Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Oscar Flight Mystery: Fred Meiwald

In the last posting, I had questions that were left hanging in regards to the crew relationship between Fred Meiwald and Robert Salas.  Based on a letter, dated 1 October 1996, that Fred Meiwad sent to Salas, it appears that both were paired as a permanent missile crew assigned to Oscar Flight.  I assume that Salas' earlier story variant which had omitted Meiwald by name as the crew commander was probably due to Salas awaiting contact with Meiwald.  I'll discuss the 1996 letter in detail later in this post.

Similar to what I did with Salas' different versions of the incident, I've broken Meiwald's statements into narratives.  Fred Meiwald appears to only have given two interviews to both Salas and Robert Hastings.  He also briefly communicated with James Carlson via two letters/emails.  Since his last telephone interview to Hastings, it appears that Meiwald has disengaged from any further discourse concerning his recollections of the Oscar Flight incident.

Due to my focusing strictly on Meiwald's version of events based on telephone transcripts as provided by Hastings and Salas, I'll only provide brief commentary about the methods used in the interviews.  I feel that Hastings' and Salas' commentary provide too much "background noise" that tend to lessen the true impact of Meiwald's statements.  I'll provide links to the full Hastings/Salas articles for all to read.  With that said, I highly encourage the reader to fully read the articles in order to put every thing into proper context which will allow for a better understanding of Meiwald's statements.  I have put in bold face print areas of emphasis.

Robert Salas' Interview August(?) 1996

Back on 26 September 2010, Robert Hastings posted an article on web site and, titled "Echo/Oscar Witch Hunt" which in part had transcripts from Robert Salas' 1996 telephone interview with Fred Meiwald.  I gather from Hastings that this interview may have taken place in August 1996.  The following is the narrative from that interview based on Meiwald's recollections of 24/25 March 1967 while on alert at Oscar.

1.  There were security alarms and problems at a couple of sites.
2.  Meiwald remembers two guards had gone out to one of the sites and returned back to the LCF "scared to death" and had to be relieved of duty.
3.  The team lost radio contact on their way back to the LCF.
4.  The security response team has seen "some crazy things and..."
5.  He did not received this report from the security team themselves, but received this information from the FSC.

Of interest in this version from Meiwald, Salas' appears to be surprised because he (Salas) was not aware that the security team had seen anything out in the flight area, nor was he aware that the team was relieved from duty.  It further appears that at no time afterwards did Meiwald ever discuss this information with Salas.  If we are led to believe that both men were debriefed by the OSI, would not this information had been brought forward by Meiwald in Salas' presence?  In the Salas interview, Meiwald never mentions the word "UFO", just "crazy things."  He is not specific as to what actually occurred other than "we had security alarms...and problems at a couple of sites.  It appears that he may not have actually recalled the UFO sighting at the LCF as he provides no elaboration other than an "uh huh."  This is all that he is able to confirm based on what he remembers.

Salas would later attempt to rectify variances of the two UFO elements (out in the flight area and at the LCF) in a May 9, 2011 email to Robert Hastings, “I told Fred about the UFO over the gate of the LCF as he was waking up from a nap. The second [UFO] report apparently came to Fred from the FSC after the shutdowns and after I had directed the security team to one of the Oscar LFs, due to security incursion lights. Apparently the FSC communicated to Fred that an object was seen by the team as they were out responding to that security incursion. I was not a part of that conversation but I recalled Fred telling me about it after he wrote to me in 1996.”

If the security team was relieved from duty how did they return back to base?  Meiwald and Salas supposedly took a helicopter back to base.  As in the case of the injured airman, did the guards fly back to base on the same helicopter?

