Remnants of a nuclear missile found in a garage

Garages are often cluttered with dusty boxes of heirlooms, untouched gym equipment or a plethora of tools.

But how about a piece of a nuclear missile from the Cold War era?

Bomb squad members in Bellevue, Wash., were called Thursday to inspect parts of a military-grade missile in a resident’s garage.

Elements of the larger, intact rocket, such as the warhead, were missing, and authorities judged the piece to be inert and safe, police said in Media Release on Friday.

The Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, contacted Bellevue police on Jan. 31 to report that a resident had offered to donate a missile that belonged to his deceased neighbor.

The resident was in charge of his neighbor’s property, according to Bellevue police, and said his neighbor originally purchased the missile at an estate sale.

Police were unable to contact any of the neighbor’s family and have not identified the Bellevue man out of respect for his privacy, said Officer Seth Tyler, spokesman for the Bellevue Police Department.

The next day, the man was “surprised” to hear from the police because he didn’t call them, but instead called the bomb squad to inspect the rest of the projectile, Officer Tyler said.

Squad members identified the missile as a Douglas AIR-2 Genie missile, designed to carry a 1.5-kiloton nuclear warhead.

First launched in 1957, the Genie was the world’s first nuclear-powered missile designed to destroy aircraft targets, and was the most powerful interceptor missile used by the US Air Force. according to Boeing.

In 1954, Douglas Aircraft began work on a “small unguided nuclear-armed air-to-air missile,” according to Boeing. Douglas Aircraft built more than 1,000 Genie rockets before ceasing production in 1962.

It was clear the rest of the missile did not pose a threat because it was missing a warhead and did not contain propellant, Officer Tyler said.

“It was basically just a rusty piece of metal at that point,” he said. “In other words, an artifact.”

Since the army didn’t ask for it back, the police left it for the man to donate.

It was not immediately clear whether the rest of the missile would be destined for a museum in Ohio, and attempts to reach the National Museum of the US War in Dayton on Sunday were unsuccessful.

Given Bellevue’s proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a large military base, Officer Tyler said it is not unusual for police to respond to calls about hand grenades or other unexploded ordnance.

But a Cold War missile would be a first, said Officer Tyler, who has worked for the department for 18 years. The department also seemed to believe it would be the last, referencing the classic Elton John song “Rocket Man” in a social network mail.

“And we think it’s going to be a long, long time before we get a call like this again,” Bellevue police said.

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