Witness Interviews

Sgt James Penniston interview

Rendlesham File: A Triangle-Shaped Aerial Craft - Sgt James Penniston interview

From: eric stewart
To: ewar
Sent: Monday, December 16, 2002 7:54 PM
Subject: [EWAR] Rendlesham File: A Triangle-Shaped Aerial Craft (with interview)

Twenty-two years ago on December 26, 1980, U. S. Air Force Staff
Sergeant James Penniston was stationed in the 81st Security
Police Squadron at the large joint British and U. S. Air Force
base known as RAF (Royal Air Force) Bentwaters and its smaller,
secondary base at Woodbridge, about three miles away, where some
aircraft were kept. Not long after midnight on December 26, Sgt.
Penniston was asked to investigate odd lights seen moving in the
Rendlesham forest between Bentwaters and Woodbridge. Joining him
was USAF Airman First Class John Burroughs and several other
security and military personnel. (read more)

As the security men approached the odd lights about 300 meters
off the main access road in the trees, the men could see blue,
yellow, red and white colors were pulsing.


Provided below is a complete interview with that witness:

Jim Penniston, Former USAF Staff Sergeant, 81st Security Police
Squadron, Joint USAF and RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge, England Air
Force Base: "As we got closer, a silhouette of an object was
present and I realized at that point, it was not a conventional
aircraft, meaning it was not one that was published in Jane's
Defence book about aircraft. It was like no aircraft that I had
ever seen.

WHAT WAS THE SHAPE?

Triangular.

WHEN YOU SAY TRIANGULAR, WAS IT ABSOLUTELY STRAIGHT ON THREE
SIDES? OR WAS IT SWOOPY LIKE A CORVETTE? OR?

No, no, it was triangular, straight on each side.

[Sketch of triangular craft by USAF Staff Sergeant, Jim
Penniston, from his December 26, 1980 investigation notes made
after midnight while examining the glowing craft of unknown
origin in the Rendlesham forest near the joint RAF and USAF
Bentwaters AFB in Woodbridge, England.]

IN TERMS OF WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS MADE OUT OF?

Well, I couldn't tell at that point, but obviously I set the
other airmen up to complete the radio relay because we were
having awful bad static on the radios. I could barely talk to
the first patrolman that I had set by the logging road. I could
barely hear him. I could not hear our control center at all.

Anyway, as I got closer to it, it was -- I tell you what -- I do
have my notes from that night in my notebook. And it's probably
best to just read it out of there.

I had my notebook and my camera while I was out there because
cameras were carried because of terrorism to take pictures of
base encroachments. And it says what I wrote that night:
'Triangular in shape. The top portion is producing mainly white
light which encompasses most of the upper section of the craft.
A small amount of white light is appearing from what appears to
be the bottom of the craft. At the left side is a bluish light.
And on the other side is red. The lights seem to be molded as
part of the exterior of the structure.'

THE LIGHTS SEEM TO BE MOLDED AS ...

Part of the exterior of the structure." You got to remember,
that's the way I wrote it that night. It might not make sense in
the sentence structure. The light seemed to be molded as if part
of the exterior of the structure, smooth, slowly fading into the
rest of the outside of the structure, gradually molding into the
fabric of the craft."

Then at that time, I started taking photos. I think there were
36 in a roll. They were all B & W, that's what we carried.

WHERE DID THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS GO?

Base photo lab.

AND THE BASE PHOTO LAB PHOTOS WOULD BE IN WHOSE HANDS TODAY?

U. S. Air Force.

AND THEY WERE NOT RELEASED IN THIS RENDLESHAM FILE.

No.

SO, IT'S NOT A COMPLETE FILE RELEASE?

Oh, no. What the British knew of this incident I would say is
probably 10% of what happened. The other 90% is through U. S.
channels. It would be primarily -- the way to report it -- would
be through USAF channels to 3rd Air Force to MAJCOM Major Air
Command, which would have been at Ramstein AFB. Then Ramstein
has procedures reporting to JCS in the United States.

