Well, it’s happened again. Got an email about a Foo Fighter sighting at the end of World War II which was radar confirmed. The ship, the USS New York apparently fired on the object without results which meant that they neither hit it nor drove it away. This all happened in the middle of March, 1945, sometime after the invasion of Iwo Jima and before the invasion of Okinawa.
|USS New York in 1945.|
According to the story, as told in several sources, it was about one o’clock in the afternoon when the captain of the New York sounded general quarters. While the crew searched the sky for the attack, down in the ship’s CIC the radar seemed to show a single object. It was then that the crew, including the captain sighted a bright, silver object overhead, seeming to follow the ship. According to Keith Chester’s Strange Company, the captain ordered his anti-aircraft batteries to open fire but there were no results. When it was clear that they were unable to engage the light, the captain ordered a cease-fire. “Within seconds,” according to Chester which, of course, means the witness, “… the object climbed up at fantastic speed until it was out of sight and off the radar scope.”
Not exactly a disk-shaped object but it happened more than two years before Arnold, and there was the hint of radar confirmation. The witness, eventually identified as Donald Pratt, said that he also had seen the report in a magazine (he thought it was “The Times” meaning Time, I suppose, but it was The New Yorker for October 27, 1945 but more on that later).
I haven’t done a very good job of describing this sighting, but only because it was a non-event. Oh the sighting happened and the New York opened fire, but the target was a bright light in the sky without a distinct shape and was way out of range of any of the anti-aircraft artillery on the ship.
According to the NICAP website, there is another side to this event, which does not negate what Pratt told researchers, only that the identity of the object was realized by the ship’s navigator sometime after the firing started. And it probably should be pointed out here that by this time, meaning March 1945, the US military, many in the civilian government and probably thousands of civilians knew of the Japanese Balloon Bombs. These were sort of “constant level balloons” designed to cross the Pacific Ocean, and then after a couple of cycles of rising and falling, would automatically release a cluster of bombs. The idea was to set fires in the Pacific Northwest and to cause other sorts of havoc on a really random game of hit or miss. The balloons did work, to a very limited extent, but the major fires were never started.
Anyway, it seems that the captain and crew thought they were looking at one of the balloon bombs or some other Japanese secret weapon. But, according to Arthur Criste, who wrote to Patrick Huyghe who had published Chester’s book, he had been on the ship during the incident and he had a different perspective (pun intended) of the sighting.
He wrote, “The object we were firing at that day was the planet Venus. It was thought to have been a Japanese balloon…”
He continued, “The reason the radar failed to detect a target was due to the fact of its maximum which was 20,000 yards, well beyond the range of our anti-aircraft guns (which means in its somewhat convoluted way that the radar didn’t have the range to detect the object… Venus).”
He said that when the guns began firing, it woke up the navigator who thought they were being attacked. He ran topside and looked up. He recognized the object immediately. He said, “What the hell are you shooting at? That’s Venus…”
But a letter from another sailor does not a solution make. According to The New Yorker, on pages 39 – 40, in a short article by William McGuire and Mark Murphy, they reported on what a young sailor had told them. It is essentially the same story but there was no mention of radar being involved. Sure, it mentioned that it seemed that this luminous object was following the ship, and the captain asked the gunnery officer for the range. That man said the object was about eight thousand, eight hundred yards from the ship. They opened fire but the rounds fell short, so they kept increasing the size of the weapons brought to bear. The rounds continued to fall short. Eventually they signaled to one of the destroyers to use their five-inch guns, but still had no effect on the object.
Finally, the navigator arrived topside and mentioned that they were firing at Venus. At that point the shooting stopped… and I wonder what the captain said to the young officer who told him the object was eight thousand, eight hundred yards away…but I digress
For those keeping score at home, Pratt was correct in almost everything he said, except for the object being first seen on radar and that it seemed to leave the area when the shooting stopped. The incident was mentioned in a magazine, though it is clear he had not read the magazine in a long time. Anyway, this solution seems quite logical to me and there is no reason to argue with it. The NICAP site contains all the information about this:
This is just one more example of getting to the final and original sources. Pratt told his tale which opened the door. Others went through it, but in the end, once the trail was followed, the logical solution was found. Chester, in his footnote about the object did mention that there was no documentation for the sighting (and in fairness to Keith, there are many new resources available today that he did not have when he put together his book).