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Mt. Mansfield/My Grandfather at Camp Kilmer

Washington DC, USA
October 2000

I am not sure if this qualifies as a ghost story, but I still find it a bit eerie.

My grandfather died early in my senior year of high school. I had not visited him for a while prior to his death and I felt a bit guilty about it until something odd happened late in my junior year of college.

I attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. It is a large campus, including a section which was built on property purchased from the US Army. This land, still known as Camp Kilmer, was the largest processing center for troops heading overseas and returning from World War II. When the university purchased it, it tore down many of the old barracks, but many still remain throughout the property, as do some of the old command buildings. One of those buildings was the old Paymaster building.

Late in my junior year I was working for the Rutgers Phonathon - basically soliciting donations from alumni - out of the old Paymaster building on the Camp Kilmer section of the campus. This often caused me to be there late at night.

For the first week or two, nothing really weird happened, but about three weeks into my work there I regularly found myself thinking about my grandfather and missing him. This was not something I normally did, but perhaps because I did know his cavalry unit had been stationed at Camp Kilmer during the war that somehow stirred my thoughts. Anyway, I wrote it off as nothing, but I still thought about him often.

A couple nights later, I went alone downstairs in the building to the soda machine. While down there, I heard hard, boot-like footsteps on the linoleum floor. As it was winter, I didn't think it odd to hear boots, but I recognized them as work/combat boots (I was in Army ROTC at the time).

After getting the soda, I started up the stairs when I heard a man's voice softly say "It's ok Richie." I dropped my soda and looked around quickly. No one has called me Richie, except for my little sister, since I was 10. No one but my grandfather, that is. I ran upstairs and looked around the phone room, thinking that someone there was named Richie, but no one was. I went home that night spooked, but not sure what had happened.

Over the next month I wrote off the incident as some figment of my imagination. But then it happened again, this time outside the building as I waited for the bus. I suddenly had this image of my grandfather appear in my mind, and then I heard softly in my ear "It's ok Richie, no harm done." Again, I looked around, but there was no one that close to me, let alone an older man who sounded like my grandfather.

For weeks afterwards I had a hard time explaining to myself what had happened, though I finally felt some sort of peace over my grandfather's death.

Fast forward to May of the same year. I was taking a class on World War II and Rutgers (I'm a military history buff) and we were examining an old unit yearbook from Camp Kilmer. While flipping through the book I noticed a picture of the Paymaster building with a group of men in cavalry boots standing in front of it. I asked my professor if that was the Paymaster building. Yes, he replied, but during World War II it did not house the Paymaster but instead was the headquarters building for units that passed through the Camp. We then looked in the bibliography and found the photo had been taken by, and of, men from the 101st Cavalry Group in 1943. This caused my jaw to drop, for in 1943 my grandfather had been a staff sergeant in the headquarters troop of the 101st Cavalry Group.

While he had not been in the photo, he had served with the men in the photo in that very building. Ever since then I felt much better about the loss of my grandfather, though I haven't been back to the old Paymaster building since.

Like I said before, I don't know if this is a ghost story or just a weird event, but I swear it actually happened; I have not told anyone, even my wife about this. Thanks.

Washington DC, USA
00:00 / 01:04
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