UFOS And Men In Black, The True Story Of The Maury Island Incident
One Of The First Modern UFO Sightings Occurred In The Pacific Northwest
On June 21, 1947, an intriguing incident unfolded over the picturesque landscapes of Maury Island, nestled within the scenic Puget Sound region. This event, now known as the Maury Island UFO sighting, captivated the attention of both locals and the wider public. It involved the sudden appearance of UFOs and a series of perplexing circumstances that continue to fascinate UFO enthusiasts and researchers alike. Join us as we delve into the details of this enigmatic encounter, exploring the accounts, investigations, and lasting impact of the Maury Island UFO sighting.
During the summer of 1947, a peculiar incident occurred off the coast of Maury Island in South Puget Sound. Harold Dahl, accompanied by his son Christopher, two workers, and their dog, embarked on a routine boating excursion. Harold's primary activity involved collecting floating logs from the Sound to sell to lumber mills.
According to Dahl's account, on June 21 at precisely 2 o'clock in the afternoon, their attention was captured by the sudden appearance of six unidentified flying objects in the sky above their boat. Astonishingly, one of these saucer-shaped crafts abruptly exploded, causing a peculiar metallic substance to rain down from the heavens. Tragically, the family dog lost its life, and Christopher suffered burns on his arm as a result of this unusual occurrence.
The UFO Wrecked Dahl and Crisman's Lives
Dahl claimed that after his son was injured, his boat was damaged, and his dog was killed by UFO debris that the craft steadied itself, rose into the air and zipped away at an impossible speed. He later noted that when he returned to Tacoma he told his superior officer, Fred Crisman, about the incident which led Crisman to investigate the sound. If Dahl, his son, and Crisman were trying to keep this story to themselves they did a poor job because they were soon the talk of Tacoma.
A Second UFO Sighting Brought Kenneth Arnold Into The Fold
Dahl's sighting was actually the first of many UFO incidents in 1947, a fact that lends some credence to his experience.
On June 24, 1947, a private pilot named Kenneth Arnold made a remarkably similar claim to Dahl's. According to Arnold, he witnessed a sequence of nine shiny unidentified flying objects soaring past Mount Rainier. He estimated their speeds to be at least 1,200 miles per hour, a staggering rate.
Given Arnold's expertise as a pilot and his reputable standing as a businessman, his account swiftly gained widespread attention. It ignited a wave of speculation and discussions surrounding UFO sightings and extraterrestrial beings, with concerns arising about potential risks they might pose to the United States and humanity as a whole. The public became captivated by these stories, propelling the topic of unidentified flying objects into the forefront of popular discourse.
The Summer of Saucers
The summer of 1947 found itself under the enigmatic spell of UFOs. It was an era infused with tales of mysterious sightings in the sky, and the sheer amount of UFO accounts birthed a moniker that would stick: "The Summer of the Saucers." One of the most notable incidents unfolded in Roswell, where rumors of a secretive government cover-up swirled around a crashed flying saucer. This atmospheric saga unfolded a mere two years after the conclusion of World War II, further heightening intrigue and speculation. With Kenneth Arnold and Harold Dahl's separate but parallel experiences happening in such short succession it's no surprise that their sightings went viral.
A Third UFO Sighting Within A Month Made The Maury Island Incident All The More Real
On July 4, 1947, Capt. E.J. Smith, his co-pilot, and a stewardess reported witnessing unidentified objects zooming around the Pacific Northwest. Remember, this in only a week after Arnold's sighting and just under two weeks after Dahl's. Smith's sighting was pivotal as it was the first UFO officially catalogued by a professional airline pilot. This all led Smith and the ever-inquisitive Kenneth Arnold into a symbiotic investigative alliance. Together, they joined forces to make the trek to Maury Island in Puget Sound to learn the truth about what happened to Dahl and his son.
Enter: Ray Palmer
Before we go back to Puget Sound there's another very important part of the equation - Ray Palmer, the publisher of Amazing Stories. This pulp magazine featured stories of high fantasy and science fiction all wrapped up in a pseudo-factual style. Palmer was specifically focused on stories about extraterrestrials visiting Earth by way of highly advanced technology. He was fascinated with the way his readers were certain that attacks from both Russia and creatures from beyond the stars were imminent and wanted to get in on the action of a real deal UFO sighting.
Palmer Paid Kenneth Arnold To Interview Dahl
Palmer wanted to speak to Dahl in person, but he also wanted someone who he felt was legit to interview the man as well. He asked Kenneth Arnold to fly to Tacoma to begin an investigation, and after wiring $200 (that's $2,720.74 in 2023, yikes) to the pilot things go underway. Dahl told Arnold:
On June 21, 1947 in the afternoon about two o'clock, I was patrolling the east bay of Maury Island [...] I, as captain, was steering my patrol boat close to the shore of a bay on Maury Island. On board were two crewmen, my fifteen-year-old son and his dog. As I looked up from the wheel on my boat I noticed six very large doughnut-shaped aircraft.
