MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- A popular legend among personnel at Cherry Point is the ghost of Kissie Sykes, a woman who was buried here with her two children long before the air station existed. Some believe they now haunt the air station.
According to the most popular story, early in the construction of Cherry Point’s flight line Kissie’s gravesite was moved in order to make room for the project. The legend states that she was separated from her children in the process and she is now said to be forever searching for them.
Early one morning in 1986, Jeff Styron woke up to start his day and headed to work like he had been doing every day since he started his job in the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction Office in 1984.
Styron said it was around 3 a.m. when he and his coworkers were replacing the center mat of the flight line, the intersection where the four runways meet, when they heard something eerie and out of place, something that couldn’t be real.
“It sounded like kids were playing at a playground which was the oddest thing,” said Styron. “We brushed it off at first because we thought, ‘Why would there be kids playing this early on a flight line?’”
Styron said he dismissed the laughter and forgot about the whole incident for almost 30 years, never thinking twice about it, until he read a blog online that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
“I was reading about a woman named Kissie Sykes,” he said. “It said that she haunts the flight line and when she is around you can hear children playing or laughing. I had never even heard of Kissie Sykes until then and it knocked me back.”
But did Styron really experience a visit from Cherry Point’s infamous Kissie Sykes? Or was the laughter he heard that of her children, who are rumored to haunt Cherry Point while their mother, Sykes, endlessly searches for them?
Brie Lehew, the air station’s historian, says that the Sykes’ were among three families the air station purchased land from prior to its completion.
“The Sykes, the Bryants and the Buys were all families the air station purchased land from, so the tale of Kissie Sykes has been around for quite some time,” said Lehew. “I’ve been to her gravesite myself and it’s chilling to look at.”
Syke’s grave is located in one of 13 Cherry Point graveyards. She is now buried in the graveyard closest to the gas chamber aboard the air station. She is said to roam the flight line, housing areas and other parts of the air station searching for her children.
“A few years ago we had reports from Marines at Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting who were pretty shaken up after they said something jumped on their truck that resembled a woman,” said Lehew. “The fact that these were grown Marines who were terrified makes me believe it was her.”
Lehew says that most reports regarding the unexplained have come from Marines at ARFF who work night shifts.
Cpl. Charles Mefford works as a rescue man at ARFF and claims to have experienced a visit from Sykes in September of this year when the trucks started turning themselves on.
“Me and a few other Marines were out near the flight line during our shift when the trucks started turning on and the doors started opening by themselves,” said Mefford. “We went to check it out and when we turned them off, others started turning on. It really freaked us out.”
Mefford said that he believed it was Sykes after hearing stories about her prior to his experience.
“There are a lot of stories about Sykes and pilots refusing to land after seeing a woman walk across the flight line,” said Mefford. “The one that really freaked me out was the story about the lance corporal who was admitted into a mental institution after they found him curled in a ball by her gravesite saying ‘She wants her kids.”
Tales of Kissie Sykes continue to haunt the air station as one of its most famous urban legends.
“Cherry Point has a lot of history and continues to make it,” said Lehew. “The tale of Sykes is pretty freaky because we just don’t know.”