Saturday, 25 August 2018

Bombshell Emerges:

United States Air Force (USAF) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Investigated UFO Cases Years After Project Blue Book Closed


Up until the end of 1969, the United States Air Force (USAF) was the United States government’s focal point for the collection, evaluation, and investigation of UFO cases. Of three formal UFO projects, the longest running was Project Blue Book. Controversial from its beginning in 1952, the Blue Book effort was a frequent public relations nuisance for the USAF, and was hardly the technically competent outfit it should have been. On several occasions the USAF tried to shuffle the program elsewhere, or shut it down entirely. Finally, on the 17th of December, 1969, the Secretary of the USAF, Dr. Robert C. Seamans Jr., announced that Blue Book had finally concluded. The decision to close the project had been formalised in a memorandum to the USAF’s Chief of Staff, General John D. Ryan. This news was circulated by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence (OASD) in an “Immediate Release” Public Affairs statement. From that day forth, anyone who enquired with the USAF, or the Department of Defence (DOD) in general, would receive a short USAF–issued publication which reflected their final stance on the UFO’s matter. Over the years, this publication has come in several guises, including “Fact Sheet, Unidentified Flying Objects”, “UFO Fact Sheet”, and “Fact Sheet, Information on UFOs”. Despite slight differences in title and layout, the information contained within these publications has been more–or–less the same for nearly five decades.

I have chosen, for reasons that will become embarrassingly clear, two sections of text found in these well–worn “Fact Sheets”. The first states:

“On December 17, 1969, the Secretary of the Air Force announced the termination of Project Blue Book, the Air Force program for the investigation of UFOs. The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled ‘Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects’; a review of the University of Colorado’s report by the National Academy of Sciences; past UFO studies; and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports during the past two decades.”

The second passage worth quoting claims:

“Since the termination of Project Blue Book, no evidence has been presented to indicate that further investigation of UFOs by the Air Force is warranted. In view of the considerable Air Force commitment of resources in the past and the extreme pressure on Air Force funds at this time, there is no likelihood of renewed Air Force involvement in this area.”

These statements were supposed to be absolute. The USAF had made the “…decision to discontinue UFO investigations…”. There is certainly no vagueness there. Equally unambiguous is that proclamation that “…no evidence has been presented to indicate that further investigation of UFOs by the Air Force is warranted…”. Finally, though not utterly unequivocal I suppose, is an assertion that “…renewed Air Force involvement in this area…” was very unlikely.

Digging a bit deeper, there are two issues with the above–mentioned statements that seasoned researchers eventually discover. The first involves the question of centralised UFO case investigation. Some scholars of the UFO topic have argued that what the USAF actually meant to say was that there would be no formal project to systematically filter and investigate UFO reports. That line of reasoning would have ample merit if it wasn’t for the numerous other statements made by the USAF. I possess, on file, literally dozens of 1970’s and 1980’s–era statements which specifically assert that UFO case investigation was being not undertaken at all, regardless of a Blue Book–like UFO project or not. Thus, the argument that the USAF intended to go on investigating UFO cases, just without a formal project focal point, is almost certainly wrong. Closely related to that issue is a second matter worth highlighting. It revolves around the receiving of UFO reports versus any further investigation efforts. It has been occasionally claimed that the USAF refused to even accept UFO reports after Blue Book closed. This assumption is entirely incorrect. I will briefly cover this issue in due course, but, the reality is that branches of the US military have maintained several reporting channels that can be, and have been, utilised for reporting UFO sightings, and, moreover, several of these channels have been designed specifically for UFO’s. Thus, the reporting of UFO events after the conclusion of Project Blue Book is rarely in question. Rather, it’s the formal investigation of UFO events that has been long denied. Simply put, there is a very big difference between UFO reporting and UFO case investigation.

My interpretation of the DOD’s officially stated posture on UFO investigation can be exemplified in a pair of reply letters sent to researcher Robert G. Todd in early 1975. On the 27th of March, 1975, Lieutenant Colonel Huge G. Waite, who was assigned to the US Army’s Office of the Chief of Information, Washington DC, told Todd that:

“The US Army does not investigate UFO reports, and as you probably know, the Air Force has terminated their project in this area. I have enclosed a fact sheet prepared by the Air Force which provides information regarding their discontinued involvement in Project Blue Book, code name for UFO sightings, and also where these records are now stored.”

Unsatisfied with this answer, Todd pushed the matter further with Lt. Col. Waite in a forceful reply dated the 14th of April, 1975. A few weeks later, on the 8th of May, 1975, Lt. Col. Waite came back with more detailed answers to Todd’s enquiries. Succinctly, he stated, in part:

“As to your request for information about ‘reporting procedures’ for UFO sightings and Army procedures for investigating UFO’s, I assure you that no such procedures exist. The Army, the other services, and the Department of Defense, endorse the position taken by the Air Force described in the attached fact sheet. To the extent that formal investigation of alleged UFO sightings occurs, it is done by private organizations, not by the U.S. military services. I regret that the Army can be of no further assistance in this matter.”

Lt. Col. Waite’s statements in these letters cannot be any clearer. Neither the US Army, nor anyone else in the US military, were investigating UFO sightings in the 1970’s. Unequivocally, he claimed that, “…the US Army does not investigate UFO reports…”. Further, he says that, “…to the extent that formal investigation of alleged UFO sightings occurs, it is done by private organizations, not by the U.S. military services…”. Lastly, he attempts to shut down the matter by tersely declaring, “…the Army can be of no further assistance in this matter.”. These authoritative proclamations by the Army sound final, and, moreover, would have been difficult for researchers to argue with.

It has now emerged, however, that the USAF, with contribution from the Federal Aviation Administration, engaged in UFO case “investigation and findings” well after Project Blue Book closed. And that is what this piece is about.

Todd’s reason for engaging the Army in the first place can be explained by a series of events which had occurred two years earlier. During the early 1970’s, the Army was involved in numerous unsolved and startling UFO cases. The most renowned incident occurred on the night of the 18th of October, 1973, near Mansfield, Ohio. Often referred to as the “Coyne case”, the crew an 83rd Amy Reserves Command helicopter was apparently buzzed by a large, elongated object during a training flight. Several pages of official Army records were released soon after the event. Barely two months prior, on the 8th of September, 1973, the 298th Military Police Company at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, endured a close encounter with a large, unidentifiable object while on a routine security patrol. The local Provost Marshall’s Office at nearby Fort Stewart generated a “Serious Incident Report” (SIR) for Army Headquarters. There were other UFO cases involving the Army, most of which are almost entirely unknown, and I aim to highlight them in the future. No sooner had these intrusive, multi–witness sightings occurred than the Army had another problem to deal with. Researcher Robert G. Todd, of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, was the most prolific Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) user in the history of the UFO controversy. Todd’s tireless work has helped shape our understanding of governmental response to the UFO problem. Many of the thousands of pages of military records he obtained are only being analysed now. In Feburary, 1975, Todd embarked on a dogged campaign of FOI requesting and general letter–writing correspondence with two dozen US Army entities. From the Pentagon, right down to Battalion–level units, everyone was forced to humour Todd’s demands for straight answers.

This mountain of correspondence included a series of back–and–forth letters with the US Army’s huge Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker in Alabama. In the 1970’s, the facility was responsible for developing aviation doctrine and aircraft technology for the Army, and, moreover, it provided education and training to a large fraction of the Army’s core aviation and flight specialists. On the 17th of Feburary, 1976, Todd had evidently posed a number of questions regarding Army policy on UFO’s, as well as enquiries regarding specific UFO cases. While we do not have a copy of Todd’s letter, we do have a copy of the Army Aviation Center’s reply. And a significant reply it was. Dated the 20th of Feburary, 1976, and signed by the Center’s Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Herbert C. Strickland, Todd must have been rather taken aback by its candid and detailed admissions. Referencing Todd’s letter of the 17th of February, Strickland stated, in part:

“The agency responsible for the investigation of reports of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO’s) is the Senior Aviation Service, the United States Air Force (USAF), as designated by the Department of Defense. The USAF coordinate their investigation and findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

The responsibility of this installation for investigating aviation mishaps is limited to those accidents/incidents involving assigned aircraft which result in damage to property and injury or death of aircraft occupants. Investigations of aviation mishaps which do not involve damage, injury or death, such as the UFO incidents you mention, are the responsibility of the unit owning the aircraft involved. For that reason, your previous two queries were forwarded to the two military units involved in purported UFO incidents for direct response to you. In the case of UFO incidents, the USAF and FAA accomplish detailed follow–on investigations, if required.

