Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Story of ‘exchange program’ between US, extraterrestrials raises questions

By Steve Hammons

On Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, the last surviving member of a secret 12-person U.S. team that traveled to another planet passed on. His name remains closely held and he reportedly was buried at Arlington National Cemetery accompanied by full military honors. 

At least this is a story now being told about an alleged highly-classified pioneering mission that was the basis of the “away team” portrayed in the 1977 Steven Spielberg movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

According to claims that have emerged over the past several years, a team of 12 carefully-selected and specially-trained U.S. military personnel departed from the Nevada Test Site in July 1965. The mission was a planned 10-year exchange program on the home planet of a friendly race of intelligent extraterrestrial beings with whom U.S. defense and scientific authorities had established contact and communication.

The Americans boarded a large craft belonging to the extraterrestrial race and brought 40 tons of equipment and supplies with them for the planned 10-year stay. Communication was maintained with the team, who thoroughly documented all aspects of their experiences on the foreign planet and with its inhabitants.

The mission actually ended up lasting 13 years and eight members of the team returned in August 1978, again landing at the Nevada Test site. One team member reportedly suffered a fatal medical problem during the nine-month trip to the visitors’ planet and one member allegedly died while on the planet. According to the claims and stories about the mission, two members chose to remain on the planet instead of returning to Earth and the U.S.


It is an interesting story and despite seeming to be quite unbelievable, some observers have wondered if a real-life situation like this was the basis for the story Spielberg told in “Close Encounters.” Or, did the movie result in a fictional hoax launched in recent years for some unknown reason? Which came first?

In 2005, information began to appear on certain Web platforms and email communications that made claims about contact between U.S. officials and an extraterrestrial race dating back to 1947. According to these unsubstantiated assertions, a person with an alleged background with the U.S. defense and intelligence communities (who chose to remain anonymous) began “releasing” information on this subject.

The anonymous source (if he existed) was later joined by other alleged unnamed persons who claimed that the low-key release of this information was authorized at higher levels and part of a larger effort of some kind.

The accounts included not only the familiar 1947 “Roswell incident,” but the even more fantastic tale – that as communication with a friendly extraterrestrial race developed during the 1950s, the idea of an “exchange program” of sorts took shape.

Planning for the exchange program mission was reportedly implemented and word went out within the military community that personnel were wanted for a sensitive astronaut-type project. Scientists, technical specialists and others within the defense community were brought into the program as well, according to these accounts.

A vast amount of complex preparation was implemented to get ready for the mission. Many details of this planning were also put forth by the anonymous sources. The mission was highly compartmented for security reasons and many people knew only limited aspects of the operation, according to these alleged anonymous sources.

Over the years between 2005 and 2015, more information was intermittently presented about various elements of this exchange program and what was learned and discovered in the process.

Many highly-skeptical readers and observers openly doubted these reports and there was widespread belief that it was a hoax of some kind. What was the reason for such a deception? That was never made quite clear by the critics. And, this seems to remain an open question.


One answer that is sometimes put forth is that certain significant discoveries and accomplishments by our scientific, defense and intelligence communities resulted in the need for both secrecy (“operational security”) and preparation or “acclimation” for wider groups of people about these developments.

Education, orientation and “situational awareness” regarding contact with extraterrestrials is something complex and sensitive, and needs to be handled very carefully with safety and security in mind, according to some perspectives. Could information such as the reports about this so-called exchange program be part of that kind of effort?

How about certain movies, TV shows and books (fiction, nonfiction and mixtures of both)? In addition to entertaining us and expanding our viewpoints, do some of them contain elements that move the ball forward for our understanding of actual events and circumstances?

As to the many segments of information released over the past 10 years about the alleged exchange program, some deal with discoveries not directly related to the story of the space voyage and 13-year stay off-world by the U.S. team.

Examples include claims of multiple types of extraterrestrials that are included in the reports as well as visitation to Earth going back into our planet’s ancient past. The subject of ongoing activities on and around Earth by some extraterrestrials is also explored in many of the alleged releases of information related to the exchange program.

Science fiction, science fact, elaborate hoax, complex deception, truthful orientation or some combination? There don’t seem to be clear answers about this fascinating claim of the Americans visiting a faraway planet.

But, it would make a good movie. Maybe we could title the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”


Note about this article:  A related element of "Close Encounters" includes U.S. Army personnel portrayed in movie wearing the patch on their uniforms that seems to be that of the 5th Special Forces Group. Only a relatively small number of people who view the movie probably recognize the patch. That message – that the personnel are Army Special Forces – is not communicated overtly, but in a discreet way in the movie. 

Army Special Forces personnel often are tasked with unconventional and covert missions.

A photo of Steven Spielberg and director-actor Francois Truffaut (who played the character of French researcher “Claude Lacombe”) on the set of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” shows Spielberg wearing a Vietnam-era camouflage Army uniform shirt. The patch on his left shoulder seems to be that of U.S. Army Special Forces ... a vertical sword with three diagonal lightning bolts.