AND THAT'S THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF (IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
PENTAGON.)

Correct. And that's the reporting procedures for anything. It
could be for aircraft crashes or just if we have a security
situation. That would be the reporting path it would take.

SO, YOU TOOK PHOTOGRAPHS -- AT LEAST 36 IN BLACK AND WHITE -- OF
THIS TRIANGLE IN WHICH LIGHT SEEMS TO BE PART OF ITS STRUCTURE.
THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS ARE IN A FILE SOMEWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT. WHAT ELSE HAPPENED BEYOND PHOTOGRAPHING?

Well, on the night in question with me -- I did a full
investigation of the downed craft. I mean I did a 360 degree
walk around it. It was on the ground approximately 45 minutes.

DID YOU TOUCH IT?

Yes, as part of the investigation. The size of it was
approximately 3 meters wide by 3 meters tall -- that's
approximately 9 feet.

AND WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE SURFACE THAT YOU TOUCHED?

Well, I think the fabric or the shell was -- I guess the best
description would be a very smooth opaque, like black glass.
Even though at a distance, it appeared metallic. It made no
sense, once I was up there (close to it) that it was more like
black glass. I'm not sure -- I was pretty confused at that point.

WHEN WE TALKED ABOUT THIS A FEW YEARS AGO, YOU REMEMBERED, I
THINK, SEEING SOME KIND OF SYMBOLS?

Yes, that is probably the most interesting part of it. I did
draw them into my notebook. That was part of the 360 (degree
examination) we were doing on the investigation because it was
not a downed aircraft at that point, but we knew we had
something out of the ordinary. You don't mind if I look at my
notes, do you? 'On this smooth exterior shell, there is writing
of some kind. I'm not sure what it is. Size 3-inch lettering.
May be symbols that stretch for a length of 2 feet. Maybe a
little more.'

The feeling after I touched these symbols, I would describe them
as like etched or engraved, like a diamond cut on glass. That
was the feeling of these. I guess etching would be the best way
to describe it.

SO THE SYMBOLS WERE CUT INTO THE SURFACE, NOT RAISED FROM THE
SURFACE?

Right, it was not paint or anything like that. One was
triangular. That was in the center. That had three circles
around it, or rather, circular objects (two small solid black
circles and triangle all inside a circumscribing circle).

Symbols engraved into the dark, glassy surface of the triangular
craft, re-drawn from his original December 26, 1980 USAF notes
at the Rendlesham forest site by Jim Penniston.

WHEN YOU TOUCHED THESE SYMBOLS WITH YOUR HAND, DID YOU GET ANY
IMAGES IN YOUR MIND?

No. But I did have a sensation. The fabric of the craft was
warmer than the air temperature. The air temperature that night
was around 31 or 32 Fahrenheit. The craft was quite a bit
warmer.

AND YOU COULD FEEL THAT WITH YOUR HANDS?

Oh, yes.

WHEN YOU TOUCHED THE SURFACE, WAS THERE ANY REACTION FROM THE
CRAFT ITSELF IN ANY WAY?

Well, I had no problem going around the craft and doing the 360-
degree looking at it. But after I did touch the actual symbols
and that on the exterior of the craft, that's when it started to
-- I backed away. I backed away from it because the light was
starting to get brighter. There still was absolutely no sound.
That is probably the most incredible part of this. There was
absolutely no sound from this craft.

WHICH COLOR LIGHT GOT BRIGHTER, WHITE, RED, OR?

White. You know, there is no doubt that the craft was
mechanical, or ship or whatever you want to call it. But there
is also no doubt in my mind that it was under intelligent
control because the craft lifted off the ground.

At that point, I thought it was on fixed legs, the craft. But
when it lifted off the ground, there was no legs on it, so I
don't know how it was sitting on the ground. It lifted up a few
feet, sort of went through the woods maybe 25 or 30 meters,
hovered momentarily, then lifted up to about 250 feet above the
top of the trees and then it was literally in the blink of an
eye, gone at that point.

