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In 1982, Steven Spielberg was invited to the White House to privately screen his new film, E.T., for President Ronald Reagan and his guests, which included astronauts such as Neil Armstrong. After the movie finished, Reagan stood up and thanked Spielberg for the film, then looked around the screening room and said, “And there are a number of people in this room who know that everything on that screen is absolutely true.” 1
Whether or not Reagan’s comment was made in jest is unknown, however he was certainly not afraid to have his name linked with the concept of aliens, having publicly recounted two personal UFO sightings, and made public speculations on how a “threat from outer space” would unify all nations. 2
Such anecdotes and remarks from those in high positions of power have helped fuel the belief that governments have been concealing information from the public for decades in regards to extraterrestrial encounters. Part of this belief is the idea of men in black – shadowy figures dressed in black who deliver veiled threats to those who dare to discuss publicly the existence of UFOs and aliens.
Eyewitnesses describe men in black as dressing in all-black suits and black hats, with their behaviour ranging from unmistakably odd to menacing. Speculation as to who these bizarre figures are ranges also, from theories of an ominous web of government-backed agencies charged with keeping extraterrestrial secrets out of the hands of ordinary citizens, to extraterrestrials themselves, intent on observing those with connections to alien activity.
“Mysterious men dressed in Air Force uniforms or bearing impressive credentials from government agencies have been silencing UFO witnesses. We have checked a number of these cases, and these men are not connected to the Air Force in any way. We haven’t been able to find out anything about these men. By posing as Air Force officers and government agents, they are committing a Federal offense. We would sure like to catch one – unfortunately the trail is always too cold by the time we hear about these cases, but we are still trying.” – Colonel Freeman, of the U.S. Air Force 3
The following five cases describe men in black encounters, from the bizarre to the chilling.
5 – Wytheville UFO Sightings
In early October, 1987, Danny Gordon, a radio journalist in his the small town of Wytheville, Virginia for reported a sighting of an unidentified flying object by police officers. After broadcasting the segment, reports of similar UFO sightings flooded in.
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Three months after the initial sightings and Wythe County now had more than 1,500 reports of UFOs. Something inexplicable was clearly going on. Confounded by the number of sightings, Danny and his friend Roger Hall decided to investigate further, even managing to capture the sky anomalies on camera several times.
However, Danny’s investigations unwittingly came at a cost. In the weeks that followed he received several anonymous phone calls warning him to leave the UFO sightings alone, because “the CIA and the Federal government were very much interested in Wythe County UFOs”. His house was also broken into. 4
Months later, after having gone public with his research, Danny supposedly received a phone call from a man who identified himself as a retired military intelligence officer. He asked Danny to record their conversation, then proceeded to warn him that his investigations might cost him his life, or the lives of his family. The man claimed that, because of his research, his son had been targeted. 5
“What I’m telling you, is they will try to hit you if they think it’s advisable for their purposes to keep you from further investigating this thing, and then most likely it’d be done through skin contact chemicals It’s be something on the door knob of your car, or on the steering wheel. They could also come up with something, or do something to your children.” – extract from the transcript of the recorded conversation
Chilled, but still determined to understand the mass sightings, Danny continued his work.
Less than one month later, two strange men in black arrived at his home, supposedly journalists wishing to write an article about Danny and the UFOs for their newspaper. The men stayed for about forty-five minutes: one interviewing Danny, and the other wandering around the house taking photos.
As they left, they said they would send Danny a copy of the article when it was published. When it did not arrived, Danny contacted the newspaper they claimed to work for, however, it had no record of the journalists, stating that the two men did not work for them. 6
“So, who they were I don’t know, but they were in my house, saw my pictures, saw my negatives, talked to my family, took pictures, and then left, and they were not with the newspaper.” – Danny Gordon
It was sometime afterwards that Danny realised some of his negatives of his UFO photos were missing, presumably stolen.
