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L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952

 
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Adama RDO75
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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:15 (2015)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952 Répondre en citant

Desverger montrant son bras roussi par le souffle chaud de l'ovni

Le mardi 19 août 1952 à 21:45, à Ouest Palm Beach (Floride), D. S. "Sonny" Desvergers, ex-marine et chef scout de la Troupe 33, ramène en voiture 3 scouts d'une conférence. Il se trouve à 1,2 km au Sud de Lantana Road / intersection avec la Voie Militaire :
Citation:
Roulant vers le sud sur la piste militaire, à environ 64 km/h avec la radio assez fort, je vis cette petite tache de lumière se diriger vers le sol avec un angle d'environ 45°, selon une direction nord-sud. La lumière démarra à environ 600 m et je la regardais par intervalles jusqu'à ce qu'elle arrive au sol et aux arbres, et soit hors de vue. Les lumières étaient floues ou brumeuses sans couleur particulière — elles étaient juste blanches. C'était une série de lumières, environ 7 ou 8, mais elles étaient toutes floues. Cela aurait pu être un avion qui s'écrasait, bien que nous n'entendîmes aucun bruit plus fort que la radio. J'eus une réaction plutôt négative des garçons par rapports aux lumières. Ils étaient effrayés et appeurés; Je ne pouvais pas les laisser seuls. C'est ce que je me suis dit et nous avons continué à rouler. A environ 180 m plus loin sur la route, Bobby Ruffing âge de 12 ans vit les mêmes lumières. Les autres garçons regardèrent alors et les virent. Je fit demi-tour avec la voiture et retournais à environ 200 m en arrière où je pensais que les lumières étaient derrière les arbres. Pensant toujours qu'il s'agissait d'un crash possible, je dis aux garçons que si je n'étais pas de retour dans 10 mn, ils devraient avertir le sheriff et appeler alors leurs familles et leur dire qu'ils étaient O.K. Ils comprirent bien et j'allais dans les bois avec 2 lampes-torches et une machette.
Je marchais approximativement 300 m dans une zone clairsemée au milieu d'arbres de 6 m de haut environ, puis au travers de palmiers épais sur environ 150 m et arrivait dans une autre clairière où il n'y avait que de jeunes pousses de pin. Lorsque je ressortais dans cette clairière, je pointait la lumière vers le sol pensant qu'il pouvait s'agir du lit d'un lac, pour être sûr que le sol était sec. J'avançais encore 10 ou 15 m dans la clairière. Je sentis alors la présence de quelque chose qui n'aurait pas dû être là : c'était une sensation de chaleur, comme de marcher dans un four. Je pouvais sentir quelques gouttes de sueur qui perlaient sur moi. Que ce fut ou non à cause de la peur, je ne sais pas. Mais je savais que j'étais en présence de quelque chose ou de quelqu'un. Je pointais ma lampe alentour, sans voir quoi que ce soi.


Desvergers atteint une clairière baignée d'une clarté rougerâtre, d'une forte chaleur et d'une odeur âcre, écoeurante. En regardant le ciel, il ne voit plus les étoiles : une masse sombre stationne à 10 pieds au-dessus du sol. Reculant et dirigeant sa lampe de poche vers le haut, il voit que l'objet semble métallique en forme de disque à coupole supérieure, concavité inférieure, et qu'il y a une sorte de "tourelle" au-dessus de cette soucoupe de 25 pieds de diamètre :
Citation:
Je réalisai alors que la chaleur venait de au-dessus. Je pointais la lampe en l'air et vit la surface plane d'un objet rond d'environ 10 m de diamètre, à environ 3 m au-dessus de moi. Je suppose que j'étais complètement paralysé ; Je ne pouvais pas bouger un muscle; J'étais mort de peur. Cela devait faire une bonne minute que j'étais en-dessous de cette chose. Je voulais courir mais mes pieds ne fonctionnaient tout simplement pas. Je réalisais alors qu'il y avait quelque chose d'anormal là-dedans. J'avais ma machette dans ma main droite et ma lampe torche dans l'autre main, toujours sur l'objet au-dessus de moi. Je voulais le frapper avec ma machette, où lancer la lampe contre lui, mais de quelque manière que ce soit je ne pouvait le faire ; mes réflexes ne fonctionnaient pas. Alors je me retirai lentement d'en-dessous, quelques pas à la fois. Cela sembla une éternité. J'arrivai à son bord et je vis que le bord de fuite inférieur avait une nature brillante, comme [phosphorescence] dans l'eau salée la nuit. Ce n'était pas dominant mais c'était off et on. L'épaisseur du bord était d'environ 1 m, avec des hublots, des tuyères, ou des ouvertures de manière continue autour de son bord. Je reculai encore quelques pas et pus voir un dôme au sommet, en silouette. Cette chose ne fit jamais aucun autre bruit qu'un léger sifflement, semblable à de l'air s'échappant d'un endroit où il était comprimé. Je n'entendis aucun moteur. Quoi que ce fut, il était absolument suspendu en plein air avec vraiment rien ne touchant le sol. J'entendis alors un son semblable à une ouverture d'écoutille ; c'est-à-dire le seul autre son qui fut étonnant. Il y avait comme un léger baragouinage — cela semblait comme çà avec la distance — qui aurait pu être les garçons dans la voiture.


Pendant ce temps, les scouts continuent à attendre Desvergers à la voiture. Ils ne le voient pas revenir, et voient une boule de feu rouge à hauteur du sommet des arbres, qui se déplace vers le bas en direction du point où ils ont vu leur chef sout pour la dernière fois :
Citation:
Bobby et les autres 2 garçons, Chuck Stevens et David Rowan, témoignèrent plus tard que lorsqu'ils attendaient dans la voiture à environ 400 m au loin durant l'incident, ils virent diverses lumières, et même le chef scout, parmis les arbres. Bobby dit: "Tout la zone devint rouge. Nous fûmes effrayés et courrurent appeler le sheriff.


Un d'entre eux court jusqu'à une maison voisine pour avertir le sheriff local.
Du côté de Desvergers, un panneau s'ouvre alors dans cette tourelle, révélant une créature si terrifiante que Desvergers refusera abolument de la décrire, déclarant qu'elle était simplement trop terrible pour des mots. A ce moment, une sorte de gaz brûlant est émis du sommet, brûlant ses bras et l'assommant sur le sol :
Citation:
Un enquêteur de l'USAF agissant selon le récit de Desvergers sur les lieux de l'observation

Une boule de feu rouge arriva dans ma direction depuis le sommet de cet objet. Elle n'avait pas de vitesse mais semblait flotter droit vers mon visage. J'étais toujours immobile ; Je ne pouvais pas bouger. Je le voulais mais je ne pouvais simplement pas faire bouger mes jambes. Je finis pas lâcher ma lampe torche et plaqua mes bras contre mon visage et reçu le plein impact de ce flash rouge. Ce n'était pas une substance solide ; cela ressemblait plus à un jaillissement d'air chaud ou quelque chose comme çà -- m'aveuglant momentanément et sentant quelque d'horrible, pire que que de la chair brûlée. Le seul dommage visible fut que cela brûla les poils de mes avant-bras et brûla 2 ou 3 trous dans ma casquette. Il y avait juste une sensation de vascillement comme si mes bras essayaient de dormir.
La casquette de Desvergers comportant de petits trous de brûlures

Je commençais lentement à m'étourdir ou m'évanouir. Je tombais au sol et fut probablement out environ 25 mn. Lorsque je repris conscience, je n'était pas au même endroit où je m'étais évanoui. J'étais toujours stupéfié ou choqué ou effrayé, et sentais toujours cette odeur horrible. J'essayai immédiatement de retourner à la voiture. Je n'avais pas de lampe mais toujours ma machette.


L'adjoint du sherrif arrive à temps pour voir Desvergers sortir de la forêt, apparemment épuisé et clairement très effrayé. Le sherrif voit que le visage, les avant-bras et le dos des mains de Desvergers sont sérieusement rougis (brulûre au 1er degré).
Une voiture de l'adjoint du sheriff était garée sur le côté de l'autoroute. J'essayai de l'appeler ou de crier à l'aide plusieurs fois après y être arrivé, mais le son ne voulait pas sortir ; Je n'émis pas un son avant d'être arrivé presque au bord de la route. Je vis alors l'adjoint et sus que j'étais sauf...
Enquête et analyses
Lorsque Desvergers et des enquêteurs retournent à la clairière, ils trouvent une lampe torche, toujours allumée, mais pas la seconde, qui a disparu de sa poche arrière.
Le FBI examine la casquette de Desvergers, endommagée durant l'incident, et indique qu'il n'y a pas de résidu de ce qui a pu brûler les 3 trous qu'on y trouve. Un 4ème trou, dans la bande de transpiration, contient des résidus de braise calcinée. Le rapport n'indique pas que les trous ont été fait par des brûlures de cigarette. Les marques de roussi sur la casquette n'étaient pas présentes dans les replis de matière à l'extérieur de la casquette, indiquant que la casquette n'était probablement pas portée lorsqu'elle fut roussie. Le rapport du FBI note également des trous minuscules qui ne sont pas flagrants et indique qu'ils pourraient avoir été causés par des étincelles électriques.
Herbes prélevées à l'endroit de l'observation

Des échantillons d'herbe et du sol sont prélevés, depuis l'endroit où l'ovni aurait stationné. Après analyse, on constate que, là où la saleté et le sable on été piétinés, les racines sont roussies. Les brins eux-mêmes ne sont pas endommagés ; elles n'ont jamais été chauffées, à l'exception des extrêmités des plus longs. Ceux-ci ont bien sûr été courbés, touchant le sol, et furent brûlés comme les racines. Les brûlures peuvent être reproduites en plaçant des plans d'herbe dans un pan de terre et en les chauffant à environ 149° C avec un réchau à gaz. Ne sont trouvés dans le sol aucun dispositif enterré pour chauffer le sol ni rien de chimique.
Echantillons "témoins" d'herbes témoin à 70 m alentours

L'ovni signalé dans cet incident aurait donc émis des radiations électromagnétiques, dont l'énergie infrarouge/à micro-ondes aurait chauffé l'air sous-lui et pénétré le sol humide sur quelques cm, causant un chauffage diélectrique. Un phénomène semblable fut rapporté dans d'autres rencontres rapprochées avec des ovnis ou avec les crop circles.
Canular ?
Certains enquêteurs commençent à avoir des suspicions lorsque l'on apprend que Desvergers refuse de parler de l'incident aux journalistes, réservant son récit pour le vendre à un magazine. Desvergers dira aussi avoir reçu des appels téléphoniques anonymes menaçants à son travail, lui avisant de ne pas parler de sa rencontre avec un ovni, et avoir été suivi par une automobile noire 1 .
Le cas sera classé comme mystification par le programme Blue Book 2 . On notera toutefois que les scouts ont dit eux aussi avoir vu des étranges lumières.



Source RR0
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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:15 (2015)    Sujet du message: Publicité

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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:18 (2015)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952 Répondre en citant

Note d'Adama :

Après de simples recherches sur le Web anglo-saxon et dans les ouvrages spécialisées sur les OVNI, il s'avère que l'affaire ne serait pas un canular, l'option canular ayant été choisie semble-t-il par l'armée américaine pour étouffer totalement l'affaire. Les vertus de l'ordonnance JANAP n'allait d'ailleurs pas tarder à faire leur effet sur l'ensemble des cas OVNis aux USA.

Fraternellement

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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:36 (2015)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952 Répondre en citant

Voici un extrait de l'album de Log et Gigi "les apparitions d'OVNi" réalisés d'après des sources premières, les visages "collent" à la réalité des personnages... et je vous montre ici le passage concernant l'affaire "Sonny" Desvergers qui est l'une des plus passionnantes observations OVNI des années 1950 aux USA. Les auteurs rendent très bien l'atmosphère relative à ce cas et les conclusions du Capitaine Ruppelt....











































Un cas qui contient en soi tout le mystère du phénomène OVNI : tout en ombre et lumière...

Fraternellement

Adama















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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:39 (2015)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952 Répondre en citant

Florida Scoutmaster 
19 Aug 1952, 9:45 PM, West Palm Beach, Florida: D. S. "Sonny" Desvergers, a scoutmaster of Troop 33, reported observing an unusual object about 1.2 km south of the Lantana Road / Military Trail intersection, while taking three of the scouts home: "Driving south on Military Trail, at about 64 km/h with the radio up pretty loud, I saw this little blur of light headed toward the ground at about a 45 deg angle, in a north-to-south direction. The light started at about 600 m and I watched it at intervals until it got to the ground and trees, and was out of sight.  The lights were fuzzy or hazy with no particular color -- they were just white.  There was a series of lights, about seven or eight, but they were all blurred.  It could have been a plane crash, although we didn't hear any noise above the radio.  I got a pretty negative reply from the boys as to the lights.  They were frightened and scared; I shouldn't leave them by themselves.  I considered that and we drove on.  About 180 m farther down the road, 12-year-old Bobby Ruffing saw the same lights.  Then the other boys looked and they saw them.  I turned the car completely around on the road and went back about 200 m to where I thought the lights were behind the trees.  Still thinking this was a possible plane crash, I told the boys that if I wasn't back at the car in 10 minutes, to notify the sheriff and to then call their families and tell them that they were O.K. under the circumstances.  They understood thoroughly and I proceeded into the woods with two flashlights and a machete. 
"I walked approximately 300 m in cleared ground through trees about 6 m high, then went through thick palmettos about 150 m and came into another clearing where there were all small pine saplings.  When I stepped out into this clearing, I shined the light on the ground thinking it might be a lake bed, to make sure it was dry land.  I went another 10 or 15 m into the clearing.  I then felt the presence of something that shouldn't have been there: it was a hot sensation, just like walking into an oven.  I could feel a little cold sweat pop out on me.  Whether or not that was from being scared, I don't know.  But I know that I was in the presence of something or somebody.  I shined my light around, not seeing anything. 
"Then I realized that the heat was coming from overhead.  I shined the light up and saw a flat surface of a round object about 10 m in diameter, about 3 m above me.  I guess I was absolutely paralyzed; I could not move a muscle; I was scared to death.  It must have been a good minute that I was under this thing.  I wanted to run but my feet just wouldn't work.  I realized there was something abnormal about this.  I had my machete in my right hand and my searchlight in the other hand, still on the object above me.  I wanted to strike it with the machete, or throw the flashlight at it, but somehow I just couldn't do it; my reflexes wouldn't work.  Then I slowly backed out from under, a couple of paces at a time.  It seemed like an eternity.  I got to the edge of it and I saw that the lower trailing edge was of a shiny nature, like [phosphorescence] in salt water at night.  It wasn't dominant but it was off and on.  The thickness at the edge was about a meter, with port holes, exhaust ports, or openings continuously around the edge of it.  I backed up a couple of more paces and I could see a dome or the top, against the sky.  This thing never made any noise other than a slight hissing sound, similar to air escaping from a compressed area.  I didn't hear any motors.  Whatever, it was absolutely suspended in mid-air with positively nothing touching the ground.  Then I heard a sound similar to a hatch being opened; that is the only other sound that was outstanding.  There was a slight bit of jabbering -- it seemed like in the distance -- which could have been the boys in the car. 

Sighting area.  USAF Investigator shown acting out scoutmaster's testimony. 
 
"A ball of red fire came in my direction from the top of this object.  It had no speed but seemed to float right straight for my face.  I was still immobile; I couldn't move.  I wanted to but I just couldn't make my legs move.  I did finally drop my flashlight and threw my arms up over my face and got the full impact of this red flash.  It wasn't a solid substance; it felt more like a hot gush of air or something -- blinding me momentarily and smelling something awful, worse than burning flesh.  The only visible damage was that it singed the hair off both of my forearms and burned two or three holes in my cap.  There was just a tingling sensation as if my arms were trying to go to sleep. 
"I slowly began to black out or pass out.  I fell to the ground and was probably out about 25 minutes.  When I regained consciousness, I was not at the same spot where I passed out.  I was still dazed or shocked or scared, and still smelled this awful smell.  I immediately tried to get back to the car.  I had no light but still had my machete.  A deputy sheriff's car was parked on the side of the highway.  I tried to call him or holler for help several times after I came to, but the sound just wouldn't come out; I didn't make a sound until I got almost to the edge of the road.  Then I saw the deputy and knew I was safe..." 
Bobby and the other two boys, Chuck Stevens and David Rowan, testified later that while waiting in the car about 400 m away during the incident, they saw various lights, and even the scoutmaster, among the trees.  Bobby said: "The whole area lit up red.  We got scared and ran to call the sheriff." 
 
Scoutmaster's blue cap with burns and scorches. 
 
The scoutmaster and investigators who returned to the site found his spotlight lying on the ground, still on, but were unable to find the other flashlight.  The FBI examined the scoutmaster's cap, damaged during the incident, and reported that there was no residue of whatever burned the three holes found in it.  A fourth hole, in the sweat band, did have the residue of a charred ember.  The report does not say the holes were made by cigarette burns.  The scorch marks on the cap were not present in the folds of material on the outside of the cap, indicating that the cap was probably not being worn while it was scorched.  The FBI report also notes some minute holes which are not obvious and states that these might have been made by an electrical spark. 
Unfortunately, the background and reputation of the scoutmaster make him an unreliable witness.  Of course, this is circumstantial, and hiring of a press agent later is circumstantial.  The sighting incident is included here because the soil and grass samples taken, from the spot where the UFO reportedly hovered, indicate something extraordinary happened: when the dirt and sand were knocked off, the roots were found to be charred.  The blades themselves were not damaged; they had never been heated, except on the extreme tips of the longer blades.  These had evidently been bending over, touching the ground, and were charred along with the roots.  The charring can be duplicated by placing live grass clumps in a pan of sand and dirt and heating to about 150° C over a gas burner.  No underground springs to heat the earth, or chemicals in the soil, were found.  The UFO reported in this incident was evidently radiating electromagnetically, with infrared/microwave energy heating the air underneath and penetrating the damp ground for a few centimeters, causing dielectric heating.  Similar phenomena have been reported in other close encounters with UFO.  See, e.g., UFO Reports Involving Vehicle Interference, pg 112; see also Crop Circles. 

Grass samples from immediate area. 
 

Grass samples from 70 m out. 
 
Sources: USAF 1964 file photos and text, with updates from The UFO Encyclopedia Vol. 2, pgs 146-149. 

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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:40 (2015)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952 Répondre en citant


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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:43 (2015)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952 Répondre en citant

LE DOSSIER COMPLET EN ANGLAIS


SPOTLIGHT 1952:
the
scoutmaster's
tale


Note: This Spotlight 1952 entry focuses on events from In The News 1952.




Above: April 24, 1910 feature in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.


EVEN FROM ITS EARLIEST days in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was an organization imbued with an aura of national significance. Though its first national headquarters was but an office in the New York City YMCA, its honorary president was United States President William Howard Taft, and its honorary vice-president was Taft's predecessor in the oval office, Theodore Roosevelt.

Within a year of its founding, more than 60,000 American boys and men had signed up to become scouts and scout leaders. That same year -- 1911 -- saw the adoption of the official "Twelve Points of the Scout Law", stating that a boy scout must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty brave, clean and reverent. Along with that came the adoption of the official "Scout Oath"...

On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the scout law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
Spurred by the emphasis on "reverence" and "duty to God", major religious denominations soon embraced the scouting movement and scouting's growth was explosive -- by 1920 there were nearly half a million active scouts, and by 1935 the movement reached the million-member milestone. By the year 1952 the Boy Scouts of America could boast more than three million male youths between the ages of 10 and 18-years old as active scouts, in tens of thousands of "troops", spread across thousands of cities, towns and hamlets; each boy following in the footsteps of a further seventeen million American males who had been through its ranks -- and through one or both world wars as well.

The wars had had a near-tangible effect on scouting -- coequal with religion was a scout's devotion to his country, which by the 1950s equated to a constant vigilance against communism and its plan to place the entire world under its godless thumb.

But even with the overlaying mantle of "God and Country", it was the first of the twelve scout laws -- "a scout is trustworthy" -- which most clearly defined a boy scout in the public mind, stretching back to the 1911 first edition of the scouting handbook, with its admonition that "a scout's honor must be trusted" and especially that a scout must never "violate his honor by telling a lie".

Which is one reason why public attention was so immediately riveted when in August, 1952, a Florida scoutmaster stumbled from a palmetto grove late one night holding tightly to a machete, and told his tale of being "attacked" by a flying saucer.







Above: Front page of the Hayward, California Daily Review, July 28, 1952 and a July 30, 1952 clipping from the files of Project Blue Book.

NOR HAD THE scoutmaster's tale occurred in a vacuum. The year 1952 had not only been prodigious but even overachieving in garnering "flying saucer" sighting reports from credible witnesses. Amongst such in that banner year were airline and military pilots, control tower operators, trained ground observer corps volunteers, clergymen, newsmen, meteorologists, policemen, sheriffs, highway patrolmen, government officials, and even battle-hardened airmen and soldiers in the midst of the Korean conflict. "Saucers" had been publicly reported near or over highly guarded nuclear sites, military bases and for two successive weekends even over the nation's capital, with simultaneous visual and radar sightings. And they had been reported singly and en masse -- both in the number of witnesses to an event and in the number of objects themselves.

In response, the United States Air Force -- charged with the aerial defense of the United States -- had been forced not only to respond in statement after statement but then to hold the largest press conference since World War II to address the issue. By August, 1952, the repeated Air Force statements of "no proof" and "no menace" had reached the status of mantra, as reflected in a news account from July 30, 1952 ...

Citation:

Air Force Has No Fear Of Saucers

WASHINGTON -- The air force says it's still checking into flying saucer reports, but it's certain of one thing: The saucers -- whatever they are -- don't seem to be a menace to the U.S. ...

A flurry of reports that scores of unidentified "objects had been spotted by radar in the Washington area during the past 10 days led the air force to call a special news conference Tuesday to tell what it knew -- or thought -- of the saucers.

The official air force conclusion:

About one-fifth of the sighting reports are "from credible observers, of relatively incredible things -- so we keep on being concerned about them."

Of the one-fifth for which there is no explanation, Maj. Gen. John A. Samford, Intelligence Director said:

"No pattern has ever been found that reveals anything remotely like a purpose or consistency that can in any way be associated with any menace to the United States."...



Which is one reason why the Air Force snapped to attention when -- three weeks following General Samford's assurance that the situation lacked any menace -- the scoutmaster's tale of being "attacked" by a saucer hit the press.






Above: July 29, 1952 photo op following the largest Pentagon press conference since World War II and devoted exclusively to the topic of "flying saucers". Shown from left to right are Captain R.L. James, Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey (seated, left), Capt. Edward Ruppelt (standing, center), Maj. Gen. John A. Samford (seated, right), Col. Donald L. Bower, and B.L. Griffing.

THOUGH THE AIR FORCE Directorate of Intelligence was headquartered at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., the locus of the official Air Force investigation into the phenomenon -- known as Project Blue Book -- was at the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Heading Blue Book was Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, who had just turned twenty-nine the month before.

And though the normal investigatory process at the time was to leave matters to the local intelligence officers of each air base to investigate and report, it would be Captain Ruppelt who would personally lead this particular investigation.

Ruppelt would write twice of the results of his effort -- first, as an officer in "memorandums for the record" which were contemporaneous with events, and then four years later as a civilian in his book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.

Ruppelt's two versions didn't always match.

But then, that just seemed to be the way of things whenever it came to matters concerning scoutmaster Dunham Sanborn DesVergers.






Above: First page of telex from local intelligence officer in Florida advising Air Force Directorate of Intelligence of scoutmaster situation.

FOR THE PUBLIC AT LARGE, first word of the incident came through a national newswire report on August 21, 1952. From the Albuquerque, New Mexico Tribune...

Citation:

Scout's Honor, Ball Of Fire Was Saucer

Scout's honor, those flying saucers are closing in on us.

Scoutmaster D.S. Desvergers said he not only saw a saucer within arm's reach but also was knocked down by a "ball of fire" immediately afterward.

Sheriff's deputies from West Palm Beach, who investigated the incident, said they could find nothing.

Desvergers left a group of boys to enter a patch of woods, to investigate "flares." He was armed with a machete.

When he had not returned in ten minutes, the boys called the sheriff who found the scoutmaster with three tiny holes burned in his cap and the hair singed off both his forearms.

Desvergers said that soon after entering the woods he smelled "burning metal." A sudden "depressed feeling" made him look up and there, virtually within reach, he said, was a flying saucer.

Immediately thereafter, the scoutmaster related, he was knocked down by a "ball of fire."

But for Project Blue Book, the first official word came that same morning in a two-page telex sent from the local intelligence officer to the Air Force Directorate of Intelligence in Washington...

