Caught up in the war around them, American GIs stationed in South Vietnam in June 1966 rarely had reason to speculate about UFOs — at least until the little-known Nha Trang UFO incident took place.
The Nha Trang incident if thorough documentation can be obtained, could become a UFO «classic» according to one NICAP investigator familiar with the case.
The sighting allegedly occurred during one of the most active periods of the Vietnam conflict, and understandably received little publicity at the time. Now, however, with American participation in the war concluded, numerous war-related incidents are beginning to emerge. One of these involves a startling UFO sighting witnessed by possibly thousands of soldiers stationed in Vietnam at the time.
NICAP investigator Raymond Fowler conducted an initial investigation into the sighting and was able to contact an eyewitness to the event.
Nha Trang, at the time of the reported incident, was a heavily defended base in South Vietnam located along the coastline, which has now become an important area of tourism in Vietnam and that nowadays, specifically in this area, many Nha Trang hotels and guide tours are now available for tourists. But in 1966, it served as the home base for more than 40,000 troops, including 2,000 American GIs.
The base was situated in a valley, with warehouses and an airstrip to the east, a fuel storage area and hills to the west, and docks and storage facilities located to the south along the China Sea.
According to the witness, eight bulldozers were operating that night cutting roads around «Hawk Hill,» located less than one-half mile to the west of the American compound. On another part of the base, two «sky-Raider» prop-driven aircraft were warming up on the airstrip located less than a mile to the east. At the same time, a Shell Oil tanker lay anchored in the bay about a mile to the southwest.
The witness, an enlisted soldier holding the rank of Specialist 5, had gathered with an undetermined number of fellow soldiers around 8 p.m. in an open area of the base to watch an outdoor movie.
Outdoor films had become possible only recently, according to the witness, thanks to the arrival and installation of six, new, independently-operated, 100 KW diesel-powered generators. One of these generators had been installed near the compound where the soldiers were seated and was being used to supply power for the movie projector.
The film had been underway for some time, according to the witness’s account, when suddenly, at approximately 9:45 p.m., the sky to the north lit up! The GIs glanced up and saw what at first appeared to be a flare exploding above a ridge to the north.
«At first we thought it was a flare which are going off all the time and then we found that it wasn’t» recounts a letter from the witness mailed home a few days later.
«It came from the north and was moving from real slow to real fast…Some of the jet fighter pilots which were here…said it looked to be about 25,000 feet (in altitude)… then the panic broke loose. It dropped right towards us and stopped dead still about 300 to 500 feet up. It made this little valley and the mountains around look like it was the middle of the day; it lit up everything.
«Then it went up and I mean up. It went straight up and completely out of sight in about 2-3 seconds. Everybody is still talking about it.»
Had the soldier’s letter or his recent account of the incident stopped there, the case would probably not have come to the attention of either NICAP or the officials from Washington that reportedly visited the base the next day. But the letter and the witness’s account of the incident continues:
«That really shook everyone is that it stopped, or maybe it didn’t, but anyway our generator stopped and everything was black. At the Air Force Base about one half mile from here all generators stopped.
The engines on two planes that were the runway ready to take off stopped, and there wasn’t a car, truck, plane or anything that ran for about four minutes.»
In addition, the eight bulldozers working on nearby hills also ceased operating according to the witness.
«A whole plane load of big shots from Washington got here this afternoon to investigate. It’s on the radio over here. Is it at home? I swear if somebody says they saw a little green man I won’t argue with them.»
«Little green man» or not, the case could prove to be highly significant, despite the current lack of additional information.
Compounding this problem is the witness’s inability to recall anything more than the nicknames of those he was serving with at Nha Trang.
Of extreme interest to NICAP, and apparently of equal interest to the «big shots» from Washington,» was the associated EM effects reportedly caused by the strange UFO.
The fact that diesel and gasoline engines scattered throughout the base all ceased to operate at the same time and remained inoperative for more than four minutes provides added mystery to the event.
Included in the list of engines that ceased running at the time of the sighting, according to the witness, were those of the two «Sky Raiders» warming up on the nearby runway. One can only speculate what might have happened had they suffered a power loss while airborne.
NICAP is currently attempting to contact appropriate Army officials in an effort to obtain the names of other enlisted or officer personnel who might have witnessed the event. NICAP is also seeking to determine whether officials from Washington did in fact visit Nha Trang the next day to investigate the sighting.