On March 24, 1967, ten intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) went offline at an underground launch control facility at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.
Robert Salas, a former USAF captain who had been the nuclear missile crew commander at the time, was on site when the ICBMs became inoperable, coinciding with calls from security personnel aboveground who said they observed an unidentified flying object hovering near the facility’s gate.
Just eight days earlier, a similar incident had occurred where several ICBMs went offline at another of Malmstrom’s launch control facilities. Within months of the incidents, an almost identical series of events would transpire at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, where ICBMs were again disabled coinciding with sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena.
These incidents, and others like them, were the subject of a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, where a panel of former United States Air Force officers related harrowing experiences involving UFOs at nuclear missile launch facilities during the Cold War.
“One of the objectives here is to inform the public at large,” Salas told The Debrief prior to the event. “UFOs have been seen over nuclear weapons facilities, and in some cases disabled those nuclear weapons.”
In addition to the reality of UFO incidents that have occurred at nuclear sites, Salas expressed concern about official secrecy by the United States government, which he accuses of suppressing such information from the public. However, Salas thinks a report on UAP delivered to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) earlier this year may represent a shift in the government’s attitude toward the subject.
“The fact that this phenomenon is real has actually been acknowledged in that ODNI report of June 25,” Salas told The Debrief. “And that’s a first. I’ve never heard that acknowledged by a government agency before.”
“And now the question is, will the government tell us the truth about what they’ve known now for decades, almost 70 years or more?”
Government Officials Go On the Record About UFOs
At Tuesday’s event, Salas and the three other servicemen who joined him presented evidence that ranged from official documentation obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, to personal testimony about their own firsthand experiences.
“We’re not trying to prove anything,” Salas expressed early in the conference, noting that he and his company hoped instead merely to present “the truth as we know it.”
Robert Jamison, a former USAF captain and nuclear missile targeting officer, had been on duty at Malmstrom Air Force Base at the same time Salas was stationed there. One evening in late March 1966, Jamison remembers being tasked with traveling the 160-mile distance to the Oscar Flight launch facility, where several of its missiles had somehow been disabled.
“If a missile falls off alert for no reason whatsoever, we have to go back and completely retarget it, because we don’t know what caused the missile to go off alert, and whether or not it corrupted the targeting information,” Jamison explained.
As Jamison proceeded to the hangar and assembled his team that night, he was met by friends who told him about something unusual that had happened earlier that evening.
“Bob, did you hear what happened?” Jamison recalled one of them asking him. “The sheriff in Roy, Montana… reported a UFO in the area, told the Air Force, and at the same time ten missiles in Oscar Flight went off alert.”
“To go off alert for no reason, and then have ten missiles to go off alert? This never happened before,” Jamison said on Tuesday. However, despite the odds, just one week earlier a similar incident had occurred at Malmstrom where ten ICBMs had similarly gone offline.
“Even though I never saw a flying saucer or a UFO, I do know they exist because they knocked down our missiles,” Jamison said. “That just doesn’t happen every day.”
“They’re very interested in our nuclear weapons, and our methods of delivering nuclear weapons. That’s what concerns me,” Jamison added. “That’s why we’re here today.”
UFOs: A Historical Record of Incidents at Nuclear Sites
Along with the personal testimony provided by participants like Jamison, historical documents and other materials were showcased, which included a video interview with United States Navy Lt. J.G. Bud Clem, who had been part of the Hellcat F6F fighter squadron at Naval Air Station Pasco between January 9 and February 15, 1945. Clem recounted an incident where a fellow pilot in his squadron observed an unidentified aerial object resembling a large orange fireball, which he attempted to intercept near the Hanford facility, which at the time had been a United States plutonium production site.
Seven months after the interview with Clem was conducted by researcher Robert Hastings, who has similarly advocated awareness of issues linking UFO sightings with nuclear facilities, Hastings obtained declassified U.S. Army documents that apparently confirmed that military radar had tracked an unidentified object or aircraft over the Hanford facility in January 1945.
Salas also referenced the controversial Roswell incident of 1947 as an incident where UFOs became associated with sites related to atomic weaponry.
“Roswell Army Air Field was the home of the 509th Bomber Wing,” Salas explained, which conducted the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought World War II to a close.
