UFO sightings at ICBM sites and Nuclear Weapons Storage Areas
June 1, 2006
Although the vast majority of Americans are completely unaware of its existence, the UFO/Nukes Connection is now remarkably well-documented. Air Force, FBI, and CIA files declassified via the Freedom of Information Act establish a convincing, ongoing pattern of UFO activity at U.S. nuclear weapons sites extending back to December 1948.
For more than 30 years, I have been interviewing former and retired U.S. Air Force personnel regarding their direct or indirect involvement in nuclear weapons-related UFO sighting incidents. These individuals—from retired colonels to former airmen—report extraordinary encounters which have obvious national security implications. In fact, taken to their logical conclusion, the reported incidents have planetary implications, given the horrific consequences that would result from a full-scale, global nuclear war.
At the time of their experiences, my former/retired USAF sources held positions ranging from nuclear missile launch and targeting officers, to missile maintenance personnel, to missile security police. The incidents described occurred at Malmstrom, Minot, F.E. Warren, Ellsworth, Vandenberg, and Walker AFBs, between 1963 and 1996. Other sources were stationed at Wurtsmith and Loring AFBs, where B-52 nuclear bombers were based during the Cold War era.
To date, I have interviewed over 50 individuals who were involved in various UFO-related incidents at Strategic Air Command bases or remote sites. I have selected the statements of 20 of those persons for presentation here. An expanded discussion of this material will appear in my forthcoming book, The UFO/Nukes Connection.
The testimony below is admittedly anecdotal evidence. Nevertheless, it is offered—often reluctantly—by persons who were entrusted by the U.S. government with the operation or security of weapons of mass destruction. As such, each source was subjected to, and passed, rigorous background checks and personality tests designed to ascertain, with a reasonable degree of certainty, their psychological stability and reliability.
For the moment, the international tensions of the Cold War era have receded. Consequently, the U.S. and Russia are currently downsizing their nuclear arsenals. Nevertheless, vast numbers of nukes still exist and may be unleashed at a moment's notice. Therefore, these weapons remain a potential threat to the future of the human race.
The events described below leave little doubt that our nuclear weapons program is an ongoing source of interest to someone possessing vastly superior technology. Significantly, the reported UFO activity occasionally transcends mere surveillance and appears to involve direct and unambiguous interference with our strategic weapons systems.
Considering these and similar accounts—too numerous and credible to dismiss—I would argue, as others have before me, that the heightened presence of the UFO phenomenon since the end of World War II is a direct consequence of the advent of the Nuclear Age. To suggest that this is the only explanation for widespread UFO sightings during our own era would be presumptuous, simplistic, and undoubtedly inaccurate. Nevertheless, I believe that the nuclear weapons-related incidents are integral to an understanding of the mystery at hand.
Malmstrom AFB, Montana (1966–67)
1st Lt. Robert C. Jamison
Former USAF Minuteman ICBM targeting officer (Combat Targeting Team Commander), 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
Jamison states that he assisted in the re-start of an entire "flight" of ten Minuteman ICBMs which had simultaneously and inexplicably shut down immediately after a UFO was sighted in their vicinity by Air Force Security Police. Jamison is certain that the incident occurred at one of the missile flights located near Lewistown, Montana, perhaps Oscar Flight. This event probably occurred on the night of March 24/25, 1967, based on Jamison's portrayal of related events.
Jamison said that while his and other teams were preparing to respond to the stricken flight, they were ordered—as a precaution—to remain at Malmstrom until all UFO reports from the field had ceased. He further states that his team received a special briefing prior to being dispatched, during which it was directed to immediately report any UFO sighted while traveling to or from the missile field. In the event that a UFO appeared at one of the missile silos during the re-start procedure, the team was directed to enter the silo's personnel hatch, and remain underground until the UFO had left the vicinity. According to Jamison, the Air Police guard accompanying the team was to remain outside and relay information about the UFO to the base Command Post. Jamison's own team re-started three or four missiles but did not observe any unusual aerial activity.
Jamison said that while he was at the missile maintenance hangar, waiting to be dispatched to the field, he overheard two-way radio communications at the temporary Command Post, relating to another UFO having been sighted on the ground in a canyon near the town of Belt. He states he recalls hearing that a top commander—either Malmstrom's base commander, or the 341st Strategic Missile Wing commander—was on-site with other personnel. Based on these recollections, it appears that Jamison is describing the well-documented Belt, Montana UFO sighting of March 24/25, 1967.
Jamison said that immediately after the missile shutdown incident, for a period of approximately two weeks, his team received a special UFO briefing, identical to the one described above, before being dispatched to the field.
Jamison said that approximately two weeks after the full-flight missile shutdown, his team responded to another, partial shutdown—involving four or five ICBMs. Prior to being dispatched, Jamison's team received a report that the missile failures had occurred immediately after a UFO was sighted over the flight's Launch Control Facility. Jamison recalls that this incident took place at a flight located south or southwest of Great Falls, possibly India Flight, and during daylight hours.
Jamison said that he had subsequently spoken with several individuals, mostly missile security guards, who had witnessed various UFO-related incidents. He reports that they were "visibly shaken" by their experiences.
At least five other former or retired USAF personnel—all Minuteman missile launch officers stationed at Malmstrom AFB in 1967—have previously divulged their knowledge of UFO involvement in two separate, large-scale missile shutdown incidents. One of these individuals, former Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander Robert Salas, has extensively investigated these events, together with researcher Jim Klotz. Their revealing summary of the March 1967 incidents may be found online.
The article also discusses the Air Force's formal denial of UFO-involvement in the one officially-acknowledged, full-flight missile shutdown incident at Malmstrom AFB—at Echo Flight—despite the missile launch officers' testimony to the contrary. The official disavowal is found in the 341st Strategic Missile Wing's "unit history".
Significantly, the unit historian, David Gamble, told Klotz that while compiling material for the official history, he had learned of reports of UFO activity within Malmstrom's missile fields. When he made inquiries, Gamble received "no cooperation" from those in-the-know. He further said that written changes regarding "the UFO aspect of the missile shutdown incident" had been made by superiors. The final version of the unit history states, "Rumors of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) around the area of Echo Flight during the time of the fault were disproven."
Salas and Klotz have written a thorough and persuasive book, Faded Giant, which expands upon their earlier online report.
If Jamison's recollections are correct, and he did indeed respond to a large-scale missile shutdown at Oscar Flight on the same date as the well-documented Belt UFO sighting, then the date proposed for the Oscar event by Salas and Klotz—March 16, 1967—would seem to be in error. Salas has now acknowledged this possibility, however, Klotz remains skeptical about the alternate date.
Prior to my posting the Jamison-related material on the NICAP and NCP websites, I sent it to Klotz for his review. He responded, "I think that while witnesses' memories of 'events' tend to be pretty clear, memories of dates tend to be less accurate. I am a document-driven guy and I'd like to see some documentary evidence of multiple events. Lacking this, I only wish to keep open the idea that memories may be of a 'single' UFO-related missile shutdown event at Malmstrom. Certainly the indications from witness testimony are that multiple events may well have occurred."
For the record: I too would like to see unaltered documents relating to the shutdown events. In the early 1980s, I attempted to access, via the Freedom of Information Act, Office of Special Investigations (OSI) files relating to UFO sightings at Malmstrom's ICBM sites, only to be told that all such documents had already been declassified. However, multiple source testimony strongly suggests otherwise. I think David Gamble's comments above are telling. In my opinion, the documents that might shed light on the true facts relating to the missile shutdowns will remain hidden indefinitely, whereas those supporting the official version of events, including unit histories, will sometimes be declassified.
I also sent my Jamison-related material to Bob Salas. He responded, "What is interesting to me is the briefing Jamison received about how to respond if they sighted a UFO while working in the field. This would be a further indication that there had been experiences with UFOs at [Launch Facilities] prior to Jamison going out to the sites. We have also received similar information from a source we are protecting at this time."
