No, the title of this chapter is not the answer to a question contained in a sealed envelope being held to the head of Johnny Carson’s swami character, the Great Karnack, who was able to mentally read the question and provide the appropriate verbal response before opening the envelope. (This is for anyone who can still remember Johnny Carson and his Tonight Show) In reality, the story below this title is more about officials within Air Force’s top management using Mafioso-like attempts to rub out one of its own. Rubbing out in this case would actually be the disgracing of an NCO by using the ruse of punishment for revealing a top secret incident. Yet, the incident designated as top secret involved a UFO and its cover-up. The mixing of a bruised military ego, slick foxy chicanery, and an out of this world UFO encounter brewed up a conflict which rolled on not unlike a long rolling thunderstorm. Being no different than the rest of the grunts (Air Force mechanics who performed continuous maintenance on aircraft and support equipment in sweltering heat and humidity), I worked a 12 hour, six day week shift (approximately six months of night shift, 7 to 7, and six months of day shift). My tour of duty was dedicated to the functions performed by a bomb-lift truck mechanic in support of the "Vietnam Conflict." My first month in Southeast Asia was the most challenging due to working over three weeks straight without a full day off. Manpower was short and my supervisor had worked over a month without a day off. He had no sympathy for anyone especially if they had just arrived from “the world” (the United States).
My story of one year in Southeast Asia (SEA) is actually two stories converging into one, and boy, is it a story about military deception. Despite living in a beautiful green country, the enduring heat, sweat, and occasional blood-letting made anywhere in the United States look like a paradise lost, or at least left behind. Included in this menagerie of too much heat and too much work was the occasional and unnecessary Mickey Mouse slithering down from above. (Sorry Walt, this is not your Mickey but the mettlesome workings of deprived minds which have adopted his name.) Most military and all grunts undergo some form of this “Mickey Mouse,” unwanted minutia and undiluted “psychological dung,” usually forced down upon them from the “superior” military brass existing somewhere high above. No doubt I had brought some of Mickey’s muck onto myself by not agreeing with what the brass had divinely sent down to me.
One particular day brought on more of this “Mickey Mouse” than I ever expected. It began when I was awakened in the middle of the afternoon by Airman Sanchez, another night co-worker, whose cultural background was Puerto Rican even though he hailed from New York – the “world” he loved almost as much as he loved his wife who he constantly talked about. Sanchez yelled, “Get up Mac…You’ve got to see the flying saucer outside…Get up!”
The entire base was buzzing because operations had come to a complete stand still due to a bright white glowing object hovering directly over the end of the runway. B‑52 bombers were not flying out in groups (sorties) of three to six on bombing runs to drop their tons of 500 and 750 pound bombs (over 70,000 pounds of explosives per Stratafortress bomber) on targets in Vietnam, Cambodia, and other enemy occupied areas in Southeast Asia.
After having to pull myself up out of bed and into another day of heated afflictions, I sat up and listened to the ranting of other enlisted men as they discussed the “UFO.” Becoming alert to my surroundings very slowly, I leisurely ambled out of my cubical and down the long concrete hallway leading to the second floor stairway terrace. There I was standing under the afternoon sun with 10 to 12 enlisted men who were watching what appeared to be a star hovering slightly above the runway. From the exterior second floor stairwell landing, I could see hundreds of people standing at ground level gazing up at the strange light. Within seconds, two dark jet fighters broke the silent sky with the sounds of their roaring and screaming engines. From my view they looked like black silhouettes of F-4 or F14 jet fighters flying directly towards the white lighted star-object. To the absolute astonishment of everyone, the bright object streaked up and to the left and quickly vanished in a sharp arc away from the base. The two fighters seemed to be moving in slow motion when compared to the speed and maneuverability of the star‑like object. When the jet fighters disappeared over the Gulf of Siam, I considered the event over and unhurriedly strolled down to my cot where I slid between its sheets. About a minute later, Sanchez yelled into my sleep cubical, “You missed it Mac…the flying saucer…you missed it!”
With the little strength I had, I yelled back, “I saw it!”
Sanchez did not believe I had gotten up, and lashed back, “You really missed something … something important.”
I heard his words but was too sleepy to argue. Besides, I did not consider the UFO encounter important enough to cause a dispute.
Until our next commander's call, the bright object was the main topic at work and in the clubs where sipping beer was as normal as breathing. A commander’s call was initiated for the purpose of discussing the UFO; I did not attend the meeting but eventually became aware of what was discussed.
During the commander's call, our commander had informed the enlisted men that the unusual light seen by hundreds of military personnel was to be considered as "secret" and no one was to discuss the event with anyone or write home about it. He revealed that the Air Force had many secret experiments and projects in the area and no one was to discuss anything seen which looked unusual unless it was discussed with him or a security (intelligence) officer. Ninety percent or more of the men took the colonel at his word about keeping quiet, but many did not believe his story about the bright object belonging to the U.S. Government. By word of mouth from friends stationed at other sites in Southeast Asia, we eventually found out the fighters had been scrambled from Udorn, approximately 200 miles north of our base. All of this information I gained from friends and co-workers.