Citation:

ATTN: INTELLIGENCE DIVISION PD ATTN: INTELLIGENCE OFFICER PD FLYOBRPT. ONE OBJECT SITED CIRCULAR SHAPE APPROX 30 FT DIAMETER, 3 FT THICK AT EDGE, 9 FT THICK IN CENTER, COLOR SLATE BLACK AND SMOOTH ON BOTTOM, NO VISIBLE RIVITS OR SEAMS ON BOTTOM. VISUAL SITING 2150E 19 AUG 52 FOR APPROX 5 MIN. SITED 3/4 MIL SOUTH OF JUNVOION LANTANA RD AND MILITARY TRAIL, WEST PALM BEACH FLA. OBSERVDR [Blacked Out], WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. SCOUTMASTER OF GOOD REPUTATION. EST OF RELIABILITY AND EXPERIENCE, EXCELLENT. STATES HE OBSERVED OBJECT HOVERED 10 FT REPEAT 10 FT ABOVE HIM FOR 5 MIN. HE SHINED LIGHT UP TO IT, LOWER SURFACE FLAT AND SLATE BLACK. HE FELT GREAT HEAT FROM IT AND HEARD HISSING SOUND. HE BACKED OFF FROM IT. DESCRIBES LOWER EDGE AS COMPLETELY CIRCLED BY PHOSPHORESCENT GLOW. HEARD NOISE LIKE SHIPS HATCH OPENING, OBJECT SHOT BLOB REDDISH GLOWING MATERIAL AT HIS FACE. HE THREW UP ARMS TO PROTECT FACE, HAIR ON FOREARMS SINGED OFF, BURNED HOLES IN CAP, GLOW ACCOMPANIED BY TERRIBLE SMELL. OBSERVER PASSED OUT FOR 25-30 MIN. 3 BOY SCOUTS IN OBSERVERS CAR SAW RED GLOW HIT [Blacked Out] AND SAW HIM FALL FORWARD. THEY RAN FOR HELP WHEN OBSERVER AWOKE OBJECT WAS GONE.

Then, after giving a few more details on local weather, the telex ended with...

Citation:

WRITTEN RPT FOLLOWS.

The local intelligence officer who had sent the telex was likely one Captain Carney. Whether his August 21st telex was the result of an investigation he is known to have conducted the day before, submitted in the normal course of procedure, or whether it was spurred by the emerging news coverage -- or perhaps both -- is unknown. But the same day that the telex reached Blue Book, an in-depth story would appear in the August 21, 1952 edition of the Palm Beach, Florida Post...

Citation:

Scoutmaster Tells Of 'Flying Saucer' Attack

"I heard hinges open, and then they shot at me," Scoutmaster D.S."Sonny" DesVergers said Wednesday afternoon in telling of the "flying saucer" which hovered over his head late Tuesday night in a clearing off Military Tr.

DesVergers of 333 Conniston Rd., said he was "still shaky" and had never been so nervous, as he unfolded only a partial story of what happened to him.

He talked in "snatches" between customers where he works at a hardware store on S. Dixie Hwy. near Belvedere Rd. and made it plain from the start he has been requested by military authorities at Palm Beach International Airport to withhold certain information he had given them.

The 30-year-old scoutmaster of Troop 33 said he was driving south on Military Tr. with three scouts at about 11 pm when he noticed a mysterious light in a clearing at a point about one-fourth mile south of Lantana Rd.

He left the scouts in the car, told them to summon help if he did not return in 10 minutes, and entered the woods armed with a machete.

In the clearing, several hundred feet from the road, a dirty-gray colored disc about 30 feet in diameter and about three feet thick hovered in the air, spewing a rapid exhaust, said DesVergers.

He said he stood under it and could almost touch it, when he heard hinges open and was shot in the face with a fiery weapon he declined to describe further.

Asked whether there was anything or anybody in the "saucer," DesVergers replied: "There's something about that but I can't tell you about it because the military officers asked me not to."

He did go on, though, to say the thing definitely was "metal of some type, but had no seams or rivets."

The fuming exhaust, DesVergers said, knocked him unconscious after the shot fired at him burned his face, arms and the cap on his head. The cap, he added, has been sent to Washington. It had three bad burn holes in it, he said.

DesVergers showed singe marks from the "Flare-action" of the shot that he said was fired at him and he had a salve on his arms and face.

Asked if he could compare the smell of the exhaust to Diesel fuel or anything else, DesVergers said, "No, I can't describe it."

He did not know how long he had been unconscious but said he managed to get up and start back toward the Trail before sheriff's deputies arrived. They reported they found the scoutmaster wandering around in the woods.

Four different men from the sheriff's office were named as having gone to the scene Wednesday morning with military authorities to investigate, but three of the four said they didn't go but thought the other went. One could not be contacted.

A military officer at the airport, who asked his name be withheld, said when asked about the investigation: "I can't tell you anything, we're under strict military regulations."

Charles Stevens, 807 Ridgeland Dr., one of the scouts in the car, said he saw a "big glowing white light" in the wooded area and DesVergers turned the car around and went back to investigate.

"It seemed to come down out of the sky, then dim out," young Stevens related Wednesday afternoon. He said he "still feels scared" from the incident.

"After it landed," young Stevens said, "there were about six reddish lights in a circle around it. They dimmed in about eight minutes after Sonny had gone into the woods.

"We waited a few more minutes and when he didn't return we left the car and ran to a nearby house where we called the Highway patrol. They probably called the sheriff's office."

Deputy Sheriff Mott N. Partin and Lake Worth Constable Louis Carroll reported they answered the call, joined the boys and found DesVergers in the woods.

David Rowan, 1001 Paseo Andorra, a scout in the car, said he was looking forward in the car and didn't see the first bright light the others reported, but saw the smaller lights on the thing as it hovered over the woods.

He said the bright flare effect which DesVergers described as the shot taken at him, went off about seven minutes after his scoutmaster entered the woods. He said it showered sparks all over the area like a roman candle.

Bobby Ruffing, Boynton Beach, third Scout in the car, could not be contacted for comment.

DesVergers, who said he was driving the scouts home, and at the time was en route to Boynton Beach, discounted early reports of the incident that the "saucer" exploded. He said "it apparently left" while he was unconscious.

Captain Ruppelt would later write of those early events in his 1956 book...

Citation:

By the middle of August, Project Blue Book was back to normal. Lieutenant Flues's Coca-Cola consumption had dropped from twenty bottles a day in mid-July to his normal five. We were all getting a good night's sleep and it was now a rare occasion when my home telephone would ring in the middle of the night to report a new UFO.

But then on the morning of August 20 I was happily taking a shower, getting ready to go to work, when one of these rare occasions occurred and the phone rang -- it was the ATIC OD. An operational immediate wire had just come in for Blue Book. He had gone over to the message center and gotten it. He thought that it was important and wanted me to come right out. For some reason he didn't want to read it over the phone, although it was not classified. I decided that if he said so I should come out, so I left in a hurry.

The wire was from the intelligence officer at an air base in Florida. The previous night a scoutmaster and three boy scouts had seen a UFO. The scoutmaster had been burned when he approached too close to the UFO. The wire went on to give a few sketchy details and state that the scoutmaster was a "solid citizen."

Though correct in its general overview, Ruppelt's 1956 account had finagled the date of the telex, making it seem as if subsequent events seem had occurred one day earlier than they in fact had. This was not the first time such an "error" appeared in Ruppelt's 1956 book, which had also shaved a day off the Air Force reaction to the Washington National sightings. In any case, Ruppelt's own contemporaneous "Memorandum for the Record" gives the correct date and time of events...

Citation:

On 21 August 1952 at approximately 8:40 A.M. Major Fournet of the D/I called Captain Ruppelt and asked whether or not we had received a wire from West Palm Beach, Florida. ATIC had not received the report and Major Fournet was so advised and stated that he could not read the report over the phone. However, he did ask that someone go to Florida and find out the answers to the following questions: --

1. What was the chemical analysis of the cap and remains of the clothes ash?

2. Examine the forearm.

3. Examine the ground with a geigercounter [sic].

4. Reinterrogate the three boyscouts [sic, throughout] and determine the altitude at which they first saw the blob.

5. What vegetation is in the area?

6. Was the flashlight on the ground near his hand when he regained consciousness?

7. Is the scout master subject to fainting spells?

8. All circumstances surrounding the sighting, such as:

a. How far away were the three boyscouts?

b. What caused them to look up?

c. What was the purpose of the trip?

d. How far were they away from the scout master?

Ruppelt's 1956 account tells what happened next...

Citation:

I immediately put in a long-distance call to the intelligence officer. He confirmed the data in the wire. He had talked briefly to the scoutmaster on the phone and from all he could gather it was no hoax. The local police had been contacted and they verified the story and the fact of the burns.

I asked the intelligence officer to contact the scoutmaster and ask if he would submit to a physical examination immediately. I could imagine the rumors that could start about the scoutmaster's condition, and I wanted proof. The report sounded good, so I told the intelligence officer I'd get down to see him as soon as possible.

I immediately called Colonel Dunn, then chief at ATIC, and gave him a brief rundown. He agreed that I should go down to Florida as soon as possible and offered to try to get an Air Force B-25, which would save time over the airlines.

I told Bob Olsson to borrow a Geiger counter at Wright Field, then check out a camera. I called my wife and asked her to pack a few clothes and bring them out to me. Bob got the equipment, ran home and packed a bag, and in two hours he and I and our two pilots, Captain Bill Hoey and Captain David Douglas, were on our way to Florida to investigate one of the weirdest UFO reports that I came up against.

When we arrived, the intelligence officer arranged for the scoutmaster to come out to the air base. The latter knew we were coming, so he arrived at the base in a few minutes. He was a very pleasant chap, in his early thirties, not at all talkative but apparently willing to co-operate.

Once again, though the general overview is correct, the timing of events is skewed. Ruppelt and company did arrive in Florida on the evening of the same day they had received the telex, Thursday the 21st, but they did not meet with the scoutmaster, D.S."Sonny" DesVergers, until late the next day, Friday the 22nd -- a full two days later than portrayed in Ruppelt's 1956 account. In the interim DesVergers had been examined by the local medical officer, as requested by Ruppelt, this examination occurring the evening of Thursday the 21st. In addition, Captain Carney -- the local intelligence officer -- had not merely "talked briefly to the scoutmaster on the phone" but in fact had secured written statements from DesVergers and the three scouts before Ruppelt's arrival. All of this is known because a week later, on August 27, 1952, Ruppelt composed an official "Memorandum for the Record" laying out the details of his group's trip and interview of DesVergers...

Citation:

Memorandum for Record

27 August 1952

Subject: Investigation of Unidentified Aerial Object Reported by Mr. D.S. DesVergers.

1. On 21 Aug 52 Capt E.J. Ruppelt and 2/Lt R.M. Olsson of Blue Book and Capt Hoey and Capt Douglas Davis departed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at approximately 1500 EST in a B-25 aircraft for West Palm Beach Municipal Airport, Florida. At approximately 1930 EST they arrived at West Palm Beach, Florida. Capt Hoey and Capt Davis originally planned to return to Wright-Patterson AFB, but due to mechanical trouble with the B-25 they stayed and participated in the investigation.

2. Upon landing, the ATIC group spoke to the Airdrome Officer Capt Zaha. He was aware of the purpose of the trip. He mentioned that people has [sic] seen flares in the vicinity of the sighting area at some unknown time and said that it was generally believed that the scout master had been hit by a flare. At the time of the talk with Capt Zaha, no details as to what he was referring to were obtained as it was assumed that they were well known by the Intelligence Officer. However, later Capt Zaha's story became more significant but he could not be located. (More details have been requested from him).

3. On the morning of 22 Aug 52 Capt Carney, Wing Intelligence Officer of the 1707th Air Base Wing, West Palm Beach Municipal Airport, Florida, was contacted. He showed the ATIC party copies of statements he had received from the scoutmaster, three boy scouts, and other possible witnesses to the incident. These statements are being forwarded through channels per Air Force Letter 200-5. The contents of the statements are the same as details obtained in interview. Details of these interviews will be given in this memo, consequently the contents of the signed statements will not be discussed.

4. Capt [Blacked Out], a medical officer at the air base who had examined Mr. DesVergers on the evening of 21 Aug 52 was contacted. His complete report will be forwarded with the Form 112 through channels. He stated that Mr. DesVergers was normal physically. The hair on the back of his forearms was singed, but not badly. The skin on his forearms showed no signs of blisters, burns, or redness. He stated that if the skin had been burned it was very minor as there was absolutely no after-effects (Comment: this examination took place 46 hours after the incident). Mr. DerVergers [sic] stated that the hair in his nostrils had also been singed but that he had cut it out. There was no apparent evidence of this, however, the medical officer stated that he has some doubt as to several points in DesVergers' story.

a. He stated that he had received an "Other Than Honorable" discharge from the Marines in 1944. He had been hitch-hiking and was picked up by an unknown person. The person got tired of driving and asked DesVergers to drive, which he did. They were picked up by law enforcement officers and it turned out that the car was stolen. He was arrested and charged with Auto Theft, in Civil Court, but the charges were later dropped. He said that because of this incident he was discharged from the Marines. (His Marine records have been requested).

b. He stated that in 1948 he had had an accident in which an automobile slipped of [sic] hoist and fell on his stomach. He was hospitalized 3½ months for Diathermy treatment. The medical officer thought this was highly unlikely due to the fact that Diathermy treatments do not require hospitalization.

c. When asked if he had ever had nightmares, he stated a flat "no", but said that once he did have a dream about a beautiful woman and was still looking for her. (Comment: The only reason this is mentioned in the report is that it is possible that it has some bearing on the psychological angle). The medical officer was convinced that the psychological aspects of the case should be pursued. (Comment: It was evident that there had been a personality clash between the medic and Mr. DesVergers. For some reason the medic took an apparent dim view of DesVergers).

5. About noon on 22 Aug 52 Capts Ruppelt, Hoey, Davis and Lt Olsson of ATIC, Capt Carney and an airman from the 1707th Air Base Wing Intelligence, the medical officer, two sheriffs from the Palm Beach County [sic], and an airman staff-car driver visited the scene of the incident. (See attached map and sketch).

6. The deputies gave their account of the incident. At about 2200 EST on the night of 19 Aug 52, they were called and told that the boyscouts [sic throughout] were at a house asking for help. They proceeded in separate cars to the house (see map), picked up the scouts and returned to the car on the road. (Returned to DesVergers' car)[sic, no end punctuation mark] At approximately 2230 EST they saw DesVergers coming through the palmettos with no light, waving his machete. They were a little dubious of the whole situation and refused to come and help DesVergers as he was requesting. He finally came out and explained the incident to the officers. They made one definite conclusion, in all their experience as peace officers they had never seen a person as frightened as DesVergers was at that time.

7. They took him back into the woods and at the approximate spot he described, they found his flashlight, a large light similar to the ones used by railroad men, face down still burning. They also found what they believe to be a place where a person had been lying near the light. The spot was marked with tree branches. They then took DesVergers to the sheriff's office in West Palm Beach. When they arrived he retold his story and they examined his burns. They said his arm was reddened and that the hair on his arms was singed. They did not notice, nor was it mentioned by DesVergers, that the hair in his nostrils was singed.

8. The area, 50 yards around the spot where the flashlight was found, was searched. There was no above normal radiation, no burned foliage or grass, no broken or trampled foliage or trees (other than that damaged by the sheriff and the search party) no sign of debris such as flares. Nothing unusual of any description was found. The grass and foliage in the area of the spot over which the object hovered was compared to the grass and foliage 50 yards away. There was no difference in the appearance.

9. One boyscout, a Bobby Ruffing, aged 12 was contacted. In the presence of his mother he stated that he had been riding with DesVergers and two other boyscouts. As they were passing the spot where DesVergers later entered the woods, DerVergers [sic] saw a light. They did not see it. Seconds later they all saw another light. One scout wanted to go on, but DesVergers turned around and went back to the spot and stopped. He instructed the scouts to wait 10 minutes and if he was not back to call for help. Ruffing stated that the boys observed DesVergers going through the palmettos because they could see his light. Then he said they could see a red light go toward him, saw him silhouetted in the red light and saw him fall. Then they ran up the road to a house that had a light to get help. They called the highway patrol from the house.

10. Approximately 1800 on 22 Aug 52 Capt Carney sent a staff car to pick up DesVergers in West Palm Beach and bring him out to the air base for an interview. He arrived at about 1830 having not taken time to eat and was met by Capts Ruppelt, Hoey, Davis, Carney, Lt Olsson, and a staff sergeant from Capt Carney's office. DesVergers was very cooperative, he appeared to be normal, but just a shade on the "cocky" side (Comment: Possibly from being nervous???). The following account is taken from notes that were takenby [sic] Capt Ruppelt during the interview and are as near true statements as possible.

11. "I was going south (along Military Trail) about 40 MPH fooling around with the kids (boyscouts) when I caught a flash of light out of the corner of my eye. I looked around and saw a series of fuzzy lights like cabin windows of an airliner. They were headed down at about a 45° angle into the woods, then the kids saw it. I stopped and talked it over with kids then went on. I stopped again because I thought that if it were an aircraft that had crashed, I had better try to help. I turned around and went back. There was a radio Program that had just come on, it was 9:45. I told the kids to estimate when the program was 2/3 over (10 minutes) and if I hadn't come out by that time to go for help as I would probably need it. I judged the lights were about two miles from the road. I picked my way through the palmettos, looking at the stars to keep on a 90° track from the road and shining my light over the tops of the palmettos to find the easy path. I looked at my watch and noticed four minutes (time now 2149). Then I noticed an open spot ahead of me and stopped, thinking it might be a lake. It turned out to be a clearing. I saw no lights on the way in".

12. "As I said I was surprised at reaching a clearing, thinking it might be a lake, and I carefully stepped forward with the light pointing toward the ground. I had a second two cell flashlight in my backpocket [sic, throughout]".

13. "When I first stepped into the clearing I noticed a peculiar smell. I went two or three spaces when I had the feeling of somebody or something was watching me. I kept on going and began to feel heat, like walking close to an oven. It was hot and humid like and it seemed to be coming from above. I hadn't thought of looking up, when I did I couldn't see the sky. (Comment: On being requestioned on this part he meant that he couldn't see stars.) I knew I had run into something rough. I stood frozen in my tracks, I wanted to throw something or hit it with my machete. I felt for my flashlight in my backpocket and thought of throwing it, but was too scared. (Comment: This establishes that he didn't loose [sic] his flashlight going into the clearing). The bottom of the object was dull black with no seams, joints or rivet lines. It had dirty streaks running straight across as if oil or dust had blown back. (Comment: When asked if they were circular or concentric rings he said "no".) I tried to run but froze, I was so scared. The object was about 6" to 8" above the pine trees. I then got control of myself and backed away. I could feel the heat lessen as I backed out from under the edge of the ship. I looked up and saw the edge of the ship silhouetted against the sky. It was round with a dome shape top and with holes and fins running around the edge. The bottom edge seemed to glow with a sort of phosphorescent glow, like phosphorus in the sea at night (see sketch). They seemed to be as scared of me as I was of them. (Comment: He repeated this frequently during the interview. When asked how he knew or what he meant, he said the object appeared to move back as he approached).

14. "I had my light on the object and couldn't get my eyes off it, but as soon as I backed off I could see the object silhouetted against the sky. I could see the dome. Then I heard metal against metal, like a hatch opening and thought someone was going to watch me (Comment: ??-This could be an error in note taking). I said a million prayers. I saw something momentarily but couldn't see what it was. Next I saw a red flare which appeared slowly to move toward me. It came out of the side, I couldn't move or yell I was so scared. I could see the ship in the glow of the red light (Comment: He kept referring to the object as a "ship" all the time). I put my hands over my face (Comment: Fists closed, hand over each eye, palms toward face and elbows in stomach). I could see a red mist around me, then passed out."

15. "When I woke up I was standing next to a tree, I think. I seem to remember stumbling through palmettos. I couldn't see and my eyes burned. I slowly began to come back. I saw lights through the trees and started running toward them, I didn't even know whether or not my feet were hitting the ground. I thought I might be dead. Next I met the deputies and we went back to get my light. The two cell fashlight [sic] is still missing."

16. Next DesVergers mentioned a dream that he had had the night before. He said that he was unable to sleep nights from thinking of his experience and had attempted to get a sedative from the druggist. The druggist would not sell him a sedative, however, and he finally got to sleep by taking several aspirins. He stated that he had a dream in which he had jumped across the ditch into the clearing and was fighting with the "ship" in the air. He thinks from the dream he might be able to go back and find where he lost the flashlight, as the whole evenings performance seemed to have come back to him in his dream.

17. Upon being reinterrogated as to times, he stated that he went into the woods nearly exactly 9:45 P.M. He said for the boys to leave for help after 10 minutes. He thinks it was 8 minutes from the time he left the car until this red light hit him in the face. He was 4 minutes getting to the edge of the palmetto clearing.

18. Upon being reinterrogated about the odor that he smelled, he stated that it was an "acute, sharp smell". He had never smelled anything like it before. He works with muratic [sic] acid and knows how that smells. It had a sickening nauseating smell. He thinks that the odor was what made him pass out. He had a woozy feeling while he was passing out, similar to being put under anesthetic.

19. Upon being reinterrogated he went back over the following points:

a. "It was hotter than standing next to an oven, more like walking into an oven. The heat was concentrated down. The further he went under the "ship" the hotter it got. He stated he perspired and felt cool when he came out from under the object.

b. "A red mist engulfed him. He was not conscious of any change in temperature when the red mist hit him. Even if it burned he still could not have felt any burn he was so scared. His eyes were glued on the object. He put his hands up before it hit him.

c. When he came to he was in the palmettos before he finally realized where he was.

d. He felt no downwash of any kind. He did hear a babbling sound. It was possibly the boyscouts in the car, however, he was not sure of this.

e. He heard a hissing sound after he entered the clearing and noticed the object. He heard the hissing all the time he was conscious.

f. He was asked the smell of his hat to see if the odor might still be clinging to the fabric, however, it was not.

20. A discrete attempt was made to try to get Mr. DesVergers involved in a discussion of "flying saucers." He stated that he had seen a movie, "When the Worlds Collide", but that was all. He did not read "flying saucer" stories in the newspaper although he had noticed the headlines of a couple of them.

21. Mr. DesVergers stated that several people had contacted him regarding his story. They were: a) A scientist came to his store to see him. The scientist was from Schenectady, New York. He did not know his name and brushed him off. b) A person from the University of Alabama, wanted him to make a recording. He told the person that he was not interested. c) Two people from the University of Florida contacted him. They said it was evident that he knew more than he was saying, but that he would not talk to them. d) A reporter from Time Magazine, who he wouldn't talk to, contacted him on the 21st. e) Some Miami radio station offered him cash for his story. f) A newspaper woman that he had known all through high school days called him but he wouldn't talk. (Comment: The above accounts are strictly DesVergers' story. They were not checked by ATIC). He appeared to like to tell how important he was.

22. DesVergers stated that he had two comments to make. They were:

a. What made it suspend? We (probably meaning the United Stated [sic]) can't defy gravity. He doubted that it was manufactured "here". (Comment: He probably means the United States).

b. He thought that since we are reaching out into space someone else may be and are possibly ahead of us. He said he believed that the object was probably from outer space.

23. Mr. DesVergers then asked what he should do about people coming to talk to him. He stated that he would be very glad to cooperate with the Air Force and not talk to anyone if he was not supposed to. He was advised by Capt Ruppelt that it was the policy of this project not to ask any civilian to withhold any information, and the fact that we were trying to "shut him up" was not true. He then stated that he would go home and call the newspapers and give them the story to "get them off his neck." He was advised that he was free to do so. He seemed to be rather proud of the fact that he was brushed off [sic] so many newspaper people and others who are interested. He seemed to take great pride in throwing around such facts as people are offering money, professors had called, Time magazine had called, radio station had called, etc.

Some points made in the memorandum itself raise further questions. For instance, point number eight...

Citation:

8. The area, 50 yards around the spot where the flashlight was found, was searched. There was no above normal radiation, no burned foliage or grass, no broken or trampled foliage or trees (other than that damaged by the sheriff and the search party) no sign of debris such as flares. Nothing unusual of any description was found. The grass and foliage in the area of the spot over which the object hovered was compared to the grass and foliage 50 yards away. There was no difference in the appearance.

This point follows directly a description of DesVergers' first interaction with the sheriff -- Mott Partin -- who arrived at the scene. But since point number seven concludes with the sheriff taking DesVergers back to the station, it is likely that point number eight refers back to point number five...

Citation:

5. About noon on 22 Aug 52 Capts Ruppelt, Hoey, Davis and Lt Olsson of ATIC, Capt Carney and an airman from the 1707th Air Base Wing Intelligence, the medical officer, two sheriffs from the Palm Beach County [sic], and an airman staff-car driver visited the scene of the incident. (See attached map and sketch).

Likewise, point number nine...

Citation:

9. One boyscout, a Bobby Ruffing, aged 12 was contacted. In the presence of his mother he stated that he had been riding with DesVergers and two other boyscouts...

...likely refers to the statement given to Captain Carney before Ruppelt and company arrived.

And point number seven's assertion that there was "no burned foliage or grass" directly contradicts a statement from sheriff Partin in a news story which appeared the day of the group's interview with DesVergers. From the August 22, 1952 edition of the St. Petersburg, Florida Times...

Citation:

Charts Marked With Swastikas Found In Water

WEST PALM BEACH -- Twenty-six German swastika-marked navigation charts were discovered floating in the ocean yesterday to further mystify residents already upset by a Scoutmaster's report of a "flying saucer" Tuesday night.

The charts were picked up by E.W. Symonette, a Riviera Beach commercial fisherman, about three miles from shore off Palm Beach Inlet.

Symonette brought the bundle of charts to the Acme Fish Co. Immigration authorities and members of the naval Reserve were told of the find.

CHIEF LEWIS NIGHTOWER of the Naval Reserve Training Center, Riviera Beach, said the charts were mostly of South America, about three by five feet in size, and apparently hadn't been in the water more than 10 hours.

Two immigration men examined the charts but said they were not interested because they did not deal with local waters.

