Hype and Hysteria Doesn’t Help; It Hurts.

For the residents of Brevard County’s barrier islands near Patrick Air Force Base, there is a health concern that has been raised over cancer causing contaminates in the ground water.

Many people believe that Patrick Air Force Base is the root and cause of the contamination and that may ultimately be proven true. (Right now the preponderance of the evidence is pointing that way.)

We are very cognizant of the fact that residents want something done and we support them. However, there is a difference between doing “something” and doing the “right thing.”

Doing the right things requires solid information and not hysteria. It requires research and plans by experts in the applicable fields, and not false claims that can and do distract agencies and people from the mission at hand.

One such incident concerns a citizen in the South Patrick Shores area who went digging in their yard and came up with what they claimed was a “mortar.”

Here’s a better view of the “mortar:”

To be somewhat pedantic, we recognized right off the bat that this was not a “mortar,” but at best a “mortar shell” or “mortar round.” A “mortar” is the actual “tube” from which the mortar shell is launched.

However, we had other concerns.

The alleged mortar round was unlike any we had ever seen. The head of the “round” appears to be spherical, while all modern (post 1900) US mortar rounds have conical warheads.

We were also concerned about the fins (the one fin that can be seen) as it has a great amount of rust on it. Fins on mortar rounds are typically very thin and no where close to the amount of material to rust as this object has.

It also made no sense to us as to why the US Army Air Corps / US Air Force was using the area as a weapons range for mortars. After all, the mortar is an infantry / ground force weapon, and not one that is in the arsenal of the men and women in the sky.

Nothing seemed to fit this item being a mortar round, yet the person claimed it was “unexploded ordnance.”

Let the hysteria begin.

We suspected that the “mortar” was not a “mortar” or “mortar round” at all. We thought the object was a “practice bomb” similar to one seen below:

In the days prior to guided munitions, the military used “practice bombs” to train pilots. The practice bombs weighed the same as a real bomb but was generally made of cast iron and never contained any explosives. From a practical and economic standpoint, this makes lots of sense. First, explosive munitions are not reusable unlike a practice bomb. With non-explosive practice bombs, crews could come to the range after training runs, recover the hunk of iron, take it back to hangers and reload it on planes for more training of pilots. The crews didn’t have to worry about anything blowing up in their faces while toting the practice bomb around. From an economic standpoint. a practice bomb was cheaper to make than explosive ordnance, to say nothing of the fact that it was reusable.

To put it another way, explosive ordnance is expensive – one shot and it is destroyed. Practice bombs are cheap and reusable over and over again.

After the incident, we contacted the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office whose bomb disposal unit came out to look at what was found. We wanted to know what they had determined the thing to be.

They responded quickly and said “The item was recovered and due to the suspicious nature, it was relinquished directly to PAFB personnel. We do not know what the object was.”

While this was going on, a Sustainability Committee meeting was being held beach side and after a comment was made about the “mortar” being found, a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) said that the object was not a mortar round and was a piece of non explosive metal.

Yesterday, we called the 45th Space Wing’s Public Affairs Office and spoke with a very kind and patient PAO. We asked “what was the object?”

They started to give a long description and we interrupted them and said “was it a practice bomb that could not explode?”

“Yes,” they replied, “that’s exactly what it was.”

(They didn’t know that we had done the research on this which is why we interrupted them and got to the point.)

That means the person who was claiming the item was a “mortar” and “unexploded ordnance” was totally and completely wrong.

Instead of making statements of fact, they made statements that were false and it seems those statements were only to get people riled up and create hysteria.

That’s not helping at all. In fact, it is a distraction.

We wish this whole health issue had never come up. We wish there was not a concern about the presence, effects and possible ways to correct (or at least mitigate) what has happened. We are not saying that the concerns of residents are not real and genuine.

What we are saying is that the people who need the help and assistance are not served by those making false claims. They are not served by demanding officials respond to non-existent “threats.” They are not served by those who claim to know but in fact are ignorant of subject matters.

When such faux outrage is ginned up, the result is that people who can help and want to help stop listening, don’t listen as much, or get distracted away from the course and path that will help resolve this.

When the Satellite Beach City Council wrongfully barred people from what is by law a public meeting, their barring was in response to those who those who cannot conduct themselves in a way that helps get things done. Certainly what Satellite Beach did was wrong, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

This issue has momentum now. That is difficult to achieve in any thing where any government, government agency or the military is involved. That momentum gets harmed by those making false claims. When those same people “demand” things based on their false claims, the whole problem becomes a mess. It becomes dogs chasing tails instead of pulling the sled. (That may be one of the worst metaphors we have ever written.)

