John writes “I served as a US Marine from 1999 – 2003. While I was in I was stationed at Kings Bay Naval Sub Base in southern Georgia. I was part of a CQB (close quarter battle) team and was a DM (designated marksman). As a DM I carried a M40A3 (308) and a M9 (9mm pistol).
While serving at Kings Bay, I was called into my Platoon Commanders office prior to my team going to the LA (limited area). My Platoon Commander informed me that there were reports coming from lake D (a lake on base approximately 400 yards from the LA) of a wild animal being aggressive towards campers around the area. He asked me if I had a tree stand and ordered me to go to Lake D instead of the LA. He told me a DM from team 2 would take my spot in the LA. He said I was to locate, close, and destroy the animal and not to come back until I did. I ran back to my house and grabbed the necessary supplies, my hooch, tree stand, food, and water and headed to the north east side of Lake D. I had fished this lake several times and knew of a game trail closest to the LA that butted up to swamp land and the Saint Mary’s river. I arrived around 0900hrs and set up camp.
I set up at the point of a wooded area with a fenced in electrical station directly to my east and Lake D 40 yards to my west. I put my tree stand in a tree and lounged around the rest of the day. I was really excited to be given these orders and even brought my pole and tackle box. I could see a campsite and 2 people about 150 yards west of my location camping on the shore of the lake. At approximately 1630hrs I ate a couple cliff bars and got up in my tree stand for the evening. My platoon sergeant told me I was looking for a “chimp or some shit” and not to enjoy my “vacation”. He also said if I made contact and succeeded in my mission to call him and only him immediately after. As I sat in my tree stand with my rifle on my lap I thought about what Gunny told me. I figured maybe a chimp escaped from the Jacksonville zoo and was aggressive. I also thought about the people camping and if I was able to take a shot I wanted to be high enough in the tree to use the water of ground as a back stop. The branches in the tree I choose started about 7 feet up and I wanted to be a little higher so I climbed back down and grabbed my silky saw to cut a few branches to move my tree stand up. The sun was setting so I knew I needed to hurry, I only hade about 20 minutes of shooting light left. As I made my way back up the tree to start cutting I heard a big splash in the water. I stopped what I was doing and scanned the area with my scope. I could see a tree swaying back and fourth about 50 yards to the south and saw a big branch fly into the water. This is a very heavily wooded area so my vision was limited. Everything got pretty quiet so I turned on my head lamp and kept cutting.
I was out of shooting light so I got down from the tree and fished for a little while then hit the rack. I woke up at around 0430 hrs and made my way back into my tree stand and sat quietly. I sat there till about 0800 hrs then climbed down and ate some breakfast. I went over to where I saw the tree swaying the night before and found a smaller but obviously heavily used game trail. Due to having all day to do nothing and the movement the night before, I decided to leave my camp site where it was and find a tree on this new game trail. As before, I climbed up the tree and started cutting some branches to get higher. A Navy MP (military police) officer was patrolling the lake and stopped to see what I was doing. I told him of the reports we had and that I was supposed to find and kill it. He had heard similar reports and decided to kick the campers out for safety and he also chained the two main gates into Lake D for the evening. This was a weekday so traffic was pretty lite anyway. I got the rest of the branches on the second tree cut and climbed back down to grab something to eat. I ate my dinner and went back over to tree 2 at about 1600hrs. I saw the tree swaying at around 1700 the day before and wanted to be settled just incase whatever it was came back.
I was and have always been an avid hunter and had some doe urine with me to help mask my sent. 1700 came and went with no activity. Just as I was starting to run out of shooting light, I heard banging on the fence at the electrical station which from tree 2 was at my 6 oclock. I couldn’t see anything due to the thick tree coverage between me and it. I knew the gates were locked but I wasn’t sure if maintenance employees had keys. I sat a little longer (about 10 minutes) and from across the paved road from tree 1 I saw a large harry animal walk across the road heading to Lake D about 40 yards from my current location. I raised my riffle and waited for my best shot. The animal stopped on the opposite side of the road and knelt down as if to pick something up. I pulled the trigger and hit him just behind his left shoulder. It let out an odd sound and lurched forward. I racked another round and fired again hitting it in the back of the head. It laid on the ground motionless as I sat in my tree stand. I pulled out my cell phone and powered it on and called Gunny. He answered and asked exactly where I was and told me to stay right there. I could hear the sound of Humvees approaching the gate and cussing once the realized it was locked. They got the gate open and Gunny and my platoon commander arrived in the first hummer.
One of the other Humvees blocked the road coming in about 150 yards from my position and a third drove past us towards the LA. I was down out of the tree by the time they arrived. Gunny came over to me and said I would have to ride back with him to be debriefed and told me excellent job. My platoon commander walked over to the animal almost examining it. Gunny walked with me to gather my things at my campsite. In doing so we walked right past the body. It smelled terrible and was laying face down. I had my headlamp on and as we passed I looked to my left to get a little better look and Gunny grabbed my shoulder and said “eyes forward”! I didn’t have much so it didn’t take me long to grab my stuff. As I was getting my gear a white car pulled up with 2 guys in it. I assume they were NCIS or some higher level people by the way my platoon commander addressed them. I heard one of them say they would need a “fucking backhoe” to move this thing. I gathered my gear and Gunny and I headed back to the Humvee. One of the guys said “nice shooting tex” as we walked past. Gunny had a hold of my right arm and was hurrying me along. We left Lake D past the Humvee that was blocking the road and went directly to the barracks. We went to Gunny’s office and he gave me a bottle of water. Gunny made me recount exactly what happened twice. He said he would have a statement for me to sign and that PETA would have my head for this as he laughed. He told me to forget about it all and to take the next couple days off to relax and gather my thoughts. I never saw a statement and never signed anything. I never heard about it again and a couple weeks later when I asked Gunny about it he said “I told you to forget about that”! I am 100% certain the animal I killed was a sasquatch. I have no idea how they disposed of the body or what ever happened to my tree stand. I went back to Lake D to go fishing with a civilian friend on my next 96 and my tree stand wasn’t there.”