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The Maury Island Incident – The Real Men in Black?

Should you take even the slightest peak across the internet these days, you can find a conspiracy. Some are plausible, others terrifyingly so…some, though, are just ridiculous. It’s very easy to find a conspiracy theory that, today, would be an article found on some of satire. One incident that we came across recently that just jumped out was the Maury Island Incident.

Never heard of it before? We’re going to take at this short-lived incident. We’ll also take a look at some of the other interesting ideas out there that exist regarding it perhaps being more than it appears.

Maury Island with UFO
Maury Island with UFO


What is The Maury Island Incident?

The official line is that the Maury Island Incident took place sometime on June 21st, 1947. The incident itself was reported to Fred Crisman, via Harold Dahl. Dahl, a patrolman, claimed of falling debris from the sky and, curiously later on, threats from “Men in Black”.

He both claimed to have seen Unidentified Flying Objects in the sky over Maury Island.

Dahl claimed to be harbor patrolman who was out on a workboat. The claimed was to have seen six “doughnut shaped” objects lancing across the sky. According to the man, one of these doughnuts dropped an object out the sky that resembled some form of “white metal” onto the boat.

Apparently, this hit another person, and also broke their arm. A dog was killed too, horribly.

The material that was dropped from the “doughnut” was actually slag, and came from a local smelter.

Best of all, Dahl claimed that he was approached by “men in black” who told him not to tell anyone about the incident. The claim fits with the old trope about government agents silencing people.

Eventually, the story grew so much that it was even featured in the Gray Barker book, “They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers”. It was a major book that was instrumental in shaping what many of us know about “men in black” today, helping to create the image that became so popular.

The incident more or less went cold. Eventually, Dahl refuted his claims saying that it was just a hoax. So, was that the end of it?

A More Damning Tale

Kenneth Arnold

Kenneth Arnold

However, other versions of events do exist out there. Keep in mind that this all took place just three days before Kenneth Arnold reported his observation of saucer-shaped objects travelling. According to the detail of the day, these doughnut-shaped machines in the sky were about one hundred feet in diameter. They glistened in the sky, a pristine metal, and circled one of their friends – the sixth – which was in some form of trouble.

Eventually, it was the sixth vessel that erupted – leaving the metal discharge that dropped down. The substance, seemingly, was a mix between aluminum, and cooled lava. The person who was injured – not a worker – was actually Dahl’s son. It was also their family dog that died!

Afterwards, one of the other disc shaped objects kick-started the broken one, they rose into the sky at pace, and vanished.

Dahl informed Fred Crisman, a co-worker, of the incident who in turn got in touch with Ray Palmer. Palmer was the Editor of the Ziff Davis Publications. He was interested, and invested $200 into a research team via Kenneth Arnold. However, Arnold bragged about the investment at the Idaho Daily Statesmen, where the editor sent a telegram to the US Air Force to check it out.

On August 1stFrank Brown and William Davidson led an investigation team out to check the incident. Tragically, both men died when the B-25 they were on to take photographic evidence from crashed.

August 3rd seen another protagonist in the investigation, Kenneth Arnold, run close to death himself. His airplane was sabotaged and he only escaped the crash with good luck.

A Developing Dilemma

Then, according to Ron Halbritter over at UFOEvidence.org, some very interesting events began to take place;

  • The Tacoma Times’ editor, Paul Lance, mysteriously died. His cause of death was never made clear.
  • Not long after, the United Press stringer at Tacoma, Ted Morello, died as well.
  • He was followed by the firing of Ray Palmer, who had increased the circulation of Amazing Stories by 50,000.
  • The Tacoma Times then went out of business entirely.
  • Dahl apparently mailed a box of fragments of the material that came from the object, and mailed it to Palmer in a cigar box. This was stolen. Prior to the theft, though, Palmer had it analyzed – it was neither slag, nor rock of any natural form.

After reading the great synopsis of this over at UFOE, we decided to keep looking further. One thing kept bothering us when reading into this – what about the son? Seemingly he got hurt, right?

Well, according to Dahl’s own son and daughter, he might not be the best witness on the planet. For one, the only verification of anything about this story – even the date – comes from two people; Dahl, and Crisman. We mentioned above how Palmer seemingly received a letter – this never came in until mid-July.

The dog was buried at sea, and the son was burned by the falling debris, seemingly. This is where things get interesting.

Maury Island Marine Park map
Maury Island Marine Park map

The Role of Crisman

At this point, the inventions and machinations seem to kick in – Crisman was given the story as a co-worker to Dahl. He told Crisman first, and things went from there.

Crisman, allegedly, wrote letters to officials on behalf of Dahl, or even just flat out claiming to be Dahl. Despite Dahl being the senior of the two, and in charge of his own business as well as working with the Harbor patrol, seemed to take a backseat as the story developed. They even claimed to have photos between them – Dahl said they were in his glovebox, but couldn’t find them.

Also, Crisman stated many years down the line that he had copies, but had lost them as well. The story begins to take interesting twists, as well, when you look at how quickly it developed afterwards. Remember we mentioned the whole Men in Black thing earlier?

