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The Gerry Irwin case, USA 1959:

He was of the opinion that he might be watching a crashing aircraft and made an immediate attempt to aid any survivors. He left a note in his car requesting that anybody reading it should call the police. On the side of his car he wrote the word "STOP" in shoe polish to direct people to the note. The Cedar City Sheriff and others eventually found Private Gerry Irwin unconscious, some hour and a half after the sighting. There had been no airplane crash.

The story:

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 mile 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.


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? Almost thirty-nine years have passed. 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 Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), who contacted Irwin after he returned to Fort Bliss the last time.


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This page was last updated on April 13, 2001.