Your question ‘Why was no investigation conducted in either case?’ should, therefore, be directed to the USAF or FAA.

As to your second question, ‘Is it official policy to ignore reports of UFO’s made by Army personnel?’, I can only advise you that if damage, injury or death occurred, such an accident/incident would be of major concern to safety investigators from the United States Army Agency for Aviation Safety (USAAAVS) and would be investigated…”

Strickland’s letter continued into a second page and advised Todd to study the work of anti–UFO debunker Phillip J. Klass. Further, Strickland offered Todd brief guidance on approaching the applicable Judge Advocate General of any Army units that happen to be involved in a UFO event. I have imaged Strickland’s two–page letter below.

Quite simply, the contents of Herbert C. Strickland’s letter are extraordinary. Firstly, it is revealed that the USAF is indeed the “agency responsible” for the “investigation” of UFO cases. This goes far beyond a situation where USAF entities had to begrudgingly accept the odd report. Secondly, we learn that “the USAF coordinate their investigation and findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)…”. Again, we see a clear reference to the “investigation” of UFO’s by the USAF. The added twist, obviously, is that the USAF further “coordinate” their “investigation and findings” with the America’s civil aviation authority, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)! We then see additional clarification, in second paragraph of the letter, concerning the investigation of UFO events by the USAF and FAA. Confessed is the fact that “the USAF and FAA accomplish detailed follow–on investigations, if required”. Thirdly, Strickland’s letter also discusses the investigative obligations of the Army Aviation Center. Importantly, we learn that the handling of UFO cases is not part of their mission, and, rather, they only deal with serious aviation accidents and other grave mishaps “which result in damage to property and injury or death of aircraft occupants”. However, Strickland does clearly state that UFO incidents involving Army aircraft “are the responsibility of the unit owning the aircraft involved”.

Before going further, one passage of Strickland’s letter caused me some initial confusion, and it worth clarifying this issue lest it causes readers any misunderstanding. Strickland mentions uses the phrase “Senior Aviation Service”, and I first throught that this was an actual USAF controlled entity, such as a cell within a larger USAF agency, or a specific office within one of the USAF’s many commands. However, I understand now that Strickland meant that the USAF is the “Senior Aviation Service”, and its main aviation service of the DoD. Strickland perhaps could have written something like, “The agency responsible… …is the Department of Defence’s senior aviation service, which is the United States Air Force (USAF)”. Whatever the exact wording, Strickland makes it quite clear that the USAF embarked on UFO case investigation, and the FAA followed closely.

These admissions utterly fly in the face of what the USAF, and other areas of the Department of Defence (DOD), were peddling after Project Blue Book ended in late 1969. Researchers have been asking the USAF, and the other branches of the Armed Forces, for information on UFO case investigation, as well as doctrinal policy regarding the UFO issue, for decades. Rarely has there been such candid and specific statements made on official letterhead. The DOD was, in the 1970’s and onwards, mailing out their “Fact Sheet” on UFO’s to anyone curious enough to ask. One passage of text, which I highlighted previously, begins with the statement, “the decision to discontinue UFO investigations…”. This is nonsense, clearly. Another issue is the fact that the DOD, and especially the USAF, have ceaselessly encouraged researchers to simply review existing Project Blue Book files, plus the even older Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) records, as they were quickly becoming available at Maxwell Air Force Base. There has never been any mention of newer UFO investigation files from the 1970’s or beyond, and this is an issue which needs urgent attention. In fact, there are so many issues here that one barely knows where to begin.

For starters, one is bound to ask where the Army Aviation Agency got their information, and why it was spelled out so clearly for Robert Todd, who was, after all, a civilian. In later correspondence with Herbert C. Strickland’s office, Todd learned that the Army Aviation Center had received their information from a Col. Samuel P. Kalagian. Based also at Fort Rucker, Col. Kalagian was the Deputy Commander of the Army Aviation Safety Board. Upon ascertaining this connection, Todd further discovered that Col. Kalagian had communicated, at some length, with the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (OSAF) regarding the UFO issue. I will further detail these threads of correspondence in future reports, but it’s fair to say that Strickland’s letter to Todd was accurate and well informed. Why the OSAF was so candid with Col. Kalagian, who was subsequently just as candid with the Army Aviation Center and Strickland, is unknown. Most likely, the OSAF didn’t realise that Col. Kalagian’s enquiry was eventually going to find its way to Todd. If that explanation isn’t correct, then it’s possible that the OSAF staffers who handled Col. Kalagian’s UFO enquiry didn’t appreciate that there was a standard response about UFO’s which everyone seemed to get, no matter who they were. Whatever the reason, someone, at some point, was simply too forthcoming.

As stated, the USAF was “responsible” for the “investigation” of UFO reports, and they “coordinated” their “investigations and findings” with the FAA. In all these years, we have yet to see more than a very few examples of USAF–driven UFO investigation after Project Blue Book closed shop in late 1969. Likewise, we have hardly seen any investigative efforts by the FAA, with or without the USAF’s input, into UFO cases no matter what the time frame. The FAA investigation and report into the infamous Japan Airlines UFO incident over Alaska, which occurred on the 17th of November, 1986, is a rare exception, and it was primarily done, rightly or wrongly, to debunk the case. So, with the Army’s admissions to Robert Todd in mind, we must ask, and quite urgently, where are these “investigations and findings” into UFO cases in the 1970’s? Were they led solely by the USAF, and thus on USAF letterhead? Or were they joint USAF–FAA efforts by a combined committee or board? Were these “detailed follow–on investigations” highly classified? Were these investigations, and their “findings”, handled as aviation safety events? Or were they considered an intelligence and security matter? Or both? Where were the actual files generated? And which agencies were on the distribution lists?

Moving away from the USAF and FAA connection, Strickland’s letter also talks specifically about the US Army. Robert Todd had previously asked the question ‘Is it official policy to ignore reports of UFO’s made by Army personnel?’, and the answer Strickland gives is that “…if damage, injury or death occurred…” it would be a “…major concern to safety investigators from the United States Army Agency for Aviation Safety (USAAAVS) and would be investigated…”. One could ask how many of those sort of cases have there been? One would assume that such a scenario would be rare indeed, but how would we know? The US military haven’t been exactly honest with the public in the past, and that’s putting it mildly. I have not yet been able to review the history of the Army’s USAAAVS, but I do have some information about an agency with a similar mandate and mission, and it has occasionally dealt with major aerial mishaps where UFO’s were possibly involved.

For four decades, the USAF’s vital Air Force Inspection and Safety Center (AFISC) was located at Norton Air Force Base, California. Currently known as the Air Force Safety Center (AFSC), and now operating out of Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, the organisation has historically been charged with investigating aircraft accidents and other safety incidents for the USAF. I aim, in future, to discuss this agency at some length. For now, it’s worth mentioning that the old AFISC completed several air accident investigations in the 1950’s and 1960’s that possibly involved UFO’s. A handful of AFISC accident investigation files where UFO’s are discussed were released under the FOI Act in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but those few releases were massively incomplete. Entire portions of the files were stubbornly withheld. One particularly promising section in any AFISC investigation file is a segment titled “Board of Investigation Proceedings”. It gives the most complete and detailed account of the circumstances around a crash or other major air safety incident. So far, not one AFISC air accident file involving UFO’s has contained its “Board of Investigation Proceedings” section intact. So, if the USAF’s old AFISC was dealing with UFO–related aircraft accidents, why not the Army’s aforementioned USAAAVS? As we know, Strickland’s letter to Robert Todd raised the matter in the first place, and one wouldn’t be remotely surprised if the Army had dealt with major aviation mishaps where UFO’s were somehow part of the case.

