Friday, June 07, 2013

Citizen Hearing and the USS Helm

There was another aspect to the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure that was more personal than anything else. I looked at it as an opportunity to engage in some first-hand research. I could talk to some of the people who had witnessed UFO sightings and UFO events and get their perspective without those perspectives being filtered through another research or writer. I could learn if their stories had been distorted by others. I could learn, personally, what they had to say.

NARA in College Park
One of the things I wanted to do was visit the National Archives in College Park because I had learned that the deck logs of the USS Helm were kept there. Paul C. Cerny and Robert Neville, two UFO investigators with the Mutual UFO Network, reported in the July 1983 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal that a sailor with the fleet off Guadalcanal in August 1942 said a disk-shaped object circled overhead. According to them, “…a chief at the time aboard the U.S.S. Helm… had an excellent observation of an incredible encounter with an unknown, unidentified intruder. At 10:00 a.m. the fleet received a radar report from one of the cruisers and a little later a visual sighting of the object was made from their destroyer.”
Inside the National Archives
The sighting, according to the unidentified source, said that the initial contact had been by radar. The object was then seen by the sailors of the fleet, as it approached. Because it was not coming from the correct direction, known then as the radio beam according to the witness, the object was assumed to be hostile. When it was still over a mile away, the fleet opened fire.

According to Cerny and Neville, “The unknown then made a sharp right turn and headed south from an approach heading of 320 degrees. The UFO increased its speed and then circled the entire fleet.”
The witness, who unfortunately refused to let his name be used, said that he had a pair of 7 x 50 binoculars so that he had a chance to see the object quite well. According to him, it was fairly flat, silver in color, with a slight dome in the center of the top.

Having circled the fleet, the object departed to the south. It had been taken under fire but the speed seemed to make it difficult to hit. If it had been struck by any of the antiaircraft fire, it showed no adverse effects to that.
There were two dates given for the event in the original article. The first was August 5, 1942, just prior to the Marine landing on Guadalcanal, and the second as either October 9 or 10, 1942.

I now have the deck logs for the dates given, and while they are interesting, which is to say they are a little slice of history, they are also boring. Every entry begins with “Steaming as before,” and they provide the routine matters of the ship’s operation. If something unusual happens, it is logged such as an event on October 10, 1942. The log said, “1930 [7:30 p.m.] stopped to identify small boat.”
I know that during a gunnery practice on October 10, they fired 330 rounds from 20 mm machine guns at an airborne target sleeve.

But I also know that on those dates in October, the USS Helm was not with the invasion fleet, but was operating off Palm Island, near close to Australia. They took on passengers from the sea plane base there and moved them to Townsville, Queensland, Australia.
So, on the days that the unidentified sailor suggested they had been “buzzed” by a disk-shaped object, the USS Helm was engaged in routine activities. There is nothing to suggest that they fired on a target, an unidentified “enemy” aircraft, or anything else. The only day they apparently fired their weapons (on the three mentioned) was October 10 for gunnery practice.

And no, I do not believe that the CIA or the Air Force got to the deck logs and altered them to remove the sighting. During 1942 anything like this would have been thought of as enemy action. In 1942 no additional excitement would have been attributed to it, and with, literally, hundreds of ships engaged in the war, and tens of thousands of sailors fighting that war, no additional attention would have been brought. By the time the war ended, nearly everyone would have forgotten about a minor shooting incident during the invasion of Guadalcanal.
Here are the conclusions that can be drawn from this:

a. Without the name of the sailor, there is a real problem with the validity of the incident. There is no way to check his background to ensure he was assigned to the USS Helm at the proper time.
b. The deck logs (or rather the pages I have) of the ship do not provide any corroboration for the tale, though had it happened, this is the sort of thing that would have been logged.
c. Even though the deck logs on the dates given by the witness do not corroborate his tale, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t get the date wrong. The article in the MUFON UFO Journal gives three dates. I didn’t have the ability to look through the whole deck log, which means that someone should do that, just to be sure.
d. For the October dates, the USS Helm was just off the coast of Australia, which doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t have engaged an enemy aircraft if one had been spotted. Of course, if the object was an alien spacecraft, the location of the sighting, meaning close to Australia, doesn’t eliminate it.

All this means to me is that one more case of a disk-shaped object seen prior to Arnold has not been verified. Had the deck logs mentioned the incident, then we would have documentation for the sighting prior to Arnold. Without that corroboration we have another sighting reported after Arnold that allegedly happened prior to Arnold.
At any rate, this provides a little bit of an update for the sighting as first reported, but it still has not been conclusively eliminated. To do that, meaning to ensure that we haven’t overlooked something, a careful study of the USS Helm’s deck logs for August, September and October, 1942 should be made. It is always possible the witness got the date wrong… though I suspect that is not the case.


Steve Sawyer said...

This is slightly off-topic, but since you mentioned this uncorroborated report of a "flying disk" being fired on by the U.S.S. Helm was not noted in the ship's logs you examined, and that thus this is yet another example of a pre-Arnold disk report that is not substantiated by any contemporaneous documentation (or, other than some post-Arnold articles), I was wondering, and the question was raised in my mind about whether there are contemporaneous records or documentation of direct AAF reports by observer personnel of the famous "foo fighters," not of the most "common" smallish balls of light [BOLs] seen flying around bombers on missions into Germany late in WWII, and then later in the Pacific theater, against the Japanese, but of those even less common small, metallic disk objects seen at least in the European theater of war by some bomber crew personnel?

In other words, what pre-Arnold, contemporaneous to the events, from direct bomber witnesses on flight crews, records or documentation, if any, of small (I seem to recall between one to three feet wide) "silvery" or metallic disks might there be, and if so, would these documents of those kinds of "foo fighters" then constitute evidence of pre-Arnold disks, even though much smaller, or not?

And, if there are no such "at the time" records or documentation of smaller metallic-looking discoid objects in either the European and/or Pacific bombing campaigns, where do the later reports of such (which may also include the reports of small, usually orangish or whitish-colored BOLs) come from in the first place?

Were any much later MDR or FOIA requests ever filed by any UFO researchers for the specific "small metal disks" records from WWII bombing campaigns? If not, why not? If so, what were the results?

Anthony Mugan said...

@ Steve Sawyer
Yes there are contemporary records of reports from aircrew of foo fighters. Off memory Project 1947 has quite of bit of that and a number of the documents are also referenced by Swords et al ' UFOs and Government'
Mainly 'ball of light' types...not aware of any early really solid cases describing structures such as disks but could easily be wrong on that....

KRandle said...

Steve -

Check out Keith Chester's book Strange Company which contains many documents about the investigations into Foo Fighters.

This particular case was cited because it mentioned a disk shaped object and I was able to check the deck logs. To be completely sure, we need to look at the deck logs over a longer period than I was able to access.