UFO sighting terrified locals 40 years ago
By Bonnie Meroth
EXETER - Engulfed in the blackness of a late summer night, a teenage Navy recruit walked down the quiet country highway. Suddenly, a huge object loomed above him. Throwing himself to the ground to avoid being hit, he huddled against a stone wall. The blood drained from his face.
The time was around 2 a.m. The date was Sept. 3, 1965. Thus began the "Incident at Exeter," a series of sightings officially qualified as a legitimate visit from an unidentified flying object.
In September and October 1965, several sightings in New Hampshire were carefully investigated and documented by local and federal offices.
The encounters that night took special precedence over other UFO sightings because of the credibility of Exeter police officers Eugene Bertrand and David Hunt, as well as Reginald "Scratch" Toland, who was dispatcher and supervising officer when the shaken teenager, Norman Muscarello, came to the police station claiming he had encountered a UFO.
A similar report substantiated his story. Earlier, Bertrand had come upon a lone woman parked on the side of Route 101 near an overpass two miles outside Exeter.
She said a huge, silent, red and brilliantly glowing airborne object had chased her from the town of Epping about 12 miles away. It had been only a few feet from her car before it departed at a tremendous speed and disappeared.
Bertrand saw nothing but a bright star and sent her home. Toland also spoke to the woman, who told him she had been chased by the "low-flying, large, round object with flashing red lights."
An hour later, Bertrand received a call from Toland to report back to the station immediately because "a kid had come in who had seen a UFO." The police officer picked up Muscarello at the station.
The teen led him back to the site where he'd seen the craft. After sitting in the parked cruiser for several minutes, Bertrand radioed the dispatcher to say they saw nothing unusual.
Bertrand, instructed to check out the field before heading back, proceeded to do so with Muscarello.
Horses in a nearby barn began to kick and whinny. Dogs in the neighborhood began to howl.
Muscarello shouted, "Look out, here it comes!" and they watched as something luminous rose from behind tall evergreens.
The aircraft, about 100 feet away, silently sped so close to Bertrand that he dropped to the ground and drew his service weapon.
"There was this huge, dark object as big as that barn over there with red flashing lights on it," Bertrand later told an investigator. "It barely cleared that tree right there, and it was moving back and forth. . It seemed to tilt and come right at us. Norman told me later that I was yelling, 'I'll shoot it! I'll shoot it!' I did drop on one knee and drew my service revolver, but I didn't shoot."
Bertrand, dragged Muscarello, frozen with fear, back to the cruiser.
From the car, the men saw no tail, no wings and heard no sound.
Already en route, Hunt arrived within minutes and saw the UFO as it "floated, wobbled and did things that no plane could do" before it darted away toward Hampton. They returned to the station to write their report.
Toland received a call shortly after from a Hampton telephone operator who said that a distressed motorist attempted to contact the police from a pay phone. He yelled at the operator, saying he was being chased by a flying saucer that came right at him and that it was still out there. He was then disconnected.
A Hampton Police Department's blotter entry for that night reads: "September 3, 1965: 3 a.m. Exeter Police Department reports unidentified flying object in that area. Units 2, 4 and Pease Air Force alerted. At 3:17 a.m., received a call from Exeter operator and Officer Toland. Advised that a male subject called and asked for police department, further stating that call was in re: a large unidentified flying object, but call was cut off. Call received from a Hampton pay phone, location unknown."
The official report to Project Blue Book from the director of administrative services of the Pease Air Force Base at Portsmouth concluded with this paragraph by the investigator: "At this time, have been unable to arrive at a probable cause of this sighting. The three observers seem to be stable, reliable persons, especially the two patrolmen. I viewed the area and found nothing in the area that could be the probable cause."
Project Blue Book is a compilation by the U.S. government to repute the existence of extraterrestrial objects.
Peter Geremia, New Hampshire state director of the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network Inc., noted: "The police officers involved put their careers on the line. They courageously came forward and stated what they saw at a time when witnesses were not allowed any credibility on the subject."
Geremia, who has appeared on national media programs including "Unsolved Mysteries," presented chronological depiction of what happened the night of the Incident at Exeter.
His "decent rendition of what happened" matches the series of events starting with Muscarello being frightened by a UFO.
Bertrand, although an Air Force veteran, was never able to put a name to the UFO.
"What do you call a UFO? Was it from another planet? We just couldn't identify it," he noted.
He meticulously described it as a "huge, shapeless object with five sequentially pulsating-from-left-to-right bright red lights, so bright you couldn't look at it."
The Pentagon repeatedly denied the sightings, but the incident was read into the congressional record in April 1966 by Raymond Fowler, representative of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena in Washington. It was the first open congressional hearing on UFOs.
Fowler, internationally renowned author of 11 books about UFOs, has studied UFO reports for decades.
In a recent interview, he shared his thoughts on the Exeter incident and the stories that followed.
"The second-hand speculation stories were varied and perhaps hypothesized," Fowler said. "Muscarello's mother purportedly saw confidential drawings of a UFO landing site pattern that was handcuffed to an Air Force investigator who visited her house. The neighboring farmer was instructed by the Air Force to plow under landing marks in his field.
"The hens in the neighborhood stopped laying eggs. The air-base intelligence officer was seen buying up all the newspapers carrying stories about Sept. 3. A base commander was seen in civilian clothes rather than uniform while investigating," he related.
Then, there was the irrefutable.
"There were major similarities with these area sightings that conform to documented cases. UFOs tend to be seen near swamps, major power lines or nuclear sources. Muscarello noticed the object coming from over a line of trees behind which were major power lines. There was a swamp in the area. Pease and the Navy yard both had nuclear power entities. And, when a Pease Air Force base commander attempted to disprove it was a UFO by simulating the incident by turning on runway lights, he failed," noted Fowler.
Fowler, now retired from active investigation, noted in a letter to the United States Air Force, "The UFO sighted by Norman Muscarello was identical to the UFO seen later by Muscarello, Bertrand and Hunt.
"There is no question in my mind that the same or similar object was involved in both of these particular sightings.
"Since I did not interview the unnamed woman, I am not certain of the details . but according to Officer Bertrand, the object . was very similar to the UFO they sighted later . another witness, a male motorist, also sighted a similar object. ."
Because of the viability of the testimonies of those involved on the night of Sept. 3, 1965, and because of Fowler's testimony into the Congressional Record in April 1966, the United States Air Force admitted that indeed, the Incident at Exeter involved an unidentified flying object.
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