Eventually, Danny stopped his research, as his family life and health began to fall apart. A stress-induced heart-attack was the final straw. Whatever the cause of the mass sightings in Wythe County, which totalled 3,000 reports by the time Danny left the county, the cost of uncovering the truth was just too high for Danny and his family. 7
4 – The Robertsons’ Case
This photograph is said to be a notorious “man in black”. It was taken outside the apartment of UFO researchers John and Mary Robertson by Tim Green Beckley. Tim, a friend and fellow UFO researcher, had come to their apartment after they told him they were being stalked by a strange man in black.
What began as an interest in UFOs turned into something more sinister around 1968, when John and Mary began to experience bizarre activity. After returning home on an evening, it looked as though someone had been in their apartment, rummaging through their UFO files.
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Startlingly, one day whilst home alone, Mary noticed a strange man in black standing rigidly by the doorway of the building next to their apartment. He had an unsettling look on his face and seemed emotionally detached. After witnessing the strange man for four days, Mary was unnerved and told her husband. After showing John where the man in black had been, he too started noticing the strange figure hanging around outside their apartment. The man was described as looking “dark and swarthy, always possessing a nerve-jangling expression”.
Around the same time, Mary and John also noticed that there were strange clicking noise on their phone lines, as if they were being tapped.
The couple became very troubled by the persistent presence of this stalker, believing him to be surveying the building and examining everyone who entered and left. With their UFO files clearly disturbed, they also claimed that the mysterious man had entered their home to make copies of their research.
After the photograph was taken, the man in black was never seen again. 8
3 – “Jack Smith” and the Men in Black
In 2014, a man in his 50s, acting under the alias Jack Smith, spoke out about being menaced by men in black for most of his life. It an encounter with men in black that year, in New Orleans, Louisiana, that had prompted him to finally speak out about his traumatic experiences. He claimed that such encounters were the result of being abducted by aliens multiple times as a child.
It was Sunday 13th April, 2014, and Jack was meeting with his friend, Jane (also an alias), for sightseeing and lunch in New Orleans. Whilst waiting for a street car to arrive at the French Quarter’s Bienville Street station, Jack and Jane noticed that they were being watched by a pair of strange-looking men.
During an exclusive interview with UFOGrid.com, Jane described the men as looking like “identical twins”.
“They were slim, and much taller than the average person. They were dressed in identical black suits, white shirts, skinny black ties, fedoras, and black sunglasses. They were pale, they were stiff, and they moved eerily in unison. They had oblong faces with a thin line for a mouth.” – Jane
Jane’s first response was that the men were dressed for a performance, as their clothes seemed inappropriate for the hot weather. As minutes passed the two men in black continued to watch Jack and Jane. This tense encounter lasted for some time, before the street car finally arrived and Jack and Jane were able to get away. As for the two men, they left the station, walking away from the street car – despite having waited for at least twenty minutes – and got into a black car across the street.
Jack was able to film the encounter on his cell phone, something which he had never been able to do before. This was also the first time he had seen men in black in the company of someone he trusted. He explained his relief at someone having seen them with him.
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Despite having filmed the strange men, all attempts to share the video have been unsuccessful, with files mysteriously vanishing. Jack has, however, been able to share still images of the men in black he and Jane encountered that day. 9
2 – Maury Island Incident
On 21st June 1947, during the same month of the infamous Roswell incident, two unofficial harbour patrolman, Harold Dahl and his son, were salvaging wood from the Puget Sound in Washington state when they noticed something strange in the sky.
High above them were five saucer-shaped aircraft, made from reflective material, circling around a sixth unidentified flying object of the same description. Slowly, the sixth object descended over the men’s boat, and stopped an estimated 500 feet above the water. Fearing that the saucer was about to crash into them, Dahl and his son moved their boat onto the shore of nearby Maury Island.
Once safely on shore, Dahl took several photographs of the six unidentified flying objects. As he did this, one of the aircraft, which had been circling above, had begun to descend. It hovered over the sixth object, which the men had moved to avoid, for several minutes, until, all of a sudden, a loud thud was heard and and thousands of pieces of lightweight, white and dark material sprayed out from the craft. Most of the debris landed in the water, however a piece of hot black material burned Dahl’s son’s arm and another hit and killed their dog.
