This Weeks Story
August 5th, 2000
A most unusual encounter
of the military variety, hailing from the
Okinawa Journals of
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by Jon (Ghostories Supporter)
Hailing From: Atlanta, Georgia
Where it Happened: Okinawa
Years ago in my more ambitious youth I served as a US Marine. My first duty station was Okinawa, a small island 200 miles south off the coast of Japan. It was, and still is a beautiful island with much to offer any visitors willing to explore outside the bars and brothel's. After a year on the island they posted me as a company custodian in my battalion's armory. For those who are unfamiliar with military terminology, an armory is a caged, heavily guarded building used for storing weapons.
It's no secret the military and especially the Marine Corps prides itself on keeping a high level of security on it's weapons. A lost or stolen rifle is cause for shutting down entire bases and suspending liberty for all personnel until the weapon is found. With this in mind I'd like to relay an unusual story that, while I was not a direct witness to, my involvement certainly validates this particular story, at least in my mind.
Almost a decade ago during the conflict in Somolia, the powers that be decided to remove our troops in a most immediate fashion. In order to do this quickly they sent the troops ahead by air, boxed up the weapons, and shipped them out separately at a later date. Okinawa is, logistically, a relatively small island. Only 55 miles long from tip to tip (although it can take over 3 hours to drive from one end to the other). The base and port to which the ships and subsequently the weapons were dropped off at were at the southern end of the island, while I was located at the northern end. Due to the importance of these weapons to each individual company, the moment those ships arrived at port the weapons were offloaded and sent to the armory only a few miles away. The respective companies were notified and ordered to pick up the weapons without delay no matter what time it was.
I had been to this particular armory several times to pick up weapons that had been delivered. It was always daylight when we had been called and that place had still given me a less than warm feeling. It was a large, windowless building with dank, dimly lit hallways. Nothing on the walls but cold cement and the occasional caged door as an entrance to each companies weapons hold. It could be bustling with people, as it usually was, and it was never soon enough for me to get the hell out of there.
I was more than cautious about relaying my fears to anyone due to my recent, and necessary brainwashing by my drill instructors. I'm sure you can imagine the amount of ribbing I would have received had I spoken up.
One day I overheard a conversation with two of the custodians who were permanently stationed at this armory. One of the Marines was relaying a nightmare he had whilst taking a nap in the corner of the armory the night before. He had dreamt of a young Marine crying in the hallway of the armory outside his caged door. He opened the door and walked over to the young boy who was curled up against the wall of the hallway with his head in his arms. As he reached for the despondent boy to comfort him, the boy lifted his head to reveal a war torn face with two blackened empty sockets where his eyes had once been.
The other Marine, who didn't seem nearly as startled as I was at his friend's recount of the nightmare, looked at me and said, "That's what happens when you spend all your time in a Morgue."
"A Morgue?" I said."What are you talking about?"
"This place used to be Morgue during Vietnam. They sent the bodies here to be identified or prepped for the trip back to the states."
He said it in such a matter-of-fact way you'd have thought he were relaying the daily weather report. I'm sure I must have resembled guppy fish at feeding time, standing there with my mouth wide open. Suddenly I didn't feel so embarrassed about my recently acquired fears, and almost immediately I became inquisitive instead of hesitant. I found that the Marine who had dreamt of the crying boy was not alone. In fact, it was becoming strangely apparent that most of the Marines that worked at the armory had experienced some sort of "out of the ordinary" phenom. The stories ranged from cold spots in corners to the all too common keys rattling at the cage door.
I was well aware that a good many of the tales I heard were just that, tales. When something like this draws attention, everyone wants to be a part of it, even if they're not. In fact, you could say they were almost proud of their "haunted armory" which, for anyone who's ever been stationed overseas away from there family and friends will know, isn't uncommon. It can get lonely and boring in the military due to the redundancy of your duties during peacetime. Finding an escape from reality, even in the supernatural sense does, for lack of a better phrase, help pass the time.
