By T. L. Keller
Burroughs, John Airman 1stClass, USAF, who accompanied Penniston to the site of the landed craft on the first field investigation.
Conrad, Theodore Colonel, USAF, and base commander of both RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters
Englund, Bruce Lieutenant, USAF, direct report and confidant of Colonel Conrad and who accompanied Halt on the second field investigation.
Halt, Charles I. Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, deputy base commander of both RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters. Lead the field investigation on the third night.
lightall heavy-duty, lighting equipment used to provide intense lighting for nighttime aircraft maintenance. Powered by gasoline.
Nevels, Monroe Staff Sergeant, USAF, specialist in disaster preparedness, nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC), aircraft accidents and photography. Accompanied Halt on the second field investigation.
Penniston, Jim Staff Sergeant, USAF, in charge of a Security Response Team at RAF Bentwaters, England. Lead the first field investigation and witnessed the landed craft on the third night.
“Starlight Scope” Night vision equipment that detects low-level heat radiation.
In the early morning hours of December 26 and 28, 1980, there was a series of reported sightings of unexplained, multi-colored lights near Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk County, England. The events occurred just outside RAF Woodbridge which was used at that time by the US Air Force (USAF). Some USAF personnel claimed to have observed what they described as a “UFO landing.” Then Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston along with Airman 1st Class John Burroughs encountered what Penniston called a “mechanical craft of unknown origin.” The Rendlesham Forest incident has become known as “Britain’s Roswell.”
In Part 1 of this series, we followed Staff Sergeant Penniston and Airman 1stClass John Burroughs into the Rendlesham Forest toward what they perceived to be a crashed aircraft. Instead, they were confronted by an equilateral, triangular craft about 10 feet on each side and with a “dorsal fin” that was about nine feet off the ground. It was floating two feet above the surface with no apparent landing gear and was completely silent. Under its glassy black surface were moving, colored lights, and it had a series of symbols on its left front side. As we learned, Penniston touched the symbols on the craft with unexpected results.
The events summarized below are accounted for in a blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute narrative in Jim Penniston and Gary Osborn’s 2019 book, The Rendlesham Enigma. This is a very detailed and comprehensive memoir of some 700 or so pages. Please refer to Part 1 of this series in the October 2019 issue of The MUFON Journal before proceeding with Part 2.
More Lights Observed (~ 2 a.m. December 27)
As a result of the earlier events, Airman Lori Ann Buoen was assigned to monitor any further activity at the East Gate guard shack (which was normally unguarded). Looking north across the unlighted runway she observed a “red/orange, fiery, sphere of light,” which also had an “eerie blue/white corona.” 2 The light was just north of the Woodbridge runway and above the tree line. The light slowly descended and went behind the tree line and disappeared. She immediately reported the sighting. Apparently, 2ndLieutenant Bonnie Tamplin and Master Sergeant Bobby Ball were sent out to investigate. Having heard the prior radio traffic, Tamplin reported, “I can’t see anything.” Buoen later claimed that, “She was so scared, and this was our Lieutenant!” It was reported that her vehicle stalled and died. Claims are that Tamplin’s vehicle was struck by light beams and that a small, blue orb passed through into her vehicle and that she ran from the scene leaving her weapon. 3 For reasons that can only be presumed, the security team on December 27 had not been informed of the what was seen at the landing site by Penniston and Burroughs earlier. One reason would be that upon their debriefing, the base commander, Colonel Theodore Conrad, informally classified their report as ”top secret.”
