Three Former U.S. Air Force ICBM Launch Officers Speak Out About UFOs

I am currently working on a documentary film concerning UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites. I've just returned from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a series of interviews with former U.S. Air Force missileers were recorded. The veterans—Philip Moore, Jay Earnshaw, and Gaylan King—were first interviewed on audiotape years ago but graciously agreed to participate in the current project as well.

Although it will be many months before the film is finished, brief summaries of the former nuclear missile launch officers' audiotaped statements appear here.

Philip Moore

In 2005, retired USAF Lt. Col. Philip E. Moore agreed to tell me about his own UFO experience at Walker AFB, New Mexico. At the time of the incident Moore had been a Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander (DMCCC) and was on duty in one of the 579th Strategic Missile Squadron's underground Atlas ICBM launch control capsules.

He said, "It was late at night. My crew was on alert at 579 Site 7 in late 1964 when my crew commander, Major Dan Gilbert, and I got a call from one of our 'sister' sites. The other missile crew said that a UFO was alternately hovering over their site, rapidly moving away, then returning."

Moore continued, "It was Major Gilbert who took the call, most likely from the other MCCC. I believe it was Site 6 that called, but it might have been Site 8. Sites 6, 7, and 8 were in a cluster south-southeast of Roswell. The sighting could have been made by a guard or enlisted crew member at the other site."

"I was a first lieutenant at the time, one of three crew members certified to monitor the launch console. So Major Gilbert sent our enlisted crew members—Technical Sergeant Jack Nevins, Airman 1st Class Bob Garner, and Airman 1st Class Mike Rundag—up to the Silo Cap, at ground level, to see what they could."

"They reported the UFO zooming from the direction of Site 6 to the direction of Site 8 and hovering for awhile at the end of the movement. I recall my crew members saying that the hovering was instantaneous. At times it hovered over Site 6, then flew extremely rapidly to the other site and instantly stopped and hovered in-place over that one. I can't remember how many round-trips were involved. They all described it as a silent light that moved extremely rapidly—instant go and instant stop, no getting up to speed or slowing down. Unfortunately, no binoculars were available."

Moore added, "The common comment I remember was that everyone thought it was a UFO and that it was hovering directly over Sites 6 and 8 and nowhere else. Thus, it was specifically interested in those sites."

When I asked Moore whether the crew members had been certain that the UFO was stopping directly over the other missile sites—given their estimated 10 to 15-mile distance from Site 7—he responded, "They assumed that the hovering was directly over the sites because the crew commander who called us said that it was definitely over his site. After awhile, Major Gilbert ordered Nevins to sit at the console with me and he went topside. He saw the same activity. During the event, the UFO did not come to our site. By the time my turn came to go topside, the show was over so I didn't see anything."

I asked Moore if he and his crew were debriefed about the incident. He responded, "We were never debriefed, never warned not to discuss it, nor was it discussed beyond [the members of our crew]. In other words, there was no official discussion or acknowledgment. It seemed to be ignored above crew-level. But some of us crew members discussed it freely."

Moore concluded, "I personally believe that there is something to the UFO-ICBM connection. I know the Air Force covers-up when it feels the official need. UFOs over ICBM sites could be one of those official needs."

Jay Earnshaw

If one goes to my documents page one will find a three-page Air Force report discussing UFO activity at F.E. Warren AFB's Minuteman missile sites from July 31 to August 2, 1965. Retired launch officer John F. "Jay" Earnshaw was involved in the events of August 1st and, it seems, on other unknown dates in the mid-1960s.

He told me, "I was a Captain, a Missile Combat Crew Commander or, early on, a Deputy Commander, primarily at Echo Flight. We did have [UFO] sightings at Echo Flight. There were times that our security forces up above would report strange things. Lights in the sky. Because I was a missile commander, the security people were required to call down to the capsule and report anything unusual going on up there."

"The information we got about the UFOs was that none of them came inside the fenced area [around the Echo Launch Control Facility], and none of them touched-down in the area outside the fence. As reported by the on-duty security controller, the lights visible from Echo Flight would have extended from the northwest to the southeast. So they were all just strange aerial lights, making no noise, that would stack on top of one another and then just disappear."