The October 1, 1996 Letter

Apparently after Salas' telephone interview, Fred Meiwald sent Salas the following letter:

Responding to Salas' correspondence, Meiwald states, "The info you provided is very interesting but I have slightly different memories..."  What is meant by this and what different memories?  Since Meiwald discusses in the letter that the security response team had reported observing a "UFO" while in the flight area, then perhaps he is differing on Salas' story about the "UFO" at the LCF, or about the number of sorties that may have dropped off alert, if any did at all.  It is from this letter that Salas is able to describe the security team's alleged UFO encounter in his book "Faded Giant."  Meiwald would later recall how he had only received this information second hand from the FSC.  Without this information and the earlier telephone interview, Salas would have had no story about the security teams supposed encounter and subsequent relief from duty. 

On a side note, when I was on alert duty, all VHF communication from the FSC to my security personnel was monitored on an open speaker.  I could monitor/track all communication checks, the actual striking of a site, and the back off/awaiting security system reset and finally my releasing the team from the site.  How did Meiwald and Salas miss this ongoing communication drama that was taking place in his own flight area?

How upset were the security team concerning the UFO?  Per Meiwald the security team responding to one LF security violation was only directed to return to the LCF "as the security system reset."  This would have taken ten to fifteen minutes after the team had actually investigated the topside of the LF, meaning that both members had to physically go onto the site and do their check.  This could have taken another fifteen to twenty minutes.  So if the security team's safety was in peril by the sight of a "UFO" why were they allowed to be in its proximity for up to 30 minutes?

Meiwald references to personnel injury may be related to the two security guards, or....he had no recall of the airman at the LCF being injured.  Further, his lack of recall on any follow-up activities by any Wing personnel could be interpreted as possibly no debriefing by the squadron commander and OSI.  Admittedly, this is open to speculation and to the intended context of the letter.

Meiwald's 2011 Interview

In 2011, Hastings interviewed Meiwald and provided transcripts of their conversation, "Echo Flight UFO Not Unique..."  The following is the narrative from Meiwald.  Keep in mind that 15 years has now elapsed since Meiwald's interview with Salas back in 1996.

1.  He was resting, but does not recall if soundly asleep.
2.  Salas woke Meiwald due to unusual indications on the commander's console.
3.  Had a security violation which security team went out to investigate at one of the LFs.
4.  The security team reported unusual activity.  (at or near the LF?)
5.  Meiwald directed the security team to return to the LCF maintaining radio contact.
6.  Security team lost radio contact for a short period of time.

The second narrative as Hastings attempts to have Meiwald clarify key areas of the story.

1.  The security team saw something that frightened them.
2.  The security team was directed back to base after completion of their mission.
3.  Remembers security team saying something about a "object in the sky" but is unable to further elaborate any other details.
4.  He does not recall Salas reporting to him about a "bright object" hovering over the LCF's front gate.
5.  He remembers only an "unusual" condition, but could not recall the details.
6.  He remembers being directed to sign a "non-disclosure document" but does not remember any of the details.
7.  In regards to Walter Figel's and James Carlson's claim that no UFO's were involved at Oscar, Meiwald states that something happened at Oscar and Bob Salas states what he believes to be true.
8.  He believes that Salas has relayed what happened "very accurately."
9.  Further reconfirms that security team saw a "bright object flying low level.
10.  Security team upset, directed back to LCF, one member sent back to base (can not recall how member left for base).
11.  Restates that he was debriefed by OSI and signed a non-disclosure statement.

Once again, Meiwald tells Hastings that he was not aware (or) could not recall Salas briefing him on any sightings topside at Oscar.  What is important, at least to me, is that Meiwald holds steadfast to a security violation at only one site (LF) which a security team was dispatched to investigate...but, he never tells Hastings that any of his sorties had actually dropped No-Go.  He only states that something unusual was showing on the console.  This may very well had been No-Go situations...or just a series of fault light indicators with the sorties still showing strategic alert, or..white light indicators showing that some of the LFs had dropped into calibration mode.  The term "unusual" could mean quite a few things.

Meiwald tells Hastings that something happened at Oscar and that "Bob Salas states what he believes to be true."  But...what does Meiwald believe to be true?  Remember the October 1996 letter to Salas which Meiwald states, "The info you provided is very interesting but I have slightly different memories..."