YOU ARE ALL STANDING THERE AND DO WHAT NEXT?

Well, I turned to my partner there and said, 'How are you going
to explain this?' And that was pretty much -- we were trying to
absorb what we had just seen. It was most unusual.

WHO WAS WITH YOU?

The patrolman who was with me was John Burroughs. He has worked
the law enforcement side. In fact, he had worked directly for
Bud Stefans, but he was one of the guys who went out there with
me.

SO, IS HE THE ONLY ONE WITH YOU?

Well, immediately next to me at 10 feet, yes. We, of course, we
had another one back about 100 meters and there were others back
at a logging road. Of course, there were several people at the
East Gate. And all of this was observed from Bentwaters, too.

YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CONSISTENT ON THE EARLY MORNING OF DECEMBER
26 AS YOUR AND JOHN BURROUGHS' ENCOUNTER WITH THE CRAFT.

And the only reason I know that for sure is because it was
Boxing Day. Christmas was over, it was the day after Christmas.

YOU AND JOHN BURROUGHS FILED A REPORT ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT
HAPPENED THEN?

Yeah, we kept a very sanitized -- we reported it to our Security
Shift Commander, I think it was Captain Mike Verrano at the
time. And we were assured by then the senior officer at
Bentwaters that this information would not go outside the United
States channels.

DID YOU UNDERSTAND AT THE TIME WHY THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A
PROBLEM IF PEOPLE WOULD JUST HAVE SAID WHAT HAPPENED PUBLICLY?

I did ask specifically that of Col. Halt. And his response was
pretty much, 'Well, don't worry about it. We're treating it as
TOP SECRET information right now.'

So, when he said that to me, that tells me that it's not going
to leave U. S. channels.

DID YOU SAY TO COL. HALT, 'I SAW IT. IT WAS TRIANGULAR. IT
SEEMED TO BE MADE...?

Oh, he was fully briefed.

DID HE SAY TO YOU AND YOU SAY TO HIM, 'WE'RE DEALING WITH AN
EXTRATERRESTRIAL CRAFT HERE?'

No. No. We are dealing with a craft of unknown origin. We had a
lot of questions and no answers. Why, how can a craft take off
with no sound? How can it have this type of appearance? How can
it emit heat without fire or anything like that? We had a lot of
questions.

BUT YOU DIDN'T DISCUSS ENTITIES?

No, never."

--

"Entities" Described in MOD Rendlesham File

Yet, "entities" are described in the November 29, 2002 release
of the Rendlesham file by the British Ministry of Defence as
shown in the following memo in which the date, address and
writer are blacked out:


English Ministry of Defence Memo that references "several
entities near RAF Bentwaters on the night of December 29/30
1980." Jim Penniston knew there was at least one other incident
in which U. S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Charles Halt was involved.
It's also possible that several incidents happened over a series
of nights. Further, intelligence agents often deliberately
scramble dates to confound investigators.



September 10, 1994 - Jim Penniston Tried Hypnosis To Remember
More

DS8 referenced in the last paragraph of the MOD Memo is a
reference Jim Penniston overheard at the U. S. Air Force Office
of Special Investigations (AFOSI), Bentwaters, when he was asked
to report for further debriefing about the December 26 incident.
At the AFOSI office, agents asked Sgt. Penniston to sign a
release so he could be given Sodium Pentothal, combined with
hypnosis, that would be recorded by two tape recorders.
Penniston said he agreed "to get them off my back. They seemed a
lot happier after I signed the release."

Penniston remembered that the agents at Bentwaters had him "lay
down on a walnut table" and that a "British guy" got the needle
ready. Under hypnosis, he described receiving information from
the lights of the triangular craft about "time travelers" from
some distant future coming back to get genetic material from
earth to use as "band-aids" in a future where reproduction of
the time traveling species is failing. For excerpts from Jim
Penniston's 1994 hypnosis session to recall more details from
his interaction with the triangular craft at Bentwaters AFB,
England on December 26, 1980.

