Sunday, March 26, 2023

Should We Investigate Decades Old Cases?


Several years ago, I learned about Rich Reynolds when he suggested it was time for we geezers to get out of the way and allow the youngsters to solve the mystery of the UFO. I believe he thought we had failed, though I thought that we had supplied quite a few explanations including those answered as “unidentified.” Didn’t mean alien spacecraft, only that we didn’t know what it was and alien spacecraft was one possible answer.

Anyway, that started a communication between us which, I believe, we found more common ground than disagreement. We had good conversations during the run of Game of Thrones until the show runners wrecked the whole thing with an incredibly stupid final season, but I digress.

Lately, if I have read some of his comments correctly (and allow for the possibility that I missed a point or two), he thought that we geezers were wasting too much time going over the older cases. We needed to move into the modern era where answers other than alien lived. I think he was saying that there might be paranormal explanations, not to mention misidentified natural phenomena and certainly items of national security that needed to be protected because they were, well, items of national security.

The notion isn’t completely wrong, but then it is only recently that we have had access to files that were buried under various classifications and protected by the umbrella of national security. But I also noticed that as we found our way into some of those hidden files, we found things that were once accepted as truth that were, to be kind, mistakes.

Take the landing in Socorro, New Mexico, in April, 1964. Police officer Lonnie Zamora saw something that didn’t look like a conventional aircraft and that seemed to operate outside the norms for any sort of aircraft. I had said, for years, as had others, that this was an interesting case, but suffered from one flaw. It was single witness. It would be strengthened by additional witnesses.

While talking with Ben Moss and Tony Angiola, they mentioned that three people had called the police station in Socorro with sightings in the minutes before Zamora made his sighting and his report. I asked if that had been written down in the police log, three times, and didn’t get a satisfactory answer. I don’t know if we were just miscommunicating or if they thought the answer was simple and I should have known it.

Zamora provided his eyewitness account for this illustration.

I pulled up the Project Blue Book file on Socorro and in there I found a short report written by Captain Richard Holder on the night of the sighting. In that report, submitted to the Pentagon that night, just hours after he, along with an FBI agent, had interrogate Zamora, Holder mentioned those three telephone calls into the police station. In 1964, apparently no one thought it important to find those witnesses, which, in 1964, wouldn’t have been impossible. The flight path of the UFO was known and Socorro wasn’t all that large. Investigators would have had to knock on a lot of doors, but it could have been done. Think of the important data that could have been learned from those witnesses and think what it would have meant to the case.

Similarly, in 1973, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker claimed they had been abducted outside Pascagoula, Mississippi. For years, I, along with many others, suggested the case might be a hoax because there were no independent witnesses for that abduction. In fact, when I interviewed Calvin Parker several months ago, I made that case. He said that there were other witnesses and he, along with Philip Mantle and Dr. Irene Scott had found and interviewed several of them.

Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker.

Well, I wasn’t overly impressed because witnesses coming forward decades after the event aren’t all that impressive. The argument can be made that they just wanted to climb on the band wagon and see their names in the papers or be interviewed for the various documentaries. We had witnesses who saw the abduction, but they hadn’t talked in 1973.

That turned out to be wrong. I have seen a document, written the day after the abduction, by Air Force personnel at Keesler Air Force Base, in which two other men were interviewed about the sighting and said they had seen it. Two witnesses, independent of one another, reporting the next day, they had seen something very strange as Hickson and Parker were abducted. And, one of the men was with two other people who also saw the same thing running the total to four.

Think about that. We have two men saying they were abducted by alien creatures, and part of that event was witnessed by outside sources. There was a record of what they had seen, the very next day, but in all the controversy, some of it introduced by the skeptical community, caused that information to be overlooked by so many.

And finally, as I was working on the book about the Levelland sightings in November, 1957, I found some interesting documentation that I don’t believe had been reported. According to the Air Force, the Hockley County Sheriff, Weir Clem, said he had seen a streak of red in the distance. However, in news reports published before the Air Force investigator arrived, Clem said that he had seen a brightly glowing red, “football-shaped” or an oval-shaped object rather than just a streak of red.

Don Burleson, about twenty years ago, interviewed the man who maintained the sheriff’s car. Burleson was told that the sheriff had brought his car in, the next day, and asked that it be checked out. The only reason that the sheriff would have done that was if his car had been stalled by the close approach of the UFO. The sheriff wanted to be sure there was no mechanical reason for the engine to stall.

That is an interesting bit of information, suggesting that the Air Force had suggested that Clem be less than candid when talking to the press about the sighting. Don Berliner, in 1975, interviewed Clem, who again said that he had seen the brightly glowing red, football-shaped UFO.