Salas continued, "I [now] think it is more likely that Oscar Flight went down on some date after the Echo Flight [shutdown] and that it could very well have been on the same day as the Belt sighting. One of the factors that lead me to that 'opinion' is the lack of comment about two flights going down in the [now-declassified] telex that went out, and in the unit history. If the two had gone down on the same day, that would have been mentioned. The reason, I think, Oscar wasn't mentioned later is because by then the Air Force wanted to keep a secrecy lid on it and avoid the possibility of a leak by the indication of a growing and continuing problem. That would have made quite some headlines in the press."
Salas concluded, "Remember, from all we have heard from the maintenance people we have interviewed, the rumors and comments [about UFO activity] were rampant. I personally received a call from an NCO after the Oscar shutdowns, practically begging me to come talk to him and others about the incident. Believe me, it was all over the base and some of the troops were flat scared."
In conclusion, Jamison's statements are important because they indicate that the Air Force was fully aware of UFO involvement in at least two missile flight shutdown incidents prior to dispatching the missile maintenance teams to restart the ICBMs. Specifically, according to Jamison, the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron undertook certain precautions and formally implemented various procedures to protect the teams' safety while in the field. In this respect, his testimony is unprecedented.
Staff Sgt. Louis D. Kenneweg
Former Minuteman ICBM maintenance clerk, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
At the time of the 1967 missile shutdown incidents, Staff Sgt. Louis D. Kenneweg was assigned to the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron (MIMS) at Malmstrom AFB. His duties at the MIMS hangar included issuing Technical Order kits (T.O.s) to other members of his squadron. As Kenneweg explained, "Each of the repair teams would be required to take T.O.'s in the truck with them. The kit included books or manuals that would contain technical information that the technicians could look up rather than rely on memory. There was also a check list in plastic sleeves, kind of like a pre-flight checklist for a pilot, that they would use before removing the warhead from the missile. Of course there was an awful lot of supervision when that occurred."
Although the date is uncertain, one night, around 11:45 P.M. Kenneweg was driving to work when he noticed something unusual in the sky. "As I traveled down one of the roads parallel to the flightline," he said, "I saw something that I first thought was a private plane's lights, blinking. As I watched it get closer, I realized that it wasn't blinking at all, but zig-zagging. First here, then there, traveling too fast for a plane. Then looming over the flightline. I got up late, and I knew that I had little time, but I stopped anyway. I opened the car door, got out, and focused on the lights. I watched it as long as I could, without being late to work. I remember saying to myself that this pilot was going to be in a lot of trouble, coming across the runway, or at least across the Air Force Base property. I don't remember it traveling that close to me, but I do remember the image of it disappearing in a low southerly trajectory over the [MIMS] hangar. Of course, it was much farther away than it appeared. At that point, it wasn't 'blinking' anymore but had more of a glow. It appeared as a bright light the size of the moon, on a cloudy night, although I don't remember it being cloudy."
Upon arriving at the MIMS hangar, Kenneweg was confronted by a scene of high activity. "As I entered the hangar I noticed that there were numerous trucks being loaded," he said, "many more than I had ever seen all at the same time."
Still puzzled about the strange, zig-zagging light, Kenneweg walked toward the Air Police office, where APs were routinely assigned to accompany the maintenance teams into the missile fields, guarding their trucks and the silos once they opened the gates. When he arrived, he noticed an unusual level of activity there as well. Kenneweg asked the Air Police sergeant on duty whether the base had any helicopters up. The sergeant replied that the helicopters didn't have radar and didn't fly at night.
Kenneweg continued, "Back at the office, I issued almost all of the [T.O.] kits on the shelf. I remember saying to myself, 'I'm running out of kits, this is a busy night.' Now, I didn't check the sign-out sheet to see how many kits had been checked out before my shift, but while I was on duty, I did recall that they were almost all checked out. As I count them off in my head today, and try to see them on the shelf, we had a wall with 3 shelves that would hold 25 or so."
Clearly, a lot of missiles were either undergoing routine maintenance, and/or had gone off Strategic Alert for another reason, all at the same time.
When the maintenance teams returned to the MIMS hangar—Kenneweg first thought that it had been some three hours later, but upon reflection, now believes that it was more than 24 hours later, during his next shift—one of the technicians hinted that something out of the ordinary had taken place in the missile field. "One of the guys mentioned to me that some very weird things were going on that night," said Kenneweg, "It takes two guys to carry the T.O. kit, and there were other guys behind him, waiting in line to get checked in, and they were all nodding their heads in agreement. But this guy said that he couldn't talk about it right then. He said he would tell me all about it back at the barracks. Well, like I have said before, I was busy working [a second job] at the Red Lion Supper Club and didn't really have that serious sit-down conversation with that particular airman. But the barracks was buzzing. Stories about how when they got to the [missile silos] and found no damage, and how all the batteries were dead. I also heard a story that [UFOs] were seen on radar, then they were gone."
He continued, "Our missile sites each had a tertiary power system. The main power source was delivered by Montana Power. Telephone poles, transformers and wire. The second system was the diesel generators, and the third was the battery back-up within the silo itself. Numerous reports came back saying that they had found no damage to the fences, wires, transformers, microwave intrusion system, locks on the three-foot-thick concrete blast doors, or to the batteries. So, no evidence of damage from intruders or animals, lightning or fire. Just three sources of power vanished and the batteries were dead."
Kenneweg believes that the incident was not isolated. "As I recall," he said, "there were other nights where the guys would come back and look a little shaken, all within that same time-period."
Based on Kenneweg's description of his own UFO sighting, during which the object appeared to be near or over Malmstrom's flightline at one point, I have speculated that the UFO may have briefly maneuvered near the base's nuclear Weapons Storage Area (WSA), which is located just east of the main runway. The WSA contains Minuteman missile nuclear warheads, known as Re-entry Vehicles (RVs). A review of aerial photographs of Malmstrom, which show the WSA, coupled with an analysis of Kenneweg's probable position near the MIMS hangar, lead to this conjecture. Regardless, another UFO sighting at the WSA, some years later, has been confirmed by two other sources. See Malmstrom AFB, Montana (1975).
Airman 1st Class David Hughes
Former Air Policeman, 341st Combat Defense Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
Former Air Policeman, 341st Combat Defense Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
Hughes stated, "I was stationed at Malmstrom from January 1966 through August 1967. I was an Air Policeman, assigned to 'B' Flight, with the 341st Combat Defense Squadron. I worked at the Foxtrot [Flight Launch Control Facility]. Many nights we observed a light in the sky between Choteau and Augusta, Montana."
He continued, "This light would move at incredible speeds, make right-angle moves, and continue for hours. When seeking further information from wing command, we were often insulted when told it was a Telstar satellite. On one occasion we were told by other friends working in the [air traffic control] tower at the base that aircraft had been launched to seek to identify a strange radar echo that had appeared on their screens and on the screens of the local airport. This was later denied the next day, but if memory serves, the local newspaper had an story on it the next day. This must have happened sometime in early 1967, or late 1966."
Hughes concluded, "All I know is that some strange things consumed our attention many nights while on patrol. We patrolled from Augusta to Choteau each night and [frequently] saw something that lent credance to the UFO concept. To us, 'UFO' simply meant it was an Unidentified Flying Object, either from our military or some unknown source. We never believed the satellite story. However, when we learned that the jets had been scrambled and the next day it was denied, then we knew something was up."
Malmstrom AFB, Montana (1975)
Staff Sgt. Joseph M. Chassey
Former Minuteman ICBM maintenance technician, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
Chassey states that one night in the fall of 1975, he overhead a two-way radio transmission alerting Air Force Security Police about an unknown craft hovering over the base's Weapons Storage Area.
Chassey said that the incident was widely discussed at the missile mechanical shop the following day. He later heard additional details about it from a friend, who was a helicopter re-fueler.
Apparently, two base helicopters had been scrambled to chase the intruder, which rapidly flew toward Belt, Montana, some ten miles distant. As the pursuing choppers neared the town, the unidentified craft quickly doubled-back to Malmstrom—leaving them far behind—and again hovered over the WSA for a short period of time before finally departing.
