The Marine Corps demolition specialist was worried — about America, and about the civil war he feared would follow the presidential election.
And so, block by block, he stole 13 pounds of C4 plastic explosives from the training ranges of Camp Lejeune.
“The riots, talk about seizing guns, I saw this country moving towards a scary unknown future,” the sergeant would later write, in a seven-page statement to military investigators. “I had one thing on my mind and one thing only, I am protecting my family and my constitutional rights.”
His crime might have gone undetected, but authorities caught a lucky break in 2018 as they investigated yet another theft from Lejeune, the massive base on coastal North Carolina. In that other case, explosives ended up in the hands of some high school kids.
These are not isolated cases. Hundreds — and possibly thousands — of armor-piercing grenades, hundreds of pounds of plastic explosives, as well as land mines and rockets have been stolen from or lost by the U.S. armed forces over the past decade, according to an ongoing Associated Press investigation into the military’s failure to secure all its weapons of war. Still more explosives were reported missing and later recovered.
Troops falsified records to cover up some thefts, and in other cases didn’t report explosives as missing, investigative files show. Sometimes, they failed to safeguard explosives in the first place.
The consequences can be deadly.