Monday, August 31, 2009

UFO FYI: 1959, Private Gerry Irwin


The story of Private Gerry Irwin reads like something from Rod Sterling's Twilight Zone:

Witness if you will, Private First Class Gerry Irwin. Private Irwin has been on leave in Nampa, Idaho and is on his way back to his barracks at Fort Bliss, Texas. The city that he just left is Cedar City, Utah, but in just a few moments he will reach a place six miles down Route 14, a place that's six miles into.... The Twilight Zone...

Gerry Irwin was a Nike missile technician at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. On February 28, 1959, he was driving back from Nampa, Idaho, where he had been on leave. At Cedar City, Utah, he turned southeast on Route 14. About six miles from the turnoff, he spotted a glowing object that seemed to come to earth in a field just off the road. Thinking he had seen an airplane crash, or at least a forced landing, he stopped to see if he could give assistance. He wrote a note and placed it on the steering wheel of his car:

Have gone to investigate possible plane crash. Please call law enforcement officers.

Then, he wrote STOP in large letters on the side of his car.

About thirty minutes later, a fish and game inspector stopped. He took the note to the Cedar City Sheriff's Office, and Sheriff Otto Pfief gathered a party of volunteers and returned to the site. When they searched, they found no trace of a plane crash, but they found Private Gerry Irwin unconscious in the field. Ninety minutes had passed since he had first seen the glowing object. Irwin was taken to the hospital in Cedar City, where a Dr. Broadbent could find nothing physically wrong with him. Irwin was merely asleep, and could not be awakened! Dr. Broadbent could find no explanation for this, so his diagnosis was "hysteria", meaning that his condition could not be attributed to any organic disease.

When Private Irwin eventually awoke, he felt perfectly well, but he was mystified by the glowing object he had seen. He was also confused by the fact that his jacket was missing. The sheriff's search party stated that he was not wearing it when they found him.

Irwin was flown back to Fort Bliss and placed under observation at William Beaumont Army Hospital for several days, after which he was released as fit to return to duty.

The episode was not over yet, though. Some days later, Irwin fainted on base, and a few days after that he fainted while in the city of El Paso. He was taken to Southwest General Hospital where he was found once again to be asleep and unwakeable. About twenty four hours later, he awoke asking, "Were there any survivors?" He behaved as if he had lost all memory of the period between seeing the object on February 28th in Utah, and waking up on March 16th in El Paso. Once again, he was taken to William Beaumont Army Hospital, where he was placed under observation by psychiatrists. After one month, extensive testing could find nothing wrong with him, so he was released on April 17.

The next day, Irwin was seized by a powerful impulse that made him take a bus from El Paso to Cedar City, arriving on April 19. He then walked back to the field in which the Sheriff's party had found him. He found his jacket on a bush. There was a pencil stuck in one of its buttonholes with a piece of paper wound tightly around it. Irwin burned the paper and then seemed to come out of some kind of trance. He could not recall the path back to the road or why he had come there. He made his way back to Cedar City and turned himself in to Sheriff Otto Pfief, who told him about the first incident.

Once again Irwin returned to Fort Bliss and was given psychological examinations. On July 10, he again entered William Beaumont Army Hospital. He was discharged again, but on August 1 he failed to report for duty, and one month later he was listed as a deserter.

From Weird 9

The Gerry Irwin story is full of unanswered questions. It was never investigated properly. Irwin had been on leave in Nampa, Idaho. Had he suffered some traumatic event while on leave that might have triggered a dissociative reaction? Did his family live in Nampa, Idaho? Wherever they lived, have they ever been located and contacted? It's been almost thirty-nine years. Has anyone tried to track down Irwin? The Army doesn't usually let "deserters" just walk away. Did they ever locate him?

The basic story of Gerry Irwin comes from Jim & Coral Lorenzen of the Aerial Phenomona Research Organization (APRO), who contacted Irwin after he returned to Fort Bliss the last time.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

One of the strangest, most baffling cases in UFO folklore is the story of one Private First Class Gerry Irwin. On March 2, 1959, he awoke in Cedar City Hospital, and was completely unaware of how he got there. Irwin had been unconscious for twenty-three hours, and during that time was mumbling something about a "jacket on the bush." As he regained consciousness, the first thing he said was "Were there any survivors?" The strange tale of Gerry Irwin came to my attention from the notes of James Lorenzen, who is the esteemed director of the APRO group. The facts will leave one puzzled, and if there was any type of investigation by the Armed Forces, those details remain hidden to this day.

Irwin's story began on February 28, 1959, as he was driving from Nampa, Idaho back to Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas, where he was a Nike missile technician. Returning from a leave of absence, he reached Cedar City, Utah, and turned southeast on Route 14 when he saw an unusual sight. The landscape was brilliantly lit as he observed a glowing object, which crossed the sky from right to left in front of him. Startled, he left his car to get a better view, and watched the strange craft continue until it was blocked from his sight by a ridge. His first thoughts were that a large airplane was making a forced landing. Wanting to render aid if possible, Irwin quickly wrote a note, left it on his car, and headed in the direction of the supposed crash. The note said, "HAVE GONE TO INVESTIGATE POSSIBLE PLANE CRASH. PLEASE CALL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS." He attached the note to his steering wheel, and using shoe polish, wrote STOP on the side of his car.

About 30 minutes later, a Fish and Game Inspector stopped at the sight of Irwin's note. He immediately took the note to the Cedar City Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Otto Pfief quickly organized a search party, and headed for the sight. Approximately an hour later, Irwin was found unconscious in the area, with no sign of a plane crash. Upon arriving at the hospital, he was examined by Dr. Broadbent, who found that although Irwin's temperature and respiration were normal, he could not be awakened. Broadbent's initial diagnosis was "hysteria." When the frightened Irwin did come to, he felt fine, but was still puzzled by the strange object he had seen. He also was at a loss as to where his jacket was, it not being on him when found by searchers.

Irwin was flown back to Ft. Bliss, and put under observation at William Beaumont Hospital for four days. He returned to duty afterward, though his security clearance was withdrawn. A couple of days later, while walking at the base, he fainted. He recovered almost immediately, however. On March 15, he fainted again on an El Paso street, and was taken to Southwest General Hospital. His condition at this time was very similar to his state at Cedar City. Irwin awoke at 2:00 A.M. on Monday, and asked, "Were there any survivors?" He thought that it was February 28 again, and was shocked to be told it was some two weeks later. He was again taken to William Beaumont Hospital, and placed under observation in the psychiatric ward. After a month's stay, he was released, and deemed "normal" by Captain Valentine.

The very next day, seemingly without provocation, the Private left the fort without leave, caught a bus in El Paso, and arrived in Cedar City on Sunday afternoon, April 19. Returning to the scene of his strange encounter, he headed straight to an area where he found his missing jacket. There was a pencil in a buttonhole with a piece of paper tightly wrapped around it. He took the paper and burned it, and seemingly came out of his trance. Irwin had trouble finding his way back to his car, and turned himself in to Sheriff Pfief, who refreshed his memory of his first incident. Jim and Coral Lorenzen, hearing of the strange case, contacted Irwin after he returned to Fort Bliss. He underwent another psychiatric examination, with the same results as the first. His case was reviewed by the Inspector General, who ordered a more complete examination. On July 10, Irwin again entered Beaumont Hospital. After being released, he did not report for duty on August 1. A month later, he was listed as AWOL. He has never been seen again.

B J Booth

No comments: