Fire Watch Ghost

Story type: Ghost
Location: Old Marine Corps Barracks (rifle range)
Source: Form Submission
Date submitted: Sat Oct 11 13:54:31 2008

July of 2002 I was a female recruit at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina (MCRDPI). Every recruit is required to learn rifle marksmanship while in training and once a platoon is ready to be trained with a rifle, they are marched or bussed out to the old barracks next to the rifle range. This is a very secluded area of Parris Island. The barracks there are ancient compared to the new barracks which have been constructed in the past couple years. Even though they have been taken care of by recruits for decades with immaculate attention to detail, their age still shows from the wear and tear of the past.

It was my platoon's time for rifle training and qualification at about the sixth or seventh week of a three month long boot camp. With the training so far I felt my body get stronger, my wits become sharper, and my self-confidence at the highest level ever in my life. The Marine Corps was turning us all into intelligent weapons. Spirits were high as we entered that secluded area of Parris Island.

However, platoons stay at the range for two weeks and these high spirits sunk gradually. I found my body became slightly sluggish and a foggy feeling came over my mind every time we entered our squad bay in the old barracks. There was a heavy feeling in the air of depression and sorrow. This feeling was not right off the bat. It took until the second week of being at the range for me to realize any change in the way I felt.

Toward the last couple of days at the range I found myself crying for no reason while cleaning. The day before we left the range, we were given an hour of personal time to write letters and such, and I stopped writing a letter I was to send home and took a look around. All recruits who were sitting on their footlockers writing letters were silently crying to themselves as if they were reenacting some very sad scene from the past. I noticed I had been crying, too. This was very creepy.

We were all very quiet and zombie-like at the range as well. Our drill instructors usually flew out of the drill instructor hut (a separate sleeping quarters and personal space for D.I.'s) to tell us to shut up or smoke us for not staying on task. At the range, this didn't happen once. We hardly ever saw her as if we were on auto pilot. I wonder if she had the same bad feelings there.

Anyway, the depressing, heavy feeling that came over my platoon during those two weeks is not the focus of what I want to share. Every recruit pulls fire watch once or twice a week. The duty of the fire watch in boot camp is to basically watch over the platoon and report anything out of the ordinary to the drill instructor at night while the platoon sleeps. Two are on duty at a time for a shift anywhere between 1-3 hours. The third or fourth day at the range I got the shaft and pulled a really crappy late shift. Somewhere between midnight and 2 am. Sleep is precious to a recruit and, as you can imagine, it sucks being woke up in the middle of the night to walk around with a flashlight, whisper to your fellow fire watch, and write about menial tasks in a log book. Oh, well - two hours was better than three...

Once my shift was over I went to the head to use the can and then wash my face. I did my business and went to the line of sinks to wash my hands and face, settling with the closest sink to the door. I had my face down, scrubbing a bit and rinsed off, looked up to grab my towel and noticed in the mirror that a man was walking from left to right across the other side of the doorway and down the hall behind me. 'Holy shit' I remember saying to myself (I was alone in the head). Mind you, Marines train their recruits separately - all male platoons and all female platoons. No mixing like the Army. I couldn't have told you where the nearest male was if you asked me.

It hadn't registered to me yet that I had seen a ghost. I turned around to face the door immediately and walked cautiously, but with authority out the door, around the corner and down the hallway after the man. The room that the hallway spills into is dark with only a few streams of moonlight coming through a small window - enough to light the room. Nothing there. A completely bare room with one closet for cleaning supplies (which the man couldn't have fit into). I'm 5'9" and he was about the same height. Dark brown hair, white, dark green wool clothing. A blur that vanished into thin air.

That's when my heart dropped to my stomach. I was the definition of confused. I immediately turned around to go ask fire watch if they had seen anything. The recruit logging in the log book just looked at me like I was crazy and the other fire watch was all the way down at the other end of the squad bay checking all rifles to make sure they were secured to the racks. I apprehensively walked back into the head to gather my things (I wanted to run) and hauled ace back to my rack to contemplate the weird happenings which just occurred. I eventually fell asleep - not sure how. I couldn't tell anyone for fear I would be sent 'to the wizard' (the base psychiatrist - seeing this individual usually involves a discharge from training). So, I did what any good (sane) recruit would do and shut my trap and pretended nothing happened.

I did a little research a couple years after this incident on the internet only to find the these barracks are in fact haunted. I'm glad I didn't know that going in.