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COUNTY: San Diego County
LOCATION DETAILS: Marine Corps Base,Camp Pendleton, California, south of the Cleveland National Forest. Closest town is San Clemente. If you're familiar with the terrain there you'll understand my story better.
OBSERVED: I've related this story only to very few people over the years for fear of ridicule by my peers and doubt that anyone would ever really believe me. Anyway in May 1982, while serving on active duty at Camp Pendleton, CA, I was temporarily assigned to a staff of Marines supervising a youth program consisting of a rigorous series of two week long mini-boot camps for teen-aged boys.
Camp Pendleton is flanked by the Pacific on its western flank and by the Cleveland National Forest [on its] northeastern flank. Three different Mt. ranges intersect the base itself and I am very familiar with every nook and cranny on its over 200,000 acres of mountains, ridges, ravines, canyons, trails, back roads and the like.
Anyway on one particular calm night after a long grueling day of forced marches, displays and demonstrations we took all 300 boys up to a bivouac site for the night. The site is situated on large, open meadow shelf above the Infantry Training School at San Onofre/52 area. The boys were exhausted yet eagerly setting up their shelter-halves. They began to get a little too loud, so I began to quiet them and bed them down for the night. The rest of the staff was situated about 35 meters away, up on a little knoll that overlooked the boys. However, I wasn't aware that the staff had already bedded down and that I was the last one still up except for the radio watch, which was half asleep too.
It had become dark with exception of a bit of starlight, which gave me a very good range of vision. Finally I succeeded in getting the kids in the sack and quiet. I then stood for a few moments to ensure all was secure and that not one peep could be heard and none could be.
As I turned facing west and looked towards the closest edge of the perimeter I noticed a tall, dark, bulky figure standing about 15 meters beyond the last tent or 20 meters from where I stood. We seemed to be staring at each other, but it’s hard to say because I could not make out any of its facial definition, but I had a strong gut feeling that it was checking me out real good since I was the only thing moving around. I could feel my heart begin to pound and my entire body felt like it wanted to anchor to the ground. There was no doubt someone or something very odd and dangerous was standing there looking at me. I mean this thing was TALL and wide at the shoulders.
I used my peripheral vision to make sure I wasn't seeing things, but it only confirmed what I already knew. It gently and slightly moved its upper body left and right ever so slowly as though looking around to its front, surveying the area. It was an easy 8 feet tall. Like I mentioned previously, all I could make out was its massive silhouette and no real detail features. It had very broad shoulders, little or no neck, dark, and looked very powerful.
I decided to go get a flashlight out of our vehicle at the top of the knoll and let staff know what was going on. So I began to cautiously and quietly step backwards to prevent whatever it was from charging or coming into bivouac. I continued to keep an eye on the dang thing, which just remained in the same spot. Almost halfway up the knoll I lost sight of it, but I continued to move slowly still trying to locate it. From atop of the knoll it was very difficult to see anything clearly outside the fringe of perimeter because of the dark.
I walked back down to the tents, scanned the area with the flashlight, but didn’t see anything like I had before. The figure had obviously moved. So instead of waking anybody up I sat up for a while and waited to see what and if anything would happen. I also hoped the darn thing wouldn't pop up behind me (we were all unarmed). It would have been worse and maybe a calamity if I had pushed the panic button and had waken everybody up. After all, we were in charge of nearly 300 young street kids without any formal training, out in the open and I didn’t need the grief if nothing I said or described could have been verified. Thankfully nothing else occurred that night.
In the morning just before daybreak I bee-lined for the spot where I saw the thing standing. There wasn't anything there ... nothing. Not a pole, a bush, a tree, a reed. I mean nothing that could have simulated what I had seen. We were situated on flat, clear open ground with exception of the knoll and a tree line about 50 to 60 meters away and a mountain behind that which I knew all existed and had seen back-dropped way beyond the figure the previous evening.
The ground was grassy, but was already pretty well matted down and rutted by the constant foot and vehicle movement in that particular training area. I know I saw something that wasn't normal. I know it wasn't hoax, I know it wasn’t the kids (they were all accounted for). I trust my judgment and I’m now 46 years old and still have perfect vision. I know it wasn't any of the staff because I had seen all of them sleeping when I got up the hill. At that time I had nearly 11 years of active military service in the infantry and had done plenty of night OP's [ed: Observation Posts] to know how to use my eyes in the dark and to know the difference between a bush and a moving object. This was BIG, and real! Oh, and the thing was very quiet, I didn’t hear it make a sound.
ALSO NOTICED: I don't know of any other observations.
ENVIRONMENT: Mountainous, vegetated, near a mountain known to locals as Old Smoky.