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The Hard Road to Belief

UFO Shot Down By Missile - Michigan 1964

Copyright © 2011 Robert Harvey

I was only 11 years old in 1964, when I witnessed a UFO through the large picture-window of my family’s living room. A perfect silver-chrome sphere, floating motionless in the darkening bluer-than-blue sky of early twilight. Upon first catching sight of it in the corner of my eye, I was astounded by the awesome, strange, and majestic sight. It was, and still is, the most beautiful image in my now quite extensive memory. For me then, as a young boy, it was certainly no less powerful than the truest religious experience.

As I watched, mesmerized at the sight, marveling in its image of perfect serenity, it was struck by a ground-to-air missile, and fell, in a shower of shattered pieces, to the earth.

I really can't remember how long it took me to recover from this "shock-upon-shock" incident that my then overwhelmed young mind had experienced. I suddenly felt very alone, standing shocked beyond belief at the scene beyond that picture window. I remember feeling outraged at what I took to be the murder of someone who had traveled from so far away, and the robbery of the chance to meet them. Slowly, I regained enough composure to remember what I was supposed to do. My mother worked the afternoon shift in a nearby factory, and I was alone each day after school until she returned at about 8:30 pm. If anything strange were to happen prior to her arrival, I had been directed to immediately call my uncle for assistance. It must have been at least 20 minutes before I could rotary-dial my uncle's telephone number without my finger jumping out of the holes from violent spasms of uncontrollable shaking.

At first, he thought I was playing some sort of trick on him. I'm not ashamed to say that I pleaded with him tearfully, until finally, he understood and drove immediately to my house to pick me up. I was going to show him the scattered wreckage, so he would know I was telling him the truth, no matter how crazy it had sounded to him.

In his presence, and seeing his excitement, I quickly calmed. I was assured by my confidence in knowing that what I had seen, had actually happened. I soon found out that an 11 year-old's mind wasn't very good at judging distances, however, for the crash-site that I had thought to be only a few miles away, was actually much more distant than that. As time (and more than a few miles) passed, my uncle's disposition seemed to grow darker along with the sky. He was only 8 years older than I, but considered himself to be much my superior.

As he drove his ’51 Ford hotrod along for what seemed like an eternity, the deepening dusk flowed seamlessly into night. Exasperated by this time, he was berating me non-stop for being "a stupid little kid" while attempting to make a ‘U-turn’ at an intersection I did not recognize on the unfamiliar roads, when we saw the searchlights just a short distance away, up the side road. There, in the woods about 100 yards away, appeared to be a dozen or more flashlights shining between the trees, swinging in slow, searching arcs across the ground and even, I remember, up and into the limbs high above. There were the shadows of many more men, besides the ones wielding the flashlights, also seemingly intent on searching the area.

About halfway between the glare of the flashlights and the edge of this gravel road, was parked a flatbed military truck with one very large spotlight mounted on the back. It was positioned, it seemed purposely, in such a way as to block the view from the road of whatever was occurring in the woods.

There were more U.S.A.F. trucks parked along the right-of-way, and 2 jeeps which formed an impassable roadblock to the path ahead of us. My uncle had grown completely silent at first sight of the lights, and only gave me a quick glance as he stopped his car next to the first jeep. A too-young looking guard approached, rifle in hand, and told us very nicely that there was nothing to see. He stated that a 'jet' from Selfridge AFB had crashed, and that we could read all about it in tomorrow's newspaper. He also told my uncle that there were other roadblocks in the area, and the best thing to do was to turn around and go back exactly the way that we had come. It took awhile to turn the car around on that narrow strip of mostly un-travelled road.

My uncle believed the guard, and not me. He didn't stop verbally assaulting me until he dropped me off back at my house. I kept insisting that the guard had lied to us, but he thought for sure that I had witnessed a simple, ordinary, jet crashing, and had made-up the rest of the story. His parting words, as he drove off that night, were an advisement NOT to call him the next time I saw a 'flying saucer'. I felt hurt and betrayed, because he took the word of the guard over mine.

The next day, after enduring an entire Saturday’s barrage of “little green men” jokes and pokes, the paper arrived. He made sure to be at my house when it was delivered, probably so he could give me a good swat with it after reading the 'truth' about the matter. Spreading the paper out on the kitchen table with an over-the-top flourish, he quickly thumbed through it scanning the items within. Upon reaching the back page, his face suddenly became expressionless, but for just a moment. Shaking his head dismissively, he began thumbing through it again, a little slower this time. After the third time through, though, he finally became very serious. Dropping the paper to the table then, he quickly left without a word.

He returned, much later that evening, and told me that he was sorry he had doubted me. This action, I found out later in life, is an exceptionally difficult one to commit. I admire him still for doing that.

Come to find out, he had driven to the surrounding towns and villages, in the direction of the crash, and beyond it, buying the local newspapers from each as he passed through them. Nowhere could he find any mention of a crashed jet aircraft. He had even called Selfridge AFB and inquired about the incident. He said he had hung-up when it became apparent that they, very strongly, wanted HIS name and address for their 'records'. We became the best of friends after that, a friendship which lasted, unwaveringly, for the remaining 36 years of his life.

And, in the span of all those years, I am proud to say, he never doubted me again.

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