Sheriff Weir Clem and two of his deputies.

That, by itself, is an interesting revelation but there is one other fact. As I was researching the case, I learned that Clem, with a deputy, had gone out to look for the UFO. Following them was a car from the Texas Department of Public Safety, that is, the state police. And following those two cars was a third occupied by Air Force officers from Reese Air Force Base located about twenty minutes from Levelland.

In other words, there is documentation suggesting that Air Force officers were close enough to see the object rather than a streak of light, and if Clem’ car was stalled by the close approach of the UFO, then the Air Force car was stalled by the close approach of the UFO as well.

Think about the importance of that revelation and what it would mean to the Air Force investigation if that information had been available to us at the time of the sighting. It would be impossible for the Air Force to claim that ball lightning was the culprit.

Here’s the other side of that coin. Why is there no reference in the Air Force file to Air Force officers making a sighting on the night of the event? Clearly, the Air Force would have known about them, but, according to the Air Force, there were only three witnesses to an actual craft. Norman Barth, the Air Force investigator only interviewed six witnesses during his short, seven-hour investigation and, three of those witnesses said they had only saw something in the distance. There is no mention of the Air Force officers being involved because if the Air Force admitted that, then the entire tone of the investigation would have changed.

The point here is that while I understand what Rich is suggesting, I believe that these older cases deserve another look based on what we have found in the Project Blue Book files and other records that have made their way into the public arena. Although I have been unable to identify those Air Force officers, think what their comments and descriptions would have meant to understanding what UFOs were and are, especially in a robust case like that from Levelland.

So, while I understand what Rich is saying, I also believe that we need to study the older cases because there are some extraordinary testimonies hidden in them. Properly documented, properly investigated and properly understood, we just might advance UFO research to a point where we are talking about the home worlds of the aliens rather than denying that they exist.


Bryan Sentes said...

The question this topic raises is if a "best-before date" can ever finally be determined for a given UFO event.

Those cases that ripple out into their future have what literary critics term "a reception history" (think of all the various ways over time the tragedy of Antigone has been read, or, for that matter, the tragic genre itself), which (for me!) _is part of the case itself_. For researchers, such as yourself, this reception history is the trace of the process of coming to terms with the event, the record of communal investigation and reflection, which becomes an important secondary literature or commentary (assuming, of course, we can ever agree on an authoritative "primary text"...). Even "real world" cold cases can be solved decades after the event. How much more time might anomalous events demand? An open question, I would argue, and not one that can be resolved by irritable fiat.

The way these "classic" cases always provide some more grist for the mill makes them similar to what scholar Peter Dale Scott terms "deep events" (e.g. the Kennedy assassination), which, because of their being inextricably imbricated in covert activities and concerns (of national intelligence, for example, not irrelevant with regard to the UFO) will likely never be solved however profoundly important they are.

Are the findings you share here concerning the Soccorro and Levelland events included in your latest books on them?

At any rate, "one more time into the breach!"

William G. Pullin said...

In my humble opinion, it is essential to have a grasp of the history of the UFO phenomenon. Such knowledge allows for a more informed approach to the issue, and it places modern reports and sightings in a proper perspective. Data and information we have at our disposal is always changing, and our positions concerning different events should be flexible and based on the data, including new information. Thanks again Kevin for your thoughts on the matter.

John Steiger said...

Mr. Reynolds is entitled to his opinion ... but why stop there? Why study history at all, pray tell? [After all, we can't possibly determine precisely what happened anywhere back in the day now can we?]

Of course, this opinion eliminates not only the need to study history, but archaeology too. And for that matter, why even waste resources on space telescopes looking back to the dawn of Time?

Yes, Mr. Reynolds is certainly entitled to his opinion, but fortunately we are entitled to ignore it as well.

Jur said...

Magnificent article, Kevin. I've taken the liberty to spread it far and wide into the socials.

RRRGroup said...

Ah, the UFO geezers..ya gotta love 'em.

I've been told that new info on Socorro is about to break -- info that explains the sighting.

Now that is interesting or may be...but a regurgitation of those old cases -- new or iconic -- doesn't provide an explanation for the phenomenon. The material just titillates.

I know that nostalgia for the UFO long-timers is a psychological must, but old cases that are shopworn from rumination are soporific.....nothing more.

And that old saw about reviewing history is an irrational canard. History is not a phenomenon but a process, like a recipe.

Sorry gents. Kevin gets it, but the rest of you make me yawn.


Bryan Sentes said...

In defense of your thesis, Kevin, a(nother) case in point. Via Dr David Clarke: "How a classic UFO ‘mystery’ was solved by a cold case investigation," which can be accessed, here: