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Personal Submissions/Experiences

BARRACKS 809

(I have changed the names in this report because I did not want to expose any of my friends to further hassle. Even though many of us are still in the unit, we never discuss the events of these two weeks.)

It was June of 1996 when my National Guard unit arrived on Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin for our two weeks of annual training. Many of us were looking forward to the next two weeks. Although annual training is a lot hard work, it is also a wonderful time shared with good friends. Little did we realize that someone else wanted to join the camaraderie in the female barracks.

There were only thirteen of us girls in that barracks, and most of us had semi-private rooms. The strange occurrences began the very first night we stayed in the barracks. Nobody really thought much of them or even mentioned them. The only mention made was "who in the heck was dragging their duffle bag around the floor at 1:30 this morning!?" Linda (not her real name) was asking about another soldier named Jill (also not her real name) who was supposed to have arrived during the night. She wanted to know where Jill was because she had a bone to pick with her. Apparently Jill had tossed and turned all night in the semi-private room she was supposed to have shared with Linda, and had kept her awake. We were all surprised to find that Jill had been delayed due to car problems and had not yet arrived. Linda had been alone in her room all night.

Nobody said anything else about the strange incident until a couple of days later. It was around 2 am when Linda woke up screaming. We all ran out of our rooms and found Linda shaking hysterically and yelling, "It touched me, it touched me!" over and over again. She told us that she had developed a cold spot in the middle of her back. She kept turning over and over trying to get rid of it. During her restlessness, her hair had fallen into her eyes. Suddenly a cold hand literally brushed her hair out of her eyes. She didnít see anyone, but she felt it.

Most of us attributed Lindaís late night screaming to an excess of adult beverages. Despite our doubts, other stories of strange happenings began to be told over breakfast. Many of the girls reported the sensation of being watched. One girl Iíll call Amy, reported that on the first night there, she went outside about 1 am to have a cigarette. While out there, the screen door swung open about one quarter of the way and she felt a presence. There were no other doors open to have caused a breeze that would cause the screen door to open on itís own. Some of the others reported footsteps and noises that couldnít be attributed to other people. Still another story of a green mist coming from a sink that crept up from the drain. At least three women saw the mist and couldnít attribute it to anything.

I didnít believe in ghosts, and said so. Some of the others gave our visitor the pet name John. I refused to do so. I thought everyone just had too much to drink, or were under stress. My eyes were opened later that afternoon. All of the others were down at the gym playing volleyball. I couldnít go because I was six months pregnant. So I sat in my room to the back of the stairs and read my bible. While I was reading I heard the screen door slam and combat boots come up the stairs. I called out but no one answered me, but I began to have a strange sensation over my body. I couldnít figure out who would be wearing boots. It was physical training time and everyone in the unit was at the gym five blocks away. All of the females were wearing tennis shoes when they left. Part of an old Army barracks is that you know the sound of boots on those wood floors. I definitely heard boots. Figuring that someone was messing with me, I dismissed the sounds and went back to my reading. Five minutes later I heard the screen door slam again and boots come up the stairs, I called out again, but no one answered. Once again I dismissed it, but I was determined to catch whoever was messing around. Five minutes later, I got my chance. Again the screen door slammed and boots came up the stairs. This time, I waited around the corner until I heard the boots hit the fifth stair and then I stepped around the landing. No one was on the stairs, but I heard the footsteps go up two more stairs before they stopped. This was the only staircase in the barracks. It was then I realized that I had never heard anyone leave the building, just repeatedly enter.

After that the sounds got louder at night. I saw a ghostly hand on my door in the middle of the night. It was pushing the door, open and closed. I moved out of my room and down stairs to the open bay with another girl. It was even louder down there. It got so loud one night that I went out the back door and across the lawn to the orderly room and slept there.