MOD Rendlesham File

Several times in the recent November 29, 2002 Ministry of
Defence Rendlesham File release, documents say that the
Bentwaters incident did not have any impact on defense concerns.

That position was challenged by one May 14, 1985 letter from an
unnamed writer to attorney David Alton in Westminster, London:
"I cannot accept Lord Trefargne's view that there is no defence
interest in this case. Unless Lt. Col. Halt was out of his mind,
there is clear evidence in his report that British air space and
territory were intruded upon by an unidentified vehicle on two
occasions in late December 1980, and no authority was able to
prevent this. If, on the other hand, Halt's report cannot be
believed, there is equally clear evidence of a serious
misjudgment of events by U. S. Air Force personnel at an
important base in British territory. Either way, the case can
hardly be without defence significance." I asked Jim Penniston
why he thought the Ministry of Defence took the position that
the Bentwaters incident had no impact on British defence
security.

Jim Penniston: "Well, their air space got violated. They weren't
fully aware of what was going on. How can a craft invade air
space that dramatically in that country without having a full
alert to all the RAF bases? I don't think they actually know. I
think there might have been one RAF base maybe recorded air
traffic or something and of course Bentwaters did. But, I think
it is an embarrassment for them that they actually had an
aircraft, or craft of some sort, land unannounced, without them
being fully aware of it. I think that is a significant defence
issue for Britain.

Here we are sitting in the year 2002 and 22 years later, and we
cannot replicate the technology that was there in Rendlesham
that night. Those are the questions we all have, the witnesses,
is how can this be?

AND BETWEEN THE END OF DECEMBER 1980 AND DECEMBER OF 2002, AS WE
ARE SPEAKING TODAY ON DECEMBER 8, YOU HAVE NEVER HAD ANYBODY SAY
TO YOU OFF THE RECORD, 'JIM, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED AT
BENTWATERS?'

No, I haven't. No one has ever done that. I have just as many
unanswered questions that you do. We would love to have an
absolute answer about what we investigated. That would make it a
lot easier for all of us.

AND YOU DO NOT HAVE...?

I do not have the answers. All I have is questions and more
questions.

AND MEMORIES?

Yes. That's the other part, too.

MEANING?

Well, you wonder how much -- with the cover-up -- I was involved
with it, too. When you start classifying stuff and you start
saying, 'We're not going to speak about this. We're following
orders.' Hey, cover-ups happen. I was involved with it, too,
unknowingly, but I was part of it. And I think that's probably
the worst part of it right now."
Salley Rayl interviews Jim Penniston (1997)

Salley Rayl interviewed Jim Penniston for MSN’s “Project Watchfire” in 1997.


“There is some confusion about the date. There are two duty rosters, both of which are dated December 26th, but it was either that night, the 26th, or the 27th. I reported for work as usual, and at about 6 pm, I prepared for guard mount. The men reported in to Bentwaters around 7 pm.

 

“From Bentwaters, we transported over to RAF Woodbridge in a metro on the back road. It was just business as usual. Since it was just after the Christmas holiday, we expected it to be a slow, quiet night.

“About 12:02 am – I remember that distinctly – I was dispatched to the East Gate, which was sometimes referred to as the back gate at Woodbridge. There, I was told to contact Police 2, which was Airman First Class John Burroughs and Staff Sgt. Bud Steffans, and that I would be briefed when I got there.

“Upon arriving at the East Gate, Staff Sgt. Steffans told me that there was a problem out in the woods. I gazed about 300 meters into the distance and saw what appeared to be a fire. My first impression was that we had an aircraft down. I saw orange, red, and bluish types of glowing light, pretty standard with aircraft crashes. I asked Staff Sgt. Steffans if he had heard it go down. He told me there had been no sound, that it didn’t crash, that it had landed. I discounted that and, after assessing in my own mind what to do, decided we should call it in to our superiors at Bentwaters’ Center for Security Control.

