This story is off topic for StrangeOutdoors.com but I thought it might be interesting for readers of the blog, given the author, Terry Lovelace, ex- Assistant Attorney General for the State of Vermont, until his retirement. He contacted me to tell me he was keen to tell his story and had never disclosed this information for fear of losing his job and/or standing in the legal community. It concerns an incident near Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Make of it what you will.
About Terry Lovelace
I am 64. I spent six years in the USAF. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a law degree from U of M School of Law, TMC campus. I passed the Michigan bar exam on my first attempt and was in private practice until I entered government service for the US Territory of American Samoa. I was an assistant attorney general there for two years and general counsel for their hospital, LBJ Tropical Medical Center for another two. I was elected by my peers as president of the American Samoa Bar Association. Lastly, I was an assistant AG for the State of Vermont where I sat on their Board of Medical Practice until retiring medically in January 2012. I’ve been married for 42 years. My wife and I were active Lions Club members and volunteered our time and efforts for their mission to stop blindness. We have two adult children who live near us in Dallas. I’ve never abused substances or been arrested. But for these events my life has been ordinary in all regard.
His Story from the 1970's
I grew up in urban St Louis City. After graduating from high school in 1973, I joined the USAF and was trained as a medic/EMT. I was stationed permanently at Whiteman Air Force Base (WAFB) for the next 5 ½ years. WAFB was a SAC base, home to a squadron of nuclear armed B-52s. It was also the home of the 351st Strategic Missile Wing, with dozens of missile silos spread across rural Western Missouri. This area was very sparsely populated in the 70s. The air base is a half-day drive north of Devils Den.
I drove an ambulance for the base hospital and worked graveyard shift of 11:00 PM – 8:00 AM. My partner was a younger Airman First Class I’ll refer to as “Toby.” Together, we were first responders to accidents/injuries on base or at any of the missile silos. Toby was from urban Flint, Michigan. He was a twenty-year-old kid with a gift for mathematics. He hoped to attend the University of Michigan and study astronomy. Coincidentally, I attended law school at U of M years later. Toby was an amateur astronomer, and on most warm evenings we sat on the ambulance ramp in lawn chairs and watched the sky, waiting the “crash phone” to ring.
In January 1975 our crash phone rang about 2:00 AM. A missile technician servicing an ICBM fell inside a silo designated Kilo 5. The dispatch was unusually thin on facts and the radio was unusually quiet without the routine “chatter.” I drove the ambulance while Toby navigated. It was 18 miles to Kilo 5 in a desolate area in the middle of a soybean field.
We arrived at a chaotic scene. A dozen Security Police cars and thirty guys with M16s ran around, looking up. I found a captain in charge. He ordered me to park the ambulance and to “stay put.” Then Toby noticed a matt-black diamond shaped object hovering twenty or so feet over Kilo 5. It was as big as a full-size van. I looked for wires or some explanation as to how this thing could just sit in mid-air. Mentally, it was difficult to process. We watched this thing sit for about 15 minutes, then it just shot off to the east from a dead stop to the speed of a bullet without accelerating.
We were “debriefed” and our reports were rewritten. Our CO told us the object was an experimental helicopter and “top secret.” We knew back then he was full of shit and had no idea what we saw. We were sternly warned not to talk about it and were asked to surrender any drawings we may have made.
Two years later my friend Toby are still working the night shift at the ER. One-night Toby suggested we go on a camping trip. I enjoyed wildlife photography and had a new camera I wanted to try. Photography was not allowed on the base. Toby and I were both city kids. Neither one of us had ever been camping in our lives. There were plenty of national forest campgrounds all around us, but Toby convinced me the long drive to Devils Den was worth it because it offered, (1) a high plateau where he could star gaze without light pollution, (2) I could photograph wildlife and scenery. He was against staying at the park’s campground, comparing it to “camping in a parking lot in the woods.” So, we trespassed deep into the nature preserve that was “off-limits” and set up our camp on the edge of a plateau abutting a tree-line.
When we were four hours into our drive south toward the Arkansas border, I realized I left my damn camera on my kitchen counter. It was a big disappointment, but I was determined to make the best of it. We did bring our small tent, insect repellent and sunscreen, and enough food and water for two overnights’.