On the fourth night, everyone went to the field, except a male soldier and I. He stayed behind to watch over me. We moved into the orderly room so we could answer the phones. Tom (not his real name) and I spent the next two days with nothing to do. I was just happy to be out of those barracks. I wouldnít even go in alone to do the security checks. On the second day I was sitting on the steps reading a book. I suddenly got a horrible feeling of being watched. I looked up into the upstairs back door window of the barracks and realized that a man was standing there. I had just checked the lock an hour before and I had the only key, there was no way someone got in there. He was staring at me with hollow eyes. He had on plain green fatigues and a strange helmet that I didnít recognize. He had a black face, but he was not a black man. He had something black on his face. I donít know if it was camouflage or soot. I called out to Tom, trying to disguise my fear. I asked him to come sit and talk with me. After a few minutes he asked me if I felt that. I asked him what he meant. He said that he had the distinct feeling that we were being watched. He also looked at the upstairs back door of the barracks. He questioned me about the key and if the door was locked. I said it was. He then said, "Then who is the guy staring at us from the female barracks?" I asked him to describe what I was seeing. Without any prompting, he described to me exactly what I was seeing.

It was later that afternoon when everyone came back for showers. I told one of my friend, Iíll call her Sheila, that I think I had seen the ghost. She said, "Donít say anything more, and go talk to Amy." Perplexed by what she said, I found Amy and told her that I thought I had seen the ghost. She replied that she had had a dream last night, out in the field several miles from the barracks, about a man that had terrified her. She said that he was wearing plain green fatigues and a strange helmet. I got a chill up my back when she said, "He had a black face, but he was not a black man. It was like he had something on his face." I told her that I had seen him in the window watching me.

Things get kind of crazy from there. While the unit was in the field for seven days, the ghost was constantly watching me. I could even feel him staring at me through the walls of the orderly room. During this time three other people saw him. One sergeant actually tried to communicate with it, but reported that he felt that the being was afraid of him because of his rank. He even tried to open the unlocked barracks door one day, but could not. He said he could feel a presence holding the doors closed. I would have suspected that he was messing with us, except for the fact that I was at the bottom of the stairs and Tom was trying to pull the door open with him. They came back down the front stairs and I went up and easily opened the door.

Things got worse when we returned to the barracks when the rest of the unit came back in from the field. One of the girls in my room was alone at midnight one night and jokingly called out "Good night, John." She was terrified when a few moments later she felt someone sit on the edge of her bed and put an arm across her.

Finally, the two weeks was over and we were cleaning up to leave. Even those of us who didnít believe were startled when we pulled the lid down on one of the footlockers as we mopped the floors. There was a nametag on the bed near the back upstairs door of our barracks. No one had noticed it before, because it was an unused bed. We found it to be rather ironic that it bore the name that most of the girls referred to our houseguest by. The only name tag in the entire barracks bore the name of JOHN WILLIAMS. We knew that it was just coincidence, but it still sent a chill up all of our backs.

When we left I took one last look at the room that I had slept in. Looking through the window, there was the figure of him again. He seemed to be watching us go and I was glad to be gone.

There were a lot of other things that happened during those two weeks. Some of them funny, like the toilet seat that would, without reason, be in the up position. (No males used the bathroom in our barracks.) The apparition was seen by at least six people, in different windows around the barracks. A seventh male soldier refused to admit to seeing anything, but came around the barracks pale and sweaty and refused to go near it again. He was never seen from inside the building. Aside from the six people who actually saw him, strange feelings were mentioned by at least 13 people, both male and female. Some of the women felt that it was protecting them, watching over them. That this was a soldier who had befallen some horrible fate put upon him by a Sergeant during training or deployment during the First World War. Some of us just thought that he was evil and were terrified by his presence. Some people said that they felt him most when I was around, that I was his power source. I do know that even though I was six months pregnant, my daughter never moved inside of me when I was in the barracks.

I donít know if I actually believe in ghosts or not. What I do know, is that I believe that something very unnatural lives in Barracks 809.

Postscript: Much to my dismay, we stayed in the exact same barracks during annual training for 1998. All was quiet this time; the only report came from the male barracks next door. While we were all in the field one of the men who stayed behind to run the orderly room asked me if the stories from 1996 were true. I said that they were. He replied, "I was just curious, because the guy in the room with me tosses and turns and snores all night long. I canít get any sleep." This sent a shiver down my back because he was not only alone in his room; he was the only person in those barracks.
 

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