Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bob Pratt: Saucers Over Guantánamo

In October 2002, INEXPLICATA published an article by the late Bob Pratt in Issue #11. We are reprinting here for the benefit of our new readers. To those who may be new to ufology, Mr. Pratt was a distinguished reporter of the UFO scene since the 1970s, Bob has made English-reading audiences aware of the rich ufological history of Brazil and his book UFO Danger Zone deals with the darker side of the phenomenon in the South American giant.

Saucers Over Guantánamo: A Story About Cuba
by Bob Pratt

The story that I was working on about UFOs seen in Cuba didn't work out.

It started in early May when Scott Corrales picked up a story from Ovnivision, which got it from Terra Net in Chile, about an American researcher named Mike Birds having visited Cuba and learned about some UFO happenings there. Scott passed it on to his network of people, one of them being me. I passed it on to half a dozen others who I thought would be interested. One of them passed it on to still others. One of THEM responded with an email to both my guy and me, even though he didn't know me. It included an attachment of an email he had sent to some friends on September 23, 2000, saying a flurry of UFOs were seen over the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in 1958 or 1959, AND that jets were sent up to intercept them. In doing so, he said, they encountered huge mother ships.

If true, that would be astounding. I immediately replied by email asking if he would mind if I shared that info with others. He replied saying that was all right, but I decided I would rather interview him first to get more details. It turned out we live not too far from each other and we set up a luncheon meeting at a local restaurant.

Let's call this man Bud. Bud said he was 10 or 11 at the time this happened. His father (a high-ranking officer on the base) and mother had been out for the evening, attending the opening of an enlisted men's club on another part of the base. They were driving home late that night on a lonely two-lane road that went through hilly country. The father was driving.

As they came around a curve in the road they saw a disc-shaped object hovering just above a field on their right, on his mother's side of the road. It was 30 to 50 feet in diameter and 50 to 100 yards away from them. It was glowing brightly but the light was not blinding. They could see windows in the craft and what appeared to be people passing back and forth beyond the windows, although no features could be seen. This was all observed while the car was stopped. A short time later the craft began to move slowly away and then shot upward into the dark sky. There was no sound heard from the craft as it hovered or later moved.

Bud said he was in his room at home and knew nothing about this at the time, but when his folks came home he heard his father sternly warn his mother not to say anything about the incident to anyone.

Curious, the next day Bud asked his mother why his father had spoken so sternly to her, and she told him what they had seen. He said she described the craft as "two pie plates joined at the edges."

A day or two later he asked his father about the UFO and his father claimed he didn't know what Bud was talking about. But the next day when his father went off to work, Bud talked to his mother again and she readily acknowledged that it really had happened just as she had said earlier.

Bud said this happened at a time when UFOs were seen frequently around the base for several months. Many people had seen them and that people (his friends as well as adults) talked openly about it. Furthermore, he said, it was no secret that jet fighters were sent aloft from the Naval Air Station at times to intercept UFOs. He said a base newspaper published stories about pilots chasing UFOs and circling around huge mother ships hovering high in the sky as smaller UFOs returned to it. The mother ships were estimated to be 800 to 900 feet long. Bud says he remembered those measurements because aircraft carriers that came to the base were about 800 feet long. "I remember thinking the mother ships were as big as aircraft carriers," he said.

This was just before Fidel Castro and his rebel army overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista. When Bud's father's tour of duty ended in 1959, the family moved to New York State. Bud said when his new schoolmates asked him about life in Cuba, he was surprised that no one knew anything about the UFOs.

Some years later, Bud said, he again asked his father about that night and again his father denied knowing what he was talking about.

Eventually the father retired, and he and Bud's mother settled down at a home in Long Island for six months during the summer and in another home in southern Florida the rest of the year.

Some years later, after he had grown up and was out on his own, Bud visited his parents and had rented a videotape of the movie Communion to watch with them. Bud said that in one scene a UFO comes down slowly out of the sky and settled in a wooded area, and as they watched this scene Bud's father suddenly blurted out: "That happened to us in Cuba!"

"My mother nearly fell out of her chair," Bud said. "She said, 'THAT'S the first time he's ever talked about it!'"

