Return to Maury Island


Some of the best UFO stories in my opinion are the ones with the backdrop of the Cold War. When flying saucers and flying discs were not meant to be called ‘UFO’s’ and aliens were merely saucer men or little green men from Mars.

I guess there is always a soft spot in one’s heart for the comic book versions of the flying saucer and the men from space. My father turned me on to some classic comic books that went beyond the stories of Batman and Superman. There were also other magazines that were pulp zines that talked about aliens and flying saucers all the time. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the flying saucer stories were fun and later into the 1970’s and 80’s what was simply a b-movie mythos became a topic of cover-up, conspiracy and film noir intrigue as the aliens were more than just imaginary villains, they were now a product of classified top secret intelligence.

The pulp and comic book fantasy became reality and the mystique became more and more horrifying as we began to hear in the nightly news reports stories of abductions and cattle mutilations.

I remember when I was growing up there were two terrifying stories that always had my attention. The first one was John Keel’s ‘Mothman Prophecies’ where a giant human like flying creature terrorized a small town in the Ohio valley and The Maury Island Incident where two men and a young boy witnessed flying saucers near Washington state in 1947. The story was unbelievable and as a young man I really did not look into the details of the incident. As I grew older I wanted to know more about the case.

It wasn’t until 1996 when I received a copy of the ‘Big Book‘ of strange stories that I was once again reading a graphic novel telling the tale of what happened on the little peninsular island just outside of Vaschon Island, Washington in the American Northwest.

Many people are unaware that the very first reports of unidentified flying objects were in the Pacific Northwest.

Before stories of an alien crash landing in Roswell, New Mexico, before a pilot spotted UFO’s near Mt. Rainier and before the UFO photos were taken near McMinnville, Oregon – there was the Maury Island incident in Puget Sound, Washington.

This was the beginning of the modern UFO era. Those early sightings were centered in Washington state and in Oregon.

When I lived in Utah, I was close enough to Area 51 and the west deserts of Nevada to visit areas where alleged UFO activity was happening. I was also close enough to Roswell and in 1997 I arrived there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Roswell crash.

Little did I know that I would find myself in a situation where I would move closer to the area where the Maury Island incident took place and the famous Trent Farm Saucer was taken.

I also happened to wind up in Bigfoot territory when I moved to the Pacific Northwest and found out that an old colleague of mine in Utah was being sought by the FBI because of the possibility of him being the infamous D.B. Cooper, a folk hero in the Northwest and a historical figure that remains a man of mystery.

When I moved to Portland, Oregon I wanted to first organize a trip to Maury Island. It would take me eight years to organize a group to investigate and by the time I was ready to go to Maury Island I collapsed and was rushed to the hospital and was later diagnosed with cancer.

I waited another 5 years to organize another trip and in June of 2013 I was diagnosed again with cancer.

A year later, I decided that I was going to investigate the Maury Island case regardless of my health condition. The trip and the investigation was a success and even though I sprained my ankle during the investigation and the Vaschon paramedics had to rush me to South Harbor Hospital in Seattle I can say that I got what I was looking for and at the 15th, annual McMinnville UFO festival I am here to give my report to a national audience that I hope has the same interest as I do in the case.

On June 21st, 1947, harbor patrolman Harold Dahl was cruising in a boat near Maury Island in Puget Sound, Washington. Dahl had his 15 year old son and his dog along as they salvaged logs on that warm summer day.

Off in the distance, they spotted what they said were six round objects that resembled flying doughnuts. One of the objects was flying erratically and started descending towards the boat. Dahl said it began spinning and emitting bits of something that looked like lava or white hot metal. The slag hit the boat, breaking a worker’s arm and killing the dog.

Dahl used the ship-to-shore radio, but there was too much interference to send an SOS. The panicked harbor patrolman had the presence of mind to snap a few photos as he steered towards shore on Maury Island. He took his son to a Tacoma hospital, to have the boy’s burns treated. He later told his employer Fred Crisman, that he thought the metal ejecta had showered down from an alien space craft.

