Narrative of UFO Events at Minot AFB
on 24 October 1968
After the B-52 passed by N-7 on its way to the base, Jablonski and Adams went on patrol, while Isley and O’Connor completed their maintenance tasks in the Launch Support Building, secured the site, and headed back to base. At around 5:00 a.m., as they were driving east past the Oscar-7 Launch Facility, O’Connor noticed the overhead security lights were turned on with nobody present on the site.
As they approached, he also noticed that the navy-style hatch (weather cover) protecting the controls for the personnel access to the missile silo was standing open. O’Connor recalls,
O’CONNOR: They all left and then I remember getting in the truck and we were going out the gate, the site was all secured again, we were going back and we came up the road by Oscar-7. I saw the light on the missile site, which they can turn on from the capsule, they’ll do that for you. . . . But anyway, then the support building cover was open, the hatch that opened over the top of the combinations for the access—
INTERVIEWER: Silo access?
O’CONNOR: Yeah, for the B-Plug that was open and I thought it very strange and—
INTERVIEWER: The big one?
O’CONNOR: No, the small one, that was open and the SAT team was just arriving at the site, coming up the road as we were going by, so that looked very out of place to me, and I didn’t stop or anything because we had already been through a lot of stuff. But I don’t know why that had happened. I kind of assumed that somebody went in there that wasn’t authorized and that’s why they were coming to check it.
At 4:49, shortly after the B-52 had landed, both Outer-zone (OZ) and Inner-zone (IZ) security alarms at O-7 sounded in the Oscar-Launch Control Center. It was common for the sensitive OZ perimeter alarm system to be activated by animal activity, and even snow accumulations altering the topography. However, the triggering mechanisms for the IZ alarms were protected from the local environment, and both alarm zones activating at the same time was an exceptional situation. Oscar-Flight Security Controller, SSgt. Smith, immediately dispatched his Security Alert Team of A1C Donald Bajgiar and A1C Vennedall to secure the site. By coincidence, the team arrived at O-7 just as O’Connor and Isley were driving past on their way back to the base.
SMITH: The key thing if I remember correctly was that the lock was undone on the gate… . And, from what I understand they could see that it was open, and so we went to heightened alert at that point, now we know somebody was on the site. We assume that somebody is there, and we get our weapons charged and ready to go, now our level of security goes up… . But I remember the standard procedures: you just go through the checklist, and try to find if there are people there, and we searched that thing for a long time because we knew that this was out of the ordinary… . So we reported, they do their whole process and of course don’t find anything… . We were pretty sure Stanboard wasn’t out. With all the things going on we doubted [they] would try to pull something like that. So we were pretty sure that if in fact somebody was on that site, they were dangerous and we had to be very careful, or it was something happening related to what we saw that was going on.
Col. Werlich reported in the comment section of the Basic Reporting Data:
AT 0949 ZULU (0449CDT) OSCAR 7 SITE’S INNER AND OUTER ALARMS SOUNDED AT WING SECURITY CONTROL. OSCAR 7 IS 10 MILES NORTH AND ELEVEN AND ONE HALF MILES EAST OF NOVEMBER 7. A SECURITY ALERT TEAM WAS DISPATCHED AND FOUND THE PADLOCK TO THE CHAINLINK FENCE OPEN AND THE FENCE GATE STANDING OPEN. THIS SET OFF THE OUTER ALARM. INSIDE THE COMPLEX, A HORIZONTAL DOOR HAD BEEN UNSECURED AND LEFT OPEN AND THE COMBINATION LOCK DIAL HAD BEEN TURNED OFF ITS SETTING THUS TRIGGERING THE INNER ALARM. NO TRACKS, PRINTS OR IMPRESSIONS WERE FOUND.
While Bajgiar and Vennedall found no additional evidence of intruders, later that day Smith met another team sent out by the missile Wing Security Control to conduct a further investigation of the O-7 break-in.
