Saturday, November 7, 2009
Sonic Booms and War Games
You feel a Sonic Boom as much as you hear it. This incredibly loud rumble and shocking reverberation hits you and your heart falls to the bottom of your stomach. It persists all the while you are hoping it stops as you are scared of what may happen. The closest I can give an example of is when we had the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 as that was the worst earthquake I had ever felt. You're stopped dead in your tracks wondering when it will stop. While a sonic boom does not move like an earthquake, you feel the jet's power all the same. And then it's gone. A fading away of the deafening sound that was there.
This happened maybe a handful of times that I can remember growing up in the Salinas Valley but those few times were enough. In the 60's we lived not far from Fort Ord where the base was going full speed because of the Vietnam War. Driving by the base on the way to Monterey we could see the soldiers practicing on the sand dunes in their khaki uniforms and helmets, sometimes with camouflage of nets and debris concealing them. Kneeling to shoot at targets or running to whatever else they were asked to do. War games to watch but they were not doing anything like that. They were learning survival. These boys were being prepared to ship out and fight. Something I knew nothing about.
Many nights I would lay in bed looking out my window and see bright lights flashing and lighting up the sky. Like a fireworks show without the colors. You could hear the blasting sounds that came with the display making it hard for me to fall asleep. I think I was most scared if we took Reservation Road from Highway 1 at night which ran closest to the base. On that road the display and noise were far louder than a child cares to see or hear. Those soldiers practiced day and night and seemed like they did it every day of the week. I never could understand this world soldiers lived in. I was only a casualty of their drills till we moved away in 1972. A year later the last troop was sent to Vietnam. In 1994 the base was closed.