From the dirt road outside this hamlet on the southern tip of Grenada, the six corrugated tin warehouses behind the barbed-wire compound looked like the storage sheds of the Grenada Agro Co. 100 yards farther down the hill.
But in the words of Capt. Barry Willey of the 82nd Airborne Division, who showed journalists through today, the warehouses "contain enough supplies, equipment, parts, weapons and ammunition to supply 8,000 soldiers."
It was one of these warehouses that President Reagan described to the nation Thursday night as having "contained weapons and ammunition stacked almost to the ceiling, enough to supply thousands of terrorists."
To the group of journalists, however, there appeared to be a certain amount of hyperbole in the official descriptions.
Three of the six warehouses contained no weapons. One was full of truck engines and parts for vehicle maintenance; another contained food stores that included sacks of rice from Suriname and tinned sardines from Spain; a third was full of military uniforms, canteens, belts and similar items.
The principal arms storage shed was not "stacked almost to the ceiling," with weaponry, but was probably a quarter full--about 190 crates of assorted guns. Some were modern Soviet-made infantry weapons, but many were antiquated, of little value to a modern army or guerrilla force.
There were five Soviet-made 82mm mortars in the shed, one wheeled recoilless rifle, one four-barreled antiaircraft gun of Soviet make, and assorted machine guns. Two guns on displayed were Korean War-vintage British models.
More than half of the crates seemed to contain Soviet-made infantry arms. But of those, only a fraction were modern AK47 assault rifles, the rest seeming to be World War II vintage.
Many of the weapons dated as far back as the last century. One crate of rifles opened by a U.S. ranger corporal contained Marlin 30-30 carbines that had been manufactured, according to the stamped dates on their breeches, in 1870.
"These are old saddle guns," said the corporal as he jerked a breech open. "These are the sort of guns that were used to fight the Indians."
"This one still works," he said. "I guess it can kill you just as fast as a modern gun."
Another crate that had been broken open contained an assortment of revolvers, pocket-sized automatics, and Saturday night specials, that one might find in an urban pawn shop. More than half of the pistols were pre-World War II British Enfield .38s, the standard issue of the colonial British police before World War II.
Asked if any weapons might have been moved out of the warehouses since the president's description of them being stacked to the ceilings, Willey said that they had not. Escorting journalists to the other two warehouses, containing primarily boxes of small-arms ammunition, and clips for AK47s, Willey commented, "This is nothing spectacular in terms of what us here in the 82nd Airborne have. But we have to put it in context of a developing nation like Grenada."
None of the three warehouses containing the weapons and ammunition supplies was more than half full. But in one, a crate of 7.62mm automatic ammunition lay open, with its cover prominently displaying that it had been shipped to the "Oficina Economica Cubana--Grenada," the Cuban economics office on the island.
"This at least should prove that these things weren't shipped here for economic development," Willey said. "This shows that the people here were not just a construction battalion as people thought. These were the weapons that were to be distributed for the defense of Grenada and for the expansion of the communist revolution in the area."