Chassey states that the object was described as an extremely bright light and was assumed to have been a bona fide UFO because of its superior capabilities. He emphasized, "It flat outran the helicopters. We heard that it zipped out to Belt and back to the base in no time."
Chassey, who separated from the Air Force at the end of October, 1975, believes that the incident occurred shortly before he left Malmstrom.
USAF documents from October 1975, declassified via the Freedom of Information Act, confirm other UFO sightings at the Weapons Storage Areas at Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, and Loring AFB, Maine. At the time, each base hosted B-52 nuclear bomber squadrons. At Wurtsmith, initial sighting reports referred to the unidentified craft as a "helicopter", however, the radar operator aboard a nearby KC-135 aircraft later tracked the craft traveling at approximately 1000 knots, far faster than any known helicopter. At Loring, some reports mentioned an "unidentified helicopter" near the WSA. However, eyewitness accounts from a B-52 ground crew indicated that the "helicopter" was bright orange, football-shaped, and had hovered silently. (For an extended discussion of these cases, consult Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood's authoritative book, Clear Intent, later re-named The UFO Cover-Up.)
Lt. Col. Robert Peisher (USAF Ret.)
Former Commanding Officer, Detachment #5, 37th Air Rescue Squadron helicopter unit at Malmstrom AFB, Montana
Peisher has confirmed the accuracy of Joseph Chassey's account regarding the incident during which an unknown craft hovered above Malmstrom's nuclear Weapons Storage Area, one night in the fall of 1975. However, Peisher said that even though his unit's helicopters had indeed been involved in the intercept attempt, he himself had already been transferred to another squadron when the incident occurred, and had only heard about it "much later".
Peisher also states that he had once been briefed by local civilian law enforcement about a series of cattle mutilations, many of which had occurred near Minuteman missile sites, during the summer and fall of 1975. He states that he and Cascade County deputy sheriff Captain Keith Wolverton determined that more than 80 such mutilations had occurred within Malmstrom's missile field boundaries, some quite near various ICBM Launch Facilities (silos).
Peisher further states that he had been informally told about multiple UFO incidents at Malmstrom's Minuteman missile sites, including one event during which a UFO "the size of a football field" had silently flown over the Echo Launch Control Facility one night in the fall of 1975.
The following verbatim excerpts are NORAD log entries from November 1975, declassified via the Freedom of Information Act. My own comments and clarifications follow some of the entries (in parentheses):
24th NORAD Region Senior Director's Log (Malmstrom AFB, MT):
7 Nov 75 (1035Z) Received a call from the 341st Strategic Air Command Post (SAC CP), saying that the following missile locations reported seeing a large red to orange to yellow object: M-1, L-3, LIMA, and L-6 … Commander and Deputy for Operations (DO) informed.
7 Nov 75 (1203Z) SAC advised that the LCF at Harlowton, Montana, observed an object which emitted a light which illuminated the site driveway.
7 Nov 75 (1319Z) SAC advised K-1 says very bright object to their east is now southeast of them and they are looking at it with 10x50 binoculars. Object seems to have lights (several) on it, but no distinct pattern. The orange/gold object overhead also seems to have lights on it. SAC also advised female civilian reports having seen an object bearing south of her position six miles west of Lewistown.
(Note that all of these reports refer to the observation of aerial "objects". Apparently, the Security Alert Teams could not identify them as either military or civilian aircraft.)
7 Nov 75 (1327Z) L-1 reports that the object to their northeast seems to be issuing a black object from it, tubular in shape. In all this time, surveillance has not been able to detect any sort of track except for known traffic.
(In other words, when these sightings were first reported by SATs, "surveillance"—that is, radar personnel—at Malmstrom AFB and Great Falls International Airport could not detect any unknown aerial objects near the missile sites. As we shall see, radar contact with the UFOs was finally established as the sighting reports continued to unfold.)
7 Nov 75 (1355Z) K-1 and L-1 report that as the sun rises, so do the objects they have visual.
7 Nov 75 (1429) From SAC CP: As the sun rose, the UFOs disappeared. Commander and DO notified.
8 Nov 75 (0635Z) A security camper team at K-4 reported UFO with white lights, one red light 50 yards behind white light. Personnel at K-1 seeing same object.
8 Nov 75 (0645Z) Height personnel picked up objects 10-13,000 feet. Track J330, EKLB 0649, 18 knots, 9,500 feet. Objects as many as seven, as few as two A/C.
(Height-finding radar finally confirmed that UFOs were present, varying over time between two and seven in number.)
8 Nov 75 (0753Z) J330 unknown 0753. Stationary/seven knots/12,000 … two F-106 … NCOC notified.
(Radar confirmed that one UFO, at an altitude of 12,000 feet, had hovered—that is, was "stationary"—before resuming flight at a leisurely 7 knots, or 9 mph. Shortly thereafter, two F-106s were scrambled to intercept it.)
8 Nov 75 (0905Z) From SAC CP: L-sites had fighters and objects; fighters did not get down to objects.
8 Nov 75 (0915Z) From SAC CP: From four different points: Observed objects and fighters; when fighters arrived in the area, the lights went out; when fighters departed, the lights came back on; To NCOC.
(As SAT personnel at four different locations watched, the UFOs played cat-and-mouse with the F-106s, extinguishing their illumination as the jets approached their position and re-illuminating themselves after the fighters returned to base. The NORAD Combat Operations Center—NCOC—in Colorado Springs, was immediately informed of this incident.)
8 Nov 75 (1105Z) From SAC CP: L-5 reported object increased in speed — high velocity, raised in altitude and now cannot tell the object from stars. To NCOC.
9 Nov 75 (0305Z) SAC CP called and advised SAC crews at Sites L-1, L-6, and M-1 observing UFO. Object yellowish bright round light 20 miles north of Harlowton, 2 to 4,000 feet.
9 Nov 75 (0320Z) SAC CP reports UFO southeast of Lewistown, orange white disc object. 24th NORAD Region surveillance checking area. Surveillance unable to get height check.
(Note the reference to the UFO having a "disc" or saucer shape. Several more log entries from November 9th and 10th confirm that UFOs continued to be reported by SAT teams positioned near various missile silos.)
Malmstrom AFB, Montana (1992)
Staff Sgt. Joseph M. Brown
Former Security Policeman, 343rd Missile Security Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
I first learned of Joe Brown's experience after he posted a brief summary of it on researcher Ron Wright's Triad Research website. With Wright's assistance, I located Brown and interviewed him.
Brown states that one night in the spring of 1992, he and his security team partner were posted at Alpha Flight missile silo A-3. Due to an alarm system malfunction at the site, the two-man team was staked-out in a security camper near the launch facility, with one man on duty while the other slept. "I believe it was March or April," Brown told me, "site top-side security was down—the IMPSS (Improved Minuteman Physical Security System)—and if I remember correctly, there was no top-side power."
At about 4:30 a.m., Brown noticed a bright white light moving erratically across the sky. In his online posting, Brown had written, "This light was doing some wild things in the sky, sudden direction changes, moving very fast, then stopping, then shooting off in another direction. I watched this for about 15 to 20 minutes."
Then the light appeared to move closer to the silo. "I started getting spooked," Brown wrote, "so I reached out the window of the truck and started banging on the camper shell to wake [my partner] up. He finally came around the front, asking me what was wrong. I pointed to the light and told him I'd been watching it for around 20 minutes and I didn't know what it was. He got into the passenger side of the truck and we kept watching this thing doing its acrobatics."
Brown decided to radio another security team posted at Alpha Flight silo A-10, located some 10 miles away. "They responded hesitantly that they were watching this light," he wrote. The Flight Security Controller (FSC) at the Alpha Flight Launch Control Facility apparently overheard this exchange, because he suddenly broke into the conversation to inquire about the anxious radio chatter between the two security teams. Each confirmed that they were observing the strange light as it raced wildly around the sky.
