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Okay, the title kinds of gives it away, right?
Wikipedia offers some interesting facts about the Dover Air Force Base and their morgue. During the Vietnam War, more than 20,000 dead American soldiers were brought back to the United States via Dover. The Vietnam War dead comprise over 90% of all the remains processed at Dover before 1988. In 1978, Dover Air Force Base was also used to store hundreds of bodies from the mass murder and suicide of the Jonestown community in Guyana. After the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the remains of the seven astronauts were transferred to Dover AFB.
But when my son, Nathan, was stationed at there, the morgue at the Dover Air Force Base was no longer used for “that kind of thing” anymore. Instead the old building was converted for the Safety Services folks to use. The Safety Services are the airmen who support the pilots, they make sure all of their safely equipment, like parachutes, are serviced and ready-to-go.
My son was an airman in the Safety Services area and, lucky Nathan, he got to work nights.
The Air Force changed the name of the old morgue building to the O2 building. Really, who could be frightened of an O2?
According to Nathan, no one liked to work in the O2 building at night, but sometimes you just had no choice. Nathan shared two experiences with me that I thought you’d enjoy.
One night a group of airmen were working in O2. It was time for “lunch” and the troops were ready to leave when their supervisor came over. She said there was a helmet that needed to be checked in a hurry and asked Nathan if he would stay and take care of it. He agreed.
Once everyone had left and he started working on the helmet, he started to hear sounds. So, looking for a little company, he called his brother back in Illinois and put him on speaker phone. Nothing like a little family to chase away the shadows.
While he was on the phone, he looked down the long narrow building to the hallway in front of the break room. He watched in fascination as two translucent figures walked hand-in-hand down the hall in front of the break room and disappeared. As he watched them, he described them to his brother in detail.
“I couldn’t really see their clothes,” he said. “But one was taller than the other, and they both had long hair. So I figured I was seeing a mom and her daughter.”
He watched them walk slowly across the hall for several seconds and then they just disappeared.
Occurrences like that were very common in the O2 and they made most of the troops very uncomfortable. That could have been one of the factors in deciding to build a new building for Safety Service. It was across from the O2 and was called the flight line building. One night Nathan and his supervisor were working together in the flight line building when the supervisor realized they needed a decontamination bag for one of the kits. Many of the supplies for Safety Services were still stored in the O2. She asked Nathan to walk over to the O2 building and pick one up.
The O2 only had one entrance, all of the other doors were locked down. He entered the dark, empty building and walked to the room that held the equipment. He unlocked the storage room door and pulled it open, but before he could reach over and click on the light, he heard the click and the light turned on by itself. He stood frozen in the doorway for a long moment, looking into the long narrow room with shelves stacked all the way to the back deciding what to do.
“Nope,” he finally said and backed out of the room, hurrying out of the building.
His supervisor was surprised that he had returned without the bag and then Nathan explained the situation. The supervisor, who had worked in O2, didn’t blame Nathan in the least and suggested they both return to the building. They walked to the room, the light was still on, and retrieved the bag. Before they could reach over and turn off the light, they heard the click and the room was plunged into darkness. They hurried into the narrow hallway and out of the building.
Nathan said there were no wiring or power issues with the building. It wasn’t a loose bulb, because they both heard the distinct click of the light switch being used.
The supervisor decided that they didn’t need to go back to the O2 that night, anything they needed could wait until morning. Nathan wholeheartedly agreed.
By the way, when I spoke with Nathan this week to confirm the stories, he told me that the Air Force had decided to demolish the O2. Hmmmm, I wonder why?
Like what you read? Find more stories by Terri Reid here.