UHR Issue 14 Vietnam Era UFO documents

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On the Trail of New Vietnam Era Documents.

By Barry Greenwood

SINCE the beginning of the Vietnam War in 1964, rumors have been rife of alleged UFO sightings by American troops.  Being that it was a war, little could be done in the way of confirmation of these reports since they would have fallen into the category of a “national security” concern.  Soldiers returning from the theater of action did eventually give forth their perceptions of what constituted the rumors: strange lights at night, unidentified aircraft zipping over the jungles, occasional daylight reports of structured aerial objects baffling observers.

With nearly fifty years having passed since the war's initiation, inevitably documentation of these rumors would eventually see the light of day.  All it would take would be well-placed inquiries to the right source.  In this case it was the National Archives, which is commonly known as “America's memory.” For here is where old government paperwork ends up, stacked in great piles of boxes reminiscent of the final scene in the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with endless rows of warehoused history in crates.

One night I visited the National Archives website before retiring for the evening.  An area not previously explored on the site was a search engine for newly scanned documents being made available in lieu of having to visit Washington D.C., called “AAD.”  Not in the habit of using the search term “UFO,” due to its now marginalized respectability, nevertheless I used it anyway, probably from being tired.

This search turned up a list of State Department messages from the late 1970s, mainly about the nation of Grenada and the interests of their Prime Minister, Sir Eric Gairy, in the paranormal, and particularly UFOs.

One of a series of UFO Stamps issued by Grenada

One of the set of UFO stamps issued by Grenada on 17 August, 1978,
to promote Prime Minister Eric Gairy's interest in the subject

The search also turned up a list of "CACTA," or "Combat Air Activities" files, something I hadn't seen before.  Upon examining the entries it became evident that old Vietnam era documents had become available, describing incidents that weren't presented as narratives so much as they were given in spreadsheet form.  Only details without a story flow were supplied.  But noteworthy were the conclusions of each incident: “UFO,” “SUS UFO,” “UFO SERCH,” and “UFO CHASE.”  To say this was remarkable is an understatement. 

Most of the reports centered around February 1969 near Pleiku, South Vietnam, long rumored to be one of the locations of UFO incidents.  This was a time barely a month after the release of the Condon Report when UFOs were supposed to be removed from the Air Force's list of concerns.  Why the military was reigniting the use of such a combustible phrase for them was, and is, peculiar.  But there it was.  And we've only started to try to recover more of this unusual story.

The use of “UFO” here should not imply anything about vehicles and aliens from outer space.  It means what it says: Unidentified Flying Objects.  We are trying to document the history of UFO reports.  Some of these certainly may be of terrestrial activity.  Some may never be adequately explained.  But we finally have insight into a time clouded by fuzzy memories and government secrecy.

          – Barry Greenwood

Read Barry's UHR article about the new documents.

To view the complete collection of "U.F.O. Historical Revues" and Barry's previous pioneering research efforts, visit the Barry Greenwood Archives

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