I worked for Sylvania Electric Systems (Then changed to GTE Government Systems) for 25 years. I worked on the Minuteman program for Twenty years. Sylvania was responsible for building, testing and shipping the Minuteman Ground Electric Systems equipment to Malmstrom and Grand Forks AFBs.
By Ray Fowler
By Ray Fowler
In 1966 and 1967, I was responsible for tracking the testing, deliveries, movements, etc. for this equipment. I was involved on a near daily communicating by phone and at Sylvania with all major contractors in-house and on-site. During this time, I began to hear about UFO sightings taking place on these SAC bases and of course inquired about them with these on-site contractors. I heard that a flight of missiles had shut down at Malmstrom during one of the incidents.
I was curious to find out more so I had the in-house representative for Boeing (Gene Whittington) call the Assistant Base Manager at Malmstrom to ask him about the shut-down. I was with him when he phoned. He had a very short conversation, hung up the phone and glared at me saying that he was told that it was a "hot potato" and that he was not ever to ask about it again. He was not too happy with me for asking him to make the phone call. My phone calls about UFOs dried up.
One of my confidants told me that his phone must have been monitored as he was told by his boss not to share any UFO information with me. During this time, I scratched down elements of information from these calls on note pads for my own information. Some got mislaid over time and some went with my files to Barry Greenwood who may still have what was left in my Minuteman files.
I then left that particular job and became involved with Program Planning and Development and developed a new Cost Schedule Performance program for all contracts. However, because of my prior experience with Minuteman, I was made the in-house representative for the Minuteman Program. During this time I met two Launch Control Officers. One visited Sylvania as part of an orientation. I was introduced to him by our contract administrator named Irwin Saltzman. Irwin joked that I was interested in UFOs. The LCF officer surprised us both by stating that his LCF had been affected by a UFO. It turned out to be the August 25, 1966 incident that Hynek wrote about in the Saturday Evening Post, December 1966.
Still later, I became acquainted with another LCF officer that had joined Sylvania after his discharge. When the subject of UFOs came up one day during our conversation, he amazed me by stating that one time all of his flight of missiles went down. He nervously laughed when he continued that the personnel topside were sighting UFOs. I cannot remember his name and think that mostly likely he did not want his name to be used.
In 1973, the Christian Science Monitor interviewed me about some local UFO sightings. When the reporter, Stephen Webbe found out that I worked on Minuteman, he asked me questions about the missile. I casually mentioned that there was a UFO/Minuteman connection. This led to my telling him about what I had heard about UFOs affecting the capability of the missiles. Most of the interview was about local sightings so I got a big surprise when I returned to work shortly after. I found that SAC(Captain Rick Fuller) had called to complain about a headline story in the Christian Science Monitor about Minuteman being affected by UFOs.
Then, one of the persons working for me happened to be in the Industrial Relations manager's office and heard him talking about me on the telephone. It turned out to be the UFO officer at the Pentagon - Colonel Colman.
I was chewed out by the Department Manager and the Vice President and General Manager was also upset. I was told that there were very unhappy with me if I had used my position at Sylvania to obtain this information. They said that if this were so that the Air Force threatened to send an official letter of displeasure to my file. I immediately thought of Doctor Hynek's article about the incident and said that UFOs affecting minuteman information was in the public domain. Hynek sent me some material and I brought it to the manager. No letter of displeasure was sent. If it had been sent, I could have lost my clearance which would have seriously affected by job.
In the meantime, Stephen Webbe was told by the Air force that the missiles had gone down due to a local power failure!!! I told Stephen that this was absurd and impossible. The missiles had back-up generators and acid (later Lithium built by Sylvania) batteries to keep the missiles operational. I don't think that the good colonel was happy when Stephen got back to him. But, the admission that a flight of missiles did go down was very interesting.
* Special Thanks To Ray Fowler
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