CHAPTER ONE: PURSUIT OF AN EERIE LIGHT
Throughout my entire life I’ve always treated each story involving the paranormal with a "grain" of salt. Even though I never fully believed everything I read of paranormal experiences, I nevertheless kept an "open mind" for stories, which told of UFO’s, missing people, lost time etc. During those first twenty-six years of my life, I’ve always held onto the belief that for everything which occurred, there was always a logical explanation for. Even after all those years of reading many eyewitness accounts of UFO’s & other incredible stories told by credible people who stated that they had been abducted by aliens, etc. I was never fully sold on the idea that these paranormal accounts were actually true.
My skepticism of the paranormal continued well into the third year of my first naval enlistment but it would suddenly end during my second Western Pacific deployment with the USS KITTYHAWK.
It was late one night while we were conducting air warfare exercises in the South China Sea approximately 60 miles off the western shore of Luzon Island in the Philippines that my mind would forever be changed regarding the truth behind the paranormal…
I would suddenly learn the truth that in a remote mysterious ravine lying deep between the mountains of Bataan Province, there exists a portal into another world where space & time ceases to exist as we know it. A world dominated by a horrible darkness, fear and monster men who know nothing of the decency of a humane society. A world, which knows nothing of love, & yet whose merciless gatekeepers prey on the attraction between a man and a woman and takes them who know this bond between two human beings and forever imprisoned them where no one can hear their futile screams for help…
It was late one night during my operations specialist days while standing watch in the ship’s combat information center that my first real experience involving the paranormal took place. My watch station was the air events status board in a section of Combat Information Center known as the Direction & Decision Room.
CIC was very busy as it would normally be during a combat training exercise. The continuous "jabber" of words between the strike controllers sitting at their air tracker radar consoles and pilots of the F-4 Phantoms along with the A-6’s KA-6 Tanker and other naval combat aircraft added to the high noise level in the "D & D" center of CIC.
Trying to overhear the numerous radio communications between strike controllers and pilots, every message was routine. Frequently, I had to erase and rewrite communication frequencies on the edgelit glass status board window as changing atmospheric conditions prompted changes of radio frequencies to preserve clear radio reception between the ship and aircraft.
It was shortly after 2300 hours (11:00 PM) in the Philippine Time Zone. We had one more hour of flight exercises before each plane would be recovered and "flight quarters" would secure for the evening. Each evolution was proceeding on schedule & was going normally until now. At that instant, I heard the lead strike controller who was sitting at the radar console next to where I was standing, ask the pilots who commanded the K-A6 Fuel aircraft to repeat his last transmission. Flying at 10,000 feet, the pilots of the F-4 Phantom along with the K-A6 were not able to accurately describe what they along with their co-pilots had just observed appear in the distance off their "port" (left-hand) side.
Above the noise, I overheard the K-A6 pilot radio into CIC as well as to the F-4 Phantoms, A-7’S etc that he was observing what he described as a large & mysterious- looking "pillar of light" off in the distance. The huge column of light appeared to originate somewhere in the mountains of Luzon Island not far from Subic Bay which what was our overseas homeport in the Philippines.
The F-4 Phantom pilot and his navigator became curious as to what it was. Flying Pawtucket 111, Commander Kolwelski shouted to his co-pilot sitting in the cocpitbehind him, asking him what was his "take" on the large, ghostly- looking "pillar of light" which had just appeared a moment ago in the distance. His copilot responded that he had never seen anything quite like this before in his life and wanted to get a closer look. Totally bewildered, he wanted his pilot to request permission to temporarily break away from the formation & fly in the direction of the huge & mysterious light, which loomed up into the night sky from the mountains of Luzon Island to get a better look at what this might be. At first both Cmdr. Kowelski & Lt.Cmdr. Brian Jones could only guess at what it was.
"Was it a large search light? No way. No searchlight known had enough power to produce a giant beam of light as large and as bright as what they were now seeing."
Was it a civilian aircraft? Negative! No aircraft known to mankind could produce a light beam shinning with this resilience from the ground upwards towards the sky.
