Crash or crock?

ŠTim Printy July 2006

For those supporting the UFO crash, there really are some points that are never really explained. Instead, things are suggested and we are told that the selected witnesses have no reason to lie about what happened. Of course, those that are familiar with Roswell need only recall names like Gerald Anderson, Frank Kaufmann, James Ragsdale, and Glenn Dennis to demonstrate that people do lie and for some really odd reasons. So how good are the claims of a few individuals that they saw all sorts of things that evening? No real evidence is presented to confirm their claims.

Really Rapid deployment

It is important to note that all these events transpired between 5PM and 4AM. According to the new storyline, the military was able to reach the tiny town of Kecksburg from a location nearby that is never specified, brought tons of equipment down side roads, maneuvered at least one heavy vehicle into a wooded area and hoisted a large heavy object onto that vehicle, searched the area in the dark, and cleaned up the plowed up ground in this extremely short period of time. How fast could the military respond to such an event if this is what happened? First of all, the events occurred after normal hours on a weekday. Military personnel usually have normal working hours until 4 or 5 PM. After this, most personnel proceed home to their families or are issued passes with the exception of a few personnel kept on base for normal duties. This means that some sort of recall order would have been issued or personnel would have been kept from their families/off-duty time that evening in order to conduct the exercise described. How many families were complaining about their husbands not coming home that December evening? None have come forth! How many media reports were there of the military conducting an exercise that evening? None that were reported! Strangely, these facts are omitted from the new Kecksburg legend.

Mobilizing a unit as large as described as well as equipment needed to support them is no easy task. Today one might expect mobilization efforts for an emergency to get a response to any area in eight hours! Was this possible in 1965? According to the Kecksburg legend, not only were personnel and equipment mobilized and briefed, they were transported to a location over small roads, deployed rapidly, performed tasks they had little or no training for, removed every bit of evidence of their activities, and hauled away a large object to a secret location in under twelve hours! No units are identified (other than the 662nd radar squadron), no bases are identified for the source of such units, no documents survive that show these units were used, and no personnel, that can be verified (other than those of the 662nd), have stepped forward stating they were directly involved.

What is more interesting is that when asked, members of the 662nd do not recall a massive military involvement. Instead of questioning the legend, UFOlogists suggest that these military personnel were sworn to secrecy and can not talk about the recovery operation. Here is Leslie Kean's line of reasoning on this matter:

Maxwell Air Force Base sent CFI the December 1965 Historical Record of the 662nd Radar Squadron based in Oakdale, the same document released to Stan Gordon years earlier that provided the relevant names. The squadron had a liaison officer with Project Blue Book, and it was from the Oakdale base, about 50 miles from Kecksburg, that the three man team was sent to search for the object. One officer, James Cashman, later called Blue Book headquarters from Oakdale to report that nothing was found, according to the Blue Book files, although he was not one of those sent out on the search.

Our private investigator was able to locate Cashman and three other key personnel from the 662nd, and Gordon interviewed a fifth in 1991. Only one of these, a lieutenant whom I will not name to respect his privacy, said he actually went out to search for the object that night. This officer said he did not observe any Army presence in the area, any excess civilian activity, or the large spotlights in the woods observed by witnesses and reporter John Murphy. This seems impossible if he was anywhere near the correct location and directly contradicts press reports about the large military presence and civilian crowds. He said he and three other members of the 662nd searched the woods with flashlights and found nothing.

It is revealing that puzzling discrepancies exist among key points of the various accounts, as well as between aspects of the statements of these officers and reports from both the media and Project Blue Book. For example, the lieutenant who searched the woods said there were four in his search team; another officer told us that he had driven with the team to a nearby barrack while two from Oakdale conducted the search with a state trooper. (This could have been the three man team referred to by Blue Book, although Blue Book said that the three were all from Oakdale.)

Another officer told me there was no search at all, and that the reports coming in to the Oakdale base concerned only an object in the sky and not an object on the ground. He remembers very well the high volume of calls from the local area and speaking to some of the callers, and says that if there had been a search, he definitely would have known. He was adamant that there wasn't one. And yet another told me that the object was a Russian satellite, but insisted that he made that determination only from newspaper and television reports.

According to Project Blue Book records, Cashman called Blue Book headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base twice from the Oakdale base, including a final call at 2 a.m., to report that nothing was found. Oddly, Cashman says he has no memory of any event, phone calls, or heightened activity at that time. He stated that he was the Blue Book liaison officer (as stated in the Blue Book files), as opposed to the lieutenant who told me he was the Blue Book officer.

