INCIDENT AT FT. BENNING
UFO Magazine [UK]
---- May/June 1998 John Vasquez interviewed by Graham Birdsall (GWB) Graham Birdsall was editor of the UK's 'UFO Magazine'.
Few among the hundreds present at Laughlin had ever come across a UFO witness by the name of John Vasquez before, myself included. John was not a speaker there, nor an established and recognised researcher. He had travelled from his home in California to seek help and advice on a matter of great personal concern. A select few researchers attended a private meeting, at which John related one of the most extraordinary incidents any of us had come across in years.
The mass abduction of an entire battalion of some 1,300 military personnel. The next day John kindly agreed to re-tell his story again on camera for inclusion in our new video magazine series. 'UFOs: Hard Evidence.' I began by asking John why he had travelled several hundreds of miles to seek out UFO researchers...
"What I'm trying to do is convey reports and documents concerning Army intelligence at Ft. Mead, Maryland, and also my investigative report: letters from all the Army and Air Force departments concerning UFOs, or a 'J.A.W.S." test, an acronym for Joint Attack Weapons Systems and also a mysterious outbreak of measles at Ft. Benning, Georgia."
John then began to re-live an event which he said came "as a surprise to all of us". "It just happened. We were very frightened of this unusual light. This was a mass parade formation. There was 1,300 people."
Where was this exactly?
"This was at the 1st A.I.T. (Army Infantry Training) Battalion post, it was a combat training group, infantrymen. We're talking right now about September 2nd, 1977. I know it sounds really wild, but I started investigating this whole event in '91. And slowly I conducted my own personal investigation into this event at Ft. Benning. I've been Finding a lot of documents and quotes concerning an unusual event at Ft. Benning, because we had the Secretary of the Army, Clifford Alexander being present, at Ft. Benning.
"Normally it would have been someone from the Chiefs of Staff, a four-star general evaluating this JAWS test. And, I do have a JAWS test document at this time. It's written by the air force and I have the letter from them." [I did indeed see this letter and it was recorded on film - GWB]
"It was an evening parade. There were thirteen-hundred men. We had to account for the staff and captains and XO's [executive officers]. We were standing in formation and somebody in front of me mentioned something in the sky and I didn't think nothing of it because I was just looking at stars. So I said. "What is it'?" The guy in front of me said. 'Just keep looking'. So I did and all of a sudden this star moved, in a gradual, floating way. I thought it was a satellite. This sergeant, who was standing behind me asked, 'What do you think it is?' I just said, 'Satellite'.
"All of a sudden, this star just stopped, and then it moved away from us; came back and it moved again, stopped and moved away again, came back, and continued on. At this time, the same sergeant ordered us to stand to attention, and you can't move at all then. But I kinda glanced up to see where this thing went, and it was gone.
"And this is when the captain, our captain of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry, was walking out of this building to make a speech. And this speech was to advise us of our 6-8 week training course. Just when he was walking to this podium to make his speech, I heard this "rushing' noise and I leaned back and looked across, to my left. I saw this bright light, an intense bright light. I thought it was a jeep, a truck or something. And it was moving across, slowly.
"I saw some of Charlie Company's men running out of their formation, others were standing still. So I needed to take a better look at this. I leaned forward. When I leaned forward this bright light just got really close and it was headed between the tree-lines. And I still thought it was a truck, but the light was really, really intense. I mean, it's a white, bright light, and it had this bluish outline to it.
"I looked at this thing and I thought, 'I don't know what this is'. Well, the guy who was standing in front of me, I wanted to say something to him, ask him what it was, but when I looked at him, he was asleep. His head was bowed, his eyes were closed, he was asleep. So I leaned back again, I don't know what happened here, but I was unconscious for a few minutes.
"When I came to, I was looking down and I couldn't move. couldn't move my feet. And I tried desperately to move from where I was standing. The next thing I did, I could move my upper body, so I turned to my right, and I saw some of the men running to the tree-lines and others were diving underneath the buildings, a two-storey-high cross-way, such as you see in the picture [left].
"My buddy Alan... running, they were all running. So I just cried out for Alan to come back and help me because I couldn't move. He came back and he pulled me physically from where I was standing, physically pulled me. He pulled my arm and I sort of 'jumped' from where I was standing.