Cmdr. Kowelski & Lt Cmdr. Jones were now totally baffled. As their curiosity got the better of them both, they could not resist the temptation to break away from the formation & fly in the direction of the ghostly "pillar" of light. Cmdr. Kowelski immediately reached over to his in-flight computer & keyed in a new heading of 120 degrees true. "Triple Styx" suddenly turned and was now headed directly towards the light. Seeing the F-4 Phantom change course," "Chippie" 145 (A-7 hornet) & Jury 220 K-A6" also broke away without authorization & followed in pursuit of the F-4 Phantom. Three fighter aircraft from the USS KITTYHAWK had suddenly broke away from formation and was headed at mock three speed in a southeasterly direction towards the mountains of Bataan Province.
Sitting at his strike control radar console, OSC Lance Lindgren reeled back in shock as he watched three radar "blips" instantly split away & race off towards Bataan. Thoughts now flashed through his mind. "What is it out there that suddenly caused these pilots to break away & go in pursuit of something? With growing concern OSC Lindgren tried to reestablish radio contact with "Jury 220" & "Pawtucket 111." What he heard next was not what he had expected to nor was prepared to hear. A garbled radio transmission from Pawtucket reported seeing large glowing personages with slowly moving wings rising up from somewhere in between the mountains inside the "pillar" of light… then the radio transmission cut off… sweating, a now stressed Lance Lindgren bluntly asked for a cup of coffee.
On the Kittyhawk’s bridge, the commanding officer, air boss, executive officer, Officer of the deck, His junior OOD and everyone else in the pilothouse, crowded over to the portside windows with their binoculars to see if they could make any sense as what it was they were looking at. Where they were looking, they could not see more than a few miles. The OOD immediately ordered the helmsmen to turn the ship to course 150 degrees true so they might be able to get a better look in the direction where the three planes had raced off to. The Captain along with the entire bridge crew was now getting uneasy over what had suddenly taken place & why these two aircraft broke formation, & sharply turned course without prior authorization…
The first question, which arose in the captain’s mind, was, "Was it suddenly discovered that the entire formation was under surveillance by Soviet "Bears" "Migs" or any other potentially hostile aircraft which were not previously detected by radar beforehand?"
This did not add up. No Soviet aircraft known had the technology to totally escape detection from our air tracking radars. An hour earlier, we had conducted a series of electronic countermeasures & successfully passed a tough test in radar jamming when the OS crew on watch wiped out every interference with a new type of anti- jamming technique which cleaned the speckled dots & pinwheels from our radar scopes. An hour later an A-7 hornet, a KA-6 Tanker along with an F-4 Phantom aircraft were the last to touch down on the flight deck of the super carrier named for that famous point on North Carolina’s Outer Banks where two men named Wright successfully flew a small plane.
The next morning, three pilots & copilots sat in the air boss’s ward room before a panel of inquiry answering questions as to what it was which they began chasing. By 1100 hours, the details of their interview was classified as "top secret" and securely locked in a safe. All four men were given a psychiatric evaluation, which immediately preceded a foolproof lie detector test… By 1300 hours the results showed that these men were completely honest and were mentally fit to resume their duties as pilots…Rumors began to circulate throughout the ship of what these men had witnessed appear rising into the night skies from the Mountains of Bataan which caused them to begin a fast pursuit of. Everyone accepted the theory that the Russians had developed a new highly technical surveillance weapon, which went well beyond the realms of known technology. No one dared to speculate any further. This first incident was immediately covered up!
CHAPTER TWO: OSSN COBB’S MYSTERIOUS MENTAL BREAKDOWN
No one aboard ship said anything more of the incident, which occurred during that air warfare exercise on the night of July 15th. Except for a late-night three- hour underway replenishment operation, the next several days, was the normal routine of eat, sleep stand watch eat sleep watch etc. which kept us in that 24/7 rhythm. Our world consisted of a space bounded by CIC, the berthing areas, the tower and the mess decks.
I lived & worked in close quarters with men of every creed & race with many personalities & who came from all "walks" of life. Yes, we occasionally had our stressful moments & disagreements but nevertheless we navy men were all a "family" who worked with, lived with and looked out for one other.
There was however one man in my division who stood out. I always remembered his outgoing personality, friendliness along with his unselfish ways. This young, very intelligent Afro-American man was the type of a person who would lend the shirt off his back despite his own hardship so as to see that a fellow sailor would survive.
