people in the field who had previously been free with opinions now clammed up tight.
The era of confusion was progressing.
Early statements to the press, which shaped the opinion of the public, didn't reduce the confusion factor. While ATIC was grimly expending maximum effort in a serious study, "certain high-placed officials" were officially chuckling at the mention of UFO's.
In July 1947 an International News Service wire story quoted the public relations officer at Wright Field as saying, "So far we haven't found anything to confirm that saucers exist. We don't think they are guided missiles." He went on to say, "As things are now, they appear to be either a phenomenon or a figment of somebody's imagination."
A few weeks later a lieutenant colonel who was Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Fourth Air Force was widely quoted as saying, "There is no basis for belief in flying saucers in the Tacoma area [referring to a UFO sighting in the area of Tacoma, Washington], or any other area."
The "experts," in their stories of saucer lore, have said that these brush-offs of the UFO sightings were intentional smoke screens to cover the facts by adding confusion. This is not true; it was merely a lack of coordination. But had the Air Force tried to throw up a screen of confusion, they couldn't have done a better job.
When the lieutenant colonel from the Fourth Air Force made his widely publicized denunciation of saucer believers he specifically mentioned a UFO report from the Tacoma, Washington, area.
The report of the investigation of this incident, the Maury Island Mystery, was one of the most detailed reports of the early UFO era. The report that we had in our files had been pieced together by Air Force Intelligence and other agencies because the two intelligence officers who started the investigation couldn't finish it. They were dead.
For the Air Force the story started on July 31, 1947, when Lieutenant Frank Brown, an intelligence agent at Hamilton AFB, California, received a long-distance phone call. The caller was a man whom 111 call Simpson, who had met Brown when Brown investigated an earlier UFO sighting, and he had a hot lead on another UFO incident. He had just talked to two Tacoma Harbor patrolmen. One of them had seen six UFO's hover over his patrol boat and spew out chunks of odd metal. Simpson had some of the pieces of the metal.
The story sounded good to Lieutenant Brown, so he reported it to his chief.
His chief OK'd a trip and within an hour Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson were flying to Tacoma in an Air Force B-25. When they arrived they met Simpson and an airline pilot friend of his in Simpson's hotel room. After the usual round of introductions Simpson told Brown and Davidson that he had received a letter from a Chicago publisher asking him, Simpson, to investigate this case. The publisher had paid him $200 and wanted an exclusive on the story, but things were getting too hot, Simpson wanted the military to take over.
Simpson went on to say that he had heard about the experience off Maury Island but that he wanted Brown and Davidson to hear it firsthand. He had called the two harbor patrolmen and they were on their way to the hotel. They arrived and they told their story.
I'll call these two men Jackson and Richards although these aren't their real names. In June 1947, Jackson said, his crew, his son, and the son's dog were on his patrol boat patrolling near Maury Island, an island in Puget Sound, about 3 miles from Tacoma. It was a gray day, with a solid cloud deck down at about 2,500 feet. Suddenly everyone on the boat noticed six "doughnut-shaped" objects, just under the clouds, headed toward the boat. They came closer and closer, and when they were about 500 feet over the boat they stopped. One of the doughnut-shaped objects seemed to be in trouble as the other five were hovering around it. They were close, and everybody got a good look. The UFO's were about 100 feet in diameter, with the "hole in the doughnut" being about 25 feet in diameter. They were a silver color and made absolutely no noise. Each object had large portholes around the edge.
As the five UFO's circled the sixth, Jackson recalled, one of them came in and appeared to make contact with the disabled craft. The two objects maintained contact for a few minutes, then began to separate. While this was going on, Jackson was taking photos. Just as they began to separate, there was a dull "thud" and the next second the UFO began to spew out sheets of very light metal from the hole in the center. As these were fluttering to the water, the UFO began to throw out a harder, rocklike material. Some of it landed on the beach of Maury Island. Jackson took his crew and headed toward the beach of Maury Island, but not before the boat was damaged, his son's arm had been injured, and the dog killed. As they reached the island they looked up and saw that the UFO's were leaving the area at high speed. The harbor patrolman went on to tell how he scooped up several chunks of the metal from the beach and boarded the patrol boat. He tried to use his radio to summon aid, but for some unusual reason the interference was so bad he couldn't even call the three miles to his