|Occurred : 3/12/1961 21:00 (Entered as : 3/12/61 21:00)
Reported: 8/15/2007 3:41:44 PM 15:41
Location: McGuire AFB, NJ
|Two sightings - one a green ball, the other either one or four red fireballs.
Peter, this is FYI since the sightings don't come first hand. These are the ones I remember from my year's in service. Any others weren't worth remembering. Thanks for the help when I gave my report on the radio.
I noticed that when I sent the last sighting to you, the "replay" did not show the breakdown into paragraphs. Hope you have a way of decoding the message into paragraphs as it was written. Also, the time of the sighting requires one to place an exact time a time even if the exact time is not known.
I did not check "I would like to be contacted by an investigator", but you may call any time you wish.
In late 1960, I was assigned to the 30th Air Transport Squadron operating from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. I had my navigator's wings, but every command had its own types of aircraft, methods, and secrets of navigating, so I was provided with an instructor until I was ready to be checked out by a flight examiner. We were flying in Douglas C-118s, mostly the 1953 model, but with some 1951 models. The C-118 is the same as the DC-6B, but with a reinforced floor (higher floor loading) for carrying cargo on occasion. Usually, we carried passengers. The 30th Squadron was one of several who comprised a group which was part of the 1611th Air Transport Wing.
The first sighting of interest that we spoke of when I was in the Air Force came from an F-106 pilot who was the next door neighbor of the man who related the details to me. In chronological order, this is what happened.
On the night of March 12, 1961, two ocean station vessels found an object hovering off the east coast of the U.S. By way of explanation, an ocean station vessel at that time was a ship which was kept at a particular latitude and longitude off one of our coasts or in mid-ocean.
They acted as picket ships with early warning radar during this cold war period and as rescue vessels if a plane needed to ditch near them.
When two of them off the coast of New Jersey picked up the hovering object on radar, they were able to calculate its precise altitude and geographic location. This information was fed to NORAD (North American Air Defense) and to the ADC (Air Defense Command) contingent at McGuire AFB where I was stationed. Consequently, two F-106 interceptors were scrambled.
They climbed to the altitude of the hovering object and closed on it. As they closed, they both picked up the object on their airborne radar sets and saw it visually as a glowing green ball. As they closed, the object began to move straight upward. The F-106s followed.
In a very short time, the interceptors were left behind and the object disappeared in the distance.
There was a mandatory form we all had to fill out (an intelligence report) when certain things were witnessed (things such as encounters involving electronic "warfare" with Russian trawlers, Soviet ground stations, etc.). At the debriefing, the 106 pilots were required to fill out and sign this form (one form for each of them). This process could take a long time, especially after a tiring mission (something I discovered later on). The debriefing officer kept insisting that (1) their radar sets were malfunctioning, (2) that the lead pilot saw an reflection in his windscreen, and (3) that the second pilot saw the exhaust of the first F-106. Since, the pilots were honest individuals who hated to be pushed around, they refused to recant what had happened and filled out the forms and signed them correctly.
The base housing at McGuire at that time largely consisted of units in a row with one "apartment" wall being the same wall for the adjacent "apartment". A navigator named John Gargus (confidential information) who was part of the 1611th Air Transport Wing lived in one of these apartments. One of the F-106 pilots lived in one of the two next door to John. After the 106 pilots were released, the one next door to John (who was friend of John's) came over to complain bitterly about the incident and his subsequent treatment.
On March 13, Neil (my instructor) and I left with John and the rest of the aircrew on a mission to Rhein Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany. We landed at Rhein Main on the 14th. After we had checked in to our quarters and were cleaning up (about 3:15 PM local time), I overheard John talking to Neil. I asked for John to repeat what he was telling Neil and he did so. The story he told is the one related above.
No one seemed to be particularly amazed at this story, but took it matter of factly. There was some sympathy for the F-106 pilot that was forced to disclose this sighting. From this and other indications, I realized that there was danger to one's career should one happen to ever mention seeing certain things in the sky. In the years that followed, it was evident that the Air Force "first line troops" had an underground that knew about certain supposed visitors while the top brass did all they could to sweep things under the rug.
I have no idea where to find John Gargus at this time and no idea whether or not he would be willing to tell where the F-106 pilot is - and odds are he may not know. However, I will try to see if I can discover anything without going to excessive trouble. At that time, John was a first lieutenant assigned to wing headquarters.
The second sighting I would like to mention was related by my flight examiner navigator, then a Captain, later a Major, named Jordan W. Grant. We called him "Pappy Grant" and he was probably in his forties at the time.
On December 5, 1962, I was given a line check from Pappy, again to Rhein Main.
During our two-day crew rest in Germany, we had several meals together and at one of them, Pappy related the following story.
It was during a mission in over the Pacific and Pappy was navigating. It was daylight and Pappy had the LORAN set on as well as the radar (which was always on when it was working correctly). Suddenly the display on the LORAN scope and the display on the radar scope shrunk, leaving only a dot in the middle of each scope. The compasses began to gyrate wildly.
Pappy stuck his head into the cockpit and found the pilots gibbering incoherently and looking fearfully back as best they could from their side windows. Pappy asked what had happened. Finally, they calmed down enough to tell him. One told him that a flaming red ball had just nearly hit them head-on and that he was afraid that it might return. The second said the same thing but claimed that there were four balls instead of just one. The ball or balls had been at the same altitude as the airplane and flying straight and level.
Eventually, the radar, the LORAN set, and the compasses returned to normal.
Chances are Pappy is no longer alive. He had a master's degree in marine biology and worked on his own blueberry farm with his wife between missions. He would eat two large steaks whenever he could and enjoyed good food perhaps more than he should have. If you have any suggestions on how to find either John or Pappy, please let me know. A search on line might help. Pappy was more than just a flight examiner with a higher rank than most of us. He was a valuable friend to us all.