Another issue raised in Strickland’s letter revolves around potential Army aviation mishaps that do not result in a major incident but are investigated nevertheless. Specifically, Strickland stated that “…investigations of aviation mishaps which do not involve damage, injury or death, such as the UFO incidents you mention, are the responsibility of the unit owning the aircraft involved…”. This implies that an Army unit, such as a Company or Battalion, would evaluate any non–serious incident that happened to involve UFO’s. This, I would hypothesise, doesn’t mean that every single UFO sighting from an Army owned aircraft was investigated. At the same time, however, it was Strickland who brought up the issue, and it can’t be brushed aside. Myriad questions arise from all this. If a UFO investigation was conducted at Company or Battalion level, say, who had jurisdiction over the files? Did higher commands wish to be notified? Were preliminary investigations done by the Commanding Officer of the Army unit? Was each case handled on an ad hoc basis? The list of questions is long indeed.

As for the actual paperwork generated during an Army unit–level UFO investigation, no matter how measly, it is highly likely that such files have now been destroyed. The Army can’t keep everything, and there are concise, detailed regulations instructing Army personnel on what records should be permanently archived, and what records should be destroyed. One example of 1970’s–era records management doctrine was “Army Regulation 340–16, Office Management, Safeguarding ‘For Official Use Only’ Information” (AR 340–16). It was promulgated by Headquarters, Department of the Army, on the 1st of May, 1970, and offers guidance on everything from how long records should be security classified before being downgraded, to how many years different categories of records should be retained before being shipped out to a more long–term facility for eventual archiving. Regarding records destruction, the news isn’t good. Military Police Reports, for instance, are destroyed after two years, or, when the unit owning such reports is deactivated. Serious Incident Reports, such as the one used during the Hunter Army Airfield UFO sighting in September, 1973, must be kept for three years before being declassified, and, then, can be destroyed providing the report isn’t being used in an investigation or for some other specific purpose. If, by chance, any Army UFO investigative files have survived, researchers would be now burdened with identifying what such paperwork was originally titled, and in what category of records they would have been stored. In sum, the Army were so good at convincing everyone that UFO’s weren’t in their jurisdiction, at unit level or otherwise, that hardly anyone bothered them over it.

That the US Army would task itself with investigating UFO events, either at unit level or at the United States Army Agency for Aviation Safety (USAAAVS), is one thing. Quite another is all this business about the USAF and FAA. The USAF was “responsible for the investigation” of UFO’s, and that the FAA participated. Both entities jointly embarked on “detailed follow–on investigations”. Yet, time after time after time, researchers and other interested parties, including the odd Congressman, were being fobbed off with the USAF’s lying “UFO Fact Sheet”. What about the United States Navy (USN)? Were they conducting any UFO investigations after Project Blue Book ended? In the 1970’s, researchers periodically asked the USN about their policy on UFO sightings and investigation. Their replies, of which we thankfully still have in hardcopy form, were often worse than the baloney coming out of the USAF. In fact, there is substantial evidence that the USN had far more involvement with the UFO matter than has been ever published, and I aim to report on this soon.

As I have mentioned, the US military always intended to maintain formal reporting channels for UFO sightings after Project Blue Book ended. This fact was admitted quite early on, but only though direct and repeated correspondence, and often inconsistently. For example, sometime in May of 1970, researcher George Earley sent a letter to Headquarters, USAF, asking which military entity would be now “responsible” for UFO sightings since Blue Book had been closed. Colonel William T. Coleman, who was the Chief of Public Information for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (OSAF), replied to Earley on the 26th of May, 1970, and stated the following:

“The Aerospace Defense Command (ADC) is responsible for unknown aerial phenomena reported in any manner, and the provisions of Joint Army–Navy–Air Force Publication (JANAP) 146 provides for the processing of reports.”

So, the Aerospace Defence Command (ADC) was “responsible for unknown aerial phenomena reported in any manner”. Further, a specific military–wide publication provided up–to–date guidance on “the processing” of UFO reports. Col. Coleman’s letter, of course, doesn’t mention anything regarding the investigation of reported UFO events. The last thing the USAF wanted in 1970 was another decade of public UFO debate or allegations of cover–up.

Another illustration of the US military’s post–Project Blue Book stance on UFO reporting is exemplified in a series of Congressional correspondence letters from early 1977. Boston–based researcher Barry Greenwood had, on more than one occasion, asked the USAF for some clarification on how they, or anyone else within the DOD, were handling UFO sightings since Project Blue Book had ended. Like most people, Greenwood received the standard “UFO Fact Sheet” and nothing whatsoever more. This, of course, utterly failed to answer his specific and fair questions about post–Blue Book military UFO cases. To get more forthright answers Greenwood wrote to Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey to see if he could obtain more information from the USAF on Greenwood’s behalf. On the 20th of April, 1977, Lieutenant Colonel John Farr, who was with the USAF’s Congressional Inquiry Division, sent his reply to Congressman Markey. It stated, in part:

“With regard to Mr. Greenwood’s desire for reports of current UFO sightings, a Joint Army–Navy–Air Force Publication, (JANAP 146) requires radio reports of any sighting which the pilot feels could be a threat to national security. Guidance in this directive could result in reports of UFOs. However, if such reports were made, they would be transient in nature with no permanent record or file maintained.”

Lieutenant Colonel Farr’s reply, as well as previously mentioned Col. Coleman letter, both mention a publication called “JANAP–146”. This refers simply to a piece of old doctrine known as “Joint Army–Navy–Air Force Publication No. 146”. Though now superseded by other publications, it contained a series of “Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings” (CIRVIS) procedures. Promulgated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and applicable to all branches of the US military, CIRVIS listed “Unidentified Flying Objects”, or “UFOs”, as being reportable by US military personnel. Other reportable sightings included “Missiles”, “Unidentified Aircraft” and “Formations of Aircraft”. Such reports were electronically submitted through nearby air defence installations to the Commander–in–Chief of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (CINC–NORAD). In late 1995, JANAP–146 was cancelled, and CIRVIS instructions were placed in an evolving series of newer doctrine, which started with “Air Force Manual 10–206 Operational Reporting” (AFM 10–206). UFO’s were still, even in the 2000’s and 2010’s, listed as CIRVIS–reportable objects. In September, 2011, CIRVIS procedures appeared to vanish. In future reports, I will discuss where they are now placed.

Going back to the Lt. Col. John Farr’s letter to Congressman Edward Markey, there are several important issues that need addressing. Firstly, Lt. Col. Farr states that reports would be “…transient in nature with no permanent record or file maintained”. This statement somewhat matches what other researchers have been told. For instance, Armen Victorian, a British–based researcher, was told that by NORAD’s Directorate of Public Affairs that copies of CIRVIS reports were routinely destroyed after six months. Destroyed or not, UFO’s were almost certainly being reported using the CIRVIS system. If they weren’t, it would have been advantageous for the USAF to just say so. As for the investigation of UFO events, it is entirely possible, especially considering the US Army’s staggering admissions to Robert Todd, that the USAF and the FAA were studying CIRVIS–submitted UFO sightings all along. They likely had no choice. After all, CIRVIS reporting dealt with what the military termed “vital intelligence sightings”. The reports themselves went through frontline air defence installations, and on to NORAD and ADC. Someone had to be watching.

I have raised the JANAP–146 CIRVIS issue because its existence was always an easy “go to” policy for the USAF when researchers asked questions about post–Blue Book UFO reporting. There were, however, numerous other channels that military personnel had available to them for UFO sightings. Another source of UFO reports were US and Canadian naval vessels. Since the early 1950’s, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have issued a series of “Merchant Ship Intelligence” (MERINT) instructions. Almost identical to CIRVIS procedures, MERINT requested that “Unidentified Flying Objects” be rapidly reported through a specific channel. A submitted MERINT report had to include a description of the sighting, which included the object(s) shape, size, color, any discernible features, associated sounds, direction of travel and duration of sighting. Historically, these reports went to the likes of the Commander–in–Chief, North American Air Defense Command (CINC–NORAD), the USN’s Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Canadian Navy’s Commander, Maritime Command, and the USN’s Director, Naval Ocean Surveillance Information Center, (D–NOSIC). Though MERINT instructions were sometimes amalgamated with CIRVIS instructions into a single section of JANAP–146, some regional or command–level versions of MERINT were issued as well. For instance, the Commander, Military Sea Transportation Service, Far East, San Francisco, issued MERINT instructions throughout the Asia–Pacific region in June, 1967, within a publication titled “Military Sea Transportation Service, Far East, Instruction 3360.1A”. How many UFO sighting reports did such policy generate? And of those, how many were investigated?