Meiwald tells Hastings that Salas had relayed what had happened "very accurately."  Yet, it's ironic that Salas was totally unaware that his security team had seen something out in the flight area near one of the LFs requiring one or both individuals to be sent back to base.  Further damaging Salas' "accuracy" is Meiwald's lack of recall concerning Salas giving him a report on the FSC calls pertaining to the UFO hovering over the Oscar LCF.  Both individuals have effectively cancelled any UFO story involving the LCF and the flight area!

Other Meiwald Letters/Emails via

To James Carlson:

Re: Mr. Fred Meiwald
Wednesday, September 2, 2009 5:30 PM
From F C Meiwald Wed Sep 2 21:30:34 2009

Dear Mr. Carlson,

I understand your frustration with the situation involving your father's role in the "UFO " incident at Malmstrom. As far as I can recall, without exception, all crews on duty did what was required of them IAW established checklists and Command Post direction.

Did this situation involve "UFOs"? I don't know. I personally have never seen one and really have doubts about their existence, but who am I to question others' "observations"?

I will reread the information which you provided, and make further comment as I can recall. I do remember your father as an outstanding crew member.

I do not have access to the documentation relative to this incident and have no suggestions as to how one may get 100 percent of what would be needed to reconstruct the entire matter. As a past unit commander, I can recall how several times information critical to a decision was somehow no longer available, so can relate to the quandry here.

Please keep in touch. I'll try to dig deeper into the memory banks.

Fred M.

Re: Mr. Fred Meiwald
Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:01 PM
From F C Meiwald Thu Sep 17 20:01:49 2009

Dear Mr. Carlson,

I have been very involved in caring for my extremely ill mother for the past month and, therefore, have not been able to do any thing further on your request. In fact, after being home for a few days, I am departing in less than three hours for Montana, where she is, again for an undetermined length of time.

I quickly read your latest letter and can recognize your concerns over inconsistencies in various reports. I will try to help once I get these personal family problems resolved.

Trying to remember events of over 40 years ago is not my forte'.


Fred Meiwald

I recently contacted James Carlson to see if Meiwald had provided any further correspondence, which James told me that he had received no further word from him since the above contacts.  Yet from the above two letters what can be seen is that Meiwald did have doubts..."Did this situation involve "UFOs"? I don't know. I personally have never seen one and really have doubts about their existence..."


Robert(s) Hastings and Salas have both stated in numerous articles posted on numerous websites that Fred Meiwald's recalling of past events totally backs Salas' assertions that "UFO(s)" had been reported hovering over Oscar's LCF and subsequently causing most, if not all of the flight's missiles to drop off alert.  The evidence from the statements of Meiwald himself does not support this claim as he has never endorsed receiving a briefing from Salas concerning the FSC reports.

The same can be said about the security team's report of seeing a "UFO" or "object in the sky."  Salas was never aware of this until interviewing Meiwald back in 1996.  Salas tells Hastings 15 years later that he remembered the security team reports only after "re-gaining" his own memory of the event after hearing it from Meiwald.  The reader should remember that Meiwald stated that he only heard this from the FSC so Meiwald himself was in no position to verify the observations veracity.  But there appears to be no mistake that Salas appeared to be "taken back" and/or caught off guard concerning the security team's sighting.  If Salas' main theme was that UFOs had caused his missiles to drop off of alert, would not Salas had remembered the security team's observations of a UFO out in the flight area near one of his LFs?  That's an important report to have forgotten...if it were true.

Based on the correspondence to James Carlson, Meiwald expresses doubts about UFOs causing any incident at Oscar.  He further admits that he has a hard time recalling events that happened some 40 years ago.

Lastly, and most important, Salas being unaware of the security team's UFO observations and Meiwald's inability to substantiate the FSC calls to Salas about the UFO sighted over the LCF, effectively cancel out both UFO sightings.
When Hastings and Salas held their press conference back on September 27, 2010, Fred Meiwald was notably absent.  Further, he did not provide an affidavit as did the other participants.  Why was that?

My next post will look at Robert Jamison's story.


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