"He was saying, 'Take cover! Take cover!' and I was asking, 'What's going on here?' you know ? There was something happening and it was happening fast. I told Alan, 'I want to see the captain', so we ran over to where the captain was and he was standing behind this podium. And he was asleep. His head was bowed and he wasn't moving.
"So I screamed. I screamed, "Wake up!' out loud. I mean, I screamed so loud I think everybody could have woke up. But there was a lot of guys still standing around in this formation and it was like they were motionless. The captain didn't wake up.
"So about this time, Alan was turned around and is facing this thing, this light. I believe it was a light. And his face was really pale. I mean it's like he's just seen a ghost. His eyes were bulging and his jaw was open and I shook him. I told him, 'Don't look at it! Don't look at it!'. And he sort of came to and he was saying, 'What's going on', like he was really confused.
"And we started to run, and when we started running to this first building, on the cross-base underneath, there was something moving and we didn't know what it was. So I told Alan to wait, get ready for it, we didn't know what it was. We'd seen the shadows moving underneath the building, and we're going to physically hurl this thing. Well it was one of us.
"He was coming out of the crawl space there and he was asking, 'What's going on'. 'What's going on?' We said, 'The captain's asleep! The captain's asleep!' And I guess there were some more there 'cos he turned his head and said 'The captain's asleep!'.
"So, we told him, 'Just take cover, get away from it!' And me and Alan started to run again and the guy crawled away from us. We came to this second building and at the far end of the barracks, it's a two-storey barracks. We heard some guys under there, they were calling our last names so we ran over there.
"We dove under this cross-face and we started arguing about what was going on. We couldn't believe things were happening this quick, but this is our reaction, in a hostile manner, because when something like this happens, you know, when people get excited over things...
"Then we saw Sgt. Santini come out from the first building that Alan and I had just crossed. And this ball of white light, from 50ft, we were laying down. It looked like the size of a melon, a small melon. But it was a bright, white light and it wasn't a tracer, 'cos I know, I've seen tracers before, I've fired my M16's and I know what tracers look like.
"But this wasn't a tracer. It sort of came from the second storey, and sort of 'roller-coasted' down to Sgt. Santini's height. And Sgt. Santini's about 5 feel 11 inches, 6 foot, and he was waving his arms up and down, screaming about what's going on, telling us to take cover and cursing the sky, because something was coming down.
"And he started to run and he disappeared in the second building. And this bright light just sort of 'roller-coasted' down to his height and zipped across - then it disappeared. And the next thing we heard was a "slap" and a 'thump'.
"And one of us, Hackett, crawled over to the other side to see where Sgt. Santini was and he was "out" on the pavement. He didn't move. Apparently he was knocked out or something. Something hit him.
"When Hackett came back, this is when we started hearing the screaming. From Alpha Company, all the way down to Bravo, then to Charlie Company and to Delta. When it came to Delta Company, we heard somebody out in parade formation screaming.
"'Mommy!', a high-pitched scream that went down to a grunting sort of scream. I can still hear it when I talk about this, I mean, you hear a man screaming like that you know something's wrong.
"And I told Jones, who was sitting, laying next to me, I said we should go out there and help these guys because something's going on out there. But he just turned around and said, 'No, they're already dead, forget about it'.
"IT'S COMING OUR WAY!"
"We started arguing again about these, we started arguing about here the M16's were and where the ammo' was. We were gonna' start deploying some of our defence tactics."
To defend yourselves?
"Yeah. And I told Alan, whatever happens, just try to go back to the Main Post and get some help. I was going to stay behind with Jones and Hackett.
"Well, during that argument we were having, we had one of the guys crawl over and we asked him what was going on out there. And he said "It's lights'. We looked at each other as though to say: 'Lights? What kind of lights? Strange lights, what?'
"This was more intense light. I mean the whole place just lit, like it was day. And the windows, on the barrack buildings, these old windows and the frame and everything on the building itself, silhouetted. The light just silhouetted the whole thing, just weird, it was really weird.
