Jan 05, 2023 I Nick Redfern

The JFK-UFO Controversy Surfaces Again: Assassins and Aliens?

Now and again, the claims that President John F. Kennedy was killed because he knew too much about UFOs surface. And it's happened again - while I was doing radio last night. So, I figured that, today, I would share with you some of the issues that have made many people think there is a JFK-UFO link. Let's have a look. It’s a rarely discussed fact that Guy Banister was one of the very first of the FBI’s Special- Agents to investigate UFOs in 1947 – the year in which the term “Flying Saucer” was created. Altogether, Banister investigated eleven UFO cases in that period. Certainly, the most controversial case that Banister looked into was highlighted in the pages of the Tacoma News Tribune of July 12, 1947. It reads: “FBI agent W. G. Banister said an object which appeared to be a ‘flying disk’ was found early today at Twin Falls, [Idaho] and turned over to federal authorities there. Banister, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Montana and Idaho, said the bureau had reported the discovery to the army at Fort Douglas, Utah.

An FBI agent in Twin Falls, inspected the ‘saucer’ and described it as similar to the ‘cymbals used by a drummer in a band, placed face to face.’ The object measured 30 ½ inches in diameter, with a metal dome about 14 inches high on the opposite side, anchored in place by what appeared to be stove bolts. The gadget is gold plated on one side and silver (either stainless steel, aluminum or tin) on the other. It appeared to have been turned out by machine, reports from Twin Falls said. The FBI declined to elaborate further.” This case was shown to have been a good-natured prank and nothing more. Notably, though, and as a result of the exposure, Banister was given a classified briefing on the UFO phenomenon by Army personnel at Fort Douglas, Utah. The extent to which Banister may have been exposed to UFO secrets as time went along is not at all clear. What we do know, however, is that Banister was one of the first people to be tied to both UFOs and the murder of JFK. 

(Nick Redfern) The Grassy Knoll, Dallas, Texas.

As was noted above, the story of Banister, the FBI, the Army, and the Flying Saucer phenomenon, was splashed over the pages of the Tacoma News Tribune in July 1947. There’s another Tacoma connection to all of this – a connection that provides even more JFK/UFO-related links. June 21, 1947 was the date of one of the most mysterious and widely-debated incidents in UFO lore. A man named Harold Dahl, his young son, and several men were shocked and amazed by the sight of a veritable squadron of circular UFOs, with holes around the sides, flying over the waters of Maury Island, Puget Sound, Washington State. Five of the craft seemed to be moving in a smooth fashion at roughly 2,000-feet. That certainly couldn’t be said of one of them: it was clearly, and dangerously, out of control. That was made even more obvious when that particular craft suddenly plummeted to a height of around barely 700-feet. This was not a good sign. It was practically an omen. The rest of the mysterious aerial vehicles skillfully maneuvered out of the way, except for just one craft: it proceeded to “touch” the malfunctioning one, as things were described at the time. That didn’t seem to help. The craft then started to “spew forth” a huge amount of material – and showered down a mass of weird debris into the water. Some of it was an extremely thin, light metal. Other material, black in color, was boiling hot – something that was made clear when the wreckage hit the water and instantly caused a huge amount of steam to violently billow and bubble all around. Very unfortunately, the Dahl’s family dog was killed by some of the material as it slammed not just into the water, but onto the family’s boat, also.

A shocked Dahl quickly contacted his boss and friend, Fred Crisman; he was a man who had links to U.S. intelligence, and who wasted no time in gathering up as much of the material as possible. With Crisman and his son helping too, it wasn’t long before a sizeable amount of the material was on the boat and in their collective hands. Seeing the potential dollar-value in the story, Crisman contacted Ray Palmer. He was the publisher of Amazing Stories magazine. Crisman wondered if he, Palmer, might be interested in having an article written on what had happened - something that led a number of UFO researchers to wonder if Crisman had conjured up an elaborate hoax. Certain events that continued to grow quickly suggested it wasn’t a fabrication. First and foremost, the U.S. military was soon on the scene to scoop up the material. Specifically, the two involved were Captain William Lee Davidson and First Lieutenant Frank Mercer Brown. The pair was acting on the orders of General Nathan Twining, a key figure in the U.S. military’s early investigations into Flying Saucers. Those orders were never fulfilled. How can you fulfil orders when you’re dead? 

