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COUNTY: Thurston County
LOCATION DETAILS: The incident took place at Fort Lewis, Washington in the Rainier Training. The location is a wooded area between two unpaved roads in grid square 2401 about 2 kms north of Flander Lake.
NEAREST TOWN: In the Rainier Training area North of Rainier and West of Yelm.
NEAREST ROAD: South of Highway 510 between two unpaved roads at grid square 2401.
OBSERVED: I am prompted to submit this story after reading several months ago on this website about the incident that took place in August, 1967 in the same area. It has taken me a couple of months to decide to submit this report, but am now convinced that it may be helpful to you:
I was an Infantry Lieutenant with the US Army in April, 1979 participating in a escape and evasion (E&E) course. Our class was dropped off at the southern end of Weir Prairie in the South Rainier Training area late that afternoon. The purpose was for us to break up into small teams and E&E north to the Nisqually Bridge. We were given 24 hours to accomplish this and had to evade search teams on jeeps that were sent out to pursue and capture us.
A relatively large group (about 10 men) chose to follow myself and my Platoon sergeant (name unknown) and we proceeded north along dirt roads as far as the intersection of roads 1 km northeast of Flander Lake. There, we started to encounter jeeps patrolling the roads. We decided to leave the road 1 km north of this intersection and walk due west cross country to another dirt road that ran north-south. About an hour and a half into our walk we began to worry that maybe we were lost. There was much dead fall and dense brush that slowed us down. My platoon sergeant walked ahead to scout out the area while we rested. When he did not return a half hour later I went forward to find him.
I'd walked about 100 meters when I heard noises to my right front that sounded like heavy foot steps. Thinking that our pursuers would not be off the road after us, I called out my sergeant's name. A large, dark and hulking figure loomed up at the other end of a clearing about 50 feet in front of me and ran to my front for about 20 feet. I only saw it for a moment before it disappeared into the woods. I turned to go back to my patrol when my platoon sergeant appeared. He asked me if that was me running around out there crashing in the bushes. I told him "no", that maybe he saw and heard what I saw.
We compared notes briefly and decided it was not a deer, a bear or another human. From his angle, he only saw a dark form running away from him into the woods. We decided to say nothing to the others and proceeded on since whatever it was, it probably wanted nothing to do with us.
We reached the other north-south road about 45 minutes later and continued to our destination without incident. Later, at the end of course, I checked with the other E&E teams to compare routes and where they were at that time and found that the nearest team was well over two kms away.
Over a year later, just before my platoon sergeant was ready to transfer to Germany, we talked about the incident. Both of us were hunters and outdoorsmen. Whatever it was, we were both convinced that it was a not a deer, a bear or another animal and the way it moved through the woods, not possibly another person. Whoever it was definitely wanted to get away from us.
I have trained in the same area off and on for quite a few years after and never saw or heard of anything similar until I read the August, 1967 report. I have heard since that there are bear in the area, but I doubt that is what we saw that nite.
ALSO NOTICED: None except a similar story listed on this website that took place in August, 1967.
OTHER WITNESSES: My Platoon Sergeant. Name unknown.
OTHER STORIES: None.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Approximately between 8:00-10:00PM. It was already dark with no moon. Overcast with some misting rain.
ENVIRONMENT: It was a heavily wooded area in rolling terrain with scattered open fields or meadows. There was a lot of dead fall in the area. No foot paths. Some marsh areas.