Saturday, September 26, 2020

George Filer and "Strange Craft"


Given 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.

Before 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.”

As 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
Kevin Randle

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.

And, 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.

The 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.

Except… 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.

As 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.

After 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.

But, 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.

And 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.

The 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 activities.

Filer 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.

I 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.

Oh, 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.

*Book 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 here regularly.


Bob Koford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JoeWhip said...

I attended a local MUFON chapter meeting a few years back where Mr. Filer spoke. It was recorded and is likely available on line. In it he discussed the alien shooting incident. Great story but color me unimpressed. Seemed like just that, a story.

james tankersley said...

Well i dont know Kevin i think there could have been more UFO crashes we are not well aware of because all the military would have to say to the public, the news media which is a circus itself these days is say a plane crashed or shot down, a sattelite fell to earth, a balloon crashed i wonder how many upteem time already? No one would interfere or think to look into it!