Later, Dahl claimed that he had been visited by what he described as a stereotypical man in black – or MIB. The man wore a black suit and drove a brand new Black Buick sedan. The MIB treated Dahl to breakfast at a waterfront cafe in Tacoma. While Dahl sipped his coffee, the mysterious visitor revealed that he also had witnessed the six UFOs. He told Dahl that if he loved his family he would keep his mouth shut about the whole affair.

The one person Dahl confided in was Fred Crisman, who was eager to see photographic evidence from the pictures Dahl said he had taken. It turned out, though, that the camera film was useless because the negatives were fogged. Crisman decided to check it out in person. He went to Maury Island and claimed to have seen metal slag strewn all over the ground. While he was surveying the area, a similar doughnut shaped object appeared out of the clouds. It was there, he said, right in front of him. In that moment, Fred Crisman became a firm believer in Dahl’s story.

Later that summer, a team from the U.S. Air Force sent two investigators who visited Maury Island and collected samples of debris. They carried the material with them for a return flight to San Francisco in a B-25 aircraft, but never made it. On August first, 1947, the plane crashed near Kelso, Washington, killing the crew onboard.

It’s a story partly gleaned from declassified FBI documents – a conspiracy investigation that the government wanted to hush up. Then came the mysterious military plane crash. What material was on board that B-25?

Whatever it was, it apparently was linked to what Harold Dahl claimed to have seen in the sky over Maury Island, as the first wave of UFO sightings began in the Pacific Northwest.

I remember that when I was in Roswell, New Mexico in 1997 I was making some connections to what happened with Dahl and Crisman and what Kenneth Arnold reported in 1947 while flying over Mt. Rainer. I also spoke with Stanton Friedman in Roswell about Maury Island and he discouraged me from investigating the case because he said it was a hoax.

In 2007, it was reported that a prospector hiking in the area of Rose Valley near the ravine in a forested area of Kelso found wreckage of the missing B-25. It was the first time I saw mainstream news reports speaking about a secret military plane crashes and most importantly an aircraft that carried a classified cargo—namely parts of a flying disc.

Before I planned my first outing in Washington, I wanted to verify that what I was hearing was true. After I placed a call into the local news agency I was told that the wreckage in question was tied to a strange UFO story form 1947.

I thought, if this is a hoax then why is this place and wreckage find so important?

It was then that I realized that the story may have been called a hoax and that maybe Crisman and Dahl were forced to recant their story. I then wondered why so many people are hoping that the Maury Island story would go away when the proof of it all can be found in wooded area outside of Kelso, Washington.

I did some dot connecting and perhaps what we are dealing with is a story that if it was given any credence would be devastating for our military and our government, especially if the military pilots died carrying something that could be far more dangerous to national security if revealed.

As Weird U.S. writes in ‘The Maury Island Incident’:

Dahl and Crisman sent a package to publisher Ray Palmer in Chicago. (A year or two later, Palmer founded Fate magazine.) The package contained a box of metal fragments and statements about the strange happenings on the 21st and 22nd of July. A few weeks later, Palmer contacted Kenneth Arnold (see Flying Saucers at Mount Rainier), who had begun investigating UFOs.

Arnold arrived in Tacoma in late July with airline pilot E.J. Smith. The two of them met with Dahl and Crisman, examined Dahl’s boat, and conducted interviews. Dahl and Crisman did not produce the pictures, however. Dahl also told Arnold that his son had disappeared. (Dahl said later that his son was found waiting tables in Montana, but he could not remember how he got there.) On the afternoon of July 31, Captain Lee Davidson and First Lieutenant Frank Brown of the U.S. Army Air Force flew up to Tacoma from Hamilton Field, California.

In addition to being pilots, the two men were intelligence specialists. They met with Arnold, Smith, and Crisman for several hours. One of the officers said that he thought there might have been “something” to the story, but they had to leave around midnight. They were in a hurry to be at Hamilton Field on August 1, the day when the Air Force was to split from the Army. The two officers flew out of McChord Air Field around two o’clock in the morning on a B-25 bomber, with a crew of two other men. About twenty minutes later, the airplane crashed near Centralia, Washington. The two enlisted men managed to parachute to safety, but Davidson and Brown were killed, making them the Air Force’s first casualties.