Brown wrote that the team continued to watch the UFO until around 6:30 to 7:00 a.m., when it suddenly appeared to go straight up and hover. "We could still see the light, but by now it was starting to get daylight. As it got brighter, we could sort of make out a black shape around where the light was. We had binoculars, but even with them, all you could see was a fuzzy outline of sort of a triangle. I can't estimate the height of the object."
Upon returning to Malmstrom, Brown and his partner privately conferred with the security team posted at Alpha Flight silo A-10. The four guards agreed that they would not mention the sighting, and all expressed concern about possible repercussions resulting from their report to the Flight Security Controller.
As the security guards returned their weapons to the armory, they were suddenly ordered to report to a captain assigned to their squadron. Brown can not recall the officer's name but remembers being very concerned by this unexpected development. The captain asked the men to describe what they had seen. He listened carefully and then pointedly suggested that they not discuss the sighting. Brown told me, "At this point, the captain says, well I don't think you saw anything and I wouldn't go around talking about it. You guys are under PRP, remember that!"
Here is an apparent instance in which the mere mention of the PRP—Personnel Reliability Program—effectively intimidated military UFO witnesses into silence. This Department of Defense directive pertains to those who work with or around nuclear weapons, and dictates their conduct both on and off the job. If an individual's commanding officer judges his or her behavior to be unreliable, and a potential threat to the security of the weapons, a psychological examination of that person is usually ordered. Depending on its outcome, the individual under scrutiny risks being relieved of duty.
Brown stated that a couple of days after his experience at Alpha Flight, he heard that there had been some unusual activity at Malmstrom that same night. Referring to these rumored developments, he told me, "[A friend of mine] was a Tech Sergeant in the [missile] maintenance squadron, and it was a bit unusual for him to actually go to out in the field. He normally trouble-shot stuff on-base. He and I never got to really discuss what had happened … [but] he did tell me that a lot of maintenance folks were sent out that night. Quite honestly, a lot of us were afraid to talk about it openly, especially after being told we should not talk about anything by our Captain."
Malmstrom AFB, Montana (1995)
UFO sighting by a Minuteman missile maintenance technician, who requests anonymity, as reported to Tech. Sgt. Jeff Goodrich (USAF Ret.)—Former Team Chief of Missile Handling, 341st Maintenance Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana.
In the early hours of January 20, 1995, an Alert Response Team, composed of two security police, had been driving to the India Flight Launch Control Facility when they noticed a strange light in the southern sky. As they passed by Minuteman silo I-4, one of the men radioed a missile maintenance team working there, and asked its leader whether he could see the light too. The response was affirmative.
The missile maintenance technician who later reported the sighting to Goodrich said that the light was "large", and displayed numerous smaller lights—red, orange, yellow, green, and blue in color—across its surface. The UFO had been moving very slowly across the missile field, at low altitude. The technician insisted that the object was not an airplane or helicopter. Because he was a member of the missile maintenance team, and not a security policeman, he did not know whether the Alert Response Team had subsequently reported the UFO to the Flight Security Controller at the India Flight Launch Control Facility.
This UFO was not the first to be reported in Montana during January 1995. A brief entry in the sighting database published by the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) indicates that on the evening of January 5th, an unnamed Air Force officer at Malmstrom AFB had called NUFORC to relay a sighting report which he had just received from someone in the town of Shelby. At about 9 p.m. the unidentified person had observed two objects moving silently through the sky for about two minutes. Although their shape could not be determined, the absence of any sound had apparently struck the sighting witness as unusual, and so a call was made to Malmstrom. Shelby is located almost exactly on the northern boundary of the Quebec Flight Minuteman missile field—with silo Q-18 situated less than two miles east of town, just north of Route 2.
Another entry in the NUFORC database indicates that two days later, on January 7th, at about 3 p.m., an unidentified woman had called Malmstrom AFB regarding a UFO sighting. Unfortunately, the location of the sighting is not specified in the entry.
A third call to NUFORC occurred on January 18th—just two days prior to the incident at India Flight reported to Tech. Sgt. Jeff Goodrich. The reporting center's log states, "An anonymous caller reports multiple UFO sightings reported between Fairfield and Deer Lodge, Montana. Background noise during call sounds like communications noise from some kind of operations center."
The caller told NUFORC that he had received multiple UFO sighting reports, over the period of an hour, from persons located between Fairfield and Deer Lodge. Perhaps significantly, Fairfield lies near the geographic center of the Hotel Flight Minuteman missile field, with silo H-9 situated at the western edge of town, just north of Route 408. Furthermore, if one leaves Fairfield and travels southwest—in a straight line toward Deer Lodge—one will eventually exit the Hotel field and cross directly into the Golf Flight missile field.
In short, nearly half of the countryside between Fairfield and Deer Lodge lies within the boundaries of Malmstrom's Minuteman missile fields. Although no evidence has yet surfaced which would place the reported UFOs in close proximity to specific silos within either Hotel or Golf Flight, the caller from Deer Lodge was nevertheless relaying sighting reports made by persons calling from the heart of "Rocket Ranch" country. The three sighting reports published by NUFORC may be found at http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/ndxlMT.html.
Malmstrom AFB, Montana (1996)
Tech. Sgt. Jeff Goodrich (USAF Ret.)
Former Team Chief of Missile Handling, 341st Maintenance Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
Goodrich states that February 2, 1996, he and an officer, whom I will not identify here, observed a loose formation of five triangular-shaped objects flying above Great Falls, Montana, which is located just west of Malmstrom. At the time of the sighting, both had been working at the Missile Roll Transfer Building, a remote site located some miles from the main base.
When first sighted, the objects were about 75-degrees above the horizon. They made no sound that the two men could discern, and left no contrails. Due to distance and glare, no surface detail was visible on any of the craft. Goodrich noted that the objects flew in unison, moving slowly from north to south. On two occasions, all five appeared motionless for 10-15 seconds. After the second hover, the objects suddenly accelerated, made a sweeping arc to the southwest, and soon disappeared over the horizon.
Goodrich estimated the objects' altitude to be 15-20,000 feet. This guess was based, in part, on statements made to him by personnel working at Malmstrom's air traffic control tower. After contacting them, he had been told that nothing out of the ordinary had been detected on radar at the time of the sighting—but was also told that the tower didn't track aircraft above 10,000 feet. Immediately after contacting the base's air traffic control tower, Goodrich called Great Falls International Airport. The controllers there also denied tracking unknown aircraft at the time of his sighting.
Given that Goodrich reported the UFOs' shape to be triangular, some skeptics might say that he and the officer had merely observed a flight of F-117A "stealth" fighter-bombers. Due to its unique design, an airborne F-117A can appear, from certain angles, to be nearly triangular. Moreover, the aircraft's stealth capability would explain why the flight had not been tracked on radar.
However, because Goodrich is certain that he and the officer had twice observed all five objects briefly hovering, this prosaic proposal would seem an unlikely solution. The F-117A is an amazing aircraft, but it can not remain motionless in the air. Furthermore, Goodrich described the UFOs as being bright white in color and occasionally exhibiting glare as their position varied in relation to the sun. An F-117A is painted flat black and appears dark against the sky, under all lighting and atmospheric conditions.
Jeff included two hand-drawn diagrams of the objects in his report about the sighting. The first one depicts their positions relative to one another in the sky. The second illustrates each object's shape—an isosceles triangle—with two sides of equal length. The third, shorter side was on the trailing edge of each object as it flew.
I asked Goodrich if he could determine whether the UFOs had flown or hovered over ICBM facilities at any time during the sighting. He replied that after the objects turned southwest, and left the city limits, they would have briefly passed over the India Flight missile field. However, he said that it did not appear that they had lingered in that vicinity. Instead, they continued to move steadily away, and eventually faded from view. (It should also be noted that when the objects approached Great Falls, they had to have flown over other missile fields located north of the city, however, I am not aware of any information currently available in the public domain to suggest a close-proximity incident at any ICBM LCF or LF, relating to the sighting.)
