My company of naval recruits was in “column platoon” rank formation outside the recruit mess at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, CA along with approximately one thousand other recruits in the regiment one January morning in 1972. We were waiting for the doors to open for breakfast. The way we lined up we faced San Diego Bay. We could not see the bay from where we stood, but it was somewhere in front of us, th view blocked by military buildings and other natural obstructions.
As a Recruit Petty Officer 1st Class (RPO1)I was maintaining the 2nd platoon of my company, which was standing at-ease in formation; chilly twenty-something not-quite-sailors hungry and waking up for another day of routine marching, barracks inspections and calisthenics. While at-ease, there is no talking but sailors in ranks are free to move one leg around as long as the other leg remains in formation.
As I surveyed my platoon I heard one of my fellow recruits (name withheld) mumbling something about the man in the moon. I admonished him about not talking in ranks, but he continued to mumble. I admonished him again and he spoke out loud, “There’s no man in the moon.”
Thinking he was trying to be funny I walked up to face him and to warn him one last time about not talking while in ranks, but he was insistent about there being “No man in the moon!”
By this time other recruits were starting to focus their attention on the conversation going on between us when I decided to humor him by looking up at the moon as I thought of something clever and threatening to say to him. That is when I realized that he was, in fact, correct. There appeared to be a full moon, but there was no moonlike definition. Instead, the moon’s surface seemed to shimmer with a sort of glowing iridescence that seemed to radiate from it in a bluish-white, slow undulation that was rather beautiful to observe. The “full moon” was almost overhead; possibly at an 80 to 88 degrees angle up from the horizon.
Upon seeing what he was seeing I remarked, “You’re right. There is no man in the moon.”
Almost as if on cue what we thought was a full moon suddenly seemed to rotate in a way which now showed it to be some type of saucer shaped object. When it rotated on what could only be described as it’s X-axis it took on the shape of a cigar, but it did not stop there. It continued to rotate along that X-axis a few times before it began moving in somnabulistic fashion in various patterns in the sky. It made a few rather abrupt forward movements to the North and even performed a sharp right angle turn in mid flight without slowing down. Some of its maneuvers reminded me of Lissajous patterns one might display on an oscilloscope, except what we saw was a physical object in the sky and not an electrically generated beam of electrons projected by a cathode ray tube.
This incredible aeronautic display went on for a few minutes. You can guess that it caused quite a stir through the ranks. By any example we all had fallen out of formation and standing at-ease gave way to chaos. Suddenly, the object seemed to move many miles out to sea past San Diego Bay in the blink of an eye. I cannot say how far it movd, but it had to be at least 10 to 20 miles at least. It stopped and hovered momentarily and then seemed to dim out into nothing, but I believe this is just how it was perceived from our vantage point. I believe it moved away from us so rapidly that it looked like it dimmed and went out, but it actually flew away from us at an incredible speed.
Within seconds after the object disappeared our company commanders and the regiment commanderers showed up and restored order. I forgot to mention that just prior to the UFO incident they mustered to a meeting which left me and the other recruit petty officers in charge of the platoons.
Quickly reminding us that we were out of ranks and while threatening to impose maximum disciplinary tactics upon us if we did not compose ourselves, the officers ordered us to explain why we were out of ranks.
Each company commander, upon hearing from their platoon leaders what caused the ruckus, proceeded to order us to not repeat what we saw to anyone at any time under penalty of Courts Martial, and they were very serious.
I still do not know if what we saw was extraterrestrial or if it was something human-made, but whatever it was it was the most incredible, beautiful and aerodynamically adept flying object I have ever seen. I hate to use this adjective, because it is overused, but what we witnessed was awesome.