Meanwhile intelligence officers of the military Air Transport Service at Palm Beach International Airport were reported still checking the story of a "flying saucer" Scoutmaster D.S. (Sonny) Desvergers said exploded over his head after he followed it into some woods.

Deputy Sheriff Mott N. Partin and Lake Worth Constable Louie Carroll, who questioned Desvergers shortly after the incident, said they had "never seen a man so scared."

Desvergers said he and three Boy Scouts saw "bright red flashes" over some woods at 11 p.m. Tuesday.

THE 30-YEAR-OLD Scoutmaster left the boys in his car on the road and plunged into the woods. A few minutes later he claimed he smelled something "like hot metal and was overcome by a depressed feeling."

He said he looked up and saw a "saucer" almost within arms reach. It was a dirty gray disc-shaped object about 30 feet in diameter and three or four feet thick, he said.

When he tried to run "a ball of fire" came at him and knocked him to the ground, he told the officers. The next thing he remembered was running back to the road.

Partin said he found the clearing in the woods the next day "and the grass was scorched and blistered and the place had a burned smell."

The "next day" presumably would refer to -- although completely unmentioned in the memorandum -- the following from the August 21, 1952, Palm Beach Post story...

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Four different men from the sheriff's office were named as having gone to the scene Wednesday morning with military authorities to investigate...

That would be Wednesday, August 20th, the day before Ruppelt and company arrived. Why sheriff Partin would say "the grass was scorched and blistered" in the news story and then Ruppelt write in his memorandum that there was "no burned foliage or grass" is confounding.

And then there is the matter of point number twenty-three...

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23. Mr. DesVergers then asked what he should do about people coming to talk to him. He stated that he would be very glad to cooperate with the Air Force and not talk to anyone if he was not supposed to. He was advised by Capt Ruppelt that it was the policy of this project not to ask any civilian to withhold any information, and the fact that we were trying to "shut him up" was not true...

But in fact, Captain Carney had received a statement from DesVergers before Ruppelt and company arrived, and would have been the officer DesVergers was referring to in the August 21st news story...

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Asked whether there was anything or anybody in the "saucer," DesVergers replied: "There's something about that but I can't tell you about it because the military officers asked me not to."

...which seems in perfect accordance with another part of that same article...

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A military officer at the airport, who asked his name be withheld, said when asked about the investigation: "I can't tell you anything, we're under strict military regulations."

Unfortunately, some key documents mentioned in the memorandum are not available in Blue Book's declassified files to help clarify matters. For instance, the "complete report" by the medical officer is missing. Nor is there any written report by Captain Carney of his initial investigation prior to Ruppelt's arrival, nor the requested records of DesVergers' time in the Marine Corps. But perhaps most damaging to achieving a full understanding, the "statements he [Captain Carney] had received from the scoutmaster, three boy scouts, and other possible witnesses to the incident" which had been shown to Ruppelt are missing from Blue Book's declassified files as well -- with the possible exception of one undated, typewritten statement which may have been taken at the time -- or may have been composed at a later date...

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AL STEVENS' GARAGE
523 OKEECHOBEE ROAD   PHONE 5541
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA
We were heading south on Military Trail about one quarter mile south of Lantana Road when we saw a big glare of white light and then it went out. Sonny stopped the car and got out. David Rowen [sic, should be Rowan] persuaded him to come back to the car and we started south again.

When we were a half mile further south we looked back and saw six red lights where we had seen the white light. We turned around and headed north. Then Sonny stopped the car and armed with a machete and two lights started in the woods. He was gone about seven minutes when we saw something like a flame thrower shooting flame or something that looked like Roman Candles. In a few seconds everything went dim including Sonny's light. We waited a few minutes and then we turned the car lights on bright and ran to the nearest house and called the Highway Patrol.


[Illegible Signature]


Again, the letter is undated. Presumably the Al Stevens of the letterhead is scout Charles Stevens' father. Also presumably the adult verbiage indicates 11-year old Charles had at least help in its composition. None of which makes any clearer the question of if it was one of the original statements given to Captain Carney prior to Ruppelt's arrival, or composed at some later date.

And matters aren't made any clearer by Captain Ruppelt's 1956 account, which once again would vary -- sometimes greatly -- with his 1952 memorandum...

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He was a very pleasant chap, in his early thirties, not at all talkative but apparently willing to co-operate.

While he was giving us a brief personal history, I had the immediate impression that he was telling the truth. He'd lived in Florida all of his life. He'd gone to a private military prep school, had some college, and then had joined the Marines. He told us that he had been in the Pacific most of the war and repeated some rather hairy stories of what he'd been through. After the war he'd worked as an auto mechanic, then gone to Georgia for a while to work in a turpentine plant. After returning to Florida, he opened a gas station, but some hard luck had forced him to sell out. He was now working as a clerk in a hardware store. Some months back a local church had decided to organize a boy scout troop and he had offered to be the scoutmaster.

On the night before the weekly scout meeting had broken up early. He said that he had offered to give four of the boys a ride home. He had let one of the boys out when the conversation turned to a stock car race that was to take place soon. They talked about the condition of the track. It had been raining frequently, and they wondered if the track was flooded, so they drove out to look at it. Then they started south toward a nearby town to take another of the boys home. They took a black-top road about 10 miles inland from the heavily traveled coastal highway that passes through sparsely settled areas of scrub pine and palmetto thickets.

They were riding along when the scoutmaster said that he noticed a light off to his left in the pines. He slowed down and asked the boys if they'd seen it; none of them had. He started to drive on, when he saw the lights again. This time all of the boys saw them too, so he stopped. He said that he wanted to go back into the woods to see what was going on, but that the boys were afraid to stay alone. Again he started to drive on, but in a few seconds decided he had to go back. So he turned the car around, went back, and parked beside the road at a point just opposite where he'd seen the lights.

I stopped him at this point to find out a little bit more about why he'd decided to go back. People normally didn't go running off into palmetto thickets infested with rattlesnakes at night. He had a logical answer. The lights looked like an airplane crashing into the woods some distance away. He didn't believe that was what he saw, but the thought that this could be a possibility bothered him. After all, he had said, he was a scoutmaster, and if somebody was in trouble, his conscience would have bothered him the rest of his life if he hadn't investigated and it had been somebody in need of help.

A fifteen-minute radio program had just started, and he told the boys that he was going to go into the woods, and that if he wasn't back by the time the program ended they should run down the road to a farmhouse that they had passed and get help. He got out and started directly into the woods, wearing a faded denim billed cap and carrying machete and two flashlights. One of the lights was a spare he carried in his back pocket.

He had traveled about 50 yards off the road when he ran into a palmetto thicket, so he stopped and looked for a clear path. But finding none, he started pushing his way through the waist-high tangle of brush.

When he stopped, he recalled later, he had first become aware of an odd odor. He couldn't exactly describe it to us, except to say that it was "sharp" or "pungent." It was very faint, actually more like a subconscious awareness at first. Another sensation he recalled after the incident was a very slight difference in temperature, hardly perceivable, like walking by a brick building in the evening after the sun has set. He hadn't thought anything about either the odor or the heat at the time but later, when they became important, he remembered them.

Paying no attention to these sensations then, he pushed on through the brush, looking up occasionally to check the north star, so that he could keep traveling straight east. After struggling through about 30 yards of palmetto undergrowth, he noticed a change in the shadows ahead of him and stopped to shine the flashlight farther ahead of him to find out if he was walking into a clearing or into one of the many ponds that dot that particular Florida area. It was a clearing.

The boy scouts in the car had been watching the scoutmaster's progress since they could see his light bobbing around. Occasionally he would shine it up at a tree or across the landscape for an instant, so they knew where he was in relation to the trees and thickets. They saw him stop at the edge of the open, shadowed area and shine his light ahead of him.

The scoutmaster then told us that when he stopped this second time he first became consciously aware of the odor and the heat. Both became much more noticeable as he stepped into the clearing. In fact, the heat became almost unbearable or, as he put it, "oppressively moist, making it hard to breathe."

He walked a few more paces and suddenly got a horrible feeling that somebody was watching him. He took another step, stopped, and looked up to find the north star. But he couldn't see the north star, or any stars. Then he suddenly saw that almost the whole sky was blanked out by a large dark shape about 30 feet above him.

He said that he had stood in this position for several seconds, or minutes -- he didn't know how long -- because now the feeling of being watched had overcome any power of reasoning he had. He managed to step back a few paces, and apparently got out from under the object, because he could see the edge of it silhouetted against the sky.

As he backed up, he said, the air became much cooler and fresher, helping him to think more clearly. He shone his light up at the edge of the object and got a quick but good look. It was circular-shaped and slightly concave on the bottom. The surface was smooth and a grayish color. He pointed to a gray linoleum-topped desk in the intelligence officer's room. "Just like that," he said. The upper part had a dome in the middle, like a turret. The edge of the saucer-shaped object was thick and had vanes spaced about every foot, like buckets on a turbine wheel. Between each vane was a small opening, like a nozzle.

The next reaction that the scoutmaster recalled was one of fury. He wanted to harm or destroy whatever it was that he saw. All he had was a machete, but he wanted to try to jump up and strike at whatever he was looking at. No sooner did he get this idea than he noticed the shadows on the turret change ever so slightly and heard a sound, "like the opening of a well-oiled safe door." He froze where he stood and noticed a small ball of red fire begin to drift toward him. As it floated down it expanded into a cloud of red mist. He dropped his fight and machete, and put his arms over his face. As the mist enveloped him, he passed out.

The boy scouts, in the car, estimated that their scoutmaster had been gone about five minutes when they saw him stop at the edge of the clearing, then walk on in. They saw him stop seconds later, hesitate a few more seconds, then shine the light up in the air. They thought he was just looking at the trees again. The next thing they said they saw was a big red ball of fire engulfing him. They saw him fall, so they spilled out of the car and took off down the road toward the farmhouse.

The farmer and his wife had a little difficulty getting the story out of the boys, they were so excited. All they could get was something about the boys' scoutmaster being in trouble down the road. The farmer called the Florida State Highway Patrol, who relayed the message to the county sheriff's office. In a few minutes a deputy sheriff and the local constable arrived. They picked up the scouts and drove to where their car was parked.

The scoutmaster had no idea of how long he had been unconscious. He vaguely remembered leaning against a tree, the feeling of wet, dew-covered grass, and suddenly regaining his consciousness. His first reaction was to get out to the highway, so he started to run. About halfway through the palmetto thicket he saw a car stop on the highway. He ran toward it and found the deputy and constable with the boys.

He was so excited he could hardly get his story told coherently. Later the deputy said that in all his years as a law-enforcement officer he had never seen anyone as scared as the scoutmaster was as he came up out of the ditch beside the road and walked into the glare of the headlights. As soon as he'd told his story, they all went back into the woods, picking their way around the palmetto thicket. The first thing they noticed was the flashlight, still burning, in a clump of grass. Next to it was a place where the grass was flattened down, as if a person had been lying there. They looked around for the extra light that the scoutmaster had been carrying, but it was gone. Later searches for this missing flashlight were equally fruitless. They marked the spot where the crushed grass was located and left. The constable took the boy scouts home and the scoutmaster followed the deputy to the sheriff's office. On the way to town the scoutmaster said he first noticed that his arms and face burned. When he arrived at the sheriff's office, he found that his arms, face, and cap were burned. The deputy called the Air Force.

There were six people listening to his story. Bob Olsson, the two pilots, the intelligence officer, his sergeant, and I. We each had previously agreed to pick one insignificant detail from the story and then re-question the scoutmaster when he had finished. Our theory was that if he had made up the story he would either repeat the details perfectly or not remember what he'd said. I'd used this many times before, and it was a good indicator of a lie. He passed the test with flying colors. His story sounded good to all of us.

We talked for about another hour, discussing the event and his background. He kept asking, "What did I see?" -- evidently thinking that I knew. He said that the newspapers were after him, since the sheriff's office had inadvertently leaked the story, but that he had been stalling them off pending our arrival. I told him it was Air Force policy to allow people to say anything they wanted to about a UFO sighting. We had never muzzled anyone; it was his choice. With that, we thanked him, arranged to pick up the cap and machete to take back to Dayton, and sent him home in a staff car.

By this time it was getting late, but I wanted to talk to the flight surgeon who had examined the man that morning. The intelligence officer found him at the hospital and he said he would be right over. His report was very thorough. The only thing he could find out of the ordinary were minor burns on his arms and the back of his hands. There were also indications that the inside of his nostrils might be burned. The degree of burn could be compared to a light sunburn. The hair had also been singed, indicating a flash heat.

The flight surgeon had no idea how this specifically could have happened. It could have even been done with a cigarette lighter, and he took his lighter and singed a small area of his arm to demonstrate. He had been asked only to make a physical check, so that is what he'd done, but he did offer a suggestion. Check his Marine records; something didn't ring true. I didn't quite agree; the story sounded good to me.

Ruppelt's "hail fellow, and well met" portrayal in his 1956 account of the group interview with DesVergers is obviously largely fabrication. As shown in the memorandum the group was already aware of the stolen car incident, as well as DesVergers' "'Other Than Honorable' discharge from the Marines" and DesVergers' questionable medical claims. More importantly, the group knew because DesVergers himself had volunteered the information about the circumstances of his "other than honorable" discharge (point 4a of the memorandum).

Also Ruppelt's assertion in 1956 that the medical officer examining DesVergers found "indications that the inside of his nostrils might be burned" is somewhat different than the statement in Ruppelt's 1952 memorandum, which stated that during the medical examination...

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Mr. DerVergers [sic] stated that the hair in his nostrils had also been singed but that he had cut it out.

Nor do the many details of the DesVergers' and the scouts' activities prior to the incident appear anywhere in Ruppelt's 1952 memorandum, and for good reason -- they were learned much later from people other than DesVergers, as will be seen.

And the question still remains as to why Ruppelt's 1952 memorandum states there was "no burned foliage or grass", while sheriff Partin would be quoted as saying just the opposite -- and not for the last time.

But -- as stated previously -- that just seems to be the way of things whenever it comes to matters concerning scoutmaster "Sonny" DesVergers.






Left: Hat with burn holes from Project Blue Book files. Right: National newswire photo of DesVergers pointing to where his arm hair was singed.

HAVING BEEN ASSURED by Ruppelt that "it was the policy of this project not to ask any civilian to withhold any information", DesVergers followed through on his statement that "that he would go home and call the newspapers and give them the story to 'get them off his neck.'" From the August 23, 1952 edition of the Palm Beach Post...

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High-Rank Officers Quiz 'Saucer' Victim

By C.W. Cabaniss
Post-Times Staff

"We don't have it here -- I was shown proof of it." This was the grim statement of D.S. "Sonny" DesVergers, 333 Conniston Rd., referring to the "flying saucer" he had seen here late Tuesday night.

These were his words after a "two-hour grilling behind closed doors" at Palm Beach International Airport before "a board of high-ranking military officers from Washington."

DesVergers wouldn't clarify the statement that "we don't have it here," except to say that "it's not ours."

He said a "higher-ranking" officer is slated to interview him today.

"They told me I'm the only one in the world who has come within reaching distance of a 'saucer'," DesVergers exclaimed.

He said, "The Army has examined and re-examined me -- both mentally and physically -- since Wednesday, and last night (Thursday) they game me a clean bill of health in both cases."

The 30-year old scoutmaster, a former Marine and student in 1940 at the University of Florida, during an hour-and-a-half long interview last night at his home after the board got through with him, gave a more complete account of the "saucer" incident.

He was calm and seemed sincere as he unraveled his story in much greater detail than before, but had "no answer" to many pertinent questions. "I'd like to get it all off my chest and get it over with," DesVergers said, "but I've told them I'd wait until they clear me from my security pledge."

"It's not foolish to say that it will determine the future of all of us someday," Sonny said, and added, "the Army's theory and mine coincide."

"I know what it is and it's of vital importance, but it's better for me not to go any farther for the public good because it may cause another 'Orson Wells' panic.

"Things have been seen since the 18th Century," DesVergers said records shown him last night revealed.

"It was a sickening, nauseating stench worse than rotten eggs -- more like burning flesh," DesVergers said in describing the flare that was aimed at him and seemed to "float slowly at his face [sic, no closing quotation mark] late Tuesday night when he "unknowingly walked under the saucer" off Military Trail near Lantana Rd.

"Then I blacked out. It didn't hurt but was the same temperature as the close air right under the mushroom-shaped object which made only a hissing sound like a tire going down."

He continued, "It was large enough for six or eight men to stand up in it. It was about 10 feet high as I kept my light on it and backed out from under it and saw it from a right angle. It was shaped like a 'half-rubber' [sic, should be half-rubber ball] tapering down to about a three-foot thickness on the sides. There was a phosphorous effect around the sides.

"I believe I was under and near it for about three minutes, or what seemed like ten years, as I tried to scream and run but at first I couldn't move an inch.

"I saw it in every detail as I finally was able to move and back slowly away from it as it hissed and hovered unsupported about 10 feet from the ground. It was about 30 feet in diameter," said DesVergers who related he went into the woods first thinking an airliner had crashed.

"There seemed to be windows in it like an airliner when I first saw it, and then it made a sharp angle descent toward the ground. My first thought was to give assistance, but I didn't hear anything crash.

"I couldn't find anything as I pushed through the brush but the air got warmer as I went and I became aware that all was not right.

"Then I heard the hissing sound and as I moved it got louder. I flashed my lamp up and I was right under it.

"I don't scare very easily but I did then.

"I believe they (he wouldn't clarify who "they" were) were as afraid of me as I was of them and the flash sent at me seems now as if it was to keep me from finding out something about it, or from keeping it on the ground.

"The ball of fire came directly for my head. I don't know if it would have followed me if I could have moved, but I couldn't. The fire came in a very misty manner. It was not solid, and was of the same temperature as that which I had felt under the thing.

"When I awakened out of the 'fog', I had no sense of feeling and even tonight (last night) I have a tingling like when your foot loses circulation and goes to sleep. I walked around but couldn't feel the ground. It was like walking on air.

"But the deputy sheriff, who arrived there later, couldn't find my footprints in the rain-fresh dirt between where I dropped my lamp when I fell unconscious and where I had come to. The distance was a matter of quite a number of yards. I don't know just how many.

"I was yelling at the top of my lungs as I wandered toward the lights of my car when I regained some strength, but no sound was coming out. When I met the deputy, I clutched the machete I froze to."

"The machete," DesVergers said, "has been given to the officers to be fully examined for radio-activity. I swung at the object and may have touched it. They said they wanted to have it checked.

His wife said last night, "Sonny was as white as a ghost when he came home." The couple, married 17-months ago, has a 7-months old son, J.D. "Skipper" DesVergers.

Sonny said he attended Riverside Military Academy in his senior year between 1938-39, and then went to the University of Florida where he majored in forestry and chemistry.

When World War II broke out he joined the Marine Corps in 1941, serving mostly in the Pacific theater until 1944. He said he was in the infantry and later was attached to the Naval Intelligence Section.

He is a native of Lake City, having resided here the past five years. Scoutmaster for the past five months, Desvergers said he first became a Scout when he was 11 years old.

Troop 33 which he leads, is sponsored by the Optimist Club, of which he is a member.

Clearly DesVergers' version of the group interview had some new wrinkles of its own. In DesVergers view -- whether real, imagined, or fabricated -- there were some things he was now allowed to share, while others remained off limits. And if anyone in the meeting had mentioned any "theory", it certainly didn't make it into Ruppelt's memorandum. But perhaps most curious of all was DesVergers' nearly off-hand mention that...

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"Things have been seen since the 18th Century," DesVergers said records shown him last night revealed.

Such a random fact unrelated to his story seems glaringly out of place, until it is remembered that Captain Ruppelt had just penned an article for the August, 1952 edition of the classified publication Air Intelligence Digest on the subject of "unidentified aerial objects". The article reviewed the modern history of the subject, but also included the following...

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Actually, reported UAO sightings go way, way back well over a century and possibly to Old Testament days. Almost all "early sightings," as they have been short-titled by the Air Force, fall into the same main categories that the modern sightings fall into: luminous balls; saucer-shaped objects; or cigar-shaped objects.

From there followed a 2,000-word review of reports stretching back to biblical times, but with special emphasis on the 1800s. The coincidence with DesVergers' statement is striking. Taken together with point number twenty of Ruppelt's memorandum that a "discrete attempt was made to try to get Mr. DesVergers involved in a discussion of 'flying saucers'", it appears DesVergers' version may have more verity than when read at first blush -- implying that what else may be trusted from DesVergers version of the interview remains an open question.

But whatever the truth of the matter, the Air Force would have a statement of its own for the press. From the August 25, 1952 edition of Pacific Stars and Stripes...

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Military Assures Florida Saucer Case Explainable

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A scoutmaster who said he had his hair singed by a flying saucer rested Sunday after several days of questioning by military authorities who said they were confident the incident was "explainable."

J.D. [sic, should be D.S.] Desvergers and his wife left their home here for a brief rest at an undisclosed place after the 30-year old hardware clerk said the whole experience "has been an awful headache."

In Washington an Air Force spokesman said, "We feel sure it will be explainable. We have received an unofficial report but do not have enough information at this time to draw a conclusion."

Desvergers said he saw flashing lights of what he believed at first to be a crashing airliner. He dashed through the brush with a machete and flashlight leaving the scouts in a car to call for help "if I'm not back in ten minutes."

HE SAID HE FOUND a mushroom shaped object 30 feet in diameter, large enough for six or eight men to stand in. He said, "I heard hinges open and they shot at me. I believe I was under and near it for about three minutes for [sic, should be or] what seemed like ten years. It was only ten feet from the ground and made a hissing sound like a tire going down."

He said a flare was shot at him from the saucer and it seemed to "float slowly at my face." He soon blacked out. A deputy sheriff arrived at the scene as Desvergers dashed out of the brush. He said the scoutmaster "looked like a wild man."

Desvergers said the Army has examined and reexamined him both mentally and physically and "they gave me a top bill of health."

DESVERGERS turned up Sunday with a publicity agent to "protect him from inquisitive reporters and Air Force questions."

Desvergers emerged from an overnight hideaway long enough to announce he had made a "gentlemen's agreement" with publicity agent Art Weil [sic, should be Keil] and that details of his experience will be reserved for "certain magazines."

Ruppelt, in his 1956 book, would have his own version of events following the group interview with DesVergers...

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The next morning my crew from ATIC, three people from the intelligence office, and the two law officers went out to where the incident had taken place. We found the spot where somebody had apparently been lying and the scoutmaster's path through the thicket. We checked the area with a Geiger counter, as a precautionary measure, not expecting to find anything; we didn't. We went over the area inch by inch, hoping to find a burned match with which a flare or fireworks could have been lighted, drippings from a flare, or anything that shouldn't have been in a deserted area of woods. We looked at the trees; they hadn't been hit by lightning. The blades of grass under which the UFO supposedly hovered were not burned. We found nothing to contradict the story. We took a few photos of the area and went back to town. On the way back we talked to the constable and the deputy. All they could do was to confirm what we'd heard.

We talked to the farmer and his wife, but they couldn't help. The few facts that the boy scouts had given them before they had a chance to talk to their scoutmaster correlated with his story. We talked to the scoutmaster's employer and some of his friends; he was a fine person. We questioned people who might have been in a position to also observe something; they saw nothing. The local citizens had a dozen theories, and we thoroughly checked each one.

He hadn't been struck by lightning. He hadn't run across a still. There was no indication that he'd surprised a gang of illegal turtle butcherers, smugglers, or bootleggers. There was no indication of marsh gas or swamp fire. The mysterious blue lights in the area turned out to be a farmer arc-welding at night. The other flying saucers were the landing lights of airplanes landing at a nearby airport.

To be very honest, we were trying to prove that this was a hoax, but were having absolutely no success. Every new lead we dug up pointed to the same thing, a true story.

We finished our work on a Friday night and planned to leave early Saturday morning. Bob Olsson and I planned to fly back on a commercial airliner, as the B-25 was grounded for maintenance. Just after dinner that night I got a call from the sheriff's office. It was from a deputy I had talked to, not the one who met the scoutmaster coming out of the woods, but another one, who had been very interested in the incident. He had been doing a little independent checking and found that our singed UFO observer's background was not as clean as he led one to believe. He had been booted out of the Marines after a few months for being AWOL and stealing an automobile, and had spent some time in a federal reformatory in Chillicothe, Ohio. The deputy pointed out that this fact alone meant nothing but that he thought I might be interested in it. I agreed.

The next morning, early, I was awakened by a phone call from the intelligence officer. The morning paper carried the UFO story on the front page. It quoted the scoutmaster as saying that "high brass" from Washington had questioned him late into the night. There was no "high brass," just four captains, a second lieutenant, and a sergeant. He knew we were from Dayton because we had discussed who we were and where we were stationed. The newspaper story went on to say that "he, the scoutmaster, and the Air Force knew what he'd seen but he couldn't tell -- it would create a national panic." He'd also hired a press agent. I could understand the "high brass from the Pentagon" as literary license by the press, but this "national panic" pitch was too much. I had just about decided to give up on this incident and write it off as "Unknown" until this happened. From all appearances, our scoutmaster was going to make a fast buck on his experience. Just before leaving for Dayton, I called Major Dewey Fournet in the Pentagon and asked him to do some checking.



