- The Green Berets swooped in out of the
darkness Friday night (3-12-99). Silent and deadly, they drifted down from
the heavens on their silk parachutes, hitting the ground and scurrying
to set up the defensive perimeter around that most strategic of positions:
Anniston Municipal Airport.
- They fought bravely through the night,
withstanding the jarring fake explosions and confusion of the darkness.
They performed admirably and in the end captured the airport from a mythical
- Do we all feel safer after the Army's
weekend war game in our area? Not only do we not feel safer, we feel just
a little bit mad about the whole affair.
- How else to articulate the emotion elicited
by an unannounced full-scale invasion of the airport by the 75th Ranger
Regiment from Fort Benning and the 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment
from Fort Campbell?
- A good many people in Oxford heard explosions
around 8 p.m. Friday and looked out their windows to see paratroopers gliding
to earth. And most of them were enduring it all in the dark. Alabama Power,
you see, cut the power for about two hours that night. The power company
was cooperating with the Army, which had requested the power outage around
the airport so that no paratroopers would be hurt by the live electrical
- That's totally understandable. What is
not is Alabama Power's failure in telling everyone about the power outage.
For those folks left out in the dark, there was the unexpected power outage
followed by the - for all they knew - real a full-scale invasion of the
airport, by who knows who.
- The power company says it sent notices
to the estimated 300 customers who would lose their power on a Friday evening.
But some of those notices never reached the customers. Well, OK, so some
were returned. But here is a very irksome thing: The Alabama Power notice
declared that the power would be cut 'to perform work on the power lines.'
- Excuse us. What was that again? Work
on the power lines?
- Standard notice, standard notice, Buddy
Eiland, Alabama Power's spokesman explains. Anytime there is a power cut
the same notice goes out, evidently.
- That's a real hoot. The power company
doesn't have a problem delivering the power bill to everybody who deserves
one, nor do they have any trouble putting a different name on each bill.
Heck they even send a fellow around to your house every month to have a
look-see at your meter just so they will know how much money you own them.
But the company can't send out a notice that tells you what all the commotion
at the airport is going to be about on Friday night.
- The Army says it alerted the area about
the exercises that also took place at Fort McClellan. Hershal Chapman,
Fort McClellan's public affairs spokesman, says a press release went out
to media outlets telling of the exercise.
- You are so right Mr. Chapman, but that
notice failed to mention anything about the airport or that the power would
- The Army and Alabama Power have some
apologizing and some explaining to do to this community.
- The Anniston Municipal Airport belongs
to this community, it is not part of some vast federal government holding
that the powers that be can do with as they please.
- If you are going to play soldiers in
our yard, you ought to invite us to play. Or, take your guns and parachutes
and go home.