Bunker doors flew open, gas masks came off and Texans emerged Tuesday as Uncle Sam's two-month siege of the Lone Star State, otherwise known as Jade Helm, came to an end.
Well, not exactly. The Special Operations exercise that critics contended was a front for a federal invasion wound down as planned without a single Texan confined in a re-purposed Wal-Mart detention center.
Now, all that remains are the international headlines garnered by Jade Helm and the way some Texans reacted.
The first fears of Jade Helm emerged in March, when Alex Jones, a Texas alternative newsman, announced "feds prepare to invade Texas." He waved a 12-page document released by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command that described the elite exercise and labeled Texas "hostile" territory on a map.
It also said participants "may conduct suspicious activities designed to prepare them for complex environments" and that some would be wearing civilian attire and driving civilian vehicles. That sparked fears.
Within days, the blogosphere took Jones' story and ran with it, adding in that two simultaneously shuttered Wal-Marts would be converted to death camps. By the end of April, Gov. Greg Abbott publicly ordered the Texas State Guard to "monitor" the federal troops when they arrived, drawing national criticism that he had legitimized a fringe narrative.
Later, reporting by the Chronicle revealed Abbott's order came after his office received a high volume of input from residents raising fears over the military's intentions.
According to an Army document, the exercise called for 1,200 elite soldiers, including Navy SEALS and Green Berets "operating in and around communities where anything out of the ordinary will be spotted and reported." An Army spokesman said Jade Helm was set apart from past drills by its "size and scope."
However the size and scope were reduced following a public outcry over a variety of rumors about the drill's true nature.
Days before the scheduled start date, news broke that civilian groups, armed with binoculars and walkie-talkies, planned efforts to keep tabs on the troops.
So on July 15, media from across the state gathered in Bastrop to witness the start of the highly anticipated exercise. TV reporters interviewed local residents who had not heard of Jade Helm and weren't sure what the fuss was all about.
No cameras were around Tuesday to cover the end of the exercise.
Yet questions still remain regarding the true purpose of Jade Helm.
Christopher Nichols, an assistant professor of history at Oregon State University and an expert on the U.S. military, said Jade Helm "was most likely intended to simulate a situation of maneuvering in occupied territory comprised of low-population density areas of houses and small towns."
"The troops appear to have been scheduled to assume the roles of occupying troops, occupied and resistance forces," he said.
While the exercise ended without fanfare, the worldwide attention Jade Helm attracted will not soon be forgotten.
(AP Photo/Raad Adayleh
Hungarian riot police officers face migrants in Roszke village at the Hungarian-Serbian border on September 9, 2015 (AFP Photo/Attila Kisbenedek)