SMITH: [I] went out and met an officer on one of the sites. I remember he was a Lieutenant and he was investigating the incident and wanted to find out what happened and how—of course I was aware of what had gone down as far as the site being open and that kind of thing.
INTERVIEWER: The same site that had the alarms?
SMITH: Yes, the team had gone to check it out. And he indicated that he had found a low-level type of radiation on the site, and so I was concerned about that because it was not where the missile was, but was off to the support part of the site—it’s a graveled area.
INTERVIEWER: Within the perimeter fence?
SMITH: Yes. It was inside the perimeter fence and was somewhat elevated on the actual sites for drainage, a huge area for parking. And that’s where he said he found the radiation. He said it was a large circular pattern of radiation. He did indicate that.
In a Memo of a 31 October conversation with Blue Book staff, Werlich seems to be suggesting that the break-in was the result of a disgruntled missile security policeman.
This is a sensitive subject. Anybody that could unlock the padlock wouldn’t be a prankster from the farm areas. There are keys for these padlocks and it’s hard to judge how many keys have been made. It looks like a Navy hatch and underneath is the combination lock. Pranksters just couldn’t go and open it. The person, if it was a person, would have to know how to open it. We have had about three occurrences of this in the last two or three years doing this. All three of these cases were traced back to AP’s [Air Police]. Guys who had been in the service on these areas. It is not a serious offence. 99 chances out of 100, that if a person, a human being, accomplished this thing then it had to be somebody who had a key to the padlock. Lt Marano told Col Werlich that we have no evidence though that the UFO events did this. Col Werlich agreed but said that a Lieutenant examined the area the next day and could find no evidence of cars, tire tracks, footprints, etc. Col. Werlich said he didn’t know if an examination investigation was going on or not but felt they probably were looking into it. Lt. Marano asked him to get the results of their investigation.
In recent interviews, a couple of the witnesses seem to recall being informed that as many as three different Launch Facilities experienced intrusion alarms, yet no evidence of a physical entry was found. 5th Bomb Wing intelligence officer Richard Clark recalls:
CLARK: I don’t know how accurate it is, and I can’t remember who I heard it from, but it had to be somebody in the wing. I heard that they sent a crew out to one of the missile silos after the alarms went off and something happened to the crew, the motor stopped, the lights went off—I cannot remember. I don’t even remember which three silos went off.
INTERVIEWER: Three silos?
CLARK: Three separate silos went off and they ended up, what I did hear was that they could not find anything.
INTERVIEWER: Exterior, interior alarms?
CLARK: Yes, interior alarms. But they didn’t find anything. Nobody could have been in there.
B-52 Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) Lt. Thomas Goduto also recalled talk of several alarms:
GODUTO: It could have been a discussion later where they said that there were possibly three intrusion alarms that had gone off on the missile sites, the unmanned sites where the silos are. But this would have been right at this time when things were occurring. And of course my thinking is they’re after nuclear material. What I understood was that the intrusion alarms went off and security reaction teams responded but they found no locks, or no entries there.
Another curious event that is unsupported by other documentation or testimony was noted by the missile Wing Security Controller in his summary of events:
SSgt Bond the FSC at Nov Flt stated that the object which looked to him as the sun, came near the handred [hardened] antenna at N-1. It then moved to the right and he sent the SAT out to check and see what it was. The object then moved about one mile away with the SAT following. They came within ½ mile from where it appeared to be landing. When it reached surface the lights became dimmer and finally went out. After this they could see nothing.
There is no express time for this occurrence, and neither Bond or his Security Alert Team reported anything at all comparable to this, nor have any memory of this particular event. In reference to the quote, Bond recently asserted:
BOND: It was not anywhere near November-1. I was at November-1. It might have been at another site that they were talking about. In fact, if it had been that close to my LCF my combat crew would have been going bananas! It wasn’t anywhere near the antenna, didn’t come near my site, my LCF. Just didn’t happen.”