I was denied access to this briefing due to earthly circumstances involving more ego than secrecy. At this time, I became aware of an ongoing cover‑up during my Southeast Asian tour of duty of 1969‑70. Until then, I actually believed the government was ignorant of the knowledge of alien beings visiting earth. Much to my psychological relief, I found out that at least one segment of our country's government was, and for some time had been, aware of the phenomenon. For this knowledge alone, I was, and remain, truly thankful. One part of this story must be added to be correct. I had informed friends and co-workers of my past encounters with what I believed to be aliens and their crafts (UFOs). In most cases, revealing any alien encounter lead to laughing and someone telling jokes about aliens. Someone always wanted to tell a bigger story than the one which had just been told. Most everyone believed these humdingers were just plain whoppers that the story-tellers loved to tell and retell for their own amusement. Saying something like, “but this is really true…” always caused the biggest laughs. Consequently, I learned quickly I could not tell anyone about my encounters without some joking being added as a punch line.
Prior to the daylight sighting of the bright star-light object over Utapao’s runway, I had spotted what looked like stars moving at strange angles through the night skies. I informed several people to look for a flying saucer to be landing at Utapao at anytime. Again, I was confronted with more jokes. The jetfighters which scrambled to defend Utapao’s Royal Thai Air Force Base were little more than antique has-beens when compared to the advanced technological craft which left them in an Asian dust rolling towards the green Gulf of Siam. I have never been a quiet wallflower although I have tried to be one on numerous occasions. Not agreeing with authority figures came naturally to me especially when I saw something they had given approval of and it was obviously dangerous or blatantly wrong. Commanders of both the Munitions Maintenance Squadron (MMS) to which I was assigned and the US Air Force Base at Utapao knew my name well. My raising cane about one thing or another being wrong did not fit within the normal confines of military “kissupmanship.” Friendly sources let me know my name had been used with wild abandonment and profuse profanity when I pulled a mechanical trailer off the flight line because I considered it to be a danger to the airmen using it. Being a buck-sergeant gave me a little latitude for making decisions for airman working with and for me.
In this case, MMS had received from Guam’s Field Maintenance Squadron a trailer which was supposed to make our work easier and safer for removing broken down bomb-lift trucks from the runway and flight-line. An officially deemed “bona fide gift” like this trailer from a thousand miles away seemed to be heaven-sent at first. But being Air Force grunts, my coworkers and I would be the mechanics who would have to use it. It had a hand crank at the front which was attached to a pulley that used muscle and gravity to pull broken down bomb-lift trucks up onto the trailer. Since some colonel mandated that it would work, every lieutenant-colonel, major, captain, first and second lieutenant and every sergeant (from the top-down) snapped-to and agreed the trailer would work. After one day’s use, I knew they were all wrong. The storyline behind this trailer was that it was supposedly designed to make work less dangerous and effortless. This storyline was a farce. In reality, it was a dangerous money-pit on wheels because those who designed it reaped in big bucks and those who built it reaped in bigger bucks, but safety was never anyone’s concern. Its upkeep would have robbed American citizens of additional tax money. Even worse, those operating it were liable to be hurt by being crushed if the trailer caused the broken truck to roll the wrong direction. Airman Sanchez was the trailer’s initial victim of an injury because its gravitational function had failed. I drove out towards the flight-line on a modified bomb-lift truck (which had a cherry picker attached to its front that was used for picking up and moving broken down equipment) to see why Sanchez and another airman had not returned with the trailer and “inoperative” bomb-lift truck, which we affectionately called “MJ’s” and “jammers.” As I approached the Mickey Mouse sent trailer and viewed the surroundings, I noticed that Sanchez had received numerous injuries in the form of cuts and bruises, and the other airman, a new recruit whose name sounded like Jerit, was standing beside the trailer incapable of operating it himself. A little blood had trickled down onto Sanchez’s jungle fatigues, and he agonized with a grimace as he bent over trying to cope with his trailer encounter. After Sanchez indicated he could help despite being in pain, the three of us managed to push and pull the jammer onto the trailer. With a slight smile and a judicial thought in mind, I asked, “Any objections if I pull the trailer back to the shop with the tractor? Okay… if I drive?”
Figure 11 Digital drawing– Top Secret memory as seen from a high second floor concrete balcony. A brightly lit UFO escapes from two jet fighters after it had hovered over the Thai/U.S. Air Force runway, Utapao, 1970. Jet fighters and the runway are on the other side of the APO building (post office) and hangars.
Article continues August 22, 2012.
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