Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Close Encounters -A UFO sighting at Fort Benning Georgia 1977-


Close Encounters
A UFO sighting at Fort Benning Georgia 1977

Fort Benning has been a military training facility since before the Civil War. Over the years this Army base has developed a variety of military complexes that include basic training areas, a mechanized unit at Kelly Hill, and several ranges used for weapons training. All soldiers must be educated in the art of combat. So regular training exercises on the ranges from rifle and small arms training to short and long range weapons testing is a normal part of everyday training at Fort Benning. 

In 1977 a controversial and unusual event took place on at the facility. During a routine weapons exercise known as JAWS (Joint Attack Weapons System) about thirteen hundred troops would witness an unusual string of events that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. On an early September morning at 5:30 AM the Sergeant in charge of First battalion, First infantry called a formation for new arrivals to inform them of what to expect as part of their Advance Infantry Training or AIT. During this time Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta companies of the First battalion, First infantry unit were informed to ascertain their linens, toiletries, other essentials and detail the barracks. They were also informed to clean their weapons and report back for another formation at 7:30 PM that evening.

The soldiers gathered in a field adjacent to their assigned barracks awaiting orders by their commanding officer. As they stood in parade formation, a strange movement in the sky began to distract some of the men’s attention. One soldier named John Vasquez looked up at a cluster of stars as his fellow soldier pointed them out. The stars seemed stationary at first but suddenly began to make odd formations. According to Vasquez, one star moved from the cluster in a fluid like motion, and flowed seamlessly along the sky. It moved across the sky, stopped, and repeated this odd behavior for several minutes.

The unusual events gained the attention of other men in formation. The Captain in charge took the podium and began to speak as if he had not seen the floating “stars” in the night sky. While the Captain spoke about how long training would take, and to what degree of training the men could expect, all eyes turned to the sky. Suddenly a strange rumbling sound began to come from the surrounding area. The sound seemed to swish back and forth and within a few seconds the men of Charlie Company began to break formation and run. As the men disbursed, an exceedingly bright, white and blue light went speeding down the dirt road adjacent to the formation.

In the seconds of panic, Vasquez motioned to the man in front of him and before he could ask him what they were looking at, he realized that the man was in a catatonic state. He was immobile and lifeless, almost as if he was asleep while standing upright. As Vasquez regained his composure he realized he was also immobile. All the men in the formation were running, screaming, or frozen by the strange and vivid light approaching them. Some of the men ran to the barracks and hid in the crawl space beneath the structure. Others, including the Captain at the podium, where standing still, frozen with strange and terrified expressions on their faces.

Suddenly one of the men running for the barracks realized Vasquez was not catatonic, but couldn’t move. The man stopped and helped Vasquez make his way to the barracks. Inside the crawl space the men panicked and could not understand what was happening. Outside they could hear men screaming out awful, painful wails. They dared not venture out without understanding what was happening. These were men of combat and war; they were expected to react in the face of battle. Many men believed that this was an invasion of the Russians. After all, it was 1977 and they had been warned of a possible attack on the United States.

As Vasquez and his fellow soldiers sat under the barracks, they could hear the rumbling sound again and see the blinding light that seemed to flow into the crawl space. As they looked out, they could see an extremely large mass silhouetted against the night sky. It was visible only because the blinding lights emanated from underneath the mass. The group made their way into the center of the building but the light from outside was so bright that Vasquez could not see his hands in front of him on the ground. They sat in panic for a few seconds, arguing over the best action to take. One soldier said that they should run to the other barracks and that there was no hope for their fellow soldiers, they were already dead.

Vasquez could not accept this explanation and gathered a few of his friends and made his way out from under the crawl space. During this time he reported to have heard a strange robotic, female voice speak. It said; “It’s ok, don’t be afraid” As Vasquez asked the other men if they too had heard the voice, they began to look curiously and they feared something was wrong with him. Vasquez crawled out of the crawl space and looked up at the vibrant light above him. He lifted his hand above his brow to shield the light from his eyes and noticed to his left a small, dark figure. It quickly scurried back into the light and suddenly he heard a popping sound. He heard the sound a second time and felt a sensation as if he had been shot, and he then blacked out.