“Special Mission” (~ 3 p.m. December 27)
In the afternoon, there was an unexpected knock at the door of Staff Sergeant Monroe Nevels (see sidebar). His visitor, 2ndLieutenant Bruce Englund, of Security Police, advised Nevels that he and Englund were ordered by Colonel Conrad to a top secret “special mission.” Nevels was then briefed about the previous activities in Rendlesham Forest. Englund explained that only Nevels had the confidence of Conrad to perform an unbiased evaluation of what had taken place two nights before with Penniston and Burroughs. Nevels at the direction of Englund drove to the end of a logging road, parked the vehicle and walked to the landing site. As they made their way to the landing site, a significant amount of static electricity around them. Nevels states that Englund pointed out abrasions to the pine trees surrounding the landing site, the scorch marks on the trees and the three “landing pod” impressions in the ground that were in a perfect equilateral triangle. They had been out in the forest for about four hours, and as they drove along a logging road, Nevels claimed that he had an unnerving sight. He could see a bright light object in the trees that was pulsating. Using night vision goggles (sometimes called a Starlight Scope; see sidebar), Nevels saw what looked like a pulsating “eyeball” that was blinking. Like an American football, it was oval in shape, pulsating, while getting bigger and then smaller. It appeared to have a black “pupil.” Nevels writes that, “It was like the object was observing us . . . waiting.” They stopped the vehicle, got out and immediately felt the same heavy electrostatic effect. When they moved toward the “eyeball,” it became brighter. When they retreated, it dimmed. When they reentered their vehicle, it became even dimmer. Not surprisingly, Nevels states that, “Lt. Englund seemed upset and a little anxious to leave. I was scared, too, as I didn’t know what we were looking at, but I wanted to be sure of what I was to report.” They immediately departed to the Officer’s Club at RAF Woodbridge to report to Colonel Conrad.
“It’s Back” (Evening, December 27)
Arriving at the Officer’s Club, Englund and Nevels were met by the Maître D’ who was awaiting their arrival and went inside where an officers’ Christmas party was in full swing. Conrad came out for a private conversation. Conrad asked Nevels if it was worth of a further investigation and Nevels concurred that it was. Conrad immediately escorted them into a private room where approximately 12 officers were seated at a conference table. According to Nevels, Colonel Conrad, Colonel Gordon Williams (the Wing Commander), Major Zickler (Security) and Lt. Col. Halt were present plus other officers. From the text, it would appear that all of those present at the meeting, except for Nevels, were fully aware of what had transpired beginning on the night of 25/26 December. Nevels was there to simply provide an unbiased and reasoned estimate of the situation. Halt claimed that the meeting lasted for about 10 minutes with Englund and Nevels. Each organization’s representative left to collect their equipment and proceed to the East Gate. According to Georgina Bruni’s book:
“Colonel Conrad then instructed Halt to assemble a group of personnel and investigate with the aim of debunkingthe saga once and for all. Apparently, the officers felt it was now getting out of control. 5 [emphasis added]
The following is from Jim Penniston and John Burroughs with Nick Pope as the principle author for the book, Encounter In Rendlesham Forest:
“Halt conferred with Conrad over what to do. It was clear that one of them would have to take charge of the situation and go out into the forest. It was Conrad’s decision to take, as the senior officer. Perhaps because he felt it was important for him to present the awards [at the Christmas party as its host], perhaps because he was skeptical that there was any substance to the UFO sightings, or perhaps because as the old military saying goes, “rank has its privileges”, Conrad made the decision: he would remain at the social function. Halt would go out into the cold December night, into the forest, and investigate these latest UFO sightings. As he walked out of the building, he had no idea that he would be walking into history.” 6
It is pointed out that Nick Pope’s sense is that: “Halt’s mindset was a mixture of frustration, determination and curiosity . . . However, Col. Halt had often expressed his skepticism . . .“ Further reading in this book reveals this fact based upon Halt’s own words recorded on a mini-cassette recorder during the actual field investigation.
At the Landing Site (~ 2 a.m. December 28)
After meeting at the logging road, Lt. Colonel Halt assembled his five-man investigation team including Master Sergeant Ball, Lt. Englund, Staff Sergeant Nevels and Sergeant Bustinza. Halt was carrying his mini-cassette recorder and night vision device, Englund his Starlight Scope and Nevels carried a Geiger counter. All carried mobile radio communication gear. According to Halt, the principle officers were listening in on all of the radio transmissions. Allegedly, Englund also carried a concealed Glock rifle, perhaps a reflection of his fear based upon what he and Nevels had seen earlier. Also, at the end of the logging road, there were 25 or so personnel already gathered with lightalls (lighting equipment; see sidebar) and a number of vehicles. The lightalls were inoperative, and it was assumed that their gasoline tanks were empty (!). Halt ordered that the lightalls should be refueled at the base and returned. Lt. Englund led the way to the landing site in the woods (even though Halt was assigned to investigate the anomalous lights and not the landing site. The assumption here is that Halt had not previously visited the site). Halt then tried his night vision goggles and could see a dull glow in the woods near the landing site.
