War zones like Iraq and Afghanistan have witnessed the horrors of conflict and the courage of soldiers in the face of danger and sometimes overwhelming odds. However, alongside the physical battles, many soldiers have returned with stories of paranormal encounters; ghostly experiences that defy explanation and haunt their memories long after they've left the battlefield. I almost had one myself, but then it turned out MRE’s do, in fact, expire.
The Phantom Caller
In the desolate expanse of Afghanistan's remote outposts, soldiers have reported one common story where those on radio watch would receive calls from a fellow soldier, usually in the middle of the night, requesting assistance or reporting enemy activity. The eerie part? The specific soldier thought to be making the call had died earlier that deployment.
One such case occurred at a small forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan. The soldier who kept receiving these calls began to recognize the voice and the reporting patterns of the deceased comrade. It was as if the fallen soldier was still watching over the living, ensuring their safety. While some dismissed it as hallucinations or stress-induced phenomena, the soldier who experienced these calls remained convinced that his comrade's spirit was reaching out from beyond.
The Cursed Playing Cards
Troops often turn to games to cope with the stress of deployment, especially spades. A unit in Iraq had a set of playing cards that they used for games during their downtime. However, these cards gained a sinister reputation over time. Rumor had it that certain cards, particularly the Queen of Spades, were cursed.
According to those Marines, whenever the Queen of Spades was drawn, something terrible would happen. It could be a mortar attack, an ambush, or the loss of a comrade. The Marines began to dread the sight of that card and would try to avoid drawing it at all costs. Some believed that the card had been imbued with negative energy, while others dismissed it as superstition. Whether I believed it or not, those cards would go in the burn pit. We can always draw more on an MRE box.
The Mysterious Figure in the Desert
In the vast deserts of Iraq, where temperatures soar and the landscape can feel otherworldly to people not familiar with the sands, soldiers have reported encounters with an unexplained figure. It appears as a lone silhouette on the horizon, often at night when visibility is low. The figure moves stealthily, seemingly always just beyond reach.
One Marine, Sergeant Anderson, recounted a particularly odd experience. During a night patrol, he saw the distant figure and radioed for support, suspecting it could be an enemy combatant. As he approached, the figure seemed to vanish into thin air. When the backup arrived, they found no sign of any living person or enemy combatant. The sighting left Sergeant Anderson and his comrades baffled, wondering if they had encountered something supernatural in the harsh desert.
The Whispers in the Night
Soldiers often sleep in close quarters, and the battlefield is rarely quiet. However, in some remote outposts, soldiers reported hearing distinct whispers in the night when they knew there were no nearby personnel. These whispers were often unintelligible, like a foreign language or an eerie chant, which added to the confusion, as it could have been an enemy, but none could be found.
Sergeant Ramirez, who served in a remote area of Afghanistan, recalled nights when he would hear these mysterious whispers outside his tent. At first, he dismissed them as the wind or his imagination. But as the whispers continued, Ramirez became convinced that some other force was involved. He and his fellow soldiers would often stay awake, listening to the voices that seemed to surround them in the darkness, but could never find their source.
The Phantom Medic
In the chaos of combat, medics play a vital role in saving lives. In Afghanistan, there have been accounts of soldiers who claimed to have been saved by a mysterious figure dressed as a medic. These soldiers were in dire situations, wounded and facing the prospect of death, when an unknown medic suddenly appeared, providing life-saving care and comfort. One could dismiss the images as simply the wounded person’s blood loss or trauma playing tricks, but if there is anything you focus on when you’re in that state it’s the person keeping you breathing.
One such account came from Private Martinez, who had been critically injured during a firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan. He vividly remembered feeling a pair of strong hands tending to his wounds and a soothing voice assuring him that he would be okay. When he was eventually evacuated and treated by medical professionals, they were astounded by the advanced first aid and care he had received, but no one in his unit had the skill or had been seen attending to him. Private Martinez was convinced that a guardian angel in the form of a phantom medic had saved his life.
The line between life and death is blurred more often for a service member on deployment than most other groups of people on the planet, so no one is particularly surprised when they experience unusual or unexplainable phenomena. For people outside the group, half of what they say is slang and swearing, the other half is nonsense anyway. Yet perhaps these and other similar experiences aren’t always the result of dehydration or heat exhaustion… One day we may find answers, but it is not this day.
Sleep well tonight.