While on a training mission back in 2003, we camped out on what I would learn is a former POW camp from World War II for German soldiers. It was particularly cold this training I believe it was February, it was in the low 20's which is odd but not unheard of in Florida. We meet at the National Guard Armory that night and loaded up into 5 tons and "Humvees" then started the long drive to the Army base. I know for some the 20 doesn't sound all that cold, but with Florida's humidity and gear that is issued in a warm weather environment really does little to stop the cold.
Buy the time we arrived at the Base my body was numb from cold and every bump in the road seemed to shoot through my spine. I was grateful when we stopped for the night, all I could remember once we got to the Base and received are location for the mission we drove what seemed like hours through the woods, on the most god offal roads in the state. When we finally arrived at our area of operations it was time to set up camp and rest for the following day of training missions.
I went with my platoon to a location the Platoon Sergeant felt was a good spot to set up camp. There was a concrete slab which seemed to have been a foundation of sorts for a building long gone. There was grass and bushes growing from cracks in the slab. I found a "comfortable" spot to lie what sleeping equipment I had which consisted of a Gortex wrap, a sleeping bag and an inflatable shooting mat. I set my sleeping area up, climbed into my sleeping bag fully clothed with my rifle and my field knife by my side. I then sat in and waited for the bag to warm up so I would be a least a little comfortable and could possible get and hour or two of sleep.
It must have been around 0200 in the morning when I awoke with a strange feeling, it had seemed like someone wanted me up and had shook me to get my attention. I peeked my head out of my "hotel suit" and looked around; no one was looking at me or standing around me. It was a well lit night now the moon seemed full and the terrain that seemed a mystery before was almost in plain sight. I looked around for a little longer seeing if maybe I had heard something, an animal perhaps? Finally grew a tired again and the cold started to get to me, I found my ruck sack reached inside and pulled my flask (filled with cheap scotch) from it. I took a long swig on my flask then settled back into my sleeping bag.
I drifted of to sleep again after the whiskey had relaxed my nerves and helped me forget that the shooting mat had lost what little air it had and that I was now sleeping on concrete. The night it seemed was getting colder; the morning dew was settling on the ground and turning to ice. As I would turn in my sleeping bag I could hear the ice crack and could feel it slide from the Gortex outer shell. I don't know what woke me but I often wake up several times when sleeping in such a way. I checked my watch 0315, I had only slept for a little over on hour. I took another long swig from my flask and settled in to hopefully get some more rest.
Before I could return to the land of sleep, I started to feel like I was being watched. I again looked out of my sleeping bag to see if someone was around, the same result of no one. I returned to trying to sleep when I was kicked in the back. I again looked out of my sleeping bag to find no one standing there. I was a little upset to find that someone hadn't walked up behind me. I then got out of my sleeping bag and went over to the tree line and took a leak. I took my time returning to my sleeping bag and just looked around to see if I might have missed something.
I looked around where my sleeping bag lay and found that no one was sleeping behind me. So I thought maybe I had a muscle spasm or something along those lines, thinking this I returned to my sleeping bag. I had just started to get comfortable again when I was kicked in the stomach.
I looked out from my sleeping bag again and no one was there, again. I returned my head to my sleeping bag and lay motionless for about 5 minutes although it seemed like longer. I then tried to move around and get comfortable again. I checked my watch it was close to 0430 and wake up would be coming soon so I thought it best to at least get a little more rest before waking up to eat breakfast. I had just started to fall back asleep when it felt like some stepped on me as if they didn't see me laying there. I moved as to push the person off balance as they stepped on me but found no resistance at all.
I don't remember much more about that night other than I didn't get any rest and was annoyed about the incidents in the night. Breakfast was your typical Army cardboard flavored coffee and liquid eggs with something they were passing off as sausage.
During our training missions I noticed several things that struck me as odd. The concrete slabs had indeed been a foundation of sorts at some time all in a pattern as if it were a lost neighborhood. There were no signs of fencing anywhere but where one would think to place a fence was simply 10 or so yards of broken glass bottles and other jagged materials.
I found this continued into most of the areas were we were hiking through, I asked a Sergeant about the glass and all he could remember was at some time it was a POW area and broken glass was cheaper than fencing. In Florida weather you don't really need shoes so I suppose items that could have been used for foot wear were confiscated to prevent escape. I haven't found anything in print regarding that but it makes sense.
I did however find out that it was indeed a POW camp and that 5 people died of natural cause and or illness during it being active. This is not as vivid as some of my other stories but I thought it would be well received. I am currently working on a story that has been re-laid to about hunting at a jail. I will post it as soon as I can.