The gun went missing on May 16, according to a press release from the North Dakota air base. The sparse June 20 press release offers few details, as the investigation remains ongoing.
It does reveal that Special Agents of the US Air Force Office of Special Investigation obtained a search warrant for an unnamed airman's home off the base and recovered it there on Tuesday. Perhaps the airman took it home as a souvenir, used it for sport, wanted to show it off to his friends, or even planned to sell it on the black market. There's no official word on the airman's intent.
Sputnik News reported that the 7.62 caliber, nearly 30-pound weapon was discovered to be missing after a routine weapons inventory check and belonged to the 91st Missile Wing security forces, whose job it is to protect nuclear missile sites.
The initial failure to locate the weapon was a double whammy for the airbase, and the 91st in particular, since it had recently misplaced a set of grenades and was still searching for them at the time, too. The grenades apparently fell off of a Humvee while it was going through the nearby Native American Fort Berthold Reservation.
Sputnik News reported that the Air Force Office of Special Investigations offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the grenades and groups of 100 airmen traversed the six-mile path multiple times, both to no avail.
Eventually, the base gave up the hunt. But while the grenades and the machine gun were still missing, a weapons inventory check was ordered by Global Strike Command and was conducted across eight military facilities.
And on May 23, the commander of the 91st Security Forces Group, Col. Jason Beers, was even fired for the mishaps, which caused a "loss of confidence." He's probably got much less to worry about than the servicemember who took the machine gun, however, as he has landed a new gig as the chief of the installations division at the Air Force Special Operations Command.