“At this time it was the only operational atomic base in the country,” Salas added.
Also showcased during the press conference was a memorandum by General Nathan Twining, the chief of the Technical Intelligence Division at Wright Field in 1947, who on September 23 of that year wrote that “The phenomenon is real, and not visionary or fictitious.”
Then shifting attention away from early historical documentation supporting military knowledge of UAP, Salas highlighted a statement from the recent report delivered to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon,” which states there were more than 140 instances of UAP collected since 2019 by the Navy’s UAP Task Force that “probably do represent physical objects.”
“This is a pretty startling admission by the Department of Defense,” Salas said. “I certainly have never seen anything like this before. But essentially they are agreeing with that previous letter from 1947,” in reference again to the Twining Memorandum. This, along with additional historical documentation recovered by Salas and other researchers from the National Archives, and through the Freedom of Information Act over the last several decades that supports the relationship between UFO sightings and nuclear facilities.
The Incident at Vandenberg Air Force Base
Dr. Robert Jacobs, a former USAF lieutenant and missile test photographic officer, also joined the conference remotely from his home in southwest Missouri.
“I was part of a U.S. Air Force coverup for seventeen years,” Jacobs said. An officer in charge of photo-optical instruments at Vandenberg Air Force Base in the 1960s, Jacobs oversaw a 100-man unit that supplied instrumental photography for launches within the Western Range.
“Our duty was to provide coverage for every launch,” Jacobs explained, recounting that many of the missile tests at that time resulted in failures. “Many of the missiles blew up on the pad,” Jacobs explained, noting that engineers wanted to be able to review footage of the tests to aid in troubleshooting problems with the missiles.
Jacobs had been tasked with going to Big Sur to evaluate whether a 2000-inch telescope could be mounted on a mountaintop to help acquire additional side-view observations of missile launches from Vandenberg. On September 14, 1967, an Atlas D missile was launched from Vandenberg, at which time Jacobs had been at the Big Sur facility to aid in operating the telescope, which was equipped for kinetoscope recording with an Image Orthicon tube connected to a 35 mm Mitchell motion picture camera.
“We couldn’t see what the telescope was seeing,” Jacobs explained, noting that the camera equipment prevented them from watching through the telescope in real-time.
“We watched this missile until it went out of sight,” Jacobs said. After successfully recording the launch, the footage was recovered, and Jacobs returned with his team to Vandenburg.
Two days later, Jacobs was called to the office of Major Florenze J. Mansmann, then the Chief Science Officer at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where Mansmann asked him to describe what he observed during the launch.
“There were two guys,” Jacobs recalled. “Two men in gray flannel suits,” who joined Jacobs and Mansmann in the room where a film projector had been set up. After Jacobs described what he and his team had observed, he was asked to sit down and watch the footage of the launch.
“The most amazing thing happened,” Jacobs said, as he recalled watching the missile going through its planned stages. “[The missile] was flying along, going about 8000 miles an hour now.”
“Suddenly, from in the frame we saw an object come in from the same way we were going,” Jacobs explained. “This object flew in, it came up to our warhead, it went around the top of the warhead, fired a beam of light down onto the top of the warhead. It went around to the front of the warhead—remember, we’re all traveling at about 8000 miles an hour here—fired another beam of light, went down below the warhead, fired another beam of light. Went around the way it had come in, fired another beam of light, [and] then it flew out of the frame the same way it had come in.”
“At that point, the warhead tumbled out of space, “Jacobs said.
“When asked what the object was, Jacobs told his superior officer that it looked like they had captured a UFO on film. Jacobs was told never to talk about the incident.
“It was shaped like a flying saucer,” Jacobs added. “How could such a thing happen? That thing was up there. I saw it, it was on film.”
“What had happened to me [was] my world changed,” Jacobs remembers. “My worldview changed, but I was under orders to shut up, so I shut up… part of the U.S. Air Force coverup, in fact.”
Jacobs, who went on to host a late-night radio program several years later, eventually talked about his experience on the air. Jacobs said that for years afterward he was subjected to harassment in the form of threatening phone calls, and eventually his termination from a position he held at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh after his supervisor received a letter of complaint from Philip J. Klass, a former senior editor for Aviation Week & Space Technology and noted UFO skeptic.
