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Wartime paranormal encounters are more common than you might think. The following account describes a strange encounter an Infantry, Ranger and Special Forces soldier had with an unknown entity during his deployment to Afghanistan.
Editor’s note: The following account has been edited for grammatical mistakes and increased clarity of information.
“It floated down the valley.”
In 2006 I was deployed to Afghanistan from the National Guard as an Embedded Training Team (ETT). As an ETT I was told I would deploy and augment soldiers in theater who needed plusing-up. As an Infantry, Ranger and Special Forces qualified soldier I had the unique qualifications that they needed for working with the Afghan Military. I received thirty days of sub-par training and was sent in. Once there I was given a Sergeant First Class as my second. His name was Jones and he was a good man. We were then kitted up and attached to an Afghan Infantry Company of 125 Soldiers, to mentor their NCOs and officers in real world battle conditions. We also served as their link to the US forces for supply and support of all kinds. I was also assigned two contractor local nationals to serve as my interpreters. Initially it was an odd experience being thrown into a odd situation, but due to the autonomy my NCO and I were given, we enjoyed our time there. Eventually I spent two and a half years there, leaving in June 2009. A lot happened while we were there: some of it was good, some bad, and some very bad, but what follows was odd to say the least.
The Afghan people generally do not believe in spirits or other supernatural things. They do, however, believe in jinns and angels. Jinns are not like the Aladdin version. They are bad news and vindictive, the equivalent of an evil spirit or demon.
While on tour I ran across a news story that said Rangers near Kabul had run into Vampires, and if they had not had their trusty standard issue bayonets with them, which had a plating of silver, they would have all died. The story was funny to all US forces and the Afghans. No one believed it, and a lot of the story made no sense, such as a bayonet having a silver plating. It was all BS, and we all knew it, but it did make us look twice in the dark. This was not alleviated by the stories Afghans would tell – stories of seeing movement in the dark, and hearing sounds that made them worry.
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While in the hills and mountains of Paktika Province, which is next to the Pakistan border, we had been told by US forces that Anti-Coalition Militia (which later came to be known as the Taliban) were coming across the border at night through several valleys. The forces coming across the borders were reported to be working with Pakistan Border Patrol and were in no fear of discovery. We were told they numbered about ten to twenty soldiers on foot dressed in light kit. Afghans had no love for the ACM, and for good reason. The ACM would extort, kill, and do unspeakable things to the locals. Afghan soldiers took their barbaric actions personally, and would exact revenge any time they could without hesitation.
The Afghan Company was told to go recon the area and set up an ambush. It must be said that the Afghans did not have detailed plans like US forces, and the order was basically “go to this area and kill the bad guys”. As such, my NCO and I provided maps and communications for the operation. The Afghan Company Commander rarely joined the missions, and so I was effectively the Company Commander in the Afghan soldiers eyes. We had three lieutenants in charge of three platoons, and a HQ platoon which I became the Commander of, due to being short of a fourth lieutenant. SFC Jones worked closely with the first sergeant. We basically were a family, and we respected each other.
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Before we even left to scout the area, one of the issues we had was to do with night vision goggles. As Afghan goggles were not issued, I was only able to procure five sets. These I gave to myself, SFC Jones and the three platoon leaders. Other than that we shared the night vision goggles on guard duty and in battle.
Once our mission began, we scouted the area and found signs that Anti Coalition Militia were using the area. Our first two ambushes were very productive. A US Infantry Platoon was also in the area and were directed to support us. For the planned third ambush, we found a new valley, supposedly in heavy use by the ACM. The US Platoon set up on the opposite side of the valley and had a clear field of fire up the valley to support us.
During this third ambush, the Afghan soldiers revealed that they had received warnings from local people not to go out at night. They said it was because jinns roamed the hills. We ignored such superstition. Asides from not believing in that, we were heavily armed.
The kill zone that we had established was about 100 meters in front of us. We picked an area that would force them to go through an area that was clogged with brush and rocks, which would then guide them along a sandy dry riverbed. I had two men further up river, stationed as an observation post with a radio. They never engaged unless fired on. They simply hid and reported by radio.
At about 2 AM I got a report from the US force that they saw movement at the head of the valley. My observation post, however, said they saw nothing moving. These reports kept coming in, but the Afghans continued to report no sign of movement. I was frustrated, and assumed the US troops with abundant night vision goggles could see better. My men, without goggles, were listening more than seeing. I was so frustrated that at one point I exposed myself and looked down the valley, and sure enough I saw what looked like about twelve to fifteen guys in white robes moving down the valley, fuzzy due to the night vision goggles.