Yet another source of UFO reports worthy of investigation was the US military’s “Operational Report [3] Serious Incident/Event” channel. Usually shortened to “OPREP–3”, these urgent, high level reports have, since the late 1960’s, been used by base commanders, unit commanders, and other frontline officers to alert the NMCC, CJCS, the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SJCS), the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the White House, and any applicable Major Commands (MAJCOM) of a rapidly developing incident or event which may affect national security, or become the source of considerable unwanted attention. Indeed, on at least five occasions that we know of, the OPREP–3 channel was used to report UFO’s that had intruded over military installations in the 1970’s. Moreover, the employment of OPREP–3’s for the reporting of alarming UFO events should have been known to us all along. Project Blue Book’s closure was partly authorised by Brig. Gen. Carrol H. Bolender, who was, at the time, the Deputy Director of Development, for the Deputy Chief of Staff, Research and Development, USAF. Brig. Bolender’s contribution to Blue Book’s demise was his infamous three page “Bolender Memo”, or “Bolender Air Staff Summary”. Dated the 20th of September, 1969, and classified SECRET, Brig. Gen. Bolender stated that:

Moreover, reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force Manual 55–11, and are not part of the Blue Book system... …as already stated, reports of UFOs which could affect national security would continue to be handled through the standard Air Force procedures designed for this purpose.”

We already know about JANAP–146 and its CIRVIS UFO reporting procedures, but what about the reference to “Air Force Manual 55–11”? During the late 1960’s “Air Force Manual 55–11, Operations, Air Force Operational Reporting System” (AFM–55–11) detailed the vital “Air Force Operational Reporting System” (AFOREPS). The AFOREPS network included several operational reporting categories, and one of them was the OPREP–3 channel. In May, 1971, the OPREP–3 system was migrated to the other branches of the US military. As stated, OPREP–3’s were been used to report UFO’s near military installations. Brig. Gen. Bolender’s stipulation that “…unidentified flying objects which could affect national security…” be reported using such a system was evidently taken up.

On and on it goes. CIRVIS reports, MERINT reports, OPREP–3 reports, Serious Incident Reports… The USAF and, apparently, the FAA, had numerous, classified sources of UFO cases to investigate. Again, the US Army told Robert Todd that the “…USAF coordinate their investigation and findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)…”, and together they accomplished “…detailed follow–on investigations, if required…”. During the course of my research I have discovered several other channels utilised for UFO reporting. These include “Daily Spot Intelligence Reports” (DSINTREP), which are swiftly lodged at the Headquarters of the Numbered Air Forces, and “Unit Reports” (UNITREP) which are submitted by US Coast Guard ships. There are more. The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) has, or at least had, numerous instructions and command directives that specifically mention “Unidentified Flying Objects”, “UFOs” and “Objects”. This would be fine if they were solely talking about stray aircraft, unknown aircraft, balloons and the like. But those more mundane aerial events were already covered in other doctrine. The old Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS) was involved, at minimum, in the logging and preliminary assessment of UFO cases. Specifically, AFIS’s Aerospace Intelligence Division (AFIS/INZ) handled UFO events for the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and the 8th Air Force in 1975. Likewise, and unsurprisingly, the USAF’s Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence (ACS/I) dealt with UFO conundrums. Specifically, ACS/I’s highly classified Scientific and Technical Branch, which was located within the Directorate of Resource Management, was tasked with keeping track of USAF generated UFO sightings in the 1970’s. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In some ways the US Army's revelations to Robert Todd aren't surprising. The signs have been there all along. The military were still dealing with UFOs long after Project Blue Book ended. Now, though, we have evidence of a wider, multi-agency UFO "investigation" effort rather than just the receiving of the odd report. The USAF and FAA, in hindsight were the correct combination of bodies for UFO investigation, and the USAF side of the house were able to provide the security and secrecy. NORAD too has investigated UFO cases, and not merely of the stray aircraft flavour. Further, we now know that the US Army was dealing with UFO's too. Experience tells us that the declassified records already obtained by researchers will be only a fraction of what languishes in archives, often with high security classification stamps well in place. The entire history of governmental UFO secrecy is far richer than anyone initially envisaged.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


Richard C. Doty's United States 

Air Force Service Records ( Well, Nearly... )


The UFO controversy contains a handful of individuals who need no introduction. One such figure is Richard C. Doty. Formally with the United States Air Force (USAF), Doty has become somewhat legendary. To some, he is an officially sanctioned disinformation agent. To others, he is the quintessential truth twisting hoaxer. To many, he is an odd combination of these two extremes. I am not going to give yet another synopsis of Doty’s unusual contribution to UFO history. Others have already done so, and they have done it quite well. There are three books that immediately come to mind when pondering the Doty saga. They are, Christian Lambright’s “X-Descending”, Greg Bishop’s Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth”, and Mark Pilkington’s Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs”. Further, MJ Banias’s upcoming treatment of UFO subculture will also contain an important Doty discussion.

             Over the years, many a researcher has attempted to clarify exactly what Richard Doty did with the USAF, and when, and where. A near total lack of Doty’s USAF service records has presented significant barriers to further investigation, and the few items which have been legally released in recent years are very brief indeed. Just once, though, a dogged investigator got quite lucky.

           Sometime in late 1987, or early 1988, UFO researcher Larry Bryant submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (OSAF) for copies of Richard Doty’s USAF service records. Soon after, Special Agent Cecil W. Fry, the Chief of Information Release at Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) Headquarters, Washington DC, made the decision to withhold all existing records related to Doty. On the 21st of Feburary, 1988, Bryant wrote back to the OSAF appealing AFOSI’s verdict. On the 31st of October, 1988, Mr. Steven A. Thompson, who was with the OSAF’s Office of Administration, replied to Bryant’s appeal letter, and, thankfully, enclosed a number of records, albeit with redactions. While all this was going on, Bryant was also corresponding with Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. On the 8th of September, 1988, Bryant submitted an FOI request to Kirtland asking for any service paperwork they held on Doty. It is unknown who initially handled his request, but two weeks later it was forwarded to the 1606th Air Base Wing. On the 27th of September, 1988, Mr. A. Albert Sanchez, who was the FOI Manager at the 1606th ABW, released a significant number of records to Bryant. Put together, the OSAF and the 1606th ABW released some twenty-five pages of Doty’s service files.

           We don’t know how many more pages may exist. Even the USAF may not have a central Doty service file. Further, some of the documents, as I have mentioned, are redacted. Whatever the situation, the records Larry Bryant did manage to obtain have, to my knowledge, seldom seen the light of day. I do not intend to analyse this material. Other researchers can do that, and no doubt some will. So, with that, Doty’s service file, or at least some of it, is imaged below.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

UFO Dives at Military Police Officers, and

a US Army "Serious Incident Report"   


During the early hours of September the 8th, 1973, the United States Army’s historic Hunter Army Airfield, located near Savannah, Georgia, was apparently the scene of a provocative, “close encounter” UFO incident. Two military policemen, MP Specialist Bart Burns and MP Specialist Randy Shade, who were assigned to the 298th Military Police Company (298th MPC) at Hunter, were the main witnesses. The local Provost Marshall at nearby Fort Stewart was involved, and event was the subject of a US Army “Serious Incident Report”. Two years later, Army officers at Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, would have to deal with the event all over again. Considerable media attention was given to the UFO sighting, and both witnesses were able to make statements to reporters. In fact, press coverage was so swift that it appears that local the Army units were caught somewhat off guard. Furthermore, the next night, on the 9th of September, 1973, MP Burns, and other military police officer, MP Murray, would report another UFO in the vicinity of Hunter, though this secondary incident was little more than a light–in–the–sky event. Ultimately, in a rare coup, the Army would officially release significant documentation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In the late 1960’s, Savannah’s Hunter Army Airfield operated in conjunction with the much larger Fort Stewart, located some forty miles to the south–west. The combined bases were home to the Army’s Flight Training Center (USAFTC) which provided educational instruction and flying training for new AH–1G Cobra attack helicopter crews, who included pilots from not just the Army, but the Republic of Vietnam too. At Hunter, the elite Attack Helicopter Training Department, located in a facility known as “Cobra Hall”, was particularly respected. But as the Vietnam War stagnated, and Army priorities changed, the USAFTC mission was terminated in mid–1972, and both Hunter and Fort Stewart were downgraded to Garrison status. By August, 1973, Hunter was deactivated, with only security and basic administrative staff assigned to the base. Fort Stewart wasn’t far behind. An exciting reversal of fortunes, for both sites, would come in soon after. Fort Stewart became the proud home of the Army’s re–activated 24th Infantry Division in October, 1974, and Hunter followed suit in 1975 as a support facility. Both bases continue operational activities today.

During Hunter Army Airfield’s deactivation and caretaker status, in the mid–1970’s, the base was guarded by personnel from the 298th Military Police Company (298th MPC). The 298th was a US Army Forces Command (USAFORSCOM) unit but remained independent. Though designated a Company, it was nearly the size of a full Battalion, and reported to the local Provost Marshall at Fort Stewart, who in turn reported to Fort Stewart’s Garrison Commander. The role of 298th MPC police personnel at Hunter was to investigate suspicious activity, perform security checks on various facilities, and perform base perimeter checks through regular patrols. It is worth mentioning too that the United States Air Force’s (USAF) small 702nd Radar Squadron (702RS), which was assigned to Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM) at the time, maintained a primary radar facility at the base, though its mission and functions were unrelated to the Army.

In September, 1973, Georgia saw an increase in reported UFO sightings. Witnesses were numerous and varied, and local newspaper outlets published the more soundly described occurrences with a degree of sense and caution. But it was the close–up–and–personal UFO incident at Hunter that was the most provoking. Drawing from numerous primary sources, including US Army records, witness interview testimony, and local newspaper accounts, a chronology of events can be established. Around 2:30am, on the 8th of September, 1973, MP Bart Burns and MP Randy Shade were driving amongst Hunter’s installations, as part of their routine patrols, when they noticed a bright cluster of multi–coloured, flashing lights tracking across the sky. The sky was cloudy, with cloud layers at both nine–thousand feet and twenty–five thousand feet. MP Burns, who had previously served as a helicopter crew chief, didn’t feel it was the lighting on an aircraft, but had to assume it was anyway. He estimated the altitude of the lights to be no greater than two thousand feet, but admitted that it was “difficult to judge”. In any event, the curious lights disappeared behind tall trees. No sound, or other stimuli, was apparent, and the MP’s continued on their patrol towards the disused runways.

Shortly later, at 2:45am MP’s Burns and Shade were patrolling the taxiways near the northern permitter of the base, and the unidentified lights returned. MP Shade, who was driving, would state that they “sure looked like the same collection of flashing lights” as what they had seen moments earlier, and that they now “hovered near the end of the runway”. Perplexed, MP Shade stopped the patrol car to get a stable look at the phenomena, which hung motionless in the sky. At this point, the MP’s were still prepared to believe that the object, somehow, could be a helicopter, despite the lack of noise. Suddenly, the phenomena “dropped to treetop level” and “came straight towards” them. It quickly became apparent that the lights were “only a cluster underneath a metallic looking saucer–shaped body”. The mass of the object wasn’t self–illuminating, but, rather, was lit up from beneath. Shade admitted that they both “just sat there absolutely amazed”. The men estimated it to be some fifty feet in diameter. Abruptly, the object “swooped” towards them. It was at that point MP Shade made the decision to act.

The officers made “like hell” back to the main guard building. Reaching speeds of nearly one–hundred miles an hour, the vehicle was shadowed by the UFO so closely that Shade had trouble seeing through the windshield due to the whirling maelstrom of colored lights above them. Both men would report that the object, if any closer, would have potentially contacted the top of the car. Ultimately, before making it to the guardhouse, Shade lost control of the vehicle and ran off the road into a grassy ditch. While the men attempted to remove their car from its resting place, the UFO hovered in front of them, but at a more comfortable distance. Eventually, it departed thereafter, “skimming off into the distance” as the MP’s regained some semblance of composure and drove to back to their station. In summing up their ordeal, Shade admitted that he had “…never believed in UFO’s in the past”. Burn’s likewise confessed the he was “terrified”, and that he had “crouched down under the dash–board” when the UFO stuck with them before they came off the road.

As the night progressed, the MP’s would make an official “Military Police Report” back at the Provost Marshall’s office at Fort Stewart, and, seemingly, the Pentagon were notified. The Chief Public Information Officer for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Lt. David Anderson, saw that immediate checks were made regarding local aircraft movements and radar coverage, but no one could shed any light on the UFO inicdent. Local law enforcement officials with Chatham County were likewise notified, and, as it turned out, they too had had civilian reports of a low–level concentration of lights in the area. In fact, one local press report would quote that police officers explicitly witnessed the “UFO dive” at Hunter during a surveillance operation. If correct, this would mean that MP Shade and MP Burns had off–site witnesses to their close encounter. Barely twenty–four hours later, MP Burns would have a second sighting, but this time he was with an MP Murray, who was also with the 298th MP Company. At 430am, on the 9 Sep 1973, the two MP’s were patrolling the Hunter runway when they observed what they “first believed to be the red light of an aircraft some distance away”. Moving off quite rapidly, the light “disappeared into the woods”. This, of course, is hardly a noteworthy sighting, but it appears in official report paperwork, so it needs to be mentioned.

Amazingly, the main Hunter Army Airfield UFO encounter was in the local press almost immediately. Some newspaper articles correctly referenced MP Burns and MP Shade as witnesses, and even managed to glean statements directly from them, and other Hunter personnel. Often, military–sourced UFO reports take weeks or months to be picked up, if at all. Moreover, easy access to military personnel regarding UFO sightings is seldom given to pesky journalists. As noted, the UFO encounter occurred in the early hours of the 8th of September, 1973. Impressively, The Savannah Morning News ran a two–page story, just a day later, on the 9th of September. With the heading “Wreck at Hunter Field”, the article reads, in part:

“Two military policemen at Hunter Army Airfield reported early Saturday that an unidentified flying object swooped out of the sky, dove towards their vehicle and forced them off the road during a routine patrol around the perimeter of the base. The UFO hovered near the policemen as they worked to remove their car from a ditch and then pursued them as they returned to MP Headquarters to report the incident.

The pre–dawn sighting Saturday marked the third day of UFO sightings reported in Chatham County. Previous sightings were reported near Savannah Beach Thursday night, near Medrim Friday night and near Lake Mayer late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

The UFO reported at Hunter at 2:20am Saturday followed a reported sighting parallel to Lynes Parkway South at approximately 1:45am. Military Police at Hunter said two military policemen, Spec. 4. Bart J. Burns and Spec 4. Randy Shade, were on a routine patrol when they sighted the object around 2:20am. The first of three separate sightings was reported near Cobra Hall on the base, which is adjacent to the Forest River–Armstrong State College area. Burns, in a report filed at 4pm Saturday, said he noticed an object with “quick flashing lights travelling at a high rate of speed from east to west about 2,000 feet above ground level.”

The two men continued on their patrol and were driving along the perimeter road adjacent to Montgomery Crossroad when the object “came in at treetop level and made a dive” according to Burns’ report. The dive occurred near the 702nd Radar Squadron building, located near the gold course and the ammunition dump. The UFO dove toward the MP sedan and passed above a blue warning light on top of the vehicle, forcing the patrol car off the road and into a ditch. Chatham County police officers watched the UFO dive during surveillance, according to MP officials.

While the two men worked to remove their car from the ditch, the UFO hovered about 200 yards in front of the car, flashing bright blue, white and amber lights. The men later reported that the UFO remained in that position while they spent 15 minutes removing their car from the ditch. While en route to headquarters, the object followed the car staying within a 50–100 feet range. The object “broke away” and left the MP’s as they approached headquarters.