"Just moving across slowly, across the second storey coming around, and we could see the guys in front of us underneath the building and we started pounding the ground and calling their names out, calling them out to get away from that thing, but they didn't move.
"So we just kept coming around and by the time this bright light came to the corner edge, I looked into it, I sort of "fixed" myself into this. And I don't know what it was, but it was like looking into one of those searchlights, right inside. And I guess I was hypnotized into watching this and Alan was grabbing my arm and shouting. "What is it Vasquez?", and I said, 'I don't know, but it's coming our way'."
Vasquez then described how he began to hear a 'voice' in his head. He looked down on the ground and saw a small frightened animal, which he labelled a 'possum'. He said he heard the animal ask, 'What is it?' and he answered back, 'I don't know'. His puzzled colleagues looked at him, saw the animal dart away and asked: 'Who are you talking to Vasquez?" He told them.
"Hackett, he's a native American, he told me: 'You know, you speak to Nature'.
"I don't know, everything strange was happening. And this bright light, it was so bright that underneath the building you could see the pipes, the boards, you could see everything. The whole place was illuminated. Everybody was afraid, and so was I. You know, honest, we're scared of this light, like little kids hiding in a comer.
"By this time I hear this voice, this echo sounded sort of far away and metallic-like, and it's telling me. 'It's OK, don't be afraid. 'come out'. Well, I didn't know who said that and I asked all the guys underneath, 'Who said it's OK? Who's saying it's OK?' And all the guys are looking at me, like, 'Where are you hearing this from Vasquez?'"
Vasquez told his friends that he kept hearing a voice telling him it was OK to come out. They crawled away from him, because they hadn't heard it. He told them to move towards the centre of the building, away from the light, and that he intended to go out and see for himself what was going on. Vasquez crawled out from underneath the building and headed for a grassy moll.
"I stood up and I looked to my left, and this bright, shiny, intense bright light was sitting in front of me. I saw this shadowy figure, kind of a little figure, scurry back into the light.
"I was told to keep my eyes closed throughout this time and the next thing that happened I heard this female voice ask, 'Do you remember?'
"I didn't know what that was, but when I lifted my left hand to shield the glare from this bright light, something hit my left shoulder, and it sounded like a fuse being blown. I go down, I reach with my hand for my friend. Hackett, and Hackett's screaming my last name, and I was reaching for him, but something else hit my back and I became unconscious.
"What I remember from here is that someone was telling me to keep my eyes closed. And I felt there was one person on my left, another person on my right. There was a cover over me and I was being lifted. My whole body felt tingly, real tingly, and the next thing that happened is a quick motion of two people, coming across my left and turning in unison and moving across, away from me and really fast.
"I was told to keep my eyes closed throughout this time and the next thing that happened. I heard this female voice ask. 'Do you remember?" And I said. 'Remember what?' And I didn't say a word. It was all mental communication.
"And when she heard me say, 'Remember what?'. I felt this deep concern come over her. Deep concern, like there was something wrong. The next thing. I had this physical exam, and after I was looking at this wall, and on the wall there was an insignia of some sort, a half-moon and a zig-zag of some sort."
Vasquez pulled a neck bracelet out from underneath his shirt collar. Here was the self-same design that he had crafted from memory and wore at all times.
And when I turned my head, I saw rows of men lying on a slab. At the 5th or 6th table, there were two things standing in back of me, and within just a split second, she just said, 'Got to sleep', and I did. The next thing I remember, this guy, I have to say it's a guy because I felt this was a male, he kept demanding for me to keep looking at his eyes. And I didn't want to. I just didn't want to look at him because he scared me.
"And he said, 'There's nothing to be afraid...', or something like that. "Don't be afraid". And he kept demanding for me to look at his eyes. And I said, 'Only if it's going to help'. And he said, 'It will help'. I looked in his eyes and there were three images that I saw. One was myself, standing in an ocean, blue sky, and I'm standing in an ocean by myself.
"The other one was seeing a picture of the whole Earth being destroyed, coming apart, little by little. And the other one was an image of a human face, a pale, paste-white face, with a pupil like liquid mercury. And that's all I saw. I saw this face again. I became unconscious. The next thing I remember is that all of us were back in formation, everyone of us.