We are not certain whether these contradictory and sometimes confusing reports are simply a question of jumbled memories after all these years, or if other factors are at play. Is it possible that this small group was taken to a different location from the one that was cordoned off by the Army, and that they searched the wrong site? If this did occur, was the state trooper who took the Air Force team to the wrong site instructed by someone to do so? If so, the officers are honestly reporting that nothing was found. Would it therefore have been possible since Project Blue Book did not have access to cases higher than a secret clearance that Blue Book actually never knew about an object retrieved from another location by the Army?

On the other hand, Murphy reports seeing what appeared to be members of the 662nd Radar Squadron at the edge of the woods after leaving the police barracks where he had first encountered them. If the lieutenant was one of these men, he could not possibly have missed the surrounding military and civilian activity. Were these officers perhaps sworn not to reveal what happened for national security reasons, and thus their cover stories have differences? We don't know, and we won't know until the government releases the records. (Kean)

Perhaps a more likely answer is that there weren't hundreds of soldiers and vehicles in the surrounding area. Remember, the story about "heavy"(more than a dozen men) military involvement did not surface until years later. Many residents do not recall all these military vehicles/personnel and, for some reason and contrary to what Kean states, the media did not report this either. All that was mentioned was that the 662nd sent personnel to investigate and they found nothing. Other references to "the Army" seem to be due to a bit of confusion and really refer to the personnel of the 662nd. For instance, in the same paper where the headline reads, "Army ropes off area" (Gatty), Gatty also refers to "...a team of radar experts from the Army's 662 radar squadron in Pittsburgh..." (Gatty). As one can see in the image below, there is very little difference between the normal working uniforms worn by the USAF and the US Army in 1965. Could it be that the confused reporting of Murphy and Gatty led to the new legend's description of the Army's involvement? Gatty states that he could not have confused Army and Air Force personnel but he bases this by being raised by a military family. However, he did confuse the radar squadron as an Army unit. Clearly, his statement made forty years later does not reflect what was true in 1965. Additionally, if the Army were present, we should be able to figure out which units were actually involved. Based on the new Kecksburg legend, the involvement was large with numerous vehicles and personnel present.

USAF uniforms vs US Army uniforms from the time period - The slight differences in color are mostly due to the age of the uniforms and would not be noticable at night (


The Army vehicles mentioned in the Kecksburg legend are the flatbed combination, trucks, jeeps, and a personnel carrier of some kind. These are all common army vehicles but something is missing. A vehicle that would be needed for a recovery operation would have to be a crane. At first, it seemed to be omitted completely but I then discovered that it was briefly mentioned by Romansky (when he was using the name "John"). He recalls seeing a crane along with the flatbed and other vehicles near the firehouse. While the flatbed is prominent in many descriptions of how the object was removed from the woods, the crane is usually omitted. Such a crane would have to be one designed to enter a densely wooded area along with maneuvering over rough terrain, which means it was probably tracked. Was it simply missed by excited eyewitnesses or did the US Army bring a dozen supermen down into the woods that could lift the UFO out of the mud and onto the flatbed? Bob Bitner did mention a personnel carrier according to Stan Gordon. The commonly used personnel carrier in 1965 was an M113. Could that have lifted the UFO? Perhaps it was an M88 recovery vehicle misidentified as a personnel carrier? Exactly how did this personnel carrier/recovery vehicle reach Kecksburg? Both vehicle types are tracked, which are not normally allowed on public highways and must be transported to a given location. Additionally, they have a limited range making it difficult for them to go from their base to Kecksburg and return without refueling. Recall that another witness, James Mayes, stated that the Army needed a ride on his fire truck. Why bother with a fire truck when they could use the personnel carrier/recovery vehicle, jeeps, or truck, which could handle the terrain better?

