When it comes to the paranormal, there seem to be certain places that are well-suited to or seem to draw the most activity. Old abandoned places, ruins, graveyards, dilapidated houses, these are the usual suspects for haunted places, but there are always exceptions to this, and certainly one of these would be military bases, and these locations also have on occasion drawn to them strange stories of the unexplained. It seems that the men and women stationed here would already have enough to worry about besides ghosts and ghouls, but here we will look at some very curious accounts of encounters with strange entities from beyond our understanding at military installations.
One report comes from a witness called Sergeant M., who in 2015 was assigned to 24-hour-desk duty, which entails keeping a full 24-hour watch at a barracks. One of their duties was to keep an eye on soldiers who were demonstrating psychological issues or who had been confined to their barracks to protect those around them and were considered “high risk.” The witness relates a tale about one such individual, who had been kicked out for being a troublemaker and an “angry, hate filled individual that never progressed past Private Second Class in his 20 months in uniform.” The mysterious individual was also apparently rumored to be into black magic and Satanism, and most of the others had kept well away from him. According to the witness, this unruly individual left the barracks without making any effort at all to clean out his filthy room, which would be described thus:
When he was kicked out, he left his barracks room a complete mess. I’ve seen portable toilets cleaner than his room. The toilet had been broken and didn’t flush, but he had continued to use it. In the closet there were mountains of trash, and rotten food in the sink and refrigerator. The shower was also filled with garbage and water. Aside from the mess, there were strange things as well. When the commander, First Sergeant and myself, the Supply Sergeant, went into his room, we found chicken bones tied together, hanging from strings from the ceiling. They had been lashed together to make seemingly archaic symbols. We counted roughly two dozen before we quit counting. The floor was covered in grime and candles had been lit in a circle. All of the furniture had been stacked out of the way or shoved in the closet. I’ll spare you the description of the smell. But the whole room had an unsettling feeling to it. The air in the room felt wrong. I couldn’t tell at the time if it was the smell or the filth. Whatever the reason, I didn’t want to be in there. We called a special cleanup team and put in a work order to have the room stripped and cleaned by professionals. After they were finished, the room was spotless.
Not long after this, there allegedly began to trickle in reports of strange phenomena surrounding the room in question. Even though it was still unoccupied there were claims that things could be heard banging around within, and odd odors would also emanate from the room, such as a scent of burning plastic that could not be identified. The witness says that he ended up being assigned to the duty roster that put him into close proximity to the “haunted” room, and one evening he had a very terrifying experience as he was on duty with a private. It started when they suddenly heard a roar come from the room, which he describes as sounding “like metal tearing while someone played a recording of a scream, except distorted and in reverse.” The startled men then warily approached the room, and the witness would say of what happened next thus:
Being the senior ranking, I instructed the soldier to call the Barracks Representative (LNO) and have him get to the desk as soon as possible. Five minutes later, he and I are using his master key to gain access to the room while my Private covers the hallway from the desk, staying with the phone and also watching our backs. As soon as we enter the foyer, we’re hit with the smell of dog poo and burned plastic. Neither of us can identify the source, but the room is completely empty. We sweep and clear every nook and cranny, later agreeing that we felt like we were being watched the whole time. We found nothing but the smell remained.
We decided to re-secure the room and not log the incident, because I, for one, didn’t want to look like a crazy idiot when my boss’s boss read my report. We move for the door. We exit, turn and go to close the door behind us when a massive force hits the door from inside the room, shoving the Barracks Representative out of the doorway and slamming the door shut. None of the doors are allowed to slam, they all have hydraulic arms at the top to prevent that. They’re not even quick to close if a 200 lb male leans on them, so one slamming so hard it could move a grown man is impossible – especially considering it had worked moments prior when we entered the room.
We tried to open the lock again, but this time the keycard wouldn’t work. We agreed that neither of us wanted to go in again anyway, and we agreed not to report any of it, because we would be taken as seriously as anyone else. After that incident, I kept an ear out but didn’t hear anything nearly as dramatic again. On another occasion, it sounded like there was some kind of shuffling coming from the room, like someone moving around, but I kept a stalwart face about it and ordered my private to stay away from it as well. To this day, I cannot explain what happened in that room.
