November 5, 2012

Megan:  Is he awake?

Philip:  He’s in and out. He’s been asking for us and really seems to get agitated when we both are not around.  It’s almost as if he has something to say but wants us both to hear it.  I’m thinking he’s intentionally hanging on until he gives us his message, maybe the last message.

Megan:  Should we ask the doctor to increase the morphine drip?

Philip:  There are no signs his level of pain has increased.    As a matter of fact, he sometimes seems to be almost blissful.  But other times, he really gets worked up.   I don’t know if it’s the medication or not.  I feel maybe he’s hallucinating; then again, I’m not too sure.    He will blurt out strange phrases:  no transponder, looks like hieroglyphics, vanished into thin air.  Really strange.  I called the nurse once when he was talking crazy and she felt it was the medication.   But through all that, he seems to actually want, no need, to give us a message.   He keeps asking for you.  I think he probably knows I’m here but you were not.  I told him you had to go home to check on the kids.  That seemed to calm him down.  I actually think he understood.

Megan:   Dad, it’s Megan, I’m here.   Philip and I are both here.  Can you hear us?  Can you talk to us?     Philip, why don’t you go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat?  Take a break.  I’ll call you if there are any changes or he wakes up.

Philip:  OK, I could use a break.  I’ll call home to make sure everything is OK, get a quick bite to eat and come back up.  Call me on the cell if he wakes up and wants to talk.

Megan:  OK

Brigadier General Charles O’Malley MacLellyan had been in declining health for some years.  First it was the mild hart attack necessitating the insertion of a pacemaker, then a bout with pneumonia, now discovery of a mass on his liver.  A biopsy indicated the mass to be cancerous.   Charles was 84 years old and as with so many senior citizens, life had caught up with him.  It had been a life replete with accomplishments: graduate of the Navel Academy, commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp, flight school where he learned to fly the “hot ones”, married for 49 years to the same lovely lady, three kids, eleven grandkids, and retirement as a “Brig”. Life could have been less kind.  General MacLellyan was a self-starter and that wonderful gene had been passed down to his kids and his grandkids.   Philip was an architect just completing a PhD and Megan, with a Masters Degree in Finance, was a hedge fund manager living in New York.   When General MacLellyan was diagnosed with cancer, the entire family refused to allow him to sink into depression.  They made sure a course towards regaining health was “the program of the day”.  Frequent visits from the family, day trips, movies, plenty of telephone calls from the kids and grandkids; all helped to maintain his resolve and optimism.   Radiation, chemo, then surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue.  For a year and eleven months, he beat the demon.  The recurrence started with mild discomfort then considerable pain.  Return trips confirmed the cancer had spread and doctors indicated it was only a matter of time.  He was advised to put his affairs in order and was given four maybe five months at the most.  From the diagnosis until he was bedridden was exactly twenty-one months.  Through it all, he maintained his dignity and most days, his sense of humor.  Everyone thought his resolve was legendary.  Things were moving quickly and now it was only a matter of time, maybe hours, before he would slip away.

After graduating from the Navel Academy, Second Lieutenant MacLellyan shipped off to flight school where he got his “ticket” to fly the F-4B Phantom.  The Phantom, at that time, was the hottest jet in the fleet and was a dream to fly.    A picture of that aircraft is shown below.  You will notice it is the carrier version.

Charles was stationed on the Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth United States naval vessel to bear that name. Like her predecessor of World War II fame, she is nicknamed the “Big E”.  At 1,123 ft (342 m), the longest naval vessel in the world.   Take a look at several very interesting general specifications for the Enterprise:

  • Class and type:
Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
  • Displacement:
93,284 long tons (94,781 t) Full Load
  • Length:
1,123 ft (342 m)
  • Beam:
132.8 ft (40.5 m) (waterline)
257.2 ft (78.4 m)
  • Draft:
39 ft (12 m)
  • Propulsion:
8 × Westinghouse A2W nuclear reactors
four sets Westinghouse geared steam turbines, 4 × shafts
280,000  SHP(210 MW)
  • Speed:
33.6 kn (38.7 mph; 62.2 km/h)
  • Range:
Unlimited distance; 20-25 years
  • Complement:
5,828 (maximum)
Ship’s company: 3,000 (2,700 Sailors, 150 Chiefs, 150 Officers)Air wing: 1,800 (250 pilots, and 1,550 support personnel)

Enterprise was a floating city and being his first duty assignment, Charles was delighted.   He flew 77 missions over Viet Nam before reassignment to Pensacola, Florida as a flight instructor.  Good duty and at least, no one was shooting at him.  That’s where he met Eleanor James.   Eleanor was to become the first and only Mrs. MacLellyan.  Tragically, Eleanor died in an automobile accident three days after their forty-ninth wedding anniversary.  Drunk driver!  Charles never remarried.

