A mysterious loud boom was reported in east Alabama late Tuesday, and although some agencies claim they know the source of the boom, people in Calhoun County want more information. Furthermore, that alleged source, which is Pelham Range, denies responsibility.
The National Guard uses Pelham Range for several projects.
Cory Brown, a veteran of Enduring Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, said the boom he heard was different than anything he had experienced.
“We know that the reservists will go out there [to Pelham Range] and shoot artillery,” said Brown. “Sometimes, you’ll get shots of three. Sometimes, you’ll get shots of two. In some cases, you’ll get one cannon blast … but this one was different.”
In fact, multiple people who are used to hearing booms from Pelham Range said this time it sounded different, and it seemed to be coming from a different direction.
After basic training at Fort Sill, in Oklahoma, Brown said he was familiar with field artillery base sounds. He lives between Ft. McClellan and Pelham Range, and he explained the difference between what he usually hears and what happened on August 16.
“Usually, one of them will be a solid boom,” Brown said. “You will feel it. It’s going to be deep impact. You are going to get the rumble if it was close. But the explosion I heard actually sounded like something was ignited.”
The Jacksonville Police Department, the Weaver Police Department and the Odenville Police Department claimed the boom came from Pelham Range.
However, Sgt. Arthur Jones, the community relations specialist for Pelham Range, said that is not true.
“We don’t have any loud noises going on,” said Jones.
Jones said he also called the Anniston Army Depot, and they confirmed they also did not have any ongoing projects. He said he was unsure what caused the boom.
Brown said he has a friend who works at Pelham Range, and when the boom woke him up, he called him to investigate.
“From what I heard, and I did call a friend that was at the Pelham Range and asked him what it was,” said Brown. “He was like, ‘I don’t know, that startled the shit out of us, too.’ This sounded like an explosion, not your normal field artillery.”
Unfortunately, the boom triggered Brown’s PTSD. He said he suffered from PTSD after his time in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’ve even had my [Dining Facility] blow up on my [Forward Operating Base], so, you know? And that was just by mortar rounds,” Brown explained. “This impact woke me up … I was sleeping. I have to take sleeping medicine to go to bed because I do have night terrors. But this literally sounded like death was on its way.”
Whatever the source of the boom was, Brown said he just wanted answers. Jacksonville Police Department Chief Marcus Wood posted on Facebook about the boom.
“We have received a lot of inquiries about a large ‘bang’ tonight and from last night,” Wood stated. “We have talked with officials from Pelham Range, and they have been doing training the last two nights, and those sounds have been coming from them.”
When 1819 News attempted to contact Wood to find out who he talked to at Pelham Range, the police department said he was out of town for the next two days.
After the community began to discuss what they heard and the difference between regular booms, Wood came back on the post and said, “I understand that everyone has their opinions about what the loud bang was and wasn’t … we were asked to provide info, and we contacted whom we thought was responsible, and they confirmed. Please don’t cause others undue stress with conspiracy theories. Thanks.”
“Honestly, I could not even begin to guess on what it was,” said Brown. “The police department, to say what they said in a group of a community that’s really involved and really cared is like telling us, ‘You didn’t hear nothing, go back to sleep and stop with your fussing.’”
With several military installations in the area, many citizens in Calhoun County are used to disturbances, but it is unclear if they will get any detailed information on what caused the late-night boom Tuesday.
“There is a lot going on here in Anniston,” said Brown. “We do have the Department of Homeland Security. We still have Ft. McClellan, which is now an active reserve base. We do have the Anniston Army Depot, and it could’ve been them. Who really knows?”
Jones said Pelham Range is often blamed for loud noises, but the National Guard always issues noise alerts ahead of possible disturbances.
“That’s the first thing people think is that it’s Pelham Range,” said Jones. “We can definitely let you know if it is, but it’s not us today.”
Jones said Pelham Range would not typically have a loud project planned for 11 p.m.
Big booms are nothing new in Alabama. In fact, there is a Bama Boom Tracker that records reports of booms across the state.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email [email protected].
Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.