“I went to the gate shack, phoned in, and spoke with Master Sergeant J.D. Chandler, who was the on-duty flight chief for both bases. He asked me to stand by while he contacted the Control Tower at Bentwaters and also at Woodbridge. While I was talking with Chandler, the security controller was making contact with Bentwaters Control Tower, and they, in turn, were in contact with Heathrow Airport’s Control Tower in London and RAF Brawdsey Eastern Radar in East Anglia. I was told they reported a bogie about three miles out from Bentwaters but had lost contact with it 15 minutes previously. The confirmation that triangulated the radar sighting was RAF Brawdsey. It had been over Woodbridge, they told me, when it dropped from radar imaging.

“I was still pretty sure it was an aircraft downing at that point and asked Master Sgt. Chandler for permission to investigate. Master Sgt. Chandler contacted the shift commander’s office, and within a minute or so I got the go-ahead to proceed off base with two other security policemen. We were told to leave our weapons behind, so as to not violate the Status Forces Agreement with the British. I and Airman First Class John Burroughs and Ed Cabansag, also an Airman First Class, got into our Jeep and proceeded out the East Gate, then down a logging road adjacent to the perimeter. It got too rocky, so we had to dismount the vehicle.

“Our radios — the standard Motorola type — were experiencing a dampening effect common with atmospheric conditions. Basically they were breaking up and I was not able to send or recover full transmissions. At that point, I decided to station Airman Cabansag there as a radio link, so he stayed by the Jeep to serve as a communications relay. Airman Burroughs and I then headed on foot toward the tree line, approximately 50 meters away, beyond which was a clearing — which is where the activity, the lights were coming from.”

“As we started getting closer, it was apparent that it was not an aircraft downing or a crash. We weren’t sure what it was at that point, so we radioed that information back to Airman Cabansag, who radioed it back to CSC. We had no outside contact with our IBRs, with the exception of Airman Cabansag, and he was, by this point, beginning to break up on the transmissions himself.

“We entered the tree line and moved in about 20 more meters. There was an object sitting in a clearing. It was emitting mostly white light at that point, very bright. Both Burroughs and I had to squint when we looked at it. I found it very strange that there was no sound coming from the object, but the animals around us were in a frenzy. We had wildlife running by us, and lots of birds. Outside that noise, however, there was no other.

“That was when I decided to have Burroughs stay there as a radio link. He did not seem calm. He didn’t acknowledge what I was saying, but I thought he understood. I was more concerned at that moment with what was going on in front of me.

“As I continued on into the woods, I started seeing the outline of the object itself. The lights that had just been a blur from 300 meters away were now definite, distinct colors — light blue, yellow, and red — and they were pulsating. Looking at the silhouette of the object, I realized it was not a conventional aircraft, meaning that it was not one that was already published in Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft. It was no aircraft I had ever seen, and it wasn’t one that I knew any prototype of.

“I had my notebook and camera while I was out there, so I began taking notes. This is what I wrote:

Triangular in shape. The top portion is producing mainly white light, which encompasses most of the upper section of the craft. A small amount of white light peers out the bottom. At the left side center is a bluish light, and on the other side, red. The lights seem to be molded as part of the exterior of the structure, smooth, slowly fading into the rest of the outside of the structure, gradually molding into the fabric of the craft.

“As I was taking notes, I also memorized what was in front of me for what seemed like hours, but was in fact only minutes. Finally, I unleashed my camera-case cover and brought the camera up to focus. The air was electric. It made my hair and skin feel as if I were surrounded by static electricity or some type of energy. I began snapping photo after photo. It was still eerily quiet.

“I got to within 10 feet of the craft and the clearing where it sat. I estimated it to be about three meters tall and about three meters wide at the base. No landing gear was apparent, but it seemed like she was on fixed legs. I moved a little closer. I had already taken all 36 pictures on my roll of film. I walked around the craft, and finally, I walked right up to the craft. I noticed the fabric of the shell was more like a smooth, opaque, black glass. The bluish lights went from black to gray to blue. I was pretty much confused at that point. I kept trying to put this in some kind of frame of reference, trying to find some logical explanation as to what this was and what was going on. It was dead silent. No animals were even making noise anymore.