Megan:  Its Philip.   He’s coming around.  I honestly think he feels like talking.  He just whispered “where is Phil?”

Philip:  I’m coming right now.  Give me about five minutes and I’ll be there.

Megan:  How do you feel dad?  Any pain?  Do I need to call the nurse?

Charles:  I do have some pain but if we increase the medication I won’t stay lucid enough to tell you the story.  I’ve got to tell you both the story and then you can decide if I’m sane or insane.   Philip is coming right?  I’ve kept this  secret for about thirty years and now it’s time to open the windows.  Clear the air.

Megan:  He’s coming.  I just called him. He’s on the way.

Megan had no earthly idea as to what the story might be and waited with some dread until Philip came into the room.

Philip:  Hello dad.  You’re not looking all that bad.  Maybe we can squeeze a few more years into your immediate plans.

Charles:  You always were the best liar on the planet, not to mention the most optimistic person I know.  I am not laying here under any pretenses.   I know I’m in trouble and even though I hate to leave I’m leaving with two kids perfectly capable of going on after me.   It’s been a great life, I have absolutely no regrets.  Philip, would you come around to this side of the bed so I can start this story without having to raise my voice too much.  It’s tiring and you will understand why when you start to realize what I’m saying.    With that being said, Major General Charles O. MacLellyan started speaking:

“You both know that in 1974 I was stationed in Pensacola as a flight instructor.   Great duty and I enjoyed the Florida sun along with the instruction.  During the days after Viet Nam there were few Navy and Marine officers approved for flight school due to the numbers needed during the war.  That gave us more than enough time to get these kids additional training not allowed during the hostilities.  It was good duty.  Towards the end of ’74 I was asked to ferry an F-4 to Miramar for the “Top Gun” candidates.  Of course that’s cross-country and I jumped at the opportunity to do so.  I left at 0634 one morning, hoping to get there with enough time to catch a space-available flight back to Pensacola later that evening.  The flight was absolutely uneventful for over an hour.  I had a tanker waiting for me about half way through the flight and the transfer of fuel was also uneventful.  Thirty plus thousand feet, blue sky, no appreciable turbulence, all systems working properly, all was well with the world.  I suddenly noticed a small but very bright light off my right wing but,  felt it was a commercial aircraft headed east.  I gave it no real thought until I noticed it growing larger in size.  Then it dawned on me it could be headed in my direction.   I was flying IFR so I called the center and asked if they had me on radar.  At that time I was instructed to squak-ident for a positive identification.  They gave me the codes; I put them in and hit the button. 

Center:  “We have you JV 309”

At that time the Center radioed Mac and gave him longitude, latitude, air speed and elevation.

Charles: Center, do you have the airplane off my starboard side also?

Center: Negative 309, we see nothing in the area at all. 

Charles:  You must have something.   It appears to be approaching because the image is getting larger.

Center:  Can you describe the plane?

Charles:  I can see no real definition right now.  Just a very shiny reflection.  No discernible features, which is odd in itself.

Center:  Can you tell the elevation?

Charles:  It appears to be somewhat higher than me and I’m 32,000 feet.

Center:   309 we want you to squak-ident the following numbers, 4-8- 3-7. Right now.

Charles:  Squak-ident 4-8-3-7 NOW.

Center:  We have you but we don’t have the other bird.  Do you still see it?

Charles:  Affirmative

Center:  Very strange.  All we can recommend is for you to keep an eye on the object and contact us again if we need to authorize a heading or altitude change.   We want to know if evasive action becomes necessary.

Charles:  Roger that.

At this point I was completely baffled as to why Center could not read the second plane, or object or whatever.   I pulled my WAC charts to find the location of Area 51 thinking maybe this was a test flight for some advanced fighter with stealth capabilities.  We all knew the DOD was working in that direction and maybe the spooks had made a breakthrough and detection by radar was not possible.  51 was not that far north and that was the only reason I could think of the Center could not detect the plane.   In a heartbeat the object appeared on my starboard side.  It actually seemed to come out of nowhere.   I certainly could see it now.  How can anything accelerate that fast?