Basically, Dahl claims that he was approached by men in black suits, driving a black Buick car. They told him to keep quiet if he “knew what was good for him”. As soon as Dahl heard of the death of the two army officers investigating, he took notice and stopped paying any attention to the story moving forward.

The confusion then comes from Dahl himself. He’s mentioned in the past it was a hoax, but also has passed comment on it not being a hoax since. What to believe? Who knows.

Even the claim that the analysis was ‘not natural’ has been strongly contested. Apparently, Kenneth Arnold even stated that it reminded him of scrap aluminum. At the very least, it had no unnatural characteristics.

What About the Son?

So, as it stands, we were fairly convinced that Crisman might have been in control of something that was entirely fictional. But, what about the son? The supposed other witness?

Well, according to Charles Dahl – the son – that never actually happened. Charles claims he was never even there in the first place. In fact, there was issues in the Dahl family given the supposed change in personality of Harold.

The last people to talk to Charles about this incident, though, were the Hanohano family. Kalani and Katiuska Hanohano were UFO researchers for many years, and were involved in civilian and MUFON programs.

They spoke to Harold, who confirmed but one thing for them – that Crisman was every bit the rogue it appeared. It was also confirmed that there are no apparent records of an interview, or even a hospital visit, with the person who was most inflicted by the event. Charles never spoke at the time of the event, only when he was older.

If a child was to be burned by something, alien or not, they would need to go to hospital to get it checked out. Why then would a father not take his son to hospital to be checked after being burnt by something so incredible?

Why would there be no marks left? In fact, how is he even alive?

It makes no sense how it would be strong enough to kill a dog (that was buried at sea!?) but not to not significantly harm the child. Falling from so high, and from such a unique object, you would imagine it would do more than slightly damage a boat and break his arm. If it killed a dog, why would it only break his arm?

Even if the son just hated the father, for example, there’s other people backing up his version. The sister of Charles, Louise, who claimed none of this ever occurred. Speaking in April 2007 to the Seattle Post, she claimed that this encounter never occurred in the first place. Speaking to journalist Casey McNetherney, she claimed that her brother never once mentioned the incident.

Curiously, he also never mentioned anything about the death of a family dog. Or that he was ever hurt in some weird alien incident that dropped giant slag on him, potentially breaking his arm. If such a major event occurred, you would presume that one of the two would remember it – right?

Given that Louise was older by two years, it would make sense that she would remember the event clearly. After all, her brother was supposed to be 15 at the time of the event. That would make her 17 – so there’s no element of her perhaps being too young to remember the event.

Crisman Revisited

We have to go back to who seems to be the main culprit of this whole sordid event; Fred Crisman. Crisman comes out of this whole thing looking quite terrible, to be honest, if the views of Charles or Louise are to be believed.

The problem with Fred Crisman is that he has been at the central element of one too many big stories. He was apparently one of the “three tramps” at the Grassy Knoll, for one. He’s a character all right, but he seems to have been involved in one too many significant events for one man.

An Imagination Like No Other

Described as a “real-life Walter Mitty” by UFODigest.com, Crisman is a rather interesting person to read about. However, in the specific case of the Maury Island Incident, perhaps not so much. Rather than even being seen as someone who is a counteract, a government “misinformer” he has instead been characterized as a class clown, a jester.

By his early 20s, he was a fantasy writer trying to make his way in the world. As a single child, that attentive nature came hand in hand with the work that he became so successful in. his father, a salesman, was his idol and someone who he took his charismatic charm and style from. At the time of the incident, he was 27 years old, and was looking to make a name for himself in a now war-free world.

However, you may have noticed that he was a colleague of Harold Dahl. At this point, his writing career had not exactly exploded – he was working with Dahl, scavenging logs in the water alongside writing his books.

The fact that Crisman went through large swathes of his life using aliases such as Jon Gold tells you all that you need to know. He even wrote a book under the Gold, a conspiracy book no less, about Tacoma-based political conspiracy. It’s called “The Murder of a City, Tahoma” and manages to somehow tie Tacoma political names into everything from JFK being done in to Communism.

The book, essentially, breaks down into a range of personal attacks. We hope this isn’t reading much the same – Crisman just seems to have a right blighted name as an author. He’s a major player in the development of this story and, to Guilt us at least, it’s an entirely false story.

A major attribute that keeps returning here is the amount of people that Crisman had ties to. He spoke with major players in politics and in government, allegedly. However, it always appeared that his association with these people was far more minor than he may have been suggesting – how often is that not the case?

The Case Unravels

As we look at the full story of the Maury Island Incident, and we look at the most reliable evidence, it would appear to be one fat hoax. There’s lot of circumstantial patter and people who have put a lot of claims out there, but all evidence is refuted or put into question by far more reliable sources.

As far as the late 60s, you could still find Crisman talking about the incident. From armed guards still protecting the location to having those famous photographs somewhere, he never produced the evidence needed. Sadly, Crisman died at 56, so we’ll likely never know what existed – if it was true, or if it was all a big hoax.

Much like many of the pieces of content that was propagated by Crisman in his life, it turned out to be a work of great imagination. The only shame is that the Maury Island Incident has so much intrigue about it, and that it ostensible cost a good man a lot of his time, and a relationship with his children that could have potentially been a whole lot more normal.


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