Once again, Ruppelt's 1956 version is in conflict with his 1952 memorandum in important ways. The search of the field apparently references the group's activities on the Thursday (August 22) afternoon before the evening interview with DesVergers. Nor did Ruppelt and company talk "to the scoutmaster's employer and some of his friends" on that particular trip -- though that will come later in the story. But the most disturbing of the inconsistencies is the story of the last-minute information from the unnamed deputy sheriff, which appears nowhere in the 1952 memorandum (and as stated previously, Ruppelt and company were already aware of DesVergers' less than stellar personal history going into the interview because DesVergers had volunteered the information). There would be a similar meeting with a deputy later, but totally lacking the implied drama of Ruppelt's 1956 account. Nor had Ruppelt learned from the newspapers on Saturday the 23rd that DesVergers had a publicity agent, for that story didn't first appear until Monday the 25th -- after Ruppelt had returned to Dayton.

It seems that even if Sonny DesVergers was prone to dramatic embellishments in telling his story, he was not be the only player so inclined.






Above: One of a series of photos recreating DesVergers' experience, from the files of Project Blue Book. The typewritten notation accompanying it stated, "The photo is simulating the position taken by DesVergers when the ball of red light supposedly came toward him. The subject is standing in the approximate spot DesVergers was standing."

AFTER CAPTAIN RUPPELT'S return to Wright-Patterson AFB, Sonny DesVergers would continue talking to the press and the story would proceed for a while along separate tracks. Monday, August 25th, would see two pertinent stories from Florida. The first, from the Fort Pierce, Florida News-Tribune...

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May Tell Of Saucer Attack In More Detail

WEST PALM BEACH -- Scoutmaster D.S. Desvergers says his tale of a "flying saucer" that knocked him out with a "ball of fire" may be told later in full detail.

The 30-year-old salesman declined last week to tell his whole story "because it might cause another Orson Welles panic." He said he knew the secret of the saucer and "it's not ours."

Sunday, Desvergers explained that he had a "gentleman's agreement" with an Air Force spokesman who interviewed him that required him to hold back part of the story.

But he added that "my interpretation was that I was to withhold it for a certain period of time." He wouldn't say how long it would be before he could feel free to go into detail.

Art Keil, a West Palm Beach publicity man, indicated the story would be sold to a magazine. Keil said he had no definite contract to act for Desvergers but was working with the scoutmaster because "his interests ought to be protected."

"He hasn't told me yet what the story is," Keil said. "He hasn't definitely decided in his own mind what should be released in view of what the Air Force told him.

"They have no legal hold on him, but they talked to him like a Dutch uncle."

Desvergers said the "flying saucer" was about 30 feet in diameter shaped like "half of a rubber ball with windows like an airliner," and was large enough "for six or eight men to stand up in."

He said he went into a wood on a country road last Tuesday night to investigate the "bright red flashes" over the trees and saw the saucer hovering directly over him 10 feet above the ground.

A "ball of fire" from the saucer shot at him, he said, and he was overcome by heat, light, and an overpowering stench.

Of special interest here is that part of the article which stated...

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Desvergers explained that he had a "gentleman's agreement" with an Air Force spokesman who interviewed him that required him to hold back part of the story.

But he added that "my interpretation was that I was to withhold it for a certain period of time." He wouldn't say how long it would be before he could feel free to go into detail.

Once again this would seem to refer specifically to Captain Carney, whose initial investigatory report is today missing from Blue Book declassified files. And it may well be that at some point -- and perhaps more than once -- Carney had a quiet word with DesVergers about being careful not to cause a panic. And in that light, even DesVergers' "interpretation was that I was to withhold it for a certain period of time" might equate to a quiet word about being careful "until we figure it out" or some such. And such a conjecture would certainly fit with...

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"He hasn't told me yet what the story is," Keil said. "He hasn't definitely decided in his own mind what should be released in view of what the Air Force told him.

"They have no legal hold on him, but they talked to him like a Dutch uncle."

This is a particularly intriguing possibility when it is remembered that the part of the experience DesVergers consistently refused to discuss was whether he had seen any occupants of the object.

But much more on that, later.

The same day, the following appeared in the Mitchell, South Dakota Daily Republic...

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Scoutmaster Is Sticking To His Saucer Stories

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Scoutmaster D.S. Desvergers, who claims his hair was singed by a "flying saucer," said today he was keeping his head down from now on.

"I'm not even looking up in the sky anymore," the 30-year-old ex-Marine said, after being "hounded" by newsmen and photographers for several days.

Desvergers refused to talk further with newsmen, explaining he had an "obligation" to the Air Force and to a publicity agent, Art Keil. Keil said the full story probably would "end up in a magazine."

When asked which one, Keil replied: "The line forms to the left."

An Air Force officer said all information obtained on the incident was referred to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, for study.

Desvergers said he walked into the Everglades while on an outing with three boy scouts last Tuesday night to investigate "strange lights." He said a "flying saucer large enough for six or eight men to stand in hovered over him and released a flare at him." [sic, quote marks]

He said the flare, or "ball of fire," burned the hair off his arm and burned three small holes in his Scout cap before he became unconscious.

Deputy Sheriff Mott Partin, called by the three Scouts when Desvergers failed to return said Desvergers looked "like a wild man" when they found him.

That same day, back at Wright-Patterson, tests were being conducted on DesVergers' machete...

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Memorandum for Record

25 August 1952

Subject: Examination of the Machete Carried by Mr. D.S. DesVergers for the Possibility of it Being Radioactive.

1. On the morning of 25 Aug 52, Lt R.M. Olsson took the machete which Mr. D.S. DesVergers was carrying at the time he supposedly contacted an unidentified aerial object to Equipment Lab to have it checked for radiation. It was thoroughly checked by members of the Equipment Lab with a geiger [sic] counter and it was determined that it was in no way radioactive.

A separate test was also being conducted on DesVergers' hat...

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Memorandum for Record

25 August 1952

Subject: Analysis of D.S. DesVergers' Hat

On the morning of 25 Aug 52, Lt R.M. Olsson contacted major R. Harlan in the Clothing Research Division of the Medical unit of Aero Med Lab. Purpose of the visit was to show Maj Harlan the hat that had been worn by Mr. DesVergers and to determine some facts about the burned spots. Maj Harlan examined the hat and determined that the three spots that were believed to be burns were burns, and that the part of the hat that appeared to be scorched was actually scorched. He stated that it would be possible for the hat to be scorched, but not burn the skin of the wearer since cotton burns at between 300 and 500°F, at which time it starts to disintegrate and carbonize. From the scorching of the hat, it appeared that the heat was present for only a short time. Maj Harlan believed that due to that short period of time, the skin could escape without suffering burns.

The next day, August 26th, Captain Ruppelt placed a call to Captain Carney in Florida...

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Memorandum for Record

26 August 1952

Subject: Investigation of Unidentified Aerial Object Reported by Mr. D.S. DesVergers

1. On 26 Aug 52, Capt Ruppelt of ATIAA-5 telephoned Capt Carney, Intelligence Officer of the 1707th Air Base Wing, West Palm Beach International Air Port (telephone number 36401, extension 234). Capt Ruppelt asked that the answers to the following questions be obtained and airmailed to ATIC as soon as possible.

a. Is Palm Beach County Airport used for night operation? Does the log show any landings on the night of 19 Aug 52 between 2100 and 2300? What were the exact time of the landings?

b. What was the detailed weather at Palm Beach on the 19th between 1800 and 2400? Pay special attention to thunder storms in the area and cloud cover. Were there any scud clouds or ground fog? Get temperature and humidity.

c. A Capt Zaha, Air Drome Officer on the 22 Aug, mentioned airmen on the line seeing flares. Get complete story.

d. Did or has the tower at West Palm Beach seen any flares in the area of the sighting? Get details.

e. Did the boyscouts [sic, throughout] tell the police their story before they met DesVergers? What did they say?

f. Did the boyscouts tell their story to the people in the house? What did they say?

g. At what locations in Florida are there Navy blimps stationed?

h. Did the deputies smell any odor when they went to find DesVergers flashlight?

i. Was there any indication that DesVergers' hat could have been burned before he went into the woods?

2. In addition to this, Capt Carney was questioned as to the late press releases that Mr. DesVergers has acquired the services of a press agent. He stated that he had talked to DesVergers about 11:00 on the 25th of Aug and that DesVergers did not intend to hold any information or any further questioning from the Air Force. DesVergers stated that the entire setup was that of his press agent to build the story up so that he could sell it.

3. Capt Carney also mentioned that a farmer who owned the land where the sighting took place lives in the area and is familiar with dehydration [Illegible] believed that the grass was singed and that he had supposedly taken samples of the grass and sent them to some research organization in St. Louis to be analyzed. He also stated that this farmer DesVergers had received several threatening telephone calls and had noticed a large black automobile cruising around near his house. Capt Carney stated that he had no idea what this all meant and that there is a possibility that it was part of the publicity stunt that DesVergers seemed about to pull.

Ruppelt's negative reaction to DesVergers' securing a publicity agent is understandable in terms of being another potential "headache" that Blue Book would need to deal with -- increased publicity on an incident had always meant extra work for the Air Force. But DesVergers had specifically asked Ruppelt...

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...what he should do about people coming to talk to him. He stated that he would be very glad to cooperate with the Air Force and not talk to anyone if he was not supposed to. He was advised by Capt Ruppelt that it was the policy of this project not to ask any civilian to withhold any information, and the fact that we were trying to "shut him up" was not true. He then stated that he would go home and call the newspapers and give them the story to "get them off his neck."

And it may well be that what Ruppelt took as an act of braggadocio was in fact DesVergers' clarification of the implications...

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He then stated that he would go home and call the newspapers and give them the story to "get them off his neck." He was advised that he was free to do so. He seemed to be rather proud of the fact that he was brushed off [sic] so many newspaper people and others who are interested. He seemed to take great pride in throwing around such facts as people are offering money, professors had called, Time magazine had called, radio station had called, etc.

The same day as Ruppelt's "publicity stunt" memo, came news of an interview with DesVergers by a Virginia radio station. From the August 26, 1952 edition of the Pulaski, Virginia Southwest Times...

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WPUV Looks Into 'Saucer'
Station Contacts Seared Scoutmaster

D.S. Devergers [sic throughout, should be DesVergers], West Palm Beach, Fla., informed Bob Kent, news director of Radio Station WPUV, yesterday during a tape recorded telephone interview that he soon would be able to release more details on the "strange object" he encountered last Tuesday night.

Devergers set citizens in the country buzzing with excitement when he revealed he had seen some sort of flying saucer or space ship in a rural area near West Palm Beach and that he had been knocked unconscious by a ball of fire discharged from the object.

Requested To Keep Quiet

The Scoutmaster told Kent he was unable at this time to give too many details on the incident as the Army had requested him to keep quiet.

However, he said the Army had told him that he could release the entire story to the public in the near future. Just when he declined to say.

When asked to describe the object, Devergers said "There was confusion, something was there and I saw it. I was scared to death and I really mean that. I guess I was the closest anyone has ever come to seeing anything like this and it was quite an experience, one that I certainly wouldn't like to live through again."

Kent asked how bady [sic] he was burned by the ball of fire allegedly shot from the object. He said he was not burned badly, only on his ears and forearms.

When it first happened, he said, he was overcome by fumes from the reddish ball of fire and was knocked unconscious.

The former combat marine said the object did not reach the ground, but remained about 10 feet above ground. He explained it was of metal substance, definitely a solid structure, and he couldn't see through it.

No trace of the object has been seen since Devergers' report. Grass was reportedly burned where the incident allegedly took place.

Things were quiet the next day, and then picked up again, starting with an August 28, 1952 news article reporting other sightings coincident to DesVergers', and fresh interviews with the boy scouts who had been there that night. From the Panama City, Florida News-Herald...

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Scoutmaster Intends to Make Money Out of 'Saucer' Story

WEST PALM BEACH -- A Scoutmaster who intends to make some money out of his story of being attacked by a flying saucer refused any further interviews today -- but several other persons were ready to talk.

The Scoutmaster, "Sonny" Desvergers, a hardware salesman, conceded he was free so far as military authorities are concerned, to tell all about his experiences the night of Aug. 19.

That was the night, he claims, when a strange object hovered over his head in a wooded area and fired a "ball of fire" which knocked him out for a few minutes.

Today back at work in the hardware store, Desvergers told the Associated Press on telephone, "I've had a couple of offers from magazines and feel I can make a little money out of this. That's why I want to keep quiet."

Desvergers told the West Palm Beach Post-Times that he already had started writing his account of the incident.

Less reticent however, were:

1. Three Boy Scouts who waited in Desvergers' auto while he went to investigate strange lights they saw. All three said they saw bright lights in the area -- some 300 yards from the car -- when Desvergers said he was attacked.

2. An employe at the West Palm Beach International Airport and his wife who told of seeing a strange silvery object in the sky on the morning of Aug 20 -- nine or 10 hours after the Scoutmaster's experience -- at a point some 14 miles north of spot which Desvergers claimed as the site of his ball-of-fire knockout. The couple, Mr. and Mrs. S.W. Carroll, said the silvery object was "shaped like a raindrop flying sideways with the heavy end down and the pointed end pointing up a little."

3. Persons at Belle Glade, 40 miles west of West Palm Beach, gave belated reports of seeing strange objects in the skies, on the night of Desvergers' experience.

The three Boy Scouts who accompanied Desvergers were Bob Ruffing, 12; Charles Stevens, 11; and David Rowan, 11. They agreed on these points:

They were riding in Desvergers' car on a country road known locally as Military Trail after a Scout meeting the night of Aug. 19. The Scoutmaster stopped the car and got out to investigate when he and two of the boys saw a light. Then they drove on.

They had gone less than a half mile when two of the boys, looking back, saw lights again. Young Stevens said he observed several white lights in an elliptical pattern which went out and reappeared as red lights.

Young Ruffing also saw something, but he described it as "white lights in a straight line eight feet off the ground."

The Scoutmaster drove back to the spot where the lights were first observed. He instructed the boys to go for help if he failed to return in 10 minutes, then entered the woods carrying two flashlights and a machete.

Ruffing gave this version of what followed:

"I could see about the top half of his (Desvergers) body. Then the beam of his flashlight pointed up and reflected back on him like it had shined on a mirror. Then a reddish white ball of fire like a Roman candle came down toward him from the sky. Then he fell down and disappeared.

"The flashlight fell too. The ball hit the ground and bounced twice and I saw a reddish mist shaped like a disc floating up above where Sonny fell. There wasn't any sound at all."

The Stevens boy said he saw the same "Roman candle" effect but did not see Desvergers.

Young Rowan said he saw "bright red lights like railroad flares." He added: "They made a crackling sound like popcorn popping." And he said he saw some flares again from the vicinity as the boys left the scene to telephone the sheriff's office.

Back at Wright-Patterson that same day, the possibility of flares causing DesVergers' experience was explored...

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DesVergers Case

On 28 Aug 52, Thursday, P.M., I went to the Flare and Signal Branch in Building 156 and talked to Lt Berger and several others concerning the possibility of DesVergers' hat and arms being burned by a flare.

From the pictures of the scorched hat they gave the opinion that a flare could have done the job. Small molten particles drop off from flares as they pass through the air and could have caused the 3 pinhole burns in the cap. The scorch on the brim was harder to explain, but Lt Berger said that one passing just over his head might have given the iron-scorch effect.

There are 2 types of flares generally used, all shot from a Very Pistol 1-parachute type 2-non-parachute type. The hand flare without the pistol is also used. Red, white and blue are the colors, with red used the most. The flares burn at an intense heat 1000° F and upwards and can burn skin badly. We discharged two outside and each one started a small grass fire. It seems likely that if a flare was used in the incident at West Palm, a fire would have started in the dry grass. No evidence of a fire was present down there as far as we could see.

I told Berger and the other flare experts the whole DesVergers story and they were interested, particularly in the slow-moving red ball of fire shot at him. They said a parachute flare floating down could cause this illusion. Arching from the near by high tension wires was mentioned as a possibility also. (A flare usually burns all the way to the ground.)

A significant fact lies in the fact that the parachute flare cannister [sic, throughout] smelled of rotten eggs immediately after it was shot off and this smell lingered in the cannister for 2 hours afterward. There was too much wind to establish if the smell was in the area of the firing.

Flare people offered to help Project Blue Book at any time in the future.


Lt R.M. Olsson


That day also brought answers to Captain Ruppelt's August 26 questions to Captain Carney...

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28 August 1952

Captain Ruppelt,

These remarks should clear up the questions which you asked in our recent telephone conversation.

Lantana [Handwritten Insertion: Palm Beach County (Illegible)] Airport is used for night landings but none are on record for the night in question.

Weather Palm Beach 1600 to 2400 hours, 19 August 1952:

1600 - 1930  2,500 to 3,00 [sic] ft. Broken, thunderstorms west, occasional rain at station, Temp. 80 falling to 76, Relative Humidity 67 to 98.

1930 - 2130  3,000 ft scattered, lightning visible mostly Southeast, Temp. 76, Rel Humidity 98.

1230 [sic] - 2400  3,000 ft. scattered, no lightning visible, Temp. 75, Rel Humidity 98-100.

No low clouds or ground fog at station.

Capt ZAHA, research: red flares on 21 Aug 52, Could not locate.

No red flares or unusual occurances [sic] sighted by tower personnel during past two weeks.

People living where boys used phone and Deputy Sheriff Mott PARTIN say boys told them about lights and red flares before coming into contact with Sonny.

Persons living directly across the road from place where sighting occurred were contacted and stated they did not arrive home until after the incident occurred.

Deputy Partin states that there was no unusual odor when he arrived on the scene.

Key West Naval Station has blimps. It is possible the the [sic] Station at Jacksonville may have one but we could not get a positive answer on them.

We received the machette [sic] in this afternoons mail. We will see that it is returned to him. If we can find out the answers to any more questions for you, don't hesitate to call on us.


S/Sgt R.E. Saeger
for Captain Carney

P.S. The specimens you asked for are on the way under a separate cover.

The specimens mentioned in the post script were samples of the grass, as will be explored later. Meanwhile, the next day, August 29, 1952, a report was composed by the F.B.I. in Washington...

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Office Memorandum • United States Government

DATE: August 29, 1952

TO: [Blacked Out]

FROM: [Blacked Out]

SUBJECT: UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT ALLEGEDLY CITED BY MR. [Blacked Out] WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

By letter of August 26, 1952, the Air Force requested that we examine the cap of Mr. [Blacked Out], a scoutmaster at West Palm Beach, Florida, who claims that he observed an unidentified flying object in a desolate area. He reported that upon his investigation, a [Blacked Out] object 30 feet in diameter hovered over his head and shot a "red blob" which caused him to lose consciousness. The cap has some holes burned in it and it is reported that the hair on Desvergers' arms was signed. The Air Force requested that we determine, if possible, from any residues left the nature of the residual material.

The Air Force desires an oral report on this tonight. We have finished the examination and are preparing to advise the Air Force as follows:

1. There is no residue which would permit a determination as to the nature of the material which caused the burns in the cap. In addition to the obvious burns, there is one minute burned area which is probably too small to have been caused intentionally but more likely by a small hot ember.

2. The bill and a large part of the edges of the cap are singed but the singeing is not uniform as would be expected if it had been caused at one time by a single flash of flame. The front edge of the cap bill is more severely singed than other portions of the cap. This condition would not be expected if the source of the flame was directly overhead.

3. When the cap is observed from the front, the left edge of the insignia and the fold in the blue cloth, there is an absence of singeing noted under the fold suggesting the possibility that the cap was not being worn when the singeing took place. It is noted that this fold "smooths [sic] out" when the cap is placed on the head.

RECOMMENDATION: That in response to the request of Colonel [Blacked Out] of the Air Force, it is recommended that he be orally advised of the above.

DJP/mek

Things seemed to settle down after that for a short while. And then, on September 5, 1952, Frank Edwards -- a widely popular radio journalist and personal proponent of the reality of "flying saucers" -- sent the following message to Al Chop, Air Force press officer for Project Blue Book...

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SEPT. 5, 1952

AL CHOP:

FRIENDS OF MINE IN WEST PALM BEACH LOOKED INTO THIS. THEY TELL ME THEY KNOW THIS GUY AND DO NOT REGARD HIM AS A CREDIBLE WITNESS.

Edwards' message would prove to be just a foretaste of things to come.








Above: Sketches from the files of Project Blue Book. Who drew them is unknown, but one appears to be signed by DesVergers.

IN HIS 1956 BOOK Captain Ruppelt would relate his version of those intervening days...

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Monday morning the machete went to the materials lab at Wright-Patterson. The question we asked was, "Is there anything unusual about this machete? Is it magnetized? Is it radioactive? Has it been heated?" No knife was ever tested so thoroughly for so many things. As in using a Geiger counter to check the area over which the UFO had hovered in the Florida woods, our idea was to investigate every possible aspect of the sighting. They found nothing, just a plain, unmagnetized, unradioactive, unheated, common, everyday knife.

The cap was sent to a laboratory in Washington, D.C., along with the scoutmaster's story. Our question here was, "Does the cap in any way (burns, chemicals, etc.) substantiate or refute the story?"

I thought that we'd collected all the items that could be analyzed in a lab until somebody thought of one I'd missed, the most obvious of them all -- soil and grass samples from under the spot where the UFO had hovered. We'd had samples, but in the last-minute rush to get back to Dayton they had been left in Florida. I called Florida and they were shipped to Dayton and turned over to an agronomy lab for analysis.

By the end of the week I received a report on our ex-Marine's military and reformatory records. They confirmed a few suspicions and added new facts. They were not complimentary. The discrepancy between what we'd heard about the scoutmaster while we were in Florida and the records was considered a major factor. I decided that we should go back to Florida and try to resolve this discrepancy.

Since it was hurricane season, we had to wait a few days, then sneak back between two hurricanes.

Except for the business about DesVergers' reputation being a surprise, the account seems to match events (though the assertion that the machete was checked for magnetization does not appear in the written analysis given above, which states only that the machete was checked for radioactivity). Captain Ruppelt and Lieutenant Olsson would arrive on Monday, September 8th. His lengthy report from that trip was an eye opener, to say the least...

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Memorandum for Record

12 September 1952

Subject: Report of a Trip to West Palm Beach, Florida, to Investigate Sighting of Unidentified Aerial Objects by a Mr. E.S. [sic, throughout, should be D.S.] DesVergers

1. On 8 September 1952, Capt E.J. Ruppelt and Lt R.H. Olsson of ATIAa-5 traveled to West Palm Beach, Fla., to conduct a further interrogation and investigation of Mr. E.S. DesVergers. The officers arrived at West Palm Beach at approximately 1900 EST on the 8th and contacted Capt Carney, Wing Intelligence Officer, 1707th Air Base Wing, on the morning of the 9th of September 1952.

2. A conference was held with Capt Carney to determine whether or not there had been any late developments in this case that the two ATIC officers were not familiar with. Capt Carney stated that to his knowledge there was nothing outstanding that had happened. He was asked about the facts of supposedly anonymous threatening telephone calls that Mr. DesVergers had received. He stated that DesVergers had called him approximately two weeks ago (1 Sept 52) and stated that he had been receiving anonymous threatening telephone calls while at work in the establishment in which he is employed. The calls were telling DesVergers to lay off of his story and that if he didn't he would be sorry, etc. He was advised that threatening phone calls were not an Air Force function and he should go to the F.B.I. He did this but was referred to the local police. Capt Carney also stated that a Mr. Cohn, a nearby rancher, had become interested in the case, had gone out and looked at the spot where the object was supposed to have hovered. Mr. Cohn stated that he believed the grass had been burned and that he was going to take samples and send them to St. Louis, Mo., for analysis. (Comment: He did not state where in St. Louis he was planning to send the samples.) Mr. Cohn was contacted by telephone and stated that due to the fact that it had rained before he was able to pick up the samples he had not done so and consequently there would be no report from the laboratory in St. Louis.

3. Capt Carney also stated that he had talked to a Mr. Art Kiel [sic, throughout, should be Keil] who has been retained as DesVergers press agent. Kiel had called on Capt Carney and had talked to him in the presence of the Base Legal Officer from the West Palm Beach International Airport. Kiel was interested in knowing whether or not the Air Force would make a background investigation of Mr. DesVergers. Capt Carney and Capt Ruppelt called on the local F.B.I. Agent to determine whether or not they had possibly heard any rumors or could give any leads on the case. They stated that naturally they were not officially interested in the case and that they had received no directions from their higher authority to pursue the case. The F.B.I. agent did state, however, that he had picked up several rumors and passed these rumors on to Capt Carney and Capt Ruppelt. He stated that the best place to confirm some of these rumors would be at the West Palm Beach or the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office. The one rumor that was of most interest was that a doctor in West Palm Beach had stated that he knew DesVergers and that he was very probably a mental case.

5. Capt Ruppelt and Capt Carney then went to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office and contacted a Mr. Lawerance, the Chief Deputy. Mr. Lawerance was unable to give too many details on the case. He stated that he had heard some rumors about DesVergers but actually had never run them down himself. He was also questioned as to the character of Mr. Kiel who was DesVergers press agent. He stated that Mr. Kiel was possibly not too reliable in the fact that he was a press agent with a doubtful reputation.