The Craziest Part Of The Story Is Probably (Maybe) Fake
To Arnold, the most intriguing part of Dahl's story was the material that one of the crafts spewed from its center. He said:
[One of the objects] began spewing forth what seemed like thousands of newspapers from somewhere on the inside of its center. These newspapers, which turned out to be a white type of very light weight metal, fluttered to earth.
This news excited Arnold like he was a kid on Christmas morning. He immediately reached out to Army Air Force intelligence officer Lt. Frank M. Brown who made the trip up from Hamilton Field in California with another officer, Captain William L. Davidson, post haste. Unfortunately, the moment the men laid eyes on the material they realized it was nothing more than run of the mill aluminum. The men were so mortified for Arnold that they went back to California without filling him in on their findings. Or at least that's the official story.
Davidson and Brown Died Shortly After Their Investigation
In spite of their disappointment over the aluminum, Davidson and Brown diligently conducted interviews and gathered fragments of evidence, preparing for their return flight from McChord. Tragically, in the early hours of August 1, their journey took a devastating turn when the B-25 Mitchell aircraft they were piloting crashed just outside Kelso, Washington, as they made their way back to California. The fatal crash claimed the lives of both officers, leaving a somber cloud hanging over their mission.
As subsequent events unfolded, further layers were added to the already complex narrative. Crisman and Dahl, in subsequent confessions to Air Force investigators, admitted that they had fabricated the original story. However, the legend that sprouted from their initial account persevered, persisting in the collective consciousness for decades to come. Notably, some writers, including Arnold and Palmer, who penned a book on the case, subtly hinted at a darker truth, insinuating that Davidson and Brown met their untimely demise due to their alleged knowledge of undisclosed secrets.
The day following the tragedy, a series of leaked telephone calls reached McChord, alleging that the ill-fated plane carried UFO-related materials and was intentionally downed to conceal this otherworldly evidence. The leaked calls triggered a storm of controversy and gave birth to claims that the government was actively engaged in concealing the truth, fueling speculations of a large-scale cover-up.
After The Death Of The Servicemen The FBI Got Involved
Following the initial reports by Crisman and Dahl, the FBI assumed the task of unraveling the truth behind their claims. After a thorough investigation, the FBI ultimately determined that the sightings recounted by the two individuals were nothing more than a hoax. Their files documented Dahl's statement, where he confessed his intention to declare it a fabrication to avoid further complications. Moreover, the files shed light on Crisman and Dahl's engagement with various local newspapers and media outlets, sharing alternate versions of their story. The investigation concluded that their motive was to garner attention and publicity, with aspirations of striking a lucrative deal with Fantasy Magazine based in Chicago, Illinois.
The Maury Island Incident Marks The First Sighting Of The Men In Black
As Dahl's story spread across the Pacific Northwest he became a bit of a local celebrity. When a journalist stopped by Dahl’s house they caught Dahl and his wife arguing about the UFO, and his wife allegedly told him to drop the story and tell everyone that it was a hoax. The journalist figured that the whole thing was bunk and decided not to cover the story, but regardless of what he wanted to do the story was out.
The following day, Dahl received a strange visitor in the form a man dressed all in black. The man in black refused to say who he was or who he worked for, but he told Dahl that they were aware of the story and that he should keep his lip zipped. And if Dahl decided to talk? The man in black said there would be consequences.
Dahl and Crisman Agreed To Just Say That The Whole Thing Was A Hoax
Things came to a head on July 31, when Dahl and Crisman attended a meeting at the Winthrop Hotel. The men explained that their story was true but they were getting so much pushback about their story that they just wanted the whole thing to go away. They agreed that if anyone asked them they would say the story was a hoax. The duo then agreed to sign a statement for the Air Force stating that the material that they collected from the craft was not abnormal. These guys just wanted everything to go away.
The Dirtiest Hoax In UFO History
So what's the truth about this UFO sighting? Many true believers state that the Maury Island UFO is the real deal and they point towards the fact that the federal government refuses to openly talk about the sighting is proof that it really happened. However, in 1956, Air Force officer Edward J. Ruppelt wrote:
The whole Maury Island Mystery was a hoax. The first, possibly the second-best, and the dirtiest hoax in the UFO history.
At the time of the Maury Island sighting the U.S. government was putting serious thought into prosecuting the men for perpetuating a story that cost the lives of two men and the loss of a B-25 plane. Rather than pursue charges against the men the government just backed away from the whole story.
Kenneth Arnold Was A Patsy
One theory for how the Maury Island Incident was turned into such a massive story all comes down to Kenneth Arnold's investigation. Author Joe Nickell believes that Raymond A. Palmer, editor of Amazing Stories and Fate Magazine, specifically hired Arnold to investigate the UFO sighting because he's so credible. If that's the case then it would be absolutely machiavellian, but it stranger things have happened.
Fred Crisman Is At The Center Of Multiple Conspiracy Theories
Much of the Maury Island story is centered around Harold Dahl, but the other witness to the alleged UFO was Fred Crisman, a guy who's in the center of more conspiracy theories than Elvis. Crisman was a former fighter pilot from Tacoma, Washington, who's most famously known for claiming to fight "mysterious and evil" subterranean cave creatures in Burma during World War II. He wrote:
I flew my last combat mission on May 26  when I was shot up over Bassein and ditched my ship in Ramaree Roads off Chedubs Island. I was missing five days. I requested leave at Kashmere. I and Capt. (deleted by request) left Srinagar and went to Rudok then through the Khesa pass to the northern foothills of the Kabakoram. We found what we were looking for. We knew what we were searching for... My companion and I fought our way out of a cave with submachine guns. I have two 9" scars on my left arm that came from wounds given me in the cave when I was 50 feet from a moving object of any kind and in perfect silence. The muscles were nearly ripped out. How? I don't know. My friend has a hole the size of a dime in his right bicep. It was seared inside. How we don't know.
Dahl Disappeared, But Crisman Became The Public Face Of The Incident
Crisman wrote about the Maury Island incident in the January 1950 issue of Fate Magazine, and in spite of the fact that he and Dahl stated that they would call the whole thing a hoax in public he seems to have done an about face. Crisman wrote:
Why, if we were such blackguards and deliberately caused the deaths of two Air Force Pilots and the loss of a $150,000 airplane did not the government or some agency there attempt to seek justice through the courts of the state and federal government.
He certainly has a point, but it's even more likely that the government just didn't care.
Was Crisman At The JFK Assassination?
Even if Crisman never saw a UFO in the Pacific Northwest he definitely got around in the world of conspiracy theories. Author Richard E. Sprague writes in his book The Taking of America 1-2-3 that Crisman was a shooter on the grassy knoll. To add fuel to his fire former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison claimed that Crisman was a member of the "Three Tramps," a group of unhoused men arrested by Dallas police following the assassination of President Kennedy. He said:
I suggest the only reasonable conclusion is that he [Crisman] was (and probably is, if still around), an operative at a deep cover level in a long-range, clandestine, intelligence mission directly (in terms of our national intelligence paranoia) related to maintaining national security... Crisman emerges as an operative at a supervisory level ... acquired by the apparatus to carry out the menial jobs that are needed to push a current mission forward, a middle man—in the final analysis—between the mechanics who eliminate, and the handy men, who otherwise support a termination mission, on one hand, and the distant, far removed, deep submerged command level on the other.
Crisman Tripled Down On The Story Before The End Of His Life
Before he passed away in 1975, Crisman changed his story about the Maury Island UFO incident. He stated that instead of a UFO, what he and Dahl saw was a military aircraft illegally dumping radioactive waste into the Sound. As far fetched as many of Crisman's stories are his version of events that include illegal dumping by the U.S. government really aren't that strange.
What Were The Metal Fragments?
The Maury Island Incident made an appearance in the controversial Majestic 12 documents, where it was alleged that the retrieved metal fragments formed a component of a nuclear reactor. According to these documents, the fragments were then handed over to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for further examination. In his 1999 publication, The UFO Investigator's Handbook, Craig Glenday highlighted the Maury Island Incident alongside the Arnold sightings as a significant UFO event centered around Mount Rainier. Glenday referred to the area as a "UFO laboratory," further emphasizing its relevance in the realm of unidentified aerial phenomena.
Although authorities discredited the Maury Island Incident, its place in the earliest lore surrounding UFOs and Men in Black had already taken hold. In 2017, the Washington State Senate even passed a resolution acknowledging the 70th anniversary of the event, further solidifying its significance. Over the years, the island community has maintained a deep interest in their connection to the UFO phenomenon and the role they played in its emergence.
Extensive investigations were conducted by both the Air Force and the FBI, resulting in comprehensive reports on the Maury UFO incident. These reports highlighted various unresolved aspects of the story and ultimately concluded that the claims made by Dahl and Crisman were likely part of a hoax orchestrated by Crisman himself. It was suggested that Crisman's motive behind the fabricated tale was to sell sensational UFO articles to Palmer's magazine. Or, maybe Dahl and Crisman actually came face to face with a UFO.