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  • Writer's pictureBy CJ Urquico

Guam residents recall past encounters with the unknown

Once dismissed as crackpottery, the UFO talk is going mainstream and the military is slowly lifting the veil of secrecy

The existence of life outside of our planet has been a source of wonder since humans first looked up at the heavens. Without the benefit of screens in their pockets, the skies are the primetime show our ancestors watched. They imagined all sorts of creatures, gods up there that are today's stars, planets forming up constellations.

Many stories from different traditions pertain to glowing, fiery objects in the sky. In ancient artwork, you can see it from prehistoric paintings to unexplained things in the skies of icons in renaissance masterpieces. We graduated from imagining creating a beloved genre, science fiction, to give us more “alien” fixes.

In the summer of 1945, a radar officer aboard the USS Lincoln, then at sea in between Guam and Saipan, reported a large group of blips traveling at over 1,000 mph. They tried to communicate with the squadron but did not get through. The objects passed approximately 2,000 feet directly overhead, but they were invisible.

“The Book of Ghosts, UFOs and the Unexplained” by James Paton cited an article originally published by the St. Petersburg Times, now known as Tampa Bay Times.

“On the morning of Dec. 19, 1952, the crew of a B-17 bomber in flight and ground witnesses saw a silver cylindrical object over Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo.

“On Dec. 31, 1956, at approximately 2:10 a.m., Air Force Lt. Ted Brunson saw a round object that glowed white under his aircraft. He pushed his jet, an F-86D Interceptor, lit afterburners to try and catch the unidentified flying object but could not keep up and, ten minutes later, ran low on fuel. The Boeing F-86D Sabre has a maximum speed of 650 mph.”

It all makes sense that aliens in the movie “Pixels” chose to destroy AAFB during their invasion.

Recent encounters with unidentified aircraft by pilots have prompted the Department of Defense officials to take action. Last year, the Navy announced it was drafting guidelines to establish a formal process for pilots and military personnel to report UFO sightings — any aerial object or optical phenomenon not readily identifiable to the observer.

The U.S. Department of Defense established an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force in August 2020, six months after the Department of Defense released three declassified videos of "unexplained aerial phenomena.” One video clip from 2004 was filmed by two navy fighter pilots and shows a round object hovering above the water, about 100 miles out into the Pacific Ocean. Two other videos filmed in 2015 show objects moving through the air, one of which is spinning. In one, a pilot is heard saying: "Look at that thing, dude! It's rotating!"

The Baby Boomers and GenXers remember President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, commonly referred to as “Star Wars.” Whether it became a reality or not, it helped fuel the world's imagination, including the now-dissolved Soviet Union.


"I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world,” Reagan said in a United Nations address. “And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?"

The $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government funding measure that then President Donald Trump signed into law in December includes a provision that mandates U.S. intelligence agencies to tell Congress what they know about unidentified aerial phenomenon, also known as "anomalous aerial vehicles." The brief section in the document titled "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021" under the heading Advanced Aerial Threats.

Intelligence agencies and the military had six months from December to release the information. The data dump has begun, with the Central Intelligence Agency releasing declassified though heavily redacted documents. The documents in searchable PDF format are available for download on the Black Vault website.

The CIA has done this before. So have the NSA and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the stipulation, all relevant agencies are expected to submit unclassified reports but “may include a classified annex."

A gentleman in his mid-60s from Umatac surprised me with his story of a landing. He was a teenager and, along with his sister, saw a bright silver craft that landed near their house in the southern village. The door to the alien ship opened! He said he only saw the boots of the creature and nothing more. They were bright shiny silver. I pressed for more, knowing that this guy is a storyteller, and he said all he saw was the boots.

No one believed him until his story drew the attention of J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer, professor and ufologist.

When I asked him about Project Blue Book, he livened up and said that, yes, he visited with Mr. Hynek about the Air Force Program. He met others who had had close encounters and said he was so happy to be validated with a glint in his eyes. His words were, "I knew I wasn't cuckoo."

Hynek was the primary scientific consultant to Project Blue Book. The last Air Force officer to head the project was Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla Jr. The Mexican-American officer wrote an incomplete manuscript titled, ""UFOs, An Air Force Dilemma," in which he details his life and military career, including how he became the USAF UFO investigator.

At first glance, his work seems to support the existence of UFOs. It does not. His task was to verify sightings and provide an explanation for them. Quintanilla did this very well, though some unsolved reports to this day.

In an article titled "The Investigation of UFOs," which was declassified in 2010, Quintanilla wrote: "Unidentified flying objects are not a new phenomenon. In 593 BC. Ezekiel recorded a whirlwind to the north, which appeared as a fiery sphere. In 1254 at Saint Albans Abbey, when the moon was eight days old, there appeared in the sky a ship elegantly shaped, well equipped, and of marvelous color. In 1520 in France there were Sighted a round-shaped object with rotating lights and two fiery suns.

In 1874 in Texas, a farmer reported seeing a dark flying object in the shape of a disc cruising in the sky at a wonderful speed. These are a mere sampling of the many such events recorded by historians.

The modern era of UFOs, however, can be dated from June 24, 1947, when a flyer made some strange observations which national news coverage and authors with a poetic license so played up as to excite public entertainment of a notion that our planet had been visited by unknown vehicles from outer space."

A Guam resident, coincidentally with the same last name, Duane Quintanilla, recalled his experience in 1996. "I was on my way home, cruising from DJing at Globe/Onyx. At the loop in Tumon, the beginning of San Vitores, I saw a huge spacecraft hovering 50 feet above the statue. It was oval-shaped with lights that stayed static,” said Quintanilla, popularly known as DJ DRD.


“Obviously, there were no smartphones at the time, I could not take a photo. The craft hovered for about two minutes, and I was the only car on the road. I have not shared this story until now. I was more amazed than scared," he added.

Rand Coffman, host of the radio talk show "Edge of Heaven" on K57, shared his own sightings in the early 1970s.

"Joe Cunningham and I served in the Air Force. He was a radio DJ, and I was an MP. He stepped out for a smoke break one night and I happened to be in Tarague patrolling. We both saw lights in the sky. It wasn't like anything we'd ever seen before,” Coffman said. "We reported our sightings, and the control tower said they did not record anything in the skies at the time."

The most recent sighting was reported on Dec. 29 in Hawaii, where eyewitnesses spotted an unidentified aerial object that had a glowing blue color and an oblong shape. The Honolulu police reported the UFO sightings to the Federal Aviation Administration.

These days, however, it has become more difficult to analyze the flood of content given the proliferation of image and video editing software, drones, and the speed of information shared via social media,

Look up from time to time and have your camera ready. You never know what you might capture over the Guam skies.

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