Service members are no strangers to the paranormal. From stories of haunted barracks, “The Box Witch,” to Sasquatch, cryptids, and UFOs, to ghosts, service members have faced terror, both man-made and not.
Service members have experienced things that defy explanation. However, within the Armed Services, it’s kind of taboo to talk about these things. Keep silent lest you be labeled crazy or odd by others.
That is where the Tales from the Gridsquare comes in; as a place where service members can get the stories that kept them up at night off their chests.
I am a Soldier in the US Army who has had experiences myself and listened to many a whispered story, while sitting in a bunker, or in the back on an HMMWV. Tales From The Gridsquare shares these service member’s stories anonymously and free from judgment.
The following are three stories that service members have submitted:
Pohakuloa Training Area
“It’s not just a personal experience, but from others in the Hawaii Guard, 25th ID, and Marines that probably experienced it up on Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA). Pretty much, PTA sits on an elevation between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the two most prominent mountains in the whole state of Hawaii.
If you have been there, you know for yourself; it is cold throughout the day with rolling fog, or rain, that lowers your visibility, more and more.
PTA is also a place stuck in time itself. With all the lava fields dried up over thousands of years, you can’t help but feel like you’re in another world sometimes. It’s a sacred place in Hawaiian culture and holds a special place in our history.
I am Native Hawaiian myself and grew up very superstitious about certain things, especially when it comes to culture. Recently we went up there (PTA) for a range qual, the first in a long time since before COVID (because most of us have been on orders for the response).
We bedded down at this little ravine area overlooking the zero range near this shoot house. I fall sound asleep and wake up at around 0300 in my tent feeling very dizzy and lost, in a sense. It felt like somebody was walking around, but I forced myself to sleep, paying no mind to it.
The following day, I mention it, and one of the NCOs in the tent woke up at the same time to chanting and something moving towards him around 0300.
“No doubt, Nightmarchers,” he said.
Nightmarchers or “Huaka’I Po” in Hawaiian, are the literal spirits of deceased warriors from ancient Hawaii. They move on the old grounds and trails even in death to protect the land. Dudes have felt, seen, and heard most of these while at PTA.
One of the guys I was with reported seeing a steady stream of fire-like torches moving up a hillside, but nothing was visible through the NVGs. I have heard from others that have been pushed at night and also heard the chanting. Best not to mess with the Nightmarchers.
The best story I have was from a Staff Sergeant in the Hawaii National Guard.
He said while they were doing a movement into one side of PTA, he heard what sounded like drums in the distance. I was the RTO (radio operator), and he radioed in and asked, “You guys making noises on your movement?” It was told to tell him, “Negative. We are maintaining deliberate and stealthy movement to the objective.”
So imagine our surprise when we see the torches pass 60-70 meters away from us, and everyone began to hear the chanting. Headquarters was to our rear, a few hundred meters away; they woke up the next morning to rock stacks (a sign of a sacred area in Hawaiian culture) on the hoods of the Humvees, and decided to jump to a new location the same day. I have seen them and felt them since, and they still scare me when I go out to PTA.
To those who train at PTA: mind your movement and know you’re walking in a place that doesn’t belong to you.”
– A Soldier in the Hawaii National Guard
An Unexpected Hitchhiker
“One story my Dad (USAF pilot) likes to tell is the time he was flying MC-130s in someplace over Africa, low level, clear night, in full illumination (full moon).
He’s flying low and looking through NVGs, and sees some kind of figure on the ground that looks like it’s waving at the airplane. Keep in mind he was over the Savannah; no humans are around for almost 500 miles in any direction. He turns around and flies over the figure three times, but on the third time, this figure just vanishes in front of my Dad. Straight disappears.
Everyone in the cockpit saw it. The real creepy thing is, the two loadmasters in the back kept coming over the intercom like they were talking to someone besides themselves.
“Hey man, how did you get in here?”, “Where did you come from?”
The flight engineer went back to see what was going on, but he found only the two loadmasters. Both of them were visibly shaken and in shock when they landed; the loadmasters revealed that they saw a dark figure on the ramp (the rear ramp was down, and it was around the time the figure on the ground disappeared).
When they took off their NVGs to get a better look and turned on the lights, they see this figure of a man who looks like a shadow standing on the end of the ramp. This figure starts walking towards them and then vanishes as soon as the flight engineer came down the cockpit ladder.
Needless to say, they were messed up bad after experiencing this. Later, they flew over that same areas a few times, and never saw anything like it again.”
– Son of a USAF pilot relaying his father’s experiences
“I was on a sub as the Officer of the Deck. For whatever reason, my CO kept out three sections on the exact watch leading up to and through deployment. My section was stuck on the mid-watch, working from 2100 (9:00pm) to 0500 (5:00am), for over a year.
We deployed and spent A LOT of time at periscope depth, lights out, in the dark. I’m not talking about a few days. I mean A LOT of time. Well, one of these nights, I’m on periscope, and I pull my eye off the scope to peek at the sonar, looking for a contact they picked up.
“WHOA,” I thought as I saw the CO out of the doorway to the sonar, and he looked angry. As soon as I look at the doorway, however, he’s gone. I chalked it up to me being tired and wired from working so long.
So, I get back to work. However, this happens once or twice a night for the next two weeks straight. I start to get irritated and paranoid, so I bring it up to my Diving Officer of the Watch and Radio Division Chief. They both say something along the lines of “Oh, THAT guy.”
It turns out that they, and many other crew members, have seen this guy too, out of the corner of their eyes, standing in the doorway glaring at them.
They just told me, “We don’t look at him anymore and just ignore him.”
It relieved me to know I wasn’t crazy, but I was not comforted by the fact we were all seeing the same guy—an angry man in a navy boiler suit. I never could figure out who it was. We would all stop seeing him when we left our mission areas.
But as soon as we went back out to our mission areas, and went to periscope depth…he came back.”
– A USN Submariner
A Place for Stories
I hope these stories captivated you, and if you have stories of your own: then check out Tales From The Gridsquare. Tales From The Gridsquare collects stories from service members from before, during, and after service, but also welcomes stories from veterans, military family members, first responders, and even foreign military.
You can view these stories and more like them on Instagram at @Tales_From_The_Gridsquare. In addition, you can submit your own stories by directly messaging the page on Instagram, or emailing the page’s creator at Talesfromthegridsquare@gmail.com. I hope to see you there. In the meantime, watch your six.
Nick, the Founder of Tales From the Gridsquare.