Growing up as the son of a retired Air Force Officer in the 1960s was fascinating. I was born late in the lives of my parents, so most of what I remember happened after my father retired and started a new career. I do recall a tiny bit of the time when he was still on active duty, but it’s the stories I heard about UFOs after his retirement that still fascinate me. |
Being around retired Air Force Pilots and Officers and hearing their stories was an amazing experience. Because I was born in the late 1950s and grew up in the 1960s, the topic seemed to come up all the time as a result of massive press coverage in those days. When it did, some of my father’s friends and former Air Force associates would discuss their own experiences with Flying Saucers.
It was one thing to hear an untrained observer describe a UFO sighting, but it was another to hear military pilots that had flown the most advanced jets of their day talk about encountering these unknown objects in the sky. I can honestly say that I am certain not one of their stories was fabricated or embellished. If anything, they were probably understated.
Before he switched to the Air Force in 1947, my father was an Army Officer. As a result of having successfully organized a slipshod system of handling and disbursing supplies in various parts of the Pacific, he was asked to join General Douglas MacArthur’s Staff in 1943. Years later, my father talked about those days with his friends from that time whenever they stopped by to see him.
Most of their conversations were above my head, but by the time I was nine years old I began to understand some of the things they were talking about. Apart from stories told about UFOs and other things by his pilot friends, many of his World War II buddies talked with him about the time they spent serving in the pacific and some of those stories fascinated me.
My parents didn’t use profanity in our home, but when my father and his friends got together and wanted to swap war stories, the language got a bit rough so they would go out in our backyard and talk around the barbeque which was out of the neighbor‘s earshot away from the house. Although I wasn’t welcome to sit in on those sessions, I sat quietly in our kitchen with the window open and still managed to hear most every word thanks to our backyard acoustics.
Although my father’s friends had differing opinions about the Supreme Allied Commander in the South Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur was a name well-respected in our home. As far as his personal experiences go, my father didn’t like talking about his wartime exploits with me. It had been a painful for him and I knew that he saw a lot of death. However, he was certain that given the limited choices, resources and supplies that the Allied Forces had available to defeat the Imperial Japanese Military, MacArthur had made the right decisions.
When the subject of Foo Fighters came up, I didn’t know what they were and it didn’t help that my father and his friends often used other terms to describe them. It was only after listening to Long John Nebel and Frank Edwards radio broadcasts and recordings that I understood them to be some sort of UFOs seen by military pilots on both sides during World War II.
During most discussions about the Foo Fighters or related phenomenon, my father would mention something about MacArthur’s Report to his buddies. I had no idea what he was talking about and finally decided to speak with him about it. I think I was close to twelve years old at the time and he wasn’t thrilled to find out about my eavesdropping.
Although I knew that my father’s head was still filled with lots of secrets and things he wouldn’t talk about concerning his military service, he did give me a thumbnail sketch about the Foo Fighters and subsequent investigations. He said that by the time he joined MacArthur’s Staff in 1943, the General was seriously concerned about reports of strange lights and metallic-looking objects that shadowed or even chased Allied Aircraft.
MacArthur felt these were not Japanese or German Aircraft, reconnaissance devices or secret weapons. He based that opinion on the fact that intelligence reports indicated that Japan Pilots were experiencing the same phenomenon and had no idea what they were. As a result of that information, MacArthur ordered an investigation into the Foo Fighter encounters in the Pacific.
Since Allied Pilots were already routinely debriefed after their missions, it didn’t take a great deal of time or effort to ask those that spotted Foo Fighters a few extra questions or have them make drawings of what they saw. That information became the foundation for MacArthur’s Report.
After the war ended, captured Japanese war records confirmed that the Foo Fighters had also been seen by Japanese and German Pilots wherever they flew. It certainly wasn’t a phenomenon limited to the South Pacific. The Germans even told the Japanese that they could not be American aircraft or observation devices because they had managed to down or capture some.
The Germans believed the technology they found inside these unknown objects was way beyond anything humanly possible at that time. While this might have been more bragging then fact, it does coincide with documents later found in Axis war files by the CIA that indicated the Germans had captured UFOs during the war and were trying to reverse engineer them.
By the time it was finished in the late 1940s, McArthur’s Report on the Foo Fighters was over 10,000 pages long. That may not sound like much in terms of government paperwork, but that was merely the information collected. Descriptions and drawings were included without any additional comments. The sightings and encounters hadn’t ended, but there was simply no more time or funds for further investigations as far as that particular report was concerned.
My father said that MacArthur was convinced the devices described in the report were of unknown and possibly extraterrestrial origin. Before it was even completed, the report was classified to prevent it from falling into the hands of our allies or enemies. The Joint Chiefs were provided with copies of the report while it was still a work in progress and were said to be greatly concerned about the content. I seriously doubt that it was shared with the CIA or any other intelligence gathering services inside or outside of the U.S. Government.
Although many of the commanding officers serving in the military hierarchy in Washington, D.C. did not particularly like or admire General MacArthur, they knew it would a mistake to ignore anything he passed their way. Most either dismissed or could not intellectually accept MacArthur’s extraterrestrial theory about the origin of the Foo Fighters, but not all.
General Hoyt Vandenberg served as the Air Force Chief of Staff from 1948 until 1953 and died in 1954.According to my father, Vandenberg was extremely concerned about all things UFO and hated Project Blue Book with a passion. He believed that UFOs could become a serious threat to national security and despised wasting Air Force time, money and personnel on a half-hearted investigation like Blue Book.
Despite what seemed like a honest endeavor by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt to use the Blue Book team as a serious investigative effect into the UFO phenomenon during those days, he missed the point that it was never designed to accomplish that task. It was meant to placate public concern about the phenomenon and nothing more. Either way, Vandenberg had other ideas.
