Mike, CA, USA
I moved to California, to live with my dad and step mom in 1989. My dad had rented a one bedroom apartment in Point Loma overlooking Ocean Beach. This was a small apartment to say the least, but my dad did the best he could. I had a bed set up in the living room, which had a big bay window. The view was amazing, you could see anything that approached by sea (important later).
There were four apartments in this building, two upstairs and two downstairs, all of which were unoccupied, except for ours. There was a wooden deck that wrapped around the side of the building and you could hear the footsteps of anybody approaching.
I had been here approximately six or eight months, when my dad told me that he had to go back East for a re-union. Of course, being the father figure, he laid down some rules. Just the standard No parties, alcohol, make sure I feed the cat and all that stuff. He was going to be gone for a week and had left some money for me in case anything happened.
I went to school and work as usual. One night, I was watching TV and the cat was sitting on the futon, in front of the window. It looked like the cat was tracking something. His head just kept going back and forth, back and forth, but always stopped at the end of the deck. I looked out of the window to get a better look at whatever he was watching. I couldn't see anything. I was startled by the phone ringing and muted the TV to answer it. It was my dad checking on me. I told him that everything was cool and he didn't need to worry. As soon as I got off of the phone, I heard these footsteps on the deck. So I figured it was one of my friends coming by to hang out. I went to the door and opened it. The footsteps stopped. I looked out and found no one there. I thought someone was upstairs and figured I would investigate. I climbed the stairs (the only way to get up there) and found no one up there. I heard the footsteps again and realized that I had left the door unlocked. I raced down the stairs and no one was there. If anyone tried to leave, they would have to have gone directly past me. I went back in the apartment and locked the door. I sat down to watch TV and when I grabbed the remote, I heard the footsteps again. I turned the TV off and sat there in the dark, waiting to see if someone was going to try and break into the place.
Meanwhile, the cat was sitting at the window, still tracking something. I sat there listening to the footsteps for a couple of minutes. At this point I was scared out of my mind and I just sat there looking out the window. I looked over to my right to see if there was anything to grab and use as a weapon. As I turned my head I saw movement out of the corner of my eye to the left and the footsteps stopped. I looked over and saw a semi transparent figure, standing there, looking out towards the water, its back towards me. It was dressed in all green, with a brown belt, a rifle slung over his shoulder and had one of those WWII type helmets on. I couldn't believe my eyes. The cat appeared to be staring at it too. The figure completed a left face maneuver and started marching away. The footsteps were in synch with his movements. The cat started to track him again. The footsteps moved back and forth for quite some time and every once in awhile I would catch a glimpse of him.
I never felt that he was malicious or posed a threat to me, just doing his duty. I stood up and walked to the window and peered out. I heard the footsteps coming back towards me and I just stood there. The figure walked directly in front of me, stopped and performed another left face. It looked to me that he was searching the shoreline. He then abruptly did an about face (now I was looking straight at him) and saluted. I saw his lips move, but did not hear anything. He saluted again and did a right face. Then he marched away and was not heard of again that night.
Needless to say, I was in awe at the whole experience. My father came home a few days later and asked if anything had happened. Reluctantly, I told him of my encounter with "the soldier". My dad smiled and said "I wondered how long it would take for you to see him?". I was shocked as my dad explained that he and my step mom had both seen him a few times, but only fleeting glimpses.
I did some research at the local library and found that the area that we lived in used to be a lookout post during WWII. Soldiers would stand lookout for any ships approaching and acted as an early warning system for the fleet stationed in San Diego Bay.
A few years later I joined the military and after standing my first "watch" I understood what was happening when he saluted me. I had just relieved him from his "watch"!