His unselfish helpful attitude was well demonstrated to me several months earlier while we were still docked in San Diego, California. This man took it upon himself to use his liberty time to come back aboard ship one night while I was standing in port duty and spent an hour showing me how to use the maneuvering board. In an hour, OSSN Chester Cobb showed me how to properly use the maneuvering board to calculate true winds, avoidance courses, navigational points as well as bearings, ranges & times of closest points of approaches, etc. In an hour, I had learned what it took me days to figure out during the previous overseas deployment. From that day on, I would be forever in debt to OSSN Cobb for taking the time to show me maneuvering board. His on the job training paid off during the next several at sea periods, which took place during our pre deployment at sea exercises off the coasts of Southern California & Hawaii.
After more months of air exercises, quals & other pre- deployment preparations, the first rays of dawn broke over the eastern skies on Wednesday May 21, 1975. The last pallets of supplies were being loaded aboard ship. By 2:00 PM after an engineering delay, the ropes were untied flags shifted to the mast & the USS KITTYHAWK was again underway for its 1975 Western Pacific Deployment.
Through out the 21- day transit from San Diego to Subic Bay, OSSN Chester Cobb worked with us all in the Starboard Watch Section. When it came to our hourly rotation he always relieved me on time whether we were on the scope dead reckoning table, or on the lookouts. Chet Cobb always had something to talk about. He was the type of guy whom anyone could not help but feel at ease with especially during those long uneventful hours we spent looking out over a monotonous sea both day and night. We in OI Division all thought that OSSN Chester Cobb was a great asset to CIC, The Kittyhawk & the Navy….
It was shortly after sunset late one afternoon about a week after the July 15 incident. The Kittyhawk was cruising through the southern section of its assigned operational area off Subic Bay. Chester Cobb along with fellow sailor OSSN Mike Post were standing watch on the forward 010 lookout level of the tower when something suddenly appeared… Mike Post will never forget what he along with Chet Cobb observed in the evening skies in the direction of the Philippines during those unforgettable moments but what was particularly terrifying was the horrible effect it had on OSSN Cobb. He would never be the same again. His destiny had changed in a moment’s time. From that moment on, his naval career had ended!
I was standing watch on the 07 aft lookout. The time was1900 hours (7:00 PM) local time. I was looking back towards the western skies when suddenly I heard a piercing scream through the sound powered phones immediately followed by words which I would rather never hear again. The last ray of daylight was still visible in the western skies when at that instant everything became clothed in a mysterious greenish yellow light. Turning around, I then noticed an eerie glow coming from somewhere behind me. At that same instant another piercing scream shrieked through the sound powered phones. My first thought was… "Did someone witness the devil appear in front of him?
Again, I tried to look forward but I could not see far because the ship’s forecastle & tower obstructed my view of the mysterious glowing light that illuminated the skies off the starboard bow (forward right-hand corner) of the ship. Both Mike Post and Chet Cobb who stood on that forward deck had an unobstructed view of the source of the eerie light which seemed to shine from somewhere below the southeastern horizon up into the nighttime skies. This was that same ghostly looking "pillar of light" which extended up from the southeastern horizon & into the night skies over the South China Sea that the three fighter aircraft had first witnessed a week earlier. Everyone on watch in the ship’s pilot house, the flight deck, and all exposed weather decks witnessed the eerie sight but it was OSSN Cobb who became particularly terrified by what he was seeing within that huge "pillar" of light.
Continuous screams of terror shrieked through the sound powered phones as Mike Post desperately tried to restrain OSSN Cobb on the 010 level. He was also terrified by what he was seeing in the column of light.
In CIC OS1 Hale, OS1 Cooney & OS1 Chewning leaped up from their radar consoles when they heard the screams over the sound-powered phone circuit coming from the 010 level. Dropping everything they were doing, all three of them ran as fast as they could towards the doorway, up the nearest ladder (stairs) and down the passageway (hallway) in the direction of the tower. Caught by surprise over this unexpected incident, horrifying thoughts raced through their minds as they both were running. "What is going on here? What is this thing about a "pillar" of light?" They both kept asking each other. " Is someone cracked up there on the 010 level? Did we just lose someone over the side of the ship?" Cooney, Hale & Chewning would quickly find out that OSSN Cobb’s screams were "well founded!"
