Friday, May 13, 2016

Minot 1968: The Oscar 07 Intrusion

This is a continuation of the Minot UFO incident on 24 October 1968.  For me, this is probably the most bizarre portion of the saga only for the follow on psychological aspects of the story.

Per the initial up channeled report from Minot to Wright-Patterson AFB (FTD) and subsequently to PBB:

"At 0949 Z (0449 CDT), 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 chain link 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 it's setting thus triggering the inner alarm.  No tracks, prints or impressions were found."

And further into the message:

"The Oscar 7 alarms could be attributed to a circumstantial effort of pranksters, however no evidence of trespassers was found."

The only critique that I have is that the outer and inner zone alarms would have sounded initially in the LCC.  Based on the indications of a security situations, the launch crew would have notified the FSC declaring a "security situation" for O-07. [in the 1970s-1990s, OZ/IZ alarms would have been a Situation 4].  The FSC would have dispatched the SAT based on the launch crew's security declaration then he would have logged and made a call to Wing Security Control.

Per PBB MFR, Lt Marano attempted to call Minot Base Operations querying if missile sites had been broken into before and what were the results.  Subsequent reports had confirmed that 0-7 was not an isolated incident as this type of security breach had occurred on at least three other occasions.  Werlich would eventually state, "...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 its hard to judge how many keys have been made."

I would have to agree with the above.  Encroachment was always seen as a security risk, hence the adaptation of an Outer Zone microwave perimeter and a corresponding Inner Zone detection setup for breaches into the launch facility itself.  Throughout the history of the Minuteman system, there have been unauthorized intrusions onto the sites.

Based upon the above and the timing of the OZ/IZ alarms going off, I can not find any evidence that this played any part of the UFO story other than that of a coincidence.  If the padlock to the site entry gate was intact [not cut] then this would indicate that someone affiliated with the missile security group, who would have had access to the keys, entered the site without authorization.

Whoever did enter the site had knowledge of the workings of the site's security system.  He knew that the OZ alarm activated, not by merely opening the gate, but by walking some distance breaking the microwave beam.  He also knew that opening the personnel access hatch [requiring a separate key] and spinning the combination dial would set off the IZ alarm.  Then he left the site knowing that it took the SAT 15 to 20 minutes to be dispatched and arrive at the site.  By then, the intruder would have disappeared into the still darkness of the morning.

There is one type of individual who could have done this and had full authorization to do so in a clandestine way.  A Flight Security Officer (FSO) could have been roving around the flight area for the purpose of conducting a security exercise.  This was common for all SAC missile wings.  The FSO could have entered the site setting off both security zones and backed off the site for the purpose of evaluating the FSC and SAT.  The SAT had certain protocols and procedures on how to "strike" the site depending on the type of security situation.  The FSO also observe if the launch crew actually declared the security situation to the FSC.

This certainly would describe what happened on O-07, but there is no indication that there was an FSO in the area.  William Smith, the Oscar FSC, never made mentioned of such an exercise occurring.  The Wing Security Control logs do not mention a security exercise.  So I can only assume that this was not the case. 

I had provided a brief comment to Gilles Fernandez over at the Sceptic Ovni forum a while back, 2012:

What has been discussed so far in this thread is reports from Minot 1968. Supposedly a UFO attempted to lift the launcher closure door covering a missile silo. Sensationalism propagated by Raymond Fowler and others via an old CUFOS article.

Reading the Blue Book report, it appeared that some one had accessed the A-pit security system. Basically this was a top layered covering over the actually personnel access hatch known as the B-pit. The A pit weighed in at precisely 167 pounds requiring at least two people to lift exposing the B-pit circuit allowing access into the interior of the missile silo.

Back in the early 1980s the A pit circuit had a combination dial which only security personnel had access to to open the A-pit and then lifting out the 167 pound plug. Once the B pit was exposed then maintenance personnel would then activate the B pit cover causing it to be lowered down far enough for entrance into the silo. This took approximately 20 minutes if not longer (due to security protocols)

In 1968, the A pit circuit was only secured with a standard lock merely requiring a key to unlock rather than the use of an elaborate combination system. It would have been feasible, if not probable, that someone had left the A pit unlocked after maintenance had been performed. Numerous wing agencies had copies of keys and would have had access.

There was no evidence that the B plug had been tampered with nor had anything affected that particular missile. The launcher closure door was never tampered with. Purely sensationalism overriding reality.

The reason for all of the initial confusion was who had up channeled the report. I believe that since Minot was a dual wing, having both a bomb and missile wing, a Wing Command Post controller affiliated with the bomb wing (B-52s) had up channeled the report. This individual would have had little knowledge concerning the operational status and terminologies used in the Minuteman system. The actual report and how it was written appears to support my hypothesis.   Tim Hebert

The above was written based on a CUFOs write up of the case.  One would ask where did all of this sensationalism originate?  This is where the story takes a bizarre turn and is a great lesson in the psycho-social aspects of any UFO story.