"All of us are back in formation in line, but I remember that Alan and I were standing at the 2nd line, but we'd come back to the 4th line. We were all disorientated. It's like... it felt like we'd drank 50 gallons of beer, because we were kind of weaving back and forth. And so was Alan, and so was everybody else.
"We did what you'd call. I guess, our own personal examination. 'How are we doing?' A lot of us were very disorientated, didn't know what was going on. I looked across and I saw Sgt. Turner, who was standing there in his summer uniform, parade dress. He had all his medals on, I thought that he had spilled coffee on his trousers, but apparently he had had an 'accident'. He cursed and walked away.
"We were told to go back to our barracks by Sgt. Newkirk, and I was wondering, 'Hey, we didn't have a speech from the captain yet. What happened to our speech?" Well, we never had a speech and we started walking back, and some of us started falling down. We lost balance and I fell down too because everything was spinning, and that was unusual. And when I got up I started to walk away.
"Some of the people, some of the guys who'd been in formation, started getting sick, started vomiting, getting sick, falling down, like we lost all control of balance. When I came to the first building, I stopped and I looked at my watch. And my watch stopped at 7.40. I asked Jones, who was standing next to me, what time he had and he said he had 3.30. And he asked his friend who was standing right by, he said it was 4.45. All of our watches stopped.
"I got sick then. I got real sick. I don't know why, but I got back to my barracks and there were guys in there acting real odd, like some kind of drug-induced state or whatever. But they were acting really weird. Alan was sitting on his bed, gazing at the wall, it was like, he was "gone".
"I opened up my locker, and I was about to take my shirt off, when I noticed my shirt was unbuttoned at the top, my trousers button were open. But the funny thing is that my boots, the combat boots that you wear have eight holes. Well, it was laced through the fourth one and it came to a large, criss-cross at the end, and a sort of bow-tie.
"And I told myself, 'I know I didn't go out there like that... I know I didn't do this'. Because the drill sergeant would have said something, he would have been the first to scream and yell and say. 'What are you doing out here like this Vasquez?'
"Well, I told myself, 'I know I didn't do this', so I started changing my clothes, taking my clothes off, my trousers, and I found like a paste-glue, around my trousers. I wiped that off and wiped it off myself too. I don't know what that was".
A CHAIN OF EVENTS
John Vasquez then told me how he had begun to recall most of what had transpired at Ft. Benning over a decade later in 1989.
As his memory slowly resumed, he began to research and investigate the strange happenings in 1991, beginning with a request for San Diego-based US Congressman Cunningham, to instigate an official inquiry on his behalf. The Congressman wrote to the US Army's National Personnel Records Centre in St. Louis, Missouri, requesting John's military file, known as a '201'.
They wrote back stating that some documents pertaining to Vasquez's military career were missing, but crucially, they claimed to have no records of Vasquez having served at or visited Ft. Benning, either in a full or temporary capacity.
Vasquez immediately set about the task of discovering the truth about what he and his fellow colleagues experienced that fateful day. Using his own money, he single-handedly wrote to the USAF, the US Army, the Joint Chief's press office, Ft. Sam Houston inTexas, the President's office and the Vice-President's office.
He also contacted numerous other departments, including health departments and the Surgeon General's office. Vasquez wrote to the latter because on sifting through local newspapers of the time, he discovered one whose headline shot off the page: "Measles Outbreak Strikes Post's Troops"
It was referring to a reported outbreak of measles at Ft. Benning. More to the point, they were referring to his battalion, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry.
Other health departments had previously advised Vasquez to contact the Walter Reid Medical Center in Washington D.C., who should have had details about the outbreak. He corresponded with a Dr. Rugal. Ph.D., who. on reading copies of the newspaper reports concerned, wrote back and said: "This is an unusual outbreak. There are no records."
Dr. Rugal told Vasquez that his main concern was that Walter Reid never sent a medical team to study the supposed outbreak, some thing they would have been automatically required to do had it been genuine. "We should have," wrote Dr. Rugal, "it's a whole battalion."
Another local newspaper at the time made mention of the fact that a JAWS test had been conducted at Ft. Benning.
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