«BEHOLD A PALE HORSE Milton William Cooper And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat upon him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And ...»
During boot camp I volunteered for submarines (my sense of adventure was very strong). I was accepted, and upon completion of basic training, was ordered to the USS Tiru (SS-416) at the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Spitfire and damnation, no one could possibly be that lucky! I couldn't believe my eyes when I read my orders. Here I was fulfilling my dream of being in the Navy. I got exactly what I asked for the first time that I asked for it, which was extremely rare in any branch of military service. And to top it all off, I was being sent to Hawaii, the land of tropical paradise. I was in seventh heaven.
I landed in Hawaii with no time to play and took a cab directly to the sub base. My submarine was nowhere to be found. I kept asking people until I found someone who told me that my boat (subs are called boats in the Navy) was not at the sub base but in dry dock in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. I hailed another cab.
The cab driver dropped me off at the head of a pier that looked like it had never been cleaned up after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. It was covered with what appeared to be hoses, huge electrical cables, rusting metal of every conceivable size and shape that you can imagine. The air was rank with the smell of diesel, welding fumes, paint, and steel. If there 16 • BEHOLD A PALE HORSE is a hell on earth, I thought, this has to be it. I walked up the pier, over to the edge, and looked down into the dry dock. There, stripped of all dignity, lying naked and cut cleanly in half, was my boat, the USS Tiru. Men were scrambling all over it. They looked like ants swarming over a dead grasshopper. Brilliant flashes of light brighter than the sun drove sparks high into the air and then down in a beautiful flow to the bottom of the dock. I couldn't believe my eyes. Someone actually expected me to go out to sea, then underwater, in what appeared to me to be a motley collection of cut-up rusting metal scavenged from some satanic junkyard, stuck together by demons with welding torches. My luck had just run out.
I reported to the barracks barge moored in the water on the other side of the pier and was given a hammock for when I had the duty; then I was sent to the sub base barracks where I was assigned a rack and a locker. I wanted to go into Honolulu but quickly discovered non-quals did not rate liberty. It was getting worse.
The next few months were spent sanding, painting, lifting, and learning the boat. The men of the crew, except for the chief cook, were great.
The chief cook was drunk every minute of the day and night. He didn't like me, so I didn't get much to eat. His dislike stemmed from my first morning when I walked into the galley and watched as the other crew members ordered their breakfast. When there was an opening I stepped up and asked for eggs over easy. That's when the chief hit the overhead and vowed that I would never eat a meal in his mess decks. He wasn't kidding, either. The only time after that morning that I got anything to eat out of that galley was when the chief cook was ashore.
To this day I still don't know what I did wrong. I could have gone to the captain, but if I had done that I might as well have put in for a transfer at the same time. It wasn't long, though, before I was able to locate where he hid his booze. I made his life miserable from that moment on. I won't tell you what I laced his vodka with, but it wasn't anything you'd ever want to drink, believe me. I kept that chief so sick that he was transferred off the boat for medical reasons. I didn't want to hurt him, but it was either get rid of him or starve to death. I made up my mind that chief or no chief I wasn't going to go to sea on a boat that wouldn't feed me.
I didn't relish going to sea with a drunk chief in charge of closing the main induction valve when the boat made a dive. When a submarine goes underwater certain valves MUST be closed or the boat will flood with water and everyone will drown. The main induction is the MOST IMPORTANT of those valves. It was the cook's duty to close it, because the valve was in the galley on board the USS Tiru.
I made two especially close friends while on the Tiru. A black seaman • 17 William Cooper named Lincoln Loving and an American Indian seaman we called Geronimo. The three of us were inseparable. Lincoln was best man at my first marriage. Of the three Geronimo was the most experienced seaman, so he taught Lincoln and me. He knew everything there was to know about the boat, rope, paint, and a whole lot of other things that a man had to know to survive in the Navy. I knew the most about getting along in the military, so I taught Geronimo and Lincoln. Lincoln knew every really good spot on the Island where we could have a good time, so he led the liberty party.
Three things really stand out in my mind about the time that I spent on the Tiru. The first was an incident that occurred during a test dive while we were creeping along at about 3 or 4 knots at a depth of 600 feet off the Island of Oahu. Lincoln and I had just been relieved from watch and were in the after battery talking when we were knocked off our feet. We heard a loud CLANG forward and felt the boat lunge to port. Then we heard a sound that made our blood run cold. I could literally feel the blood drain from my face as I listened to whatever it was that we hit scrape along the starboard side of the hull. Lincoln and I froze. We held our breath as metal screeched upon metal. I thought it would never end. No one moved, anywhere.