The Psycho/Social Aspects of O-07.

Tom Tulien and Jim klotz interviewed Col Werlich's daughters, Kim Flippo and Melody Gibson in Feb 2001.  Both Ms. Flippo and Gibson indicated that their father had gone out to O-07 with a Geiger counter.  Ms. Flippo giving the indication that the "readings were way off the chart."  Per the PBB MFRs, Col Werlich was planning to go out to the site with a Geiger counter, but there was never a follow up to see if this did least based on the PBB case write up.  So based on Flippo's and Gibson's recall, this did occur.

Klotz tells both daughters that the B-52 co-pilot was debriefed by the Air Division and told that the blast doors on top of the silo had been tampered with.  Ms Gibson indicates that she had heard that the "lid to the missile was had moved the slab."

Klotz had relayed another story that "...two men sent to check out the site security were found unconscious with the top of the truck blistered...LF fence smashed down and the blast door was moved.

Klotz did tell the daughters that documents did not support the above.  I can assume that the O-07 story was embellished from a simple intrusion to that of the above.  Like the Malmstrom Echo shutdown, it was the talk of the base...rumors absent of facts.

Back at the base proper, Richard Clark told Tom Tulien in 2003 that he had heard that a crew [SAT?] was sent out to one of the missile sites after alarms went off and 3 silos were affected with alarms being set off.

In Feb 2005, Ralph Holland, Major General (Ret) recalled the O-07 intrusion and the rumors that had circulated.  Per General Holland, no lid was found off of the site [launcher closure door].  Holland further denied telling anyone that a UFO was seen hovering over one of the LFs.

How much radiation was detected at O-07, if any?

Its clear that Col Werlich had the intention to visit the site and use a Geiger counter and based on the recollections of Werlich's daughters this did occur.  But were the readings "off the charts" as Ms Flippo claimed?

William Smith stated to Tulien in 2001 that he recalled that an officer investigated the LF and found  trace evidence radiation inside the LF, but near the parking area in a circular pattern.

This actually makes sense as the parking area would have been used by the tractor trailer van containing the RV used in the site's last RV swap.  The van had a circular opening corresponding to the launch tube diameter when pulled directly over the site with the launcher closure door pulled open.  The van would have been parked in the parking area awaiting the need to pull over the site opening and eventually mating the RV to the missile's guidance system and third stage booster.  So it is possible that trace radiation could have been read in a circular pattern in the parking area. 


Oscar 07 appears to have no connection to the UFO story.  What is known is that someone familiar with the site security set up and having access to the site's locks entered the site and deliberately set off both the OZ and IZ alarms.  Who that was remains a mystery.  I believe that it is still an outside possibility that a FSO set off the alarms as part of a site security exercise.  But, there is no tangible evidence to back up this assertion on my part.

Oscar 07 did provide grist for the rumor mill.  But obviously there was nothing to these rumors.  FSC William Smith would later tell Tulien and Klotz that he had jogged past the site during daylight and noticed nothing amiss. 

There is no credible evidence that abnormally high readings of radiation where detected on the site.  The trace amount found could have been residual readings from the last RV swap. 


  1. Hi Tim:

    Just wondering, during your time underground how often did you deal with similar situations involving multiple alarms? or disgruntled airmen pranking missile sites?


  2. Hi Tom,

    Nice to hear from you. If I use O-07 as an example, I can only recall once where a FSO did something similar at one of the 490th SMS sites. As far as personally having an unauthorized OZ/IZ intrusion such as O-07 (evidence of tampering) the answer is no and this covers some 295 alerts that I did. That's not to say that someone else who pulled alert duty did not experience such a thing.

    The OZ/IZ system was very sensitive. Birds sometimes would fly into the OZ area setting of an alarm. Thunder would also set of via vibrations the IZ alarm. I recall during the spring and summer months, that a strong thunderstorm would move into my flight area and set off OZ and IZ alarms at 3 to 4 sites. I knew what was causing the security alarms, but was mandated by protocol to call the security situation for each site. (OZ/IZ was a Situation 4) The ART (SAT), would be rather pissed because they had to strike multiple sites and the SRT (backup, in rest status) would have to assist if warranted.

    I recall an incident at Whiteman AFB back in the 1980s where an OZ/IZ occurred on one of their LFs. When the ART arrived they found a group of individuals attempting to use a jack hammer on the launcher closure door. They were nuclear protesters. They were fortunate that no one was killed since it was well posted that "THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE IS AUTHORIZED."

    We as well would have protesters (every Easter) attempting to breach security both at the base and a selected LF. This would result in numerous arrests.

    Hope this helps.