Brown and Davidson flew into the area - from Hamilton Field, California – with not a problem in sight, at all. They collected as much of that weird debris as they could and took to the skies. On the way back, however, the absolute unthinkable happened. Their planned destination was Wright Field, Ohio (today, known as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). A team was to be ready and waiting at the other end to take hold of that mass of curious material. The two hadn’t been in the skies for long, however, when malfunctions kicked in. Severe malfunctions. To the extent that the plane plummeted to the ground, killing them in a fiery nightmare. The wreckage mysteriously vanished. All we have left are a few old, black-and-white photos taken at the time and held by the FBI. There is an afterword, I must stress. And what an afterword it is.

(Nick Redfern) An Assassin at Dealey Plaza? More than two?

While Harold Dahl largely fell into obscurity afterwards, the same cannot be said for Fred Crisman. He became a prominent figure within the Kennedy assassination. Indeed, in 1968, when District Attorney Jim Garrison was at the height of his investigation of JFK’s death, Crisman was subpoenaed by Garrison, himself. Garrison had it in his mind that Crisman wasn’t just a minor figure in the death of the president. For Garrison, Crisman was quite possibly one of the assassins at Dealey Plaza, Dallas on November 22, 1963. Garrison was sure Crisman was poised and ready to go on the fateful day, but in the guise of one of three “hoboes” – as they were described - seen lurking around the Grassy Knoll when JFK was shot. Dr. Bob Wood said that, according to some of those controversial documents that UFO researcher Timothy Cooper was provided, “…some of the debris from Maury Island was turned over by Crisman to a CIA agent named ‘Shaw.’” Investigative author Kenn Thomas said this was very likely Clay Shaw – one of several people that Jim Garrison attempted to indict during his quest for the truth surrounding the JFK assassination. And while Shaw was found not guilty on all charges, his connections to the CIA asset have since then been confirmed. By none other than the CIA itself. Ryan Wood said: “For his part, Garrison claimed that his prosecution of Shaw was a ‘toe-hold’ to a larger conspiracy in which Fred Crisman may have been an assassin working on behalf of the aerospace industry, which had its own reasons for wanting JFK dead.” 

One final thing of note comes from Garrison. In his 1988 book, On the Trail of the Assassins, he said: “Upon my return to civilian life after World War II, I followed my family tradition and went to law school at Tulane, obtaining both Bachelor of Laws and Master of Civil degrees. Shortly thereafter I joined the FBI. As a special agent in Seattle and Tacoma, I was very impressed with the competence and efficiency of the Bureau.” On his pre-assassination days with Guy Banister, Garrison wrote: “I knew Banister fairly well. When he was in the police department, we had lunch together now and then, swapping colorful stories about our earlier careers in the FBI. A ruddy-faced man with blue eyes which stared right at you, he dressed immaculately and always wore a small rosebud in his lapel.” That Garrison knew Guy Banister, and worked out of Tacoma, suggests that Garrison may have known much more about all of those interlinking matters. And, the JFK-UFO issues continue to grow.

(Nick Redfern) Roswell.

(Nick Redfern) The Roswell site.

In 1997 one of the most controversial of all UFO books – ever – was published. Its title: The Day after Roswell. Penned by Bill Birnes (of UFO Hunters and UFO Magazine) and the late Lieutenant Colonel Philip Corso, it told of Corso’s alleged knowledge of alien technology, artifacts and bodies in the hands of the U.S. military. At the time of his death in 1998, and at the age of 83, Corso was planning on writing another book: The Day after Dallas. The rumor was that Corso’s next book would show how UFOs and the death of JFK were interlinked. Not everyone saw Corso as the clean and shiny character he presented. Some in Ufology viewed his Roswell story as a cover-story to hide something else: top secret, high-altitude experiments undertaken on prisoners and handicapped people in the post-Second World War period. Moving on, in the 1950s, U.S. Senator Richard Russell paid a visit to the Soviet Union. At the time, Russell was the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. The date was October 4, 1955. Russell had a profound UFO encounter – which revolved around a pair of UFOs – while the train he was on was negotiating Russia’s Trans-Caucasus area. Both the CIA and the Air Force took serious notice of what Russell had to say. Official records on the matter state that Russell “saw the first flying disc ascend and pass over the train.”

