Apr 1

Fort Polk Encounter

A listener writes “My experience took place back in 1969 when I was stationed at Fort Polk, La. This may be one of the most unusual stories you have heard and it’s the first time I have ever recounted this publicly, other than my immediate family. I was afraid for years I might get in trouble if I talked about it. This was over 50 years ago and even though I remember the event I’ll admit some of the details may be off slightly.

For some background to this incident, obviously there was no Internet, no laptops and no cell phones so I had never heard of big foot or Sasquatch at that time and only became away of Sasquatch after seeing shows on TV. But I was definitely a non-believer and figured Sasquatch was just another folk legend like the Loch Ness monster.

I was stationed at Fort Polk in the summer (July) prior to getting orders for Vietnam . I was there for AIT( Advanced Infantry Training. Towards the end of the 8 weeks we did a forced 25 mile march to an area called Pesan Ridge( I don’t know if I spelled that correctly).

This is a very remote, swampy area where the Army did survival training, escape and evasion training and there are simulated Vietnamese villages set up in the area to simulate what we might encounter in Vietnam.

At the end of the grueling march we had to dig First Division bunkers which are areas maybe 10 feet square that you dig down maybe 12” ( I’m recalling details from over 50 years ago so maybe not completely accurate).

In each corner you dig a round hole several feet deep ( called sump holes) Nowhere you would roll a grenade into( if you had a chance before it exploded.)

We were to sleep in that bunker for the night and then head back to base the next day. As I recall there were several companies on that march, so quite a few soldiers and drill sergeants.

You can imagine how exhausted we were once we got to Pesan Ridge so after digging our bunkers and a light meal, we settled in our bunkers for the night. We were spread over an area perhaps a hundred yards and this was a cleared out area that the Army had used often. But all around this clearing were heavy, heavy woods.

There four soldiers in my bunker and regulation required one of us to be awake at all times so we had a “guard duty schedule”.

I was on watch later in the night so I quickly dozed off. Sometime after midnight my buddy woke me up to tell me it was my time to be on duty. But he told me “somebody’s throwing rocks at us from the tree line.” He said several rocks had landed inside our bunker but didn’t hit anyone. The distance from our bunker to the tree line had to have been 50-60 yards. But there were other bunkers much closer to the tree line.

So I sat up on guard waiting to see if anything happened. I remember It was eerily quiet, not even frogs or crickets were making a sound and it was very hot and humid. After perhaps half an hour I heard people talking in the woods. It sounded as if they were on all sides of us. I couldn’t understand what they were saying because of the distance and the voices almost muffled. Then a large rock, the size of a baseball flew into our bunker missing one of my buddies by inches. My buddy was either a very light sleeper or was awake because he sat up and asked what the hell was that? I told him what had been going on. we were both wide awake by now trying to figure out what was happening. Then the talking started again. My buddy listened for a few minutes then said, “ they’re speaking Vietnamese.” And it did sound like a foreign language so we concluded that the permanent cadre that played the part of the enemy in the escape and evasion training were actual Vietnamese and were messing with us. That made sense to us since it would lend an air of reality to the training. This occasional talking and rock throwing lasted most of the night and we could occasionally hear other soldiers becoming aware of what was going on. On one occasion over near the tree line we heard a soldier yell out to “stop that shit”, and it sounded like he and possibly others threw rocks back into the woods. I didn’t see that but based on what they were yelling that’s what I assumed.

After a while things quieted down and I dozed off since my guard duty was over. Just before dawn a flurry of activity woke us up and there were half dozen or so drill sergeants rousing all of the soldiers We were told to “fall in”, which meant get in formation. It was apparent very quickly that was a lot of tension in the air. Drill sergeants were doing head counts and running around yelling. Then we were told a soldier was missing and we were going to do a grid search for him. So we were organized in four large groups, and each group, shoulder to shoulder, were sent In different directions. We searched for maybe an hour without finding a clue, then all at once we were hustled back to the clearing where we noticed some higher ranking officers( I remember one was a Colonel) talking to what looked like several civilians….. at least they weren’t in uniforms. One of the officers was on a portable phone ( I think those huge things were called Prick 25’s…. Don’t know again if I spelled that right)

We had fully expected to march back to the base but an hour or so later large deuce and a half trucks showed up to take us back to the base. Our drill sergeant with us would not answer any questions and told us not to ask any questions.

As we were riding back to the base we saw several helicopters headed back toward Pisan Ridge and we passed three civilian looking cars headed that way too. It wasn’t unusual to see civilian vehicles on the base but it was highly unusual to see them out in the training areas. By then it probably 8:00 and all at once we heard a tremendous amount of gunfire. We couldn’t determine the direction it came from but it went on for perhaps 45 seconds and we could tell it was automatic weapons firing. Then all went quiet. I asked our Drill Sergeant who was seated near me, “what the hell was that?”
He ignored me and just told me to stop asking questions.

Over the next week we tried to find out if the soldier was ever found but each time we inquired we were told to stop asking or risk getting in trouble.

Now, since I was a naïve 20 year old I did what I was told and filed those memories away for decades until I discovered your podcast and heard someone on your show who was also stationed at Fort Polk ( a different time I think) talk about weird things out at Pisan Ridge. Then it all began to make sense and now in hindsight I am convinced the “Vietnamese “ voices we heard were Sasquatch and since we never found out what happened to the soldier I wonder if he was taken by Sasquatch.

One other detail I forgot to mention was that the missing soldier’s bunker was the one of the closest ones to the tree line and another soldier told us he he heard the soldier was on guard duty when he disappeared. As far as we could find out, nothing publicly was ever published about the missing soldier.

I stayed in touch with several of my buddies from Fort Polk over the years and I do know that one of them tried through Army channels to find out if he was ever found but was stonewalled at every turn.
He did say that he was told by someone on the phone jokingly that the “boogers probably got him.” We both assumed he meant the booger man (devil). Again at that time I was totally unaware of the Sasquatch phenomenon.”

6 Responses to “Fort Polk Encounter”

  1. Charles R

    What a harrowing story. I guess back then the Army was so good at creating the conditions that you and your comrades would experience, that they brought in the SE Asia Rock Apes also. Sure hope to hear your story on the Show.

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