It was a nice ride from Bentwaters to RAF Woodbridge. I have a good memory, but I kept telling Linn the whole way that nothing looked familiar. I just knew we would be turning left at some point on a road that would take us to the east end of RAF Woodbridge. We parked the cars not far from the road, and with Jon as our guide, we ventured out through the forest towards Capel Green, site of the famous 1980 UFO landing area. It was a good twenty minute hike, but I recognized the area when we arrived. Never actually having visited this area while stationed here, I reviewed my Left at East Gate CD-ROM and watched a video of the Rendlesham case on a TLC documentary and familiarized myself that way. While someone was holding one two way radio near my camcorder, Don videotaped me as I hopped the fence and walked out into the farmer's field to Ground Zero. Using the other radio, I gave a brief account of Larry Warren's story on what happened the night of 29 December 1980.
After I was through trespassing, Jon led us on a different route back. We didn't walk very far before Jon pointed out Orfordness Lighthouse, what some skeptics call the real UFO. He also pointed to a path that led to "Colonel Halt's UFO landing area", but due to time constrictions, we had to pass. On the way back, I finally had a chance to talk privately with Tony and he told me a very interesting story of how he first got into Bible study and teaching, but I'll let him share that story with everyone else if he chooses.
Once back at the parking area, we said our good-byes and thank you to Linn. Not thinking, I forgot to have my picture taken with him. Oh well. Next time Linn!
After Don dropped off Ken and I back at the Lattice Lodge, we walked a few blocks down Woodbridge Road to Papa Noel's Fish and Chips shop for take-out. On the way back, we picked up some lager and took it all back to the B&B where we possibly ate the best cod ever. We were too exhausted to go drinking at the pub across the street, so we turned in early to prepare for Day Two of our base visit.
Saturday morning, Tony and his family picked us up around 10 a.m. and we began our journey back to the bases. Fortunately there were signs pointing the way, because I don't think any of us recalled exactly how to get to RAF
Woodbridge. Once there, it looked pretty much the same as it did 21 years ago, but I never realized how small the domestic side along the main road was. Proceeding up the main drag, we got as far as the old base chapel when
we were forced to turn around. A fence stretched across the main road that led up to the flightline and our old training area. We parked the car and walked up to the fence behind the old Charlie Napa where I took a picture of Ken and Tony. We quickly got bored and completed our tour of Woodbridge in about 10 minutes. On to Bentwaters.
We entered through the old main gate of the domestic side and parked. Tony and I got out and began taking pictures of the BX, Commissary and what used to be the Stereo Shop and NCO Club area. Demolition crews have been leveling the domestic side for several months now. After receiving permission from the site supervisor, we drove over to the barracks area. This place has a lot of memories and I remarked how seeing the barracks again was just as important as visiting the WSA. I spent most of my two year tour living in building 754, so I was determined to go back to my old rooms...and I did, videotaping the whole time. I first went to the bottom floor where Cervantez and then Meyer and I roomed, then up to the second floor where Don Laisure, then Freddie Brown and I stayed. Both rooms were opened, but the room next door where Clarence Washington and Dock Rhodes stayed on the top floor was locked. As I had done so many times in the past, I banged on the door and called out to them "for old times sake". Building 756 was another dorm I lived in near the end, but it had been completely remodeled with exterior corridors. From the outside, 755 and 756 looked more like "No Tell Motel" than military barracks. Bathrooms were in the middle and shared by two rooms at opposite sides of the building. Tony
and I walked down (what we thought was) the old path between where the bowling alley and the chow hall once stood towards the bus stop. Tony and I took pictures of each other by the bus stop, then realized the bus stop we used wasn't brick like this one, but was green metal. Oh well!
After spending over an hour there, we took a few more photos and began to leave. Very soon, the barracks will be gone and I was glad we got a chance to see them before they too were leveled. I pointed to the sidewalk and remembered the last time I walked down it in that same direction. It was my last day at RAF Bentwaters in 1981. Mine, Tony's, Bob Scarlett's, Todd Ray's, and Kirk Meyer's. Several friends from D Flight saw us off because that was the tradition we upheld back then. Don Laisure insisted on carrying my heaviest suitcase all the way to the pick up point. The Grabowski's, Karl and Diane showed up with a going away present I had to refuse because my luggage was completely full. Many pictures were taken and a lot of handshakes were exchanged, then we boarded the Motorcoach probably never expecting to return.
After leaving the domestic side, we went to our new favorite eatery, The Jays' Cafe for lunch and then bid Bentwaters a fond farewell and wondered how soon we could plan another trip back here.
