UPDATE: Wondering Why a Big Chopper was Flying over Burien? Here’s New Info


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Gen. Todd Semonite

UPDATE 11 a.m. 6/15/12: We just got this update from William R. Dowell, who left the following as a Comment to this story – apparently the low-flying Chinook (possibly Blackhawk) helicopter(s) seen (and heard) hovering over Burien Thursday was NOT related to an emergency exercise on the Kitsap peninsula:

The helicopter seen held the new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Todd Semonite.

General Semonite was on an initial visit to look at a number of important Seattle District projects, including Seahurst Park in Burien. Using helicopters allowed the general to tour about a dozen key projects throughout the area in one day and provided U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers needed flying hours, key to proficiency and combat readiness. General Semonite attended a meeting at Seahurst Park’s Environmental Science Center earlier that morning.

The city of Burien and the Corps of Engineers are partnering in an important restoration project, removing nearly 1,800 linear feet of seawall and restoring natural beach habitat for juvenile salmon use. A portion of the restoration is complete and the next section is scheduled to begin in October.

Dowell also sent us this via email:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Dear Sir or Ma’am,

I have posted the following comment to the subject concerning the helicopters:

“The helicopter seen held the new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Todd Semonite. General Semonite was on an initial visit to look at a number of important Seattle District projects, including Seahurst Park in Burien. Using helicopters allowed the general to tour about a dozen key projects throughout the area in one day and provided U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers needed flying hours, key to proficiency and combat readiness. General Semonite attended a meeting at Seahurst Park’s Environmental Science Center earlier that morning.

The city of Burien and the Corps of Engineers are partnering in an important restoration project, removing nearly 1,800 linear feet of seawall and restoring natural beach habitat for juvenile salmon use. A portion of the restoration is complete and the next section is scheduled to begin in October.”

In addition, during the next scheduled construction at Seahurst Park, it will be closed to the public during the project. If you would like more information, or an interview with our project manager, Leah Wickstrom, about the project, please feel free to email or give me and call and I will be happy to arrange it.

In addition, I am currently getting photos of General Semonite at some of the locations and will provide them to you if it is something you would be interested in.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Bill

WILLIAM R. DOWELL
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Seattle District
Office of Public Affairs
4735 E Marginal Way South
Seattle, WA 98134
Office: 206-764-3464
BB: 206-734-6137

Here are two pics from the Seahurst inspection courtesy Dowell – click images to see larger versions:

PREVIOUSLY: We heard them, their deep ‘thwacka-thwacka-thwacka‘ making us feel like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.

We saw one flying low, right over our house.

We got your Facebook messages and your emails.

We called and emailed around, but until Friday morning (June 15) we didn’t have an answer – only our speculation (which was correct) – that the very large and loud, low-flying, unmarked, military-looking Chinook helicopters that were flying over the Burien area Thursday were part of an emergency exercise in Kitsap County.

That at least is what The Kitsap Sun is reporting:

Across the Puget Sound region, volunteers involved in the Evergreen Earthquake Series disaster response simulation set up drive-thru emergency supply distribution centers — known as community points of distribution, or CPODs — to test the government’s ability to respond if the “big one” hit.

Thursday’s activities were the first to locally test the government’s ability to respond 24 hours after a disaster has occurred — that is when people are moving from responding to immediate threats to human safety and property to what’s called the recovery phase.

What we don’t know is why they were flying over Burien – we can only speculate (for now at least) that they were carrying supplies from somewhere south of here and that B-Town just happened to be in their flight path.

We knew that King County held its own emergency exercise on June 7, so it all makes sense now.

Or does it?

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Comments

12 Responses to “UPDATE: Wondering Why a Big Chopper was Flying over Burien? Here’s New Info”
  1. Shari says:

    Thanks, Scott! We were definitely wondering, especially when they started circling our area at 10:30 last night.

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  2. Marianna says:

    Ahhh… love the sound of a chinook! I wish I could have heard them in Renton.

    M~

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  3. Kay says:

    Thanks Scott! I was particularly curious when one flew so low over house I felt the walls shake. It does sound like this is still somewhat of a mystery. I thought those earthquake exercises were generally more theoretical in nature, not practical.

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  4. Terri says:

    This isn’t the 1st time… we’ve had them go over our house at all hours… yesterday was the first time it was clear enough that I got a good look at them to know what it was. I just convinced myself they were doing their job… whatever it was.. and hopefully the result was I would be safer.

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  5. Bill says:

    The helicopter seen held the new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Todd Semonite. General Semonite was on an initial visit to look at a number of important Seattle District projects, including Seahurst Park in Burien. Using helicopters allowed the general to tour about a dozen key projects throughout the area in one day and provided U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers needed flying hours, key to proficiency and combat readiness. General Semonite attended a meeting at Seahurst Park’s Environmental Science Center earlier that morning.

    The city of Burien and the Corps of Engineers are partnering in an important restoration project, removing nearly 1,800 linear feet of seawall and restoring natural beach habitat for juvenile salmon use. A portion of the restoration is complete and the next section is scheduled to begin in October.

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  6. Ed Dacy says:

    It is my understanding that there was one helicopter flying brass from the Army Corp of Engineers around the area after he inspected Seahurst Park and got a briefing of the joint City Corps project.

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  7. Kathering says:

    It was part 2 of this…expect part 3 later this year.
    http://www.kingcounty.gov/safety/prepare/news/2012/June/07EvergreenQuakeExercise.aspx

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  8. Burien Parks says:

    It was a pleasure to meet Major General Semonite and his team, and it was an honor to have this visit and regional tour start at Seahurst Park. In addition to numerous other state, federal and local officials in attendance, it was also an honor to have Mr. Billy Frank, Jr., a noted Native American environmental leader and chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, as part of this site visit and meeting at Seahurst Park.

    Burien Parks looks forward to the next phase of the Corps’ seawall removal and beach restoration project in Seahurst Park which will start construction in October. As a reminder, at that time the park WILL BE CLOSED to the public for several months, so we want to encourage everyone to visit Seahurst Park before the October closure to enjoy this regional jewel. Readers can learn more about this project at http://www.BurienWA.gov/SeahurstPark

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  9. Bonnie moormeier says:

    Thanks Scott – we can count on you to keep us up to date on whatever is happening in our community.

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  10. Loren says:

    So still no good explanation of why military helicopters were circling over Gregory Heights at 10:30 pm the other night. Over and over and over.
    Maybe the administration will leak the secret to the New York Times so we can find out what is going on?

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  11. josh says:

    Are you sure they’re not running surveillance drills, testing new equipment in preparation for the upcoming financial collapse…?

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  12. josh says:

    I’m not buying it, because I’ve been seeing Chinooks circling the Olympia/Tumwater area now for quite a number of days…

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