I wanted to share with you an article that I wrote for the Remember in Lake Jackson When… group on Facebook about Brazoria County UFO sightings. While the Damon sighting by the deputies is certainly the most spectacular and credible (and happened on the same night as the famous Exeter, NH sighting), there are also some other dramatic sightings.
I promised to write something about UFO reports of the 50s and 60s. Here it is. HIGH STRANGENESS IN BRAZORIA COUNTY: INVESTIGATED UFO REPORTS 1959-1967 The 1950s and 1960s saw hundreds of dramatic, credible, and detailed reports of encounters with aerial unknowns. While mainstream culture often met these reports with skepticism or ridicule, it’s less well known today that there were several organizations at the time whose mission was to do thorough investigations of these sightings. They included the National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena, (NICAP), the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), and the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book (1952-1969). This article draws on material from those organizations. The first significant report comes from August 13, 1959. Randy Chandler of Freeport and his companion, Leslie Ann Fowler of Surfside, saw an object cross over Highway 332 near 523 and land in a field near the KBRZ studios. When the object passed over their car, the car motor stalled and the lights went out. After the object landed, the car started normally. Orville Shanks of Houston and his fiancée, along with two other women, also witnessed this object and had the same stalling happen to their car. The object apparently stayed there for about 45 minutes but law enforcement officers called to the scene found nothing. More details can be found here. There is a quote from the APRO newsletter on page 59 and an article in the Angleton Times on page 60 of this linked PDF file. http://sohp.us/…/ufos-a-history/pdf/GROSS-1959-July-Sept.pdf The best known and most credible spectacular UFO report is of course the Damon sighting on September 3, 1965 by Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Billy McCoy and Deputy Bob Goode. They witnessed an enormous object with blue and purple lights move quickly toward them and then hover over their patrol car. Deputy Goode reported that exposure to the light from the UFO caused an alligator bite on his arm to heal much more quickly than expected. This case was investigated thoroughly by the Air Force and is still classified as an unknown. Many detailed accounts of the story are available. Here is one from NICAP: http://www.nicap.org/reports/650903damon_rep.htm and here is an excerpt from TRUE Magazine’s “Report on Flying Saucers, 1967.” http://www.ufocasebook.com/damontruearticle.html This incident happened on the same date as a fairly well known case in Exeter, NH, where a local teenager and two police officers saw a large UFO with bright red lights. More details and a possible explanation can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exeter_incident Throughout September and October there were several more UFO reports from local residents. There were enough of them that Dow executive Nelson D. Griswold wrote to an Air Force officer of his acquaintance to ask for help. His letter is very interesting and can be found in the Project Blue Book files online. http://bluebookarchive.org/page.aspx?PageCode=MISC-PBB2-349 In that letter, Mr. Griswold mentions a brief summary of recent reports in The Brazosport Facts. That summary can be seen here. http://bluebookarchive.org/page.aspx?PageCode=MISC-PBB2-347 The dates of the articles were September 6 (McCoy/Goode), September 9 (USAF investigation), September 15 (several reports in Freeport and Lake Jackson), September 20 (San Bernard River), and October 12 (Brazoria.). Griswold, a serious amateur astronomer, mentions in his letter to Col. Huntley that he had never seen a UFO. However, in September, 1967, he reported seeing one in Hunter, NY. His handwritten notes can be seen here in these files from the Blue Book archive. http://www.fold3.com/image/7422192/ http://www.fold3.com/image/7422198/ Crewmen of the Coast Guard cutter Legare moored at the Coast Guard station at Surfside saw a UFO in the early morning of March 20, 1966. Radioman Third Class John Wietlich, Radioman First Class Glenn Mushett, and Radioman Third Class Paul Folmsbee saw an oval object which appeared to have windows. As the object hovered over some Surfside houses, the lights flickered in the houses. There was also a large power outage in Freeport which affected the Coast Guard station about two hours earlier. An account can be found in a NICAP report here. http://www.nicap.org/waves/1966fullrep.htm The Blue Book report is here, and seems to put the blame on a blown transformer, although the influence, if any, of the UFO and the earlier power outage in the Freeport area is unclear. http://www.fold3.com/image/8668542/ On Sunday, January 15, 1967, Mrs. Kenneth Buchorn from Lake Jackson and her four children saw a glowing light while driving home from Houston. It turned red and “took off real fast.” They saw the same thing again after they arrived home on Palm Lane - a large glow, which brightened, turned red, and disappeared. Early the next morning, Amon Capps of Sweeny saw what appeared to be “a dark blue light” taking off from a pasture. A report in the Tuesday, January 17, 1967 Brazosport Facts mentioned a high-altitude test of upper-atmospheric winds using colored clouds launched from Nike-Iroquois rockets which may have been responsible for some sightings. These are the most dramatic UFO cases in the Brazosport area that I know of from the middle of the twentieth century.