F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming (1965)
Beginning at 1:30 A.M. on August 1, 1965, various personnel at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming—including the base commander—telephoned the Air Force's UFO Project Blue Book, at Wright-Patterson AFB, to report several UFO sightings at Warren's Minuteman missile sites.
The officer who fielded and logged the telephone calls to Blue Book that night was a Lt. Anspaugh. A memorandum summarizing these telephone calls was published in 1972 by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the civilian scientific consultant to the project, in his book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry.
Inserted below are the verbatim entries in Lt. Anspaugh's memo:
1:30 A.M. - Captain Snelling, of the U.S. Air Force command post near Cheyenne, Wyoming, called to say that 15 to 20 phone calls had been received at the local radio station about a large circular object emitting several colors but no sound, sighted over the city. Two officers and one airman controller at the base reported that after being sighted directly over base operations, the object had begun to move rapidly to the northeast.
2:20 A.M. - Colonel Johnson, base commander of Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, near Cheyenne, Wyoming, called Dayton to say that the commanding officer of the Sioux Army Depot saw five objects at 1:45 A.M. and reported an alleged configuration of two UFOs previously reported over E Site. At 1:49 A.M. members of E flight reportedly saw what appeared to be the same [formation] reported at 1:48 A.M. by G flight. Two security teams were dispatched from E flight to investigate.
2:50 A.M. - Nine more UFOs were sighted, and at 3:35 A.M. Colonel Williams, commanding officer of the Sioux Army Depot, at Sydney, Nebraska, reported five UFOs going east.
4:05 A.M. - Colonel Johnson made another phone call to Dayton to say that at 4:00 A.M., Q flight reported nine UFOs in sight; four to the northwest, three to the northeast, and two over Cheyenne.
4:40 A.M. - Captain Howell, Air Force Command Post, called Dayton and Defense Intelligence Agency to report that a Strategic Air Command Team at Site H-2 at 3:00 A.M. reported a white oval UFO directly overhead. Later Strategic Air Command Post passed the following: Francis E. Warren Air Force Base reports (Site B-4 3:17 A.M.) –A UFO 90 miles east of Cheyenne at a high rate of speed and descending—oval and white with white lines on its sides and a flashing red light in its center moving east; reported to have landed 10 miles east of the site.
3:20 A.M. - Seven UFOs reported east of the site.
3:25 A.M. - E Site reported six UFOs stacked vertically.
3:27 A.M. - G-1 reported one ascending and at the same time, E-2 reported two additional UFOs had joined the seven for a total of nine.
3:28 A.M. - G-1 reported a UFO descending further, going east.
3:32 A.M. - The same site has a UFO climbing and leveling off.
3:40 A.M. - G Site reported one UFO at 70' azimuth and one at 120' . Three now came from the east, stacked vertically, passed through the other two, with all five heading west.
Airman 2nd Class Robert R. Thompson
Former Air Policeman, 809th Combat Defense Squadron, at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming
Thompson states that he was on duty at the Quebec Flight Launch Control Facility one night in 1965, when he got a telephone call from the underground launch capsule. The Missile Combat Crew Commander asked Thompson and his partner to walk outside and look straight up. Thinking this was a joke of some kind, the two Air Policemen nevertheless complied. Directly overhead, Thompson saw eight stationary lights, much brighter and larger than stars, grouped together in four pairs. Due to their altitude and brilliance, it was not possible to determine the objects' shape or other details.
Thompson said that one light eventually left its position and began to roam among the others, moving slowly from pair to pair. He and his partner watched the mysterious aerial formation for about 10 minutes, before reporting the sighting to the missile commander. In response, Thompson was informed that NORAD, located at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, had earlier notified FE Warren that its radars were tracking eight unknown objects hovering in the vicinity of the Quebec launch control site. Apparently, Warren's Command Center had called the LCF and asked the missile commander to verify their presence.
Said Thompson, "I wasn't sure what we were seeing until I reported back to the launch commander. When he told me of the report of UFOs from Cheyenne Mountain, I could tell by his voice that he wasn't joking." Thompson states that he and his partner were never debriefed, or warned to remain silent about the incident, but he never again mentioned it to the missile commander.
Perhaps significantly, the Blue Book memorandum inserted above may lend credence to Thompson's report. Specifically, this entry:
4:05 A.M. - Colonel Johnson made another phone call to Dayton to say that at 4:00 A.M., Q flight reported nine UFOs in sight; four to the northwest, three to the northeast, and two over Cheyenne.
However, because Thompson can not remember the date of his own sighting at "Q" or Quebec Flight, it may or may not have been the same incident noted above.
In any event, Thompson's sighting was not the last UFO incident to be reported at Quebec Flight during that period. Less than a week later, he had been approached by another individual in his unit, and told about a far more dramatic incident.
"We worked three days on, three days off," Thompson said, "One crew would relieve the other. Shortly after the sighting, when my crew returned to the LCF, an acquaintance came up and told me that while we were off-duty, he had been involved in another UFO sighting, at one of Q-Flight's Launch Facilities."
According to this individual, he and his partner had been on stake-out duty one night, and were sitting in a Security Alert Team (SAT) camper that was parked next to the missile silo. Without warning, the vehicle began to shake violently. He quickly leaned his head out the window and saw a large, very bright light silently hovering directly above the camper. After a few seconds, the shaking ceased and the light rapidly departed.
The SAT guard went on to tell Thompson that he and his partner had later been debriefed by an OSI agent and ordered not to talk about the incident. However, in spite of this warning, he had nevertheless felt compelled to compare notes with Thompson, whose own UFO experience had occurred less than a week earlier, and was common knowledge among the missile guards at Quebec Flight.
After hearing this strange story, Thompson approached the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) who had been on duty at Quebec the night of the camper incident and asked him to verify it. To his surprise, the NCOIC did so. Furthermore, he told Thompson that he had personally seen the UFO as it hovered over the LF.
"The Launch Facility in question was the one located closest to the LCF," said Thompson, "Even though it was five, maybe six miles away, the NCOIC told me that, on the night of the incident, he had seen an extremely bright light hovering over its location."
Thompson said that he later heard that the UFO activity at various missile flights had continued for about a month.
Although the bizarre report involving the camper is strikingly similar to a scene in Steven Speilberg's 1977 movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, UFO researchers Jim Klotz and Tom Tulien have heard a nearly-identical account from a former USAF missile guard who was stationed at Minot AFB, North Dakota, in 1968.
Airman 2nd Class Terry Stuck
Former Air Policeman, 809th Combat Defense Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming
Stuck states that one morning in the summer of 1965, while reporting for duty at the Oscar Flight LCF, he was informed about a UFO sighting by the departing night-shift guards. "The night team had observed fast-moving lights or objects," said Stuck, "vehicles moving with incredible speed."
Apparently, during the shift-change, the departing security team leader also informed the arriving missile commander about the UFOs. Stuck overheard the exchange. "The OIC (Officer in Charge) was a Captain—I don't recall his name," said Stuck, "I do remember him saying that he had been a pilot in Korea and had observed UFOs and had reported the incident. He said they had sent him to the base psychiatrist and had basically put a stop on advancements in his career."
The moral of this story was clear to Stuck and the departing security team leader: Be careful what you report because there may be repercussions. Stuck did not know whether the team leader had ever filed an official report about the incident. In any event, the Oscar Flight UFO sighting incident is not mentioned in the Project Blue Book memorandum inserted above. Perhaps it took place on another date during that period, or perhaps it did indeed occur on August 1st, but went unreported.
A few days after these events, Stuck had his own UFO sighting, again at the Oscar Flight LCF. "The observations," he recalled, "were actually made in front of the launch control security facility which was at ground level, facing the access gate of the main launch control facility. I was never able to determine the size or shapes [of the UFOs]. When I saw them, they were at extreme distances and were doing right [-angle] turns at unbelievable speeds. I never heard any sounds."
F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming (1973–74)
1st Lt. Walter F. Billings
Former Minuteman ICBM launch officer (Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander), 90th Strategic Missile Wing, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming
I have inserted below excerpts from Billings' first letter to me, with a few clarifications (in parentheses) and minor modifications relating to grammar and punctuation.