Once the object was retrieved from the mud by the wrecker/crane, it was placed onto the flatbed trailer described by witnesses. The prime mover for a flatbed trailer in 1965 was the M123. The top road speed for this vehicle was about 40-45 mph. The actual top speed with a flat bed is probably slower. If it were used to transport a tracked vehicle to the scene, it would have been very slow. In the Kecksburg legend scenario, one has to assume the military immediately responded right after reports came out about a bright meteor fireball. Generals don't make too many snap decisions about deploying massive amounts of equipment and personnel from their bases so one must assume the order for a retrieval did not go out until about 6PM when it became apparent that the locals may have something landed in their area. At this point, the units for the operation had to be identified and orders given. The local commanding officer now has to assign his personnel and equipment. Mobilizing, preparing (fuel, warm-up, configuration, etc), and manning the vehicles probably took an hour. This means the truck and flatbed were probably ready by no earlier than 7PM. Assuming a rather generous speed of 40mph the truck could not have come from a location greater than 200 miles away. If one wants to be more realistic, one has to take away one hour for maneuvering through backroads and navigating the highways, which are not exactly straight line distances. This means we are talking about a radius of around 100-150 miles. What military bases existed in that radius in 1965? The only active base (other than a few isolated Nike Missile batteries) that I could identify nearby was the Oakdale station, which was a radar base and did not seem to have such equipment at its disposal as one can see in this photograph of the site from the time period.

Oakdale radar site in the 1960s (

The use of technicians and officers from the Oakdale station is also curious. If the US military was rapidly deploying with experts and personnel to retrieve the object, why bother to send a couple of radar techs and a junior officer to investigate? They would just get in the way and would be another group of personnel that would have to be debriefed. Saucer logic must assume that Bluebook was unaware of the recovery operation and just sent people that, apparently, got in the way.

Of course, the use of a flatbed seems ridiculous if one were to really use military resources from the era. A large CH-47A helicopter could lift a howitzer (previous versions of cargo lifting helicopters were just as capable). The "acorn" would have been no problem for a heavy lift helicopter. The speed with which a helicopter could have made it to Kecksburg would easily override the need for using a flatbed. Sure, it would have been noisy for a short period in Kecksburg but it beats the idea of carting an alien spaceship over civilian roadways with nothing but a tarp covering it.

For a military organization to respond so fast to such an event is almost unheard of even in today's modern military. Today, mobility/rapid movement is extremely important but in 1965, rapid response was something of a new idea.The only rapid response force was called "Strike Command" and was headquartered at MacDill AFB in Florida. In wartime, in a battlefield environment, it is very possible for rapid response within a few hours of an action. However, this is a peacetime environment with units inactive and not poised to respond. The whole concept of the US Army instantly responding to an event as described is extremely unlikely.

UFOlogists have never produced any details about the army's involvement because they can't. They do not even suggest what units/bases could have been involved because they know that they don't exist. UFOlogists need to produce the following to give credence to this claim:

  1. Where did the units (other than the 662nd radar squadron) come from and when were they mobilized?
  2. What route did they take to Kecksburg?
  3. What route did they take from Kecksburg and to where?

I am not talking about mysterious witnesses, who claim they saw vehicles on this road. I am talking about reports made in 1965 by the media describing units moving over the highways. If these are not available, reports from the unit's histories or daily reports should be researched.

Leslie Kean et. al. can cry conspiracy/cover-up all they want but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to identify all the active military units within a 150 mile radius of Kecksburg that could have responded in 1965. Just like the "scientific findings" that Kean trumpets as "proof" of a Kecksburg crash, she omits the important details. This is the nature of myth-making and not investigative journalism. It seems it is easier to makeup details and believe them than actually research the matter. I remember!

One of the principle factors associated with the Kecksburg case is that it tries to mimic Roswell in many ways. It has been commonly called "The Roswell of the East". A lot of the themes are present including threats, massive recovery operations, and an alien spaceship. Also, like Roswell, many of the witnesses are suspect especially when one examines the case closely. Many witnesses tell stories that don't quite add up and they can't even prove they were present when the events occurred. Despite the differing testimonies and inability to prove who was actually there, UFOlogists are more than willing to believe any story that confirms their beliefs and reject any witness who states nothing unusual happened.

The present case of Kecksburg resurfaced back in the late 1970s when radio talk show hosts interviewed Clark McClelland about the case. Apparently, McClelland had no serious eyewitness testimony at the time but did talk about the newspaper reports about something mysterious regarding the events that evening. Several key witnesses came forward during the talk show and interviews were conducted. Out of these interviews the modern Kecksburg legend had begun. According to skeptic Robert Young, one of these early witnesses, Robert Bitner, was not exactly telling the truth about his role that evening:

Bitner's version of the story first surfaced on Nov. 16, 1979, and was the first event in the "modern" trail of the Kecksburg story. UFO investigator Clark McClelland was discussing the incident while a guest on "The John Signa Show", KDKA-Radio, Pittsburgh, Pa. His information was based upon 1965 clippings. Also on the program were Leonard Stringfield and UFO abductees Betty Hill and Travis Walton. Calls were received from four people, including Bitner, who said that they were eyewitnesses. The others saw only lights.