Charles:  Center, can you see this thing now?

Center:  Negative 309.

Charles:  How can you miss it?  It’s big as a damn house and its glowing white hot.  How could anyone miss this thing?  What is it?  What are the boys in Area 51 doing? 

Center:    Take evasive action?  Do it now.

Charles:  Roger that.

I put the F -4 into a dive, losing altitude at 3,500 feet per minute.  The glowing object followed me without losing position.  It was as though I was looking into a mirror.  My entire plane was bathed in the glow from the object.  I say object because I could see no wings, no vertical stabilizer, no flaps, no cowling.  It appeared to be completely smooth with no parting surfaces at all.  I had never seen anything like this in my life.   I started to maneuver turning left away from the craft.  Then climbing. Then diving again.  I could not shake this thing at all.  Then I decided enough was enough.  I quickly turned directly into the object.  It made the same move instantaneously.   I decided to level out and take a better look to see if there were any distinguishing marks.  I looked for lettering that might indicate aircraft number or any writing that would indicate warning, caution, etc.  Our planes have those tattooed all over the surface to aid maintenance personnel and warn them of any dangers from exhaust, static discharge, etc.   I pulled my visor down to block the intensity of the light radiating from the surface.  This helped somewhat.  Enough to see very faint markings on one surface slightly under the plane.  At first, I thought the marks might be abrasions or dents or scratches but then I noticed several of the characters were repeated in a fashion that seemed to resemble words in a sentence.  I am not bi-lingual much less multi-lingual but these marks looked unlike anything I have ever seen.  Then, the object disappeared as quickly as it appeared.  It was simply gone.

Charles:  Center, do you still have me on radar?  Can you see me?

Center:  Affirmative 309.  We see you.

Charles:  The object is gone.  Simply disappeared.

Center:   We never had indication as to its presence at all.  Not at all.

By this time I was thoroughly drained.     Mentally exhausted.  I decided to land at the Yuma Navel Air Station and collect my thoughts.  Spend the night.  Drink a beer and think about this.  I really needed to see if there was any damage to my plane due to the glow.  All systems were green and everything seemed to be operating properly but I wanted to check to make sure there was no damage.   I called the Center and indicated my intentions.  They in turn notified Yuma and gave me instructions to begin my descent.   Twenty minutes later I was taxing up to the tower to spend the night.  I checked all surfaces and saw no damage. No burn marks, no abrasions, no dents or scratches.  It was as if this event never happened.   I have been a pilot long enough to know that for even the shortest trips you always plan for having to stay over night.  Weather alone can go south on you and its always better to be down her wishing you were up there instead of up there wishing you were down here.   After calling a cab from base ops, I called home to tell Ellie I was delayed and would have to be staying overnight but would be home tomorrow.  I then called my commander and indicated to him the need for a layover.  I did not tell either about the incident.  That was a story to be considered during the evening.  I checked in to a Best Western, put down my gear and headed for that cold beer and a steak. 

Charles:  Can you please tell me where I can get dinner?  Any place within walking distance with decent food?

Hotel Clerk:  You bet Major, about two blocks down the road there is a place called Dining In.  It’s definitely the best place in Yuma.  Has the coldest beers and the best steaks.  Great fries and onion rings also.

Charles:  Good enough and thanks.

  The kid was right.  The steak was out of sight and the beer was on tap and Guinness.   Not too many restaurants served Guinness in these parts so when you find it you had better tank up.  During the dinner Charles tried to remember the events of the flight up to, during and after he saw the object.

 Charles:  Waiter, would you mind finding me a piece of paper?  I need to jot something down.

Waiter:  You bet.  Be back in a minute.

 When the waiter came back, Charles tried to remember the marks on the vessel.  He tried to associate the repetition of several to see if there might be some logic to their placement within the total stream.   They seemed to be random but then again there was some form of sequence.   He decided to investigate after he got back to see if there was rhyme or reason to markings.  Charles had a good friend who was a linguist for the Department of Languages at the University of Florida.  He would show him the markings and see if they were recognizable.   He did decide to keep this quiet until further study was undertaken.

Charles: Great steak.  I hope to come back some day.

Waiter:  Where are you stationed Major?

Charles:    Pensacola.  Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

Waiter:   Beautiful part of the country.  Headed for Miramar?

Charles:  Yes, will be there tomorrow. 

