Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Vanishing Airman


I received the following narrative a few days ago:

I was stationed at U-Tapao Air Base in Thailand in '69-'70. I was 19 years old at the time.

We lived in an open bay barracks about 150 feet long, 3 stories high, higher ranking NCO's lived on the first floor lesser ranks on the second and third - I was on the second floor. The bay was open but we used lockers and partitions about head-high for some privacy. We made cubicles 4 men per, we each had a locker, a bed, and a common desk, sometimes small shelves as well. There were rows of lights all along the ceiling so if someone turned on the lights it woke the whole floor up. If you stood a little tall you could see down the barracks.

The barracks was in an east-west line with double doors on each end and the latrines were on the west end. All floors were the same, my cubicle was on the westerly end.

With about 200-300 people in each barracks (and my squadron alone had three barracks, the officers had quarters elsewhere) coming and going at all times of the day and night. You can imagine the mayhem, noise and lack of privacy. Also we had "hootch" girls cleaning up and washing clothes, making beds, ironing uniforms, etc. all day in and around the barracks.

There was a man who lived in our barracks, an airman, who I had seen around at work and at the barracks - quiet, kind of strange, just a little off.

I had heard that this man, something was wrong and he was being flown back to the states, what the problem was nobody knew. Rumors suggested that there was a personality issue, maybe mental health, I don't know. I heard that he just didn't fit in somehow.

Here's the part that has spooked me for 44 years now.

One day I had a routine medical appointment. After I was done I went back to the barracks. I had a little break before the shuttle bus was coming by so I could get on to work. when I walked in the barracks I noticed that I was the only one in the barracks - no noise, no house girls, completely deserted and quiet. This was unusual, and very strange. I walked to my cubicle, opened my locker, got a paperback book and took a break, still not realizing the implications. Where was everyone? Usually there were guys going to work, getting off work, sleeping, hootch girls chattering away, guys drinking - but not now.

After a few minutes, I got up and walked to the east end of the barracks to go out to the bus stop. As I got close to the door, and on a cubicle to my right I noticed thia guy sitting in his cubicle dressed in his uniform (the khaki 1505's) a uniform not worn for the type of work we did. He had a full duffel next to him and was smoking a cigarette, I said "looks like your leaving" and he nodded "yeah", I said, "well good luck', "thanks " he replied.

I took about four steps, suddenly remembered that I had forgot my secure area badge. I turned around to go back to my cubicle to get my badge and as I passed the cubicle where the guy was sitting...HE WAS GONE, vanished, him and his bag. The only thing left was a cigarette still burning in the ashtray, I remember very distinctly the smoke curling up and the complete silence, and stillness.

There was no way he was in the hallway. If he would have been I would have seen him, and if he was going to the latrine he wouldn't have taken his duffel - they are awkward and hard to move around if they're full. He wasn't in any other cubicle because on my way back to the opposite end of the barracks, I would have seen him.

Nobody ever knew what happened - everyone assumed that he got on a plane as scheduled. But one thing I know for sure is that one minute he was sitting there and within 10 seconds he was gone. Just as soon as I turned my back he disappeared.

I can remember the incident vividly, I know it happened but I can't explain it. To this day, I'm stymied. TommyTwoTone - Utah

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