I have put off writing this story which I decided to do right after watching my good friend, Dennis Kucinich, stumble around with his answer on MSNBC-TV about his UFO experience. I totally empathize and sympathize with those who have witnessed or in some way come to believe in the existence of UFO's. They do exist. They are not rare. What is rare is a good explanation of what they are, really are.
I think it was 1966 or 7. I was an Army Aviator with over 1000 hours, much of it combat time accrued while on my first tour in Vietnam. At the time I was home on leave from a temporary assignment at Ft. Benning, GA, where I had taken a transition course to the Chinook CH-47 Cargo Helicopter. I was scheduled to depart Ft. Benning upon my return for my second tour as a member of a Chinook Company, one of the first to be deployed. All of this is background for what I am about to reveal.
My home was on Cimarron Trail, Lawton, OK, just off the southeast corner of Ft. Sill and under the downwind leg of the main runway at the Henry Post Army Airfield. My house was also very close to a direct line from the takeoff end and what Artillery men know as the East Range. The East Range is where big guns and their crews are taken for the training and firing of large guns, howitzers, rockets and cannons. It also became a place for firing airborne weapons when such things became necessary during the Vietnam War.
It was a beautiful night, warm and clear, stars were twinkling across the heavens and the Milky way was prominent. There was no moon but there were several aircraft practicing night landings and I lay on the lawn grass and just enjoyed a moment alone as master of my domain and dreading the morrow when I would return to Georgia and from there a return trip to Southeast Asia. For some reason, I don't recall why I did it, I went into the house and returned with my binoculars. I am not a birdwatcher and I seldom used binoculars as my vision was A1. I had a pair because all Artillerymen had them and because my kids loved to play with them. As I once again sat on the grass I began to look at several objects through the glasses. An L-19 Birdog as it made its approach to landing. The control tower and I could see ATC people actually working in the tower by the dim interior lights. It was well in to darkness, the sun had set an our or two before.
Something made me turn toward the East Range and I noticed some strange lights coming from the area. You don't often see lights coming from the East Range. If there were firing going on you might see the flash of artillery shells bursting and once in a while the falling of parachute flares but nothing out of the ordinary. This night there was much out of the ordinary. There were lights I could not explain. There were lights that were shining in ways I had never witnessed. There were lights that were moving in ways I could not understand. The lights were moving in a manner that could not be explained. No aircraft, no vehicle, no helicopter was capable of making lights do what these lights were doing.
Excited and a little scared I grabbed my binoculars and began following those lights and watching for any explanation, any indication that what I was seeing was normal, was ordinary, was just a figment of my imagination. The binoculars revealed little except to magnify my unbelief in what my eyes were telling me. No stranger to UFO stories, nor to things in the military that civilians don't know about or see, I was still dumbfounded by what I was witnessing. I became convinced some alien force or some out of this world agency was doing something on our East Range that was both frightening and threatening. I almost panicked.
These observations went on for some time, less than an hour, more than a few minutes. As time progressed I became even more alarmed and more convinced that I was witnessing some entirely strange and devious operation on the part of some intelligent being that I could not fathom. I continued to watch the lights through the binoculars and this magnified the quickening of my heart and the solid dread that was enveloping my mind. I was damned scared!
Eventually the lights and or objects I had been watching began to move in new ways. I watched in horror as this menace began to move toward me. I was convinced I was in danger. Whatever it was seemed to be making a beeline for my position. Still with the binoculars to my eyes, I began to prepare myself for flight, I knew there would be no opportunity to fight whatever this was if it got hold of me. It kept coming closer and closer, suddenly it was almost upon me. I could feel vibrations emanating from it and sounds began to batter my ears. I don't believe I have ever been more frightened in my life.
When I finally could stand it no longer, when my legs and arms were shaking with tenseness, when my mind was racing in a desire to understand, I finally lowered the binoculars and looked this monster directly in the face. My heart nearly stopped, the fright was debilitating. I had to do something even if it were just to feint with fear. I had to face my opponent.
As I lowered the glasses and looked almost directly above my head I was heavily battered by a familiar yet frightful noise and pressure that I had experienced before. Something familiar began to seep into my senses. It was the whack, whack, whack of Chinook blades, both fore and aft, as they beat their way through the air. Passing over me and my house and my home was one of the aircraft in which I had recently been trained. It was one I had actually flown. A person who has never experienced such an erroneous observation cannot understand but I was crushed by how easily I had been fooled by what should have been common to me.
Why do things like this happen? Are all UFO sightings caused by such misinterpretations? Don't ask me. You can see this episode made a basket case out of me. I only tell this story when in private with someone who has been intimidated by the unknown and seeking solace. I reveal it now because I want the world to know even the most astute, the best trained, the most alert, all can come to believe whatever lies their senses tell them. I will not say there are no UFOs. There are, we all witness them from time to time. I doubt there are any UFOs which have no common sense explanation. That doesn't permit me to belittle anyone who hasn't seen the ultimate light, that hasn't yet lowered the binoculars, that hasn't yet come to grips with their own fallibility. I feel for them and will let them come to their own conclusions whatever that may be. If believing in alien intelligence helps relieve the fear, then so be it.