Waiter:  Have a good one.

Charles:   Will do and you also.

 Walking back to the hotel, Charles realized the waiter mentioned Miramar.  How did that kid know that?  Where on earth did he get information about the destination?  Charles was too tired to go back and ask that question so he kept trudging towards the hotel.  As he approached his room he heard the following:

“Major MacLellylan, have a minute?

Charles:  Who are you and how do you know my name?

Voice:  We know quite a few things ,Major.

Charles:  Just who the hell are you guys?

At that time, both men presented Charles with identification.  Both were field agents for the CIA.  They were on a mission.

Agent 1:  Can we talk Major?

Charles:  Just what do we have to talk about?

Agent 1:  We need to know more about one specific event during your flight from Pensacola.  The object you saw just west of here.  The one at 32,000 feet.

Charles:  You know about that?

Agent 2:  Yes and we are very interested in what you know and what you saw.  Can we come in to discuss the flight?

Charles:  What choice do I have?

Agent 2:  Absolutely none.

 Charles:  How do I know you guys are who you say you are?  How do I check you out? Why should I not call the police right now?

Agent 1:  That would be a big mistake.  We have friends in high places and your career would be over in a heart beat.

At that point, I opened the door and we moved inside the room.

Agent 1:  We may as well start from the beginning.  Please relate all of the events from the time you first saw the object until you decided to land at Yuma.

 All of the events from the day were told and retold.  Questions asked—questions answered.  Charles really had no doubts these guys were who they say they were so he cooperated completely.  This “interview” lasted for over an hour.

Charles:  Look guys, I’ m flying back to Miramar then to Pensacola tomorrow and I need to get some sleep.  I’ve told you all I know.  I have not omitted any details.  There was a certain degree of panic when the object got as close as it did so I certainly don’t remember every detail that happened.  How about we call it a day and you guys move on. 

Agent 2:  We can do that but no word about us being here and certainly no word about the events of this afternoon.  No word whatsoever.  This one stays in the bag until you hear from us again.

Charles:  What do you mean hear from us again?  I want this to be over. 

Agent 1:  Just relax Major.  We work for people also.  We will get back with you when the suits tell us what to do.  In the meantime no word.  Understand?

Charles:  I don’t really know who would believe me anyway.  OK, now how about letting me get some sleep.

 The flight back to Pensacola was uneventful and MacLellyan was glad to get home, get back to work and put this episode behind him.  He mentioned nothing to Ellie or anyone else about the occurrence because shortly after his arrival home he heard from Langley.  We pick up the conversation in his own words as he describes the events following the flight to his children as he from the hospital bed.  

Charles:  I don’t know if either of you believe me or not but this did happen and it happened just as I mentioned.  One thing, Ellie told me she had two visitors from the CIA a few days after my arrival home.  From her description, they were the same two birds who visited me in Yuma.  Description was the very same.  They did not mention my experience but they did indicate they were doing a background check for a possible position that would give me that first star.  I felt it was a totally fictitious story but she believed it.  Two weeks later I was called in to Col. Sharpton’s office.  He was my commanding officer at the time.   When I arrived the same two agents were there as well as their supervisor.   I was ordered to keep quiet or there would be considerable repercussions relative to my advancement and I would find myself working for PanAm if flying at all.  The events of the flight to Miramar were considered confidential and were never to be told—never, including life after the Marine Corp.  I have kept that confidence until now.  It seems fruitless at this point not to mention to you both what happened and to tell you that to this day I have no idea as to what I saw.  I do have a confession.  The paper I used to jot down the marking on the craft I’ve kept over the years.  I did not tell the agents or anyone else about them being in my possession.  I felt the only thing between me and sanity over all these years was going back, taking a look and trying to research their meaning.  You will find that piece of paper in my briefcase by the bedroom door upstairs.  All these years I kept it in the attic for safe-keeping.  I want you both to take a look and continue trying to find the meaning to the words.  I ‘ve done enough investigation to know they are words and not just marks.  Greatly similar to ancient Coptic script.  Very similar.

Major General Charles O’Malley MacLellyan died three days later.  His funeral was conducted , his life was celebrated, his memory lives on.   Phillip and Megan still have the paper given to them by their father.  They are still trying to find out the meaning to the words their father saw that evening long ago.   There are those times when both feel they are being followed.  There are those times in which they both think someone is listening in on their conversations.  At work, at home, on vacation, even in church.  Someone always seems to be watching.




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