A surreal scene like something from the movie, Apocalypse Now blended with Blade Runner, unfolded as members of the United States Military conducted helicopter training Tuesday at the former Night Moves strip club building near Switchyard Park on S. Walnut.
Several Bloomington residents reported to The Bloomingtonian seeing military helicopters, and a crowd across the street. Soon Reddit, and other social media sites were filled with videos, and speculation about the training.
Soon Reddit filled with videos, explanations, and conspiracy theories about the training exercise:
The Bloomington was on the scene and witnessed a portion of the training exercise that involved black military helicopters with no lights on S. Walnut. Explosions could be heard inside the former strip club before the helicopter pilots pulled lift during a quick extraction of soldiers.
Members of the Bloomington Police Department helped control traffic in the area.
The training began around dusk, and continued into the night. Explosions and helicopters could be heard after 2 a.m.
The first night combat extraction by the United States military was conducted in 1965 during the Vietnam War by pilots of Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry in the Ia Drang Valley just days before the famous battle involving the 7th Cavalry. The United States Army’s Air Cavalry Division, part of the 1st Cavalry Division pioneered the helicopter techniques being practiced Tuesday. In 1965, the 11th Air Assault began to practice in Ft. Benning, Georgia, before the united was reflagged as elements of the 1st Cavalry and sent to Southeast Asia. Part of the early history of combat helicopter warfare is depicted in Vietnam War correspondent Joe Galloway’s Book, We We’re Soldiers Once … and Young, which was made into a movie. The Unites States military has been perfecting helicopter war techniques ever since.
Military personnel in Bloomington gave no information about the training to The Bloomingtonian, however. A hand bill was distributed some residents, and business owners in the area shortly before the training began.
The Night Moves building is slated to be demolished to make way for an affordable housing development.
The military has been staging similar exercises across the United States for years: