1.6 – The Return (5.25.10)

THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES [7d]

On October 30, 1938, radio listeners across the United States sat stunned as a series of news bulletins described Martians invading Earth.

(man over radio):

“Martian cylinders are falling all over the country. This is the end now.”

While the broadcast sounded real, it was a fictional production, directed and narrated by Orson Welles. Incredibly, many of those listening believed it to be true, and panicked. Newspaper reports described families fleeing their homes for the mountains. While others armed themselves with weapons and prepared to fight off the alien invaders.

“It was just presented, maybe, with a brief introduction saying it was not really happening. But from then on, it was played as if it was really happening. Well, most people who heard that thought that it was really happening.”

– Paul Levinson, Ph.D.
(Prof. of Media Studies, Fordham Univ.)

“People became upset. Some of those literally headed for the hills. They drove places to try to pick up other people, family and friends. They reported to the Army for duty.

– Albert A. Harrison, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Social Psychology, UC Davis)

The response this fictional alien attack resulted in many people preparing for the worst. But if the public’s reaction to a radio dramatization resulted in a nationwide wave of terror, what would happen if they really came?

Los Angeles, California. In the early months of 1942, the city was on edge. The recent surprise attack on Pearl Harbor had propelled America into World War II…and the threat of a Japanese invasion, by sea or by air, kept the military on full alert.

“Pearl Harbor was a very recent memory for people. People were in high alert. There was a great deal of suspicion. Japanese-Americans were being put in internment camps. There were German U-boats in the Atlantic, Japanese submarines in the Pacific, and people were very fearful.”

Chris Pittman (UFO Investigator)

In a well-organized defense operation, air-raid wardens and the Coast Guard were monitoring the Pacific shoreline as never before.

“The war had started. I was a 13-year-old kid, and this one night, which was February 1942, the sirens started wailing in the middle of the night. Blackout. And we’d had several blackouts before this.”

Albert W. Metz (Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

On February 25, between the hours of 3:12 and 4:15am, the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade in Los Angeles fired off a barrage of antiaircraft shells at an unidentified flying object.

CBS Radio Broadcast; February 25, 1942:

“Watchers on the rooftop of the Columbia Broadcasting Building in the heart of Hollywood could plainly see the flashes of guns and searchlights sweeping the skies in a wide arc along the coastal area.”

“I think what woke me up initially was the sound of antiaircraft guns. I jumped out of bed, and my parents were up. My father was an air-raid warden. He figured, this has to be the real thing.”

– C. Scott Littleton, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Occidental College),
(Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

“My mother was telling my brother and I, ‘Get under the bed, get under the bed! Stay there!’ And, of course, we got out and we peeked. There was all this firing. It was almost like a Fourth of July.”

Dorothy Matich (Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

“I started hearing a lot of loud explosions. My brother and I looked out the bedroom window, saw searchlights twisting and turning in the sky.”

 – Albert W. Metz (Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

But what was the strange UFO that the searchlights were focused on? Where had it come from? Japan? Or somewhere from out of this world? Could this incredible photograph, published the next morning in the Los Angeles Times, provide the proof? Could Ancient Astronaut Theorists have been right all along?

“It was practically overhead – and I mean overhead.”

– C. Scott Littleton, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Occidental College),
(Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

Retired anthropology professor, C. Scott Littleton, was nine years old and growing up in Hermosa Beach when he spotted the strange object hovering right over his house.

“We saw what my mother always called a ‘silver bug.’ I’d characterize it today as a lozenge, a long oval. It was something I’ll never, ever forget. It was caught in searchlight beams, and antiaircraft shells were exploding all around it. It gradually went like this, and then began to lose altitude a little bit as it moved over what had to have been Redondo Beach. We lost track of it, but the banging continued. And very quickly afterward, I saw – we all saw – a flight of planes following the track of the object going overhead, anywhere from three to five interceptors, clearly piston-driven U.S. planes. No one has ever admitted that those planes were in the sky. Our first thought immediately was a Japanese observation plane. Later, the Japanese records definitively prove there were no Japanese planes over Southern California that night, or indeed ever.”

– C. Scott Littleton, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Occidental College),
(Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

After ruling out the possibility that a Japanese plane had invaded American airspace, Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox attributed the incident to “war nerves.” But Secretary of War, Henry Stimson quickly refuted this explanation, defensively declaring that an actual aircraft had been the target of the assault. To this day, no one seems to know just what – or who – was hovering over Los Angeles that night. Some claimed that the Los Angeles air raid was nothing more than an elaborate training exercise, a show put on by the military to keep citizens on the ready in case of a real attack. Others alleged that the unidentified flying object was, in fact, a barrage balloon that had broken loose from its tether. But even that explanation doesn’t seem credible to those who witnessed the actual event.

“One place where there were barrage balloons that were anchored above the aircraft plants in El Segundo, Douglas, North America. It would have to have slipped its tether, floated north up to the Santa Monica Mountains, and then back down this way. Barrage balloons don’t maneuver like that.”

– C. Scott Littleton, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Occidental College),
(Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

Regardless of the controversy, one fact is undisputed: an estimated 14,000 shells were fired at the strange object, and shrapnel rained from the sky for over an hour. But what were the guns aimed at? Would the army really have put civilian lives in danger for a drill?

“Major panic. Six people got killed, due to car accidents and hit by falling shrapnel.”

Tom Horsfall (Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

“A friend of mine said he witnessed a piece of shrapnel go through his neighbor’s garage roof. So, yeah, there were some damage from falling shrapnel.”

– C. Scott Littleton, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Occidental College),
(Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

“The next morning, there was something in our backyard my mother told me to roll up – it was like a tarp of something. And when I bent down, or kneeled down in the grass, I cut my knee, and I have my piece of shrapnel. I’ve kept it all these years. There’s my shrapnel, and it’s very sharp.”

  – Dorothy Matich (Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

“By a process of elimination, the most efficient – and I say this as a scholar – the most efficient explanation is that it was what we would call today a UFO – something not of this world, something that belonged to another technology. If that’s true, then this event was one of the largest mass UFO sightings in history. Over a million people saw it.”

– C. Scott Littleton, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Occidental College),
(Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

But whether it was a UFO or not, the memories remain vivid for those who saw something in the sky that night. So, vivid, in fact, that many of them gather each year at Fort MacArthur, in San Pedro, California, to reenact this mysterious event.

“The city went crazy. They thought it was we were being attacked by Japanese planes. Some theories said weather balloon. Others said, you know, ‘Oh, I saw a plane, I know I saw a plane,’ and others say, ‘Nope, no such plane.’ ”

Tom Horsfall (Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

“Back then it was a scary thing. I think to this day they don’t know what they were firing at. If it was a weather balloon or a flying saucer.”

Dorothy Matich (Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

But for those who believe they saw an alien craft that night, one important question remains: What happened to it?

“The rumor is that it finally crashed in the water and was recovered by Navy divers. So, maybe it was wounded, and it crashed, and this might explain why the military was so quick to react to Roswell five years later. Because they may already have had at least some inkling of what they would find there.”

– C. Scott Littleton, Ph.D.
(Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Occidental College),
(Witness, Battle of Los Angeles)

Was Earth really visited by an alien spacecraft on the morning of February 25, 1942? And could the global threats posed by World War II have provided a trigger? Perhaps the idea is not as farfetched as some would think. Is it possible that alien spacecraft could have been mistaken for enemy fighter planes in Adolf Hitler’s Germany?

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References:

[1] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: Season 1. [DVD Back Cover]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[2] History™. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.1 – Chariots, Gods, & Beyond. [Episode Description]. Retrieved: April 20, 2010, from http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-1.

[3] History™. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.2 – The Evidence. [Episode Description]. Retrieved: April 20, 2010, from http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-1.

[4] History™. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.3 – The Visitors. [Episode Description]. Retrieved: April 27, 2010, from http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-1.

[5] History™. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.4 – The Mission. [Episode Description]. Retrieved: May 4, 2010, from http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-1.

[6] History™. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.5 – Closer Encounters. [Episode Description]. Retrieved: May 18, 2010, from http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-1.

[7] History™. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [Episode Description]. Retrieved: May 25, 2010, from http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-1.

[7a] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: Introduction]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7b] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: SETI]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7c] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: Modern Methods]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7d] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: The Battle of Los Angeles]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7e] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: Foo Fighters]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7f] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: July 8, 1947]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7g] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: UFOs Today]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7h] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: First Contact]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7i] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: Religious Views]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

[7j] Prometheus Entertainment. (2010). Ancient Aliens: 1.6 – The Return. [DVD Footage: The Ultimate Questions]. Los Angeles, CA: A&E Networks, LLC / History™.

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Who were they?… Why did they come?… What did they leave behind?… Where did they go?… Will they return?…

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