Arriving at the landing site, Englund pointed out the three, “landing pod” impressions on the ground and the abrasions and scorch marks on the trees. Nevels was ordered to obtain Geiger counter readings on the three impressions, at the center of the triangle and the abrasions on the trees. Halt repeated the readings, which would be meaningless for the uninformed, into his mini-recorder for later analysis. The highest readings were at the center of the three circular depressions. Samples of the soil and sap from the trees were collected and photos were taken. Radiation was discovered at the center of the abrasions on the trees. Halt, using his night vision goggles, picked up residual heat coming from the abrasions on the trees. While this was happening, they received word that for the second time the lightalls were inoperative. Something odd was apparent at that point as the lightalls were tested after the second refueling. Additionally, something seemed to have mysteriously affected the vehicles and the radios as well.
In the Farmers’ Fields
At about that time, there were sudden noises coming from the woods and apparently from the barnyard of a nearby farm. There were dogs and cows in the barnyard, but also Muntjac deer and other creatures, many giving out cries of distress and alarm. The static in the air had returned. In Nevels own words, “What was it they saw, or sensed, that frightened them like that?” Looking up, Englund apparently saw the same red light that appeared earlier and was about 200 meters away near a farmhouse. Halt said it was a reddish/orange color and Nevels added that it had a rainbow of colors radiating like a corona and that, “. . . it was dripping something. The light I saw was more like heat. It appeared to be so hot that sparks were flying off it in the colors of the rainbow . . .” This was similar to Airman Buoen’s description from the night before: “red/orange, fiery, sphere of light that had a blue/white corona.” Halt said it was the size of a car. Then the light just “winked out.” After a break in the mini-cassette recording, Englund then said, “It’s back again.” The team then moved back to the clearing which was a farmer’s field. At that point, Halt noticed that the Geiger counter needle moved to a stronger reading. The object then moved back to the tree line as if “playing games” with the team and was zigzagging through the trees. Halt said it was under intelligent control obviously avoiding the trees. Still dripping something, the oval object continued to “blink” like an eye with a black pupil. Back at the staging point, Bustinza and his team attempted to deploy the lightalls, and he is quoted as saying:
“In the process of trying to check the lightalls, everything was malfunctioning. When we got to “Point A’ . . . we had trouble turning the lightalls ‘on.’ Our truck wouldn’t run either. It was kind of like all the energy had been drainedout of both lightall units.” 9 [emphasis added]
At one point they just abandoned the lightalls and concentrated on locating the lighted object. According to Bustinza:
“ . . . and the commotion started. People started getting excited, some points people were running at other point [sic]. I recall a couple of airmen that actually cried and said that they were scared, never going back to the point, and I calmed a couple of them down and returned them back to the checkpoint.” 10
Halt’s team moved back inside the tree line where the lighted object was last seen. The forest creatures were calm at that point, and Halt could then see a “strange flashing red light ahead.” Bustinza’s patrol was also searching for the light and saw a “yellow mist about 2-or-3 feet off the ground. It was like a dew, but it was yellow . . . like nothing I’ve ever seen before.” 9 Bustinza’s patrol, at that point was near Halt’s team. Then Halt is quoted as saying: 11
HALT: “It’s coming this way. It is definitely coming this way.
BALL: “Pieces are shooting off . . .
HALT: “Pieces of it are shooting off . . . There is no doubt about it. This is weird!”
Then Halt describes what he can see:
HALT: “OK, We’re looking at the thing; we’re probably about two to three hundred yards away. It looks like an eye winking at you, winking. It’s still moving from side to side, and when you put the Starscope on it, it, it sort of has a hollow center right? A d-dark center, it’s . . . it’s . . .”
ENGLUND: “It’s like a pupil . . .”