Finally, after what seemed a lifetime, the boat lurched and the noise disappeared aft. If it had pierced the hull none of us would be alive today.
We never found out what it was. When we returned to Pearl, divers went down to have a look. When they surfaced they reported that the starboard bowplane was damaged and the hull was gouged all along the starboard side from bow to stern. We went in for repairs. In a couple of days we were good as new, but I certainly had an entirely different perspective on life.
The second thing that stands out happened to another boat that had been out participating in torpedo attack exercises with another submarine.
I remember seeing the boat entering the harbor with a large tarp over the conning tower. I could see something holding the tarp up on each side of the tower but I couldn't see what it was. Later, Geronimo, Lincoln and I walked over where the boat was berthed and looked under the tarp. The other boat in the exercise had scored a direct hit! What we saw was a torpedo sticking completely through the sail. We started laughing. Then we looked at each other and decided that it wasn't so funny after all. This submarine business was not quite as attractive as I'd thought.
Number three happened during a transit between the Portland-Seattle area and Pearl Harbor. I was the port lookout during the afternoon watch (1200 to 1600 hours). Geronimo was the starboard lookout. Ensign Ball was the OOD (Officer of the Deck). We were doing 10 knots on the surface and the three of us were on the bridge in the conning tower. It was a bright 18 • BEHOLD A PALE HORSE day, but the sun was obscured by a low layer of clouds. It was cool. We had a bit of fun when someone below requested permission to put a man on deck forward to get something that was needed from the waterproof deck locker. The locker was under the deck plate all the way up on the bow near the forward torpedo-room escape trunk. Geronimo and I laughed when Ensign Ball gave his approval. He really shouldn't have, because we were running a pressure wave over the bow. When we saw who it was they had sent on deck we roared with laughter. We looked down over the side of the sail at the deck-level door just as it popped open and Seaman Lincoln Loving stuck his head out. He didn't look happy.
Lincoln reached down and put the runner in the safety track in the deck, fastened the safety belt around his waist and, grabbing the handrail, stepped out on deck. He looked up at us with that "don't you laugh at me" look that he did so well. It took him a few minutes to get up the nerve to let go of the handrail and begin to make his way forward against the wind and the pitching deck. Gingerly, he crept forward until he was just at the point where the pressure wave was rolling off the deck when the bow heaved free of the water on its cyclical upswing.
I could see that Lincoln was trying to time a run forward when the bow was out of the water. He made a couple of false starts, then ran slipping on the wet deck, disappearing into the access hole for the forward torpedo-room escape hatch. The bow plunged underwater and I found myself sucking air as I imagined the cold saltwater swirling around me. It wasn't me, though, it was Lincoln. I gripped the top of the sail as I waited for the bow to swing up, hoping that Lincoln wouldn't panic.
What we saw next could have been a clip from one of those old Keystone Cops movies. Lincoln was flailing water so hard that it looked like he had 40 arms and 40 legs. It was only then that I realized that Lincoln had joined the Navy but he didn't know how to swim. When he finally gathered a foothold, the half-drowned seaman exploded up out of that hole like a Polaris missile and ran back to the conning tower just as fast as his wet leather soles would carry him.
Ensign Ball, Geronimo, and I laughed for a good ten minutes. In fact, every time we saw Lincoln for the next two days we would burst out laughing. Lincoln didn't think it was funny and didn't miss a chance to slug us every time we laughed.
Lincoln went below. Geronimo and I began the unending task of sweeping the horizon from bow to stern, then the sky from horizon to zenith, and then back to the horizon from bow to stern. Again and again, and then a pause to rest our eyes and chat for a few minutes. I asked Ensign Ball to call for some hot coffee. As he bent over the 1MC, I turned, William Cooper • 19 raising my binoculars to my eyes just in time to see a huge disk rise from beneath the ocean, water streaming from the air around it, tumble lazily on its axis, and disappear into the clouds. My heart beat wildly. I tried to talk but couldn't; then I changed my mind and decided I didn't want to say that, anyway. I had seen a flying saucer the size of an aircraft carrier come right out of the ocean and fly into the clouds. I looked around quickly to see if anyone else had seen it. Ensign Ball was still bending over the IMC.
He was ordering coffee. Geronimo was looking down the starboard side aft.
I was torn between my duty to report what I had seen and the knowledge that if I did no one would believe me. As I looked out over the ocean I saw only sky, clouds, and water.
It was as if nothing had happened. I almost thought I had dreamed it.
Ensign Ball straightened, turned toward Geronimo and said the coffee was on the way up.
