Military training in the middle of Miami jolts residents out of bed

Posted on May 9, 2012

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No, there was no smell of napalm in the morning.

Digital photo taken by Marc Averette. Skyline ...

But there was the thunderous whump whump of low-flying helicopters, and even the jarring blast of explosions at the abandoned Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove early Tuesday during a military training exercise that jolted many unsuspecting residents from their beds.

“It was quite a shocking experience,” said Jane Muir, who was awakened around 1:45 a.m. by the sound of military choppers that later dropped rappelling soldiers onto the Grand Bay’s rooftop. “It was kind of that bizarre feeling that you were surrounded by wind.”

From her third-floor balcony, Muir then watched the soldiers fire off flares and smoke bombs before searching floor by floor through the darkened hotel, their paths marked by flashlights and the pop-pop-pop of gunshots. “The show of force was so overwhelming,” she said.

The maneuvers were part of a “realistic urban training” exercise for about 100 military personnel, and organized by the U.S. Special Operations Command, said Maj. Michael Burns, a U.S. Army spokesman. The exercise also included three military helicopters, and the use of simulated explosions and gunfire to mimic real-life military scenarios.

“They have to train in a realistic environment,” Burns said. “We didn’t use any real bullets,” he added reassuringly.

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