High Strangeness: Little Green Men -- Part VI

Friday, August 11, 2017

Little Green Men -- Part VI

As UFOlogists look into the Kelly-Hopkinsville case, the Air Force performs its own secret investigation...

There is a curious passage in Bud Ledwith’s notarized report on his interviews with Lucky, Miss Glennie and the others. When he was describing the process of creating the composite sketches (in the end he produced three slightly different versions), Ledwith mentioned that someone from the Air Force base was also present: “A PFC from nearby Ft. Campbell had come out to do the same thing I had done earlier with the women, draw an artist’s conception of the ‘little men.’”[1]
Shortly afterward, Ledwith said he offered his sketches to an Air Force officer, “but he expressed no interest.”[2]
These statements, arising as they do from events that transpired within 24 hours of the incident, are significant because over the following days the Air Force went to great pains to appear to take no interest in the Sutton family’s story. Davis reported that two days after the incident Fort Campbell issued a pair of statements to the press: “…first, that there had been no official investigation of the reports of the spaceship and its passengers, and second, that there had been no basis to the report.”[3]
One might find it disingenuous for the Air Force to declare that there was no basis to the report while admitting that there had been no official investigation of that report, but the Kelly-Hopkinsville incident seemed to inspire dramatic episodes of cognitive dissonance within the Air Force, to the point where it is difficult to tell just how many Air Forces there were in operation at the time.
Documents and news clippings from Project Blue Book and the CUFOS case files reveal the efforts the Air Force took to ignore the events at the Sutton farm:
The local Hopkinsville newspaper, for example, reported the next day that, along with the civilian law enforcement officers who had raced to the Sutton farm the night before, “Four MP’s also went.”[4] The article also said that “All sorts of investigations were going on today” in connection with the incident, but that, “Most official of the probes was reportedly being staged by the Air Force.”[5]
Also on the 22nd, The Madisonville, Kentucky Messenger reported that “At least a carload of Military Police sped to the scene” of the Sutton farm the night before.[6]
A story that appeared the same day in the Evansville, Indiana, Press, stated that “The Public Information Office at Ft. Campbell, Ky., several miles from the scene, reported no knowledge of the incident,” but added that Ft. Campbell authorities today sent Major Albert Coren to the scene to investigate, sheriff’s offi­cers said.”[7]
“Chief Greenwell stated definitely that Air Force Intelligence from Fort Campbell was on the scene,” Davis’ report confirmed.[8]
A full year later, in a September 10, 1956 letter to then-new Blue Book project chief Captain George T. Gregory, none other than Dr. Hynek reported that “It was (Hopkinsville Police Chief Greenwell) who stated that the affair was investigated by Air Force officers from Fort Campbell. I understand that MP’s and a Pfc from Fort Campbell investigated at the farmhouse on late Monday afternoon. The Pfc was a Mr. Hodson and his account and pictures were published in the Clarksville Tennessee Leaf Chronicle.
“Chief Greenwell also stated that the affair had been investigated by two men from an unidentified agency at Standiford Field in Louisville, a commercial field,” Hynek reported.[9]
The August 24, 1955 article in the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle mentioned by Hynek relied on Pfc. Hodson’s testimony to an astonishing degree, in fact, and makes it clear that he was assisted in his efforts by the Hopkinsville Police.
On Monday following the inci­dent, Pfc Gary F. Hodson, who works in the Educational Center at Ft. Campbell and is a better than average artist, made the trip to the Sutton farm house with the assistance of the Hopkinsville police,” the article read. “There he talked with all the peo­ple who supposedly saw and fought with the little people who came from space to try to gain entrance to the Sutton home.
“From their descriptions, he was able to draw ‘likenesses’ of the little men which all who saw them agreed was nearly what they had seen. The picture that emerged from Hodson’s pen onto the drawing board is that of a man, if it could be called that (the people had no apparent sex organs), between 2 1/2-3 feet tall. His most notice­able characteristic is a huge head and long dangling arms from which extend appendages resem­bling a cross between hands and claws.”[10]
“Hodson said that the people on the scene all said that the folks came in a conventional flying sau­cer that glowed all over and shot fire from the back end,” the article went on. “One notice­able thing about the saucer, apart from what has already been said, was that there was a rim about it that glowed more brightly than the rest.
“When a reporter asked Hodson his opinion of the story, he said that he still didn’t believe it but that it would be extremely diffi­cult for such a large group of peo­ple to agree on and commit to memory such a large number of details about the appearance of the little men.”[11]
If Hodson’s description of Billy Ray Taylor’s UFO seems suspiciously over-detailed, Ledwith’s report reveals why: After mentioning that Hodson “…came as a private individual. He was not there in any official capacity,”[12] Ledwith confessed that he foisted Billy Ray on Hodson when he realized that Taylor was lavishly embellishing his description of the creature with features no one else had seen. “The sad part of it,” Ledwith wrote, “was that the soldier was swallowing hook, line and sinker, all the new details.
“Taylor was thoroughly enjoying his popularity.”[13]
In addition to being immortalized in the sketches of Ledwith and Hodson, the little men of Kelly-Hopkinsville were also rendered in three-dimensions, according to another amateur investigator who entered the fray some time later. Davis quoted an Albert Andre from Green Brier, Kentucky, who interviewed Miss Glennie sometime in 1959 and came away with this fascinating story:
“Another incident reported by Mr. Andre was a visit to the farm, sometime during this period, by three other investigators from Fort Campbell, who asked for a detailed description of the little men. They returned a few hours later with a model, to have the family confirm its accuracy. No changes were made. Mrs. Lankford said that ‘the man who made it must have known exactly what they looked like.’”[14]
As if that weren’t enough indication that the Air Force had investigated the incident in force at the time the events took place, further evidence came out over 40 years later, when one of the responding state troopers confirmed first-hand that there was an Air Force presence at the Sutton farm that night. In a March 16, 1996 letter to Swedish UFO investigator Clas Svahn, former state trooper Russell N. Ferguson, Jr., wrote, “There were several police agencies there at the time—Kentucky State Police (of which I was one), Hopkinsville City Police, Military Police from Ft. Campbell, Ky.”[15]

