Saturday, July 05, 2014

Stephenville and the Men in Black

There are times when there simply is no inspiration for writing this blog and other times when inspiration fills the air. I’ve been in something of a drought lately, but as I was looking at some of the information I had gathered on the Stephenville, Texas sightings of 2008, I found something interesting. Ricky Sorrells, who told the media including the Associated Press and CNN that he’d seen a huge, solid object during one of those sightings, also said that he had been intimidated by the military.

According to newspaper reports, including one of those filed by Angelia Joiner that was published in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, Sorrells said that a man identifying himself as an Air Force lieutenant colonel had called and practically demanded that Sorrells allow him to come out to interview him (Sorrells, in case the various pronouns have become confusing).

Sorrells, according to what he told Joiner, was less than enthusiastic about that and that’s when the discussion became heated. The caller, whoever he was, said, “Son, we have the same caliber weapons as you do but a lot more of them.”

Then, according to the newspaper and Joiner, Sorrells said, “So, I said if he was who he said he was, why didn’t he stop flying over my air space with all those helicopters. And he informed me that it was not my airspace – it was his. He told me if I’d quit talking about what I saw he would stop the helicopters.”

While I’m skeptical that the man who called was, in fact, an Air Force officer, and I found his overblown rhetoric somewhat offensive, I don’t know what to make of the next incident. Sorrells said that he had been in bed, asleep, when his dogs began to bark, which they didn’t do unless someone entered Sorrells’ property. Looking out his bedroom window, he saw a man standing at the top of his driveway.

Sorrells told the newspaper (meaning, I will assume here, Joiner) that he could see the man clearly, that he was in his late twenties or early thirties and he was wearing a heavy, “parka-like coat.”

Sorrells said that with the dogs making so much noise that the man must have known he’d been seen and then Sorrells thought that was exactly the point. The next day, Sorrells went out and searched the area. He found a bullet that was shiny, meaning that it hadn’t been out in the elements for very long and might have belonged to the man seen the night before.

There was speculation that what was involved here was Operational Security or OPSEC. This is a military term used to suggest that classified plans and missions stay classified until that mission has ended. Here, it would suggest that there had been something going on in the Military Operation Area near Stephenville, which is a fancy term to say the flight corridors used for military training. Personally, I can’t see any OPSEC priorities here. The mission, whatever it might have been was over and for witnesses to talk about what they had seen wouldn’t compromise much of anything. If the man who called Sorrells was actually military, and the man standing at the end of the driveway was military, then all they did was call attention to the sighting. Their best course of action was to ignore it and not bother the witnesses.

Was Sorrells called by someone who identified himself as military? I have no reason to doubt this, meaning he got the telephone call but not that he was military or acting in any official capacity. I will note that it is strange that only Sorrells had this experience. If he’d seen something different than the others had seen, then such action only called attention to it. Not the best way to keep the secret.

Was there a man at the end of his driveway in the middle of the night? Again, I have no reason to doubt this either. Was he military? I sincerely doubt it, for the same reasons as mentioned above.

There is one other aspect of this that bothers me. Sorrells said that he shined a light into the cockpit of one of the helicopters that had been bothering him since the sighting and the pilot threw up his hands to block the light. This doesn’t seem right to me. I would have thought the pilot would have turned the aircraft, raised the nose, dived, something other than putting his hands in front of his face. Why? Because he would need both hands to fly the helicopter and Sorrells didn’t mention a second pilot in the aircraft.

So, where does this leave us? I believe Sorrells, but I don’t believe that the caller, or the man at the end of the driveway were military. There is no reason for them to be there and no reason for them to attempt such intimidation. I do know of other cases in which others made these sorts of harassing calls and who made these sorts of appearances because they didn’t like what a witness was saying. I have found little evidence that such happens, except in a very few, notable cases. Here, I just don’t see it.

This is just another of those bizarre incidents that dot the UFO landscape. Maybe this was just another manifestation of the Men in Black, maybe was the Air Force trying to keep Sorrells away from the media, or maybe Sorrells just made it up for some reason. I favor the idea that it was some crank having a little “fun.” Anyway, it didn’t seem to spread out from there, and no real harm was done.


Anthony Mugan said...

Stephenville itself is one of perhaps a few dozen cases, out of the many thousands reported, which has sufficient data to present a very strong case for a genuine UAP, in my opinion.
These sort of claims often seem to crop up but as far as I can see have no means of being tested at this time and the net effect seems to be largely to reduce the overall credibility of a report to a casual observer of the scene who may not be aware of the hard data underpinning the overall case.
As the question of the validity or otherwise of this specific claim can not really be tested ( although the point Kevin makes about how pilots react to specific scenarios may be suggestive) I would suggest that such claims should simply be left to one side at this time, until or unless that situation changes.
This might seem a little harsh, but by stripping the situation back to what can be tested with hard data solid conclusions can be drawn, at least to the extent possible by our current knowledge

cda said...

You need to meet the witness himself before coming to any conclusions. His background, his interest in UFOs or MIBs, his reading and other activities. You certainly need to meet people who have known him in the past. If necessary (and it probably is not) he should be interviewed by experienced police or military investigators.

For my part, I am quite prepared to say Sorrells made up the tale. But I am not really qualified so as you say, the case is best left alone. Certainly after 6 years it has been left too long to be of any use now.

Anthony Mugan said...

In one respect I'd be more restrictive than you suggest but in another way less so. Qualitative background checks may provide useful context, I agree, but are inevitably less than decisive and often somewhat subjective.
Cold cases are harder to investigate, but not impossible. Where quantitative data is available this doesn't decay in the way of memories. Galileo's observations of Jupiter are as valid today as four hundred years ago. In some respects older cases are better than very new ones as it allows time for data to emerge, competing analyses to become available and possibilities such as experimental devices to be more clearly assessed.
Overall though we seem to both be feeling the specific claim about MIB offers little prospect of a clear result.

Stephen Bastasch said...

I haven't done any homwework, so maybe I don't have a right to comment - nobody needs to reply, but I am curious, and this is about the sightings, not the MIB aspect. Was Stephenville "just" nocturnal lights in the sky, or were any "data points" (radar or other technological measurements) obtained? Thanks in advance for any info.

Anthony Mugan said...

Try the following two references for alternative perspectives on the event.

Schulze, G., Powell, R.. 2008 'Special Research Report: Stephenville Texas', MUFON

Skeptical Inquirer, vol 33.1 (Jan / Feb 2009), 'The Stephenville Lights: What Actually Happened'

There may well be others but that should be a good start.

Steve Sawyer said...

Here's the direct link to the Schulze / Powell MUFON radar analysis:

Jared Rardin said...

Either way, UFO, men in black, Bigfoot or whatever, you're on my property in middle of nowhere, Texas no less, middle of night? You're getting a .308 winchester through the chest or vehicle. Its either burglary, unknown or something I'd rather have dead, because obviously the guy at the end of my driveway wasn't yelling to tell the guy to keep his dogs back.
Heck, I'd send the dogs and then shoot what/whoever it was. Texas, gotta protect, besides, IT left a shiny bullet, I would have been in the right protecting my own. Military, cop, whatever, unannounced means intruder, means target practice.

OK, but if Bigfoot, that would necessitate my Barret 99 .50 cal. Examine the bodies in the light later lol