One thing that we enjoy when we stay in military campgrounds is the security. There are guards at the entrances and you can't get in without proper identification and authorization. We're safe as a bug in a rug. Nothing to worry about...except the time I was almost busted in a military campground.
A few years back, during my working career, I was on a several week long assignment doing some instructor duties at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA. Even though I was authorized to stay in a hotel, I chose to drive my Journey motorhome down and stay in a nearby campground. Aside from the fact that I was saving the government lots of money this way, it was much nicer to have my own bed, kitchen and TV instead of having to eat out every meal and sleep in a bed with who knows what was left behind by the previous customer.
I chose to stay at the military campground at the Kings Bay Navy Base, home to many of the Navy's submarines. Eagle Hammock campground is one of the top rated military campgrounds and I was enjoying my stay.
It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, made even more comfortable by a wind that was blowing, keeping the heat to an acceptable level. I was sitting in my lounge chair, reading a book when along came a young man, dripping wet, carrying a parachute. He stopped and asked me which way was it to the main gate.
I asked him what happened, as it was a long way, several miles, to the main gate. He said he had been making a parachute jump and got blown off course from his landing zone. He said he was headed for some high tension wires and decided he'd better veer away from that direction and he landed instead in a swamp next to the campground.
I told him that was a smart choice and offered to drive him to the front gate. Because we were on a military base, I assumed he was a reserve military member that was doing some training, he was young and clean cut. But I was wrong.
He climbed gratefully into my Honda Element and we started towards the campground exit. Before I knew it, a bunch of police cars, military police vehicles and base security cars came flying into the campground and surrounded my car.
I told the guy to put his hands on the dashboard and not to move. In seconds the police were all around us and told us to get out of the car slowly. We both did and were frisked for weapons. I identified myself as a Coast Guard special agent and was allowed to pull my badge and credentials from my pocket to show them.
After a couple of minutes and some radio calls, the tension eased. The young parachutist was identified and found to be a student at FLETC going through a police course there and was taking a parachute jump as part of his hobby.
It became very funny because the police then told us that they had received a report of parachuting terrorists attacking the base and landing over by the campground. In this day and age, they take things like that very seriously.
After a good round of laughs and some quick notes taken, we were let go and I drove the young man to the front gate where he was picked up by some friends. I told him I was an instructor at FLETC and we had quite a chuckle over our meeting.
I didn't think anything more about it. Until the following Friday. There was a graduation for the latest police class that had completed their training. All the FLETC member agencies send a representative to sit up on the stage and congratulate all the new graduates. I lost the coin toss and was sitting up on the stage in one of my suits. When the time came for the awarding of the diplomas, all the graduates filed up on stage, one by one, to receive their document and get a congratulatory handshake from all the agency reps.
Along, up the steps to the stage, came my parachutist friend. I shook his hand, we both chuckled to see each other and he went on his way. Small world. Later, I went back to the campground, knowing it was really (really) safe.
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