            Surely after all this investigation there must have been a very thick file on the Kelly-Hopkinsville incident in the Blue Book offices, not to mention a sculpture of an odd little man that could hardly have escaped attention. But when, in 1957, the Air Force public affairs office learned that a magazine article on the second anniversary of the incident might soon be published, there were no records to be found.
This put ATIC in a complicated position. It was unavoidably clear from existing documents, news clippings and eye-witness testimony that the Air Force had been all over the Sutton farm on August 21-22, 1955—the case was by this time actually being presented in detail in Air Force Intelligence classes as a fully-investigated prototypical UFO hoax—and yet, two years after the fact, there was no case file from which Blue Book could draw information should reporters start to make inquiries. Thus the absurdity of this telling memo from Captain Gregory: “This case which has not yet been brought to the ‘official’ attention of the Air Force, may cause some embarrassment if suddenly submitted ‘cold’ to ATIC.”[16]
How to hide this gaping hole from public view?
“Preparatory countermeasures are considered warranted.”[17]

To that end, a previously anonymous adjutant at Fort Douglas, 1st Lieutenant Charles N. Kirk, was given the formidable task of reconstructing the original investigation, which, as far as anyone at Blue Book knew, had never even occurred. In due course 1st Lt. Kirk came through with a pair of documents that made it look as though Project Blue Book had been on top of the situation from day one.
In the first, a September 17, 1957 letter to Kirk from a Captain Robert J. Hertell of the 3928th Air Base Squadron, Capt. Hertell recounts his recollection of the event: “To my knowledge, the Sutton incident was first investigated, thoroughly so, by the State Highway Patrol, and later by the Sheriff's Office. The incident was never officially reported to the Air Force. In fact, the first I remember hearing about it is when several persons at Campbell brought to my attention an article about the incident which appeared in the local Hopkinsville paper.”[18]
“As for the report that the affair was investigated and reported upon by two Air Force Officers from Campbell Air Force Base, I don’t beleive (sic) that there is any fact in this,” Hertell went on. “I beleive (sic) that a couple of our officers may have gone down—on their own—to view the place, as I heard some talk of this at the time, but Colonel Donald McPherson, the Base Commander certainly never ordered any official investigation, to the best of my knowledge.
            “I seem to remember Captain Benjamin Bennett saying something about going down to see the spot, but since he is still stationed there, surely you have already questioned him regarding this matter.
“The only other officer who may have looked into this matter was the Deputy Base Commander, Major Ziba B. Ogden, now stationed at Westover Air Force Base. I remember the two of us talking about the incident, and he could possibly have been sent to the scene by Col. McPherson, in an unofficial capacity, without my knowing about it.”[19]
Then, after throwing around the names of half the officers on the base, Captain Hertell went to great lengths—to the point of comic overkill—to distance himself from the case: “In closing,” he wrote to Kirk, “I’d like to point out, that out of all the cases that I investigated for the commander and out of all the incidents that happened around Campbell during my three and a half years there, this incident impressed me the least, and furthermore, I was never even remotely connected with it. It follows then, that my memory concerning this incident is rather faulty and I am not even sure exactly when it took place. Therefore I’m afraid I haven’t been of much help, and for this I apologize.”[20]
The second curious document was written only nine days later, by the very same 1st Lt. Kirk. In this official report dated September 26, 1957, Kirk recounted a bizarre statement made to him by a Major John E. Albert about his visit to the Sutton farm the day after the incident.
Maj. Albert—who, it should be noted, was not included in Capt. Hertell’s exhaustive list of names—told Kirk that he was en route to Fort Campbell the morning after the incident when he heard about the UFO sighting on the news. He contacted the Base and asked if anyone there had heard about the flying saucer landing. “They stated that they had not and it was suggested that as long as I was close to the area, that I should determine if there was anything to this report.”[21]
Maj. Albert arrived at the Sutton farm and had this to report after meeting the witnesses: “Mrs. Glennie Lankford was an impoverished widow woman who had grown up in this small community just outside of Hopkinsville, with very little education,” he said. “She belonged to the Holy Roller Church and the night and evening of this occurrence, had gone to a religious meeting and she indicated that the members of the congregation and her two sons and their wives and some friends of her sons’, were also at this religious meeting and were worked up into a frenzy, becoming very emotionally unbalanced and that after the religious meeting, they had discussed this article which she had heard about over the radio and had sent for from the Kingdom Publishers, Fort Worth 1, Texas and they had sent her this article with a picture which appeared to be a little man when it actually was a monkey, painted silver.
“It is my opinion,” Albert told Kelly, “that the report of Mrs. Lankford or her son, Elmer Sutton, was caused by one of two reasons. Either they actually did see what they thought was a little man and at the time, there was a circus in the area and a monkey might have escaped, giving the appearance of a small man. Two, being emotionally upset, and discussing the article and showing pictures of this little monkey, that appeared like a man, their imaginations ran away with them and they really did believe what they saw, which they thought was a little man.”[22]
After pointing out that the window through which Miss Glennie saw the creature was low enough for a small monkey to reach from the ground, Major Albert came to the following conclusion: “It is felt that the Report cannot be substantiated as far as any actual object appearing in the vicinity at that time.”[23]

