Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Go Capture That UFO": The 1978 Puerto Belgrano CE-2

“Go Capture that UFO”: The Puerto Belgrano CE-2 – September 1978
By Carlos Alberto Iurchuk

I visited my friend Eduardo on February 1, 2009. He had been one of the protagonists of a UFO encounter at the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base while doing his compulsory military service in the year 1978. This is the main base of the Argentinean Navy, located in southern Buenos Aires province near the city of Punta Alta, some 30 kilometers from the city of Bahía Blanca.

As a preamble, Eduardo explained: “the battalion I served with was assigned custody of the base. It was a security battalion that stood guard throughout the facility. That was our only function within the Military Service.”

In the evening there was a group called GAO (Grupo A la Orden – Rapid Response Group) that would be the first responders in the event of any attack on the base, aside from those standing watch. The rapid response group slept in a guardhouse – we were six soldiers, a duty officer and a duty sub-officer. This was standard. The GAO existed at all times. We weren’t always the same, since there was a rotation involved.

Post 215

“The guard post where the incident occurred was 215, which was the last guard post in the base, located near the magazine. This post had the particular characteristic of having a sub-officer - generally a corporal – aside from a soldier, since it had a gate that opened to a road used exclusively for the military, linking the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base with the Comandante Espora Naval Air Station, located in the city of Bahía Blanca.

“We kept in contact with each other by means of handheld radios. We even had a way of telling each other jokes, among the soldiers, communicating and joking about an attack, and playing around with the radios. While our buddies were standing guard, the GAO was asleep, provided there was nothing going on. The prank consisted in simulating an attack on the base to bother the guys who were sleeping.

“One night, one of many on sentry duty, I formed part of the GAO. At around two o’clock in the morning, we could hear over one of the handheld units that the base was under attack – namely Post 215. We paid considerable attention to this, given the critical nature of the post. The duty officer, aware of these pranks, was particularly mindful because he could hear weapons firing in the background. More importantly, since there was a sub-officer at that post, he took no part in the soldiers’ games. Once alerted, the group took off speedily toward Post 215 aboard a pickup truck – six soldiers, the officer and the duty sub-officer.

“Go Capture That UFO”

“Upon reaching the site, we saw Post 215’s corporal and sentry, firing against all comers. The fired repeatedly, screaming, as if saying “they’re over there, over there!” Approximately 150 meters from Post 215 was another post with a sentry, who was also firing at something.”

At this point, Eduardo made the following clarification: “Facing the base and along the road there were two stands of eucalyptus or pine trees, I’m not sure, but they were large, tall trees that darkened everything. There was no light, nothing. The only light came from the base, lighting up the perimeter. Beyond the base’s light was total darkness. Nothing at all.

“Heading toward Bahía Blanca along the road, the ocean was on the left. There was the sea, a little stand of trees, and then another one to the right. Everyone was firing against the one on the right. But not just one shot – that is to say, had it been a soldiers’ prank, only one or two rounds would’ve been fired. This volley of fire had despair, anguish and much shouting of being under attack, and countless rounds fired.

“Faced with this situation, the officer asked the corporal at Post 215 what he’d seen. And the guy says he saw a UFO.

“We were stunned, because I don’t know a better word to describe it. We didn’t know if we should laugh or not, but in view of the circumstances, and our fellow soldiers firing away, we had our doubts. The officer couldn’t think of anything better to do than order us to capture the UFO.


“So they opened the gate that links the munitions dump with the road. We moved forward in a fighting posture, crossing the barbwire perimeter. There was a side street, we crossed it and progressed some thirty meters at most. Along that little road, with the two stands of trees flanking us, we were faced by a very bright light.

“I cannot describe its shape. I can tell you that it was like a calesita. Not a flattened shape, but rather that of a calesita, somewhat larger. A big carrousel. A very bright light, but not white in color. It was a very intense sky blue that didn’t blind you, rather it allowed you to look at it.”

Eduardo adds that there was no sound, smell or fog present as they observed the light.

“Just like it emerged, it rose upward. Don’t ask me how long it took. It could have been an eternity or microseconds. It took up in a straight line and vanished into nothing.”

He approached the place the UFO had been. “I saw nothing. There was nothing palpable – no burned trees, no odors, nothing in particular. Nothing on the ground, or the trees. No damaged trees either.”

The rounds fired against the UFO had come from FALs (Belgian light automatic rifles). “They have an effective range of 800 meters. The magazine holds 20 rounds and they used much more than a single clip. From the guard post – Post 215 – to where I saw the light there must have been a distance of 150 meters, more or less. So yes, it was a target that even a bad shot could hit. In fact, my comrades weren’t aiming, just firing away. In all this, those of us with the Rapid Response Group didn’t fire a single shot. The sensation I had was of intense cold, while one of my buddies was overwhelmed by heat. I suppose this could have been due to the fear we had of running into that thing.”

Approximately half an hour elapsed from the initial call for help until seeing the UFO disappear.

“At that moment, we were taken aside and forbidden to discuss the subject due to security reasons. The matter was never spoken of again. We were not to discuss it. No explanations were offered – these were our orders.

“As the day went on, more people went to investigate the site. They weren’t outsiders, just people from the base itself, but not from our battalion. We, the soldiers, were never interrogated. I believe that the most questioned must’ve been the officer. We were simply told that this was not a subject for discussion, and it was not to be discussed. No debriefing, nothing. These were higher-ranking officers: Navy, Marines, but not even from our battalion. They were from the base, but who knows from where.”

Other Sightings

“Within the Military Service it was very, very common to hear soldiers remark: “Hey, I saw a UFO” after pulling guard duty along the posts facing the sea, along the beach. No one believed them. What could be seen, and what was discussed among the ranks, were strange lights making very odd, swift movements, which they took to be UFOs. That was the most common thing.

“You don’t believe in them until you get to see them. To the extent that I never again spoke about it. Ever. Why? Out a fear of being mocked, not believed, not taken seriously. And one merely lets it go as a passing anecdote.”

(Translation (c) 2011, Scott Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Carlos Iurchuk, El Dragón Invisible)