Not surprisingly, National Atomic Testing Museum executive director Allan Palmer has triggered a whinefest for having the gall to sponsor an upcoming lecture billed as “Military UFO Files: Secrets Revealed.” Mainly it’s coming from the How can you sully the Smithsonian brand with little green men? crowd. Palmer doesn’t care. Although the Atomic Testing Museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian, it isn’t a subsidiary. And when it comes to UFOs, like most reasonably intelligent people, the retired Navy commander would prefer an independent inquiry to a laughably outdated government fact sheet.
UFO panel a blast from the past
UFO panel a blast from the past
|By Billy Cox|
“Well it is a little risky, because we’ve got something of a reputation to uphold,” says Palmer, whose remarkable Museum in Las Vegas routinely displays loaner material from the Smithsonian. “But I feel strongly that the (UFO) story has not been covered properly, and that not a lot of true science or analytical thought has gone into it.”
True enough. Ergo, on Sept. 22 in Las Vegas, Palmer is convening five well-vetted panelists — John Alexander, Charles Halt, Nick Pope, Bob Friend and Bill Coleman — for the provocative “Secrets Revealed” discussion. Question: Considering how the collective experiences of these old hands have been bouncing around in the public domain forever, what can they offer that we don’t already know?
Plenty, insists Palmer. For instance, Bill Coleman, the retired Air Force colonel and former Project Blue Book mouthpiece, insists he’s got a “blockbuster” up his sleeve. “I’m 89. I won’t be around much longer,” Coleman says from his home in Indian Harbour Beach. He says he’s resisted multiple third-party efforts to pry it out of him before said date.
Coleman, who once chased a daylight disc in the summer of 1955, only to discover his report had unaccountably vanished from the Blue Book archives, co-produced the “Project UFO” series for NBC in 1978-79. Until several years ago, he was working on a related memoir, but was unable to finish it. But he shared his story with Merv Griffin in the Seventies, as well as on the nationally-televised “UFO Coverup Live” in 1988.
Coleman should fit right in at the Atomic Testing Museum, dedicated to showcasing artifacts from one of the most extraordinarily weird epochs in American history. In the spring of 1955, he volunteered for eyewitness duty at the Nevada Test Site, and he’s lucky to be alive. Get a load of this account, and the twist at the end:
The World War II veteran and 36 military colleagues have settled into 4.5-foot deep trenches bordering the shot tower, maybe 3,000 yards from ground zero, to watch the latest edition of a 14-part nuclear bomb series called Operation Teapot. Actually, they’re not watching it at all; their backs are facing the bomb. Coleman has his head swaddled in blankets. At t-minus 13 seconds on the countdown clock, the wind takes an abrupt shift and blows directly toward the trenches. But it’s too late for ignition abort.
When the bomb goes off (Coleman says he was told the yield was more than 50 kilotons, or nearly three Hiroshimas), he can detect its light through the fabric. Easing up for a peek, he and his trenchmates see an anthropomorphic dummy fixed to a post behind them is ablaze. The needle on the scintillator is pegging into the red, making the zone so hot the command center refuses to send trucks. “I said, ‘Let’s get the hell out of here,’” Coleman recalls, but another officer says no, they’d be getting dusted by fallout the whole march back. So they wind up trekking toward ground zero instead, through the burning “doom town” structures and the blasted armor, including an upside-down heavy tank flung 200 feet from its original anchor. “We were trapped there for four hours,” says Coleman, who came to within 1,200 yards of the fireball’s spread. “I never really quite got over it.”
Coleman hit the decontamination scrub-down twice before he was allowed to leave quarantine. Within three years, he was diagnosed with leukemia. “I asked the doctor how bad it was,” Coleman recalls. “He said ‘Buy as much insurance as you can.’ He gave me four months to live.”
As a last resort, Coleman consulted a family physician, who prescribed two quarts of “some kind of tonic,” he says. Coleman says he never found out the ingredients, but it was a red liquid that tasted awful. “I have no idea what happened,” he says. “But suddenly, the leukemia went away. I’ve got to blame it on the Lord.” So far as Coleman knows, he’s the sole surviving witness from the trench. “All those other guys,” he says, “are dead.”
De Void is betting that nothing new Coleman can offer about UFOs will match a miracle cure for cancer.
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