What felt like only moments, Vasquez came to, but kept his eyes closed. He felt the presence of two figures beside him. He could hear male voices telling him to “keep your eyes closed” and a weightless sensation came over him. He then began to feel as if he was being lifted upward. Vasquez was scared but did as the voices instructed. He had no concept of reality at this point and no understanding of what was taking place, or what had happened to his fellow soldiers.

Off and on, for what felt like several minutes to many hours, Vasquez would wake and black out again. After he felt he was lifted away from the area of the barracks, Vasquez awoke just slightly to the strange robotic, female voice again, It asked “How do you feel?” he could not reply verbally but mentally was insulted by the question. As he lay in the unknown location, he felt as if he was surrounded by other beings or possibly people. He opened his eyes just enough to see that there were rows and rows of floating, metallic slabs. As he came into a slightly more conscious state he saw that on those slabs were men from his unit and others that had been in the formation. Just as he felt he was going to gain a better state of consciousness, the female voice again spoke and said “go to sleep”; again Vasquez blacked out.

Vasquez woke again in what he felt was a separate location from his previous awakening and this time a very unusual creature was visible to him. He described the creature with a large, lumpy head. It had no ears, a small mouth and nose and extremely large, dark eyes. The being did not move its mouth but Vasquez was able to hear it telepathically. The being demanded he look into its eyes. At first, Vasquez was hesitant from fear but looked into the creatures eyes anyway. He saw strange visions of oceans and himself surrounded by water with no land in-sight. He then saw a planet destroyed in a violent, fiery explosion and lastly, another being came into his mind. He saw a humanoid being with pale, white skin with a similar narrow nose and mouth. It had no hair and its eyes resembled a liquid material. It was wearing a white uniform and appeared to be almost human.

Vasquez again blacked out and moments later awoke. He was standing in formation just as he had been ordered to do by his Captain before the lights appeared. However he was not in his original location. Before the lights appeared he had been standing in the front of the formation and was now in the back. As he tried to comprehend what had happened he heard his Sergeant yell “everyone back to the barracks, NOW!” As the men started for the barracks many of them fell over and stumbled to the ground. Some were sick and disoriented. As a few of them checked their watches they noticed the times were all different. Vasquez’s watch was set at 7:30pm and another man’s at 3:00am, and another was at 4:45am.

The men gathered in the barracks and began to change clothes. Vasquez noticed his uniform was in a distressed state. His shirt and pants where buttoned unevenly and covered in an unusual, viscous material. His boots had strange knots mangled in quite a mess, and a weird, smoky smell permeated from the barracks. Throughout the evening, many of the soldiers started displaying very bizarre behavior. Some slept with their sheets pulled over their heads like terrified children. Others did the same, but with their flashlights on. A few saw strange hallucinations of faces on the walls. It seemed no one slept, but no one talked about what had happened either.

The next morning all the soldiers gathered for breakfast in the mess hall. Vasquez overslept, but quickly assembled his uniform and went to breakfast. He passed three men sitting at a picnic table outside. They didn’t speak but sat in a dazed and almost zombie-like state. Vasquez sat with a fellow soldier and discussed what they could remember from the night before. At this point, Vasquez was not able to remember much and neither could his colleagues.

The commanding officers organized an eight mile march and during this time Vasquez developed severe muscle spasms in his legs. This was partially due to a previous injury he had acquired when he first arrived to Fort Benning. Vasquez was initially assigned to Echo Company, Fourth Battalion, First Infantry but developed a case of Achilles Tendinitis in his ankle because his boots where too big. He was later assigned to Delta Company, First battalion, First infantry.

Vasquez and his fellow soldiers marched to the temporary encampment and a complaint came down to the Company Commander about the abusive behavior of a Sergeant who had kicked out campfires around the camp and cursed the soldiers who had built them. During this time the First Sergeant and Company Commander called on numerous witnesses including Vasquez. After brief questioning, the two men simply handed the camp over to Vasquez and left, which is very unorthodox behavior for military officials and the men in the camp where frankly dumbfounded by the manner of their leaving so abruptly.