What was this? Was it some sort of demonic entity conjured up by the troubled soldier who had left? It is hard to say. In another case defying classification the tale is told by the nephew of the eyewitness, but it is no less spooky. The uncle, called Bob, was reportedly a new soldier in the Army in 1985, and at the time he was on fence patrol duty at a base in Arizona. As he and a partner made their way around the perimeter, he claimed that they had heard an anomalous noise from behind them, and turned to see a strange sight indeed. According to the one relaying the account:
When they turned around, they saw an old man dressed in buckskin with long hair in braids. Bob described it was being so grey that “it almost glowed”. The man was standing approximately thirty feet behind them. Both men drew their weapons, as the old man was in a “shoot to kill” area, with warning signs all over the place. Neither Bob or the other man wanted to shoot an old man. They figured that he must have Alzheimer’s, and had wandered into the base or something. After all, he was not being threatening, and appeared harmless.
The men shouted to the old man, telling him he was in a restricted area and that he needed to put his hands in the air. Bob thought they’d walk him to post call and call the local police department who would be able to get him back home. Bob tried the radio, but it was just static. Calling his friend to help, both he and Bob turned to tinker with the walkie. Although they only looked away for “half a second”, to quote my uncle, when they turned back the old man was gone. In his place was a massive cottontail (rabbit), just sitting there, watching them.
The two startled men looked around to see if the old man was still around, but the mysterious stranger was gone, nowhere to be seen. All that was there was this rabbit sitting there staring at them in the desert night. They warily continued on with their duty, and shortly after heard the noise again, this time from the opposite side of the perimeter fence. When they looked, they were shocked to see the same old man standing there on the other side, staring in at them. Since this was a military base, the fence was very high, around 10 feet, and decked out with razor wire, very secure, so it seemed impossible that the old man could have gotten over the fence so quickly without being detected. This was frightening enough that the two men quickly got out of there and never spoke of it with their commanding officer.
This case is particularly interesting due to the location, Arizona, and the apparent shapeshifting quality of the strange intruder. One phenomena often reported from the southwest United States is that of what are called Skinwalkers, basically shape changing entities from Native lore that have been sighted all over the region by often very reliable witnesses. Is that what these two men saw? Unfortunately, this is a second hand account that is impossible to verify, so it is all left to imagination and speculation.
If it was a Skinwalker it certainly wouldn’t be the only one reported by military personnel. In the wake of my own article outlining my personal experiences with a group of what could have very well been these creatures, I was given a curious account by a reader who says he encountered one in New Mexico, where he had been stationed at the White Sands Missile Range. According to the witness, he had been on guard duty one evening along with a partner and it was typically a rather uneventful, even boring duty, yet on this night they would have a frightening encounter that has stayed with them ever since.
The witness says that as they conducted their patrol his partner stopped him and pointed off into the barren surrounding desert wilderness, where there appeared to be two pinpoints of light hovering over the scrub, around 6 feet in the air. Thinking it was perhaps just a wild animal, they crept closer to its position to find that it seemed to be a tall, dark figure just standing out there in the middle of nowhere in the dark. It then became apparent that this cloaked individual was a man, although with a deeply wrinkled face that looked “ancient.” The witness would describe what happened next:
We were a little spooked because there should have been no one out there at this time, especially that close to the base. And this guy, he gave off a weird vibe, just standing there staring at us even as we approached. His face, he looked like he was maybe Native American, and I couldn’t tell so well but his skin looked creased, craggy and pockmarked, somehow ancient. He was wrapped up in some kind of cape or cloak and we couldn’t see his hands or feet. We called out to him to identify himself but this guy, he didn’t flinch. I don’t even know if he heard us or not.
Well, now we are a bit unsettled, and think we are dealing with a seriously disturbed individual or some senile old fart from a reservation, so we know we have to apprehend him or at least get him out of there. We start getting closer to this guy, who is still standing stock still like a statue and that is when it happens BOOM, he just sort of drops, there is a flutter of the cape, and he is gone. Just gone. My partner calls out in surprise and right then a coyote runs right past us, practically close enough to touch, before dashing off into the night. That old guy, there is no sign of him. It freaked us out for sure.
It seems like a classic Skinwalker encounter. What did those guys see out there? There have been strange paranormal encounters reported from bases in other areas of the world as well. One account was given by a witness named Adolph Schäfer, who claims to be the equivalent of a sergeant in the unified armed forces of Germany, called the Bundeswehr. He claims to have had a very anomalous experience when he was just a cadet at boot camp in East Germany. One evening at around 5 PM they were apparently out doing drills when they heard some sort of “eerie, unexplainable noises” coming from one of the nearby buildings. They did not think much of it at the time, but then at 8PM the power grid began to go on the fritz, with lights flickering everywhere, which was odd as it had been inspected just a few days before.