Dear Mr. Hastings,
… I arrived at F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in late January of 1972 from Vandenburg AFB [where I] had been trained in Minuteman I. After further training at F.E. Warren [I] was sent with the operations crews as a Deputy Missile Commander and assigned to a Squadron for the typical duty as a 2nd lieutenant. I was later trained as a training officer for the [missile] wing in Minuteman I, which encompassed assisting new arrivals in training and running simulators, and other duties. [These were] the standard duties until the Spring of 1973.
As a first lieutenant, along with so many others, [I] went back to school at F.E. Warren to learn the new Minuteman III system that was to be installed during the year of 1973. After training and evaluations, alert duties were assigned for the new system to those that had completed their training. We were to go on alerts as the new missile system was installed. In those days, F.E. Warren had 200 missiles on alert and was very active.
I am afraid that the dates that I will provide are somewhat vague. I wrote my experiences for a publication in this arena back in September 1993, and even then the dates were not exact. Also, some of the missile terminology may not be exact. I have forgotten some of the terms. I am sorry that I did not keep a private log of these events, back when they occurred.
The first event took place in the Fall of 1973. Over half of the LCCs (Launch Control Centers) had been converted to Minuteman III by this time, and I was on alert at Golf LCC. It was late at night. The UHF radio linking all twenty LCCs opened up with urgent talk from India LCC. In those days, the UHF radio was turned on, at all times, and if one LCC spoke to their SAT (Security Alert Team) or other LCCs, all twenty LCCs heard the conversation. After the India crew received a Outer Security Zone [alarm] on one of their missiles, and sent their SAT crew out for the standard investigation trip, we began to hear over the radio the events that developed.
From the UHF radio communication between the SAT and the India LCC crew, as we listened, we heard that as the truck was heading to the missile silo, the Inner Security Zone [alarm] had been tripped at the silo. Upon arriving near the subject silo, the SAT team observed a bright UFO hovering above the silo. The LCC crew advised the SAT team to proceed no further and to observe only. Approximately a minute later, the UFO moved off slowly for several thousand feet and then sped off at a high rate of speed. The conversation between the India LCC crew and the SAT team was heard by 19 other LCC crews on duty that night.
Upon relief by the next crew and upon return to F.E. Warren AFB, all crews on duty that night were informed that they would not speak to civilians or the news media about what they had heard on the UHF radio. Severe penalties were mentioned for those that did not heed this warning.
We, the LCC crews in general, began to hear rumors and stories, from other officers in operations and maintenance, that SAC headquarters at Offut AFB had sent the OSI (USAF Office of Special Investigations) to investigate this incident by helicopter. The India crew of that night would not speak of the incident at all. There were stories from missile maintenance that the missile in question had been carefully examined and that they found the target tapes (which guide the H-bomb warheads to their targets) on the three warheads had supposedly been erased that night by the UFO. Needless to say, I only heard that these things had occurred. These stories were told between missile guys over the following week, but they were reliable people, who did not speak to civilians or the press about this subject. However, the squadron commanders warned us, again, not to speak of the incident.
The second incident involved an entire missile maintenance crew, I believe six enlisted men and one officer. This also occurred in late 1973. A Minuteman III missile was being worked on for some routine problem during one of those late fall nights. A UFO was observed by the entire maintenance crew. The UFO appeared to be watching the work and was seen for a full five minutes as it maneuvered close to the missile silo. This was told to me by a missile maintenance 1st lieutenant, approximately three days after the incident occurred.
The third incident took place in early Spring of 1974. As I was arriving at Charlie LCC in the morning with my captain, to begin an alert duty, we were told by the staff sergeant and two security police who had been on duty that night, of the strange thing that had happened. They told us that a UFO had actually landed near the LCC and had been observed by the three, and that a minute-by-minute report had been given to the operations crew downstairs. When we asked about this, as we were relieving the LCC crew for our duty to begin, they would not talk about it with us. I heard a few days later that the staff sergeant was in some sort of trouble for speaking to us about what he saw, and that the OSI was again involved.
While I was in SAC, I personally was not directly involved with a UFO incident while on duty. However, during June of 1974, while on a camping trip in Dubois, Wyoming, with three other lieutenants, we observed a UFO flying relatively low. It was similar to the ones that were described to us, in the above three incidents. Since all four of us were Air Force lieutenants, we knew that this low-flying object was not an aircraft. From that time forward, I have had an interest in this subject and have read some on the subject as well.
I can tell you that these three incidents at F.E. Warren AFB did occur. It was a long time ago and I am sure many other things have happened since. I have not been able to find any written statements of these three incidents since. This could be because there was a very good cover-up of the situation at that time, or they were not deemed important enough to bother with. Though, I doubt that the latter is true.
I have always wondered as to what really happened to the missile that had the UFO hovering above it, and if the warhead target tapes had really been erased.
I wish you good luck on any research that you may do on this subject. I doubt that you will receive any help from those that might know the truth. I am sure that the cover-up that I observed many years ago is still in effect.
Thank you for your interest.
Walter F. Billings
In an effort to obtain an informed perspective on Billings' statements, I forwarded his letter to retired USAF Lt. Col. Philip Moore who, in 1978-79, had been the Commander of the 321st Strategic Missile Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB. Moore found the letter to be entirely credible. In an e-mail to me, dated 6/12/05, he wrote, "Billings' statement is totally believable, and his supporting facts are correct in spite of his dates and terminology caveats."
However, I also sent the letter to another former Minuteman missile launch officer who skeptically questioned Billings' use of the term "target tapes", when describing the Minuteman III's guidance system. (While the Minuteman I missile utilized such tapes, the Minuteman III did not.)
When I asked Moore to comment on this particular discrepancy, he replied, "[Regarding] Billings use of 'tapes' to refer to the maintenance part of the [guidance] system, the old tape system was replaced by a plug-in unit system. I think I remember that Billings was at F.E. Warren at the time MMI was deactivated and MMIII replaced it, having served in MMI and retrained in MMIII. Old terminology dies a slow death and the new system was often referred to as 'the tapes' for awhile after MMIII was in-place, until the old-timers got used to the new terminology."
Lt. Col. Moore's own ICBM-related UFO experience is discussed in the Walker AFB section of this article.
F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming (1980-81)
Airman 1st Class Jay DeSisto
Former Air Policeman (Law Enforcement), 90th Security Police Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming
Jay DeSisto's "UFO" experiences are somewhat different from those reported by my other former/retired USAF sources. For that reason, I have chosen to include his statement to me in its entirety.
DeSisto states, "I was an Airman First Class while stationed at FE Warren, in 1980-81. I worked as an LE (Law Enforcement) with the 90th Security Police Group. I was assigned to base patrol and very soon promoted to the position of Desk Sergeant, even though I was only an airman. Thinking back, I can recall numerous occasions when I was on duty as Desk Sergeant when the security personnel at the Weapons Storage Area would contact me and report 'lights' overhead. I would usually dispatch a base patrolman to the area to confirm the sightings but I cannot recall any specific outcomes. I am sure I would have reported these incidents in the desk blotter."
"While I never experienced or heard of any 'UFOs' while stationed there, there were several times when we were called in for duty on our days off to patrol the base perimeter because there were satellites allegedly overhead taking pictures. I always wondered what those recalls were about. It was strange. Again, no one ever mentioned UFOs, it was always 'satellites'. None of those recalls happened while I was on duty as the Desk Sergeant."
"The 'satellite' incidents were clustered, not spread-out, during my tenure at Warren. I seem to recall they would occur two or three nights in a row. I recall three times when my flight had to report for extra duty. One time we had been out at a bar off-base and when we returned to the base, the gate guards told us to immediately report to the armory to obtain weapons. Even though we had been drinking, they issued us weapons and we were posted on the perimeter of the nuclear Weapons Storage Area on base. It was unusual to use Law Enforcement personnel for this duty in that it was normally a function of the Security Police personnel."
