It was in the 1960s that the Air Force decided to hire a university to make an impartial study of UFOs to determine if there was a reason for the Air Force to continue to investigate them. The so-called Condon Committee, at the University of Colorado, was formed and began their work in the 1967. I won’t bother here with the details about why I think this was a set up and neither the Air Force nor Condon planned to make a true objective analysis. All this is important because, on December 3, 1967, during the investigative phase of the research project, a police officer in the tiny community of Ashland, Nebraska, reported that he had seen a UFO close to the ground, hovering no more than six or eight feet above the highway. When he turned on his bright lights for a better look, the saucer-shaped object brightened, tilted upward, and then with a siren-like noise, lifted and vanished.
Sergeant Herb Schirmer (seen below courtesy Warren Smith) opened his car door to watch as the craft rose, spouting a flame-colored material from under it. He would later say that he saw a row of seven portholes, oval shaped and about two feet across. He said he saw a catwalk around the object, below the portholes and that the surface of the object was polished aluminum that glowed brightly in reflected light.
The first part of the Condon Committee investigation of the sighting took place on December 11 and 12, 196
7, and that date becomes important later. In the summary of the report, the Condon Committee investigator wrote, "Mr. Schirmer felt perhaps he had not been conscious during a period of approximately 20 minutes [emphasis added] while he was observing the UFO. He had a feeling of paralysis at the time, and felt funny, weak, sick, and nervous when he returned to the police station."
In another part of the investigation that would become important later, the Ashland police chief Bill Wlaschin, said that he checked the area the next morning but found nothing of great importance there. He did find a single piece of metallic-like material that he did not recognize. It looked to be a chip of aluminum paint but I found no analysis attached to that report or to the various other reports I have. In the published version of the Condon Committee, called the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (Bantam, 1969), the material was described as iron and silicon and since there was no real connection between the sighting and the material, no further analysis was done.
They searched the site where Schirmer, after hypnosis, would say the UFO had actually landed. They tested for radioactivity but found nothing.
A polygraph for Schirmer was arranged using an experienced official agency that Chief Wlaschin refused to identify. According to the chief, the test showed no indications that Schirmer was deceptive. In other words, he passed.
John Ahrens, of the Condon Committee returned to Ashland about a week later, on December 19, to give a psychological test to Schmirer. Schmirer agreed to take the tests.
On February 13, 1968, after the time discrepancy between Schmirer’s log and the time he returned from the UFO sighting became a concern, another interview was held. Remember, though, Schmirer said there was a short period in which he believed he had been unconscious, so the first real suggestion of missing time is probably attributable to Schmirer himself.
Some suggest that one of the scientists with the Condon Committee, probably Dr. Leo Sprinkle, suggested the missing time might be significant. However it happened, or who noticed it is not all that important, unless it was Schmirer who called attention to it first. Then we have him planting the seeds that would lead to his claimed abduction.
After further investigation, which included hypnotic regression, Sprinkle, worried about a perceived bias on his part, wrote:
The writer [Sprinkle] believes that there is sufficient empirical evidence to support the views that the following phenomena exist: hypnotic processes or varying levels of awareness; extra sensory perception and psychokenetic (sic) processes (ESP or psi processes); and spacecraft ("flying saucers") from extra terrestrial sources which are controlled by intelligent beings who seem to be conducting an intensive survey of the earth.
Because these views are different from those of many persons in contemporary society, the writer [Sprinkle] offers his impressions with the recognition that other observers may have obtained different, and even conflicting, impressions of the interview with Sgt. Schmirer.
Under the hypnotic regression, first with Sprinkle, and later regressions coordinated by Warren Smith, an Iowa writer whose work dealt with the paranormal, the unusual and the extraterrestrial, Schirmer told a story that was fairly consistent, though he added detail under the persuasion of hypnosis and the close questioning of the investigators. And there were his log entries that backed up, to a degree, the story he told.
In was early in the morning of December 3, that Schirmer began to suspect something was wrong. He told the original investigators that a bull in a corral at the edge of town was acting strangely and he was afraid that it might break out. At 2:30 a.m., according to what he wrote in his log, he was near the intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 6, when he saw an object hovering over the road. He didn’t believe, at that time, that it landed and only gave a description of it in the air. It eventually climbed out and disappeared. Schirmer then drove back to the police station to report in.
That was really all he had to say about the sighting. Later he would tell investigators that the craft hadn’t been hovering above the highway but was sitting in a field near it. Sprinkle wrote, "He [Schmirer] stated that a bright light had shone from the object upon the car and that he saw a ‘white blurred object’ which came toward the car. He said he felt he was in communication with someone in the object, and that he also felt the communication was in effect during the interview [meaning that while Sprinkle had him in a hypnotic state, Schmirer thought he was mentally in contact with the aliens]."