According to McClelland (Clark McClelland and Leonard H. Stringfield. Jan. 17, 1980, report and footnote in The UFO Crash/Retrieval Syndrome - Status Report II, ed. by Stringfield, Seguin, TX: Mutual UFO Network,1980, pp. 19-20.), during later interviews with the people who had called in to the radio show, Bitner claimed that he was the 1965 Kecksburg fire chief. He said that he was 25 feet from a "large 10 ton military truck" surrounded by military guards which had a tarp over an object that appeared to be 6 feet high, 7 feet wide and 17-feet long.

This seems to have been the first public account of an actual retrieval of an object by armed troops. Mr. Bitner told this story to UFO investigators and reporters for ten years. Then in 1990 when he was President of the Fire Company, the Unsolved Mysteries crew spent nearly a week in town filming a recreation and many interviews. As anyone who has seen this often run segment must remember, a central figure in the story is the Fire Chief, who first briefs Romansky and his search team, gives them their assignments, and he is even portrayed as being present at the crash site with Romansky and the others when military officers ordered them out and the area quarantined. Bitner was interviewed extensively for the program but, curiously, he was not included on the segment.

This seems all the stranger, since as the 1965 Fire Chief and the main witness to the mysterious armed recovery for a decade, he was also now the key man in the Fire Company. What happened? It seems that after his claimed role as the 1965 Fire Chief became publicly known, he asked to be dropped, or was dropped, from the program. (Young)

Without serious research into the backgrounds of the witnesses, McClelland and Len Stringfield (who researched a lot of crashed UFO stories back in the 1970s) quickly accepted most of the stories. Jenny Randles summarizes their early research into the Kecksburg legend:

In January 1980 UFO investigator Clark McClelland interviewed the assistant fire chief of Kecksburg, James Mayes, and Melvin Reese, another fireman. They reported that their team had come within sixty meters of the object. They had seen an object on the ground that had smashed its way through the trees. Mayes explained how the military had cordoned off the woods and had established a temporary base, complete with telecom link. Fire chief Robert Bitner later confirmed this story. He also said had seen an object that was 1.8m high, 2m wide and some 5m long, clearly not an aircraft. It was resting at an angle on the ground as if it had impacted nearly horizontally. Another fire officer, 'Pete', stated he had seen a ring of bumpers around it into which were described some pictorial symbols. Being of Polish decent he could read Russian and stated that they were not Russian. (Randles)

The similarity between "Pete" and James Romansky is interesting. By the late 1980's, Romansky was using the fake name "John" in his interviews. The reason why is revealed by Kevin Randle, who states that "According to the July 28, 1966 Kecksburg Tribune-review "James R. Romansky, the 20-year-old Latrobe man convicted of robbing Latrobe's Mellon National bank--earlier this year, was serve from four to six years in prison" (Randle 116). Romansky gave a reason for his robbing the bank in 1966. He stated his family needed the money after his father had died in December of 1965. According to the media accounts, he used some of this money to buy two (not one) used cars instead of saving it for food and necessities as one might expect if his explanation was accurate. Romansky tried to implicate another person in the robbery but was unsuccessful because his testimony wasn't that convincing. The lawyer's inquisition of Romansky on the stand was interesting:

Irving M. Green, counsel for Malego, argued in last week's trial, and in the course of Tuesday's testimony, that Romansky implicated Malego because it was Malego who gave information leading to Romansky's arrest When asked from the stand whether that was the case, Romansky told Green. in cffect, he was angry about Malego's tip to the police and that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. (Suspended)

Apparently, Romansky did not seem too interested in letting everyone know about the arrest and his credibility problems back in 1966. Those telling the tale (including recent media reports) do not seem to be interested in addressing this problem. It definitely gives one a good reason to question his story. Robert Young added the following concerning other Romansky claims:

Romansky on a number of occasions, including on national TV, has described not being allowed to enter the fire house. This is not surprising, since he was not a member of the Kecksburg Fire Company, was then only 18, and at that time there was a bar in the single large room which also housed the fire trucks. With 25 State Policemen around it is not surprising that he would have been denied admittance to the bar/garage. No mystery here... The real 1965 Kecksburg Fire Chief, Edward Myers, and other firemen, have told me that they had no such "walkie-talkies" in 1965.(Young)

Other parts of his tale seem to be made up as well. Romansky states he was part of a volunteer fire fighting search team but never gives any names of individuals who were with him. He also never mentions any names from the other search teams. According to him, others found the object but who were they? Not naming anyone is an easy way to make up a good story that can not be checked. According to what Bob Young told me, the real fire chief Ed Myers stated that the initial search of the area was conducted by James Mayes and a few others (which may have included Reese) but they found nothing but some flashing blue lights. This is confirmed in the Gatty article, where he recorded that "Jim Mayes of Mammoth walked in and said he and six other fellows had seen three blue flashing lights near the area of the earlier sighting" (Gatty).Young states that some local kids were flashing a strobe in the woods that night (he has a signed statement by one of the participants). If Mayes and others did not find anything but flashing lights on the initial search, exactly how good are the statements by Romansky, who states that all the search teams were alerted when the object was found?

The other key witness to seeing the object in the woods, Bill Bulebush had not even revealed himself until after the local legend had been publicly known. According to Stan Gordon, Bulebush began to tell his story around 1988 but did not go public until later. Robert Young states it wasn't until the "Unsolved Mysteries" television crew appeared, which was in1989-1990. Based on the fact that Bulebush was not presented as a principal witness of a story written by Kim Opatka in 1989 for the Latrobe Bulletin, it seems that Young's statements are accurate. Perhaps, Bulebush was not presented as a witness until it became apparent that "John" had a questionable past. His description tends to confirm the Romansky story. However, one has to wonder how much Bulebush had been primed by interviewers and the publication of the Kecksburg legend by the local media. At least one part of his story, the gouge in the ground, seems to have been a fabrication based on scientific investigation by Steven Kite. How much of the rest of the story is questionable? We do not even have proof that Bulebush or Romansky were really present that evening. One can learn a few lessons from Roswell concerning witnesses who make up stories. They need to be verified and there is little evidence presented that these stories are actually true.

One of the other set of witnesses that have been presented as important are the Hays family. Recall that their home was commandeered by the military according to, then ten-year old, John. However, what really happened that evening, according to Bob Young, was documented shortly after the event:

In 1965 Greensburg newspaper reporter Robert Gatty interviewed Lillian Hays' husband, who died in a farm accident in the 1970s. Gatty said that Hays was outside working on his car and was about the closest witness to the supposed site of the crash. Mr. Hays told Gatty (Dec. 10, 1965, Greensburg Tribune, late City Edition) that he hadn't seen or heard any crash or landing. (Young)

It also makes one question the recollections of John Hays, who proclaims that the military had driven a flat bed truck into a ravine, knocked over trees, and removed a crashed spaceship. Apparently, his father had missed all of this. Local resident Ray Howard felt that the ravine just would not support the recovery operation described. He stated, “There’s no way,” he said with emphasis. “They couldn’t have gotten within 500 feet of that thing”(Dudurich). The Hilliards, who own the property where the UFO supposedly crashed stated nothing was found that night. Of course, one wonders why the Hays house was selected for a command post when the Hilliards were so close?

Other local residents have long contended that there were hardly any military people present and that nothing was found that night. This did not stop the production of the "Unsolved Mysteries" program and after it's airing, a new wave of witnesses practically gushed forth. Were these people silent all these years for a reason or were the sudden appeal to be part of a local legend inspire them to tell their tales of adventure?

The eyewitness testimony of the night in question is a mixed bag. It apparently has divided the community based on what has been written. Each side can claim that what they say is true but somebody is lying. The local media in 1965 could have resolved the dispute but, for some reason, failed to do so.