While there are those who make and have legitimate complaints, concerns and want to give input, this is not an issue that will get resolved by shouting the loudest. It won’t get solved by making outrageous, unsubstantiated false claims either. It won’t get resolved by doing silly things that come off more as a media stunt rather than a fact based course of action.

There is a real problem here with real people having real concerns.

It is therefore important to make sure that people are more concerned with promoting solutions rather than themselves. It is important that people have facts and knowledge rather have false statements and ignorance. It is important that people work together to form coalitions to solve the issue rather than working to distract from it.

Brevard County is a great place to live which is why many intelligent people live here. There is a wide variety and depth of knowledge and experience that should be added to that of experts from around the globe. What cannot happen is for a few to look to make headlines rather than solutions.

As we said earlier, this issue has momentum and that is a great thing. People who have worked hard – both private citizens and public officials – need everyone to get behind the ball and more it forward based on facts rather then some other course of action based on fallacies.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have made requests to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office under section 119 of the Florida Statutes (The Sunshine laws) for their report on the object found. We have made the same request with the folks at Patrick Air Force Base under the Federal Freedom of Information Act as to what reports were generated by their unit on the found object. Both agencies have pledged they will comply with our requests and we have no reason at this time to suspect otherwise. We’ll post those reports for all to see when we get them.

EDITOR’S NOTE TWO: Please see the post below this one entitled Hype and Hysteria Doesn’t Help; It Hurts. (A Bit Of An Update.) for a bit of an update.

12 Responses to “Hype and Hysteria Doesn’t Help; It Hurts.”

  1. […] we are, early on the day the post Hype and Hysteria Doesn’t Help; It Hurts is posting and we decided to go back and check the Facebook page to see if anyone had any integrity […]

  2. A good piece, however, I would suggest that you extend your records request to the Airforcee EOD include all of the calls that EOD has been called out to our area – this is not an isolated incident. I do not know a lot of people and I have heard of at least 5 – two were large. Hence, it is not one EOD call that has created this concern. This is not hysteria, this is wanting answers! I wrote PAFB on 21 Sept 18 and have called multiple times and it has taken until yesterday to get a response with the link for the FOIA process. Frustration not hysteria mounts with not having answers.

    There are accounts that this was a munitions range and additionally that the pilots training occasionally ran out of gas and dropped their armaments and crash landed in the neighborhood. The house across the street and down one house had a fuselage in her backyard and the house behind her had wings under the house. Combine this with learning of the old military dump under homes in this neighborhood. Reading the FDEP report is very alarming. Feel free to contact me and I will send you several reports that raise more concerns about health.

    Also, with the several other responses by EOD in our neighborhood, our concern is not misplaced. A nearby town is going through the same thing having had an area that was a munitions range:

    Like us here they also had a training base, an amphibious unit and WWI stuff dumped offshore…. but that’s another story.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Sandra Sullivan,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Your comments were held for approval because of the software settings on the number of links in a post. That setting helps prevent the large number of spam we get every day dealing with everything from selling tennis shoes, drugs, viagra and lately, Russian porn. Once we saw your comments we released then out of the “need approval” folder and onto the site.

      A good piece, however, I would suggest that you extend your records request to the Airforcee EOD include all of the calls that EOD has been called out to our area – this is not an isolated incident.

      You just can’t do it, can you? You just can’t bring yourself to say that you made false statements about what was found on in your backyard, can you? Even after attending meetings were you claimed it was un-exploded ordnance and were told you were wrong, you never bothered to say “I was wrong.” You never bother to say, “thankfully, I made a mistake.”

      You continued to portray your statements and your conclusions as being factual when they are not.

      That’s irresponsible on your part.

      It is not the actions of someone who wants to be portrayed as a citizen advocate. It is not the actions of someone who wants to be portrayed as knowledgeable about this issue. It is not the actions of someone who wants to speak for citizens and be “leader” in this.

      Leaders – true leaders – know when to admit they when they were wrong. Adults know how to admit errors as well.

      Instead, you once again try to deflect from your errors and make demands of others.

      People are nervous about this issue and want facts, not the hype and hysteria you claimed about the object in your back yard.

      Thanks for writing.