Upon arrival on the 010 level OS1 Hale was about to give Chet Cobb & Mike Post a stern lecture when he suddenly stopped talking in mid-sentence at the sight of the strange light off in the distance! He, OS1 Cooney & OS1 Chewning stood there & watched in utter amazement as they witnessed the pillar of light. Grabbing a pair of binoculars, OS1 Hale froze in fright when he saw what he could only describe as huge winged beings carrying people skywards! Everyone on that lookout level stood there in total shock & disbelief!
Slowing down to a dead stop, the ship changed its heading for now I could see what everyone else was observing. The flight deck was now crowded with people as the announcement came over the ship’s 1-MC Public Address System of the eerie "pillar" of light. Illuminated by the eerie light, the ocean’s surface reflected the ghostly glow. I could barely make out our accompanying destroyers who no doubt were also witnessing the strange sight off to the southeast.
Shimmering like a huge curtain waving in a gentle breeze, the ghostly column of light gradually faded away until there was nothing but a tropical starlit night sky. Everyone aboard the Kittyhawk who saw the light was in utter chaos as they stood there in total shock and disbelief over what they all had witnessed. OS1 Hale & Chewning managed to calm OSSN Cobb. He just sat there in the corner of the 010 level shaking like a leaf. Ten minutes later, the shrill whistle of the boatswain’s pipe immediately preceded Captain Hubbard’s announcement over the 1-MC:
"Good evening this is the captain. In the last several moments most of us who were topside observed something in the southeastern skies we will not be able to & most likely never be able to explain what it was. I do want to reassure all hands that at this time we are in no danger and have not been in any danger all evening. It has been brought to my attention that a few hands have been frightened over what we had witnessed in these last several moments. I will make every effort to provide adequate counseling to those individuals who may have suffered a breakdown over what they had observed. I can assure you that what we saw here tonight was not merely an allusion.
Approximately one week ago six pilots observed the same sighting while conducting a training exercise, when Cptn. Kowelski along with his co-pilot first observed this same "pillar" of light and raced off in the direction to get a close look at it. What they observed was exactly what several of us saw here tonight. A few of us state that there was what looked like beings with wings rising into the skies. I dare not comment on this but again I along with everyone else here on the bridge and everywhere else who witnessed the sightings are open to discussion as to theory. I would like to first set up a schedule so as to interview all those who had first witnessed the sighting then I will conduct open discussions via closed circuit television as to what theories we may have in regards to the sighting. Lastly I will have an open forum to discuss any adverse effects the sighting may have had on a few of our shipmates Right now we must try to reestablish a normal routine. We are going to resume air operations at this time. That is all."
A half-hour later the fighter aircraft were back in the air again on another exercise but those shipmates such as OSSN Cobb were no longer the same. Later that night when he came back down to CIC, Chet suddenly began screaming saying that he saw a message in that light saying that he was now Jesus Christ! A frightened watch section leader promptly had OSSN Cobb relieved from his duties as a watch stander and placed in the psychiatric section of the ship’s sickbay where a few naval clinical psychologists evaluated him. The following day we tied up in port in Subic Bay, Philippines. Chester Cobb was transported to the psychiatric ward of the naval hospital where he was closely evaluated for the next week. It was finally determined that he was no longer mentally fit to resume his duties as a sailor. A week later he was discharged from the navy. To this very day, I along with everyone else in OI Division believe that OSSN Cobb was not driven insane by the long hours of being underway with the USS KITTYHAWK but had been frightened out of his mind by what he had seen appear that night in the skies. The mysterious sight in the skies that night would forever remain a mystery in the minds of all.
Two weeks later on August 4, 1975, I met the lady who would later become my wife for the next 23 years. A filipina lady named Mariamelda R. Lota, mother of a 9-year old son named Michael, a 6- year old daughter named Juvita and later give birth to another little baby who would someday become the Philippines most beautiful girl. Marialuisa!
The ship went on to complete its entire six-month deployment without further incident and on December 15, 1975 we returned to our homeport of San Diego, California. The mystery behind that "pillar of light" which appeared in the night skies in the direction of the mountains of Bataan would be put to rest for the next 23 years until one night, a certain filipina beauty queen would lead me right into the heart of the paranormal…
Contact me here: Richard J. Ohanlon Jr.