“On the smooth exterior shell there was writing of some kind, but I couldn’t quite distinguish it, so I moved up to it. It was three-inch lettering, rather symbols that stretched for the length of two feet, maybe a little more. I touched the symbols, and I could feel the shapes as if they were inscribed or etched or engraved, like a diamond cut on glass.

“At that point, I backed away from the craft, because the light was starting to get brighter. Still, there was no sound. There was no physical contact with any kind of life form, but there did seem to be a life presence. It was mechanical, this ship, and it seemed to be under intelligent control.

“The next thing I knew, I was standing about 20 feet away from the craft with Burroughs, who I thought I had left back near the tree line. The craft moved up off the ground, about three feet, still with absolutely no sound. It started to move slowly, weaving back through the trees at a very slow pace, maybe a half a foot per second. It took about a couple of minutes for it to maneuver itself back to a distance of about 100 to 150 feet, then it rose up just over the trees, about 200 feet high. There was a momentary pause — and then literally with the blink of an eye it was gone. All with no sound. That still boggles my mind.

“We thought it had left, but then both Airman Burroughs and I saw the same array of colored lights maybe a half mile away. So we pursued it, trying to follow its course as best we could on foot. We only got about 300 yards into the woods before we turned around. We still had no radio contact, which I thought was strange. We weren’t even getting squelch. We went back to the clearing. There, Airman Burroughs noticed the impression, the indentations in the ground. We found three of them, all triangular in shape, each about three meters apart. Then I decided we should head back.”

“When we arrived at CSC, we ran into Sgt. Chandler and two or three other security people. They had had negative contact with us for almost three hours, and they had been concerned. I remember saying to Sgt. Chandler, `You’re not going to believe tonight.’ He said, `Yeah? If it has anything to do with what I saw a little while ago, I would believe you.’

“Airman Burroughs and I were then instructed to report to the shift commander’s office. The assistant operations officer was there to debrief us. As we stood at attention in his office, he spoke to us in a very steady, calm voice. He said, `Can you gentlemen explain to me what happened out there tonight?’ So we explained, very briefly. We didn’t tell him any specifics about the symbols or the design of the craft.

“After a very long pause, and very calmly, while he was tapping his pencil on the table, he said, `Gentlemen, what you say you experienced tonight is no longer able to be reported through Air Force channels.’ He then gave us something of a history lesson on Project Blue Book and that it was terminated in 1969. Basically, he told us that there was no official way to report this up. Then he said, `Some things are best left unsaid.’ He asked us to keep quiet about it, to forget it happened.

“That mentality, that mindset and thought process, also caused the security controller to delete it from the blotter and retype the blotter entry with a minimal description, something to the effect of `Investigated aircraft crash off base’ and three or four brief sentences following. Also, an Air Force Form 1569, an accident and complaint report, was filled out. Later, I learned that that was what stimulated Lt. Col. Halt, when he reviewed the blotter the next morning and after hearing about what really had happened, to insist something about it be put into the blotter.

“After the debriefing, Airman Burroughs and I were put on authorized break for six days, so we drove home to Ipswich. I dropped Airman Burroughs off, then went home, changed clothes, and drove back to Woodbridge. But first I stopped by a friend’s place in Ipswich, who was a contractor and painter, who gave me some plaster. Then, I went back out to the forest and the clearing where the three indentations left by the craft we had seen were.

“I poured plaster into the impressions left in the ground by the craft and waited about 40 minutes. Then I pulled them up and put them in the back of my car, just as Maj. Ed Drurry, the Deputy Security Police Commander, and the assistant operations officer showed up. They asked me what I was doing. I told them I was just looking around. They told me they wanted to do the same.

“I didn’t tell them about making the casts, because I didn’t think it would be prudent. Later I found out that the deputy base commander, then-Lieutenant Colonel Halt, had also visited the site later that same day and noticed that there were traces of plaster around the impressions, the indentations, and later, much later, I finally admitted to him what I had done. I needed something for myself, something to prove to me that this had really happened, really physically happened.

