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23 SOPS station reopens historic pond

An unexploded ordinance is discovered at the bottom of Joe English Pond during its drainage and restoration at New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire. Many UXOs were found and safely cleared from the pond, which was used as a bombing range from 1941-1956. (Courtesy photo)

An unexploded ordinance is discovered at the bottom of Joe English Pond during its drainage and restoration at New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire. Many UXOs were found and safely cleared from the pond, which was used as a bombing range from 1941-1956. (Courtesy photo)

A landing wharf juts into the water at Joe English Pond, New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire. The pond’s reopening provides an outlet for 23 SOPS personnel and other Airmen to engage in recreational activities such as fishing and paddle boating. (Courtesy photo)

A landing wharf juts into the water at Joe English Pond, New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire. The pond’s reopening provides an outlet for 23 SOPS personnel and other Airmen to engage in recreational activities such as fishing and paddle boating. (Courtesy photo)

Foliage marks the Joe English Pond waterline at New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire. The pond was reopened for recreational purposes following an extensive unexploded ordinance removal and clearing project. (Courtesy photo)

Foliage marks the Joe English Pond waterline at New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire. The pond was reopened for recreational purposes following an extensive unexploded ordinance removal and clearing project. (Courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- --

Members of the 23rd Space Operations Squadron, a Schriever geographically separated unit, celebrated the reopening of the Joe English Pond at New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire, last month.

The restoration process was extensive and dangerous, given the pond’s history as a primary bombing target for the station, said Jeffrey Oja, NBAFS civil engineer installation manager. From 1941-1956, the site was used as an active bombing range, with targets erected in the pond to ensure accuracy.

“Clearing unexploded ordinance is a hazardous job under any circumstances, the obvious concern is for the unintentional detonation while investigating or cleaning an area known to contain them,” said Oja. “All individuals who were clearing UXOs were trained technicians. We did not allow anyone in the area of the pond while they were actively clearing.”

The safety measures proved warranted.

According to a NBAFS press release, the clearing of the pond, which involved draining more than 70 million gallons of water in a 96-hour period, revealed more than 45 tons of munitions debris and 45 munitions and explosives of concern-including a 2,000 pound drill bomb.

“The work was extremely extensive and troubling in some locations,” said Oja. “The total project lasted for two five month periods, however, the goal has been met.”

The undertaking resulted in a safe and ordinance-free pond ready to reclaim its role as a recreational activity hub for fishing, swimming and using paddle boats.

“Reopening the pond is a huge step for our services program as well as for the morale of all members of the 23 SOPS family,” said Oja.

Lt. Col. Marty Easter, 23 SOPS commander, agreed the pond’s reopening provides benefits his Airmen and others in the area appreciate.

“The full opening of Joe English Pond has generated considerable excitement here at New Boston,” said Easter. “The Joe English Pond is a recreation opportunity for Airmen not only from New Boston, but also those from Hanscom, Pease, Cape Cod and Department of Defense identification cardholders visiting the northeast.”

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