that we were without electricity for more than 8 days, and that my iPad is
filled with books that I haven’t read (thank you Book Bub*), I used the time to
catch up. I mention this because one of the books I read was Strange Craft:
The True Story of An Air Force Intelligence Officer’s Life with UFOs by
John L. Guerra with Major George Filer III, USAF (Ret.) and published by
Rayshore Publishing Company in Tampa, Florida.
we start, let me say that I was a little annoyed with one of the first pages
that said, “What reviewers say about ‘Strange Craft.’” Oh, not that the reviews
were all good but that none of the reviewers were named. In most books which
quote reviews, there is a source mentioned. That none were identified is a
little, dare I say it, “Strange.”
a retired military officer myself, I’m always interested in the career paths of
those who took a similar journey. In that respect, I enjoyed the book. I
thought Filer’s description of his UFO sighting was vivid and interesting, if
not a bit frightening. I did think it strange that the aircraft commander would
put his aircraft into a dive that pushed the envelope and red lined the
airspeed, but hey, I wasn’t in the aircraft and don’t really know what
pressures were put on that officer to intercept the UFO.
The 116th AHC, preparing for a combat
assault, 1968. Photo copyright by
I learned that my tour in Vietnam overlapped Filer’s, though his began at the very beginning of 1968 (well, the last couple of days of 1967) and mine some months later. During the Tet Offensive, Filer mentions the helicopters landing on Ton Son Nhut, and the gunships attacking the VC attempting to overrun the air base. I mention this only because one of those units was the 116th Assault Helicopter Company, which I would join a few months after this.
since I have leaped right into the Tet Offensive, I thought I’d mention a
couple of points. Filer suggests that he, and his pals in the Air Force,
predicted the Tet Offensive and advised MACV (Military Assistance Command,
Vietnam) and General William Westmoreland, that an attack was planned.
According to Filer, his warnings, and those of his cohorts, fell on deaf ears.
Once the attacks were launched, to the surprise of the Army, both American and
Vietnamese, his predictions were validated. Westmoreland was demoted and
replaced by Creighton Abrams… but the truth is, Westmoreland was promoted to
Chief of Staff of the Army. He’d already been in Vietnam for four years and he
wasn’t all that surprised, except, possibly by the tanks used to attack Lang
Vei Special Forces camp.
trouble here is that history doesn’t reflect the theory that the Army and the
Vietnamese were ill-prepared for Tet. Filer suggests that Westmoreland had
rejected the idea because Tet was such an important holiday and both sides had
honored a tacit cease fire during Tet. There would be no attack because of that.
the Vietnamese, centuries earlier, had launched a surprise attack on the
Chinese during Tet. General Earl Wheeler, who was in Australia in November,
1967, told an audience that they expected a big attack, probably around Tet.
American forces in Vietnam were moved into more centralized locations in late
January 1968 so that they would be able to redeploy quickly into hot spots
expected during the attacks. The only people really surprised by the Tet
Offensive were the reporters who didn’t understand military strategies and were
astonished by the initial gains and the politicians who would be expected to
have something negative to say because they just don’t know better. In the
years that followed, it would be acknowledged that it was a defeat for the VC
but seen as a psychological victory for them… again an assessment by a press
who simply don’t understand what happened… and, once again, I digress.
I say, I was interested in the track of Filer’s military career and the
problems that he faced during it. I was surprised when he was offered an
opportunity to go to Vietnam at the invitation of a general who wanted Filer on
his staff but Filer declined. Seems that he missed a golden opportunity, but
then he had young children and such a deployment is tough on the family. He
went a couple of years later. I think, during our military careers we all face
tough choices and sometimes we chose wrong. I believe I always chose wrong, but
that’s a tale for another time.
twenty years in the Air Force, Filer retired as a major. He believes that his
interest in UFOs, and possibly his involvement in a big UFO sighting might have
derailed his career. He believes he missed promotions because this.
his interest in UFOs didn’t stop with his retirement. Instead, he jumped into
the world of the UFO with both feet. According to him, he had been involved in
the shooting of an alien creature at the Fort Dix/McGuire Air Force Base
complex. Well, maybe involved is too strong a word. He was assigned to McGuire
when the events took place and was near the scene as the military police and
Air Force officials took care of the problem. Filer was to brief a general
about what had happened, based on his interrogation of some of the
participants. Unfortunately, events intervened so that Filer didn’t see the
alien, didn’t see the photographs of the alien, and was just around the
periphery of the event… but then he was there on the morning of the incident so
that provides him with a better perspective than those of us who just read
about it much later.
now, for those interested in the workings of MUFON and the UFO field, we learn
how Filer joined MUFON, what he did in the beginning and what he continues to
do today, even though he is in his eighties. He helped establish or refine some
of the procedures that MUFON uses and eventually became a regional director.
problem for me here, is that he accepts, as authentic, some of the UFO events
that worry me. He talks of multiple crashes and suggests that General George
Marshall, who was the Chief of Staff of the Army during WW II and later was the
Secretary of State under President Truman, was on the scene of two UFO crashes.
I might have missed it, but I don’t believe that those crashes were ever
identified by Filer and I don’t believe that Marshall was involved in any such
hints at other crashes as well. The problem for me is that I can accept one or
two, but this idea of many crash retrievals has moved into the realm of
fantasy. It seems to be illogical to believe that there could be so many UFO
crashes without much better evidence slipping into the public arena. Too many
crashes and so many of them with dubious testimony.
guess the long and the short of it is that I enjoyed reading the book and was
especially interested in a fellow Vietnam veteran’s military career. I was
interested in his insights in the world of the UFO but reject much of the
information provided there. True, many will accept it, but I found the lack of
names, dates and locations of this to be troublesome. There is no way for us to
independently verify the information because there are simply too few clues for
us to find or paths for us to follow.
Bill Brazel, 1989. Photocopy
right by Kevin Randle
I get that UFO witnesses, once their names are known, are subject to many, many UFO investigators, or maybe just UFO enthusiasts, wanting to talk with them. Too many of those enthusiasts have no social skill when it comes to talking with witnesses, meaning they call at all hours, demand all sorts of information, and don’t realize they are intruding on another’s life without invitation. Bill Brazel told me that he would sometimes receive calls from drunks in bars at 2 or 3 in the morning, wanting to know if the Roswell story was true… for those interested, I sent him a letter with my telephone number in it and asked him to call me collect if he could help me. He called and he did.
I do recommend the book but remember, the evidence for many of the tales is
lacking. If that doesn’t bother you, well, good for you. For me, I’d have liked
a little more detail, a few more documents, and some hints of where to look for
corroboration. Other than that, it was fun.
And, yes, I have invited him on the radio show, twice, but have yet to received a response to that invitation.
Bub is a website that sends out a daily list of books that can be picked up for
free or for a buck or two, rather than the full price. This explains why there
are something like 100 titles on my iPad which I haven’t yet read, but thought
those books would be interesting. You can select the type of books that
interest you (science fiction, true crime, biographies, history, action
adventure, etc.) and the list sent is tailored to your personal tastes. Check
it out when you have the chance. This is my small gift to those of you visit