Although he never said it, my father gave me the impression that Vandenberg knew everything the government could have known about UFOs and Aliens in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He and other military leaders used the power given to them by the creation of the National Security Act of 1947 as a springboard to secretly exercise control over the extraterrestrial situation.
MacArthur was a warrior and a patriot, but no friend of secret government agencies or military alliances on power trips. He once said, “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” I believe that this attitude placed him out of the loop when it came to actual decisions regarding the military and UFOs that didn’t directly involve his command.
Vandenberg had been the U.S. Chief of Military Intelligence during World War II, served as Air Force Chief of Staff and Director of the CIA among other things. That made him the king of the mountain when it came to UFO information during and after World War II. His son, Major General Hoyt S. Vandenberg Jr, may have felt the same way his dad did about UFOs and Blue Book. If memory serves, he met my father at the War College when he spoke there in 1968 and later called my father in 1969 to express disgust at the Blue Book findings and how they embarrassed the Air Force.
As of this writing, the government will not acknowledge that any report by General MacArthur regarding Foo Fighters or UFOs exists or ever did exist. Because I only heard my father use the term ‘Foo Fighters’ a few times, it’s possible that they had a different military designation. Without knowing that designation, it would be nearly impossible to track down any related documents that might lead to the larger Report as a whole. Most wartime documents involving MacArthur are still classified anyway.
When my father and his friends discussed World War II encounters between pilots and UFOs, they called them lights, mystery lights, ghost lights, ghosts, unknowns, bogies, slippery tracers, recon echoes and other things I can’t remember or repeat. Most of these were probably slang terms created by pilots and never made it into the official paperwork. Finding just one document from or related to that report would be almost impossible. I also have to assume that any single page or grouping of pages not physically included in the final MacArthur Report was probably destroyed.
The first time I publicly discussed MacArthur’s Report was in the sixth grade. After talking about it with my dad and coming up with more information on the Foo Fighters, I gave a verbal presentation about UFOs for my sixth grade class and casually mentioned the report. I had spent years listening to teachers talk about how silly Flying Saucers were and how it always seemed to be untrained observers that reported seeing them. I figured it was time to inject a little reality into the classroom by discussing pilot sightings.
Although I knew my teacher would hate it and most of the class would probably think I was a freak, I went ahead with my presentation. My teacher sent me to the office after I finished speaking and got me in trouble with my father. He was summoned to the school to explain my irrational take on UFOs and mention of a classified report that no one ever heard about.
My father arrived at the school, spent a few minutes with the Principal and told me he would speak with me later. I was returned to my classroom. I doubt he said much to the Principal, but later that night we spoke and he said that I should have chosen a different subject and kept my mouth shut about the report. He didn’t say it in a mean way, so I got the impression he meant that my teacher and the students didn’t have enough information to believe or disbelieve anything about UFOs.
When I returned to my classroom, my teacher was still annoyed. She was the kind of person that believed anything and everything written in a science book. She spent the rest of the afternoon explaining how unlikely it was to expect any extraterrestrial life forms that might exist to find their way to Earth. Despite her narrow-minded view, it hadn’t rubbed off on the students.
My classmates surprised me. After school and for the next day or two most of them came up to me and started asking more about UFOs and Aliens. Most were fans of the Star Trek TV Series which was extremely popular among young people by that time. That show had already aired episodes about time travel, aliens visiting the Earth and military secrecy surrounding UFO encounters.
I got the distinct impression that a few of my classmates had their own UFO or Alien encounters, but none of them admitted it. However, two guys in my class had fathers that had recently been in the Air Force. One of the boys came up to me the day after my report and said that his father thought our class ought to talk more about UFOs. The other boy told me that his father had a UFO sighting. That boy invited me to his house for dinner and I accepted.
His parents were young compared to mine and I could see his dad was very interested in UFOs. Now working as an airline pilot, he couldn’t bring the subject up at work. He starting asking me about them during dinner. After telling him a few UFO stories that I heard from military pilots, he shared his own experience. His wife, two sons and I listened eagerly.
From what I recall, he said that he was flying a C130 over Norton Air Force Base (California) in 1966 and saw a classic daylight disc as he as about to land. He only saw it for a few seconds, but others on the ground got a better look and the thing sent the entire Base into a spin. After he landed, anyone and everyone in authority asked him if he saw anything. He told them that he thought he saw something, but couldn’t be sure what it was. I assumed he didn’t want to deal with the consequences of reporting a sighting and wisely decided to clam up.
After dinner, my parents came to pick me up and were invited in for coffee and desert. I mentioned the UFO story and my classmate’s dad gladly retold it for my father’s benefit. He knew that my father had been someone important in the Air Force and I guess he wanted his opinion on it. After hearing the story, my father mentioned that the Air Force was testing new technology for C-130s and other aircraft at Norton around that time. He said that the sighting might have been something that could have been explained, but either way, it could not have been openly discussed.
Before the former Air Force pilot could react, my father smiled and said it was time to go. I think the pilot got his message that it was probably something that might be considered unidentified, but not as far as the Air Force was concerned. For the purpose of that occasion, my father was reciting the Party Line of using new technology and secret aircraft testing as an excuse for explaining away a UFO sighting. Asking him anything further would merely receive the same response, even if it were worded differently.
As you can imagine, incidents like this made growing up in those days interesting to say the least. However, it was also very frustrating because I was presented with two realities: What I knew or suspected to be true and what I was told by teachers, the news media and the government to be true. I believe that’s why I started reading about UFOs and investigating the paranormal in my teens. Even today, I still have some really interesting stories to tell that must wait to be told until those involved come forward or pass on.
Author Bio :
Bill Knell, Paranormal Researcher,
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