Sunday, June 28, 2020

Len Stringfield - Liar?

When Don Schmitt and I discussed Len Stringfield’s contributions to the UFO community, I thought we had covered all the problems. However, it seems that there are still some out there who believe that Len was a liar. I think these comments were made because they disagreed with Len’s work and they disagreed with Len’s belief structure but there really is nothing in any of it that would suggest Len was a liar.

Len Stringfield
In the last decades of his life, Len was collecting tales of UFO crash retrievals. He produced a series of “Status Reports,” providing the information that had been given to him. He made no judgments about the information without additional knowledge and shared these reports with the hope that others might have a chance to verify that information. He was not advocating a position on the cases but sharing information that had been given to him.

An example of this was the tale of a crash/retrieval near Del Rio, Texas, in 1948. He reported the information as provided by Robert Willingham, who claimed to be a retired Air Force colonel and former fighter pilot. Len did note some trouble with the case as he learned of it, and reported the new information in his Status Reports.

Now, I should point out that there were many in the UFO field who accepted this case as legitimate. I was one of those, reporting on it in A History of UFO Crashes. I accepted the information because Willingham had signed an affidavit about the veracity of the tale and I believed that others had vetted the information by checking his military credentials. That I found it credible at the time
Civil Air Patrol officer,
Robert Willingham
doesn’t make me a liar because I was accurately reporting what others had told me about Willingham and his tale. These others believed the story as well because Willingham was a retired colonel and had signed an affidavit.

However, as I was working on Crash: When UFOs Fall from the Sky, I thought I would see what new information about this case was out there. In one of Len’s “Status Reports,” he mentioned that the date had changed from the original 1948 to December 1950, which, of course, was a red flag.

Worse still, as I followed up on it, I learned that no one had bothered to verify Willingham’s credentials. I requested information about Willingham from St. Louis, where NARA houses military records and learned the only documentation available was that Willingham had served a mere 13 months in the military, was a low-ranking enlisted soldier and that he left the military in early 1947. He you read the whole, sad tale here:

The point is, that I hadn’t lied about Willingham, and Len hadn’t lied about him. He, as had I, reported what others had told us. We were wrong, but we hadn’t lied.

And that is what I’m trying to say here. You might disagree with Len’s conclusions or with the information he published, but that doesn’t make him a liar. You might believe, as many do, that there is no alien visitation and anything that suggests otherwise is in error, but believing in alien visitation doesn’t make you a liar.

I have advocated for a long time that we tone down the rhetoric but there are those who just can’t seem to make a point without calling names and attempting to assassinate character. Believe what you will, but make the point without slandering those with whom you disagree…

And please, understand what Len was attempting to do. He wanted to get the best information, regardless of what that information might be. He was priming the pump to get to the bottom of the reports because he couldn’t do it all himself.

But lying? Nope. Just a search for the truth.


Mike said...

Speaking of stories, there is a great one in Ardy Clarke's 1st book. In this case, she disguises identities but the location was easily decipherable (probably on purpose as she gives her source/witness the name "Harrison" and the site of the army corp of engineers project was the Garrison Dam in North Dakota 1947. The craft went down in 1945 as the story goes: cylindrical 70 foot long...largely intact.

Philip Mantle said...

One interesting aspect of this field of research is where has all the crash retrieval stories gone since Len passed away ? Has anyone taken up the challenge to follow in Len's footsteps ? As for toning things down Kevin, you are of course right but I doubt if it will happen any time soon.