A Federal Aviation Administration official at Travis Field said he had no way of knowing if the object registered on radar Saturday morning. “Our radar is full of objects” he said. The report did not indicate the size or shape of the UFO, but added that the multi–coloured lights were flashing brilliantly. Neither MP could be reached for comment. Lt. David Anderson, a Hunter–Fort Stewart public information officer, notified the Pentagon of the UFO report “since there are no normal channels for a communication of this type”. Anderson said the report of the sighting and car ditch collision was the same as any other type of report for an accident.”

The article is imaged below.

Amazingly, as we shall see, the account given in this newspaper article would be mirrored in official US Army records and other primary information. Usually with alleged UFO incidents, the version of events offered in newspapers is misleading, or deliberately lurid. Vital information is frequently omitted, or the descriptions of the UFO(s) is embellished. In the case of the Hunter Army Airfield UFO encounters, this was not the case. Other newspapers ran similar pieces. Highlighting all of them here, however, would make for lengthy reading indeed, and takes too much focus from the truly primary records I aim to present. Having said that, early newspaper accounts do offer some important citations worth noting, and I endeavour to do so in due course.

In the days that followed, local media interest waned as quickly as it had begun. Nothing else unusual, that we know of at least, was reported specifically around Hunter. Furthermore, there is almost no indication of any pertinent field investigation by researchers, and nothing in the historical record demonstrating further comment by members of the 298th MP Company, or anyone else from Hunter or Fort. Stewart. Nearly two years later, however, the most prolific Freedom of Information Act (FOI) user in the history of the UFO topic would mount a formidable letter–writing and FOI campaign to see that official records were released.

Hailing from Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Robert G. Todd is legendary. His capacity for legally binding FOI submissions and firebrand correspondence was nothing short of inexhaustible. His FOI work, or, rather, the once–classified files that were begrudgingly supplied to him, have helped shape our understanding of the US government’s response to the UFO problem, and his thankless contribution cannot be understated. Amazingly, much of work hasn’t even been assessed yet.

Todd found out about the Hunter Army Airfield UFO case in May, 1975, and immediately begun a typical, multi–pronged series of correspondence efforts with nearly a dozen US Army components and commands. As we shall see, his energies did not go unrewarded. Unfortunately, unlike most of his FOI casework, we don’t have copies of the letters Todd sent to the Army. But we do have their detailed replies.

In 1975, the 298th MP Company’s administrative responsibilities were handled by Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, as well as the local Provost Marshall’s office, both of which were located at Fort Stewart. On the 28th of May, 1975, Todd evidently asked, under the FOI Act, for copies of the Hunter Army Airfield “Duty Officer Log” for the 8th of September, 1973, which was, of course, when the UFO inicdent occurred. In a reply letter, dated the 11th of June, 1975, Cap. Francis A. Dahmer Jr., who was the Information Officer at the 1st Brigade Headquarters, sent Todd a short reply. Referencing Todd’s initial FOI request, Cap. Dahmer Jr. laid out what became of Hunter’s daily records. He stated:

“I write in reply to your letter of 28 May 1975.

The Duty Officer Log for 8 September 1973 for Hunter Army Airfield was destroyed upon deactivation of that installation. The destruction occurred on or about 1 October 1973 and was accomplished in accordance with directives in effect on that date.

As your inquiry does not state the substance of your interest, it has not been possible to be of further assistance in this matter. If I may be of further assistance in the future, feel free to contact me.”

The above detailed letter is imaged below.

           Todd replied on the 19th of June, 1975, and obviously asked for any other records relating to the Hunter UFO incident. On the 24th of June, 1975, Cap. Dahmer Jr. again had the job of handling Todd’s correspondence. His reply stated, in part:

“In reply to your letter of 19 June requesting information on a reported UFO sighting at Hunter Army Airfield, I am attaching three newspaper articles concerning the incident which I was able to locate.

To my knowledge, this is the only information available at this installation.”

                 Thus, it is established that Headquarters, 1st Brigade, of the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, likely had no retrievable documents regarding the UFO event. Having said that, Cap. Dahmer Jr. doesn’t actually state that all Hunter records were sent to Fort Stewart after the deactivation of the Hunter base, so the statement “this is the only information available at this installation” may be irrelevant. We also know, from Cap. Dahmer Jr’s first letter of the 11th of June, 1975, that certain records were destroyed anyway. Whatever the situation, one does at least get the impression that the 1st Brigade Headquarters was probably the right place for Todd to be corresponding with. Finally, Cap. Dahmer Jr’s letter enclosed three lengthy newspaper articles about the case, all dated the 9th of September, 1973, which was merely a day after the alleged UFO event. Military personnel, even in public affairs roles, were not usually so helpful, and one could speculate that Cap. Dahmer Jr. was sympathetic to the UFO issue. His letter is imaged below.

Robert Todd very quickly replied on the 29th of June, 1975, and while we do not have a copy of his letter, we do have the 1st Brigade’s reply. Prepared on the 28th of July, 1975, Cap. Dahmer Jr’s letter states:

“I am in receipt of your letter of 29 June requesting additional information on the reported 1973 UFO incident at Hunter Army Airfield.

Further inquiries here indicate that a Serious Incident Report was submitted by the Fort Stewart Provost Marshal to the Department of the Army following the incident. The newspaper clippings furnished to you contain essentially the same information as in the SIR. The incident was reported through Provost Marshal channels since the Provost Marshal is responsible for physical security.”

This short, frank reply contains several surprising revelations. Firstly, the 1st Brigade’s Cap. Dahmer Jr. is now admitting that important records were, in fact, available, which was the opposite of what his previous letter had stated. It is impossible to know whether this was merely an administrative oversight, or, a deliberate ploy to misinform Todd in the hope he would cease FOI action. Either way, the Army were confessing to holding vital records on the UFO incident. Secondly, Cap. Dahmer Jr., specifies that the type of record being held was a Serious Incident Report. This is important, as we shall discover. Thirdly, and most remarkably, Cap. Dahmer Jr. states that the Serious Incident Report contains “essentially the same information” as what was in the rather sensational newspaper clippings he sent to Todd in his letter of the 24th of June, 1975. Finally, it is learned that the UFO incident was reported “through Provost Marshal channels”. The letter is imaged below.

As we can see from the date–stamp, Todd received the above–mentioned letter on the 31st of July, 1975. As noted, Cap. Dahmer Jr. revealed that a Serious Incident Report had been utilised to report the UFO incident, and the local Provost Marshal at Fort Stewart had handled everything. Somehow, even before this letter arrived, Todd had already ascertained that the Provost Marshal was involved. On the 27th of July, 1975, which was a day before Cap. Dahmer Jr. penned his letter, Todd wrote to the office of the Provost Marshal assigned to Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart asking for information on the UFO sighting. What prompted this second avenue of enquiry is unknown. Again, like Todd’s other pieces of correspondence, we do not have a copy Todd’s sudden letter of the 27th of July, 1975. But we do have a reply which references it. On the 11th of August, 1975, Maj. Daniel R. Perry, the Deputy Provost Marshal for Hunter and Fort Stewart, sent a reply letter to Todd stating, in part:

“The following information is provided as a result of your written request of 27 July 1975 concerning UFO sightings on 8 September 1973 at Hunter Army Airfield.

A report was forwarded only within Department of the Army channels. This report, a Serious Incident Report (SIR), was forwarded directly to Department of the Army, with an information copy provided to Commander, US Army Forces Command.

The normal procedure for reports of UFO sightings at Fort Stewart is that such sightings will be reported to the Military Police Desk where an information MP Report is prepared. In this specific case, a Military Police Report was prepared. There is no record of any other investigative effort available at this office.

Copies of the Serious Incident Report are available from this office. In accordance with Army policy and federal law, the names and military occupational speciality will be omitted from the reports for all personnel…”

Maj. Perry’s letter must have been a very positive development for Todd. Maj. Perry had confirmed that a Serious Incident Report had been utilised to report the UFO incident, just as Cap. Dahmer Jr. had previously stated. Further, the SIR had been forwarded to Department of the Army (DOA), with an information–only copy sent to the Commander, US Army Forces Command (USAFORSCOM). This admission may have been the first time that anyone in the UFO research community had learned that local Army units were prepared to inform senior Army leadership of UFO incidents. Put simply, if the Provost Marshal and Military Police personnel at Hunter and Fort Stewart did not want the UFO case reported right up the chain of command, they wouldn’t have used a Serious Incident Report in the first place. Someone certainly assumed that the confrontational UFO inicdent should be assessed by senior officers.

