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|By Frank Warren|
The UFO Chronicles
The year 1966 was very active for UFOs in this country; in particular sightings were heavy in the state of Michigan, and understandably people wanted answers. The Air Force back then was still “officially” investigating the phenomenon and tasked “J. Allen Hynek” to “calm the waters” and offer an explanation; the answer he gave would haunt him the rest of his life. He attributed the bulk of the sightings to “swamp gas!”
Then Congressman “Gerald ‘Jerry’ Ford” being a diligent politician and in response to his constituents wrote:
"In the firm belief that the American public deserves a better explanation than that thus far given by the Air Force, I strongly recommend that there be a committee investigation of the UFO phenomena. I think we owe it to the people to establish credibility regarding UFOs and to produce the greatest possible enlightenment of the subject.
I have taken special interest in these (UFO) accounts because many of the latest reported sightings have been made in my home state of Michigan...Because I think there may be substance to some of these reports and because I believe The American people are entitled to a more thorough explanation than has been given them by the Air force to date, I am proposing either the Science and Astronautics Committee or the Armed services Committee of the House, schedule hearings on the subject of UFOs and invite testimony from both the executive branch of the Government and some of the persons who claim to have seen UFOs...In the firm belief that the American public deserves a better explanation than that thus far given by the Air Force, I strongly recommend that there be a committee investigation of the UFO phenomena. I think we owe it to the people to establish credibility regarding UFOs and to produce the greatest possible enlightenment on this subject."
That specific letter was received by the "House Armed Services committee" and the "House Science and Astronautics Committee" in order to instigate hearings on the matter; Ford’s efforts weren’t met with great enthusiasm; however, he did in fact get the ball rolling, and a “Congressional Symposium” did later take place, ironically chaired by then Congressman “Donald Rumsfeld.”
In a radio broadcast to his constituents on March 30, 1966 Ford stated:
"My friends of the fifth congressional district, this is your congressman, Jerry Ford, speaking to you from the nation’s capitol.The Air Force, and in particular, Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla, the “Director of Project Blue Book” (The Air Force’s official investigation of the UFO Phenomenon) wasn’t happy with Ford’s statements, and obvious jab at the Air Force’s “lack of results” with “their” investigation of phenomenon.
As you know, I have requested a congressional investigation of unidentified flying objects, UFO’s, as they are called.
I am most serious about this; this is the kind of subject that lens itself to some flak, a little criticism, and a shower of compliments.
One day this week, I felt an unidentified flying object whiz past my ear--my right ear naturally. Upon close inspection, I had no more trouble identifying this particular UFO than the Air Force did in telling the people of Michigan they have been seeing swamp gas.
The UFO I encountered was a brickbat tossed by an irate gentleman who believes Congress could use its time to much better advantage than in investigating what he calls "UFO hysteria."
But this is one of the few criticisms I encountered in the more than 50 letters that I received since first proposing that UFO’s be investigated by either the House Armed Services Committee or the House Science and Astronautics Committee.
. . . And I do think that the American people want a better explanation of UFO’s than they have been getting. If my mail is any indication, there are many, many people who find it extremely difficult to believe some of the stories put out by the government on this and other subjects.
This is your congressman, Jerry Ford, saying--so--long for now, and I’ll see you nest week at this same time, same station."
"Congressman Gerald Ford got on the UFO bandwagon. It just so happens that Dexter was in Congressman Ford’s district. It was pure politics and he made the national news by demanding that either the Science and Astronautics Committee or the Armed Services Committee schedule hearings on the subject of UFOs....Congressman Ford did get his wish, a congressional hearing was imminent. Someone should ask Congressman Ford what it cost the American taxpayer to hold that hearing and ask him if he would like to reimburse for the expense; because that hearing was totally unnecessary."On April 21st, 1966 Ford wrote:
"As I had expected, some persons have been ridiculed by the call for a congressional investigated of unidentified flying objects (UFO’s). These people are a fraction of those who have given their reaction to my proposal. The overwhelming majority of those expressing a view in letters to me believe a congressional investigation would be useful and is needed.He further stated:
Those who scoff at the idea of a congressional investigation of UFO’s apparently are unaware that the House Armed services Committee has scheduled a closed- door hearing on the matter Tuesday with the Air Force and that rep. Joseph E. Karth, D-Minn., headed a three man sub-committee which held two days of hush-hush hearings five years ago on behalf of the Science and Astronautics Committee. Karth has confirmed in conversation with a member of my staff that he conducted these secret hearings.
The present Science and Astronautics Committee chairman, Rep. George P. Millar, D. Calif., has shied away from the UFO problem at this time, saying his committee does not have the jurisdiction over the Air Force. But the late Rep. Overton Brooks, D.La., obviously had different ideas because he tapped Karth to summon Air Force witnesses and question them after a flurry of sightings in 1961.
Karth has informed me that his subcommittee made an oral report to the full committee but never released anything to the public. According to Charles F. Ducander, the committee staff director, no record was made of the conversation between Karth subcommittee and the Air Force witnesses. The hearings, he said, took place in Karth’s congressional office.
I have never said that I believe any of the reported UFO sightings indicate visits to earth from another planet. Apart from the pranks and natural phenomena, some of these objects may well be products of experimentation by our own military. If this is so, why doesn’t the Air Force concede it and in this way reassure the American people/ there would be no need to go into detail on the nature of the experiments."
The Air Force has informed me it is arranging for a study by high-caliber scientists of some of the UFO sightings which have never been explained.This of course did come to fruition and was the culmination of the Air Force's 20+ years of investigating the "UFO phenomenon," i.e., the "Condon Report."
This study will be placed under contract soon after July 1, start of the new fiscal year. It will be carried out by a university which has no close ties with the Air Force so that the findings will be completely objective, Air Force officials tell me.
Those people engaged in the study will be high-caliber scientists who have never taken a position on UFO’s, the Air Force said. It will be made clear to them that they are not being hired to come up with findings in support of previous Air Force statements regarding UFO’s, I am informed.
The Air Force said there is too much effort involved to ask these scientists to make this study without pay.
The report will definitely be made public, The Air Force assured me. The whole purpose of the study is to make clear the air as far as the public is concerned.
This, of course, was my purpose in recently requesting that public hearings on the subject of UFO’s be conducted by either the Armed Services Committee or the House Science and Astronautics Committee.
It was as a result of my call for a congressional investigation that the Air Force now is arranging for a study of UFO’s by topflight scientists not connected in any way with the Air Force.
I would have preferred a congressional investigation with witnesses to include reliable persons from among those who say they have seen UFO’s. I still think this would be beneficial. But the UFO study by a panel of scientists, with the report to be made public, is a step in the right direction.
Perhaps to no one's surprise, "after" Ford became president "it seemed" his "interest in UFOs" waned; years later he would comment:
"During my public career in Congress, as Vice President and President, I made various requests for information on UFOs. The official authorities always denied the UFO allegations."As the nation mourns former President Gerald Ford, and remembers his many contributions, undoubtedly much will be attributed to him in regards to the healing of our country post Nixon & Watergate etc.; however, for those of us who pay attention to such matters, we will also herald his "lesser known" contributions made in the effort to unravel the "UFO enigma."
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