6. The officers next talked to a Mr. C.B. Bowen another deputy at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. Mr. Bowen was very much interested in the case and had contacted some agency in Washington, possibly the F.B.I., and had received Mr. DesVergers background record and was aware of the fact that he had served time in the reformatory. He said that he did not personally know DesVergers but understood that his record in Palm Beach was not exactly "clean", but that he had no actual police record. He stated that a Dr. Byrd, a physician who was called upon by the sheriff's office as a consultant, knew more about DesVergers and that we should contact him. He also stated that he knew this Mr. Art Kiel and that he trusted him and would believe anything he said. (Comment: This is 180 degrees out of phase with what the other deputy said.) He was also questioned as to the general location and general aspects of the sighting. He stated the [sic] contrary to other reports that we have had. There is absolutely no danger in going through a palmetto grove at night [sic, prior two sentences]. He stated that many times he has crawled through these palmetto groves at night and that the danger of being bitten by a rattlesnake is almost nil. (Comment: It had been previously stated that DesVergers would have had to have some powerful motivating force to have gone into the palmetto at night, however, according to the deputy this is not necessarily true especially since DesVergers is familiar with the area.) He also stated that there was a very small possibility that there had been marsh gas (methane) in the area since it was a dry area. In addition, he stated that one of the police officers who had met DesVergers that night was a Mr. Louis Carroll, a constantinople [sic] from West Palm Beach area, was not too reliable. He stated that since the incident he had been on a case with Louis Carroll and that Carroll had stated that he would like to make a "big deal" out of this sighting. He stated something to the fact that he would take some pictures of the burned trees and the burned ground and would have half of the Air Force from Washington down there investigating. He then "poked" Mr. Bowen jokingly and said "what do you think of the deal?" (Comment: He would have to fake this because nothing appeared to be burned.) Bowen took a very dim view of the whole thing. Bowen also gave the officers some leads as to where DesVergers had worked and what contacts to make.

7. The next person to be contacted was a Mr. Hall, a part-owner of Hall Hardware Store, where DesVergers is presently employed. Lt Olsson, Capt Ruppelt, Capt Carney and a S/Sgt Ralph Saeger of Capt Carney's office contacted Mr. Hall. Mr. Hall had nothing but praise for DesVergers. He stated that he is a very good employee and would hate to lose him. He also stated that in many ways DesVergers would go out of his way to help him. The one example he used was that sometime [sic] ago he (Mr. Hall) was constructing a greenhouse in his backyard. The construction was not completed and he had put a large tarpaulin over the roof of the greenhouse. One night when Mr. Hall and his family were away, a windstorm came up. It was a very violent windstorm and did quite a bit of damage in the West Palm Beach area. He stated that he wasn't aware of the severity of the storm although when he returned he found his greenhouse had been damaged and that the tarpaulin was missing. The next morning DesVergers came over to his house with the tarpaulin and stated that he had crawled upon the roof and removed the tarp. Mr. Hall was very much impressed because he stated that there had been a high wind, a lot of rain and lightning and the fact that DesVergers was very brave to have gotten up on the roof in the storm and removed the tarp. At this time DesVergers was not employed by Mr. Hall and was even unknown to him. (Comment: This tends to point up some of the aspects that will come up later about DesVergers' attempt to make himself known and gain fame. Although Hall was not questioned about the whole thing, there is a possibility that the tarp had blown on the ground and that DesVergers was not as brave as he appeared to be.) All in all, Mr. Hall had nothing but praise for DesVergers.

8. Mr. Tedder of a City Service Gase [sic] Station in West Palm Beach was contacted next. He was interviewed by Capt Carney and Lt Olsson. He stated that his only contact with DesVergers was the fact that DesVergers had also operated a City Service Gas Station in the city of West Palm Beach. This approximately two years ago. He stated that DesVergers had done some rather odd things. One of the instances was when they were having a meeting of many dealers in the southern Florida area and DesVergers had gotten up and made some rather foolish statements. He did not elaborate on these statements and since it was obvious that Mr. Tedder did not especially care for DesVergers, the interview was cut off since it appeared that personal opinions instead of facts were entering into the discussion.

9. Dr. Byrd, a physician in West Palm Beach was contact by Capt Carney and Capt Ruppelt. Dr. Byrd is retained by the Police Department as a consultant. He has been used many times on mental cases and although he is not a psychiatrist he is somewhat familiar with this aspect of medicine. He stated that he had several contacts with DesVergers and that he was the doctor who treated DesVergers when he was supposedly injured when an automobile fell on him. He stated that sometime back, he was not sure of the date, DesVergers had been at a garage that sells Crosley automobiles in West Palm Beach and that an automobile had supposedly fallen off a hoist and landed on DesVergers. He stated that DesVergers was taken to the hospital and complained first of being completely paralyzed. The doctor said that he and three other doctors examined DesVergers very closely and took many x-rays [sic, uncapitalized]. After this thorough examination, the [sic] concluded that there was absolutely nothing wrong with DesVergers. He continued to complain however, that he was paralyzed, in great pain, etc. After several days he was allowed to get up in a wheel chair. (The doctor stated that during the time he was in the wheel chair that he traveled all over the hospital, visited all of the offices and all the patients, telling them how bad off he really was. This was creating a lot of confusion in the hospital so the wheel chair was taken away from him and he was given a pair of crutches. This didn't help matters very much as far as the confusion was concerned as he continued to go around telling people that he was in bad condition. During this time he would telephone his mother who is believed to have been living in Lakeland, Fla., and would tell his mother how he was suffering and what a bad condition he was in. This continued until Dr. Byrd receive [sic] a telephone call from DesVergers grandfather. The grandfather said that DesVergers' mother was in a near state of collapse because of these telephone calls and that knowing his grandson, that he doubted if things were exactly the way he was telling them. He requested that they refrain from letting DesVergers call his mother. The doctor also stated that after DesVergers was released from the hospital, he went away on a two week vacation. When he came back, he stated that during this two weeks or possibly a month, the doctor was not sure of which, or over how long a period of time, DesVergers stated that he had broken his leg. The doctor said that from all appearances he could not have broken his leg and recovered so fast. Dr. Byrd was under the impression that DesVergers claimed paralysis, etc., strictly as a deal to obtain insurance money. Dr. Byrd was very emphatic in his views on DesVergers. He said that he would hesitate to say the man was insane, however, he is definitely mentally unbalanced. He kept using the word "exhibitionist" all of the time in describing DesVergers. Dr. Byrd stated that a Mr. Powell, an insurance man in West Palm had handled the insurance and could probably give us a more information on DesVergers.

10. Mr. Powell was contacted next. He stated that his only connection with DesVergers had been during his insurance claim that DesVergers had made. He stated however, that he didn't remember the case very well and that the insurance company had not paid DesVergers. He said that he had received several letters from DesVergers requesting the status of the claim, etc., but that the insurance company had closed it out and did not intend to pay. The question was asked as to DesVergers background, however, he was not too familiar with the general aspects of DesVergers. Mr. Powell suggested that a Mr. Fulton who worked in the Beavers Motor Company, who had previously employed DesVergers, be contacted.

11. Mr. Fulton was contacted by Capt Carney and Lt Olsson. He stated that DesVergers had worked for their garage as a mechanic starting in July of 1950. Mr. Fulton stated that DesVergers was "a boy who never quite grew up". He owned a Crosley automobile which had every known accessory attached to it and stated that DesVergers couldn't go ten feet in the automobile without madly spinning the wheels and that he was prone to exaggerate a great deal. He said that DesVergers was very prone to exaggerate on all stories and that several times had done several things that were rather "shady". One time DesVergers was left in charge of the office and the two other people left. There was a brand new engine for a Crosley automobile in the shop when they left. When they came back they noticed that the engine didn't appear to be the same one. When they got to checking serial numbers, they found that during their absence, DesVergers had switched the brand new motor for the motor in his Crosley. He was never prosecuted for this, however. Another time he had passed bad checks. He was employed by these people when the automobile fell on him off the hoist.

12. After the interview with Mr. Fulton, the officers returned to West Palm Beach International Airport to Capt Carney's office. This was about 5 o'clock in the afternoon and it was decided that Mr. Art Kiel, the press agent for DesVergers, be contacted. It was understood that DesVergers was on vacation and that a cover for calling Kiel would be to try to locate him. Capt Carney called Kiel at his office and asked where he could get in touch with DesVergers. Kiel stated that DesVergers had just left his office after conferring for two or three hours on the incident, and that he would be very glad to contact him. Capt Carney hesitated a little bit because he had not expected this answer but did think of an excuse as to why he didn't urgently need to see DesVergers. After this, we got Kiel into a discussion of the general subject of the incident and Kiel stated that just that afternoon he had broken his contract with DesVergers. He stated that DesVergers had told him about his background and Kiel had advised him that with such a background, no reputable editor in the United States would ever touch the story. He had also advised DesVergers that any reputable editor would check his background before he bought the story and the best thing to do would be to drop the whole business. DesVergers stated that if Kiel wanted to back out, that was all right, that he was going to stick to it and attempt to sell the story. He stated that when it came time to release the story, the Air Force would back him up 100 percent. (Comment: Where DesVergers got this idea is strictly unknown to the Air Force.)

13. At approximately 1930 on 9 September 1952, Capt Ruppelt and Capt Carney attended a boy scout meeting in a church in West Palm Beach, Fla., in order to contact the three boy scouts who had observed this incident along with Mr. DesVergers and to talk to a Dr. Owen who was the boy scout troop chairman. Dr. Owen sat in with Capt Ruppelt and Capt Carney. In general, the boy scouts were rather difficult to talk to. They were rather excited and nervous about the whole thing and in many cases their answers did not make a lot of sense. It is not believed that this was because they weren't telling the truth, but they were just youngsters and were a little bit nervous. Capt Ruppelt wore civilian clothes, however, Capt Carney was in uniform and the boys were rather impressed with the whole thing. All three boys collaborated [sic] the first part of the incident so it will be given as a general statement not repeating each of the three boys' stories. It seems that after the scout meeting, Mr. DesVergers took four boy scouts in his car with the idea of taking them home. They did not go straight home, however, they first went out to a place called the "Wagon Wheel" which is a drive-in soda fountain. They had a cold drink and proceeded in the direction of a drive-in theatre west of West Palm Beach. The boys were under the impression that DesVergers was taking them to the drive-in, however, they stated that something happened and they decided not to go to the drive-in theatre but to go out to a speedway. (Comment: The boys were pinned down to try to find out what had happened to make them change their minds, however, they were very vague about this point. This was the only time in the interview that they seemed to be attempting to cover up something. It was not determined exactly what they were trying to cover up, if anything. They arrived at this speedway which is used for stock car racing and stated that they were going to see how much water was on the track from the recent rain. There was no one else at the track and there were no races in progress at the time. They stayed at the track for several minutes and then started back down military trail toward the boys' homes. (Comment: It seemed rather odd to the interrogating officers that they would go to an abandoned race track just to see how much water there was on the track. One possible explanation is that one of the boy's fathers has something to do with the stock car races and it might have been that they were just interested in the track. Secondly, the officers were informed that it is the policy to take the boy scouts on trips around the city of West Palm Beach to show them different factories, plants, etc. However, this does not satisfactorily account for the fact that they would go out to a deserted race track.) One of the four boy scouts was taken home before the incident. His name was not obtained and since he was not involved no effort was made to find out who he was.

14. As DesVergers and the three boy scouts were driving south on military trail, they approached a point where DesVergers supposedly observed the object. The first thing that happened was that DesVergers saw a light to his left. None of the boy scouts saw this light. At that time DesVergers stopped his automobile, got out, and removed two machetes, or two knifes, and two flashlights from the trunk of his car. The boys asked him what he was going to do and he said that he thought he had seen either an aircraft crack up or a flying saucer. The boys however, were afraid and convinced DesVergers that he shouldn't go back into the woods and that they should go on. DesVergers got in the car, started down the road when one of the boy scouts by the name of Bobby Ruffing claimed that he saw white lights back toward the spot where they had originally seen the lights. At this time they stopped and went back. DesVergers got out of the car and supposedly all he was carrying was one machete and two flashlights. He gave the boys instructions to go get help if he wasn't back in ten minutes and started into the woods. The boys claimed that they could see his flashlight going back into the woods. From this point on, the boys' stories varied to a certain degree so that each one will be given separately.

15. The first boy that was interrogated was Bobby Ruffing. Ruffing is approximately 12 yrs. old, a rather large boy for his age, and appeared to be belligerant [sic] to a certain extent. He seemed to be the leader of the group and anything he said was law. He didn't seem to be too cooperative on the whole thing and whenever he was pressed for an answer he would "clam up". He kept stating, "Well that's what Sonny said, so it must be the truth." He states that he did not see the first light that DesVergers saw, however, shortly afterwards, after DesVergers had got out, made the statement about seeing flying saucers, and got back into the automobile that he, Ruffing, looked out of the window and saw a semi-circle of white lights about three inches in diameter going down at an angle of 45 degrees into the trees. None of the other boy scouts saw this. They turned the car around, went back to the spot and stopped. He then said that he saw DesVergers go back into the woods and that the next thing that he saw was a series of red lights in the clearing. It is interesting to note that he definitely said he saw the lights in a clearing and as will be shown further along in this memorandum, this point is highly doubtful. As soon as he saw the red lights he claims that he saw Sonny "stiffen up" and fall. Ruffing was then dismissed and the officer, in the presence of Dr. Owen, the troop chairman, talked to a Chuck Stevens and David Rowan, together. Stevens who was 11 yrs. old tended to be rather silly about the whole thing. He couldn't seem to concentrate on his answers and was not considered a good source. David Rowan, on the other hand, although he was the youngest of the three, seemed to be the most logical thinker and gave the straightest answers. Both of these boys seemed to have about the same story. They were driving down the road when DesVergers saw the first light. DesVergers stopped the car and got out, but David Rowan admitted that he was afraid of the whole thing and wanted to go on, consequently they went on. Then Rowan also saw a white light, however, he states it looked to him like it was a common, ordinary meteor. After this, DesVergers turned the car around, went back down the road and stopped. Chuck Stevens never did see any white lights that he could remember. They both saw DesVergers going through the woods, could see flashlights flashing on the trees and then he disappeared for a few seconds, at least the light disappeared. The next thing they saw was a series of red lights. They said they looked a lot like flares or sky rockets. The lights were not making any definite pattern, some of them were going up, some of them were going down, or going around and around in all directions. It just seemed to be a type of six or eight red lights going in all directions. They got out of the car and ran down the road to get help. The boys stated that upon arrival at the farm house, they told the people that their scout master was in trouble and to make a phone call, which the people did. Soon afterwards the people asked what the boys had seen and they told their story of the light to the people before either the sheriff or DesVergers showed up.

16. All in all the boys' stories were rather conflicting and it was very difficult to obtain any facts. The only one fact that seemed to stand out in all of their minds was the fact that they did see red lights out in the palmetto grove after DesVergers had gone in.

17. After the boy scouts were interrogated, a long discussion was held with Dr. Owen, scout troop chairman. He stated that his first contact with DesVergers was when he contacted him to see if he would be scout master. Dr. Owen stated that he is a member of the local Optimist Club and that the Optimist Club had decided to sponsor a scout troop and appointed him as chairman. He was looking around for a scout master and heard that DesVergers would be interested in such a job. He contacted DesVergers and DesVergers said that he would take it. At this time, Dr. Owen knew nothing about DesVergers character or background and the only thing that he had ever heard about him was that he had been in an automobile accident (i.e., The automobile had slipped off a hoist and hit him) and that he had been very ill for a while. He stated that he first notices [sic] DesVergers was not exactly normal acting one night when DesVergers came over to Dr. Owen's house to help him paint a cabinet they were making for the boy scout's meeting headquarters. He stated that at that time DesVergers repeated the rather tall tale about a son who was at that time four months old. He said that the child, although he is only four months old, could walk and talk and had a number of teeth. The doctor knew that this was rather absurd and couldn't figure out why DesVergers would tell such a story. He was even interested enough to make a special effort to see the child, not that he believed DesVergers, but he seemed to want to double check the story. He stated that after he saw the child, he was under the impression that the baby was strictly normal for a four month old child. Dr. Owen also noted that several nights after the incident, DesVergers attended a scout meeting which was also attended by many of the scouts' parents. With no invitation, he got up and said that since they were all interested in his experience that he would answer questions. When someone did ask a question he stated that he couldn't answer it because of his "secrecy agreement". He also stated that what he knew might create a panic. He told several other incidents that he had heard from hearway [sic] and suggested that we contact a Mr. Bob Hilker of the Hilker Plumbing Company.

18. On the morning of 10 September 1952, Capt Carney and Capt Ruppelt along with Lt Olsson proceded [sic] to the Hilker Hardware Store to talk to Mr. Bob Hilker. Mr. Hilker also called in his brother, Stan, who knew DesVergers. He said that they first met DesVergers at Riverside Military academy in September 1941. They stated that they got to know DesVergers because it was a common thing for all students from one state to get to know each other and since DesVergers was from Lake City, Fla., they naturally got acquainted with him. They said that he was "kind of wild", "fun-loving", and "a prankster". They said that they were familiar enough with him that they used to invite him up to their home in West Palm Beach on weekends. They stated that he pulled several pranks while he was at the military academy, one of the most outstanding ones was dying [sic, should be dyeing] his hair. They stated that at one time the boys were all complaining about the type of food that they were getting at the academy so in protest many of them dyed their hair red, DesVergers went one better by dying his hair green. After he had done this, he changed colors several times and dyed his hair so many times his hair began to fall out. He stated that they do not know exactly what happened to him but the last they heard of him at the military academy was that he had gone AWOL and as far as they knew never finished high school. They stated that he does claim, however, to have gone to the University of Florida. If this is true, he would have had to have graduated from some high school. They are not aware, however, whether or not he really graduated. They stated that the next time they saw him was about a year ago. He had just finished working in the garage and had had his accident. He told them that he had had an accident and that a car had fallen on him and that he lay under the car for several hours screaming for help but nobody could hear him and he suffered a great deal of pain. (Comment: This was checked and found that he was not lying under the car for several hours, that there had been help right there when he had fallen.) He talked to the Hilkers and related some of the things he had been doing. He said that since he had seen them that he had been driving automobiles in stock car races. He said that he had won all of the races in southern Florida circuit by driving a Crosley in a modified stock car races [sic, entire sentence]. Soon after this, DesVergers opened a City Service Gas Station close to the Hilker's establishment. He came down and offered to service their trucks for them and since they knew him, they switched all their business to him. He made big statements as to how much service he would give them, how he would polish their trucks, and everything else. He did do this for about two weeks. However, after two weeks he didn't do it anymore. He operated the gas station for several months until he began to get into financial trouble. They stated that they believed he had overstocked his station and was unable to meet his bills. The bulk gas truck refused to deliver gas to him except on a C.O.D. basis. During one of these gas deliveries, DesVergers had brought a check to Hilker's to be cashed so that he could pay the gas man. They cashed the check, but it bounced. Shortly thereafter, the gasoline company clamped down on him, the city cut the water supply off, etc., and he closed the station. After this, his automobile was repossessed and for all practical purposes he went bankrupt.

19. He had told the Hilkers about his discharge from the marines and his story was that after he got back from overseas he landed in California. He saw an ad in the paper that someone wanted a person to share the driving from California to Florida. He stated that when he got to North Florida with this person that the person disappeared and it turned out that the car was a stolen car and DesVergers was picked up. (Comment: One of the other sources stated that DesVergers story was that he was out in California and that he and a friend had picked up a couple girls and were driving along when the police stopped them. He stated that he had not known this friend very well and it turned out that the friend and two girls had stolen the car but they got out of the charge.) The Hilker brothers said that they had seen DesVergers several times after he closed his gas station and that he had invited them over to his house on two or more occasions. They stated that the first inkling they began to have was that something was a little odd was the stories that DesVergers told [sic, entire sentence]. They repeated their stories and they will be noted here for possible value and psychological study. They stated that they understood the Miami Daily Herald had also picked up a story that DesVergers supposedly saw some person jump off the roof of a building in New York City sometime [sic] ago but upon looking for the body the police could not find it. He then had some long story which they did not remember that accounted for the disappearance of the body. In this instance he also supposedly hired a press agent.

20. Once during a birthday party, DesVergers stated that during the war he was a Marine and had been on sea duty on a battleship. He stated that one day he was contacted by an Officer of naval intelligence who asked him to go on a secret mission. He was taken to Washington and given a briefing by a group of Colonels then taken to California to go to school with some more Colonels from Washington. He was flown to the Pacific to map Jap held islands that were unchartered [sic]. He stated that he was taken to the island under cover of darkness in a PBY aircraft along with his surveying cryptography equipment and that as they approached the island a life raft was inflated and thrown out of the waist window of the PBY. The PBY landed in the dark in unchartered [sic] waters next to the raft and put "Sonny" and his equipment into the raft. With the cover of darkness he paddled up to the beach and buried all of his equipment. Hilker stated that at the beginning of the story the island was 7 x 3 mi. long and at the end it was 25 x 50. After about two weeks of hiding from the Japs all day and digging up his equipment and surveying at night, he had mapped the island. In many cases he had brushes with Japanese Officers and once during his two weeks he was lying in some bushes hiding during the day when the Japs walked by so close to him they could touch him. When the job was finished he had set up a rendezvous with the PBY and it landed at night. However, the Japs saw the airplane land and knew that he was on the island. He inflated his rubber raft and started paddling toward the aircraft but the Japanese started to fire at him and sunk his life raft, however, in the raft he had a Gibson Girl radio with a balloon for an antenna. He quickly inflated the balloon, crawled on it and flowed [sic] out to the PBY. As he was being picked up by the aircraft, people were reaching down out of the hatch helping him. During the time the Japs were shooting at them and several of the sailors who were helping him were badly wounded. Another one of his stories was that shortly afterwards he was discharged from the Marines he was running a filling station in northern Florida. One night when he was alone, a hold-up man came in with a 45 and attempted to rob him. However, DesVergers talked to the hold-up man and talked him out of the robbery, took his gun away from him and gave him enough money to take the bus out of town.

21. Another story was that he had been a PFC test pilot in the Marines and had flown about every type of naval and marine [sic, uncapitalized] fighter aircraft. It so happened that the Hilker brothers were civilian pilots and started to question him about flying. They said it was very, very obvious to them that he had never been in an airplane before.

22. They stated that in general DesVergers seemed to always have a story that would top one told by anybody else. They said that he was very clever and that he always had a very convincing answer for everything. They said it was next to impossible to be able to pin him down on anything and asked [sic] him a question that he could not answer. They stated that they believed his mother had money because he had passed several bad checks and they were always made good shortly afterwards. They said that as far as they know he had several new automobiles while in West Palm Beach and one of them was repossessed and that he had purchased two homes. There was a question in their minds as to where he could get enough money to make down payments on a new car and a home. They stated that the general impression around the city of West Palm Beach was about 60 percent of the people were mad at DesVergers for coming in with such a story, about five percent of the people believed it; and the rest just laughed it all off. They said that personally they were very much interested in flying saucers and followed it very closely, however, they did not believe this story. If anybody except DesVergers had seen it, they said they probably would have believed it, however, they put absolutely no faith in anything that he said.

23. They sated that in several cases they have either been in the presence of DesVergers or have heard that DesVergers was at a meeting and would voluntarily bring up his experience. When asked details he would immediately bring up his "secrecy agreement" with the Air Force and not give any details.

24. On the evening of 9 September 1952, Capt Ruppelt, Capt Carney, Lt Olsson, and S/Sgt Saeger went out to the spot where DesVergers supposedly observed the object. The night was much the same as the night of the incident, no moon and same time. The staff car was parked in approximately the same spot as DesVergers' car was parked. Lt Olsson and S/Sgt Saeger took a flashlight and went out into the clearing where DesVergers was "attacked". The light was visible while the two men were going into the woods, however, when they got into the clearing they could not be seen. The only time the light could be seen was when Lt Olsson held the light about 7 feet above the ground and shined it directly toward the road. It was definitely concluded that a person in the clearing, holding a light at a normal level, could not be seen from the road. It is doubted that the palmettos grew that much taller in a three week period. (Comment: This trip was made about three weeks after the incident.)

While at the scene of the incident, it was noted that aircraft in the traffic pattern at the West Palm Beach Airport with landing lights on appeared to be white lights going through the woods. Aircraft in the Palm Beach area keep their landing lights on at all times they are in the pattern.

Overall, it was a bleak picture of DesVergers' credibility. But it is also worth noting that when someone spoke with high praise of DesVergers, such as Mr. Hall, Desvergers' employer, Ruppelt still found reason to raise unsupported suspicions, apparently unwilling to believe that DesVergers was capable of even a simple act of kindness.

Some other points from the report stand out as well:

Captain Carney's indifference, as well as Ruppelt's, to DesVergers' report that he was being harassed and his family threatened by telephone while at work is striking on several levels, starting with the fact that they apparently simply didn't care that someone may have been trying to intimidate the primary witness in their investigation. Striking also is that this certainly would have been pertinent to Ruppelt's investigation as to DesVergers' credibility if DesVergers could be shown to have made it all up -- yet it was apparently not even discussed with Mr. Hall, DesVergers' employer, when Ruppelt interviewed him. This also raises the question as to who -- if such threats had indeed occurred -- would have a vested interest in intimidating DesVergers. There had been many well-publicized incidents in 1952, none of which had witnesses threatened (as far as is known). Nor is it likely to have been a "publicity stunt", as it would be months more before DesVergers discussed it publicly, and then only reluctantly -- as will be seen.

Also of interest is Ruppelt's and Carney's failure to contact constable Louis Carroll in regard to deputy Bowen's claim that Carroll wanted to "make a big deal" of the sighting.