      A. Afterwit.

      • Bob M. says:

        A. Afterwit, you have provided a thoughtful and enlightening response to this situation. The individual who found the “mortar” in her yard can only cry “wolf” so many times before people stop listening. Well done, sir.

        • AAfterwit says:

          Bob M.,

          Thank you for the comment.

          Crying “wolf” is what we are concerned about. It is not a big deal that the individual does not know the difference between a mortar, a mortar shell, a mortar round or a practice bomb. The problem is that the person came out and said it definitely was a “mortar” that was “unexploded ordnance.”

          It wasn’t and that is a problem when they ask people to start writing government officials, PAFB, the DOD, etc, based on something that was never found.

          If you aren’t sure, don’t make the accusations.

          Wait, so people can deal with facts rather than falsehoods.

          We all want this issue to be addressed no matter what, and making false statements and diverting officials and people from obtaining that goal doesn’t help anyone.

          Thanks for writing.

          A. Afterwit.

  3. Matt Fleming says:

    I wasn’t aware of any report released that specified the object found in her yard wasn’t an old mortar. Is there a link to that information so I can share it?

    • AAfterwit says:

      Matt Flemming,

      Thank you for the comment.

      As we said in our post, we have requested the official reports from agencies and when we get them, we will post them. In the interim, we are relying on the statements of officials.

      Do you wish to impugn their integrity?

      Thanks again.

      A. Afterwit.

  4. Matt Fleming says:

    Depends on which officials you’re referring to. Some of them involved in this issue have impugned their own repeatedly. Since we are discussing the impugnement of credibility, let’s delve into the claim that this is all hysteria.
    It took me one google search to come up with this:

    It describes a practice round, somewhat similar in shape and size to what was found in Mrs. Sullivan’s yard. It also describes three other types of rounds fired from the same type of mortar. If we take the claim at face value, that what was found was indeed a practice round, it contributes to, as opposed to refutes, an argument being made: That this area was used as a firing range or a dump…or both. To preclude the presence of live rounds buried in the area by making an argument about hysteria is to dismiss this simple bit of logic.

    That is all.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Matt Fleming,

      Again, thank you for your comment.

      We agree that some public officials have been less than forthright on this issue. We maintain that in order to combat that lack of forthrightness, you have to argue facts and not promote ideas and opinions which are not true. We would hope that you, like us, are interested in the truth.

      ……let’s delve into the claim that this is all hysteria.

      That’s not what we claimed, but we can run with it.

      It describes a practice round, somewhat similar in shape and size to what was found in Mrs. Sullivan’s yard.

      From your own citation:

      M69 Training/Practice Cartridge (TP) [Weight: 4.43 lb (2.01 kg)]: A shell with a cast iron body, inert filler, and detachable fin assembly used to train recruits in firing the M2 mortar. The cast iron body is reusable and the fin assembly can be replaced if damaged.

      Please take note of “inert filler,” ie “non explosive.”

      Therefore even by your own citation, we know that Cann / Sullivan’s definitive statement that it was unexploded ordnance was not correct. We can agree on that, can’t we?

      Also if you look at the fins on the M69 round, there are two distinct differences between that round and what was found. First is the number of fins. The M69 has many more than what was found and are shaped differently Secondly, the fins on the M69 are thin and do not have the metal mass to be as rusted as shown in Cann / Sullivan’s picture.

      Cann / Sullivan has made a series of excuses, none of which help her cause.

      The first is “I’m just a mom.”

      Mom’s across the world have a boatload of knowledge in many areas. Apparently (as she states) munitions are not her area of expertise. No one blames her for that. What is a problem is when her statements are that of definitive knowledge and certainty and are wrong. People should not be making definitive statements about which they are not qualified to make. Sullivan / Cann cannot claim that she is sure what the item is on one hand and then say “I don’t know….I am just a mom” when challenged.

      As we have said, her credibility and that of those who support her, is at stake in other areas now when she makes other charges and pronouncements. If you want to make demands and be listened to, you have to be credible. You have to admit it when you make a mistake. That admission has to be public and open for all to see. It is not a crime to be wrong but as adults, we should learn from the times we are wrong. We should step up to the same mic that we blasted out our mistakes and say “we were wrong.” As of yet, we have not seen anything from Cann / Sullivan where she has done that.

      Secondly, Sullivan / Cann has said that she was afraid for her safety.

      She was so afraid that she wrote her Facebook post at 6:45 PM and then 15 minutes later called the Brevard County Sheriffs Office. (We have the call center time stamps, if you’d like.)