Dahl rushed his son to the hospital for treatment, and told his supervisor, Fred Crisman, about what had happened. Crisman did not believe Dahl, and since the negatives of the photographs Dahl had taken had been damaged during the incident, there was no visual proof to convince him. Regardless, Crisman went to the shores of Maury Island to collect samples of the material Dahl described. The material was found to be metallic, some white and lightweight, and the rest looking like lava rock. Whilst collectiing samples, Crisman claimed that he too witnessed a UFO. 10
Dahl claimed that, the morning after seeing the UFOs, a man dressed in a black suit appeared at his doorstep. The stranger suggested they go eat breakfast together, so Dahl drove his own car, following the other man’s new black Buick to a restaurant.
While they ate, the stranger asked no questions. Instead, he gave a detailed account of what had happened to Dahl the previous day. It was then that the man in black told Dahl not to disclose anything of what he had seen, or bad things would happen to him and his family.
Far from heeding the strange man’s warning, Dahl spoke out about the incident, and told UFO investigators all that had happened, even sending them samples of the material he and Crisman had collected. Yet, just as the man in black had warned, this placed his family in danger. Dahl claimed that, after he spoke out, his son disappeared. He was supposedly found one week later in Montana waiting tables, with no recollection of how he got there.
Continuing to discuss his sighting publicly, Dahl entered communications with UFO researchers and two USAF officials, who wished to question him further. After the two air force investigators died mysteriously in a place crash, the FBI entered the scene. Dahl and Crisman were ordered to drop their story, and admit it to be a hoax, at the risk of facing legal prosecution for fraud. Not wanting any more trouble, Dahl agreed, but was careful with his wording. He would not admit that his sighting was a hoax, but instead assured the FBI that “if questioned by authorities he was going to say it was a hoax because he did not want any further trouble over the matter.”
Understandably, the Maury Island Incident has stirred up much controversy over the years. Many believe the FBI’s conclusion of it being a hoax, with others certain that it was a cover up of extraterrestrial activity, pointing to the ominous appearance of the man in black the day after the original incident and the bizarre disappearance of Dahl’s son.
1 – MIBs and the Rendlesham Forest Incident
Described as the United Kingdom’s equivalent of Roswell, the Rendlesham Forest incident occured in December 1980, when American air force personnel allegedly saw a UFO visit RAF Woodbridge, an airbase in Suffolk, England
In the decades since the supposed incident, the area has attracted the attention of many UFO enthusiasts, who claim that the UK government has suppressed information relating to the 1980 sightings. And indeed, there is some truth in their claims, with information relating to the incident forced into the public domain in 2002. One of the released documents was a memorandum written by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt, the base’s deputy commander, to the Ministry of Defence. In the memo, Halt described how three USAF patrolmen “reported seeing a strange glowing object in the forest”, which was “metallic” and “triangular in shape”.
One UFO researcher has taken the claims of government conspiracy one step further, claiming that she has personally been a target of the Ministry of Defense’s attempts to hush away the controversial incident. In 1984, Brenda Butler and two co-authors wrote Sky Crash, a book which questioned why UK authorities tried to conceal the incident. In the course of writing the book, and additional research in the years since, she believes that she has attracted the attention of men in black, suited officials who have tried to intimidate her to stop her research.
Speaking at a UFO conference in 2015, to mark thirty-five years since the famous sightings, Brenda described how on one occasion, the MoD tried to make her and a fellow investigator sign a contract to silence them over their findings.
Another time, she was supposedly chased by an “army jeep” down country roads at 80mph. Even so, she returned to the forest that same night and captured strange photographic anomalies on camera. All the while, a police car and police helicopter were observing. As she left she was told not to come back again.
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Brenda also revealed that people had also come to her home and stood in her driveway, trying to intimidate her, and that her phones have been tapped in the past. She even stated that her co-authors have received anonymous phone calls, warning them that if they did not stop researching the alleged UFO incident, they may “end up at the bottom of the ocean”.11
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