“The interesting thing about the impressions, or something worthy of note, anyway, is that the ground temperature at the time was such that our vehicles didn’t even make impressions on the ground because it was so cold or frozen, so whatever the craft was, it had to be heavy.

“I had dropped my film off at the base lab for developing, but I never got them back. I never saw them. I was just told that they didn’t turn out. I didn’t understand that but was not in a position to push the issue. The cameras we carried in our vehicles were good ones, used to photograph people on the perimeter. We were under a high terrorist threat at the time with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), another terrorist group known as Black September, and some others, so we used them frequently as part of our patrol.”

“Two days later, there was another, second encounter. I did not go out on that night. Lt. Col. Halt was sent out to investigate.

“In the days following all this, I spoke off and on with Airman Burroughs. He was really agitated about this whole thing, really upset about it. I was still more perplexed than anything at this point.

“After that incident, however, I was directed to report to OSI [Office of Special Investigations] at 0900 in the morning. I met with a couple of agents, whom I had known because they had an office on the base. They debriefed me for about an hour and a half about the incident. It was an oral debriefing where I basically just told them what had happened, and they seemed quite content with the information that I provided them at the time. They seemed to have no problem with the fact that I had seen a craft. And, of course, there was no evidence, hard evidence, or so they thought. I did not tell them at this point that I had approached the craft, touched the craft, but I did tell them about the photos I had taken. But all this was, in their minds, I think, another unconfirmed UFO sighting, though the term `UFO’ was not used — by them or me. I think they felt assured at this point that containment was going to be maintained and that there was not going to be a problem. Damage control was at a minimum, and I think they felt that at that point they had met their objective.

“During the first week in January, about a week or so later, we had a pass-on that was given at guard mount to brief our people to ignore any type of activity that was going to be happening on the perimeter of Woodbridge. Apparently, or at least as we were told, there was a special team that was going to be out there doing some electronics work. They weren’t wearing uniforms but civilian clothes. Now it was perfectly normal to receive pass-ons, but this situation was different because these guys weren’t wearing military uniforms. It was later rumored that it was a U.S. team sent in as a containment study team. But I do not know that for a fact.

“In the meantime, Lt. Col. Halt issued his memorandum to the British Ministry of Defense. I do not find it odd that he didn’t get any response, for the simple reason that there was no official way of reporting this kind of thing and so there was no official way for anyone to react to the upchanneling of information. And quite frankly, I don’t think anyone suspected or expected the deputy base commander to shoot off a memo to MoD+. I think OSI thought the information was contained, because no written report had been taken up through U.S. channels and the debriefings were all taken care of.”

“It was a difficult time after the incident. For years afterward, I would hear the stories within military circles and I never commented on it in any way at all. Nor did I ever speak to any UFO researchers or members of the media. Still, I noted with some disconcertment all of the untruths being discussed, especially in the media starting in the mid-eighties after the Halt memo was released through the Freedom of Information Act. I read accounts quoting people who claimed to be primary witnesses — and they weren’t — saying certain events happened, which they didn’t.

“I think the fact that that memo was discovered and released was a complete oversight. In fact, when the word got out, I think it suprised the federal government and a lot of people within the U.S. Air Force. That has got to be the last thing they expected. Especially on this case. They thought damage control was complete. They had effectively contained the situation, they thought. Then comes this memo on official USAF stationery and signed by the deputy base commander, and it reads like something out of a science-fiction novel. It caught the Air Force with its pants down, and they didn’t know how to react. It was definitely an embarrassment for the U.S. government because, in effect, it showed that they had basically been lying about never investigating anything having to do with the UFO phenomenon. Which is, of course, ridiculous. UFOs are not all that uncommon; it’s just that we called them bogies and always came up with a prosaic answer as to their identities before. But this caught them in a lie. That and the fact that it happened outside of a NATO installation just did not make the Air Force look very good.

