Residents Sound Off On Military Base’s Loud Noise

Photo courtesy JBMDL

  LAKEHURST – For many who live near the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, occasional tremors and thunderous reverberations that shake their homes are a familiar occurrence. The base even publishes a monthly calendar to help residents anticipate the resounding noises related to military training exercises.

  However, the sounds seemed to travel much further last month than usual, triggering speculation and unease. Even longtime residents, who have grown accustomed to the base’s activities, noted that this was an unusual occurrence, marking the first time they had noticed such widespread disturbance.

  “My house was shaking, and we have lived here for more than 20 years,” said Maria Hamilton of Columbus. “Definitely the strongest percussion since we have lived here.”

  Social media became a platform for residents to share their experiences, with reports emerging from as far northwest as Hillsborough and as far northeast as Hazlet. In Medford, southwest of the base, residents reported windows rattling late into the night, adding to the sense of unease.

  The loud rumbles also crossed state lines into Levittown and Lower Makefield, Pennsylvania.

  Theories ranged from the alarming – earthquakes or even war on home ground – to the absurd – some residents wondering if Godzilla was on the rampage.

  The culprit, however, was far less fantastical or cause for concern. Standard training exercises involving heavy weaponry, like mortars, howitzers, and other equipment known to make loud noises, were responsible for the booms. What made the situation unusual was actually weather-related.

  Factors like temperature, humidity, and wind all affect how sound waves travel. Overcast weather, in particular, can bend and amplify sound waves. And the shaking felt by some residents wasn’t actually the ground moving but rather the intense vibrations of sound waves traveling through the air.

Military training exercises create noise levels of varying degrees. (Photo courtesy Joint Base MDL)

  Opinions on the effects of the training exercises were divided. Some were clearly exacerbated and asked why noise ordinances weren’t in place to stop the disruptions occurring near midnight – shaking pets and waking children. The social media comments elicited more than one user to express sentiments, such as the one by Pam Ronan of Hazlet.

  “Unfortunately, people, that is the price of freedom,” wrote Ronan. “Just think about the sacrifice of freedom they and their families pay for.”

   “Military bases are never closed especially the ones that have training exercises,” Ronan continued. “War does not go to bed at night.”

  Another Facebook user named Jennifer Dempsy expressed her gratitude that the late-night exercises were a drill and not a real situation.

  “The sounds could be louder, the impacts could be real,” said Dempsy. “The situation could be out of control.”

Photo by Jason Allentoff

  Dempsy highlighted the transformation of once-open fields near the Joint Base into residential neighborhoods. She expressed an understanding of the base’s need for training and emphasized the challenges posed by the changing landscape and diverse work schedules.

  According to the noise calendar provided by the Joint Base, in March, 13 days were marked in red as high-noise days. Only three days have the same designation this month – April 7, followed by April 20 and 21. The remaining days in March and April were classified as moderate, featuring Rotary Wing Aerial Gunnery exercises. These exercises may include .50 caliber weapons, rocket fire, and rotary cannons.

  Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst occupies 42,000 acres and is the Department of Defense’s only tri-service facility. Residents can find more information about the base and access the noise calendar on Facebook and the base’s website.

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Stephanie A. Faughnan is an award-winning journalist associated with Micromedia Publications/Jersey Shore Online and the director of Writefully Inspired. Recognized with two Excellence in Journalism awards by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists, Stephanie's passion lies in using the power of words to effect positive change. Her achievements include a first-place award in the Best News Series Print category for the impactful piece, "The Plight Of Residents Displaced By Government Land Purchase," and a second-place honor for the Best Arts and Entertainment Coverage category, specifically for "Albert Music Hall Delivers Exciting Line-Up For 25th Anniversary Show." Stephanie can be contacted by email at