The 1965 local media was too inept to record the actual events

There are those in the 1965 news media that started the hype in the first place. Robert Gatty and John Murphy were present but failed to record much except the excited claims by the Kalp's. According to Gatty's article, he states photographer Jim Downs was with him and also states that, at one point, they went into the field to look for the lights in the woods but did not see any. Why didn't the massive military cordon prevent him from going into the field? One would think that if a massive military involvement was there, we would have some evidence from their reporting. Where are the photographs of heavy military vehicles arriving or leaving the area? Where are the photographs of soldiers armed with orders to shoot? Exactly why didn't the news media personnel go down into the gully and take pictures of what had happened on the day after? Surely, they could have found some evidence of trees being knocked down as described by John Hays and, possibly, of the trench described by Bulebush (or at least the covered up trench). The tracks left by the flatbed truck would have been fresh and easily seen the next day. Surely photographs would have been taken of this. For that matter, why didn't the Hays family take out the "old brownie" and get a couple of snaps showing where the Army had tore up their land? The lack of this evidence makes one seriously question the new Kecksburg legend. Of course, UFOlogists will state that the media would have been prevented from getting these critical pieces of evidence by the vast cover-up that had been established and the military would never allow such photographs to be taken. I find this to be a ridiculous excuse. All this implies is that these reporters were extremely inept at doing their job. Even in 1965, a newsman couldn't resist a good story like this. Recall these two reporters were supporting a small rural area. This was big news and it was putting them on the map! Robert Gatty stated recently that he wished that he had heard these extraordinary stories back in 1965 and also claims that there were army soldiers blocking him off from the area. Apparently, he was an inept reporter and did not accurately report what really happened that night in his 1965 news reports! His photographer was also inept because he did not capture one photograph of the military units blocking off the area. Were Gatty and Downs just incompetent or is Gatty now making stories up to cement his place in Kecksburg lore?

Of course, what is never mentioned in the Kecksburg legend are the details reported that nothing was found. While UFOlogists trumpet the county edition of the paper that proclaimed that the "Army ropes off area" (Gatty), the city edition is often overlooked. There the headline stated,"Searchers Fail To Find Object" (Gordon). In that edition of the paper, Pennsylvania state police captain Joseph Dussia is quoted as saying, "Someone made a mountain out of a molehill"(Frazier, Karr and Nickell ed. 180). Additionally, Bob Young adds the following, "The next day a Greensburg Tribune-Review editorial summarized its staff's independent investigation: Nothing at all seems to have happened (Dec. 11)"(Frazier, Karr and Nickell ed. 180). Didn't Gatty tell them about the massive military cover-up the next day? The more likely situation is that Gatty is now exaggerating about the number of soldiers present that evening.

Murphy's participation in recording the event was no better. If there was a massive military involvement, he should have recorded it. Rumor has it that Murphy was able to get some photographs of the object and have them developed. However, these photographs are now "missing" giving the impression they were gathered up by the US military. Despite the military seizing this film, why didn't Murphy get photographs of all the other strange goings-on? Why didn't he call the radio station and ask for photographers or the television media to appear from Pittsburgh? Certainly if the event was as spectacular as claimed, he would have wanted the big town media to help cover it. To add to the Kecksburg mystery, Murphy was later killed by a hit and run driver, which has been implied by others was an event that could not have been an accident. His widow, Bonnie Millsagle, recently stated, "If someone did away with John, it was because he saw and knew too much" (Dudurich). There is no evidence that Murphy actually took the photographs and there is no evidence that he was "silenced" for what he knew, which, apparently, was not very much. He did recount his adventure that evening in a radio program he called "The Object in the Woods". Initially, the program was supposed to include interviews of the local witnesses but many did not want their interviews aired. Exactly why they did not want their interviews aired is unknown but UFOlogists lump them all into the basket as being coerced. Murphy's subsequent broadcast was "watered down" and did not have much impact. However, Murphy later gave a copy of the unedited program to researcher Stan Gordon, which he lost somehow! In one instance, it is implied the loss was mysterious. Could it be that Gordon conveniently lost the recording because some of the interviews were not as spectacular as he implied or that no recovery operation was recorded? Exactly who is covering things up? According to Bob Young the actual program that was broadcast did not include any mention of a massive military involvement:

This program was rebroadcast 30 years later by WHJB and it supports the official version of events. I heard this and have a transcript, which I would be glad to send you if you are interested. The three key elements of the "crash and recovery" story (ie., armed, helmeted troops with rifles, a flatbed truck, and the object, itself) were nowhere to be found in this broadcast. Murphy reported that he only saw military people in the back seat of a police car (three?), that he didn't see an object, but that he did believe that something happened.