Schmirer told Sprinkle that he, Schmirer thought it would be wrong to say anything else about the sighting until they were in the proper place at the proper time. Schmirer resisted the attempts by Sprinkle to learn the proper time and place, so Sprinkle ended the session.
They did learn that a bright light came from the object, a white, blurred object approached the car and then seemed to fade, the craft them moved upward, a weird sound came from it and a bright red-orange glow came from under it. The UFO then shot straight up and out of sight.
After the session ended, Schmirer said that he thought the "white, blurred object" was something alive. He mentioned that he believed he had been in direct mental communication with someone on the craft. Schmirer believed that the craft used electrical or magnetic force which controlled gravity and allowed them to travel through space and that they were taking electricity from some nearby power lines. He said that the beings on the ship were based on Venus or Saturn but were from another galaxy and that they were friendly. They were here to keep the people of Earth from destroying the planet.
Schmirer agreed to take a number of psychological tests. Let’s just say that the results tended toward the negative. His I.Q., for example, was on the low side for conceptual thinking, but on the high side for dealing with concrete intellectual tasks such as puzzle solving.
The problem for the scientists at the Condon Committee were that, "His [Schmirer’s] performance on the word association test causes one to doubt his honesty in the UFO sighting, or at least seems to indicate that he himself disbelieves the credibility of the sighting."
But this doesn’t really tell us much. It could be that Schmirer was lying, but it could also be that he found the experience to be unbelievable. Given what he would later say, that he found the experience unbelievable isn’t much of a stretch.
The scientists also noted that "He is also preoccupied with seeing UFO objects." But they also noted that he was given the tests after reporting a UFO and that might account for his obsession at the time.
So now we move into a new arena. Warren Smith, a sometimes writer living in Clinton, Iowa, wrote in Gods, Demons and UFOs, that Schmirer contacted him. Schmirer, dissatisfied with the results of the Condon Committee investigation, wanted to push for answers.
Smith and paranormal expert and writer Brad Steiger met with Smith on several occasions. Under hypnosis conducted by Loring G. Williams, Schmirer added a great deal of detail. He said that the object was metallic and shaped like a football. It had flashing lights underneath it. He thought he heard a whooshing sound. Finally he saw legs coming from the bottom and it settled to the ground.
He originally hinted to the Condon Committee members that he had been prevented from using his pistol or his radio. Now he clarified that, telling Smith, Steiger and Williams that there was something in his mind that prevented him from acting.
Creatures, aliens, beings, something came from the craft and one of them stood in front of his car holding something. A greenish gas came out surrounding the car. Then the creature in front of the car pulled something out of a holster and there was a bright flash. Schmirer said that he was now paralyzed and passed out.
Schmirer was then walked to the craft. Under it, a hatch opened and a ladder came out. Schmirer noticed that the interior of the craft and the ladder were cold. He spent about 15 minutes on the craft and was "briefed" by the leader.
The creatures were about four and a half to five feet tall, wore close fitting uniforms with both boots and gloves. Their suits came up around their heads much like the hood on a skin diver’s outfit. On the left side was a small headphone with a small antenna sticking up from it. There was a winged ser
pent on the chest.
He said that the skin was a grey-white, that the heads were thin and longer than a human head, the mouth was a slit and the eyes had an Asian slant but did not blink (Drawing of alien by Schirmer seen here, courtesy of Warren Smith).
The leader told him many things. He said they have bases in the United States and off the coast of Florida. They have a base in the polar region and there are other bases off the coast of Argentina. Radar can knock their ships out of the air, but the mother ship destroys them before they can crash.
After the briefing, Schmirer was taken back to the hatch. The two crewmen who remained outside climbed back in. Schmirer walked back to his police car. He returned to Ashland and arrived at the police station about three. In his log he wrote, "Saw a flying saucer at the junction of highways 6 and 63. Believe it or not."
Warren Smith reported that he had found the landing site, an unplowed sloping field. Smith claimed to have seen landing gear markings and patches of grass that had been swirled and twisted. He wrote, "Some very impressive evidence has been embedded in an unplowed, sloping field just above the highway. Three-pointed tripod marks were sunk deep into the earth. Patches of grass in the field are swirled into an unusual pattern, as if the vegetation was whirled by some powerful centrifugal force. The patches of grass are darker in color; it grows higher and faster than surrounding vegetation."
He was there weeks after the investigators for the Condon Committee who reported nothing of the sort. Smith, who suggested that he was something of a photographer failed to take pictures of the evidence, or to even make notes and illustrations of it or later review.
You might say, at this point, that these are the facts and they are not in dispute... except that some of this isn’t factual and there are areas for dispute. Let’s take a look at this with a dispassionate eye.