We’re also told: “One disc ascended almost vertically, at a relatively slow speed, with its outer surface revolving slowly to the right, to an altitude of about 6000 feet, where its speed then increased sharply as it headed north. The second flying disc was seen performing the same actions about one minute later. The take-off area was about 1-2 miles south of the rail line…all three saw the second disc and all agreed that they saw the same round, disc-shaped craft as the first.” From 1963 to 1964, Senator Russell was a member of the Warren Report” (actually, the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy) that sought to find answers to who killed JFK. For the commission, the assassin was Oswald. And there’s more to come on Oswald. In October 1962, he began working for a Texas company by the name of Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall, a graphic arts company. In his book, Conspiracy, Anthony Summers wrote that JCS’s work was focused on “material obtained by the very U-2 planes Oswald had once watched in Japan, and only employees with a special security clearance were supposed to see it.” In 2013, the BBC noted: “The U-2 was one of the Cold War’s most infamous aircraft, a plane designed to fly over unfriendly territory too high for enemy fighters or missiles, and take pictures of unparalleled detail – and, as it has just been revealed, helped spur the development of the secret Area 51 airbase.”

(Nick Redfern) An actress (Marilyn Monroe), UFOs  and a president.

No-one can doubt or deny that directly tying the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to issues relative to UFOs and aliens is guaranteed to provoke a wealth of controversy, hoots of derision, and the rolling of eyes. That doesn’t mean we should ignore such incredible claims. The main reason being that even a cursory look at the available material is highly suggestive. Consider what we know from 1947 to when New Orleans’ District Attorney Jim Garrison was trying to make a case for a conspiracy in the killing of JFK. In 1947, Fred Crisman was at the beginning of the UFO phenomenon. He was also fingered as an assassin at Dealey Plaza, Dallas in 1963. Garrison had his eyes on Crisman throughout much of 1968. FBI agent and, later, private detective, Guy Banister was tied to Kennedy’s death and, in 1947, was briefed – in a closed-room, no less – about the then-secret status of the UFO phenomenon. Banister and Garrison knew each other well. Senator Richard Russell – of the Warren Report that studied JFK’s death – received a secret briefing on UFOs, by the CIA, in 1955. A connection can be made between Lee Harvey Oswald and Area 51, by way of Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall and the U-2 spy-plane. Philip Corso, in the late 1990s, was on the verge of getting to work on a book showing a UFO-JFK link. And only one day before he was shot down in Dallas, Kennedy met with personnel from two facilities with known connections to UFOs: Fort Detrick and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

And, we have a pair of lovers – JFK and Marilyn Monroe – both powerful figures in their very own different ways, both sitting on volatile secrets of incredible proportions, both presenting problems to certain people in government, and, finally, both gone forever. Marilyn in August 1962 and JFK just a year-and-a-quarter later. Possibly, both for the very same reason: they got too close to the secret truth about life outside our world. In 2013, and right in time for the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK, I wrote an article for Penthouse, a magazine that kept me in significant numbers of dollars for years. My article looked at various theories for who may have whacked JFK and why at the Grassy Knoll. One of the theories – the craziest of all - came from a man named William Milton “Bill” Cooper. I met him once. That was enough. I had no time for his Fox News-style rhetoric. Take a look at a certain portion of my Penthouse feature, as it brings extraterrestrials into the matter of JFK’s final day on Earth: “Cooper claimed that analysis of the famous footage taken by Abraham Zapruder, on the Grassy Knoll on November 22, showed Greer pointing some form of device at JFK. That device, Cooper maintained to anyone that would listen, was nothing less than a sci-fi-style weapon developed by government personnel that had acquired the technology from extraterrestrials [italics mine].” Ridiculous!

In a strange piece of irony, Cooper himself died by the bullet. In the summer of 1998, he was formerly charged with tax evasion. Cooper told the government what to go and do. What the government did, on November 5, 2001, was to dispatch deputies to Cooper’s Arizona home. A shoot-out soon erupted. Cooper, like JFK, was soon full of lead. Now and then, I wonder if Cooper was a “double-agent;” a guy inserted into the area of conspiracy-theorizing to make everything he promoted look believable at times, but also insane on other occasions. Muddying the waters, in other words. That, though, is something for another day. A true connection between JFK and UFOs? It depends on your own thoughts.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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