I asked Earnshaw if he could recall any specific description of the aerial lights. He said, "The security people described them as oblong or, from the correct perspective, disc-like. No reported markings or navigation lights. If a color was reported, it was usually reddish or orange-ish shades. They were reported as 'aloft' or 'up in the air' but I don't recall any mention of altitude—no reliable estimated distance other than 'close.'"

Earnshaw added, "I heard that [the Air Force Office of Special Investigations] was debriefing people. OSI was charged with doing whatever the commanders above them wanted done."

I asked Earnshaw to estimate the number of UFO-related calls he had received from the security police topside at Echo. He said, "There were a few. It wasn't a multitude of calls. Those calls were eventually discouraged by higher command. There was a lot of pressure by Blue Book to keep this under wraps and, you know, they were saying publicly that there was nothing to [UFOs] and all that. But [among the missile launch officers] there were reports by word-of-mouth. But it was one of those things that was never officially acknowledged."

Earnshaw then said firmly, "But we got reports from our security people that there were objects in the sky stacked up, one on top of the other, just hovering there. The Russians sure didn't have the capability to do that! So that leaves only one other possibility. I am one who believes that we are not the only ones in the Universe and, well, I think someone might have been interested in what we were doing at our [nuclear missile] sites. I wasn't one of the witnesses to these events because I was underground in the capsule, but my second-hand information from the security people up above was that the objects were really there."

Gaylan King

Retired U.S. Air Force Major Gaylan W. King, who was a Minuteman launch officer at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, in the mid-1960s, told me during a taped telephone conversation,

"I think this happened in 1967 but it may well have been in '66. I was a Captain, a Missile [Combat] Crew Commander, with the 66th Strategic Missile Squadron. We experienced several cases of UFOs hovering over sites. Everyone knew that there were weird things going on.

The most interesting occurrence—of about 10 to 15—happened one night at another flight, Charlie. I was in the Echo capsule that night and heard what happened on the Primary Alert System. Following the security violation [alarms], both Outer and Inner, they sent out a Strike Team and received a visual report of a UFO hovering over a Launch Facility—I don't remember which one—with some kind of light beam coming down from the bottom of the UFO to the site. The team leader told the commander at Charlie that the object looked like a 'flying saucer' and the beam was described as reddish in color. The craft then took off at high speed.

This report went immediately up the chain [of command] to SAC Headquarters. Soon, black, unmarked Huey helicopters showed up at Ellsworth. They were constantly coming and going, from the base out to the countryside. You know, we had 150 missiles scattered around out there. Anyway, the Hueys were strategically stationed around the greater area of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing—I guess to get a look at the UFOs—which were very evident for three to four weeks.

The crews of those choppers came to the Officers Club but spoke to no one and disappeared as quickly as they appeared. They weren't Air Force; they were probably working for the CIA or NSA or some group like that. Short hair, dark clothes, kept to themselves. They were different and stuck out. They were all over the place. I'd love to know who they were.

As soon as they showed up, everything began to clamp down. We heard nothing about the results [of their investigations], but I spoke with some of the security Strike Team commanders, all NCOs, who actually saw the unidentified intruders. This scenario apparently happened at all or most of the Minuteman wings. We heard about that through the grapevine. I have no doubt what the objects were."

While we cannot know with certainty, I suspect that the events described by Gaylan King occurred in 1966, not '67. Retired missile maintenance technicians Albert Spodnik and John Baker have independently discussed UFO-related events at Ellsworth's Juliet Flight, in June 1966, involving mysterious single-missile shutdowns that occurred when UFOs were reported to be in the vicinity. King told me that he had not heard about those incidents, perhaps because they occurred at launch sites belonging to a different squadron at the base.

Three more videotaped interviews, with other former ICBM launch officers, are scheduled. Brief excerpts from all six will appear in my documentary film and the full-length versions will eventually appear on YouTube.

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