“I was extremely upset by the memo’s release, because the story being leaked as a result included my name and I was being tied into it. I had been assured by my senior officers at Bentwaters that at no time would my name or whatever be used or released outside official U.S. channels. Of course, they hadn’t released it, but the next thing I know, it’s being covered on CNN and Unsolved Mysteries and in books and magazines. Fortunately, I was still in the service and managed to duck them all. But I was confused. I thought — and I had been told — that this was a top secret incident. And now all this.

“I had no interest in anything like this before 1980. I always thought that anybody who had seen strange lights or claimed to have seen UFOs in the sky was crazy. I am a logical person. Even to this day, I am still trying to rationalize from previous experience what that craft was, what happened. But there it is: I mean, I am standing out in the clearing in the middle of the forest and there is this craft, clearly triangular in shape, looking like nothing I have ever seen or ever heard about, and it doesn’t make any sound, and it’s got lights, and I walk around it and take pictures of it and I even touch it, and nobody, no country, is claiming it. I am 99 percent certain of one thing and that is, this craft was definitely not of USAF origin or at least not that I know of, and nobody I know has ever heard anything about a craft like this then or now. And what other country might have such a craft that has those capabilities of maneuvering in tight conditions in the middle of a forest and all with no sound? That disturbed me then, and it disturbs me now.”

“Following my assignment/tour of duty at Bentwaters, in 1984, I was reassigned to Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana. My family and I acquired housing on the base, and there I found, quite by accident, a listening device — a bug, if you will — inside our base house, inside the living room wall, near the phone jack. I took it out and had someone I trusted look at it. That person told me that it had a range of 3,000 feet. That really disturbed me. And I did have some harassing phone calls. But that was alleviated by changing our phone number. I really don’t know what to think about that device. And I cannot even be positive it hadn’t been there from before, long before our arrival for another purpose, another person having nothing to do with me. But that seems, somehow, unlikely. Considering that Burroughs has been continually harassed and that his place has been broken into and the only things missing were a video documentation of the incident and his files on Bentwaters. Each of us, including Halt, have had our mail tampered with — things opened, resealed obviously, and communiques delayed for weeks. Sure, it could be the post office, but the number of times it has happened and that it’s happened to each of us with some consistency makes me question if it’s all just a coincidence. We now take certain precautions when we communicate.

“My own feeling is that this is all just a part of damage control. We were all in a position at the time of being trained observers, credible witnesses, who were backed by physical documentation and evidence — all of which you just cannot discount. In most of these so-called UFO encounters, there is absolutely no evidence and the witnesses are or can be made to be not credible. The fact that we could be believed has the Air Force worried. At least that’s all I can think. What else could it be?”

“In a conversation with Colonel Halt in 1990 [he was now a full Colonel], I asked him about the top secret status of all this in light of what had happened. He told me then that there was nothing classified about any of this. The Air Force, you see, has always had this sort of policy that, `Yeah, you can talk about this incident or that incident because technically it isn’t classified, not officially classified, but — it’s not a good idea.’ That was always the way it had been given to me. So I never talked to anybody about this. However, others have, including some who don’t know what they’re talking about because they weren’t out there. There’s a lot of truth to be told here, and that’s all anybody wants to hear is the facts. To sensationalize it, well . . . that’s pointless. It’s pretty sensational in and of itself what happened.

“For starters, this is one of the most witnessed and best documented UFO encounters ever, observed from a distance by some 80 people on the first night and an additional 30 on the second night — all of whom were trained observers. This was our profession — to be observing situations that might occur. We were on the alert. Our senses were ready. Out there, we were trained to be sponges, absorbing everything we saw or heard and documenting it with notes and mentally. Then there was my camera and the photographs I took, which have to be somewhere. There were radio transmissions that were heard and a tape of the deputy base commander’s investigation, which is circulating out there. Then again, this was an unknown, and there’s a lot of fear about the unknown.

“At this point, I don’t think I have broken any confidentiality oaths with the Department of Defense or the federal government. I would not do that or anything that would jeopardize the security of our country.”

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