There are several other curious issues in Maj. Perry’s letter. It is stated that the “normal procedure” for reporting “UFO sightings” involves the preparing of a “Military Police Report”. This type of report is distinct from a Serious Incident Report, and presumably of lesser gravity. Todd was never offered a copy of the applicable Military Police Report for the Hunter UFO incident, and surprisingly there is nothing in the correspondence indicating he even asked. Furthermore, regarding those “normal procedures” for UFO reporting, one is bound to ask about any “abnormal”, or less utilised, procedures? This may seem like an issue of semantics, but Commanders did indeed have other UFO reporting options available to them. UFO reporting was, in the 1970’s, specifically categorised and exemplified in a series of “Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings” (CIRVIS) procedures. CIRVIS reporting was promulgated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in a piece of published doctrine titled “Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146” (JANAP 146–E). It may also be worth noting that in Maj. Perry’s mentioning of the Military Police Report, he stated “…There is no record of any other investigative effort available at this office…”. If one reads this statement exactly how it was written, it implies that Military Police Reports contained an investigative element to them. Maj. Perry’s letter is imaged below.

Further correspondence between Todd and Headquarters, 1st Brigade went back–and–forward over the next three weeks, though none of it contains significant information regarding the alleged UFO incident or the documents it apparently generated. In it, Todd questioned the FOI costings the Army were assessing for document search time and reproduction costs. Todd’s final letter to Headquarters, 1st Brigade, presumably enclosed a cheque for FOI fees, and was authored by him on the 6th of September, 1975. On the 10th of September, 1975, Maj. Perry sent Todd a letter which stated:

“In response to your letter of 6 September 1975, I am enclosing the Serious Incident Report you requested.

I apologise for the delay. It was due to an oversight that the report was not sent earlier.”

With this, the Serious Incident Report was released. Maj. Perry’s letter is imaged below.

The enclosed records constituted a series of electronically–generated Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN) sheets which constituted a transmittable Serious Incident Report. Unsurprisingly, it was sent from “CDRUSAG FT STEWART GA //AFZP–PM//”, which obviously translates as Commander, US Army Garrison, Fort Stewart. The distribution list includes “DA[TPNG] WASHINTON DC //DAPM–CPA//” as the main recipient of the report, and “CDRFORSCOM FT MCPHERSON GA //AFPM–PL//” as a secondary addressee. The former is the Department of Army, Headquarters, Washington DC, and the latter is Commander, Forces Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia. The report was transmitted on the 10th of September, 1973, but there are two date–time–groups listed. One is printed and reads “102000Z”. The other is handwritten and reads “102120Z”. The local time, thus, was either 4:00pm or 5:20pm. The security classification is listed as “FOUO”, or, “For Official Use Only”, which is quite low as far as content sensitivity goes.  The precedence of the transmission was Priority, and it was “Encrypted For Transmission Only”, or, “EFTO. For the “SUBJ” line, we see “Serious Inicdent Report [SIR] [RCS PNG 114 [MIN]]”. Several other lines of form–text appear, but are administrative in nature, or are answered with “N/A”, meaning “Not Applicable”. Further down the page, the “Type of Incident” section is followed with “Unidentified Flying Object Sightings (Alleged)”. The “Time, Date of Incident” section is followed with “At approx 0220 hrs, 8 Sep 73, and at approx. 0430 hrs, 9 Sep 73”. The final section for this page is the “Personnel Involved” segment, but it is devoid of any text. This is because the page simply doesn’t have enough space, as we shall see. The aforementioned material is imaged below.

The second page of the report continues the “Personnel Involved” section and contains information quite unexpected. We recall that Maj. Daniel R. Perry’s letter to Robert Todd, dated the 11th of August, 1975, clearly stated that “in accordance with Army policy and federal law, the names and military occupational speciality will be omitted from the reports for all personnel.”. Yet, this entire page that contains almost nothing but the personal information of both MP’s. For starters, witnesses Bart J. Burns and Randy Shade are clearly named. The term “Witness” is recorded for the “Involvement” category for both men. Then, their “Race/Nationality/Ethnic Gp.” is recorded as “Cau” for “Caucasian”. The “Grade” for both men are listed as “E–4”. Their “Unit/Station of Assignment” is recorded as “2nd PLT, 298th MP Company, Hunter Army Airfield”. The “Position” they both hold is listed as “Military Police Patrolman”. Even their Social Security Numbers (SSN) are given. This is a massive release of personal information. If the data was extremely old, it would be understandable. But Todd received these documents just two years after they were created. Amazingly, further pages of the Serious Incident Report contain even more such material. The page in question is imaged below.

The third page continues the “Personnel Involved” section. The first line states “Military” and has next to it the statement “No change from Initial Report”. This means, essentially, that the “initial report” by the military witnesses had not been updated or altered. One may ask then, what “initial report”? Likely, it refers to the Military Police Report that Maj. Perry mentioned in his letter of the 11th of August, 1975, which had probably been destroyed, but we can’t be sure. Further, the categories of “Civilian” and “Dependent” are listed, to which the term “None” is entered. This merely means that only military personnel were directly involved in the incident. The next section, titled “Publicity”, states that “News coverage has diminished rapidly following the incident. No further publicity is expected at this time”. For the “Summary of Incident” section, it is stated “No further sightings have been reported by personnel at Hunter Army Airfield, Savanah, GA.”. The next section, “Commander Reporting to HQDA”, or Headquarters, Department of the Army, lists “Frank L. Dietrich, Colonel, Infantry, Commanding, HQS, Ft. Stewart, GA.”. A final line of text states “Protective marking excluded from automatic termination (Para 13, AR 340–16)”. This relates to the handling of certain Army records as governed by “Army Regulation 340–16, Office Management, Safeguarding ‘For Official Use Only’ Information” (AR 340–16), which was published by Headquarters, Department of the Army, on the 1st of May, 1970. This doctrine states that Army records which carry “For Official Use Only” (FOUO) protective markings should be rendered as UNCLASSIFIED after three years. Some categories, however, of FOUO records are exempt from such downgrading, and Serious Incident Reports are one of them. The page in question is imaged below.

The next page of the Serious Incident Report appears very similar to page two and three, and it appears to have been typed out some time before the records I have already presented. In fact, the pages I have already highlighted may have actually been additional report add–ons or updates. Whatever the exact situation, this new page starts off with what looks like another “Personnel Involved” section. This time, however, only Military Policeman Alexander S. Murray Jr. is recorded. His “Involvement” is listed as “Witness”, and he was “On Duty”. His “Grade” is recorded as “E–5”, and his “Position” is recorded as a “Military Desk Sergeant”. The “Unit/Station of Assignment” is recorded as “2nd PLT, 298th MP Company, Hunter Army Airfield”. Even MP Murray’s Social Security Number and ethnicity is given, just as it was for MP Bart J. Burns and MP Randy Shade.

Beyond this we see the alleged UFO incident finally reported. The “Publicity” states “Widespread publicity, including national news agencies has occurred.”. Thus, this part of the overall report must have been written during the two–day period where media attention was highest. As we know, this time period was the 9th and 10th of September, 1973. Lastly, the “Summary of Incident” section contains a narrative of both the close encounter event during the early hours of the 8th of September, and the additional sighting just on the 9th. The incident summary, which goes into another page, states:

“At approximately 0220 hrs, 8 Sep 73, an unidentified flying object was sighted by two military policemen, SP4 BURNS and SP4 SHADE at Hunter Army Airfield while in the course of a routine patrol of the installation perimeter. When in the vicinity of Cobra Hall they noticed an ‘object’ traveling at what appeared to them to be a high rate of speed traveling east to west at approximately 2000 feet altitude and crossing the post perimeter. Approximately then (10) minutes later they resighted the ‘object’ when it appeared at ‘treetop’ level and made an apparent dive at their vehicle. The ‘object’ again reappeared at another location and came to hover for approximately fifteen (15) minutes in front of them. The unidentified object appeared to have brilliantly flashing lights, blue, white, and amber in color. They then returned to the main post area and were ‘followed’ by the unidentified object 50 to 100 feet away at tree top level until it finally veered off and visual contact was lost. The ‘object’ made np noise. The alleged UFO was described as round or oval in shape and between 35 and 75 feet across. SGT Murray and SP4 Burns reported that at approximately 0430 hrs, 9 Sep 1973, while sitting in their vehicle at the end of the airfield at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., they observed what they first believed to be the red light of an aircraft some distance away. The light then moved rapidly and disappeared into the woods.”

