Amagansett when members of the Suffolk County Police bomb squad detonated a grenade dug up by a gardener installing an irrigation system at the weekend house of Tiina Laakkonen and Jon Rosen.
“The Suffolk County bomb squad came, sent in a robot, put on the ‘Hurt Locker’ suit, dug a ditch, and detonated it. A good time was had by all,” Mr. Rosen said.
The grenade appeared to be a World War II-era Mark 2 fragmentation grenade known as a “pineapple” because of its hatched exterior. The charge was usually TNT, sparked when the pin was pulled using the attached ring. The explosion sent shrapnel that included ball bearings and the grenade’s cast-iron casing. The Mark 2 model had a killing radius of 5 to 10 yards and sent dangerous fragments as far as 50 yards.
The Mills bomb, a type of grenade used during the World War I, had the same external hatch pattern as the one found on Tuesday, but there the similarity ended. Munitions manufacturers first thought the hatchwork accentuated the fragmentation. This proved not to be true, but the pattern did improve the grip for throwing.
Hand grenades have always seemed to bring fruit to mind. Because the round bombs fit easily in the hand and were filled with fragments, early versions were called “grenades,” from the French, meaning pomegranate, a fruit of the same size filled with seeds. The bomb squad did not know if the grenade’s seeds were still capable of sowing a whirlwind, but they decided not to take a chance.
“It was the first grenade in a while,” a spokesman for the bomb squad said yesterday morning. “We decided to destroy it rather than transport it. It was old, in poor condition, not safe.”
Ms. Laakkonen and Mr. Rosen live in the Stony Hill section of Amagansett. Mr. Rosen said their gardener was digging a trench for an irrigation line when he unearthed the small bomb. East Hampton Town police and firefighters responded first, and the decision to call the bomb squad was made.
Mr. Rosen said he had no idea where the grenade came from. The former owner of the property was Berton Roueche, an author and a medical writer for The New Yorker for nearly 50 years.
Mr. Roueche was married to Katherine Eisenhower, a niece of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Recently Mr. Rosen and Ms. Laakkonen replaced the house the Roueches built in 1958. Mr. Roueche died by his own hand in 1994.
The bomb squad spokesman said his team had no clue as to how the grenade came to be buried in Amagansett. “It was common for guys to bring home grenades as a souvenir. Fake ones are sold and used as paperweights.”
The squad decided it was too dangerous to dissect the grenade to see if it was still viable. A hole was dug, a small charge was placed next to it, and BOOM!