The base drill sergeant was convinced that it was just a faulty generator, and had the witness go out with three others to fix it. The men then made their way to the basement where the generators were kept, and there they found that two of the generators worked fine, although one had inexplicably been turned off. It was when they got to the larger third generator when things would get ominous down there in the dank basement, and the witness says of what happened thus:
The third generator was the largest main source of power in the base. The first thing I noticed were the scratches: this seemingly super-hard-to-break hunk of metal had what I think were scratches and cuts – claw marks – piercing its outer metal shell like a buzzsaw. So deep, the scratches had cut the cords inside and had damaged the batteries as though they were paper. After a moment of thinking I knew this couldn’t have been a person doing this, seeing as nothing any cadet had could cut through that tough metal so easily, I immediately rushed up the stairs to tell my drill sergeant, hoping he would know what to do. He told me, “The most we can do is tell base command and put someone guard the door, and have the generator replaced. Good thing reporting this, cadet Schäfer.
After getting a pat on the back, I resumed my daily training routines without anything too odd happening. But some hours later, sometime in the night (I can’t be exactly sure when), I heard scratching noises, but not from the basement, they were too close and too loud… as if they were in the sleeping quarters. After that moment of realization, I opened my eyes and looked around. I saw what I thought was someone in the corner, going through a bag… But, when I looked around the room, sheer terror came into me: all the bunks were full, every one.
“Wait….the hell?”, I thought to myself. But, then, as if it had heard what I was thinking, the “thing” in the corner turned to face me. It was a pale grey, with no nose, and claws like razors. This thing was skinny and two feet taller than my six-foot self. After that I just froze in a blank stare of horror. In my mind seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned to hours and hours turned to days….I think I passed out of terror, because all I remember after that is waking up to my buddies and sergeant looking at me, while talking to me, telling me I looked sick. And I felt sick too, like all energy from me was drained for days on end.
Also strange is another case from way over in Afghanistan, where a witness named Jerry Aberdeen saw something very unusual during his tour of duty out in that forsaken wasteland. It is an account that seems hard to really categorize, but seeming to deal with ghosts, demons, or some other supernatural being. The incident happened to him while he was stationed at an air base in in Mosul, Ninewah Province in 2004, and the witness would say:
I was attached to 2/3 INF 3 SBCT at FOB Patriot. A call went out on the radio that FOB Diamondback (the airfield) was under attack. Everyone on every FOB from, Courage, Blickenstaff, Patriot and Marez jumped into the closest vehicle and headed to the airfield to counter the attack. I was in a vehicle with some other infantry guys, an engineer and a PsyOps guy. When we got to the airfield we saw some dudes trying to climb over the wall. The gunner opened up on them and the rest of us took up a position in a ditch on the other side of the road and opened fire. There were three of us side by side, the engineer, the PsyOps guys and myself. We fired and one guy and he dropped from the top of the wall (hard to tell who actually shot him). Right after he fell there was stream of black smoke coming out of him. The engineer made that comment that he must have been wearing a suicide vest and it malfunctioned. A few seconds later the black smoke grew larger and started to take a human looking form. What happened next all three of us saw and there was no doubt. The now fully materialized black smoke was standing upright and now had red smoky glowing eyes and a weird looking mouth. The damn thing actually smiled at us and turned to, sort of run but it just dissipated after it took a few steps. Very hard to describe how it all happened. All three of us just looked at each other wide eyed for a second or two. After it was all over we only spoke about once then never again.
What sort of entity was this, if it ever really existed at all? There is no way to know. And that seems to be a recurring theme with all of these reports. Here we have looked at an assortment of cases of what seem to be very odd paranormal entities of some sort, but which seem to elude easy categorization. What are these things and what do they want? Are we looking at ghosts, Skinwalkers, demons, or all of the above? Considering the range of differences between these cases there is probably no clear answer that can explain all of them, and they probably represent very different disparate phenomena, but one common question we can ask why have they been drawn to these military installations? Or are these merely creepy campfire stories being told by some soldiers for a good laugh? As usual we are left with some very jolting accounts and hints, but no clear answers to any of these, and once again we have more to pile onto the great big pile of weird things we may never understand.