Despite Murphy's claim that the program was "censored", it includes the following formal statement: "This station has not been contacted by any official agency of the State, Federal or local Governments in connection with this program. We have received very good cooperation with the State Police and with the military and we were able to receive all the information that we wanted this past week. We have not had any political or otherwise influence put on us concerning this program, whatsoever." (Young)

If he did have knowledge of something truly extraordinary happening that evening, couldn't Murphy had mentioned it even in a "watered-down" broadcast. He wouldn't have to play any interviews. He could have stated that he had numerous witness reports of an object being pulled out of the woods by the military. The failure of Murphy to even mention a massive military involvement in his radio broadcast says a great deal about this part of the legend. The funny thing about Murphy's role is that because he was apparently nothing more than a bumbler, who never was able to produce any facts or retain any evidence of something other than what was reported at the time, he is now being portrayed as a truth-seeking martyr.

This whole line of "saucer logic" is amusing at best and implies that Murphy and Gatty were nothing more than idiots who missed out on the story of the century. A more likely scenario is that both Murphy and Gatty reported the story as they saw it that evening, which was nothing more than a lot of people groping about the woods in the dark.

UFO organizations were as inept as the media

Most UFO organizations in 1965 seemed to have ignored the crashed UFO story that evening. Other than the work of Sanderson, I could not find any mention of a serious investigation into the case. The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) organization did not give it much credence or ignored the case altogether. With all the military activity that is supposed to have happen, one would think that maybe one of the organization's principal investigators would have considered this case worthy of mentioning. Apparently, NICAP must have assumed that a UFO did not crash and were satisfied with the explanation that a meteor did enter the earth's atmosphere.

Where for art thou Dr. Hynek?

Probably the most interesting think to note regarding Kecksburg is the absence of commentary by Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Hynek, by this time, had become somewhat of a problem for project Bluebook and wanted a more extensive and scientific study of the subject. He was the astronomical advisor to Bluebook and was familiar with all the cases worth investigating. In his two books on the subject, Hynek never mentions Kecksburg. Instead, he apparently accepted the meteor explanation with no complaint. If there had been a massive recovery operation, you would think that Hynek would have mentioned it in on occasion and would be involved in the science behind evaluating a crashed object from space.

Doesn't anyone learn from the lessons of Roswell?

Probably the most interesting thing to note about "The Roswell of the east" is that it seems to mimic the Roswell legend. At least in Roswell, the unit/base involved is identified and records/personnel can be checked to see if the stories being told are true. In Kecksburg, we have no such paper trail or verification. About anyone who lived in the immediate vicinity can say they were there and saw something strange. About the only stories that can be verified are those that actually appeared in the local media.

As for the credibility of the stories, all one has to do is look at the credibility of the Roswell crashed spaceship/alien body witnesses (as well as one author) to see how their stories panned out when really checked:

Gerald Anderson-Turned out his story was filled with fabrications that were exposed by Kevin Randle. So hasty were Don Berlinner and Stan Friedmann willing to believe his story that they wrote a book on the subject. Subsequent later editions had to add a note at the beginning that stated that maybe Anderson's tale had some credibility problems.

Jim Ragsdale-Told two different stories and signed two different affidavits. His stories are now considered falsehood.

Glenn Dennis-Was one of the key witnesses in getting congressman Schiff involved with the GAO investigation. He supposedly knew a nurse who was involved in an alien autopsy. As the years went by, he changed the woman's name and it became obvious that he was making a lot of this story up.

Frank Kaufmann-He was a critical witness for one of the Roswell books. After his death, it was finally realized that Frank Kaufmann was nothing more than a tall-tale teller. Skeptics rejected this testimony almost as soon as it became public. Kevin Randle believed it for over ten years until he was presented with the damning evidence of forged documents.

Donald Schmitt-Was Kevin Randle's co-author for two Roswell books. Randle worked closely with him on their investigation and believed everything Schmitt told him about himself. He claimed to be a lot of things and often accused the government of lies/cover-up. When it was exposed that he was lying about his resume' and he was nothing more than a postal worker, Kevin Randle threw him under the bus. Don Schmitt still is considered an expert on Roswell even though he is tainted with being a liar about his own background.

Many of these people told the most interesting stories that sounded credible initially if you were willing to believe in a crashed spaceship. However, it turned out that they told the stories people wanted to hear. Skeptics and some UFOlogists were more critical of their tales. Can one say the same about Kecksburg? How hard have Stan Gordon and the Leslie Kean tried to verify the stories being told? It seems that they haven't done their homework in several cases. Both seem more interested in selling snake oil or making a name for themselves than performing honest research on what really happened.

