Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Writing is a Disease Part 3

By David Kearns

Check the title of this post ...oh yes it is, especially when it comes to Antarctica.

Antarctica is tricky in every way; especially when it comes to books, stories, film and web reports. There is a cult following of sorts, surrounding the last continent on earth that no one technically owns. We’re not talking about an island, which is how most school kids think about it. There it is, down there at the bottom of the world. Ice, penguins, happy-happy, dancing feet.

Oh no, we’re talking about a combined land mass of 5.6 million square miles. A world unto itself, different than anywhere else on earth and more remote than central Siberia. There is a wealth of disinformation, intentional and/or mythical, about Antarctica. Resurrected Hitler, flying Nazi UFOs, Hollow Earth theory, that sort of thing. (This image resulted from a Goog search typing in "Operation Highjump UFOs," and I love it, there are many on the web link.)

But then you have to ask yourself, why in heaven’s name did the U.S. Navy send 13 ships including two destroyer escorts, and 23 aircraft, including nine Martin PBMs (technically, bombers rigged for survey missions) three ice breakers, one battle submarine, and all the associated crews and scientists totaling 4,700 men to the continent, when cessation of hostilities had not yet been sounded? Just to please one rear admiral, Richard E. Byrd?

In the information gap, the human mind extrapolates. So to, sloggers intentionally, or duped, clog the web with nonsense to muddy the truth waters. What's real, what's not? So hard to filter when a Google search immediately downloads so much outlandish hokum along with the truth about Antarctica and my father's mission Operation Highjump.

Yet, there is this unsettling crossover between followers of the UFO phenomenon, and Antarctica and the U.S. Navy's involvement. It won't go away. UFO Reporter Billy Cox asked me about it. Did my dad see anything? Was he aware of anything paranormal there?

This past April I asked my father - a former Navy pilot, and writer - about UFOs in general and what the Navy knows about them. I pointed out that some of the UFO stuff, obviously isn't bunk. I asked him to consider the work Firestorm, ammassed by author Ann Druffel, who compiled the papers of atmospheric scientist, Dr. James E. MacDonald, who was also a former navy man. When he heard this name, dad's face grew serious. (MacDonald left)

“There may be something to it,” he allowed of the phenomenon as a stand-alone issue.

Now, does the UFO phenomenon apply to Antarctica? Did my father see anything there? He says no to the latter question, and "not that I am aware of " to the former.

And yet something of unknown origin is attached to the continent.

I have never had more computer viruses attack and whipe me out than when I was writing about Antarctica and the U.S. Navy's involvement in it, particularly asking emailed questions about it, and downloading satellite imagery concerning it. I went through three machines in four years and I consider that a little much.

Despite popular opinions and statements from our military, there are secrets, namely UFOs, and perhaps Antarctica, among many others, they just would rather we not think about or discuss.

Jamming, disinformation, and this sort of thing are part of modern warfare components. I have no proof whatsoever that such tactics were used on me. I do have he very shit's trail of dead computers and a lot of questions. (A more standard image of Operation Highjump, right)

The last computer of mine sits in my garage like a murdered sailor in an alley; hundreds of photos from the Highjump mission, satellite shots, locked inside. If I salvage and import them to my newest machine, am I tempting fate again? Many did make it into the book Where Hell Freezes Over.

On the more prosaic side, something indeed is kept secret there, if only the extent of the wealth in mineral deposits which could destabilize world powers; if only scientific discoveries that would shatter geologic and perhaps religious theory, or perhaps new species of life previously unknown or unforeseen. Who really knows?
Whatever those secret somethings are, there are people in power who, I am convinced, would rather we not talk about all of it, or publish about it. And if we do publish, they would rather we do so quietly, as I have done, but not to my design. There are things I have taken from the operational reports which I include in the book which I am convinced, are problematic to the U. S. Navy, to this day. If only shipboard procedures and operations which remain in effect.

To what extent was pressure exerted on publishers? Again, I have no idea, but I have my suspicions and honest opinion based on years of struggle and whipsawing by the Navy with regard to the recovery effort. I have spoken to one former CIA analyst who told me part of her job was sifting through popular books, magazine articles and even novels, searching for material which could compromise the interests of her agency or the United States. The question becomes, what do you do next, should someone inadvertently let the cat out of the bag? Do you somehow pressure folks, quash sales? The latter seems self evident if money and time is spent in the former activity. You certainly wouldn't wave and smile at the problem, would you?

If the Navy does recover the men, I predict they mean to do so quietly and they will control the story every step of the way. The splash will happen after it is done. They want to protect my father, I believe, doing him honor that is deeply, deeply touching after sixty years. They wish to honor the families, but there are also other details such as the reasons they went there, they wish to remain mum about. I have included what I found in the documents, in the book.

My dad’s plane crash happened roughly twenty four hours prior to President Harry Truman signing the order of cessation of hostilities. A seemingly small detail I included in my work, but one which was later picked up on by explorers such as Lou Sapienza who, along with Lopez's nephews and others, has made collecting the remains a public-relations crusade.

Lou points out in this crusade that this timing of the crash BEFORE Truman's public address, made Lopez, Hendersin, and Williams, technically, casualties of World War II; perhaps the very last American casualties in the conflict. And we know exactly where they are. The only problem is the difficulty in retrieving them. They are also the first three American servicemen to die in Antarctica, lending them all place names on the map.

My father would not publish his own work The Silent Continent about Antarctica until 1955. In it, Operation Highjump and the crash of George 1, was a smaller story imbedded in the larger tableaux of Antarctic exploration.

I got to write the book he wanted to write but couldn’t, because much of the granular details about Operation Highjump, ships movements and so on, were classified as he wrote, and only released between 1956 and 1958. The Navy knew Bill was working on this book, his co-author Beverly Britton was still a Navy Captain but they wouldn't release the material from classified status.

Later burdened with family responsibilities, his work for TIME Inc., Bill tried to amass the work amid all the kids and job responsibilties, but never put all the pieces together. I know this pained him. Friends of his contacted me after I published.
One nice lady in Vero Beach said; “That was the book Bill wanted to write all along.” She had been his admin at TIME in Atlanta, and she remembered he had boxes of documents kept in his office. These were some of the boxes I rummaged through at his home in Stuart, Florida but apparently there had been more.
I want to emphasize that my book barely touches on the UFO phenomenon. It is mentioned in wonderment at all the nonsense that accompanies the subject of Antarctica and Operation Highjump on the web.
If I were a smart Navy counter intell officer, and I didn't want people to remember this operation to Antarctica - this monstrously-expensive, wild hair the Navy got at the end of World War II - I just might love to see it attached with nonsense like flying Nazis. Then, of course, after all the old vets die, why, we just tell everyone it never happened at all.
If you want to read a UFO book that will really bake your noodle, read Firestorm by Ann Druffel!

For my own part, I still have a hard time understanding why there is so much mum silence from the Navy about what they were doing there more than sixty years ago? Why so much push back, on questions about a plane crash that happened there on the second to last day of 1946?
I also freely admit that writing my book was made so much easier by the information age and the internet. It would have taken my father a decade to accumulate all the background information readily available on the web.

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