The following was posted on the blog “captalk”.  Captalk is an unofficial blog for the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program.  The thread was removed after three days.

I know I’m taking a risk by posting this, but I can’t get any information from anyone in my squadron or group.  This happened when I was a cadet a few years ago, and now that I’m a Senior Member, I still can’t get anyone to talk.  What’s worse is that most of the members who were there have since left CAP, so now I’m one of the few people left who even remembers it.

I’m not going to tell you what unit I’m from.  I’m taking enough of a risk by posting this as it is, and I don’t want to get my fellow cadets in trouble.

A few years ago, my group decided to have a SAREX on a weekend in November.  Naturally, since it was a cold-weather exercise, few members showed up.  In fact I was the only cadet representative from my squadron.  I had to drive to the school where another squadron was meeting and hitch a ride with them to the staging area, along with one senior member from my squadron.  The staging area was in a park.  We arrived at 07:30 and were briefed an hour later.  Our first mission was to locate an ELT.  We were divided into two ground teams.  I was on GT 2, along with three other cadets.  There was a new C/Staff Sergeant, whom I will call Cadet D, a First Class, Cadet H, and a C/Captain, Cadet S.  There were also five senior members, Flight Officer K, Master Sergeant A, Senior Member O, Captain L and Captain M.  The senior member from my squadron was assigned to GT 1.

Cadet S was put in charge of the other cadets, both because of his grade and his ES experience.  He was an Expert Ranger, a Blue Beret, and a PJOC graduate.  I remembered him, because he had been a Flight Commander at my wing’s Summer Encampment.  We all got into a van to search for the ELT.  We stopped at a lake, suspecting it may have been hidden around there.  That’s when the first odd thing happened.  Flight Officer K was using the elper, when the needle just suddenly going back and forth, with no clear tempo or pattern.  Then it stopped moving and we lsot the signal.  We had to drive around a bit more to find it again.  It was week, so we sent Master Sergeant A outside the van with the elper to briefly determine the bearing.  After a few seconds we saw him drop the elper.  He said he had heard a voice talking through it for less than a second.  We all just laughed it off after making sure the elper was intact.

We eventually found the signal again but GT 1 beat us to the ELT.  It was behind a metal garbage can at a pavilion, so I guess that would explain why we had so much trouble finding it.  We were debriefed and served lunch at the pavilion.  Our next mission was to find a missing person, played by one of the Senior Members.  This time we set out on foot to look for him.  But ten minutes into the mission, we were recalled to mission base.  The incident commander said we had two real missions.  A girl had gone missing, and a single-engine Cessna had crashed, both somewhere in our county.  Our team was assigned to the find the missing girl while GT 1 was tasked with finding the downed aircraft.  In addition, the county sheriff’s department, the town sheriff’s department, a couple other departments, and the local fire battalion were put on the search.

We got in the van and began our hasty search.  The missing girl had been last seen in another park, so we began our search there.  By then it had started to rain.  I was excited but afraid.  Excited because this was my first ever “real” SAR mission.  Afraid because I might be the one to discover the girl dead.  We were each offered a ride home as per regulation, but my excitement outweighed my dread.

We stopped at a McDonald’s to put on our ponchos, then continued to the park.  The police were already on-scene at the exact place where she had gone missing, so we began our search at a playground a couple miles down the road.  There as no one there except us, no doubt owing to the rain.  The girl was very young, so we figured she might be hiding, so we began by searching the playground equipment. We also had Flight Officer K, the only female member of our team, check the Lady’s room, while we checked the men’s room.  No luck, so we searched the surrounding woods.  We then decided to go to the swimming pool, but first we tried to do our 15-minute check-in.  We got no response from base and we couldn’t go anywhere else without notifying them, so we decided to keep looking around the playground until it was time for our next check-in.  Still no response, so Captain M decided to call the incident commander, whom he was friends with.  But there was no reception, so we had to get back in the van to look for it.   On the road, we heard a message from GT 1.  They said they were seeing strange lights.  They were hovering around and going in and out of trees, like birds.  At first they got no response but then base picked up and advised them to vacate the area, saying it may be some kind of ball lightning.  We tried contacting base again but with no success.  So we tried contacting GT 1, also unsuccessfully.  By this time it was getting dark and Captain M figured they would be calling us back soon anyway, so we started to drive back to base.  While on the highway, we got a call from mission base.  The police had found the downed Cessna, so we were to go back to the other park and wait for GT1 to meet us to resume the search for the missing girl.   We met up with them at the swimming pool.  This time we agreed that GT 1 would search the area around the pool, while our team would return to the playground to resume searching the area.

At the playground, we discovered something….odd.

When we searched the playground equipment, benches, etc. the first time (and believe me, we did a very thorough search), we found nothing of interest.  And we almost didn’t notice it when we came back.  Cadet H just happened to notice it when he was sitting on one of the swings to tie his boots.  Next to him, in one of the baby swings, was a doll.  The doll was naked, and the head was screwed on backwards.  The park was closed and no one else was around.  We weren’t sure what to do with it except log it and call it in as a clue.  Technically, we were also supposed to mark it with flagging tape, but none of us wanted to touch the thing, so no one even brought it up.

We continued up a trail through the woods.  We were all cold, tired, and uneasy.  We should have aborted the mission right then, but we pressed on.  Cadet S provided us with plastic bags to put around our ankles to keep from getting trenchfoot.  We walked up a trail, up a hill.  We employed two flashlights with blue blood-tracker lenses, also provided by Cadet S, as well as all our red lenses and a green lens provided by Senior Member O.

When we were so deep in the woods that we could no longer see the lights from the town, we heard a startling noise.  It sounded like someone crying…or laughing?  It was loud, but at the same time soft and muted.  We figured it must be some nocturnal bird or a diurnal bird that had been woken up by the storm.

Later, we came upon a very bizarre sight.  There was a large puddle in the middle of the trail.  There were a bunch of songbirds bathing in the puddle.  There were robins, cardinals, blue jays, starlings, sparrows, finches, and nuthatches.  They didn’t fly away when we approached and we were even able to pick some of them up.  We had no idea why all these diurnal songbirds were out and active at night in the rain.  It was a fluke of nature.

We had to take a detour because the pond under the bridge up ahead had flooded it. As we were trying to reestablish the trail, Cadet D tripped on something.  We picked it up and examined it.

It was a doll.

With its head screwed on backwards.

It looked identical to the one we had discovered at the playground.

We were now thoroughly freaked out.  We tried contacting base but got no response.  We then heard thunder in the distance and decided to RTB (we were probably already in violation of regs for being out there at night during the rain).

The songbirds were gone when we passed the big puddle on the way back.  However, we found something else we hadn’t noticed before.

Our blood-tracker lenses picked up a bodily fluid.  It was splashed on the trees and weeds along the path, and collected in a large puddle in the middle of the trail.  We tried calling it in but got no response.  We were unable to reestablish contact until we actually reached base.

Two men from the Airforce, A 2nd. Lt. and a Tech Sergeant, were there to meet us.  After we were debriefed, they swore us all to secrecy and had us sign forms agreeing not to divulge the events of that day/night.

The missing girl was found the next day by the county sheriff’s deputies.  The bodily fluid we had found was determined to be blood.  However, the body of the girl was nowhere near where we had been searching.  Even so, per regulation, we were all sent to mandatory group counseling.  Those sessions were the only times when we were free to openly discuss what we had witnessed.  I met several of the members who had been there that day later in various group and wing functions, but we never spoke of it again.  I tried looking the mission up on my Eservices account, but there was no record of the search for the missing girl and the downed aircraft, only of the practice exercises from earlier that day.  I have tried contacting the other people on Groudteam 2 about it, but none of them want to talk.

I know I’m taking a risk by posting this, but I have taken some precautions.  I have consulted with an attorney, who says he should be able to get my oath of secrecy waived due to the fact that I was a minor at the time and that we were all coerced into agreeing to it.  I have also contacted a couple paranormal investigation societies.  However, I still don’t have any substantial leads.  If anyone knows any information about this, or has a suggestion as to where I could get information, I would greatly appreciate it.

There was also one comment on the thread.  It read as follows:EditEdit

Hi there!  It’s so weird that you posted this, because I also had a strange experience while on a sarex.  We were in the woods and we thought we heard wailing, like a banshee or something (it was during the day though)  Not sure if that has anything to do with your story, I just thought it was interesting.

Have you tried contacting NHQ about it?  Or what about your wing commander?

Also, are you sure the lights that GT1 saw weren’t lightning bugs?  Just saying