A colonel from Joint Base Lewis McChord traveled to Port Angeles Tuesday tonight to apologize to the city for an unannounced training exercise that frightened residents last week.
"The FAA was contacted, the coast guard station was contacted, all that coordination was done," said Col. Charles Hodges. "But the missing piece in this was our communication with your local officials that this type of operation was going on."
JBLM frequently sends out public notification to nearby communities warning them of training exercises impacting their area. Col. Hodges declined to say who was responsible for this omission or how it happened.
Last Thursday, in the middle of the night, the community awoke to the heavy beating of multiple military helicopters flying over homes with searchlights. Local authorities couldn't explain it. They had received no notification of any military exercise planned in their area.
"You scared the bejesus out of a whole lot of citizens, and children, and I tell ya, we thought it was an invasion," said one man at the city council meeting.
Mayor Cherie Kidd eventually found the answers at Joint Base Lewis McChord, and invited base leaders to speak at Tuesday's council meeting.
Most attending the meeting accepted the apology.
Some citizens took aim at the mayor instead.
"You and your aviators are willing to die for us, and we demand an apology because you overflew our town? I’m ashamed to call myself a citizen of Port Angeles," said one man during the public comment session.
Both the mayor and the colonel promised the public an open line of communication in the future.