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Two Sailors Disciplined for Bomb ‘Joke’

Times Staff Writer

Two Navy petty officers have been disciplined for a “practical joke” last week that had police searching a car belonging to one of them.

The incident came in the wake of the destruction of the van belonging to the wife of Navy Capt. Will Rogers III by a pipe bomb. Navy officials Thursday were quick to say that there was no connection between the two incidents.

“This had nothing to do--and I repeat nothing to do--with the the USS Vincennes,” said Navy spokesman Lt. Ken Luchka.

Rogers was the skipper of the guided missile cruiser Vincennes when it shot down an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf last summer. On March 10, his wife’s van exploded in what federal officials theorize was an act of retribution by terrorists. Sharon Rogers escaped unharmed.

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The practical joke occurred March 24 when a call was placed to the office of Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Meyers of the Fleet Combat Training Center on Point Loma.

Meyers was not in the office at the time. But, Luchka said the “unidentified source stated, ‘Tell him there’s a bomb in his car.’ ”

Call to Police

When Meyers returned to his office, he immediately tried to call Petty Officer 1st Class Donald Harris to ask if he had left that message, since the two played practical jokes on each other all the time, Luchka said.

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However, Harris was conducting a course and could not be reached by phone, so Meyers telephoned his wife, who had driven the car to her job at an auto dealership in La Mesa.

“Meyers, still being concerned, contacted La Mesa police to check the car out for a bomb,” Luchka said.

Sgt. Conrad Grayson of the San Diego County sheriff’s bomb squad said he inspected the vehicle at the dealership in the 8900 block of La Mesa Boulevard but found no explosives or bomb parts attached to or inside the car.

He also said there was no connection between the incident at the dealership and an explosion the next night at the crowded Aquarius Roll-A-Rena roller-skating rink in La Mesa. No one was hurt in that blast and no suspects have been arrested. The blast hurled pieces of wood up to 100 feet, and some landed across La Mesa Boulevard.

Luchka said Naval Investigative Service officials later contacted Harris, who admitted placing the call about the bomb. He said both Harris and Meyers were disciplined by their commanding officer and counseled against playing practical jokes on each other.

“This was a very unfortunate incident, particularly in light of the bombing of Sharon Rogers’ van,” Luchka said. “This was just a practical joke that backfired on them.”


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