Dahl and Crisman said that the AF officers took some of the strange metal onboard. People thought they heard anti-aircraft guns shoot the plane down. The local newspapers and FBI received phone calls stating that the plane was shot down to cover up the information Brown and Davidson had found. Because of the loss of life, the Air Force broadened its investigation and the FBI launched their own.

The Air Force investigators determined that the crash had been a terrible accident. One of the engines caught fire and the men to began bailing out. Before Brown and Davidson could jump out, a wing broke and struck the tail section, which also broke off. The plane went into a spin, trapping the men inside.

Another Air Force investigator spoke with Dahl and Crisman and visited their boat. He stated that the damage he saw did not match the damage the two sailors described. There were no piles of metal on Maury Island, and the existing samples looked like slag from a metal smelter. His conclusion matched that of the FBI investigator: that Dahl and Crisman had faked the incident to gain publicity for a magazine article.

The FBI warned Dahl and Crisman that their hoax had not succeeded and that if they dropped the matter, the government would not prosecute the two men for the fraud, which had resulted in the deaths of the two officers.

You would think that a hoax which resulted in the deaths of two officers would be a prosecutable crime. Both men, however, were never charged in the deaths which puts into question the validity of the hoax story.

It is also interesting to note that Fred Lee Crisman, one of the so-called hoaxers in the Maury Island case, had connections to a well-known and notorious name in our history, that name is Clay Shaw.

Clay Shaw was arrested and tried for complicity in the murder of John F. Kennedy, acquitted on March 1, 1969 by a grand jury.

If we dig into some interesting history we find that Clay Shaw was a spy for the OSS, the United States spy agency that preceeded the CIA. Shaw’s spy business was also accompanied with his ties to Nazi POW’s and ‘Operation Paperclip’ where the United States brought over from Germany Nazi scientists that were helping the war effort by providing information about rocketry and in some conspiracy circles secret saucer technology that was allegedly being tested by the Nazis.

Werner Von Braun first met Clay Shaw in 1945 when he, Walter Dornberger – soon to become the chairman of Bell Helicopter, and about 150 other Nazi rocket scientists abandoned Peenemünde and traveled south to join the American forces in Germany close to the French border.

As Alex Constantine wrote in ‘Project Paperclip and the Kennedy Assassination’:

Von Braun first met Clay Shaw in 1945 when he, Walter Dornberger [soon to become the chairman of Bell Helicopter] and about 150 other Nazi rocket scientists abandoned Peneemunde and traveled south to join the American forces in Germany close to the French border. The Nazis were brought to the Deputy Chief of Staff’s headquarters where major Clay Shaw maintained their relationship over the years through their mutual connection with the Defense Industrial Security Command, or D.I.S.C., an operational arm of the counterespionage division of the FBI… When Shaw learned he was a suspect in the Garrison investigation, he immediately phoned one Fred Lee Crisman, a veteran of Operation Paperclip and a covert contract “security” specialist for aerospace firms.

Did Crisman hold a secret about classified Nazi saucer technology and was he trying to get the word out about our alliance with Nazi scientists and their so called alien technology?

If it was reported that the pilots that died in B-25 were carrying Nazi tech, wouldn’t that have been a scandal so great that it would shake the nation two years after World War II?

At first, Dahl and Crisman went along with the whole hoax claim. They made statements that the story was a fake and simply refused to give interviews on the matter. But a few years later in the January 1950 issue of Fate magazine, Crisman stated that the incident had happened, and Kenneth Arnold included Maury Island in his 1952 book ‘The Coming of the Saucers‘.

As MUFON notes:

Today, most people believe that Crisman and Dahl faked the incident, perpetuating a hoax that got out of control. Other people believe that the U.S. Government was behind a conspiracy that may have involved anything from UFOs to dumping nuclear waste in Puget Sound.

Perhaps the key to the whole UFO mystery goes far beyond that of Roswell and begins with shady relationships with Nazis, the aerospace industry and the very real possibility that stealth Nazi aircraft that was financed by prominent American investors was being seen in the skies during and after World War II.

The mystery of Maury Island remains just that, a mystery. And as outrageous as it may sound, we can’t erase it from UFO history just because the story has a lot of inconvenient inconsistencies.