A Virginia man is investigating the possibility that a UFO crashed near Cape Girardeau in 1941. "That would be six years before Roswell," said James Westwood of Centreville, Va., referring to the 1947 incident in which the government allegedly recovered and then covered up a UFO crash in New Mexico. "That would put Cape Girardeau County on the UFO map." he said.
Southeast Missouri already is known for UFO activity. Dr. Harley Rutledge, a former chairman of the physics department at Southeast Missouri State University who is now retired, has investigated reports of strange sights seen flying through the skies near Piedmont and other UFO reports.
"Project Identification: The First Scientific Field Study of UFO Phenomena" outlines Rutledge's research.
Westwood said Rutledge told him he has not heard of the 1941 incident. Westwood, a retired Navy man and engineer; is looking for people who may remember an incident from 1941 when some type of aircraft reportedly crashed approximately ~3 to 15 miles outside Cape Girardeau.
Westwood bases his investigation on an account by Charlotte Mann, a Texas woman whose grandfather, the Rev. William Huffman, was the pastor of Red Star Baptist Church from 1941 to 1944.
Leonard H. Stringifield, a renowned UFO investigator, recounted Mann's story in the July 1991 issue of his "Status Report," a monthly publication on UFO activities and investigations. Mann told Stringfield her grandfather got a call one spring night from police asking him to accompany them to the site of an airplane crash outside town in case the victims needed a clergyman.
"A car was sent to get him, but grandmother said it wasn't a police car," Mann said in Stingfield's recounting of the story. When Huffman got to the crash scene, Mann said, he noticed one piece of the wreckage that appeared to have a rounded shape with no edges or seams," and a "very shiny metallic finish."
"Police officers, "plainclothes men" and "military officers were already at the scene sifting through the wreckage, Mann said. Laid to one side of the scene were "three bodies, not human," she recounted. "It was hard for him to tell if they had on suits or if it was their skin, but they were covered head to foot in what looked like wrinkled aluminum foil," Mann said. "He could see no hair on their bodies and they had no ears. They were small framed like a child, about 4 feet tall, but had larger heads and longer arms." Their faces had "large, oval-shaped eyes, no noses, just holes and no lips, just small slits for mouths," Mann said. Huffman was told by one of the military officers at the scene not to tell anyone what he had witnessed for security reasons, Mann told Stringfield. Huffman told his wife, Floy, and their two Sons what he had seen when he returned home from the crash site but never spoke of it again, said Mann.
Huffman died in 1959. His wife, who died in 1984, told Mann the story. A few weeks after the crash, Huffman was apparently given a photo of two men holding one of the corpses found at the scene. Mann's father loaned the photo to a friend but never saw it again.
Now Westwood, who read Mann's account in Stringfield's publication, is looking for other who may remember hearing about the crash. "What you need here is another source, at least one other person who says, I sort of remember this," Westwood said. "Even if it's second-hand account, you've at least got another source.
"Mann's account says the crash happened in the spring. Westwood speculates it may actually have happened in the fall because of the mention of a field fire caused by the crash. In the spring, he reasons, vegetation would have been too wet to burn easily. "But in the fall, it's very dry," he said.
He also speculates the military officers on the scene may have been called in from an Army Air Corps base in Sikeston at the time. If the crash happened, the military and police wouldn't have known what they were looking at, Westwood said, because Roswell and the other early UFO sightings hadn't happened. And the incident may have been covered up for military security reasons since the U.S. was gearing up for World War II, he said. "It wouldn't be implausible" for the incident to have been reported as an airplane crash, Westwood said.
Westwood began researching Mann's story at the beginning of the year. He has been in Cape Girardeau for the last week reviewing local records and looking for potential sources. He hasn't had much luck. So far; no one he has talked to has admitted to knowing anything.
"There isn't anything that I would consider even close," Westwood said. He found a report of a student pilot's airplane crash near Morley in Scott County in May 1941, and a local pilot told him about another crash near Oak Ridge that happened in spring 1941.
The other problem is the Huffmans left the area not long after the alleged crash. The Cape Girardeau city directory lists the Huffmans from 1942 to 1944, but they aren't listed in the 1945 directory. Records from the Southeast Missourian say Huffman became the pastor of the church in September 1941.
And Stringfield, who investigated hundreds of reports of UFO crashes and retrievals, died in 1994. His family has refused to release his files to other researchers.
Westwood says he has never seen a UFO or been in contact with extraterrestrials. "There's no doubt in my mind that UFOs are real flying objects from outer space," he said. He points to similarities in thousands of sightings and reports from people who have reported having contact with extraterrestrials as evidence that something is out there. But what he calls the "cultism" surrounding the study of UFOs and false reports by attention-seeking hysterics detracts from evidence given by witnesses or people who claim contact, Westwood says, "aren't any crazier than anybody else."
Tracing UFO reports is "an interesting kind of detective story," Westwood said. "It's a Sherlock Holmes kind of thing in which you have to sort through a lot of BS looking for those nuggets. In the end, some of the things fit, and some Things don't"
The Roswell crash and recovery isn't the only UFO crash in the annals of the study of UFOs, Westwood said. "It's just the best known," he said.
Anyone with Information about a 1941 crash may contact James Westwood at 5608-34 Willoughby Newton Drive, Centreville, Va., 20120, or call him at (703) 222-0978.
Thanks to Clayton Sneed
By Peggy O'Farrel