Excitement in the woods

ŠTim Printy July 2006

In the quiet township of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, it was believed that the fireball had dropped into a local wooded area. This was based on the report by the eight-year old Nelvin Kalp. His mother had not seen the object land but she did see some smoke above the tree line. Her report to the local media started a tempest. Once the radio reported that something had dropped into the woods near Kecksburg, there was a fury of activity that interested a lot of local people.

Reporter Robert Gatty made an extensive report of what had happened for the local newspaper:

The area where the object landed was immediately sealed off on the order of the U.S. Army and State Police officials, reportedly in anticipation of a "close inspection" of whatever may have fallen.

A spokesman for a team of radar experts from the Army's 662nd radar squadron in Pittsburgh said, "We don't know what we have yet."

Tribune-Review Staff Writer Robert Gatty reported from the scene that "no one is being allowed near the object." State Police officials there, he said, ordered the area roped off to await the expected arrival of both U. S. Army engineers, and, possibly, civilian scientists.

The Army engineers, he said, were scheduled to arrive late Thursday night or early Friday morning. Scientists were expected to be brought in some time today.

Unable to talk to anyone who actually had seen the object Gatty reported that the consistent explanation of the security measures is that the object - whatever it is - may be contaminated with radioactivity. (Gatty 1)

According to The Valley Independent:, a search was begun shortly after dark based on the reports of something falling into the woods:

The Mount Pleasant search got underway about 6 p.m. Thursday night after seven residents of Kecksburg reported seeing a smoldering object crash to earth..

"There's definitely something down there," said one weary state trooper when the search was called off at 1 a.m.

About an hour later, a group of 8 or 9 persons reported they saw a bright, blue light in the woods about 150 feet from where they were standing on a hillside.

A state trooper, who also saw the light, descended the hillside but when he got about half way down, those standing above said the light disappeared...

A full moon hovered of the valley during Thursday night's search while bystanders joked about "little green men" and flying saucers. There were about 25 men in the official search party and 150 onlookers who arrived on the scene before road blocks were set up to seal off the area. (Area 'Fireball' 14)

The official search party included several personnel from the US Air Force. Based on Bluebook records, this included three personnel from the 662nd radar squadron based near Pittsburgh. Apparently, there was an interest that it might have been reentering space debris from a Russian satellite. The most important thing to note from the account above and in other media reports is that, despite the statement of the state trooper, nothing was ever found. No impact crater was located and no debris was ever retrieved. Apparently, the smoke seen by Mrs. Kalp was the remains of the smoke train above the trees. The mysterious light seen by those nearby could easily have been any bright flashlight. With all the excitement, local individuals were probably wandering in the woods in an effort to see if they could find any debris.

Radio news reporter John Murphy, of the radio station WHJB in nearby Greensburg, made it to Kecksburg but apparently could not find the location right away. According to Bob Young, "Murphy first broadcast a report from the nearby construction site of the Norvelt Golf Course, where burning brush was on fire. Locals still hilariously to this day call this "Murphy's UFO"" (Young). Eventually he did locate the area where all the excitement was taking place and interviewed Mrs. Kalp. While he was there, the state police arrived and the fire marshall, Carl Metz, went down into the woods for about 15 minutes. Apparently, Metz had a Geiger counter with him. When he returned, Murphy began to ask him questions about what they may or may not have found. According to Murphy, Metz told him to talk to the Army. This struck Murphy as odd since he was unaware at this point, that the military had become involved:

Now this was the first time the name Army was brought into the conversation. This was the first time anyone had made any mention of the military. Now to me the significance of this was that the State Police fire marshall (Metz) examining the fire or possibility of a fire, almost out of the clear blue sky is turning me over to the Army. This is very unusual. (Randle 97)

Murphy next went to the police barracks to see if he could obtain more information. The state police chief, Joseph Dussia had stated that members of the Army were at the barracks but also mentioned the 662nd radar squadron as if they were an Army unit even though they were part of the Air Force. According to Murphy, he saw "not only members of the United States Army there but I also saw two men in Air Force uniforms, one of them wearing Lieutenant bars" (Randle 97). Whatever the branch of the service, they apparently were not armed since Murphy fails to notice if the men were even wearing sidearms. He also fails to mention any Army officer being present. One would suspect that if a large contingent of soldiers were present, they would have their officer in charge and not some officer from another service.

Meanwhile, Murphy continued to inquire about what had been found and talked to State Police Captain Dussia. When he asked for even an unofficial comment, Dussia stated that officially, "The Pennsylvania State Police have made a thorough search of the woods. We are convinced there is nothing whatsoever in the woods" (Randle 98). Murphy then went back to the woods where he found out about the lights. Murphy wanted to accompany Metz back into the woods but, when they arrived, Metz would not let him do so. Murphy would later state:

That was the last time I saw the military. This was the last time, to my knowledge, that any civilian had with the search. I was told not to go into the woods. (Randle 99)

Murphy was unaware of the efforts of Dr. Richard Murray, who was accompanied by several students from his college in eastern Ohio. They left for Kecksburg that evening and arrived about 4AM. All the furor had died down at this point and they could find no evidence of a crash anywhere and left a few hours later.

Bluebook records agree that nothing was found during the search:

Lieutenant Cashman said that the search ended about 0200. They searched with the State Police. They could not find anything. They do not plan on going out again. The news media, etc. stopped calling about 1 o'clock. (Randle 106)

So it seems that most of the excitement occurred shortly after dark and ended by 2AM according to the US Air Force and confirmed by the report of Richard Murray, who arrived at 4AM.


Works Cited

"Area 'Fireball' could have been Meteor" The Valley Independent. Mid-Monongohela Valley area, PA. 10 December 1965 p.1, 14

Gatty, Bob. "Unidentified Flying Object falls near Kecksburg" The Tribune-Review. Greensberg, PA. 10 December 1965 p.1

Randle, Kevin. A History of UFO Crashes. New York: Avon Books, 1995.

Young, Bob. "Re: Kecksburg - Response, Review & Update - Young". 3 February 2001. UFO Updates Mailing List. Online posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2001/feb/m03-016.shtml

Chapter 3: Science has the answer

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