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Milwaukee-area DIY project uncovers explosives in wall

By John Rondy

ST. FRANCIS, Wis (Reuters) - Do-it-yourself plumbing repairs are rarely easy. This one almost blew up in a Wisconsin couple's face.

A 70-year-old man rehabbing his bathroom in this Milwaukee suburb discovered live, Korean War-era ordinance hidden behind the wall.

William Wittman was remodeling last week when he removed some insulation, reached in and pulled out a mortar round, with a 5-inch explosive head and distinctive four tail fins.

"I heard him say, 'Oh my God, what the what the heck is this?'" said his wife, 60-year-old Sally Ann Wittman.

"I walked in, and he was standing there with this thing in his hands."

Wittman handed the explosive device to his wife. She walked outside, placed it on the grass next to their detached garage, called police and then finished doing the dishes.

When the St. Francis Police arrived, they immediately evacuated the neighborhood and called the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department Bomb Squad, which removed the device and detonated it offsite.

The blast was so powerful it was heard all over town.

"When it went off, I started to tear up," Sally Ann Wittman said. "It was just like, this could have been so much more serious."

A neighbor told the Wittmans the home's previous owner was a World War II veteran whose sons had served in the Korean War.

"They used to bring souvenirs back," Wittman said, "and they shared ... and gave other neighbors stuff. They had an old shell that was used to hold a door open."

(Editing by James Kelleher and Jerry Norton)

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