Follow Up Story By Marty Merritt
To follow up on my UFO article, I'd like to delve into that August 13, 1959 report a little more. The witnesses were Randy Chandler (West Eighth and Cedar Street, Freeport) and Leslie Ann Fowler, Surfside. The Houston resident named was Orville Shanks; his fiancee and two other women were not named. However, the Shanks party also brought Mrs. Mary Lewis of beach establishment "The Dutchess" and waitress Ethel Ussery back to the site and they also saw the landed craft. There were also reports of either three or seven airplanes flying in formation that night; whether they were the cause of the sighting or jets scrambled to investigate it is of course unclear. In searching newspaper archives I find that Leslie Ann Fowler married Norman Thomas in June, 1960. Chandler does not appear again in the Brazosport Facts, and there is one mention of Mr. and Mrs. Orville Shanks in Brazoria in 1967. Do any of those names ring a bell for anyone?
Submit Your Brazoria County UFO Encounter:
Submitted by reader Lake Jackson/Brazoria/Richwood, TXSighted on Thursday 03. April 2003 Reported on Thursday 03. April 2003 Shape: Circle | Duration: 3 seconds Source: NUFORC
Green fireball fell from sky near Richwood, Texas in the vicinity northeast of FM 2004 and north of Hwy 288 Travelling southbound on Hwy 288, just past the Brazoria County Airport exit, and before the FM 2004 crossing, a green circle appeared in the sky with a short tail travelling northwest towards the east, like a shooting star. It's speed was very fast, lasting about 3 seconds, and then the green fireball dissipated or landed in the Richwood area or the old HWY 288.
Case File: Submitted by reader:
WEST COLUMBIA - The search for extraterrestrial intelligence probably goes on in important, top-secret places, but in this small town 50 miles south of Houston, look no farther than the public library.In West Columbia, population 4,372, the library is UFO Central.
It not only keeps a healthy sampling of reading material on unidentified flying objects; it also plays host to occasional meetings of sky watchers who swap UFO stories and view videotapes of blinking lights they believe to be alien spacecraft.
As a result, people with UFO tales tend to confide in the town librarian, Sally Taylor, a good-natured woman who listens patiently and keeps an open mind.
''It's very prevalent in this area,'' advises Ms. Taylor. ''There are so many people that come in and say something's happened to them. I just give them Doc's number.''
''Doc'' is what everybody calls M.D. Wagner, who is not a doctor but is the unofficial leader and father confessor of UFO watchers in Brazoria County.
A soft-spoken man of 60 who lives in a log cabin west of town near the San Bernard River, Wagner is a Dow Chemical Co. retiree.
Wagner has been organizing UFO meetings open to the public since 1992.
He admits his wife, Rose, ''thought I flipped'' when he told her of his plans to hold his first UFO talk at the American Legion Hall in Brazoria about five years ago.
Since then, the Wagners have remained married, and he's still holding meetings, the last one convening on a recent rainy night.
He warmed up the crowd by saying: ''Brazoria County is a real hot spot - has been for a long time. UFOs are real. Where they're from, I don't know.''
A group of 17 spectators listened patiently before speaking up.
A nurse told of seeing three aircraft emerge from a larger object in the night sky. ''They circled the mother ship three times,'' she said.
A middle-aged man in a gimme cap said alien visitors are interested in mining sulphur from the Damon area.
''They're watching us. They're studying us,'' he said, adding that he has suffered ''missing time.'' In UFO parlance, that means he has been abducted but cannot recall what occurred because the aliens wiped his memory clean.
A woman seated next to him said she has been having flashbacks of being interrogated by men dressed in white smocks.
No one batted an eye at the stories, which went on for about two hours, except for an elderly woman who occasionally cast glances to either side and muttered, ''My God.''
These UFO believers are not alone. A poll conducted in 1995 by the Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University in Athens found half of all Americans believe flying saucers could be real and the federal government is covering up what it knows about extraterrestrial beings.
In 1990, a Gallup Poll found 47 percent of Americans believe UFOs are real.
Brazoria County UFO watchers don't need opinion polls to assure them in their beliefs, however. Still, the UFO meetings seem to serve a purpose similar to group therapy: It gets people together and lets them talk about subjects they might not feel comfortable discussing elsewhere.
The nurse who spoke of three aircraft emerging from the ''mothership,'' for instance, admitted she had not told anyone about what she saw for two years until she attended the UFO meeting.
''I didn't realize there was this much of it going on,'' she said, sounding relieved that other people have seen things similar to what she described.
Indeed, Bill Bertram, a 65-year-old Navy veteran and former West Columbia city councilman, says the UFO meetings have given many Brazoria County residents the courage to come forward.
''They've been keeping it to themselves all this time, thinking, 'Who's gonna believe me?' They're starting to come out of the woodwork now,'' said Bertram, who says he spotted his first UFO five years ago.
Of course, there are plenty of people who wouldn't dream of going to one of the UFO get-togethers at the library - including some people who have seen startling, unexplained things in the sky.