Ric writes “I am a 22-year Army Veteran. It was the greatest joy in my life being a soldier next to being a father of two.
At that time, my MOS was 11B (Infantry) and my specialty was Infantry Scout. I attended One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Ft Benning, GA, where I was taught the skills necessary to be an effective scout. I did deploy to Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, OEF, and OIF.
In my heart, I know I served with integrity and honor. So it makes it a bit difficult for what I am about to tell you, but on the eyes and souls of my children it’s the Gods honest truth.
I was based at Fort Bragg, NC in 1996. I was with HHQ Co, 1/505th PIR, and in 1996 we were going to be involved in a joint training exercise at Fort Lewis. While preparing all the equipment and other additional things needed to be done prior to leaving, I was informed that I was going to be the Op-For leader. I had been in Op-For a couple of times before and I will admit that it was fun to do. I had several meetings with the Battalion S-3 in charge of operations and planning and others and was given a long list of actions that the Op-For would be doing. It was a surprise to be informed that we’ll be “let loose” and engage the units however we wished as long as it followed the planning schedule. Two of the missions had us as terrorists with a suicide bomb vest. We used brown cardboard tubes from paper rolls and toilet paper and painted them and glued and taped them with wires to make them look real. In other missions, we were to penetrate the AO (Area of Operation) and plant “bombs” on vehicles, next to crew tents, and leave without being seen. The S3 would be informed via radio calls to the TOC (Tactical Operation Center). We were causing havoc everywhere and we were having a blast. We’d set up our “campsite” and get our rest near the areas where we were to do whatever the plan called for.
On the night in question, we checked the map to see where the company we would be attacking would be since all locations were predetermined. Seeing where all the other units were on the map, I made the decision of where to bunk down and get a few hours of rest before we would go on with the mission at hand. We parked the humvee as close as possible to the hill that I thought would be best to keep us from being noticed and climbed up to the hilltop. The next day’s mission had us attacking on or about 5 a.m. The plan was to get up at 3 a.m. and I would take the 1 to 3 guard shift. It was close to midnight when we were awoken by live small arms fire. Everyone involved in this training exercise carried blanks and all had red blank adapters attached at the end of the muzzle.
There is a very distinct difference in sound between live rounds and blank rounds. The firing was about 350 to 400-meters from our location on the opposite side of the hill where, according to the war map, no unit was to be. Within moments of the firing starting up, there was a very loud roar. I’ve heard lions roar and this was much louder and you could feel it. The guys and I were scared straight. The weapon fire lasted thirty seconds, give or take, and then quiet. Two of my soldiers were about to run down the hill to see what was going on and I had to stop them. We gathered our M-16s and night vision goggles and cautiously proceeded down the hill going from tree to tree and hide. There were a few bright flashlights we could see as we approached. We were about 75 feet and could hear men talking and one was on a radio when suddenly one of them shouted out “Movement up the hill!” We got caught and were told to reveal ourselves and approach. And that’s where we saw them! There in front of us lay two Sasquatch. The male was obviously dead, and the female was breathing heavily, spitting out and choking on her blood. The men there took our weapons and night vision goggles and the one talking identified himself only as a captain. He was talking loudly and was pissed off that we were there. Much of what was said at first didn’t relay to us because we looking at the two Sasquatch. The male was sprawled on his back and with the light they had you could clearly see his penis. The female succumbed to her wounds, stopped breathing and died.
Me and the boys were in shock at what we were seeing. The captain who was talking to me gave me a slap in the face to get my attention to him. Once I did look at him and come out of the spell I was in, I noticed the smell coming from the creatures. I had identified to them who we were and why we were there. Once the shock wore off I took a really close look at these men. Their equipment and weapons were not standard issue. I knew they were Delta Force because of the hockey helmets they were wearing. Five minutes after we were found out, a humvee was heard approaching and now a colonel came up and gave us an ass chewing. We were moved down the hill, but before that the Delta Force were prepping the Sasquatch for extraction because a black hawk helo came in low and hovered above. We were put in other vehicles and taken away. We traveled like two hours until we arrived at a location. We were ushered into a room where we waited an hour. They had all our information, unit and all our equipment. That colonel, other military officers and that Delta Force captain came in and gave us direct orders not to speak of this matter and that if it was discovered that we did we’d be facing UCMJ action against us and we’d do time at Leavenworth. Wes, they really put the fear of God in us. We were told that our battalion commander was informed of us “interfering on their training mission” and we were to return to the TOC after we were debriefed. Since I was the only NCO of the group, I was threatened with having my career ruined if I ever spoke of this again. Sometime later, we were loaded up on 5-ton truck under guard and driven back to the hill where all of this took place. We were allowed to gather our stuff from the hilltop and followed to the TOC’s current location, and the truck following us just continued moving on down the road.
We were given another ass-chewing by our battalion commander. Although he didn’t say it, I got the distinct impression he knew what had happened. The S-3 major and others appeared after we got chewed out and we were chewed out once again. As the old adage goes ‘shit rolls down hill’! For the final three days remaining on the FTX, we would do the Op-For missions and have to return to the TOC afterwards.
In 2000, I was based in Germany. I had gone to Würzburg to visit an Army buddy based there and while at the commissary, I saw one of the soldiers from the Op-For team. We talked but what had happened at Ft Lewis was not brought up until I simply asked “Do you ever think about it?” His face went pale and he nodded. We left it at that.
For years, Wes, it’s eaten at me. I wanted to climb the roof of my house and shout it out loud, but the fear of reprisal from the Army or the government kept me from doing so. I kept thinking that some government man is listening to your podcasts to see if anyone military or government-affiliated ever came on your show and spilled the beans about what goes on. I don’t know why those Sasquatch were hunted and killed. I just remember her labored breathing and seeing tears rolling down her face as she died. There were several things that also that are not included in this letter to you because it would be a book, more or less. I just wanted to state the most important things of this encounter. I just needed to get it out in the open. Set myself free from this! It’s been 26-years and whatever happens, happens!”