Our next stop was Sutton Hoo, not too far from RAF Woodbridge. Discovered in 1939, a 7th century king and his 27 meter ship were found in a large burial mound. Excavated by English archeologists, it contained the richest Anglo-Saxon grave-goods known from that period in England and is considered the greatest treasure ever discovered in the U.K., which is now in the British Museum in London. The ship that was buried centuries ago, was hauled up a steep slope from the River Deben and a large burial chamber was erected in the middle of it. The great ship burial was the largest mound, but the cemetery contained 19 total mounds and numerous other burials, including another ship and a horse.
Due to the large amount of weekend visitors, it took us over an hour to tour the exhibition hall and the actual burial grounds. Afterwards, Tony drove Ken and I back to our B&B where we said our good-byes and agreed to stay in contact and exchange photographs taken during the trip.
Ken and I rested up awhile, then walked downtown to the Butter Market Shopping Centre to see Don and to tell him of another great day we experienced out at the base. From there, Ken went to the train station to get schedules while I waited for him across the street at the pub. Sitting down and drinking my bitter, I realized I was finally drinking my first English beer in a pub since arriving five days ago. Ken came in not long after and ordered a cider, while I finished up my bitter then quickly got a refill. It was a long walk back to the B&B and plans to call Jon Saunders and go out "pubbing" ended when I got back to my room and layed on the bed. When Ken called me on the two-way radio at 8:00 p.m., I told him I couldn't move and was skipping dinner. Thus ended day three in Ipswich.
Sunday morning, Ken took a train trip to Ely and I went to town centre to have lunch with Don. We ate in a pub not too far from where he worked and exchanged old Bentwaters SP stories. I invited him out to the Lattice Lodge that evening where I was to meet Robert McLean to discuss the 1980 UFO incident. Robert read about our reunion and found me through the 81SPS website and wanted to share with us his theory on the event.
Ken got back from Ely later that day and Robert arrived at the Lodge around 6:00 p.m. I let him watch the Unsolved Mysteries episode on the side screen on my camcorder before any serious discussion began. Jon Saunders and Don
arrived a short time later and with transcripts from the famous Halt tape and a map of Suffolk County on the floor, Robert shared with us his theory of the lights Colonel Halt and the others had seen those nights in December, 1980. He meticulously pointed out where Halt was on the map when he was talking into his recorder and came to the conclusion the Orfordness Lighthouse and a Lightship in the North Sea were the lights Halt and the others were chasing.
After Don left, we went to a pub up the street where we met Jon's friend, Jon "OJ" Marsden. OJ began telling us of past UFO type experiences he had in the Rendlesham forest area (click here for OJ's story). Close to midnight, Ken and I said our good-byes to Jon, OJ and Robert and that ended our final full day in the Ipswich area.
The next morning at the train station, Ken and I said good-bye and saluted each other. I got on my train back to London and Ken later boarded his to Cambridge. The reunion, which Ken and I had been planning since last summer....officially ended.
Arriving in London around noon, I checked into a B&B and just rested most of the day. Georgina Bruni gave me directions to her flat where I was to have dinner at 6:00 with her, Nick Pope (author and Ministry of Defence employee) and their friend Michelle. This would be my first time actually meeting Georgina. She obtained my email address from author Peter Robbins and first contacted me several years ago while doing research for her book "You Can't Tell the People". I was instrumental in pinpointing the exact dates of the sightings, putting her in touch with tower operator Rick Bobo, helping her
understand the work schedule of the different flights, and giving her my recollection of those nights which earned me a chapter in her book. Upon arriving at her flat and meeting her for the first time, it was more like saying "Hi" to an old friend and it was the same with Nick when he later arrived.
After a delicious dinner, Nick and Georgina watched the Unsolved Mysteries episode on my camcorder screen while Michelle nodded off and I leafed through privileged research material. Nick and Georgina remarked several times how the Americans did such a good job recreating the stories of Colonel Halt and John Burroughs. Nick gave me two of his autographed books and afterwards, we talked mostly about what brought us together....the Rendlesham case. We could have talked about it for hours, but I was worried about missing the last underground train out of Knightsbridge, so at 11 p.m., I reluctantly had to leave. I arranged to stop by the next day to pick up several autographed copies of "You Can't Tell the People" and then Nick made sure I got on the correct underground line and in the right direction.
My final day in London was spent touring the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Later, I went over to Georgina's to pick up autographed copies of her book for several of my friends back in the states, some, who put their orders in with me over a year ago. I walked Georgina out to Brompton Road, where she caught a taxi to take her to an important function that evening and again had to say "good-bye" to another friend. From there, I went to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square to spend most of my remaining British pounds on last minute souvenir shopping.
Early the next morning, I caught the Thameslink train south to Gatwick Airport and left England feeling a lot differently than I did back in 1981. This time, I knew I would be returning.....and it wouldn't take me twenty-one years.