We know that Schmirer reported seeing a flying saucer and that in his initial report it was in the air. We know that he logged the sighting and we have a record of that log. We know that there is a discrepancy between the times in his log and his return to the police station and that discrepancy is only about twenty minutes. Not very much time for him to be captured, taken into the craft and given both the tour and briefing that he later, under hypnosis, reported.
Here are a couple of things we don’t know. We don’t know who originally discovered the discrepancy in the times. Some suggest that it was one of the police officers, or possibly Schmirer himself that noticed the timing problems. Others suggest that it was Sprinkle.
I don’t know who did, but I do know, according to the notes made about the interviews with the Condon Committee members held in February, that there was a morning that was an "orientation session - Leo Sprinkle probed the witness and laid certain groundwork for the afternoon session." This was after the initial investigation completed in December.
What I don’t know is exactly what was talked about during that morning session. I had watched Dr. James Harder, in his preliminaries before hypnotic regression in another abduction case discuss details of other UFO sightings with the witness. Harder was looking for validation of the Barney and Betty Hill abduction and it is clear from his questioning of the witnesses under hypnosis and his discussions with them before and between sessions what he wanted.
I have been unable to learn the contents of the morning session held with Schmirer, but I would suspect a similar discussion. Sprinkle noted that "Sgt. Schmirer seemed to be faced with conflicting wishes: th desire to be seen as a competent observer and courageous policeman versus the desire to be considered ‘his own man’ rather than a puppet which could be controlled through suggestion and hypnosis."
This might be important because Schmirer, during that first hypnotic regression, refused to provide much information. Instead they used yes and no questions to get more information and I have a copy of those questions.
They hint at something more substantial, but offered little to suggest that he had entered the craft. Instead, he seemed to believe that he had been in "communication" telepathically with one of the aliens.
Now, in an aspect of the case that hasn’t been discussed much, but one that I find quite disturbing, Sprinkle wrote about a break in the questioning, "Sgt. Schmirer described some of his reactions to the sighting: he said that he drank two cups of hot, steaming coffee ‘like it was water,’ he claimed that he often experienced a ‘ringing,’ ‘numbness,’ ‘buzzing’ in his ears before going to sleep (around 1:30 a.m. or 2:00 a.m.): he believed he had experienced precognitive dreams... he said he felt concern and ‘hurt’ since the UFO sighting; he described disturbances in his sleep, including incidents in which he awoke and found that he was ‘choking’ his wife and ‘handcuffing his wife’s ankle and wrist; he said that his wife sometimes woke up during the night and placed his gun elsewhere so that it was not in his boots beside his bed where he had been keeping it."
Although Sprinkle had suggested that Schmirer was of "average or above average intelligence... He presented himself as a conscientious policeman who has a sixth sense or intuition about crime detection; he also seemed to gain satisfaction from the occasional need for violence in his work, although he spoke favorably about the use of MACE."
As noted earlier, Sprinkle mentioned his personal belief in a number of paranormal phenomena, which suggested he would be less likely to question Schmirer closely about portions of his report, the above seems to mitigate all that. This assessment, which is not nearly as bold as that of other scientists involved in the case, is, nonetheless quite troubling. It suggests a young man who has a number of possible psychological problems which could manifest themselves in the UFO report. Couple that to the Condon Report suggestion that "His performance on the word association test causes one to doubt his honesty in the UFO sighting, or at least seems to indicate that he himself disbelieves the credibility of the sighting," and the evidence for a UFO landing is not quite as persuasive.
On this one issue, which, frankly, can be reduced to whichever set of scientists you want to believe, the Schmirer case fails. Sprinkle reported on psychological troubles but not in the same, bold language used by others.
We can say, then, that th
e only real investigation was that reported by Warren Smith (seen here). Smith, contacted by Schmirer, arranged more hypnosis and the details of the abduction came out. The problem here is that we know that Schmirer had been exposed to the other abduction cases being reported. He had been lead there by Sprinkle and the Condon Committee.
But that isn’t the real problem. Warren Smith, who is quoted in some of the UFO books about abduction simply isn’t reliable. He made things up to pad a story. This is no speculation but fact. He told me this himself. He told the same thing to other researchers and writers, so everything that we have, attributed to him, must be carefully reviewed.
Is there evidence for Smith’s invention of details on this case? Certainly. Remember the landing traces he found that escaped the attention of others who searched the area first. He never offered any evidence, and if he had photographed the area, we might have then been able to show that the Condon Committee had been a little loose with the data.
Smith, in fact, goes after the Condon Committee turning each little difference into a mistake by the committee and then into something more than it was. Smith wrote, for example, "He [Schmirer] was identified as a Marine veteran instead of a Navy man."
But in their final report, the committee members wrote, "The trooper said that he had served with the U.S. Marines." It’s not really the same thing when you remember that the Navy supplies corpsmen to the Marines. So, he could have been in the Navy and served with the Marines. Not really much of a problem in the greater scheme of things.