Most of the men in the camp assumed that it was simply part of their training and, though unsupervised, they carried on their daily routines without cause. Soon it became obvious to the men that something wasn’t right about their commanding officers not returning to camp and assuming the absence of their commanding officers meant they where involved in some sort of “war games”, the men were basically functioning under the assumption that they where being evaluated by their superiors on how well they could function without authority and if they could maintain order in a military fashion. So the men of Delta Company set up an operation to intercept live ammunition from a neighboring camp. All along, in the back of their minds they feared, somehow, they would be charged with mutiny based on the unusual events that led up to this point. Who would believe what they had witnessed just days before while in formation?

As the men organized their plan to take over the ammo site, they geared up and set out for the destination located just down the hill from them. Delta Company took the camp without resistance and secured the live ammo. In the following days the men discussed again how to conduct themselves and what to expect in the form of retaliation. They had set up trip wires all over their camp, and on Wednesday morning the Green Berets set them off. The Green Berets were a highly formidable opponent for a group of half trained AIT soldiers, but after their initial contact failed to come to an agreement to give back the live ammunition in exchange for safe passage, several skirmishes broke out and several men were injured.

Delta Company made a rash decision to move the camp to a location near a hill and set out for the location with their ammunition. As they left their camp the Green Beret’s were hot on their trail and determined to get back the stolen ammo. Delta Company fired a flare into the night’s sky to enable them to perhaps see the location of their enemy. Suddenly many of the men began to feel a strange sensation of paranoia. Vasquez looked up at the sky and saw that the entire sky was turning around them, much like a gyroscope he felt as if they were stationary but the sky turned all around them.

The men where all horrified at the thought of another UFO event but when they attempted to leave the area, an invisible force hindered there escape. Dumbfounded again at an event they could not explain, the men of Delta Company organized themselves together and discovered that if they worked as a unit and pushed into the invisible field they could move it. Another soldier fired a flare which helped them advance even further. Some two hundred and fifty men were on this mission and many of them started to yell out that there were shadows just beyond the range of the light from the flare and everyone started to see them move around them. Two of the men ran down the hill to investigate the shadows. Vasquez ordered them back and when they returned in a frightened state they informed him that they had seen an entire unit of men, identical to themselves, standing in a circle at the bottom of the hill. It took Vasquez and his colleagues a few minutes to understand the report since it was very strange. Again the soldiers insisted a clone unit of their own was at the bottom of the hill.

The men continued on trying to maintain composure and reach their destination. Finally, as if a light switched had been flipped, the invisible field lifted and the sky returned to normal. With no explanation for the event a few of the men returned to the location of the “force field” and found nothing. They could not recreate the previous events. The men set up a camp and a few minutes later the Captain of the Green Berets came marching up the road. He looked pale and upset, he stated that he had seen the men on the road all three hundred of them and in a second they had all vanished.

The following morning Delta Company decided to advance further on their march. They didn’t talk about what had happened the night before but it was on everyone’s mind. Some of the men where starting to second guess their sanity and others were taken over by the sheer disbelief of what they had witnessed. That night they crossed a section of the Chattahoochee River to get to main post; they were in desperate need of supplies. While they crossed the shallow river something seemed to follow them in the river. It was large and responded to sounds. The men that did see it said it looked like a giant eel of some sort. It never attacked the men but legends of the Tie Snake have been a staple in Georgia’s folklore for centuries.

As if the Delta company events had not been harsh enough, one of the men was snake bit crossing the river and once they delivered him to the emergency room on main post they had to highjack a couple of Military Police vehicles to get back to the bivouac. As they traveled in the stolen jeeps they listened to the radio and discovered several bulletins both military and civilian, were alerting that a renegade group of trainees were armed and dangerous. The men couldn’t wrap their minds around what was happening. Was this truly a military scenario set up to be as realistic as possible or here they all experiencing something genuinely paranormal. Either way it didn’t matter to them. Survival was all that mattered at this point.