Of course, if there was no “actual object in the vicinity at that time,” that means there could not have been a monkey at the window. Be that as it may, Major Albert had the foresight to get the following, somewhat reductive sworn statement from Glennie Lankford:
“My name Is Glennie Lankford age 50 and I live at Kelly Station,
Hopkinsville Route 6, Kentucky.
“On Sunday night Aug 21, 55 about 10:30 P. M. I was walking through the hallway which is located in the middle of my house and I looked out south the back door & saw a bright sliver object about two and a half feet tall appearing round. I became excited and did not look at it long enough to see if it had any eyes or move. I was about 15 or 20 feet from it. I fell backward, and then was carried into the bedroom.
“My two sons Elmer Sutton age 25 and his wife Vera age 29, J. C. Sutton age 21 and his wife Aline (sic) age 27 and their friends Billie Taylor, age 21 and his wife June, 18 were all in the house and saw this little man that looked like a monkey.
“About 3:30 A. M. I was in my bedroom and looked out the north window and saw a small silver shinning (sic) object about 2 1/2 feet tall that had its hands on the screen looking in. I called for my sons and they shot at it and it left. I was about 60 feet from it this time. I did not see it anymore.
“I have read the above statement and it is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.”
s/John E. Albert         
s/Glennie Lankford[24]

            It is not known whether the dreaded magazine article commemorating the second anniversary of the Kelly-Hopkinsville incident ever appeared in print, but one could hardly blame the magazine editors if they decided to drop the story altogether once they learned about Major Albert’s silver monkey.
A conservative head count arrives at a total of 13 MPs, officers and Intelligence operatives from Fort Campbell descending on the Sutton farm between August 21st and 22nd, as well as two men from an unknown, possibly civilian agency. At what point does unofficial become official? At least one of the officers was at the Sutton farm at the suggestion of his commanding officer. At least one was there at the direct request of his CO, although perhaps not technically under orders. At least one was with Air Force Intelligence.
This is important.

To Be Continued...

[1] Ibid.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Davis & Bloecher, op.cit.
[4] “Story of Space-Ship, 12 Little Men Being Probed Today,” unattributed, August 22, 1955, Hopkinsville, Kentucky New Era
[5] Ibid.
[7] Kentuckians Report Gun Battle With ‘Little Men From Space,’ by Bill Burleigh, August 22, 1956 Evansville, Indiana Press
[8] Davis & Bloecher, op.cit.
[9] Report to Project Blue Book commander Captain George T. Gregory from Dr. J. Allen Hynek, dated September 10, 1956, reproduced in Isabel Davis’ Kelly-Hopkinsville investigation report.
[10] Kentucky Family ‘Describes’ Mysterious Little Men Who Visited Their Farm In ‘Space Ship,’ unattributed, August 24, 1955, Clarksville, Tennessee Leaf Chronicle
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ledwith, op.cit.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Davis & Bloecher, op.cit.
[15] Letter from Russell N. Ferguson, Jr., to Clas Svahn, March 16, 1996, from the CUFOS collection
[16] Undated Memorandum from Project Blue Book Project Chief Captain George T. Gregory, from the Blue Book files
[17] Ibid.
[18] Letter from Captain Robert J. Hertell to 1st Sgt. Charles M. Kirk, dated September 17, 1957, from the CUFOS collection
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Statement by Major John E. Albert to 1st Lieutenant Charles N. Kirk, 4002D Air Base Squadron, Campbell Air Force Base, dated September 26, 1957, from the CUFOS collection
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Sworn statement by Mrs. Glennie Lankford, given to Major John E. Albert, dated August 22, 1955, from the CUFOS collection


Bill Pilgrim said...

I'm surprised Major Albert didn't report the possibility that kangaroos were jumping out of the forest.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Given more time, I'm sure he would have thought of that too...