Both of Bud's parents died several years later.

Bud's father had a longtime friend, another naval man 15 years his junior, who was also at the base at that time. This man is now retired and lives in California. Bud said he visited him last year and asked if he remembered the UFOs. The longtime friend replied, "Oh yes, we used to see them all the time."

"And the mother ships?" Bud asked. "Oh yes," the man replied.

* * *

That's the basic story Bud told me. There were many more details, and the story about his mother and father may have been true. But I now believe the other things probably did not happen, at least the way Bud told me. I asked if I could talk to the old friend in California and Bud said he doubted the man would want to say anything.

Bud is an intelligent man now in his 50s who says he has lived or traveled in 22 countries. If his printed rQsumQ is correct, he has several degrees, including a master's in international affairs. He is a little vague as to what he does now. He says he does "intelligence" work in "mergers and acquisitions," meaning he checks out people and companies that are targeted for buyout by other companies. For some years he lived and worked in Australia but had returned to Florida to handle his parents' estate.

I met with him for a long lunch twice and he seemed quite interested in the paranormal and in conspiracies, especially government cover-ups of various kinds.

A friend of mine vouches for Bud's integrity. My friend was a neighbor for some years and knew Bud and his parents well. He doesn't think Bud would pull anything on me.

Between the two lunches I began looking for other Cuban UFO incidents and, among other things, came across a UFO report by a man named Chester Grusinski. Mr. Grusinski told Flying Saucer Review that he was a sailor aboard the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt and that a UFO was seen one night in September 1958 while the FDR was on a shakedown cruise out of Guantanamo. He said he was one of about 25 men on deck who saw the object approach the ship.

Using the Internet, I found some sites that gave me names and email addresses for about 75 people who had either lived on the Guantanamo base or served aboard the FDR during the time these incidents allegedly occurred.

About 30 people replied, most of them men and women who had been young dependents on the base in the late 1950s or early 1960s and went to the base school about the same time that Bud did. None of them ever heard of any UFOs being seen on or near the base, nor did anyone ever hear of any planes being sent aloft after UFOs.

One woman remembered nothing about UFOs but asked her mother (the father was based at the naval air station from the mid﷓1950s to the early 1970s). The mother said she was certain no planes were sent up after UFOs because she and her husband socialized with officers of all ranks and believes she would have heard something of that nature.

On the other hand, two women (students in those days) said there was always talk about flying saucers. "Platillo volador," one called them. The other woman checked with her brothers and none of them remembered anything about UFOs. "This story has popped up before," she said, "and I don't know of anyone that was at the base during the times we were there 1957﷓1965 that is aware of these happenings."

One man said that as a boy he delivered both of the base's two newspapers in those days, hung out at their offices and read everything in both papers, He said never read or heard anything about UFOs.

Still another man stated: "I strongly suspect someone is pulling your leg on this one... I've never heard of that story and was indeed on﷓base during that time period. I am highly suspect of the claim ... about sending jets aloft to intercept the UFO's, as the Gitmo NAS did NOT have any jet-powered aircraft until October 21, 1963 (the day before the Cuban Missile Crisis began)."

Several people suggested that older boys on the base might have been pulling Bud's leg and the stories that Bud heard back then is what he remembers today, although it is possible that his parents' encounter did happen.

Regarding the Chester Grusinski story, I received an email from a former FDR crewman who said: "I was on that cruise, going aboard the day of the ship's departure on that Gitmo cruise. I was a radarman in OI div. In our division, we also were the ones that stood the look out watches, and I can assure you that the only thing flying were mosquitoes, and navy jets."

Since I do not know Mr. Grusinski or the former radarman, I don't know what the truth is there either.

I informed Bud by email on July 30, 2002 that I have set his story aside for the time being because I cannot get any confirmation. I also relayed to him the replies of some of the others who had lived at Gitmo at the time. I haven't heard from Bud since then.

One benefit of this whole thing is that I found two Cuban UFO web sites, learned about several interesting UFO cases in the Matanzas area in the 1950s and one or two in later years (but nothing about Guantanamo), and I did make contact with several UFO researchers in Cuba.

Bob Pratt
October 11, 2002