||By C. Scott Littleton
Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus
Los Angeles, CA
In honor and memoriam for our dear friend and colleague, Scotty Littleton–we reproduce his eyewitness account of one of the most significant UFO events in history on this 72nd anniversary–FW.
Let me begin by stating unequivocally that I don’t by any means consider myself to be a full-fledged Ufologist. Until very recently, I’ve never systematically investigated a contemporary UFO sighting or debriefed an abductee. Much of my concern with the UFO phenomenon has come from a lifetime of studying world mythology and folklore, and the extent to which it appears to have been strongly colored, if not actually engendered, by the perception of and/or interaction with alien beings, from New Guinea to ancient Mesoamerica and Mesopotamia
I’m also very much interested in the extent to which what I call the “war of the gods” theme, which is well nigh universal, may reflect the “collateral damage” caused by a devastating colonial war between two high-tech alien civilizations for hegemony over this planet some 8,000 or 9,000 years ago
But the forgoing might be the subject of a subsequent presentation. To introduce the subject at hand, I should tell you that I’ve had three personal experiences that appear to have involved UFOs, in addition to the one that’s the focus of this talk. In 1937, four years before my family moved to Hermosa Beach, when we lived in the Highland Park district of Los Angeles, I saw what I later came to think of as a “flying French horn.”
Although I was supposed to be taking an afternoon nap, it was a bright day, the curtains of my nursery window were open, and I was definitely wide awake during the thirty seconds or so it took the strange craft to pass slowly—and soundlessly—across my field of vision. I never mentioned what I’d seen to my parents, and it apparently didn’t cause any stir in the neighborhood. (And, no, I don’t think I was abducted, but who knows for sure? Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to undergo hypno-regression. . . .) Of course, this event occurred a decade before the expressions “UFO” and “Flying Saucer” came into existence, so I had no frame of reference.
More recently, in May of 1990, off the southern tip of Baja California, I watched a bright point of light perform exotic, right-angle maneuvers over the ocean at approximately 3:00 a.m. It was clearly not a plane or a helicopter.
And in 2003, while driving north on the I15 north of Lake Ellsinore in Southern California on a bright summer afternoon I watched a curious, doughnut shaped object emerge from behind a hill, move west across the highway at a slow speed, and then simply vanish. It was only evident for about ten seconds. My wife also glimpsed it fleetingly after I called her attention to it. I should add that few other motorists appeared to notice the peculiar object, although a couple of cars did slow down appreciably shortly after it disappeared.
But the sighting I’m concerned with here, what has come be known as the “Battle of Los Angeles,” was witnessed by over a million other people in Southern California in the wee hours of February 25, 1942, less than three months after Pearl Harbor.
At that time, especially in communities like Hermosa Beach, California, where we’d moved in the spring of 1941 to a house that directly faced the beach, the threat of invasion was still palpable, and a great many folks—including the military—still expected us to be bombed in the near future. For that reason, the whole of Santa Monica Bay from Malibu to Palos Verdes was soon ringed with anti-aircraft batteries and searchlight brigades. The guns banged away almost every night, shooting at targets that were towed across the sky over the ocean by specially designed planes. The targets would be pinpointed by the searchlight beams, which also illuminated the exploding shells. It was a grand show that usually lasted about half an hour and rarely if ever continued much after 10:00 p.m.
At first, we kids would watch the action with great fascination, but after a few nights in early January the noise of the guns and the exploding shells soon became routine, as predictable as the sound of the waves in the winter. Most people learned to sleep through the cacophony with few problems. Indeed, it gave us a sense of security; our brave anti-aircraft gunners would quickly save us from any attempts by the nasty Japanese to penetrate our airspace.
In any case, the early evening of February 24 was unremarkable. The guns fired a few practice rounds and then fell silent well before 10:00 p.m. I remember going to bed shortly thereafter, reading for a few minutes by the light of a small flashlight I kept hidden under my pillow, and then falling asleep.
Around 3:15 a.m., I awoke to the sound of what I initially assumed was distant thunder. But as I came fully awake, I realized that the guns were firing again. At first, I thought they were simply doing another drill, though it seemed awfully late.
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