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UFO Case Report:

Date: November 6, 1957
Location: Merom, Indiana, United States

Rene Gilham, a 33 year-old ironworker, saw that a brightly luminous object was hovering overhead. Gilham estimated its size as 40 feet in diameter, and its altitude as 1000 feet.

Classification & Features

Type of Case/Report: StandardCase
Hynek Classification: 
Special Features/Characteristics: Physiological Effects

Full Report / Article

Source: Herb Taylor / Ohio MUFON Case Notebook / Project-1947 Discussion List, November 5, 2003
[go to original source]

From the Ohio MUFON Case Notebook

By Herb Taylor

Merom, Indiana November 6, 1957

Source: Project-1947 Discussion List, November 5, 2003

Presenting some of the better (though lesser known) reports from the 1957 period is both important, and worthy of discussion. The Merom, Indiana case is a good example. Following are the basic details:

At an unspecified time on the night of November 6, 1957 a potentially very important event occurred near Merom, Indiana (30 miles south of Terre Haute, on the Wabash River that bounds Indiana on the West). Rene Gilham, a 33 year-old ironworker was at his farm home when he noticed an unusual light. He went outside and saw that a brightly luminous object was hovering overhead. Gilham estimated its size as 40 feet in diameter, and its altitude as 1000 feet. From this object there "beamed out" a light that "bathed his farm with an eerie, penetrating light".

He stood staring at this object for about ten minutes, during which time it was temporarily joined by a smaller object. Then the larger object departed, "went straight up and headed west". As it did so, the light became more intense, and it emitted "a whirring noise like a high-speed electric motor gaining revolutions". Gilham's wife and children, and his father-in-law in the adjacent house, also saw the object but did not watch it continuously. "The other members of the family verified the fact that the object was so bright that it lighted the entire surroundings".

On the day after he had stared up at the UFO, Gilham's face began to itch and redden, and that night the "sunburn" was so painful that he went to a doctor on the of the 8th. The physician, Dr. Joseph Drake, found that Gilham's condition was not a rash such as might be caused by poison ivy or an allergy, but a real burn, "similar to the burns that are inflicted on the face and eyes when working near an arc welder without a face mask". Gilham said that he had not been near a welder for three weeks.

Two days later, "his condition worsened", and he was taken to Mary Sherman hospital in nearby Sullivan, Indiana. Hospital staff members refused to talk to reporters about the case, and permitted no visitors. Notably, they refused to say by whose orders the patient was being held incommunicado. (The Terre Haute Tribune, after mentioning this, adds that it was known that "military authorities: had been informed about the case.) However it was announced on the 11th that "the swelling about the eyes and reddening of the skin had lessened today," and that Gilham was expected to be released the next day. Whether he was or not is not known, and nothing further is known about this intriguing event. (The only sources on this are the Sullivan Times of November 11th, and the Terre Haute Tribune of November 12th.)

(It may be noted to add that at approximately 6:30 PM, on the evening of the 6th, numerous people in Sullivan, Indiana watch a glowing orange-red object in the southwest. The time and direction would seem to indicate misidentification of the Planet Venus, but Merom is also southwest of Sullivan, and several of the Sullivan witnesses described a smaller, reddish object moving away from the larger object, and finally disappearing in the east. While the Sullivan observers may be corroborations of Gilham's sighting, the possibility remains tentative, because the time that Gilham saw the UFO was not given.)

The Merom, Indiana report is one of those that cried out for a full and thorough inquiry by competent investigators. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, this did not occur, either then or later. This is not a Blue Book case, nor am I aware of any investigation by civilian researchers. Does anyone know whether NICAP or APRO ever made any attempt to investigate this potentially important event? What a damn shame if they failed to pursue this matter! All we have are some newspaper articles that demanded follow-up. Something very interesting apparently occurred that night in Indiana, but apparent failure to conduct an all-out inquiry has ensured that what it was will never be known with any certainty. Hopefully insightful commentary by list members would be appreciated.


Indiana Notes on above case:

By Jerry Sievers
State Director
MUFON of Indiana

June, 2004

Seeing this case in the Ohio UFO Notebook brought back memories. A friend and I both called the Sherman hospital in Sullivan, Indiana as part of a NICAP investigation of the Rene Gilham case. We were told by the hospital reprehensive we talk to that patient records were not public property and that they had a small fire in the records room and that the records were not available. Years later, after the fact, we learned that an Air Force officer had been sent to investigate this case for Project Blue Book. We later met this officer on an unrelated case in Illinois. So we were never really able to follow up on this case.

Case ID: 6 edit: 6

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