I looked back toward the spot, about 15 degrees relative off the port bow, and about 2-1/2 nautical miles distant. Nothing, not even a hint of what had happened. "Ensign Ball," I said, "I thought I saw something about 15 degrees relative off the bow, but I lost it. Can you help me look over that area?" Ensign Ball turned, raising his glasses to eye level. I didn't know it at the time, but Geronimo had heard me and turned to look. He was happy that something had broken the monotony.
I was just lifting the binoculars off my chest when I saw it. The giant saucer shape plunged out of the clouds, tumbled, and, pushing the water before it, opened up a hole in the ocean and disappeared from view. It was incredible. This time I had seen it with my naked eyes, and its size in comparison with the total view was nothing short of astounding. Ensign Hall stood in shock, his binoculars in his hands, his mouth open. Geronimo yelled, "Holy shit! What the — hey! did you guys see that?" Ensign Ball turned, and looking right at me with the most incredulous look on his face, said in a low voice, "This had to happen on my watch!" He turned, quickly pressing the override on the IMC and yelled, "Captain to the bridge, Captain to the bridge." As an afterthought he pressed the switch again and yelled, "Somebody get a camera up here."
The Captain surged up the ladder with the quartermaster on his heels.
Chief Quartermaster Quintero had the ship's 35-mm camera slung around his neck. The Captain stood patiently while Ensign Ball tried to describe what he had seen. He glanced at us and we both nodded in affirmation.
That was enough for the Captain. He called sonar, who during the excitement had reported contact underwater at the same bearing. The Captain announced into the 1MC, "This is the Captain. I have the conn." The reply 20 • BEHOLD A PALE HORSE came back instantly from the helm, "Aye, Aye sir." I knew that the helmsman was passing the word in the control room that the Captain had personally taken control of the boat. I also knew that rumors were probably flying through the vessel.
The Captain called down and ordered someone to closely monitor the radar. His command was instantly acknowledged. As the five of us stood gazing out over the sea the same ship or one exactly like it rose slowly, turned in the air, tilted at an angle and then vanished. I saw the Chief snapping pictures out of the corner of my eye.
This time I had three images from which to draw conclusions. It was a metal machine, of that there was no doubt whatsoever. It was intelligently controlled, of that I was equally sure. It was a dull color, kind of like pewter. There were no lights. There was no glow. I thought I had seen a row of what looked like portholes, but could not be certain. Radar reported contact at the same bearing and gave us a range of 3 nautical miles. The range was right on, as the craft had moved toward the general direction that we were headed. We watched repeatedly as the strange craft reentered the water and then subsequently rose into the clouds over and over again until finally we knew that it was gone for good. The episode lasted about 10 minutes.
Before leaving the bridge the Captain took the camera from the Chief and instructed each of us not to talk to anyone about what we had seen. He told us the incident was classified and we were not to discuss it, not even amongst ourselves. We acknowledged his order. The Captain and the Chief left the bridge. Ensign Ball stepped to the 1MC and, pressing the override switch, announced, "This is Ensign Ball. The Captain has left the bridge. I have the conn." The reply, "Aye aye sir," quickly followed.
Those of us who had witnessed the UFO were not allowed to go ashore after we had berthed in Pearl. Even those of us who didn't have the duty were told we had to stay aboard. After about two hours a commander from the Office of Naval Intelligence boarded. He went directly to the Captain's stateroom. It wasn't long before we were called to wait in the passageway outside the Captain's door. Ensign Ball was called first. After about 10 minutes he came out and went into the wardroom. He looked shaken. I was next.
When I entered the stateroom, the Commander was holding my service record in his hands. He wanted to know why I had gone from the Air Force into the Navy. I told him the whole story and he laughed when I said that after putting off the Navy for fear of chronic seasickness, I hadn't been seasick yet. Suddenly a mask dropped over his face, and looking me directly in the eyes he asked, "What did you see out there?" WilliamCooper • 21 "I believe it was a flying saucer, sir," I answered.
The man began to visibly shake and he screamed obscenities at me.
He threatened to put me in the brig for the rest of my life. I thought he wasn't going to stop yelling, but as suddenly as he began, he stopped.
I was confused. I had answered his question truthfully; yet I was threatened with prison. I was not afraid, but I was not very confident, either. I figured I had better take another tack. Eighteen years with my father and four years in the Air Force had taught me something. Number one was that officers just do not lose control like that, ever. Number two was that if my answer had elicited that explosion, then the next thing out of my mouth had better be something entirely different. Number three was, that his response had been an act of kindness to get me to arrive at exactly that conclusion.
"Let's start all over again," he said. "What did you see out there?" "Nothing, sir," I answered. "I didn't see a damn thing, and I'd like to get out of here just as soon as possible."
A smile spread over his face and the Captain looked relieved. "Are you sure, Cooper?" he asked.