Dr. Byrd's analysis of DesVergers has some wrinkles of its own, as he first asserts that DesVergers "continued to complain however, that he was paralyzed, in great pain, etc." although his doctors could find nothing physically wrong -- implying that DesVergers was either faking or, using the doctor's own term, a "mental case". But even today the cause of many kinds of pain are not immediately identifiable by medical doctors, who must simply rely on a patient's word that the patient is, in fact, suffering. And Ruppelt's report makes no distinctions as to the type of "paralysis" DesVergers was said to be claiming -- was it total or partial, limited to certain movements or actions (the ability to make a fist, for instance), or was it even merely a complaint about numbness in his limbs? There is precious little specificity in Ruppelt's report when it comes to such matters. And it is interesting to note the phrase which immediately follows...

Citation:

After several days he was allowed to get up in a wheel chair. (emphasis added)

The implication here is that it was his doctors who did not allow DesVergers to move for several days (and also that DesVergers wasn't claiming total paralysis), which indicates there must have been some medical reason to suspect injury. And there is again the unfortunate lack of specificity in the report as to exactly how long DesVergers was kept in the hospital, and why -- if so sure that DesVergers was faking -- they had not discharged him almost immediately. Of possible relevance here is the information from the medical officer who examined DesVergers on August 21st, just before Ruppelt's first interview...

Citation:

b. He stated that in 1948 he had had an accident in which an automobile slipped of [sic] hoist and fell on his stomach. He was hospitalized 3½ months for Diathermy treatment. The medical officer thought this was highly unlikely due to the fact that Diathermy treatments do not require hospitalization.

If DesVergers had truly been in the hospital for anywhere near such a length of time, then Dr. Byrd's "very emphatic" views certainly needed further exploring. And in his discussion with the medical officer, who Ruppelt says "took an apparent dim view of DesVergers", had DesVergers merely meant that he had received diathermy treatment over the course of his stay, with the "personality clash between the medic and Mr. DesVergers" causing the medical officer to misinterpret what he was being told? In fact, if DesVergers had received diathermy -- electrical current used as physical therapy for pain, decreased range of motion, nerve injury, or bone injury -- then once again, Dr. Byrd's "very emphatic" views certainly needed further exploring.

And then there is this:

Citation:

The doctor stated that during the time he was in the wheel chair that he traveled all over the hospital, visited all of the offices and all the patients, telling them how bad off he really was. This was creating a lot of confusion in the hospital so the wheel chair was taken away from him and he was given a pair of crutches. This didn't help matters very much as far as the confusion was concerned as he continued to go around telling people that he was in bad condition. During this time he would telephone his mother who is believed to have been living in Lakeland, Fla., and would tell his mother how he was suffering and what a bad condition he was in.

That of course was told from the point of Dr. Byrd's "very emphatic" view of DesVergers. But what is not clear is the reason why DesVergers might have been doing such -- as for instance in the case of a patient who feels he is getting the "run around" from his doctors (whether real or imagined). There are often two sides to such stories, and in this instance -- as in the story about deputy Louis Carroll -- Ruppelt was content to only hear one.

The statements by the garage owner, identified only as "Mr. Fulton", and the Hilker brothers speak for themselves, but that includes also that there seemed to be a reservoir of good will towards DesVergers despite his faults. Mr. Fulton's gentle description of DesVergers as "a boy who never quite grew up" and the fact that apparently he not only never pressed charges against DesVergers for the engine switch but that DesVergers continued in his employ, as evidenced by the car falling off the hoist story, indicates some better angel of DesVergers' nature had kept him in Mr. Fulton's good graces -- although looking for the possible counterweights in exploring the positive in DesVergers' nature was by this time obviously exactly opposite to Ruppelt's intent. Likewise, the Hilker brothers seemed to enjoy their long-standing relationship with DesVergers on some level, seeming to take a "oh that's just Sonny" attitude toward the wilder stories.

Captain Carney's and Captain Ruppelt's attempted subterfuge with Art Keil, the press agent, is revelatory in itself. Blue Book's files contain an untold number of investigative reports -- including approaching witnesses with a wary eye -- but it is almost if not completely unprecedented that a witness was treated as needing to be tricked in order to get the truth before the witness ever had the chance to utter a word. As it turned out, Keil was completely forthcoming, and the only suspicion remaining about the encounter is if Ruppelt's report was completely forthcoming, for there is not one word about whether Keil was asked what DesVergers had told him about that night, and if he believed DesVergers' was telling the truth -- only that for reasons of DesVergers' background Keil did not feel a reputable publisher would touch the story. Almost certainly if Keil had been asked and replied "no, I do not believe him", or even had Keil said that because DesVergers was a former client Keil couldn't ethically answer, it would have been included in the report. Whether such questions were asked and answered in a way opposite to Ruppelt's intent will never be known.

Outside of the factors above, DesVergers' "bad" reputation boiled down to an unsuccessful attempt to run a gas station and to pass bad checks which he then made good. Before that he had possibly stolen a car (for whatever reason, the exact details were seemingly never researched) and had received a "less than honorable" discharge from the Marines. Alongside that was DesVergers' tendency to exaggerate or invent stories -- including exciting war adventures and the special abilities of his first son (and although DesVergers' was seemingly an extreme example of such behaviors, certainly he was not the only self-proclaimed war hero and boasting father of those post-war times).

But nothing -- absolutely nothing -- countered what the three boy scouts saw, or even DesVergers' version of what occurred out of sight. It was all ad hominem attacks on DesVergers' character, having nothing to do with the facts of the incident itself.

As for Ruppelt's interview with the three boy scouts, the stories he claims they told three weeks after the event will be compared and contrasted to what they said previously -- and indeed, afterwards -- a little later. But one glaring point can be addressed forthwith, which Ruppelt attributes to being agreed to by all three boys:

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The boys asked him what he was going to do and he said that he thought he had seen either an aircraft crack up or a flying saucer.

Never before or since was this allegation -- that DesVergers had proclaimed it might be a "flying saucer" before entering the palmetto grove -- a part of any of the boys' statements, either written or made to newspapers. This would presumably include the statements received by Captain Carney immediately following the day of the event -- before Ruppelt's first arrival -- which are missing from Blue Book's declassified files, but which Ruppelt states in his report that he was shown. That such an incriminating statement would not have been further explored and reported on in detail in Ruppelt's account of his individual "interrogation" of the three boy scouts beggars belief.

And that Ruppelt purposely avoided seeing DesVergers again, especially after such a purported statement, is equally unfathomable.

But as with the story throughout, that just seems to be the way of things whenever it comes to matters concerning scoutmaster "Sonny" DesVergers.








Above: Paperback version of Captain Ruppelt's 1956 book. It was the first time an "insider" had written of his time investigating "flying saucers", and as such was considered by many to be the holy grail of the phenomenon. But although it contains much important information, there are glaring errors and omissions in Ruppelt's recounting of some of the most important incidents of the era when compared to contemporaneous declassified Blue Book files.

IN HIS 1956 BOOK Ruppelt would briefly recount his September 8th trip to Florida...

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We didn't talk to the scoutmaster again but we did talk to all the boy scouts one night at their scout meeting, and they retold how they had seen their scoutmaster knocked down by the ball of fire. The night before, we had gone out to the area of the sighting and, under approximately the same lighting conditions as existed on the night of the sighting, had re-enacted the scene -- especially the part where the boy scouts saw their scoutmaster fall, covered with red fire. We found that not even by standing on top of the car could you see a person silhouetted in the clearing where the scoutmaster supposedly fell. The rest of their stories fell apart to some extent too. They were not as positive of details as they had been previously.

When we returned to Dayton, the report on the cap had come back. The pattern of the scorch showed that the hat was flat when it was scorched, but the burned holes -- the lab found some minute holes we had missed -- had very probably been made by an electrical spark. This was all the lab could find.

During our previous visit we repeatedly asked the question, "Was the hat burned before you went into the woods?" and, "Had the cap been ironed?" We had received the same answers each time: "The hat was not burned because we [the boy scouts] were playing with it at the scout meeting and would have noticed the burns," and, "The cap was new; it had not been washed or ironed." It is rumored that the cap was never returned because it was proof of the authenticity of the sighting. The hat wasn't returned simply because the scoutmaster said that he didn't want it back. No secrets, no intrigue; it's as simple as that.

Why Ruppelt would later write that the night before he met with the scouts he "had gone out to the area of the sighting and, under approximately the same lighting conditions as existed on the night of the sighting, had re-enacted the scene", and then subsequently meet with the scouts without ever mentioning that "not even by standing on top of the car could you see a person silhouetted in the clearing where the scoutmaster supposedly fell" is a contradiction without explanation. In any case, as revealed in his September 12th memorandum, the group did not travel out to recreate the scene until the night following his interviews with the scouts. Still, the question remains as to why -- still being physically located in the area -- they did not reinterview the scouts to see if there was some reason for the apparent discrepancy. Nor did they later request Captain Carney to find out. Once again, Ruppelt seemed content to accept any interpretation which might disprove the events of August 19, 1952, and to leave it at that.

And as in many previous instances, Ruppelt's assertion that either DesVergers or the boys scouts had been "repeatedly asked" about the hat and received the answers Ruppelt lists is not supported by his contemporaneous reports, including the single remaining contemporaneous document on the investigation to be found in Blue Book's declassified files...

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Memorandum for Record

19 September 1952

Subject: Telephone Call to Capt Carney, 1707th Air Base Wing, West Palm Beach Municipal Airport, Florida

1. On 18 Sept 52, Capt E.J. Ruppelt called Capt Carney, Wing Intelligence officer of the 1707th Air Base Wing, West Palm Beach Municipal Airport, Florida, to obtain additional information on a sighting reported by Mr. DesVergers. The following questions and answers were obtained.

Q: Which deputy met DesVergers coming out of the palmetto thicket on the night of the incident?

A: Deputy Mott Parkins [sic, should be Partin].

Q. Were the samples of grass that were taken 50 yards from the location of the sighting taken from a definitely shady spot or a spot that was in the same relative amount of sunshine as the point where DesVergers claimed to have been "attacked"?

A: The grass samples had been taken from a point where there was approximately the same amount of shade.

Q. Was DesVergers' hat ever washed or ironed before it was supposedly burned during the incident?

A: Capt Carney did not know the answer to this but said that he would obtain it. He was requested to be rather discreet about this inquiry so that DesVergers would have no idea we thought there was a possibility that the hat might have been scorched while it was being ironed. Carney stated that he would obtain the info and wire it directly to ATIC.

2. Capt Carney was also requested to pass on any information that he might obtain in regard to the DesVergers sighting.

And as for Ruppelt's 1956 assertion...

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It is rumored that the cap was never returned because it was proof of the authenticity of the sighting. The hat wasn't returned simply because the scoutmaster said that he didn't want it back. No secrets, no intrigue; it's as simple as that.

Well, that may be true -- but if it is there is no supporting documentation in Blue Book's declassified files of any offer ever being made to return the hat or any refusal by DesVergers to accept it, although such offers were documented many times in other Blue Book files.

In fact, there is no documentation at all about what happened to the hat after it was last reported to be in the hands of the F.B.I. lab, leaving the hat's whereabouts then and to this day unknown and the hat itself unavailable for further scrutiny, which -- as Ruppelt would say -- is as simple as that.






Above: First page of an article published in American Weekly on April 19, 1953

BY THE TIME of Captain Ruppelt's 19 September 1952 final memorandum for the record, the story of Sonny DesVergers had already disappeared from the news. It would pop up again only twice more that year. The first was a national newswire story of an Air Force announcement. From the November 7, 1952 edition of the Findlay, Ohio Republican Courier...

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Two Flying Saucer Reports A Mystery

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 -- The Air Force announced today that two of last summer's "flying saucer" reports have been thoroughly investigated and that they remain unexplained.

One of the "saucers," said to have burned a Scout leader's hand [sic] when he walked under it, was reported Aug. 19, at West Palm Beach, Fla. The other, which a radio engineer said took off perpendicularly at a distance of 100 yards, was reported Aug. 25 at Pittsburgh, Kan.

The Air Force said: "In neither case was sufficient evidence available upon which to base a conclusion. The incidents remain unexplained."

A spokesman said that there was little or no material evidence to corroborate or amplify the statements of the witnesses about what they saw.

Then, two days later, from the November 9, 1952 edition of the Fort Pierce, Texas News Tribune...

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Claim Saucer 'Buzzing' Cost Him $800 and Hat

WEST PALM BEACH -- Dunham S. Desvergers, the scoutmaster who claimed he was "buzzed" by a flying saucer last August, says the experience cost him $800 and a new hat.

He said Friday he hoped a statement by the Air Force that the episode still was a mystery would not stir up public interest.

Desvergers explained he has had to answer more than 1,000 letters and telephone calls from as far away as London and hasn't yet sold the story of his experience.

"I insist that the story be told the way it really happened," he said, "all the book and magazine people want to jazz it up and I don't sell it on that basis."

He said curious persons visited the store where he worked as a hardware clerk and that "people threatened my wife and I had to hire a private detective because if I had asked for police protection it would have looked like a publicity stunt."

Desvergers reported that he was knocked unconscious by a blast from a flying saucer when he plunged into some woods to investigate mysterious lights spotted while returning from a Boy Scout meeting.

Three holes were burned in his scout hat. Deputy sheriffs who investigated the incident said they'd never seen a man so scared.

DesVergers got his wish, and there would be no more news coverage for the rest of the year. Then, in 1953, he was tracked down by Marta Robinet for an article in American Weekly, a Sunday news supplement published by the Hearst chain of newspapers...

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Burned by a Flying Saucer
The amazing story of a man who chased mysterious lights and came face to face with the terror of the unknown

By Marta Robinet

I'd heard about Sonny DesVergers' encounter with the flying saucer. The whole country had. The news had flashed out from West Palm Beach, Florida, the night of August 19, 1952 -- a 30-year-old scoutmaster had entered a palmetto forest to investigate strange lights and, after 40 terrifying minutes, had come staggering back, his arms burned, mumbling dazedly of a weird, dome-shaped craft hovering above the ground and a creature that spewed fire at him from an open hatch.

It was another saucer story, stored away by the Air Technical Intelligence Center, forgotten within 24 hours after it found its spot in the news.

Hoax? Psychological aberration? Hallucination? Publicity stunt? Or none of these? Was it one of those unaccountable saucer experiences reported by honest, reputable persons which even the Air Force, checking relentlessly, cannot puncture?

I was in West Palm Beach to find out. Six months had passed since DesVergers' brush with the unknown. How much could he remember of it now? Had it had any effect on him? what did it feel like to be so close to a flying saucer that you could reach up and actually touch it?

I saw Deputy Sheriff Mott Partin, who'd been there when Sonny DesVergers staggered from the woods. He was a small, alert, practical man, leather-faced and friendly. Did he think DesVergers had been acting?

"If he was, it was the best darned acting I ever saw," Partin answered, shaking his head. "In 19 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anyone as upset as he was."

He said he would drive me down the Dixie Highway that afternoon to talk to DesVergers. Then we'd go on to Boynton to see Bobby Ruffing, one of the three Boy Scouts DesVergers had been driving home when it had happened. After that, Partin promised, he'd drive me over and let me have a look at the spot off Military Trail where DesVergers had stumbled on the saucer.

"Was the grass in the woods really scorched?" I asked. "Lady, I only know what I saw," Partin said. "It was burned in patchy areas."

And the burns on DesVergers' arms? The hair had been singed off and the skin was red. That much he could vouch for, Partin said.


Sonny DesVergers points to where his arm was blistered by the fireball. The sparks also burned his cap.

We drove to the shower door factory where DesVergers was sales manager. He came forward to meet us, a tall, slim man with a boyishly earnest face and a clean, scrubbed look. He and Partin pumped hands.

I was introduced. DesVergers hardly looked old enough to have served as a Marine in the last war. He wore a wedding band on his left hand. I heard there was a year-old son.

I told him I wouldn't detain him then, but would like to interview him at his home that evening. He complied cordially, but suddenly the boyish look was gone. A grim, unhappy expression took its place, as if my request had resurrected memories forcibly buried. Haltingly, still trying to be pleasant, he explained that he didn't want to bring his family into this again. He said there had been "...well, social changes," and I realized with a pang of pity that a certain amount of ridicule and perhaps ostracism would be bound to follow in the wake of such an experience.

"I wish it had never happened," he said solemnly. "I like my job. I have six mouths to feed." Six? That surprised me. I asked him, "How come so many?"

His eyes crinkles. He ticked off the list on his fingers. "Me, my wife, boy, dog, bird, goldfish."

We laughed. Then Partin asked, "Did you ever get your cap back from Washington?"

Sonny appeared startled to have this mentioned in front of me.

Partin said, "This will interest you. His cap was burned. They sent it away for analysis."

Sonny said no, he hadn't gotten it back yet. We set the time for the interview and left.

"Those people who scoff should have seen the cap," Partin said, when we were under way again. "It was a yachting cap. The hole in the bill hadn't burned through, but two in the cloth had. He said that when the thing shot at him there were sparks."

We came into the town of Boynton, turned into a homey residential street and stopped again. We spoke to Mrs. Ruffing first, explaining why I was there. A quiet-spoken, attractive woman with a sincere, level glance, she was frankly hesitant as she peered out at us from behind her screen door.

"Bobby has been in bed with the flu," she explained, then added: "I'll see if he wants to talk."

She reappeared and led us into a room charming with bright chintzes. Bobby was on a davenport, under covers.

"He's an intelligent lad," Partin had told me before we arrived. "He's older than the other two Scouts. I was particularly impressed with the way he gave me his story that night."


Bobby Ruffing and two other Boy Scouts saw the same lights as DesVergers. Bobby, who says, "I wish it had never happened," reluctantly shows Deputy Sheriff Mott Partin the size of the lights. There were about six, strung out.

Bobby's reticence to discuss the affair was marked. He kept looking toward his mother.

"Sonny had been in the habit of bringing Bobby home after Scout meeting," she began for him. "When Bobby didn't get home that night, we were terribly worried. It didn't help much when we got the call that they were at the sheriff's office."

"Why don't you want to talk about it?" I asked.

He looked straight at me. "I've been teased at school," he said simply. He studied his hands. "I wish it had never happened," he said, word for word Sonny's statement.

They'd been driving down Military Trail toward Boynton, he said, when Sonny first saw the lights. There were six or so of them, strung in a level row, like the windows of an airliner, and they plunged right into the woods. Sonny thought it was a plane crashing. Excited, they talked of investigating the strange sight.

A quarter of a mile further on, Bobby saw the lights again. Now they seemed to be right in the tree tops, back about where they'd first been spotted. Sonny turned around and went back a quarter of a mile.

He got out his lantern, pocket flash and machete -- for hacking through the underbrush.

"If you don't hear from me in 10 minutes, go back up the road to that house and call the sheriff's office," he told the three Scouts. Then he plunged down the road embankment and off into the woods, his lantern bobbing between the trees.

When he failed to return, Bobby and the other two boys ran to the house and called the sheriff's office. Partin, who was cruising nearby, was contacted by radio and reached the scene about half an hour after Sonny's departure. While he was trying to get a story from the boys, Sonny suddenly appeared at the bottom of the embankment.

He was white-faced and shaking and kept repeating: "I'm coming, here I am!" His lantern was gone, but he still had his machete.

"He was a sorry sight," Partin put in. "He was talking a blue streak but he didn't make any sense. I backed away from him. That machete . . . "

Mrs. Ruffing said she'd seen Sonny's singed arms. He'd come down the next evening to apologize for making Bobby late. She'd seen a seeping blister near his watchband and he had mentioned a tingling feeling in his arms.

We said good-by to the Ruffings and drove back down Military Trail. We stopped, just before sunset, where Sonny had stopped that night. We went through the woods -- those lonely, dismal palmetto thickets -- to the clearing where Sonny had known terror. I saw where his lantern had been found, where his elbows had made an imprint when he fell to the ground and where the burned patches had been.

It was good to leave that grim place. Three hours later, I sat with Sonny DesVergers in his neat living room. His little son was in bed. His wife and dog were absent. I studied his honest face. Here was a man reluctant to relive an unpleasant experience, yet determined not to run from it. He warned me in advance that there were some details he would withhold. "I'm not here to challenge," I said. "Just tell me your story."

He had run into the woods with his lantern and machete, he said, leaving the boys by the car. He looked up at the stars for his bearings.

"I went about 200 yards," he said. "In Florida there are apt to be swampy areas and quicksand. When thick palmetto growth stops abruptly you can step into anything. When I realized I was in a clearing, I kept my eye on the ground. I walked about 20 feet into the clearing and stopped."

He stopped talking and looked at me. "It was a funny thing. I had the feeling I wasn't alone. Nothing to account for it. Just a feeling. And suddenly the atmosphere was insufferably hot.

"I looked up at the stars. Darned funny . . . it was black up there. There were no stars. I shone my lantern upward. About four feet above my head there was a dirtyish gray metal surface. It couldn't have been more than a few seconds I stood looking, but it was all so clear. I remember noticing that the metal's grain ran north to south and there were no seams."

"You'd walked in under it?" I asked.

I could have touched it with the machete. My whole body tightened up with fear. I remember thinking, 'Get out of here!' I must have been very close to the outer rim of the thing because, when I hurriedly backed off, I was in the open and the thing seemed to be backing off from me at the same time. Like it was taken by surprise. I could see the silhouette against the sky . . . dome-shaped with a flat bottom, about 30 feet across. There were no lights. The rim began to tilt up."

He stopped again, groping for some way to go on.

I remembered the original story. "Did you see someone?" I asked.

He thought about that. "Yes," he said, at last.

A living creature? He nodded slowly.

Would he describe what it looked like? No, he said emphatically, that was one of the things he wouldn't tell me. People would think . . . well, he'd just rather not.

"I saw it when an opening suddenly appeared in the dome," he said. "It was like a hatch that flew open. And at the same time that I saw it, a ball of fire drifted toward me from the opening. It's hard to describe . . . it was a kind of misty fire that gave off sparks. It seemed to float toward me and envelop me and a stench filled my nostrils and throat. I threw my arms up over my face. Then I staggered and fell and everything went black."

When he came to, the thing was gone. Just black stillness. He was dazed and his arms hurt and his throat was raw.


DesVergers -- "I thought I was dead. I couldn't even feel the ground. My whole body was numb."

"I was afraid I was dead," he told me. "Really," he emphasized, as if fearful I would not believe him. "I thought I was dead. I didn't seem to be walking on ground. I couldn't even feel the ground. My whole body was numb. All I could think of was the kids, waiting for me out by the car. I ran into the woods, feeling my way in the darkness. I made it to the car. I don't remember what I said. Afterwards they told me I still had my machete. Everything was kind of hazy."

He sat there, his story ended. I made some small talk about the bird and the goldfish. I wanted to leave so Sonny's wife (who had left us alone during our interview) could come home and they could turn out the lights and go to bed and forget once more. And though he said nothing, I could feel his yearning to be believed, his desperate, unspoken plea for my faith.


DesVergers, in the clearing where he encountered the gray disc, tries to reconstruct for Deputy Partin the size of the strange object. He also showed Partin patches of burned grass in the area to substantiate part of his amazing story.

I shook his hand and thanked him and went out. The stars were bright and symbolic of all the mystery of the future. I thought of Sonny DesVergers' story, and what Bobby Ruffing had said, and the supporting testimony of Mott Partin. I thanked God that I was not a judge and jury charged with ruling on whether the scoutmaster did or did not actually come face to face with a flying saucer. I had only to set the facts down, as I have done here.

But I will tell you this: I have complete faith in the integrity of all three -- DesVergers, Bobby and Partin.

It was -- at long last -- a printed account sympathetic to DesVergers and the scouts. Gone was any sense of bravura or avarice on DesVergers' part, and surprisingly Mott Partin, the sheriff who had been involved since the first night of the incident, seemed to be in Sonny's corner as well.

But though it would take three more years, it would not be the last surprise support DesVergers would receive in print.






Above: From the files of Project Blue Book, pictures of grass samples retrieved at the scene of the DesVergers incident.

THE LAST PLACE one might expect to find support for DesVergers' story would be Captain Ruppelt's 1956 book. Nevertheless...

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Everyone who was familiar with the incident, except a few people in the Pentagon, were convinced that this was a hoax until the lab called me about the grass samples we'd sent in. "How did the roots get charred?" Roots charred? I didn't even know what my caller was talking about. He explained that when they'd examined the grass they had knocked the dirt and sand off the roots of the grass clumps and found them charred. The blades of grass themselves were not damaged; they had never been heated, except on the extreme tips of the longer blades. These had evidently been bending over touching the ground and were also charred. The lab had duplicated the charring and had found that by placing live grass clumps in a pan of sand and dirt and heating it to about 300 degrees F. over a gas burner the charring could be duplicated. How it was actually done outside the lab they couldn't even guess.

As soon as we got the lab report, we checked a few possibilities ourselves. There were no hot underground springs to heat the earth, no chemicals in the soil, not a thing we found could explain it. The only way it could have been faked would have been to heat the earth from underneath to 300 degrees F., and how do you do this without using big and cumbersome equipment and disturbing the ground? You can't. Only a few people handled the grass specimens: the lab, the intelligence officer in Florida, and I. The lab wouldn't do it as a joke, then write an official report, and I didn't do it. This leaves the intelligence officer; I'm positive that he wouldn't do it. There may be a single answer everyone is overlooking, but as of now the charred grass roots from Florida are still a mystery.

Writing an official report on this incident was difficult. On one side of the ledger was a huge mass of circumstantial evidence very heavily weighted against the scoutmaster's story being true. On our second trip to Florida, Lieutenant Olsson and I heard story after story about the man's aptitude for dreaming up tall tales. One man told us, "If he told me the sun was shining, I'd look up to make sure." There were parts of his story and those of the boy scouts that didn't quite mesh. None of us ever believed the boy scouts were in on the hoax. They were undoubtedly so impressed by the story that they imagined a few things they didn't actually see. The scoutmaster's burns weren't proof of anything; the flight surgeon had duplicated these by burning his own arm with a cigarette lighter. But we didn't make step one in proving the incident to be a hoax. We thought up dozens of ways that the man could have set up the hoax but couldn't prove one.

In the scoutmaster's favor were the two pieces of physical evidence we couldn't explain, the holes burned in the cap and the charred grass roots.

The deputy sheriff who had first told me about the scoutmaster's Marine and prison record had also said, "Maybe this is the one time in his life he's telling the truth, but I doubt it."

So did we; we wrote off the incident as a hoax. The best hoax in UFO history.

Many people have asked why we didn't give the scoutmaster a lie detector test. We seriously considered it and consulted some experts in this field. They advised against it. In some definite types of cases the lie detector will not give valid results. This, they thought, was one of those cases. Had we done it and had he passed on the faulty results, the publicity would have been a headache.

There is one way to explain the charred grass roots, the burned cap, and a few other aspects of the incident. It's pure speculation; I don't believe that it is the answer, yet it is interesting. Since the blades of the grass were not damaged and the ground had not been disturbed, this one way is the only way (nobody has thought of any other way) the soil could have been heated. It could have been done by induction heating.

To quote from a section entitled "Induction Heating" from an electrical engineering textbook:

A rod of solid metal or any electrical conductor, when subjected to an alternating magnetic field, has electromotive forces set up in it. These electromotive forces cause what are known as "eddy currents." A rise in temperature results from "eddy currents."

Induction heating is a common method of melting metals in a foundry.

Replace the "rod of solid metal" mentioned above with damp sand, an electrical conductor, and assume that a something that was generating a powerful alternating magnetic field was hovering over the ground, and you can explain how the grass roots were charred. To get an alternating magnetic field, some type of electrical equipment was needed. Electricity -- electrical sparks -- the holes burned in the cap "by electric sparks."

UFO propulsion comes into the picture when one remembers Dr. Einstein's unified field theory, concerning the relationship between electro-magnetism and gravitation.

If this alternating magnetic field can heat metal, why didn't everything the scoutmaster had that was metal get hot enough to burn him? He had a flashlight, machete, coins in his pocket, etc. The answer -- he wasn't under the UFO for more than a few seconds. He said that when he stopped to really look at it he had backed away from under it. He did feel some heat, possibly radiating from the ground.

To further pursue this line of speculation, the scoutmaster repeatedly mentioned the unusual odor near the UFO. He described it as being "sharp" or "pungent." Ozone gas is "sharp" or "pungent." To quote from a chemistry book, "Ozone is prepared by passing air between two plates which are charged at a high electrical potential." Electrical equipment again. Breathing too high a concentration of ozone gas will also cause you to lose consciousness.

I used to try out this induction heating theory on people to get their reaction. I tried it out one day on a scientist from Rand. He practically leaped at the idea. I laughed when I explained that I thought this theory just happened to tie together the unanswered aspects of the incident in Florida and was not the answer; he was slightly perturbed. "What do you want?" he said. "Does a UFO have to come in and land on your desk at ATIC?"

In fairness, when considering this portion of Ruppelt's 1956 tome, one has to take into account Ruppelt's track record on getting his facts straight, which is variable. Still, there are the contemporaneous photos of the darkened roots of the grass in Blue Book files to back him up.

And though it would take a further 41 years, another printed account would offer information in support of DesVergers. Fittingly, it appeared in the very same paper in which DesVergers' first in-depth interview appeared -- The Palm Beach Post, written by Post columnist Ron Wiggins...

Citation:

With New Witness, Alien Craft Story Still Hovers Over Us

In 1952, did West Palm Beach scoutmaster Sonny DesVergers really have a close encounter with an alien spacecraft near Lantana?

On the night of Aug. 19, around 10 p.m., the 30-year-old hardware store clerk emerged from a wooded area burned and dazed, telling an outlandish story of an alien spacecraft that zapped him with a fireball that came out of a domed hatch.

Since May, when I wrote about the 45-year-old story, I've confirmed at least part of his account by two of the scouts who were with him: Charles Stevens, 56, of West Palm Beach, and David Rowan, 56, of Phoenix.

Now a third possible witness to the UFO sighting has emerged: Lyman Bradford, 52, of West Palm Beach, who was 7 at the time.

"When my wife saw the article, she said, 'Isn't this that same UFO you and your dad saw?'"

Same or not, Bradford, now a private investigator, says an object landed in the back of his family's property, 5 acres of palmetto scrub on Military Trail north of Okeechobee Boulevard. His father, Lyman Bradford Sr. was volunteer fire chief in 1952.

When young Bradford saw the strange craft hover in front of a melaleuca tree behind their house and settle in a patch of palmetto, he ran to his dad's machine shop next door to the fire station, yelling for the senior Bradford and another man to come out and see.

His dad not only co-witnessed the sighting, but took pictures, which Bradford says were later confiscated by Air Force investigators. Bradford recalls two men taking their stories and warning them to keep quiet.

Being good Americans, they told everybody they knew.

A Tire Kingdom now occupies part of the old Bradford homestead, but 300 feet west, just inside a mobile home park, you can see the melaleuca tree where Bradford says he saw the strange craft touch down.

OK, Lyman, from the beginning:

"It was summer, 1952. Dad's machine shop was between our house and the fire department east of Military Trail. I was walking from the fire hall to our house when I saw this big, circular object hovering 20 or 30 feet above the ground at the back of our property. Skinny poles came out and it settled in some underbrush."

Description, please.

"Thousands of bright lights, white, going back and forth. It was circular, metallic, with a partial dome. On the outside it had round portholes, all lit. I'd say it was 45 feet across and 6 feet thick."

Then what?

"I ran in to get my father who came out with Mr. Siegers, a volunteer fireman. As far as noise, we could hear scraping, like metal. We had a plain view and it must have sat there with those lights going for about 10 or 12 minutes.

"Then it just lifted up and, at tree level, left in the blink of an eye. It went up and south."

Bradford recalls that that investigators found a pattern of circular scorch marks at the landing site, corresponding to reported findings at the Lantana site.

"I remember Mom and Dad talking about it, saying that what we saw was either some kind of spaceship or a top secret military experiment."

Camera confiscated

But is the memory of a 7-year-old to be trusted?

Howard Josephsen, 72, a retired carpenter, volunteered at the Military Trail station back in 1952: "It's hard to recall particulars but I do remember something about Lyman (Sr.) and another fellow seeing some strange object landing out there behind the station. The chief was a level-headed fellow, so we never doubted him."

Over the years, Bradford's wife, Ellen, has heard the account many times, and remembers asking her husband's late mother if the UFO story were true.

"We were having a holiday meal and I said, 'Mom, did it really happen?' And she said, 'I didn't see it, but the Air Force came out and took the camera and told us to keep quiet.' "

And did the Air Force or the Men in Black or whoever develop those pictures and publish a report in their Blue Book? Nope, says Frank Reid, a volunteer with the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago. But he notes that not every sighting was published.

"And even if it was published, it would be hard to find the report in the microfilm because by law, names are blacked out."

He says some sightings -- those in which advanced weaponry were rumored -- were referred to the CIA where they disappeared into the proverbial black cloak.

Dead end? Perhaps not.

In looking for a connection with the DesVergers case, the volunteer did note that a Nellie M. Hahn of Aripeka, east of Tampa, reported a UFO sighting over West Palm Beach on the night of Aug. 19, 1952, the evening of the scoutmaster's alleged encounter.

As for DesVerger's [sic] story, even the most ardent UFO-ologists concedes that his account of being attacked by an alien fireball is bizarre.

Branded a kook

What is not disputed are statements given by then-Boy Scouts David Rowan and Charles Stevens of West Palm Beach. When contacted 45 years later, Rowan, an engineer, and Stevens, a draftsman, agreed on this much:

Something very strange happened in those woods southeast of the intersection of Lantana Road and Military Trail, and they don't think the scoutmaster faked it.

According to the 1952 news story, DesVergers was driving south on Military Trail to take a third scout, Bobby Ruffind, [sic, should be Ruffing] home. With them were Rowan and Stevens.

As they passed Lantana Road, DesVergers saw strange lights descending into the woods, and proposed investigating in case it was a downed aircraft. The boys didn't see anything and wanted to keep going. Once past the site, however, the scouts did see lights and the scoutmaster turned around.

"We saw a big glowing white light," Stevens said in a newspaper account at the time. "It seemed to come down out of the sky, then dim out. After it landed there were about six reddish lights in a circle around it. They dimmed in about eight minutes after Sonny had gone into the woods.

"We waited a few more minutes," he continued, "and when he didn't return, we ran to a nearby house where we called the Highway Patrol."

David Rowan was quoted as saying he saw smaller lights as the UFO hovered over the woods, and later, after DesVergers disappeared, a "bright flare effect" like a Roman candle."

The third Scout was not quoted.

Notoriety after the incident branded DesVergers a kook, and he left the area in the 1950s. A national search of addresses and obituaries failed to turn up a D.S. DesVergers.

And that's how we shall leave the close encounter of Sonny DesVergers and the more distant but darned interesting encounter of Lyman Bradford, Lyman Bradford Sr. and Mr. Siegers.

For now.

And with that 1997 news story, all the documentary evidence of the event has been exhausted, and only speculation remains.






Above: From 1952, a promotional message in Boy's Life, the monthly magazine of the Boy Scouts of America.

EVEN AMONGST PROPONENTS of the reality of the UFO phenomenon it is undeniably "conventional wisdom" that Sonny DesVergers was both a liar and a hoaxter -- to the point that one very well known researcher in a popular UFO forum in 1998 asked, "...why are we even talking about this case. It just doesn't deserve our attention." Nor does DesVergers' story appear prominently at any major UFO site -- with the exception of NICAP -- and as often as not it doesn't appear at all.

Yet in considering solely the possibility of hoax, certain obvious questions arise. Though no supporter of "hoax" has ever -- as far as is known -- bothered to propose, let alone demonstrate the mechanics by which the hoax was possibly perpetrated, it would have to embrace at least some of the following, to be chosen in mix and match fashion...

1. Sonny DesVergers activated a light at a prearranged location either by remote control or in cooperation with an accomplice so as to be seen by the scouts as he drove them home;

2. Sonny DesVergers serendipitously saw a light, and took advantage of the situation to prank the scouts;

3. Sonny DesVergers had flares or sparklers pre-stored or on his person at the time he left the car to accomplish the visual effect the scouts reported;

4. At some point in time Sonny DesVergers burned holes in his cap and scorched its brim, either beforehand or while in the grove;

5. Sonny DesVergers reddened his arm and singed his arm hair by some method while in the grove;

6. Sonny DesVergers waited patiently for one-half hour or more as the scouts ran off to the nearest house to call for help, and was prepared to wait longer if necessary;

7. Sonny DesVergers used the time to scorch the submerged roots of nearby grass and make physical impressions of himself in the ground;

8. Some unknown accomplice with access to the physical evidence scorched the grass roots after they had been dug up;

9. The boy scouts were in on the hoax along with Sonny, and made up their part of the story up as well.

There are many variations on a theme which could also be listed, but the mix and match list gives the general idea. And for some, perhaps that is enough.

But for those who suspect that such machinations are unlikely at best, the details of what the scouts said they saw -- and what Sonny DesVergers says happened out of sight -- takes on intriguing implications. Starting with what the scouts said, beginning directly following the incident and continuing on through 1997...

Bobby Ruffing, aged 12:

Bobby Ruffing, Boynton Beach, third Scout in the car, could not be contacted for comment.

-- August 21, 1952 Palm Beach Post story

9. One boyscout, a Bobby Ruffing, aged 12 was contacted. In the presence of his mother he stated that he had been riding with DesVergers and two other boyscouts. As they were passing the spot where DesVergers later entered the woods, DerVergers [sic] saw a light. They did not see it. Seconds later they all saw another light. One scout wanted to go on, but DesVergers turned around and went back to the spot and stopped. He instructed the scouts to wait 10 minutes and if he was not back to call for help. Ruffing stated that the boys observed DesVergers going through the palmettos because they could see his light. Then he said they could see a red light go toward him, saw him silhouetted in the red light and saw him fall. Then they ran up the road to a house that had a light to get help. They called the highway patrol from the house.

-- From Captain Ruppelt's August 27, 1952 memorandum, presumably referencing now-missing written statements received by Captain Carney directly following the incident.

The three Boy Scouts who accompanied Desvergers were Bob Ruffing, 12; Charles Stevens, 11; and David Rowan, 11. They agreed on these points:

They were riding in Desvergers' car on a country road known locally as Military Trail after a Scout meeting the night of Aug. 19. The Scoutmaster stopped the car and got out to investigate when he and two of the boys saw a light. Then they drove on.

They had gone less than a half mile when two of the boys, looking back, saw lights again. Young Stevens said he observed several white lights in an elliptical pattern which went out and reappeared as red lights.

Young Ruffing also saw something, but he described it as "white lights in a straight line eight feet off the ground."

The Scoutmaster drove back to the spot where the lights were first observed. He instructed the boys to go for help if he failed to return in 10 minutes, then entered the woods carrying two flashlights and a machete.

Ruffing gave this version of what followed:

"I could see about the top half of his (Desvergers) body. Then the beam of his flashlight pointed up and reflected back on him like it had shined on a mirror. Then a reddish white ball of fire like a Roman candle came down toward him from the sky. Then he fell down and disappeared.

"The flashlight fell too. The ball hit the ground and bounced twice and I saw a reddish mist shaped like a disc floating up above where Sonny fell. There wasn't any sound at all."

-- August 28, 1952 Panama City News-Herald story of Associated Press interview with the scouts.

14. As DesVergers and the three boy scouts were driving south on military trail, they approached a point where DesVergers supposedly observed the object. The first thing that happened was that DesVergers saw a light to his left. None of the boy scouts saw this light. At that time DesVergers stopped his automobile, got out, and removed two machetes, or two knifes, and two flashlights from the trunk of his car. The boys asked him what he was going to do and he said that he thought he had seen either an aircraft crack up or a flying saucer. The boys however, were afraid and convinced DesVergers that he shouldn't go back into the woods and that they should go on. DesVergers got in the car, started down the road when one of the boy scouts by the name of Bobby Ruffing claimed that he saw white lights back toward the spot where they had originally seen the lights. At this time they stopped and went back. DesVergers got out of the car and supposedly all he was carrying was one machete and two flashlights. He gave the boys instructions to go get help if he wasn't back in ten minutes and started into the woods. The boys claimed that they could see his flashlight going back into the woods. From this point on, the boys' stories varied to a certain degree so that each one will be given separately.

15. The first boy that was interrogated was Bobby Ruffing. Ruffing is approximately 12 yrs. old, a rather large boy for his age, and appeared to be belligerant [sic] to a certain extent. He seemed to be the leader of the group and anything he said was law. He didn't seem to be too cooperative on the whole thing and whenever he was pressed for an answer he would "clam up". He kept stating, "Well that's what Sonny said, so it must be the truth." He states that he did not see the first light that DesVergers saw, however, shortly afterwards, after DesVergers had got out, made the statement about seeing flying saucers, and got back into the automobile that he, Ruffing, looked out of the window and saw a semi-circle of white lights about three inches in diameter going down at an angle of 45 degrees into the trees. None of the other boy scouts saw this. They turned the car around, went back to the spot and stopped. He then said that he saw DesVergers go back into the woods and that the next thing that he saw was a series of red lights in the clearing. It is interesting to note that he definitely said he saw the lights in a clearing and as will be shown further along in this memorandum, this point is highly doubtful. As soon as he saw the red lights he claims that he saw Sonny "stiffen up" and fall. Ruffing was then dismissed...

-- Captain Ruppelt's September 12, 1952 memorandum detailing interview with the scouts.

Bobby's reticence to discuss the affair was marked. He kept looking toward his mother.

"Sonny had been in the habit of bringing Bobby home after Scout meeting," she began for him. "When Bobby didn't get home that night, we were terribly worried. It didn't help much when we got the call that they were at the sheriff's office."

"Why don't you want to talk about it?" I asked.

He looked straight at me. "I've been teased at school," he said simply. He studied his hands. "I wish it had never happened," he said, word for word Sonny's statement.

They'd been driving down Military Trail toward Boynton, he said, when Sonny first saw the lights. There were six or so of them, strung in a level row, like the windows of an airliner, and they plunged right into the woods. Sonny thought it was a plane crashing. Excited, they talked of investigating the strange sight.

A quarter of a mile further on, Bobby saw the lights again. Now they seemed to be right in the tree tops, back about where they'd first been spotted. Sonny turned around and went back a quarter of a mile.

He got out his lantern, pocket flash and machete -- for hacking through the underbrush.

"If you don't hear from me in 10 minutes, go back up the road to that house and call the sheriff's office," he told the three Scouts. Then he plunged down the road embankment and off into the woods, his lantern bobbing between the trees.

When he failed to return, Bobby and the other two boys ran to the house and called the sheriff's office.

-- 1953 interview in American Weekly

Charles Stevens, aged 11:

Charles Stevens, 807 Ridgeland Dr., one of the scouts in the car, said he saw a "big glowing white light" in the wooded area and DesVergers turned the car around and went back to investigate.

"It seemed to come down out of the sky, then dim out," young Stevens related Wednesday afternoon. He said he "still feels scared" from the incident.

"After it landed," young Stevens said, "there were about six reddish lights in a circle around it. They dimmed in about eight minutes after Sonny had gone into the woods.

"We waited a few more minutes and when he didn't return we left the car and ran to a nearby house where we called the Highway patrol. They probably called the sheriff's office."

-- August 21, 1952 Palm Beach Post story

We were heading south on Military Trail about one quarter mile south of Lantana Road when we saw a big glare of white light and then it went out. Sonny stopped the car and got out. David Rowen [sic, should be Rowan] persuaded him to come back to the car and we started south again.

When we were a half mile further south we looked back and saw six red lights where we had seen the white light. We turned around and headed north. Then Sonny stopped the car and armed with a machete and two lights started in the woods. He was gone about seven minutes when we saw something like a flame thrower shooting flame or something that looked like Roman Candles. In a few seconds everything went dim including Sonny's light. We waited a few minutes and then we turned the car lights on bright and ran to the nearest house and called the Highway Patrol.

-- Undated statement on letterhead of Al Stevens Garage

The Stevens boy said he saw the same "Roman candle" effect but did not see Desvergers.

-- August 28, 1952 Panama City News-Herald story of Associated Press interview with the scouts.

Stevens who was 11 yrs. old tended to be rather silly about the whole thing. He couldn't seem to concentrate on his answers and was not considered a good source...

Chuck Stevens never did see any white lights that he could remember. They both saw DesVergers going through the woods, could see flashlights flashing on the trees and then he disappeared for a few seconds, at least the light disappeared. The next thing they saw was a series of red lights. They said they looked a lot like flares or sky rockets. The lights were not making any definite pattern, some of them were going up, some of them were going down, or going around and around in all directions. It just seemed to be a type of six or eight red lights going in all directions. They got out of the car and ran down the road to get help.

-- Captain Ruppelt's September 12, 1952 memorandum detailing interview with the scouts.

When contacted 45 years later, Rowan, an engineer, and Stevens, a draftsman, agreed on this much:

Something very strange happened in those woods southeast of the intersection of Lantana Road and Military Trail, and they don't think the scoutmaster faked it.

-- 1997 column in the Palm Beach Post

David Rowan, age unknown, but youngest of the group:

David Rowan, 1001 Paseo Andorra, a scout in the car, said he was looking forward in the car and didn't see the first bright light the others reported, but saw the smaller lights on the thing as it hovered over the woods.

He said the bright flare effect which DesVergers described as the shot taken at him, went off about seven minutes after his scoutmaster entered the woods. He said it showered sparks all over the area like a roman candle.

-- August 21, 1952 Palm Beach Post story

Young Rowan said he saw "bright red lights like railroad flares." He added: "They made a crackling sound like popcorn popping." And he said he saw some flares again from the vicinity as the boys left the scene to telephone the sheriff's office.

-- August 28, 1952 Panama City News-Herald story of Associated Press interview with the scouts.

David Rowan, on the other hand, although he was the youngest of the three, seemed to be the most logical thinker and gave the straightest answers. Both of these boys seemed to have about the same story. They were driving down the road when DesVergers saw the first light. DesVergers stopped the car and got out, but David Rowan admitted that he was afraid of the whole thing and wanted to go on, consequently they went on. Then Rowan also saw a white light, however, he states it looked to him like it was a common, ordinary meteor. After this, DesVergers turned the car around, went back down the road and stopped. Chuck Stevens never did see any white lights that he could remember. They both saw DesVergers going through the woods, could see flashlights flashing on the trees and then he disappeared for a few seconds, at least the light disappeared. The next thing they saw was a series of red lights. They said they looked a lot like flares or sky rockets. The lights were not making any definite pattern, some of them were going up, some of them were going down, or going around and around in all directions. It just seemed to be a type of six or eight red lights going in all directions. They got out of the car and ran down the road to get help.

-- Captain Ruppelt's September 12, 1952 memorandum detailing interview with the scouts.

When contacted 45 years later, Rowan, an engineer, and Stevens, a draftsman, agreed on this much:

Something very strange happened in those woods southeast of the intersection of Lantana Road and Military Trail, and they don't think the scoutmaster faked it.

-- 1997 column in the Palm Beach Post

There were inconsistencies in the boys' statements over time -- the biggest of which seemed to occur whenever Ruppelt reported on what the three boys had to say. But such inconsistencies would be expected according to their young age, as well as the length of time following the event the statements occurred, and especially the filtering which inevitably took place whenever their statements weren't presented as verbatim quotes. And of course the initial statements received by Captain Carney -- with the possible exception of Stevens' undated statement -- have gone missing from declassified Blue Book files. But the general story remained the same -- lights had been seen, DesVergers had gone to check, a red light and mist had engulfed him, and the boys then ran for help.

But there were two intriguing exceptions to the consistency. The first was something mentioned by David Rowan...

Citation:

Young Rowan said he saw "bright red lights like railroad flares." He added: "They made a crackling sound like popcorn popping."

And the second was something mentioned by Bobby Ruffing...

Citation:

"The flashlight fell too. The ball hit the ground and bounced twice and I saw a reddish mist shaped like a disc floating up above where Sonny fell..."

Neither of those seem in accord with the boys staying in the car while DesVergers' was in the clearing. Could it be that the boys -- being boys -- left the car, and surreptitiously crept closer to get a better view? It would explain why in Ruppelt's re-creation the activities in the clearing could not be seen from the road. And it might also explain Ruppelt's notation...

Citation:

Ruffing is approximately 12 yrs. old, a rather large boy for his age, and appeared to be belligerant [sic] to a certain extent. He seemed to be the leader of the group and anything he said was law. He didn't seem to be too cooperative on the whole thing and whenever he was pressed for an answer he would "clam up".

Had the boys been closer than they admitted, and seen something they had agreed to keep secret?

With that as backdrop, Sonny DesVergers description of his experience is nothing less than startling in its implications. But rather than quote verbatim the many repetitions of his full story already included in news articles and memorandums above, this time focusing on only a few key details, which often repeated themselves...

Asked whether there was anything or anybody in the "saucer," DesVergers replied: "There's something about that but I can't tell you about it because the military officers asked me not to." ...

He did not know how long he had been unconscious but said he managed to get up and start back toward the Trail before sheriff's deputies arrived. They reported they found the scoutmaster wandering around in the woods. ...

-- August 21, 1952 Palm Beach Post story

At approximately 2230 EST they saw DesVergers coming through the palmettos with no light, waving his machete. They were a little dubious of the whole situation and refused to come and help DesVergers as he was requesting. He finally came out and explained the incident to the officers. They made one definite conclusion, in all their experience as peace officers they had never seen a person as frightened as DesVergers was at that time. ...

They then took DesVergers to the sheriff's office in West Palm Beach. When they arrived he retold his story and they examined his burns. They said his arm was reddened and that the hair on his arms was singed. ...

"When I first stepped into the clearing I noticed a peculiar smell. I went two or three spaces when I had the feeling of somebody or something was watching me. I kept on going and began to feel heat, like walking close to an oven. It was hot and humid like and it seemed to be coming from above. I hadn't thought of looking up, when I did I couldn't see the sky... I knew I had run into something rough. I stood frozen in my tracks, I wanted to throw something or hit it with my machete. I felt for my flashlight in my backpocket and thought of throwing it, but was too scared. ...

I tried to run but froze, I was so scared. The object was about 6" to 8" above the pine trees. I then got control of myself and backed away. I could feel the heat lessen as I backed out from under the edge of the ship. I looked up and saw the edge of the ship silhouetted against the sky. It was round with a dome shape top and with holes and fins running around the edge. The bottom edge seemed to glow with a sort of phosphorescent glow, like phosphorus in the sea at night (see sketch). They seemed to be as scared of me as I was of them. (Comment: He repeated this frequently during the interview. When asked how he knew or what he meant, he said the object appeared to move back as he approached). ...

