The recent alarming reports of our military conducting drills and battle practice over some U.S. cities reminded me of an account told to me several years ago. A former co-worker of mine, Eugene, grew up in Los Angeles around the time of the second World War.
In the break room at Hewlett Packard’s building 17 in Palo Alto, California, some of the older guys were talking about their war experiences. Eugene had his own tale for us guys on the night shift.
Late in the evening of February 24, 1942, the then 15 year old Eugene and his brother were awakened by the sounds of multiple explosions. The two looked out of the living room window of their Culver City home to see what all the commotion was about. Sirens were sounding and a total blackout of the Los Angeles metropolitan area was ordered.
Eugene and his family joined their neighbors in their front yards to look at the searchlight beams in the sky. Eugene’s dad pointed out to everyone in his yard that some sort of floating object was at the intersection of the light beams.
The thing soon drifted into a better lit area close to the MGM film studios. Eugene, his family and neighbors noticed how large the object was. Eugene said it was a peach colored, beautiful sight that would always be embedded in his memory.
The sights and sounds of anti-aircraft artillery filled the sky over Culver City and Santa Monica. Eugene said it looked like the craft or object was unaffected by the armaments being fired at it. The shooting continued into the early morning hours of the next day.
People witnessed Army or Navy fighter aircraft flying near the object then turn abruptly away. There was some gunfire from the airplanes, but none of it fazed the unusual object. The craft just continued to slowly drift away to the west.
The next day, the family listened to the radio to find out more about the odd events from the night before. Officials said that the incident was a false alarm because of “war nerves”. After all, the Pearl Harbor attack had only happened somewhat recently.
None of the official statements were satisfactory to the witnesses of the spectacle. Santa Monica Representative Leland Ford requested a Congressional investigation. He claimed that the official press statements only made the incident more mystifying and caused many conspiracy theories to hatch.
Eugene’s father believed the “battle” was some sort of staged event to either drum up hysteria over the war or to give the defense companies an excuse to leave Los Angeles for other parts of the nation where the cost of labor was cheaper.
Regardless of the mystery, the U.S. Army’s 37th Coast Artillery Brigade had been activated. Fighters had been ordered to engage the object. Shooting continued for several hours. Some buildings were damaged by “friendly fire”. Up to five civilians were killed by falling anti-aircraft munitions. Three heart attacks were blamed on the stress of the military’s bombardment. The official military report said that, “…evidence points to meteorological balloons as the cause of the initial alarm.”
The only reason that the front page news story didn’t receive more coverage and investigation is that U.S. involvement in World War Two was coming to a head. In the day to day activities of wartime America there was much to do to aid in the war efforts. Many, many other news stories of military engagements overseas, overshadowed the first modern mass sighting of a UFO by hundreds of people.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that unofficial reports by citizens say that maybe 25 silver colored UFOs were also seen that night.
Somewhere in my archives, I have the actual radio broadcast(s) from that night.
I recall some snippets of it played on Art Bell’s show, many years ago, too.