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Ron Johnson never expected a potentially explosive situation might arise Tuesday when an elderly woman reached into her purse hoping to sell a piece of World War II memorabilia.

But when she pulled out what looked like a grenade, the Presidential Pawn employee knew this was not going to be just another day on the job.

In fact, he was hoping it wouldn't be his last day on the planet.

"I was just thinking, I hope this doesn't go off," Johnson said. "I just said 'this is very, very dangerous.'"

He said the unidentified woman explained that her husband, who served in the Pacific theater during WWII, had it sitting on his desk for years.

Johnson decided, however, to carefully put it in a safe and wait for law enforcement to arrive and take it away.

"It's not uncommon for people who served during WWII to have picked up souvenirs," he said. "But you don't see a live grenade very often." 

He said the woman brought in several other items, including another grenade, but he could easily tell that one of them had been disarmed. 

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When Rapid City police officers arrived, they contacted explosive ordnance experts at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Johnson said the airmen picked up the device and put it in a special canister. He said the wait was an especially tense one. 

An Ellsworth spokeswoman said three members of the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Team responded to a request to examine the grenade.

The technicians made it safe for transport, took it to a safe area inside the Rapid City landfill and disposed of it with a small amount of explosives.

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Contact Jennifer Naylor Gesick at 394-8415 or jennifer.naylorgesick@rapidcityjournal.com.

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