Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Levelland Landing and Sheriff Weir Clem - Updated

(Blogger's Note: After I completed this posting, I found additional, relevant information. It has been added toward the end of this article and has been highlighted.)

As many of you know, I have long thought that the Levelland sightings of November 2/3, 1957, are among the best. There are multiple witnesses in multiple locations who reported their cars stopped and their lights dimmed at the close approach of a glowing red (and sometimes blue) egg-shaped craft.

Dr. Don Burleson, who lives in Roswell which is not all that far from Levelland (which is near Lubbock), made a personal trip there. While he was unable to interview Sheriff Weir Clem, who had died, he did speak to the daughter. According to an article in the Roswell Daily Record, “Aided by the Chamber of Commerce, we [meaning Burleson and his wife Mollie] were able to find one of the late sheriff’s daughters and I interviewed her twice.”

Levelland, Texas. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle
According to Burleson, “She [Ginger (Clem) Sims] described her father having tried to drive close to an airborne object, and having his engine and lights die.”
That, of course, put him in conflict with what had been reported by the Air Force in 1957. The story was that he had only seen something in the distance, described as a streak of red light. The Blue Book files suggest that it was too far away from him, and those with him, including police officers in another car, to have seen anything important.

But if his motor died and his lights dimmed, he was much closer to the object than had been reported by the Air Force. If he was close enough to the object that it would stall his engine, he was close enough to get a good look at it. And if Clem was that close, so were the policemen in the car following behind. How would the Air Force explain four law enforcement officers confirming the stories that were being told by so many others about their Close Encounters?

Site of the first reported encounter in 1957. Photo
copyright by Kevin Randle.
The real question is if Clem was so involved in this in 1957, why didn’t he say anything at the time. Again, according to Burleson and to Clem’s daughter, “The Air Force visited him after his sighting(s) and advised him to ‘drop it’ and forget that he had ever seen anything.”

Such a request by the military is not unprecedented in UFO history. Sheriff George Wilcox of Roswell fame said much the same thing. He told reporters that he was working with the boys out at the air base and their questions should be directed to them. Wilcox offered nothing of value to the reporters who interviewed him.

There are other examples as well, though some were grounded in protecting classified information. A request to law enforcement not to reveal details of a sighting to the media seem to have been routine. To be fair, sometimes it was just to protect the witness. Lonnie Zamora was told by an FBI agent that he should keep the descriptions of the beings he saw to himself. Arthur Byrnes thought it would save Zamora some embarrassment, but by the time the suggestion was made it was too late. The information had already been reported.

So, we come back to the Levelland story, told by Clem’s daughter, that her father had gotten closer than had been reported. Skeptics will point out that the official records in 1957 showed that Clem was only reported to have seen the object, or lights, in the distance, some 900 feet away and they’ll reject, out of hand this new information. It is, after all, from the sheriff’s daughter, a second-hand witness, and was told nearly fifty years after the fact. In today’s world, it is interesting, but it is believed there is no way to verify any of it.

Ironically however, there was some corroboration for this tale that was provided in 1957 and was found in the Project Blue Book file. An article published in the Indianapolis Star on November 4, 1957, seemed to confirm the daughter’s claim. According to that article, “’It [the UFO] lit up the whole pavement in front of us for about two seconds,’ said Clem. He called it oval shaped and said it looked like a brilliant red sunset.” 

There is still additional corroboration for Clem’s closer approach. In the Blue Book files is most of one of the Air Force forms about UFOs. At the top, in a handwritten note, it says, “Sheriff’s statement given telephonically to Sgt. [illegible] 3 Nov 1957 re this case.”

According to that document, the sheriff said that he was within 200 yards of the object, or much closer than has been reported. He said the object was circular, as opposed to a streak of light and that it was dark orange. A drawing made, by the NCO taking the statement verified that it was circular. Inside that drawing it seems to say 50 yards, but the 50 might be crossed out and replaced by 100. That makes it a huge craft.

Yes, I know what the response from the skeptics will be. It’s just a newspaper article and now part of an official investigation and the form was not filled out by the sheriff. To them I say, “It is a claim that was published within 48 hours of the initial reports, and it does add some weight to what the daughter told Burleson. It is the Air Force form filled out based on the interview with the sheriff.” This is some confirmation but each one of us is going to have to decide how much weight to give it.

Just as has been said about the Socorro landing… “If only…” If only the Air Force had been interested in gathering data. If only Donald Keyhoe’s mission hadn’t been to force congressional hearing, but to gather data. If only there had been cooperation rather than acrimony, what might we have learned.


Mrs. Claus said...

"The Air Force sent a single investigator, a sergeant in civilian clothes, who showed up at noon two days later, spoke only with a few of the witnesses, and left before the day was over." J. Clark, pg 919, Vol 2 The UFO Encyclopedia
Mike Jamieson, not Mrs Claus (??)

Curt Collins said...

The problem with the BB report is that it was phoned in. The sketch was made by the AF officer, not the witness. Worse, on the top of page 3, the officer wrote, "One person said it roar(e)d like thunder."
That indicates that the information given by the Sheriff may have been a mix from the witnesses, not strictly his own sighting experience.

Given that, maybe the newspaper interviews are better documentation, after all.

KRandle said...

Curt -

I noted that it was taken over the telephone by an NCO, not an officer. The fact that the notation about noise being written on the top of the page would suggest that this was information the sheriff heard from others, and the information in the rest of the form is from the sheriff himself. Anyway, the newspaper article tends to corroborate the ATIC Form, and they both tend to corroborate the information supplied by the daughter, but in the end, none of it is really first-class information... given that one is from a newspaper account, one was gathered telephonically, and the last collected decades later...

However, we do have the information from the Provost Marshal, or rather about the Provost Marshal, who accompanied the civil authorities out into the field. That report would be of great benefit.

Frank Warren said...


Throwing this into the mix:

For the rest of his life Sheriff Clem believed he had seen some sort of object. He didn't say much more about his sighting until his retirement in 1975 when he said, "The object was shaped like a huge football and had bright white lights. The blinding lights flashed on, it went right over the car [emphasis added] and was gone. No living human could believe how fast it traveled. The thing was bright as day; it lit up the whole area" – Berliner, Don. 'The Levelland Sightings." Official UFO. Vo1. I, No. 5.

AdriandeG said...

There was a radio broadcast on the evening of this event. I believe it was a Levelland or Lubbock, Texas radio station. At the time, I was in Big Spring, Texas listening to music when the broadcast was interrupted to carry an interview of witnesses to “an unusual event”. The radio reporter stated, to the best of my memory, that the witnesses were four scientists from White Sands, NM who were traveling to Lubbock when they same upon a saucer shaped craft straddling the highway that was under repair by Nordic looking occupants. The report lasted about 5 or so minutes. AdeGraffenreid

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