In new book, retired Air Force major claims alien was killed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
Was an alien shot and killed in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey?
A new book, titled “Strange Craft: The True Story of an Air Force Intelligence Officer’s Life with UFOs,” claims that a military police officer shot an extraterrestrial being at Fort Dix in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 1978.
In the book by author John L. Guerra and published by Bayshore Publishing Co. of Tampa, Florida, retired Air Force Major George Filer III — a decorated former intelligence officer for the 21st Air Force, Military Airlift Command at the adjacent McGuire Air Force Base — recounts the extraordinary tale from America’s disco age.
Filer, now 84 and living in Medford with his wife, Janet, said what has been an urban legend first promulgated by UFO enthusiasts since the early 1980s is indeed true. That’s because he was there and wrote a top-secret memo about it, he said.
In the freezing winter darkness of that day in January 1978, a bipedal creature, described as about 4 feet in height and grayish-brown in color, with a “fat head, long arms and slender body,” was shot to death with five rounds fired from a service member’s .45-caliber (military issue M1911A1) handgun.
As Guerra explains it in his book, the soldier had originally been in a police pickup truck, driving through the wilderness of the base in pursuit of a strange, low-flying aircraft that had been observed passing through the military installation’s airspace about 2 a.m. that morning.
About an hour into the drive, the soldier became aware — in typical, horror movie fashion — that the craft, oval-shaped and radiating a blue-green glow, was hovering directly over his vehicle.
That’s when the “creature” emerged from the shadows on foot, revealing itself to the soldier by stepping into the beams of the vehicle’s headlights where the panicked MP drew his weapon, ordered the alien to freeze, and he fired.
According to the retired major as told in the book, the alleged alien succumbed to its gunshot wounds on the Air Force side of what is now Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington County; its remains giving off a foul-smelling, ammonia-like stench.
A new book titled, “Strange Craft: The True Story of an Air Force Intelligence Officer’s Life with UFOs,” claims that a military police officer shot an extraterrestrial being at Fort Dix in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 1978. (Photo: Erik Larsen, Asbury Park Press)
Later that morning, a cleanup crew from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio — headquarters of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center — flew in to retrieve the body, behaving as if the creature was, well, not entirely alien to them.
The Asbury Park Press reached out to the Air Force at the Joint Base for comment about this story, but never heard back.
Filer, who has most recently served as the state director for an organization called MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network, which catalogs and investigates UFO sightings throughout the United States), never actually saw the dead alien. However, Filer said he knows for a fact that the story is true. It should be noted that Filer has claimed to have seen UFOs throughout his entire life, starting when he was 5 outside his boyhood home in Illinois.
‘There are UFOs buzzing around the pattern like mad’
On that January morning in 1978, Filer said he arrived on base before dawn to prepare his daily 8 a.m. intelligence briefing for his superior officers. In the book, he explains that when he arrived, security at the base had been tightened and he personally observed the emergency response in the aftermath of the incident. He also said he interviewed some of the witnesses from the scene for a report on what happened that he was required to file. However, he was denied access to and was never cleared to see photos that he said were taken at the scene.
Retired Air Force Major George Filer III at his home in Medford. (Photo: Brian Johnston)
“The senior master sergeant runs everything, from who sweeps the floors to organizing the staff schedules and making sure phones and faxes are up and running,” Filer is quoted in the book. “He was agitated; his face was pale and his eyes were wide open. Then he said the strangest thing: ‘An alien has been shot at Fort Dix and they found it on the end of our (McGuire AFB) runway.’”
Filer said he replied: “Was it an alien from another country?”
“No, it was from outer space, a space alien,” the sergeant explained. “There are UFOs buzzing around the pattern like mad.”
Later, the Air Force classified everything as top secret and silenced the witnesses through national security restrictions and good old-fashioned intimidation. Everyone that is, except Filer.
Filer has spoken publicly about the 1978 incident before and the incident itself has been the subject of discussion and speculation in the UFO enthusiast community since the early 1980s. Details about it appear to have been first reported in The Trentonian on July 10, 2007.
The Trentonian had reported 12 years ago that the Air Force repeatedly denied the claim, telling the newspaper that “the case was discredited as a hoax years ago.”
UFOs were all the craze in the 1970s
It’s perhaps important to understand the era in which the incident took place. Five years after the end of the Apollo moon program, the imagination of most Americans remained captivated by the seemingly endless possibilities of space travel.
The idea that the universe was filled with intelligent and civilized beings — perhaps hundreds or thousands of years more advanced than humans — had been a staple of the popular culture since the start of the space race between the United States and Soviet Union.
On Jan. 18, 1978, Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster hit “Close Encounters of The Third Kind” — a movie about little gray aliens with fat heads, long arms and slender bodies visiting Earth amid a government cover-up — was still playing in local movie theaters two months after its release date.
Indeed, an ad for the film appears on page A6 in the Press from that date with the tagline “We Are Not Alone,” over a brilliant light emanating from just over a mountainous horizon, down a long road.
During the previous summer of 1977, the original “Star Wars” had debuted and was not just a mega-blockbuster hit, but made terms such as “Darth Vader” and “The Force” part of the lexicon of the culture.
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UFO sightings carried an air of greater credibility back then — there were 377 references to UFOs published in the Press between 1977 and 1978, compared to 85 references between 2017 and 2018.
Even President Jimmy Carter had acknowledged that he had seen one, a decade earlier. He had made a post-Watergate campaign promise in 1976 to learn whatever secrets about UFOs the government may have been hiding.
Everyone was looking up for strange lights in the night sky back then, including NASA. The Associated Press reported just two days before the McGuire-Dix incident, that the federal space agency had outlined in a memo to the Carter White House that it was willing to analyze “bona fide evidence from credible sources.”
Then there was the matter of the strange booms from the sky that were heard over the Jersey Shore and indeed much of the East Coast between December 1977 and March 1978, which had frightened some of the population.
The phenomena had started on Dec. 2, 1977 and was violent enough that it caused a tremor in southern Ocean County. Indeed, officials at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey had ordered the evacuation of non-essential staff on that day out of an abundance of caution.
The scientific consensus at the time was that the noise came from the supersonic Concorde, the British-French airliner — transatlantic service to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York had begun a week earlier — that could travel twice as fast as the speed of sound. The sonic boom was thought to have been augmented by a combination of frigid atmospheric conditions and a slight deviation from the aircraft’s normal flight path.
However, the data was inconclusive and subsequent booms did not necessarily conform to the Concorde’s schedule.
In the past few years, there has been renewed interest in UFO phenomena after declassified video and audio last year showed U.S. Navy pilots apparently encountering a strange aircraft as they flew their Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet off the East Coast in 2015.
In June, President Donald Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he had been briefed about the subject matter but expressed skepticism that extraterrestrial beings were operating some kind of vehicle within Earth’s atmosphere.
“People are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly,” Trump said.
Aliens or not, what if anything, happened at McGuire Air Force Base on Jan. 18, 1978? Whatever it was, it’s now part of folklore of the Pinelands — and beyond.