HALT: “Yeah, it’s a bit like a pupil of an eye looking at you, winking. And the flash is so bright to the Starscope, that uh, it almost burns your eye.” 12
The lighted object then left the forest and proceeded back to the farmer’s field.
NEVELS: ‘The object then moved back into the field . . . As we stood behind the fence that led into the field in front of us, we then saw what looked like a large, oval yellowish object hovering low in the air, with also yellowish-blue and red colors, as though it might be a very hot metal or steel burning at very high temperatures. . . . [It] had pieces dripping from it or had pieces discharging away from it. . . . It appeared to be motionless and still, as if it were recharging itself. . . . What we were observing made absolutely no sense at all.” [emphasis added]
The team then moved past the farmhouse, across a road into a second farmer’s ploughed field.
NEVELS: “After a quick search, I then looked up and noticed three grayish-lighted disk-like objects overhead, about a thousand feet off the ground. It looked as if our activity was being observed. I then pointed out to Col. Halt they were in the sky.”
HALT: “We’ve passed the farmer’s house and are crossing the next field, and now we have multiple sightings of up to five lights with a similar shape and all, but they seem to be steady now rather than pulsating glow with a red flash.”
In a 1996 interview by Sally J. Rayl, Halt stated that:
“. . . three objects clearly visible with multiple-colored lights on them. The objects appeared elliptical and then they turned full round, which I thought was quite interesting. All three doing that. They were stationary for awhile.” 13
Back at RAF Bentwaters (~ 3 a.m. December 28)
Despite denials from the Bentwaters Air Traffic Control Tower and “Eastern Radar” (RAF Wattisham), Security Police personnel suddenly radioed that three objects were in the sky directly above them. According to Nevels:
“Just as instantly as the objects had disappeared from their position above us, we then heard a lot of commotion over the radios, and it was the Security Police at RAF Bentwaters, informing us that three objects were above them. Apparently, the lighted objects had been able to jump from their positions over us near Woodbridge and show up over Bentwaters in less than a second. In other words, from the time we had just observed the same objects above them some distance away, it happened immediately, instantaneously.” 14 [emphasis added]
Laser Beam: A Message or A Warning? (3:15 a.m. December 28)
At one point, Halt saw one object from the south fly over the team’s position in the second farmer’s field in a very rapid motion and stop overhead. It was at about three thousand feet altitude. The glowing white light around it made it appear to be circular. It then shot down what is the equivalent of a laser beam about 10 feet away from his and the team’s feet. Halt estimated that the beam was 10 to 12 inches in diameter. It was unclear to Halt as to whether this was a form of communication or a warning. Halt:
“Well, that really had us upset because we weren’t sure whether it was a warning, whether it was, you know, a shot at us, whether it was somebody trying to communicate, or what it was. We had no idea, and we just stood there and looked, and nobody said anything and, all of a sudden, as fast as it came on, it was gone. The object receded. 15
Even though Lt. Colonel Halt was advised via radio that nothing could be seen from the control tower on the base or on radar just after the beam was shot down, “a logbook entry was made at RAF Watton dated 28 December 1980, reporting that the Bentwaters Command Post had contacted Eastern Radar (RAF Wattisham) requesting information of the aircraft in the area. Indeed, a sighting had been reported and logged.” 16
Rendlesham Forest, Revisited — Part 3
In the next of this series, we will review the findings of a hypnotherapy session that Penniston underwent in 1994 and, perhaps, reveal the origin of the intelligence behind these events.
- Courtesy of the National Press Club, Washington D.C.
- Penniston (USAF/Retired), Jim and Gary Osborn, The Rendlesham Enigma, Book 1: Timeline, 2019, pages 114-115.
- Ibid, 116.
- Ibid, page 159.
- Ibid, page 159.
- Courtesy of tripadvisor.co.uk
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 230.
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 231.
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 232.
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 234.
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 237.
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 239.
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 241.
- Op. cit., Penniston, page 241.
© T. L. Keller 2019
To the readers: In these series of articles, we attempt to cover the full gamut of UFO/UAP experiences: sightings, ESP and remote viewing, abductions, science and technology, etc. If you are an experiencer or have a specific topic that you would like presented, please contact the author. T. L. Keller can be contacted at www.2FSPress.com