On our first night we were exhausted from a hike we took when we first arrived, a long drive and setting-up a campsite. About 9:00 PM Toby noticed three stars on the horizon. They made a perfect triangle. They were small at first and moved in perfect unison. It became obvious this was one solid object and not three independent lights orchestrated to move in perfect formation. We watched it ascend and grow closer and much larger until it was directly over top of our campsite. We noticed that as it passed through a star field, it blotted them until it had moved past. Then they would blink back on. So, it was one solid object.
It was odd that at first this thing in the sky made us anxious but that soon dissipated. We noticed the whole forest was now dead silent when an hour earlier it had been alive with crickets and tree frogs. While this thing was over our heads we became abruptly disinterested. We were also suddenly drowsy. Not tired but almost sedated. At midnight we just decided to get in the tent and go to sleep. The apathy puzzles me to this day.
I woke up at 3:00 AM to brilliant multicolor lights, white, yellow, and orange illuminated the inside of our tent. Through a rear small net-window I saw the forest behind us was lit-up like a night game at the ballpark. I noticed my clothing and boots were all askew.
I pushed Toby aside, so we could both look outside toward the meadow. There was an enormous UFO as large as a five-story office building. It was a triangle with each leg being about a city block in length. It was fifty feet tall and sat stationary, thirty feet over the meadow floor. There was a noise too. It was a low bass hum or drone. Not so much loud as it was powerful. It was like standing nest to a running diesel train engine or a large industrial machine.
We saw what I first took to be children walking around the meadow underneath the triangle. There was a column of white light, about thirty feet in diameter shining down from the center of the triangle. We watched as these little people walked into the light and just dissolved, one by one until they were gone. The hum stopped and the corner lights all returned to brilliant white. The white cylinder from the middle stopped and the thing rose about like a hot air balloon. It made a one-third (clockwise?) rotation and continued its ascent, picking up speed until it was high in the sky and then gone.
While we were apathetic earlier, now were scared out of our wits. We abandoned our campsite and ran to the car and drove back to base. Toby left his backpack with his name and base address written inside. This is how they were able to find us so quickly.
Both of us suffered severe sunburn all over our bodies. Even the soles of my feet were burned. We were terribly dehydrated, and we spent a couple days in hospital. The same hospital where we worked. While hospitalized we were interrogated separately by two men in business suits. They identified themselves as special agents from the OSI. The OSI is the “Office of Special Investigations,” it’s the investigative arm of the USAF Security Police. I recall the older man was a major and the younger a captain.
They demanded that I hand over the film I took during the trip. I told them I left my camera at home. My wife backed-up that story but they wouldn’t believe us. My car and home were searched. I was interrogated a second time at OSI Headquarters. They had the mistaken belief I had photographed this thing. God, I wish I had.
My best friend began to drink. He was quickly reassigned, and we were ordered to have no contact with one another until the investigation closed. I learned that Toby began drinking heavily, was divorced and discharged from the USAF. He died homeless on the streets of Flint in 1982.
Intermittently over the next ten years I was plagued with dreadful nightmares about that night. At my wife’s suggestion, I began to keep a journal of my nightmares. I kept a pen and paper by my bedside and did my best to document each nightmare before it evaporated. I think that helped me.
Ever since 1977, I am uncomfortable being outside in open spaces especially after dark. I sleep with a light or the television on. I keep a loaded .380 by my bedside table and a high intensity flashlight. I am uncomfortable around elderly Asian women for some odd reason. I feel anxious at the mall when we walk past a window display with naked mannequins in the window.
Something bad happened to us at Devils Den. My heart goes out to the family of this young man who went missing in August of last year.
There is a post script. I became a non-competitive runner in 1980 and I ran until I had heart problems in 2005. When I ran, there was a spot on my right leg the size of a half dollar that went completely numb every time I passed the two-mile mark. Every time. It would remain numb for thirty or so minutes.
In 2012 I had an x-ray of my leg following an accident. If you look at the x-ray to the very top and far right, you’ll see a metal object the size of a postage stamp. It is directly over what I call “my numb spot.” There is no scar to indicate the site where this thing entered my body. According to a radiologist, absent a scar, I would have to been born with this thing in my leg. The x-ray brought with it intrusive thoughts and terrible images from 1977.
After a 40-year hiatus, nightmares about 1977 have returned and still disturb my sleep.
The book relating to the story "Incident at Devils Den, a true story by Terry Lovelace" can be bought at Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B7HMPPZ