Several more outbreaks of fighting erupted when Delta Company returned to the camp. They hadn’t been back long when the camp was approached by heavy armored tanks and a General and his aid. The General met with Vasquez and some of the other men and ordered them to return the ammunition. Vasquez spoke up on behalf of the men and asked that they all be given transportation back to post, meals, showers, and that no one be reprimanded on the events that had taken place. The General agreed but the men of Delta Company were not so sure of his guarantee.

That night the men waited patiently for the terms and conditions of the agreement to be met; instead they were met with opposition. This time the odds where stacked against them. Helicopters flew over the camp, tanks hummed in the surrounding wooded areas of the camp and gun fights broke out inside the tent areas. There was no other option but to run. The men of First Battalion, First Infantry were outmanned and out-numbered; during this time many of the men where captured and many where too tired to carry on. When Vasquez and his colleagues were running they were met by a heavily armed helicopter on the road.  To Vasquez this meant the game was over. They were trapped, unarmed, and outmaneuvered. But this wasn’t the final battle.

To indicate a capture in a war games scenario a salvo or simultaneous gun fire or ignitions of bombs are administered to signal the operation is over. However once the salvo was ignited the same blinding light that was seen previously in the horrific UFO encounters emerged from behind the helicopter. Again panic struck them men and the light grew closer by the second. As it approached some of the men felt as if they should go into the light to protect themselves others were reluctant, but within seconds of moving into the vivid light, the men were situated in another location, roughly six hundred yards from their previous location in front of the helicopter just seconds before. They could even see the helicopter scanning its search light on the road for the men.

The men had no explanation for what had happened in those few seconds and stayed on their course to main post where they broke into a supply location and confiscated provisions and a few military trucks. As Vasquez made his way to a jeep he became sick and visibly ill. Once they returned to the bivouac they found their camp was infiltrated by the General’s men. Only one hundred and forty men out of three hundred where left and the General again approached Vasquez about the ammunition. Vasquez agreed to deliver the ammo to the General at Six AM the following morning, after a brief confrontation, and the arresting of officials accused of military misconduct and AWOL personnel. Vasquez delivered the ammo just as he had promised and assuming the entire state of events were part of his training he was happy to be able to move on to a normal schedule of training.

The following day the men were instructed on the day’s events and routinely delegated their day without any unusual circumstances. At around 10:30 PM the lights in the barracks began to flicker off and on. Though reassured the UFO scenario was part of AIT and JAWS the men, were all emotionally unstable at the sight of the lights flickering. They sent out a man to find the drill sergeants and he found that they were abandoned once again. Without a hitch, the men assembled and prepared for another possible encounter. They made their way from the barracks, toward the road, when they saw headlights from a vehicle approach. It was the General and this time he had a gunner.

The men told the General about the lights flickering and he informed them they were like that all over post but that it was most likely a wide-spread electrical issue. Still he ordered the men down the road. When they reached their destination, the heavy odor of gas was prevalent, and since there were no gas masks, the men began to run in circles. Just then a search light scanned the formation and the men ran down the road to a separate location. Again the men were not sure if perhaps this was a drill or if they where about to experience another terrifying abduction, or perhaps another unusual time warp. As they gathered at the crossroads they meet the General talking frantically on his two way radio. He was calling in reserves and just then a glowing object emerged from the sky.

The object moved slowly but did not glow with the same vivid light that had accompanied all the previous encounters. The General radioed for air assistance and a helicopter emerged at the sight and dropped many flares to illuminate the area. Once the pilot could see the object, he wasted no time firing on it. The missile was consumed by a massive ray of light that was projected from the object, but it never exploded. At that point the missile fell from the sky and hit the ground. The General then ordered the tanks to pursue the object as it slowly moved across the sky toward the barracks. All companies where ordered to situate within the tree line to draw fire on the object. As they fired on the unknown object small balls of light were returned back at them.