Smith placed his own liberal interpretation on the transcript. He reported, "Did you attempt to draw your gun?" Schmirer, according to Smith answered, "I am prevented."
But the technique used by Sprinkle was a little more subtle. The question was phrased, "Did I take the gun out?" Schmirer indicated a "No." He was then asked, "Was I prevented from taking the gun out?" and Schmirer said, "Yes."
All this really means is that Smith was at odds with the Condon Committee. He offered evidence that the committee might have had information that was not released to the public. When Schmirer complained about a rash, or welt on his neck that appeared shortly after his sighting, and which faded in a couple of days, Smith thought something more about that. He wrote that Schmirer said, "One of those guys with the Condon Committee later told me that a welt at that spot is a sign of people who had a memory loss after they meet up with a UFO. It means that something more than a regular sighting occurred."
According to Smith, "Another member of Condon’s staff informed Schmirer that a contactee was being held at an undesignated government facility. ‘He said this was a Federal Hospital or something like that.’"
This is stunning information. It implies that not only were committee members hiding information about UFOs, they had a great deal of inside knowledge. And they knew that UFO witnesses were being illegally held by the government. Yet, in all the time since the committee ended its work, and with all the controversy around its work, including staff members who resigned because of the bias of the committee, these allegations have never resurfaced. And, they have never been corroborated.
Note here that Smith assigns the information to Schmirer and reports it in quotes. But he provides no information to back it up, and provides nothing that would make it possible for us to check the veracity of the information.
There was another man in the room during this session and that was Brad Steiger. He told me, "I was present for the one and only time that Williams regressed Herb. Warren really was unfamiliar with the process and pretty much let Schmirer talk. I really can’t recall that Warren asked any particularly leading questions during the session, which was pretty straightforward."
So far so good. But then Steiger told me, "I think it is fair to suggest that Smith may have elaborated considerably when he wrote the article for SAGA... It is also fair to suggest that Herb’s interview ‘grew’ and additional details came to both his and Warren’s fertile minds. I guess I never felt terribly convinced by the Schmirer case."
In the end we are left with two somewhat divergent accounts, one of which is rich in detail. But again, Smith gives us nothing solid. We must rely on Smith’s reputation for that, and Smith fails here.
When MJ-12 first broke, Smith called me with an amazing revelation. Back in the early 1950s, as he traveled around installing the latest printing equipment in newspapers, he made friends with a man from Texas. The man’s wife was on a dude ranch in the southern part of the state and she wrote about a UFO crash that had taken place. She mentioned names, locations, and it is clear that she, through Smith, was describing the Del Rio UFO crash as reported in one of the MJ-12 papers. Smith knew the man, and said the letters existed. If true, then documentation that was created in the early 1950s, that had a provenance, would corroborate some of the MJ-12 information.
But Smith was never able to produce the documents and letters and he soon lost interest. Later, he would suggest that he had the diaries of Ted Bundy... or rather, he wanted help to create them because they would sell for big money. This was a plan that he never put into action.
If there were two ways to do something, an easier, legal and ethical way, and a more difficult con, Smith w
ould opt for the con every time. Ease of a task had nothing to do with his thought process. He wanted to score with the con and part of that was to invent information for his work.
He excused it, sometimes, by suggesting that he needed an item or two to flesh out a story. He told me that while working on a magazine article about Bigfoot, he needed another eyewitness account, so he invented two college girls in Missouri who had seen something strange. It was a minor part of the article, but the point is, he invented the tale.
Finally there is the drawing that Schmirer made of what the aliens looked like. Here is a point where the contamination might be seen. The alien leader (seen here and below), with the diver’s hood and the single earphone resembles the aliens in Mars Needs Women, which, coincidentally, had played in theaters only a few months before the sighting and regression. It is an image that has not been repeated in the UFO literature with any regularity.
It does suggest, however, that some of the details that appear in the UFO literate have their foundations in science fiction, both the movies and the magazines. So, when UFO researchers tell us that there is no influence by science fiction, they are mistaken.
Where does all
this leave us? With a UFO sighting that is uncorroborated, details of an abduction that are out of science fiction movies, and rumors about abductees who are in federal mental hospitals and a committee of scientists who sold out, but let some of the hidden information out anyway.
Most important, however, is that this case is now forty years old and the best we can say is that Schmirer might have seen a UFO. Everything else is the product of contamination, a desire to validate the Hill abduction and invention by a writer who had the reputation for creating details to flesh out a story.
Given what we have learned in the last forty years, it is more likely that this abduction came from a disturbed young man who was aided by a writer who needed a story. He might have originally seen something, but the other details, added long after the fact, are more likely confabulation than alien intervention. This is a case that should be footnoted in the abduction research and then ignored. It teaches us nothing.