In the past, South Florida’s fears of low-flying helicopters and the sound of gunfire were quickly set aside when people learned it was just the U.S. military conducting yearly training exercises in an urban setting.
On Wednesday, the cause for concern was a little more silent — but potentially more lethal: A military helicopter on an exercise flight near the Dade-Broward line accidentally dropped a box of live ammunition.
The military wouldn’t comment on the missing metallic box filled with ammo and Miami-Dade police quickly issued a statement warning people to use caution if they see the box.
“Anyone coming in contact with this box is urged to immediately contact 911. Please do not attempt to handle or move the box. Allow law enforcement to safely secure it,” said Miami-Dade police detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
By early Thursday afternoon the box had been recovered in good shape and “without incident,” police quickly reported. No one was injured and nothing exploded.
But before that police sent out a bulletin with a picture of a gray metal box with handles on top and on the sides. The ammo was said to be inside a similar box.
Earlier in the week, police issued a warning to the area that the military would be training in urban settings in Miami-Dade and Broward using helicopters and “simulated” gunfire. They called it a routine exercise “designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirements.”
Police said the training sites and times were “carefully selected to minimize negatively impacting the citizens of Miami-Dade and Broward County and their daily routines,” and that “safety precautions have been taken to prevent the risk to the general public and the military personnel involved.”
On Thursday no one would say exactly why the U.S. military was using live ammunition during an urban training exercise.
The military and police refused to disclose when or where the training would take place. A call to Maj. Allen Hill, public affairs officer with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in Fort Campbell, was not returned.