The real Kecksburg story

What probably happened that evening involves the following timeline:

At 4:43 PM Fireball a bright fireball was seen over the Great Lakes region. Witnesses in Kecksburg see a bright light low in the northwest sky giving the impression that it might have fallen into the woods. The resultant debris train was visible for some time after the event and gave the impression that smoke was rising over the woods.Witnesses who recall the train that eventually twisted with upper level winds might have gotten the impression that the original meteor changed directions as it descended. Since there are no accurate reports that were recorded that day from the Kecksburg area, it is hard to say. Recollections of what happened decades later are not really an accurate representation of the event. The real story about the fireball was captured by the media at the time. All reports indicate the fireball exploded over Lake Erie and headed towards Ontario just as the scientific investigations at the time determined.

Around 6:00-6:30 PM Mrs Kalp reports that her children saw the fireball drop into the woods to the local media. Being a small township, the local media was happy to have a news story that sounded spectacular. People began to call Mrs. Kalp and ask where the object had fallen. Eventually, it was learned by the local media, police, and fire department that something may have crashed into the woods. Additionally, the local populace became aware of the location. An atmosphere of excitement took hold.

By 7:00-8:00 PM Firemen had been assembled to search the woods and the media (Murphy and Gatty) had arrived. Some news accounts indicate the search could have started as early as 6:00 PM. The locals arrived to watch what was happening. All wanted to see what the big mystery was and rumors circulated about what might, or might not, have been seen (media reports talk about jokes concerning "little green men" had been circulating in the crowds). Because of high traffic caused by this hustle and bustle, state troopers became involved in traffic control as well as trying to prevent people from interfering with the search. Murphy interviews everyone who has a story to tell that may or may not have been accurate/true.

Sometime between 8:00 and 11:00PM the members of the 662nd radar squadron arrived. They may have arrived in a jeep or two or just in some sort of official vehicle. However, they did not bring in a huge flatbed trailer or recovery vehicle. There would have been no need if they were just looking to see if there was anything to the media reports. Firemen/police officers report nothing found but did see lights in woods. As a result, a further search of the woods is conducted with the members of the military looking around. The lower ranking enlisted men were probably dressed in their working fatigues, which are green and wore foul weather gear, which looked a lot like the military jackets worn by the army. An Officer and an Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) were probably in charge of the group. They probably were in their blue uniforms and gave direction to the enlisted men. There would have been no reason to equip them with weapons. Even arming a bunch of technicians/operators with sidearms (as Kevin Randle suggests) would have been unlikely. No combat would be expected and it was the job of the local constabulary to control crowds (the only time I was ever aware of military carrying weapons off base during my navy career had to do with the transport of nuclear weapons in convoys over civilian roads). While there may have been more than three personnel present, it appears that they were all members of the Air Force being mistaken as members of the Army and Air Force.

The second search was conducted late and was over before 2:00AM with negative results. The officer involved reported back that nothing was found and the members of the squadron returned to Oakdale. The sleepy town of Kecksburg rolled up it's streets and everyone went to bed.

This is the real Kecksburg story. The new legend is nothing more than a tall story told by a few individuals, who love telling their version of what they recall/think happened that night. When one looks at it from a skeptical point of view, nothing extraordinary happened. Until UFOlogists find real facts that can be presented to confirm these stories, this case can only be considered nothing more than a crock!


Works Cited

Dudurich, Ann Saul. "Kecksburg UFO debate renewed". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 3 August 2003. Available WWW:

Frazier, Kendrick ,Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell ed. UFO Invasion. Amherst: Prometheus, 1997

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

Gordon, Stan. "Kecksburg - Response, Review & Update". 28 January 2001. UFO Updates Mailing List. Online posting. Available WWW:

Kean, Leslie. "Forty years of secrecy: NASA, the military, and the 1965 Kecksburg crash". International UFO Reporter. Spring 2005. pp.3-9, 28-31.

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

Randles, Jenny. UFO crash retrievals.Available WWW:

"Suspended sentence for youth" The Daily Courier. Connelsville, PA. September 7, 1966. P. 28

Young, Bob. "Re: Kecksburg - Response, Review & Update - Young". 3 February 2001. UFO Updates Mailing List. Online posting. Available WWW:

A follow-up series of articles to this web site can be found in SUNlite 3-6. 


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