The ODNI Report: What It Does, and Doesn’t Say
David Schindele, a former USAF captain, also spoke about his experiences on Tuesday. Schindele was a Minuteman ICBM Launch Control Officer and Deputy Commander of a launch crew stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, in September of 1966. At that time, Schindele was involved in an incident where ten ICBM missiles were taken offline while an unidentified aerial object hovered just outside the main gate of the facility.
In addition to addressing his own experience in September 1966, Shindele expressed frustration with the limited historical scope of the assessments made by the Navy’s UAP Task Force in its report earlier this year.
“Let me be very clear,” Schindele said. “The ODNI report did not effectively address the substance of UAP/UFO concerns, as specifically directed and requested,” noting the many decades of military involvement with incidents involving unidentified aerial phenomena.
Schindele also spoke about other participants in historic incidents involving UFOs at nuclear facilities who, because of their oaths to government, will not come forward and speak about their experiences even after many decades.
“We are all proud of our integrity, and the Air Force relied on us because of it,” Schindele said. “However, the Air Force has not been honest with Congress, and the American public.”
“The Air Force continues with this proclamation that UFOs do not exist or pose a threat to National security. I was held hostage to both those lies for about 40 years, and it is past time for the truth to come out and be revealed.”
“Congress and the intelligence community have a responsibility here,” Schindele said, “and others must be released from the burden of holding back the truth.”
“I respectfully suggest that ODNI take another look at its report,” Schindele added, “because I am willing to testify on all of this before a Congressional hearing.”
AATIP and UFOs Over Nuclear Facilities
Former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent Luis Elizondo, a past employee of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence who participated in a Pentagon group that examined aerospace threats, told The Debrief that his program had been aware of such UAP incidents at nuclear facilities.
Elizondo added that while AATIP did not initially have direct access to much of the information related to these incidents, they were aided by the work of researcher Robert Hastings, whose book UFOs & Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites chronicles incidents involving UFOs at nuclear bases that have occurred since the 1940s.
“There was a lot of information we didn’t have access to,” Elizondo told Newton, “but it turns out that Robert Hastings did. He did a fantastic job in his one book about the nuclear connection, and we were able to validate and substantiate exactly what he was saying through intelligence reporting.”
For the veteran servicemen like Salas, Jacobs, and the others who spoke at the National Press Club event on Tuesday, it is time that these incidents receive serious attention not only from the U.S. government, but also from the media.
“What we’re here today to tell you is that this is real,” Dr. Jacobs said from his home in Missouri. “That you folks in the press need to get to it, and tell the story, and tell it correctly,” adding that there had been no indication in the preliminary report sent to the ODNI in June that historical data on UAP collected by government agencies would be made accessible to the Navy’s UAP Task Force going forward.
Will the UAP Task Force Be Reviewing Historical Data on UFOs?
In August, The Debrief reported on the passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (IAA) by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in late July. The bill, which allocates funding and legal authority for various components of the intelligence community (IC), also outlined “the IC’s efforts to assess unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), following up on the work of the UAP Task Force,” as stated in a press release from the office of Committee Chairman Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) after the bill passed.
The current version of the bill calls for quarterly reports that will include information about all reported instances of UAP within the previous 90-day period. The bill also states that “All reported unidentified aerial phenomena-related events that occurred during a time period other than the previous 90 days but were not included in an earlier report” must also be included.
Whether this will include historical information collected during past efforts like Project Blue Book, the long-running systematic investigation of UFOs conducted by the U.S. Air Force from March 1952 until December 17, 1969, remains unclear. However, the bill also contains wording that outlines participation from the Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC). As its unit tasked with analyzing military intelligence on foreign air and space threats, this would appear to mark the USAF’s first official return to UAP investigations since Project Blue Book was terminated.
Although recent legislative efforts like these convey that many politicians in Washington are taking the issue of UFOs seriously, Dr. Robert Jacobs said the events he and his fellow servicemen witnessed have much broader implications.
“This has nothing whatever to do with politics,” Jacobs said. “This is a real event. It is the most important event in the history of mankind.”
For witnesses like Jacobs, the meaning behind UFO events reported at nuclear facilities like these, and at other locations over the years, is both clear and profound.