A helicopter in the assault was also hit with the balls of light, at which point the helicopter seemed to lose all mechanical function and crashed to the ground. The pilot and crew were rescued. Then the men ran down into a gully and saw several of their own men lying on the ground; they appeared to be dead, but had no visual injuries. When Vasquez and his colleagues encountered the fighting they repeatedly suppressed heavy fire into the tree line. Their bullets were hitting something because they could see the spark from the bullet at the impact. They too were met with return fire by the small balls of light. Vasquez was able to avoid several hits but finally was hit in the leg. The impact of the hit caused a terrible sting and the red whelps that accompanied the burn were extremely painful.

The UFO encounter lasted for several hours and more reserves were being called in by the minute. Vasquez and his fellow soldiers were now aware that they were in a real combat situation, but their training had not prepared them for a potentially unearthly opponent. They made their way back to the barracks and again crawled into the crawl space under the barracks for refuge. As they made their way under the crawl space, someone lit a flare to light the way when one of the men announced that someone else was inside the crawl space with them. The men began to exit the crawl space when Vasquez felt someone grab his arm. He was the last man out and thought he was helping a fellow soldier out from under the crawl space. He looked down and suddenly realized the thing that grabbed his arm definitely was not human and it appeared to be bleeding. Vasquez was shocked and unable to verbally describe the being he saw.

Later Vasquez regrouped with the General and came to the understanding that whatever was out there was trying to communicate with them. The men set up a perimeter for protection and Vasquez and the General waited. After awhile a strange sensation of some invisible presence took over Vasquez and he immediately felt as if something was trying to separate his mind from his body. As the progression of the event went on, Vasquez reported that he had no knowledge of the conversation that took place between the General and the unseen forces that took over his body. All he was aware of is that his mind had been separated from the conversation as to possibly not allow him to acknowledge the circumstances. However he was aware of the physical sensation. Within a few minutes Vasquez was reunited with his self and reported to feel ok but not “centered”.

The battle did not continue but the men camped and were later ordered back to the barracks. Once again the events concerning the UFO encounter were amazing and uncertain all at the same time. As with many combat situations, the men of First Battalion, First Infantry were bewildered and didn’t understand if what they had witnessed was real or perhaps an elaborate training exercise conducted by the Army. It wasn’t long until some evidence of the event would come to light. Just after the strange battle with the UFO, a female Lieutenant was assigned to the location. Most of the men thought this was highly unusual since Fort Benning was a predominantly “male” training facility. It was later discovered that she was a Psychiatrist.

She was also reported to have participated in some unusual operations involving memory replacement or erasing a memory which is a highly controversial subject but there is some proof that exists that suggests that the military has been experimenting with these techniques since World War One. John Vasquez’s detailed reports of this event have been documented for many years and have been the subject of many UFO interviews and investigations. John started hypnosis therapy after April 1989, when he began to remember the events in dreams. John Vasquez has made some impressive headway in uncovering declassified documents that the military used to try to cover up the events at Fort Benning.

Today few documents show that John was assigned to Delta Company, First Battalion, First Infantry. Official military documents from the entire unit are now non-existent in an effort to suggest that no such unit ever existed, but John has his medical records from his injuries to prove that it did. John also uncovered information released to the public in September 1977 that suggested a Rubella outbreak was responsible for the rashes found on the soldiers. Even though German measles were already being vaccinated against at this time, there was never any documented notification to the Center for Disease Control, only some local information released to the public through local papers.

Also the entire AIT operation known as JAWS (Joint Attack Weapons System) has been denied by the military according to official records however the Columbus Ledger Enquirer printed an article in 1993 that refers to JAWS and its existence and use by the Army and Air Force. There is a eight hundred page archive of official and non official military documents owned by John Vasquez that suggest this event indeed took place on Fort Benning in September of 1977. Could it be that the military has covered up an alien encounter right in our own back yards? Watch the skies closely on those late fall evenings, and should you find the stars start to cluster and move across the Georgia sky, stop and ask yourself; is this really happening?

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