A week or so after my enlightenment into the history of this bizarre facility, I was taking my turn on 24 hour call along with another Marine from our company. If a ship came into port while we were on call it was our responsibility to drive the 30 or so miles south to the port armory, retrieve the weapons, and hightail it back to base. As luck would have it we got a call at 1:00 a.m. that a ship was due for arrival at any moment. Our orders were to head down south and wait for the weapons to arrive from the inbound ship.
After rousing my counterpart, picking up the Hummer, and being issued ammo for our personal weapons, we made it down south by about 2:30 a.m. As we approached the gate we were greeted by four MP's denying us access on base.
"What's the problem?" I asked.
"There's been an incident at the armory, no one's allowed in or out."
MP's deal with belligerent Jarheads on a constant basis, as a result they are rarely courteous nor, in this case, informative. After half an hour we were granted access to retrieve the weapons and hopefully, be privy to what the hell had happened. We could see the carnival of lights at the armory from the gate but nothing could prepare us for what would turn out to be the eeriest tale this strange place was yet to share.
After showing our orders to a number of nameless officers we were finally granted access to the area in which our weapons were being stored. I saw the pale faces of the two Marines who were apparently dispatched with the duties of protecting the armory this night. Another officer was standing next to them with a distraught civilian lady, who I could only assume by the way he was comforting her, was his wife. We loaded the crates full of M16's, M60's, and 9mm's onto our Hummer, inquired upon deaf ears, and did as we were ordered, hightailed it back to base.
I didn't sleep that night, how could I? Half-maddened by the morbid curiosity of what had transpired, and quite honestly, half spooked. The next day I went through every possible scenario of what might have happened. There couldn't have been a break in, we never would have been allowed on base. I finished at the normal time and headed south determined to find out why I couldn't get those guards fear struck faces out of my head.
I pulled up to the armory and walked around until I found a mouth that looked willing to talk. Luckily it was a WM (Woman Marine) I've always had better luck getting the opposite sex to divulge more information than they should. She said that the two guards I had seen were being transferred back stateside as well as the Officer and his wife. Not as punishment, but by request on their part.
Around 1:00 a.m. last night the two guards had heard a noise coming from inside the armory. All personnel were gone for the day and the armory was locked down tight as is usually the case. Like every armory in the world there is only one way in and out and that is kept locked and sealed with an alarm that only the Officer of the Day and certain key personnel have access to. The two guards followed procedure, called the officer of the day, and had him come out to investigate. The Officer's wife was visiting him and he decided to bring her along in case he was gone for a while.
When he arrived he disengaged the alarm and opened the doors assuming one of the custodians had left his alarm/radio on which had, coincidentally, happened before. After all, their were motion detectors and the guards had never left the only entrance. They walked to the back of the building with the wife in tow, following the noise which was now becoming distinguishable as a man calling cadence to troops. Their was a strange light coming from around the corner at the end of the building and now the Officer was concerned for his wife's safety.
"Go wait outside" he said. She did as she was told and began to head back to the front door, at about the same moment he and the guards then turned the corner only to run face to face with a platoon of marines marching up and down the hallway outlined in a strange blue light.
"Emily" he called out instinctively. As she ran to his side, the apparitions stopped, faced right and disappeared into the wall one by one, leaving her only a short glimpse of these apparent veterans from the past.
The story was later confirmed by several others and I drove home that night realizing I had been as close to a witness of this phenomenon as possible. Logically, why would a distinguished officer, who spent four years in college, went through Officer Cadet Training, and commissioned himself in the Marine Corps, blemish his career with a ghost story?
But more importantly, I saw the look on those two men. Men who don't look that way without good reason. Men who had seen ghosts.
Stunned -- that is the only word I can use to describe my reaction to your story, and I thank you so very much for sending it in. This "encounter" is truly exceptional and I know will stand out on O'Neill's Ghostories for a long time to come as one others will say, "have you read . . .
All I can reiterate, in total sincerity is, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." This makes my job as caretaker of Ghostories very worthwhile -- as sometimes I wonder why I do it (there was an e-mail this week that was a little less than kind) -- and now I know for sure that I do it because it never ceases to amaze me, leave me with awe and wonder, and the knowledge that this is a place I could never stay away from, well that is, until it is my turn to "walk through the wall with the rest of my troops."
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