"On two other occasions we were contacted at our barracks and told to report to the armory and obtain weapons. One of those times, I was posted at the Weapons Storage Area and another I was posted at the Combat Command Center doorway. Each time I was recalled for duty, our Flight Chief, a Tech Sergeant name Robert Moore, explained the situation regarding the satellites. During these instances our group headquarters was very active. Our squadron commander, Major Bernal F. Koersen, was usually present."
"It really did not make sense to us that we were being called in for duty because of a satellite overhead. It seemed odd to have us don combat gear and weaponry. We just accepted the explanation of 'satellites' but, because of the way we were rousted for duty and the command activity present, we knew these incidents were very different from any type of readiness response exercise we had participated in, which were frequent and routine. We were often called in for extra duty during DoD inspections or Global Shield exercises, but again, during the satellite incidents, there was a different feel to the situation and the hurried and tense demeanor of command-level staff was quite different."
One of my other sources suggests the possibility that the mysterious satellites reported above FE Warren were actually Soviet satellites involved in the verification of the 1979 U.S./Soviet SALT II agreement, which limited the number of strategic missile launchers in each country. However, given the specifics of DeSisto's statement, this theory seems unlikely. Regardless, the Soviet satellite scenario would not explain the unidentified lights reported hovering at low altitude above the base's nuclear Weapons Storage Area.
DeSisto states that those sightings, by Air Force Security Police, had occurred on "numerous occasions" during 1980 and/or 1981. It should be noted that declassified documents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) confirm similar reports of UFOs, in August 1980, near the Manzano Weapons Storage Area, outside Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.
Furthermore, another UFO was observed in December 1980, as it directed laser-like beams of light down into, or near, the Bentwaters AFB Weapons Storage Area, during the now-famous series of sightings at the Anglo-American base, in Suffolk, England.
Walker AFB, New Mexico 1963–65
Florida Today newspaper columnist Billy Cox conducted the initial interviews with Jerry Nelson and Gene Lamb. His article, "UFOs Haunt Missile Crew", was published in June 2001.
1st Lt. Jerry C. Nelson
Former Atlas ICBM launch officer (Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander), 579th Strategic Missile Squadron, Walker AFB, New Mexico
Nelson states that on several occasions, while on alert in the underground launch capsule at Atlas Site 9, missile guards at ground-level had frantically reported a silent, very bright UFO hovering over the site. As he told Florida Today columnist Billy Cox, "The guards were scared. These objects would hover over the silo and shine lights down on them without making any noise." Nelson told me that he had personally been involved in "probably more than three but fewer than ten" such incidents, over a period of a month or so. He also remembered that the sightings had occurred "at least six months, maybe more like a year" after the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when the squadron had been placed on high-alert.
Oddly enough, when Nelson notified the missile squadron's Command Post about the incidents, his reports met with apparent indifference. Only much later did he learn that agents from the Office of Special Investigation had interviewed another individual regarding his knowledge of a similar incident.
1st Lt. Philip Moore
Former Atlas ICBM launch officer (Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander), 579th Strategic Missile Squadron, Walker AFB, New Mexico
Moore, who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, states that one night in the fall of 1964, while on alert in the launch capsule at Atlas Site 7, his missile commander, Major Dan Gilbert, received an extraordinary call from one of their "sister sites", either Site 6 or Site 8. The commander at the other site reported that an extremely bright light was repeatedly hovering directly over the site, racing away, returning, and hovering again. Apparently, one of the enlisted men at the site, perhaps the security guard, had observed this activity and reported it to the missile commander.
Moore states that some of Site 7's own enlisted men, including Tech. Sgt. Jack Nevins, were ordered up to the "silo cap" to monitor the situation. Moore states, "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…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. 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."
Moore states that the Site 7 crew were never debriefed and never warned not to discuss the incident. "In other words," he said, "there was no official discussion or acknowledgment." 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."
Airman 1st Class Thomas Kaminski
Former Atlas ICBM Launch Facilities Specialist, 579th Strategic Missile Squadron, Walker AFB, New Mexico
Kaminski states that he had been at one of the Atlas ICBM launch sites northeast of Walker AFB one evening in 1964, possibly 1965, when the missile commander, Captain D------, directed him topside to view unexplained lights which had been reported to the site. Kaminski states he observed two star-like objects at a great distance, moving in unison.
When he reported his observations to the missile commander, Kaminski was told that the base was tracking the objects on radar and had scrambled two jet fighters to intercept them. Shortly thereafter, he observed the jets attempting to approach the unidentified lights, which then put on a burst of speed and outran the interceptors. The lights disappeared into a Cumulous cloud, followed by the fighters. Moments later, the jets emerged from the cloud but the lights were no longer visible. The fighters changed course and returned to base.
The next morning, upon returning to Walker AFB, Kaminski's missile team was routinely debriefed. He states, "During that briefing, my captain asked, 'Whatever happened to the two UFOs?' The response was, 'What UFOs?' My captain said, 'The ones you sent the fighters up after!' They said, 'We didn't sent up any fighters.' We knew that was the end of that conversation!"
Kaminski also states that he had once observed another UFO display, not at one of the remote missile sites but at Walker AFB itself. "At least half of my barracks saw this," he said, "It was at night and there were two or three lights—possibly four or five—that were moving around in the sky. They looked like stars but, from time to time, they did 90-degree turns. Not all at once though—they moved independently. They obviously knew that they wouldn't run into each other. I don't understand why we didn't hear any sonic booms. That bothers me. They stayed in the same general area [of the sky]. After about 15 minutes, zoom, they were gone." Then he added, "Actually, [sightings of UFOs] were fairly common on base. I think that a lot of guys saw them. It wasn't something that you discussed."
1st Lt. Eugene Lamb
Former Atlas ICBM launch officer (Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander), 579th Strategic Missile Squadron, Walker AFB, New Mexico
Lamb states that while he had not personally witnessed any of the UFO-related incidents at Walker's Atlas sites, he had once spoken to a former missile crew commander who had. This individual admitted, decades later, that he had briefly left the launch capsule to go topside to observe strange aerial lights being frantically reported by the missile site's guard. According to Lamb, the officer told him that the lights were unsettling because they had been moving erratically, and faster than jets. He told Lamb that he was familiar with all types of aircraft but had never seen anything like the extraordinary display in the sky above the Atlas silo. According to Lamb, the former officer had said, "These were not just lights. This was something else."
Lamb concluded, "People talked about [the sightings] at Happy Hour, after work, or after we got off-site, but it was kept pretty quiet as far as official statements went. To my knowledge, we were never briefed about it as a unit."
Airman 2nd Class Barry L. Krause
Former Atlas ICBM Missile Facilities Specialist, 579th Strategic Missile Squadron, Walker AFB, New Mexico
I did not personally interview Krause, who died in 1973. However, on December 20, 1964, he wrote to a civilian UFO research organization, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), to report an ongoing series of UFO-related incidents at his squadron's Atlas ICBM sites. In the letter, Krause stated that some of the missile security police whom he had queried about the sightings had deflected his questions by saying that the incidents had been classified "top secret." Krause also stated that, at one point, the UFO incidents had become so numerous, and ominous, that some of the missile guards were balking at reporting for duty.
Krause's 1964 letter to NICAP, written while the UFO incidents at Walker AFB were ongoing, is extremely important because it provides an unsolicited, contemporary account of some of the sightings at the missile sites. I would like to thank Richard Hall for sharing Krause's letter with other researchers.
Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota (1966)
Staff Sgt. Albert Spodnik (USAF Ret.)
Former Electro-Mechanical technician, 44th Missile Maintenance Squadron, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
Spodnik states that one summer night in 1966, he and a fellow Electro-Mechanical Team technician were dispatched to Launch Facility (silo) Juliet-3 to correct an electrical malfunction. For some reason, both the commercial power supply to the site and the emergency power systems had simultaneously failed, rendering the Minuteman I missile temporarily inoperable. In Air Force parlance, the ICBM had "gone off alert status".