They were about 500 meters away. We prepared to ambush them once we identified them. It was always my fear that I would ambush a bunch of drunk locals on their way home from a party, so identification was necessary before we acted. Yet, still the observation post reported no contact. Meanwhile, all the soldiers, including the US Infantry, were keyed up and awaiting on me to fire to initiate the ambush. Looking down the valley again, I watched in surprise as they walked right past my men at the observation post. They could not see them. It was then that I realised I could only see them when I looked through the night vision goggles. I ran all kinds of issues through my head. Do they have camouflage which the goggles are cutting through? I could not understand it. They continued to head in our direction, entering the kill zone. The Afghan lieutenants were chomping at the bit to fire, yet I still could not identify. I tried to adjust my night vision goggles. SFC Jones was also having trouble identifying them.
Then, a shot sounded from my left, which I later determined to be one of the Afghan line soldiers from 1st platoon firing by accident. That set it all off. We were committed. We initiated two claymores and open fired as one. It is a beautiful thing when it all comes together: one moment you are almost deaf due to the quiet, and the next it’s so loud you cannot hear someone yelling at you. I gave the green flare to shift fires, and the US Infantry Platoon shot up the valley, and we charged into the kill zone like I had been trained as a cadet. I have to admit I had nothing other than the actions at hand on my mind. Yet, as soon as it began, it all fell apart. The Afghans suddenly started milling around. A lieutenant started yelling for them to search the area. I arrived at the kill zone and I saw… nothing. Nothing at all. The US Platoon stopped firing. There was just smoke and nothing.
In the quiet we all looked at each other. The US Infantry was ready for counter attack, but none came. I then almost jumped out of my skin as SFC Jones opened fire further down the river bed, and was charging and screaming like a mad man. I followed him at a sprint, confused. It was then that I saw what he was chasing: it was one of the Anti Coalition Militia walking slowly away. I too began to fire. But, as I and Jones get closer, we stopped. The figure we had been firing at had no distinct shape, and was not walking at all. It was floating, floating about two inches off the ground. It was approximately the shape and size of a person, with black bands flowing through its milky white-green body. I assume it was white, but due to the night vision goggles who knows. Jones and I watched as it continued on its way. It proceeded to float through a large boulder, simply continuing onwards. The thing that the Afghans later called a jinn paid us no attention, and floated down the valley until we lost sight of it. I think I saw others ahead of it, but I was not sure.
Eventually I gave the pull out order on my radio. We all pulled out and prepared for a counter attack that never came.
Afterwards, Jones never spoke of what we saw again and would look at you as if you were crazy if you mentioned it.
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Some hours later I was talking to the US Infantry Platoon Leader, trying to figure out what had happened. He flatly said he saw nothing, and his unit only fired because we fired. He clearly did not believe that, and was obviously covering his tail. So, I changed tact, and talked to him “hypothetically”. He told me, hypothetically, that he saw white blobs moving in a file formation, which never stopped moving or slowed down from when we opened fire to when we stopped shooting. He hypothetically did not charge down into them and found nothing either. After interviewing all of the Afghan company and talking to the lieutenants, it came down to this: we saw somewhere from ten to twelve silhouettes floating down the valley. When the ambush was initiated and we started firing, the jinns never paid any attention to us or even slowed down.
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About a week later, still confused by the incident, I talked to a USGS geologist who worked at one of the bases nearby and hypothetically asked him if he had an explanation for what happened. He suggested that the valley we were in had heavy iron and possible magnetite veins in them, and what we may have seen was an electromagnetic ball of energy floating down the valley due to weather conditions, which were dry and hot. He stated it may have been something like a weak ball lightning, and the only reason we could see it we due to the night vision goggles. He gave an example of how helicopter blades look normal to the naked eye while moving, but if you look at them through night vision goggles you see all the static electricity on them. Regardless of his given explanation, he seemed skeptical.
As for others who knew of the story, one of my interpreters quite soon afterwards told me that we were cursed.
I reported that we conducted a live fire exercise for the locals to see after finding nothing, and allowed the US Platoon leader to blame me for the wasted ammo. Later, I reported to my US ETT Commander what really happened. He simply said, it was a nice story, one to never repeat again. He told me he had seen others go down for less, and implied that he himself had seen and heard much weirder things happen. I never did report the truth, and I still have no idea what the things I call jinns were. They clearly had a human shape to them, and were not electromagnetic balls of energy.
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