This narrative of events is noted as being “…based upon information furnished by the above witnesses”. The “Commander Reporting to Army Headquarters” is “Frank L. Dietrich, Colonel, Infantry, Commanding, HQS, Ft. Stewart, GA.”. It may be important to note that in these two pages of the overall Serious Incident Report, it is MP Murray who has generated the chronology of events, and only after the two separate nights of UFO sightings. He has, here, first written up the close–up UFO encounter that MP Burns and MP Shade experienced on the 8th of September, and then supplemented that event with the sighting he and MP Burns had the next night. The two pages in question are imaged below. It is worth mentioning that these copies are acquired directly from the 1984 book “Clear Intent” by Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett.

           As if the Serious Information Report paperwork wasn’t enough, Robert Todd continued submitting FOI requests to various entities of the US Army until March, 1976. Some of those commands and offices included the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, the Army’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, and the Army’s Communications Command. Nothing more, at least in the form of raw paperwork relating directly to the UFO sighting, was released. As I have detailed, the original “Military Police Report” was apparently never found, and any other Military Police Desk paperwork, including the daily Duty Officer Log, had probably been destroyed as per standard documents management directives. Also, as we know, Hunter Army Airfield was in a deactivated state when the UFO sighting occurred. We can thus assume that the base was lacking key administrate manpower, such as a Base Commander or Base Executive Officer, normally needed to assess an intrusive UFO event. In other words, it is highly unlikely that any records were produced under the Hunter Army Airfield letterhead. Having raised these points, there was every possibility that at least some additional records were retrievable. For example, Todd never did specifically discover where the administrative and operational records of the 298th Military Police Company were being routinely archived. After all, it was personnel from the 298th MPC who reported the UFO while serving on the base, so any raw paperwork generated at the time could have been useful. Moreover, as discussed, the Serious Incident Report was received by Army Headquarters in Washington DC, and Army Forces Command in Georgia, so one is bound to ask if those commands produced any internal records of their own.

Robert Todd did get one piece of additional information from the Army, though it wasn’t in the form of a raw document about the UFO sighting. Sometime in early 1976, Todd wrote to the Army’s Reserve Components Personnel and Administration Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Evidently, Todd had asked for the home addresses of MP Bart Burns and MP Randy Shade. On the 25th of Feburary, 1976, Lt. Col. James S. Miller, the Director of Personnel Services for the aforementioned center, sent a candid reply to Todd’s query:

“This is in reply to your request for the home addresses of two individuals.

Mr. Bart J. Burns, 353–40–1819, is no longer on active duty. Department of the Army no longer releases home addresses. Home addresses are considered privileged information, release of which would be an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

However, the restrictions do not pertain to the military duty addresses of members serving on active duty in the Army of the United States. A search reveals that SP5 Randy Shade, 287–46–7111, is currently on active military duty and assigned to: 3 CS Det Aviation Service, APO San Francisco, 96212.

I am happy to be of assistance to you.”

Todd received Lt. Col. Miller’s letter on the 4th of March, 1976. Obviously, the home addresses of Army personnel, whether on active duty or otherwise, were never going to be released. The Army, however, were prepared to release the military addresses, and social security numbers, of serving members. In this case, MP Burns had apparently left the Army, but MP Shade was still on active duty with an aviation detachment near San Francisco, California. There is nothing in Todd’s files to indicate any follow–up correspondence with MP Shade, and, to my knowledge, no else did either. Lt. Col. Miller’s letter is imaged below.

As I highlighted at the beginning of this study, one of the newspapers which carried the Hunter UFO case was The Savannah Morning News. Titled “Wreck at Hunter Field”, the date of publication was the 9th of September, 1973. This was, of course, only a day after the main UFO sighting. The article raises numerous interesting issues. For example, a Lt. David Anderson is cited as saying that “the Pentagon” were “notified” directly because a specific UFO reporting channel didn’t exist. This notification must have been immediately after the UFO sighting, or it couldn’t have been known to newspaper staffers. As we know, the Serious Incident Report was sent on the 10th of September, so the Pentagon being “notified” must be another report entirely. Of interest here, also, is the fact that Lt. Anderson is quoted as stating “…there are no normal channels for a communication of this type”. This is untrue. As mentioned previously, real–time UFO reporting was, in the 1970’s, specifically categorised and exemplified in a series of “Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings” (CIRVIS) procedures which were laid out in “Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146” (JANAP 146–E) doctrine. This established system applied to the US Army just as it did to the other three branches of the military. All base Commanders, unit Commanders, and other military leadership, were at least supposed to be aware of the CIRVIS system, if not actually willing to use it. Maybe those at Hunter were not.

          Furthermore, the newspaper article obviously sought the opinion of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) staffer at nearby Travis Field Airport, which is now known as Savanah Airport. The unnamed individual stated that he had “no way of knowing if the object registered on radar Saturday morning”, and that the primary radar “is full of objects”. This is somewhat misleading. While the second part of the statement is arguably true, the first part is a lazy fob off. The FAA’s air traffic control centres, as well as those of the United States Air Force (USAF) and the other military branches, were mandated, even in the early 1970’s, to retain raw primary radar data on magnetic tapes for at least thirty days. Of course, we have no way knowing if they even checked. Also, if Travis Field did happen to see something unusual on radar, experience tells us they wouldn’t be discussing it with newspaper reporters. Worth mentioning too is a reference to the local 702nd Radar Squadron (702nd RS). The 702RS was based at Hunter Army Airfield from February, 1962 until its deactivation on the 5th of June, 1979. Assigned to the 20th Air Division (20AD) of the Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM), the small 702nd RS performed aerospace surveillance for Fort Lee’s 20AD Headquarters in Virginia. Again, we have no way of knowing if anything untoward was picked up on radar before or after the UFO sighting

           Other newspapers ran stories about the Hunter case, as well as other sightings on the 8th of September, 1973. For example, on the 9th of September, The Atlanta Consitution published an article titled “Saucers Sighted At Savannah”. It cites Chatham County Police Department as admitting that some twenty early phone calls had been taken by local police stations over UFOs. Also, police officers themselves were amongst the witnesses. Lt. L. B. Fields is quoted as saying, “I observed it myself from several miles away… …It disappeared after I watched it for about ten minutes”. Another police officer described the same object as “being similar to a mercury vapor light” which hovered “about five–thousand feet above the ground”. Data from the National Weather Service is quoted, with cloud cover at some nine–thousand feet, and another layer at twenty–five thousand feet. So serious were the Chatham County Police Department over the UFO, or UFOs, that they attempted to have a pilot on standby at Travis Field in case the unknowns returned the next day. Even the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) Savannah Air Station was asked for assistance. The article states that nothing was being picked up on radar, though doesn’t cite any source. The article is imaged below.

In sum, the US Army were involved in a significant and unsolved UFO event in September, 1973, at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia. Official records, while disordered and probably incomplete, are testament to that fact. The Pentagon was “notified” immediately, and both a Military Police Report and a Serious Incident Report were prepared and transmitted to Army Headquarters and Army Forces Command. Numerous witnesses, both on the base and nearby, reported UFOs, and local law enforcement officers admitted that they too witnessed highly unusual airborne objects. Further, the use of a Serious Incident Report is an example of yet another channel that a branch of the US military has used for UFO reporting. One wonders how many other UFO cases have been reported using this channel. Be    yond the 1970’s, I am unaware of anyone who has followed up this case in detail. At the time of the sighting, MP Burns was twenty–two years old, and MP Shade was twenty–three. As such, both men would be in their late sixties now. A new interview, despite the passage of time, would be fruitful.