      Doesn’t it seem strange to you that if she was that afraid of what she called a “mortar” and “unexploded ordnance” that she would have gotten the heck out of Dodge and called the authorities immediately instead of writing a FaceBook post? What were her priorities? FaceBook and ginning up hysteria or getting assistance in removing the object and being safe again?

      To preclude the presence of live rounds buried in the area by making an argument about hysteria is to dismiss this simple bit of logic.

      If that is what we were saying, we’d agree, but that’s is not our issue.

      As you well know, there is going to be pressure and blowback on this whole issue. When someone stands up and makes pronouncements, they’d better be right.

      If Sullivan / Cann had posted after calling the BSCO saying…:

      “Found this in the yard tonight…not sure what it is ….looks like a mortar…..may or may not be unexploded ordinance…scary stuff”

      ….we would have no issues with that whatsoever. We wouldn’t have said a peep. That post would have been responsible and appropriate.

      However, what Sullivan / Cann cannot grasp and you seem to be missing as well is the next time she or someone from her group stands up and says “this is a fact….” officials are going to listen politely and go on.

      Why? Because she’s “just a mom.” Or even, “yeah, this is the woman who was so scared she posted to FaceBook before calling the authorities. She was so concerned about her family’s welfare and that of those around her that it was more important to get on social media first before taking steps to alleviate the situation.”

      It’s a bad look for her and her group.

      Believe it or not, we don’t want any citizens to come off that way. That is why we are so intent on being right and not making hysterical statements not based on facts.

      Finally, several members of her FaceBook page and Sullivan / Cann herself has said that all we care about is “property values.”

      You won’t find that in any statement we have made. It is a false charge and not based on any facts.

      Perhaps you support that misrepresentation as well.

      We are just having a hard time understanding why a call to be accurate so one is not met with dismissal in the future is met with misrepresentations against us in the present.

      Perhaps you can enlighten us as to why you support someone not stating truths and instead support stating misrepresentations?

      Thanks again for the comment.

      A. Afterwit.

  5. Matt Fleming says:

    Ok, like I said calling it hysteria and trying to discredit a resident isn’t a good look for you guys. I’ve read this publication a lot, and some of the things you report on are excellent. There’s a story here that’s not being told. What is the connection between Meridien LLC, The Base, The Jaffe Group LLC, The Fontaine Group LLC, The City of Satellite Beach, and Woodshire Brevard LLC?

    The story begins with Jimmy Winemiller, his bio reads like a Carl Hiassen villain. I wouldn’t be the only one interested to see a real, thorough, and investigative piece of writing on the subject. You should definitely at least read this newspaper article, it cracked me up. The orange box about the mansion in Tennessee is part of the story too.{“page”:9,”issue_id”:93003}

    • AAfterwit says:

      Matt Fleming,

      Thank you for your response.

      Ok, like I said calling it hysteria and trying to discredit a resident isn’t a good look for you guys.

      Once again, our post was to make sure that when people make pronouncements that their statements are correct.

      There is a huge difference between an inert object and live ordnance. If one does not know what is before them, don’t say that you are sure of what it is.


      We aren’t sure why that is such a difficult concept for you and others to grasp.

      Perhaps you are comfortable with false statements, but we are not. Whether that statement comes from official sources or from citizens, one has to be right. Otherwise, as we said, when you stand up and make demands, you will rightfully be dismissed.

      Frankly sir, as someone who is running for public office, your willingness to not care about the truth of statements is not a good look for you.

      Thanks again.

      A. Afterwit.

  6. […] We promised that we would post the supporting documents / statements from authorities concerning the object found in Satellite Beach. […]

  7. Misguided says:

    I’m sure you all remember what happened to Joe Dirt when he claimed he found an atom bomb that turned out to be an rv septic tank.. Sorry, just had to go there. ?

    • AAfterwit says:


      Thanks for the comment. (We think. 😉 )

      The really sad thing is that she went in front of the County Commission, misidentified the item again, and then was just chewed up by Commission members. Whether the mis-identification had anything to do with the reaction is anyone’s guess, but she has hurt and continues to hurt her credibility on this issue. When you don’t care what experts are telling you about things, the experts and people actually working hard on the issue will be polite, pat you on the head, dismiss you and move on.

      As we have been saying, you have to be right. You have to admit when you are wrong. And you have to work to keep the momentum going, not try to stop it.

      Thanks again Mr. Dirt. Oops! Sorry! 😉

      A. Afterwit.