"I had my light on the object and couldn't get my eyes off it, but as soon as I backed off I could see the object silhouetted against the sky. I could see the dome. Then I heard metal against metal, like a hatch opening and thought someone was going to watch me (Comment: ??-This could be an error in note taking). I said a million prayers. I saw something momentarily but couldn't see what it was. Next I saw a red flare which appeared slowly to move toward me. It came out of the side, I couldn't move or yell I was so scared. I could see the ship in the glow of the red light (Comment: He kept referring to the object as a "ship" all the time). I put my hands over my face (Comment: Fists closed, hand over each eye, palms toward face and elbows in stomach). I could see a red mist around me, then passed out.

"When I woke up I was standing next to a tree, I think. I seem to remember stumbling through palmettos. I couldn't see and my eyes burned. I slowly began to come back. I saw lights through the trees and started running toward them, I didn't even know whether or not my feet were hitting the ground. I thought I might be dead. Next I met the deputies and we went back to get my light. The two cell fashlight [sic] is still missing." ...

He stated that he had a dream in which he had jumped across the ditch into the clearing and was fighting with the "ship" in the air. He thinks from the dream he might be able to go back and find where he lost the flashlight, as the whole evenings performance seemed to have come back to him in his dream. ...

Upon being reinterrogated about the odor that he smelled, he stated that it was an "acute, sharp smell". He had never smelled anything like it before. He works with muratic [sic] acid and knows how that smells. It had a sickening nauseating smell. He thinks that the odor was what made him pass out. He had a woozy feeling while he was passing out, similar to being put under anesthetic. ...

A red mist engulfed him. He was not conscious of any change in temperature when the red mist hit him. Even if it burned he still could not have felt any burn he was so scared. His eyes were glued on the object. He put his hands up before it hit him.

When he came to he was in the palmettos before he finally realized where he was. ...

-- Captain Ruppelt's August 27, 1952 memorandum for the record.

Deputy Sheriff Mott N. Partin and Lake Worth Constable Louie Carroll, who questioned Desvergers shortly after the incident, said they had "never seen a man so scared." ...

Partin said he found the clearing in the woods the next day "and the grass was scorched and blistered and the place had a burned smell."

-- August 22, 1952 edition of the St. Petersburg, Florida Times.

The next reaction that the scoutmaster recalled was one of fury. He wanted to harm or destroy whatever it was that he saw. All he had was a machete, but he wanted to try to jump up and strike at whatever he was looking at. No sooner did he get this idea than he noticed the shadows on the turret change ever so slightly and heard a sound, "like the opening of a well-oiled safe door." He froze where he stood and noticed a small ball of red fire begin to drift toward him. As it floated down it expanded into a cloud of red mist. He dropped his fight and machete, and put his arms over his face. As the mist enveloped him, he passed out. ...

The scoutmaster had no idea of how long he had been unconscious. He vaguely remembered leaning against a tree, the feeling of wet, dew-covered grass, and suddenly regaining his consciousness.

-- Captain Ruppelt's recounting of his interview with DesVergers from his 1956 book.

"It was a sickening, nauseating stench worse than rotten eggs -- more like burning flesh," DesVergers said in describing the flare that was aimed at him and seemed to "float slowly at his face [sic, no closing quotation mark] ...

"It was large enough for six or eight men to stand up in it. ...

I tried to scream and run but at first I couldn't move an inch. ...

"I don't scare very easily but I did then.

"I believe they (he wouldn't clarify who "they" were) were as afraid of me as I was of them and the flash sent at me seems now as if it was to keep me from finding out something about it, or from keeping it on the ground.

"The ball of fire came directly for my head. I don't know if it would have followed me if I could have moved, but I couldn't. The fire came in a very misty manner. It was not solid ...

"When I awakened out of the 'fog', I had no sense of feeling and even tonight (last night) I have a tingling like when your foot loses circulation and goes to sleep. I walked around but couldn't feel the ground. It was like walking on air.

"But the deputy sheriff, who arrived there later, couldn't find my footprints in the rain-fresh dirt between where I dropped my lamp when I fell unconscious and where I had come to. The distance was a matter of quite a number of yards. I don't know just how many.

"I was yelling at the top of my lungs as I wandered toward the lights of my car when I regained some strength, but no sound was coming out. When I met the deputy, I clutched the machete I froze to."

-- August 23, 1952 Palm Beach Post Story.

Did he think DesVergers had been acting?

"If he was, it was the best darned acting I ever saw," Partin answered, shaking his head. "In 19 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anyone as upset as he was." ...

He was white-faced and shaking and kept repeating: "I'm coming, here I am!" His lantern was gone, but he still had his machete.

"He was a sorry sight," Partin put in. "He was talking a blue streak but he didn't make any sense. I backed away from him. That machete . . . " ...

Here was a man reluctant to relive an unpleasant experience, yet determined not to run from it. He warned me in advance that there were some details he would withhold. ...

He stopped again, groping for some way to go on.

I remembered the original story. "Did you see someone?" I asked.

He thought about that. "Yes," he said, at last.

A living creature? He nodded slowly.

Would he describe what it looked like? No, he said emphatically, that was one of the things he wouldn't tell me. People would think . . . well, he'd just rather not.

"I saw it when an opening suddenly appeared in the dome," he said. "It was like a hatch that flew open. And at the same time that I saw it, a ball of fire drifted toward me from the opening. ...

When he came to, the thing was gone. Just black stillness. He was dazed and his arms hurt and his throat was raw.

"I was afraid I was dead," he told me. "Really," he emphasized, as if fearful I would not believe him. "I thought I was dead. I didn't seem to be walking on ground. I couldn't even feel the ground. My whole body was numb. All I could think of was the kids, waiting for me out by the car. I ran into the woods, feeling my way in the darkness. I made it to the car. I don't remember what I said. Afterwards they told me I still had my machete. Everything was kind of hazy."

-- April 19, 1953 story by Marta Robinet in American Weekly.

And from the quotes above -- this time not including the attributions -- a selection of key points, not in sequence of the date of the quote but instead matching the sequence of events...

I tried to run but froze, I was so scared.

I tried to scream and run but at first I couldn't move an inch.

I knew I had run into something rough. I stood frozen in my tracks, I wanted to throw something or hit it with my machete. I felt for my flashlight in my backpocket and thought of throwing it, but was too scared.

The next reaction that the scoutmaster recalled was one of fury. He wanted to harm or destroy whatever it was that he saw. All he had was a machete, but he wanted to try to jump up and strike at whatever he was looking at. No sooner did he get this idea than he noticed the shadows on the turret change ever so slightly and heard a sound, "like the opening of a well-oiled safe door." He froze where he stood and noticed a small ball of red fire begin to drift toward him. As it floated down it expanded into a cloud of red mist. He dropped his fight and machete, and put his arms over his face. As the mist enveloped him, he passed out.

Then I heard metal against metal, like a hatch opening and thought someone was going to watch me (Comment: ??-This could be an error in note taking). I said a million prayers. I saw something momentarily but couldn't see what it was.

I put my hands over my face.

...he stated that it was an "acute, sharp smell". He had never smelled anything like it before.

He had a woozy feeling while he was passing out, similar to being put under anesthetic.

Even if it burned he still could not have felt any burn he was so scared. His eyes were glued on the object.

The ball of fire came directly for my head. I don't know if it would have followed me if I could have moved, but I couldn't.

Asked whether there was anything or anybody in the "saucer," DesVergers replied: "There's something about that but I can't tell you about it because the military officers asked me not to.

When he came to he was in the palmettos before he finally realized where he was.

The scoutmaster had no idea of how long he had been unconscious. He vaguely remembered leaning against a tree...

When I woke up I was standing next to a tree, I think. I seem to remember stumbling through palmettos.

But the deputy sheriff, who arrived there later, couldn't find my footprints in the rain-fresh dirt between where I dropped my lamp when I fell unconscious and where I had come to. The distance was a matter of quite a number of yards. I don't know just how many.

When I awakened out of the 'fog', I had no sense of feeling... I walked around but couldn't feel the ground. It was like walking on air.

I didn't even know whether or not my feet were hitting the ground. I thought I might be dead.

"I was afraid I was dead," he told me. "Really," he emphasized, as if fearful I would not believe him. "I thought I was dead. I didn't seem to be walking on ground. I couldn't even feel the ground. My whole body was numb.

I was yelling at the top of my lungs as I wandered toward the lights of my car when I regained some strength, but no sound was coming out. When I met the deputy, I clutched the machete I froze to.

They made one definite conclusion, in all their experience as peace officers they had never seen a person as frightened as DesVergers was at that time.

They said his arm was reddened and that the hair on his arms was singed.

Partin said he found the clearing in the woods the next day "and the grass was scorched and blistered and the place had a burned smell."

He stated that he had a dream in which he had jumped across the ditch into the clearing and was fighting with the "ship" in the air... the whole evenings performance seemed to have come back to him in his dream.


And finally, the crux of the matter, given in the 1953 American Weekly report...

He warned me in advance that there were some details he would withhold. ...

He stopped again, groping for some way to go on.

I remembered the original story. "Did you see someone?" I asked.

He thought about that. "Yes," he said, at last.

A living creature? He nodded slowly.

Would he describe what it looked like? No, he said emphatically, that was one of the things he wouldn't tell me. People would think . . . well, he'd just rather not.

"I saw it when an opening suddenly appeared in the dome," he said. "It was like a hatch that flew open. And at the same time that I saw it, a ball of fire drifted toward me from the opening..."
Exactly nine years and one month after DesVergers' 1952 incident, an interracial couple would be driving back from a short vacation in Canada to their home in New Hampshire, and while on a lonely road spot a bright light in the sky. Hours later they found themselves miles from where they last remembered. In the days that followed, the wife had vivid weird dreams, but neither could remember the events of those missing hours. Later, undergoing hypnosis, the "recovered memory" of Betty and Barney Hill would become the first of the well-known "abduction" stories.

Others would follow, each containing instances of "missing time", awakening in a different position or location, vivid dreams afterward, and finally recollections of being paralyzed and prevented from moving -- to which they offered angry resistance to no avail.

Those tales lacked the obnoxious odor, but there were other "close encounter" tales in which strongly offensive odors played a part.

Those tales, too, would only come in later years.

And if nine years before the Hills reported experience, scoutmaster Sonny DesVergers had been the first ever "abductee", it gives a possible new twist to three of his statements...

Citation:

On the outside it had round portholes, all lit...

It was large enough for six or eight men to stand up in it...

They seemed to be as scared of me as I was of them.

And a possible new twist as well to the two-cell flashlight Sonny had in his back pocket going in, which seemingly never again left the palmettos -- so far as is known.







SONNY DESVERGERS DIED in 1993 at the age of 70 in Apopka, Florida -- some 175 miles and 40 years distant from the events of the night of August 19, 1952, the course of his life during those four decades generally unpublicized and unknown.

In the end -- as always -- it comes down to a matter of subjective personal judgment and opinion as to whether Sonny DesVergers was, in this instance at least, telling the truth. The three possible answers -- yes, no, and perhaps -- each carry their own reverberations...

For those who believe the scoutmaster's tale, the inescapable corollary is that Sonny DesVergers foreshadowed experiences which would become better known and better accepted, but not until years afterwards -- his story akin to the fabled Aztec who first spotted Cortes' boat approaching shore, only to be ridiculed for telling the unbelievable truth.

For those who scorn the scoutmaster's tale, the intellectually honest amongst them must at least admit that Sonny DesVergers' story uncannily anticipated the details of many better-accepted tales yet to come in the unforeseeable future, and be content with leaving it at that.

But for those who say "perhaps", and mean it, the scoutmaster's tale promises the sweetest resonance of all -- that of a mystery with the power to endure, to be relived in thought and memory, free from the bonds of temporal limit and shared across generations, like a tale of endless wonderment heard round a campfire, told under the graceful arch of countless stars against the blue-black infinity of a summer's night...








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Notes:

1. The story behind and complete text of Captain Ruppelt's August 1952 aritcle for Air Intelligence Digest on the history of the phenomenon can be read at part one of An Insider's Guide to Flying Saucers.

2. An article titled "Ruppelt Rings -- effects of low frequency magnetic fields" analyzing Ruppelt's supposition about the cause of root charring of the grass samples may be read starting at page six of the document in the September, 1984 edition of MUFON UFO Journal (PDF at Black Vault).

3. The date and place of DesVergers' passing is taken from a 2004 column in the Palm Beach Post.

4. Though the course of DesVergers' life following the event is generally unpublicized, writings published or attributed to one James W. Moseley contain tidbits worth mentioning for this post. Moseley's claim to fame rests in his both exposing and perpetrating hoaxes, as well as decades-long mocking of the perceived foibles of "true believers".

In the 1997 article The Best Hoax In UFO History Moseley associate Karl Pflock writes that "an unsourced news item in the May 1955 issue of James Moseley's flying saucer newsletter" says that DesVergers "was given seven years probation for passing a $350 bogus check." Pflock also writes that in "an unpublished 1954 manuscript" Moseley claimed to have been told by "someone at the Air Force press desk in Washington" that DesVergers was "involved in homosexual activities", which Pflock states as "possibly relevant" to the change in plans which had the group travel to the speedway that night -- Pflock apparently equating being gay with being a pedophile, though Pflock is socially polite enough to note that it is a "completely unconfirmed allegation".

But it is in the 2002 book Shockingly Close to the Truth: Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist, authored by Moseley with Pflock as co-writer, that an item of interest arises...
On the other hand, my own 1954 interview with Desvergers seemed to confirm Ruppelt and Chop's assessment of him. By then he was telling of having fought with smelly aliens while teetering on the rim of the hovering saucer, and of having seen something else "too horrible" to talk about.
This was written in classic Moseley "clown prince" style, not to be trusted in detail but perhaps relevant in overview. And in The Best Hoax In UFO History Karl Pflock gives a less pompous version...

Then, in a fall 1953 interview with James Moseley, Desvergers claimed "he was not knocked out by the gassy substance...." Rather, "he was conscious the whole time that he was in contact with the saucer.... [T]here was a struggle of some sort.... [T]hen [he] was (from what I can gather) carried for a distance...by the saucer.... He says that this...was proved by the fact that there were no footprints of his for a certain distance, when he and others went back into the area...; i.e., the footprints abruptly ended and began again...further on."
But again, Moseley was not a careful reporter, but a narcissistic and ostentatious one. There are no direct quotes from DesVergers, only Moseley's version of what was said. And Sonny DesVergers himself never had chance to refute or reply.

5. With the exception of two documents -- a letter to Captain Carney informing him of the results of the tests on DesVergers' machete and hat, and a cover page for one of the reports -- all documents from the Blue Book file have been transcribed and included above. There remain, however, 15 pictures with typewritten captions showing Air Force officers "recreating" the events in the clearing, and two of DesVergers' cap, as follows (note pictures have been resized in relation to their comparative size with the captions as well as their relative positions in the originals)...


















6. On Thursday, March 27, 2013, five days following the original post, another magazine article on DesVergers' experience was found in the January, 1953 edition of Boys Life magazine. That article contained no new information, with the exception of a statment that quoted DesVergers as saying...
"It swooped down across the highway and looked as though it was going to crash in the palmettos..."
At first blush this might seem to indicate that the object had swept in front of the car as it drove along Military Trail, but probably refers to a different highway, as mentioned in Captain Ruppelt's 1956 book...
They took a black-top road about 10 miles inland from the heavily traveled coastal highway that passes through sparsely settled areas of scrub pine and palmetto thickets.
The 2,400-word account from the magazine is as follows...

Citation:


Mr. DesVergers said that when the fire ball hit is head, shoulders and arms, he lost consciousness.

When you spot a Fling Saucer...
And scientists tell us it is possible to see them

by ROY A. GALLANT

ABOUT 11:30 p.m. last August 19, Scoutmaster D.S. Desvergers of Troop 33, West Palm Beach, Florida, and three Scouts were driving home from their Troop meeting along a highway called Military Trail. The strangest experience of Scoutmaster DesVergers' life was about to take place just off this highway. When the car was a few miles west of Lantana, Florida, within a hundred yards, more or less, of a farmhouse, Mr. DesVergers happened to glance out of the window on his side and saw what he thought was a transport plane about to crash.

"It swooped down across the highway and looked as though it was going to crash in the palmettos (scrub palm brush) a few hundred yards from the car," Mr. DesVergers said. "The reason I thought it was an air transport was because of its lights. All along the side it looked as though there were a row of lighted windows."

Mr. DesVergers hurriedly stopped the car, grabbed a machete from the back seat and told the three Scouts that if he wasn't back in ten minutes they were to get the sheriff and bring help.

"I didn't want the Scouts to come with me for two reasons," he explained. "First of all, there are quite a few poisonous snakes in the area; and second, I wanted to leave someone in the car so they could get medical help for the crash victims in case it was needed."

After crossing the ditch near the highway, Mr. DesVergers hacked his way through the Palmettos with his machete, and headed toward the spot he had marked by taking a fix on a star. At this point he had an idea something strange was happening, because if the transport had crashed it must have very odd transport, since it had crashed without making any noise!

Several minutes later the Scoutmaster stepped into a small field dotted here and there with pine trees. For an instant, he paused at the edge of the clearing, thinking he felt mild heat coming from somewhere, but he saw nothing. He also heard a faint hissing noise like air escaping from a tire. He stepped farther into the clearing and began walking slowly to the spot he had marked from the car. As he did, the hissing noise became louder. He flashed his light but saw nothing. He was not standing where he thought the "plane" had "crashed."

"Then it happened," Mr. DesVergers said. "I don't scare easily but I began to feel mighty funny. After I looked around, I could still hear the hissing noise and I could feel the same heat. I felt when I stepped into the clearing, I thought it must be coming from above me, so I looked up and there it was -- a huge thing just hanging in the air not very high above my head. Seeing this thing that looked like a half ball with the flat side over my head really scared me. In fact, I suffered from shock. When I calmed down, I started to walk out from under the thing to study as much of it as I could while I was getting away from it.

"It was about 30 feet in diameter and at one time it glowed with an orange-white color.

"After I moved out from under the thing, " Mr. DesVergers related, "a sort of hatch was lifted from the top and something was pointed out at me. I stood there plenty frightened, and then whatever was pointed at me went off -- and a ball of fire came out of it. The fire came directly for my head. I don't know whether it would have followed me had I moved, but I was rooted to the spot. The fire came in a misty manner. It was not solid and was of the same temperature as that which I had felt under the thing."

Mr. DesVergers said that when the fire ball hit his head, shoulders and arms, he lost consciousness.

"When I awakened out of the fog, I had no sense of feeling. I walked around but couldn't feel the round. It was like walking on air."

The Air Force Investigates

By this time, more than ten minutes had passed, and the Scouts who remained in the car had left, and returned with the deputy sheriff, a newspaper reporter and an official from the Air Force. Mr. DesVergers met the deputy half way across the palmettos.

"I was yelling at the top of my lungs as I wandered toward the lights of my car after I had regained some strength, but no sound was coming out," DesVergers said later. "When I met the deputy I still clutched the machete I had frozen to."

The deputy sheriff who was summoned by the three Scouts later said that hair had been singed off Mr. DesVergers' arms and that he found evidence of scorched grass where the Scoutmaster said he encountered the object. This is the Scoutmaster's story of his "flying saucer" -- a story not yet explained by Air Force officials.

The Air Force has been told so many stories about mysterious objects flying crazily through our skies that it is setting up a special photographic and astronomical division. The purpose of this division is to explain these mystery objects called "flying saucers" -- to try to answer the question in people's minds: Where do they come from? And are they here to stay?

Galloping Balls of Fire

Before we go into the Air Force's explanation of other flying saucers, let's first take a look at three stories about -- well, you name them afterwards.

First story: for years sailors in the tropics have seen strange things in the air around their ships, mostly at night. The strange things were called "fire balls" because that's just what they looked like -- balls of fire about the size of a basketball. Frequently these fire balls would come to rest atop the masts of the old-time sailing ships at sea, and some of them would glow so brightly that a sailor sitting on deck could read a newspaper at night. Sometimes, sailors say, these fire balls come wandering in near a ship, then wander away and disappear.

Second story: in tropical and semi-tropical areas, particularly after it had been raining, people walking through the woods have seen balls of fire suddenly appear a few yards away from them, bounce around a bit, then either explode with a loud "bang" or go flying off through the trees and disappear.

Third story: A friend of mine was once making a telephone call from a country store which had the old-style telephone which you have to crank in order to get the operator. He turned the crank vigorously and was surprised to see a small ball of fire drip out of the box, run down the wall and across the floor and out into the store proper where it climbed into a box of tomatoes and exploded, leaving several people splattered with tomato juice.

The explanations of the fire balls in all three of these stories is the same. They are nothing more than balls of static electricity and have been appearing to the amusement and bewilderment of people for hundreds of years. Only hundreds of years ago the people did not have the words flying saucer so they used the name, "fire ball." Fire balls, of course, are most easily seen when it's dark, and because of the dark, people frequently find it difficult to judge their actual size and distance.

Enough fire balls, however. The simplification of the flying saucer story is by no means a complete explanation, because reliable people have reported strange objects in the skies -- and our scientists are sure these people were not just seeing things or exaggerating what they saw. Here's another explanation:

What many people who claim to have seen flying saucers realize but don't always consider is that our Army and Navy have many strange objects in the air day and night. We have planes of odd designs that travel twice the speed of sound; we have controlled missiles, hundreds of balloons, some of which dangle metal objects which radar instruments track; we have big plastic bags used for cosmic ray study. All of these things can be mistaken for flying saucers by people who are careless in describing exactly what they saw. In fact, many times these are the things that become flying saucers.

A Hot Air Sandwich

You might say, "But what about airline pilots who know about all this stuff and who have seen saucers? How does the Air Force explain that? And what about other people who are driving along in cars in the daytime and see saucers?" any high school science teacher can give you an explanation -- one of the explanations the Air Force stands by.

If you happen to know something about air -- how it behaves -- you probably know that all our air is not the same temperature. Frequently, air comes in hot and cold layers, and often hot air sandwiches are formed -- a layer of hot air caught between two layers of cold air. this can happen near the ground or high up; and when it does, mirrors are formed and are sometimes made into magnifying lasses by dust and ice crystals which hang in the air. In case you don't know it, these air mirrors are what cause people to see mirages on the desert, at sea and even on our highways. Dozens of times you've undoubtedly seen what appears to be a thin film of water on the highway ahead of your car; well, these highway lakes are frequently caused by air mirrors.

How else do these air mirrors work? The airline pilot who reports a strange-looking ship with portholes says the ship ran beside him for a number of miles, suddenly shot straight up at about 900 miles an hour, and then disappeared. A flying saucer? Yes. Did the pilot actually see anything? Yes, he did, and he reported exactly what he thought he saw. Only he didn't realize that what he saw was only a reflection of his own plane.

Beside him for a number of miles was an air mirror that caught the image of the pilot's plane, twisted it out of shape enough so the pilot didn't recognize it as his own reflection. The air mirror was long enough so the pilot had plenty of time to study his strange reflection; then suddenly the mirror itself twisted and sent the reflection of the pilot's plane "mysteriously" speeding off in a different direction.

These air mirrors are formed both during the day and night and cause confusion on the ground as well as in the air.

Imagine yourself out on a hike in the wilderness. Suddenly, someone in your party says, "Look! Look at that silver thing going across the sky. It's a flying saucer!"

You all look and see a "silver thing" racing over the earth. For perhaps ten seconds it moves at 1,000 miles an hour is a straight line, then suddenly it dives toward the ground, then straight up and zooms away out of sight. You all see the same thing and tell other people about it. several "objects" such as this have been seen and reported by people on hikes, people waiting for a bus, and people driving along in automobiles. What are they?

Four-Wheeled Flying Saucers

They are discs of light reflected from the windshield of an automobile which may be 50 or so miles away. This is how it works.

The windshield of the car catches the sun's rays and reflects them into the sky where they hit an air mirror and bounce down to you on the ground. As the disc of light in the sky moves horizontally, the car moves horizontally, the car moves horizontally. But when the car begins to go down a hill, the disc of light dives toward the ground. Then, as the car climbs a hill, the disc of light also climbs and finally disappears when the air mirror fades away.

Formations of flying saucers have been caused in much the same way and have driven people to a state of near panic. When you talk with the people who "saw them," they are more than willing to describe in great detail what they think they saw. And as the story is repeated, the "details" become hair-raising.

You may ask, "Well what about the mystery objects picked up by radar?" These can also be explained by our scientists, since radar instruments can be tricked as easily as our eyes and a camera. (In case you're wondering, yes, a mirage can be photographed.)

Men have been seeing "flying saucers" for centuries, but it wasn't until 197 that they were reported so often. One of the reasons, of course, is that newspaper stories made more people aware of something to keep an eye open for. And then when the flying saucer issue helped editors, sell more newspapers, more and more stories were printed.

"All this is fine," you may say, "but how does Scoutmaster DesVergers' story stack up? How do the scientists explain his one?" Now you've got us. The scientists who talked with Mr. DesVergers are certain he saw something, but exactly what that something was, is yet to be explained after all the facts have been thoroughly investigated, checked and rechecked.

Until this is done, and the results released by the Air Force, Mr. DesVergers and Mr. DesVergers alone will have to explain the answer to the $64 question -- exactly what was it?

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MessagePosté le: Ven 13 Nov - 17:44 (2015)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952 Répondre en citant

Source : http://www.saturdaynightuforia.com/html/articles/articlehtml/thescoutmaster…
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MessagePosté le: Aujourd’hui à 16:41 (2017)    Sujet du message: L'EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE SONNY DESVERGERS - FLORIDE 1952

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