After restoring power to the launch facility, Spodnik and his partner began an automated start-up procedure which would return the missile to normal operational status. When they left the underground silo to take a break, the technicians' security escort alerted them to a sudden, excited exchange over the Crew Cab's two-way radio. As the three men listened, they learned that an armed Air Force Security Alert Team had been ordered to investigate a triggered security alarm at nearby Launch Facility Juliet-5. Furthermore, the missile there had abruptly dropped off alert status. As with Juliet-3, the site had lost commercial electrical power and its diesel-powered generator, designed to charge back-up batteries, had failed to start.
When the Security Alert Team arrived at Juliet-5, they reported that a strange object was sitting on the ground inside the security fence that surrounded the missile silo. As Spodnik and his companions eavesdropped, they heard the Flight Security Controller order the SAT to approach the object. Obviously upset, the team leader responded that he would not do so. He said that his team was parked outside the gate to the launch facility but would go no further. He then reported that the mysterious object was round, apparently metallic, and resting on a tripod landing gear.
As this drama was unfolding over the radio, Spodnik and his companions quickly climbed up on the Crew Cab's roof and flat bed to get a better view of the adjacent missile silo, which was about four miles away. Gazing across the flat, open terrain, they noticed an intense glow that seemed to envelop the entire launch facility, much brighter than the security lights located there.
By this time, the Flight Security Controller had notified Juliet Flight's Launch Commander about the situation. Spodnik could only hear the radio conversation between the Flight Security Controller and the Security Alert Team, but the Launch Commander had apparently ordered the team to approach the unidentified object. Once again, the team leader refused. In a strained voice, he abruptly asked for permission to fire on the object. In response, the Flight Security Controller yelled, "Negative! Don't shoot until you know what's going on!" He then informed the agitated security team leader that the Launch Commander had ordered the men to stand-by while he called the Missile Command Post at Ellsworth AFB. After a few moments, the team leader was told that a helicopter was being sent to the site.
Spodnik states that about 30 minutes after the Command Post had been notified about the UFO landing, he saw the helicopter in the distance, as it approached the stricken launch facility. When it was about five minutes away, someone screamed into the radio, "There it goes!" Instantly, Spodnik saw a brilliant white light directly above Juliet-5, ascending vertically at enormous velocity. He said that while he couldn't see the object itself, the light beneath it had the appearance of an "inverted flashlight beam".
After the furor had subsided, Spodnik and his partner finished their work at Juliet-3 and returned to the base. Upon arriving, they and their security escort were unexpectedly met by the missile maintenance commander, who promptly asked them if they had seen or heard anything unusual while at the launch facility. The security guard readily admitted to eavesdropping on the two-way radio, confessing that he was baffled by what had taken place at Juliet-5.
Glancing nervously at each other, Spodnik and the other technician impulsively denied having witnessed anything out of the ordinary. Both men told the commander that they had spent the entire visit to the launch facility underground, restoring the missile to alert status.
When I asked Spodnik why he had not admitted to listening to the radio chatter, he replied that he and his partner had previously heard rumors about missile technicians being relieved of duty for reporting strange occurrences at ICBM sites. "We heard about people reporting seeing things," he said, "Not necessarily UFOs, just anything oddball that couldn't be explained rationally. Those guys were ordered to report to the [base] hospital, examined, and medically discharged as mentally unfit for military service." Spodnik admitted that he didn't personally know of anyone who had been treated in this manner, but rumors to that effect had been circulating within his squadron.
Spodnik was undoubtedly referring to a Department of Defense regulation known as "PRP"—Personnel Reliability Program. As mentioned earlier, this directive is designed to govern the behavior of those who work with or around nuclear weapons. Under its guidelines, potentially severe consequences await those judged by their superiors to be psychologically unstable. Several former Air Force missile personnel whom I have interviewed have said that, because of this regulation, they also had concerns about reporting their own UFO sighting, and often did not.
Spodnik said that the maintenance commander, upon hearing his denial, eyed him suspiciously and then ordered the two technicians to report to his office early the next morning. Upon arriving there, Spodnik noticed that the commander had with him an individual dressed in civilian clothes. This person was not introduced, said nothing, took no notes, but listened attentively as Spodnik and his partner answered the commander's questions about the events of the previous evening. Now very nervous, the pair nevertheless stuck to their story—they had seen and heard nothing. After a several-minute interrogation, the maintenance commander ordered the two men to report to duty.
Spodnik further stated that the neither he nor his partner ever saw their security escort again. Ordinarily, standard duty rotation would have ensured that the same individual be assigned to accompany Spodnik on some future maintenance call, but this never occurred. Spodnik assumed that the escort had been transferred to another base, but never did learn the reason for his sudden departure.
A second former 44th Missile Maintenance Squadron technician, whom I will not identify, has independently confirmed the essential elements in Spodnik's account, in particular the landing of the UFO inside the missile silo's security fence. This individual estimates that the incident occurred in late June or early July, 1966, just prior to his separation from the Air Force.
Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota (1992)
UFO sighting by two Minuteman missile maintenance personnel, whom I will not identify, as reported to Tech. Sgt. Jeff Goodrich (USAF Ret.), Former Minuteman missile technician, 44th Field Missile Maintenance Squadron (FMMS), Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota:
Just before midnight on October 27, 1992, two members of the 44th FMMS, Airman 1st Class Michael R-----, a vehicle controller, and Airman 1st Class Jason B-----, a Minuteman Electro-Mechanical Team technician, were approaching the squadron's operations hangar when they saw a group of bright, white lights moving rapidly in rigid formation. While no solid object was actually visible, the fact that the lights did not vary in their positions relative to one another led the witnesses to concluded that they were arranged across the surface of a very large but unseen craft.
As R----- and B----- watched, the light formation moved directly toward the Minuteman missile maintenance hangar, hovered over it momentarily, and then moved away, disappearing behind a bank of low clouds. Both of the observers estimated that at its closest approach, the object was approximately a quarter-mile from them.
Upon arriving at work, the startled eyewitnesses excitedly told those present about the sighting. At that time of night, there wasn't much happening at the hangar and it was relatively empty except for a handful of people in the vehicles and equipment sections.
The next day, another missile maintenance technician, Jeff Goodrich, also learned of the incident. Goodrich had a long-standing interest in UFOs, and was a certified field investigator for the Mutual UFO Network. Using that organization's standard sighting questionnaire, he had R----- and B----- independently record the details of their experience less than two days later.
R----- wrote, "It was kind of foggy out … When I first saw it, I thought it was an airplane, but it moved too smooth and swiftly without noise. I couldn't believe it. I was totally amazed. It was an awesome sight. It seemed to hover about three-to-five hundred feet over the ground and [then] it just sort of disappeared in the air."
In his report, B----- wrote, "I noticed it when I looked out over the hangar where I work. I pointed it out to Mike, who was driving. At first I thought it was an airplane but it was way too big. There were no flashing lights like on most planes and [its] shape was like no plane I've ever seen. I was freaked out [and] Mike almost ran off the road, trying to get a better look at it … It disappeared behind the clouds above the base."
Each airman made drawings of the UFO itself, as well as its position in the sky, relative to the hangar. In R-----'s picture, the lights appear similar to a string of pearls, delineating the presumed boundary of an unseen kidney bean-shaped object. B----- drew essentially the same picture, but with some of the lights positioned away from object's edge. He also depicted it as having more of a boomerang shape.
R----- drew the UFO hovering directly over the missile maintenance hangar, whereas B----- depicted the object approaching the facility from the north, and (as indicated by an arrow) moving into the cloud bank.
Elsewhere on the questionnaire, in the section titled, Object Description, R----- wrote that the UFO's apparent width had been "2-3 times the size of a full moon". B----- instead described the lights, writing that each one appeared "2-3 times the size of a star." However, in the Personal Account section, he wrote that the object itself had been much larger than an airplane and, in one of his drawings of the entire cluster of lights, he added the caption, "Approx. 300 ft. long".
Neither sighting witness was officially debriefed. It is unknown whether the UFO appeared on radar.