|“You were on the Nimitz. You weren’t on the Princeton. So, don’t act like you know what happened on the Princeton. These are things that happened on my ship – my ship.” This was Navy veteran Karson Kammerzell teeing off last month on Lt. Cmdr. David Fravor, maybe the single most important eyewitness in the long road toward de-stigmatizing the entire UFO issue. “So I don’t wanna hear you, no matter how far up the chain of command you are, bash my shipmates on my ship by saying what they saw happen on their ship didn’t happen.||
By Billy Cox
“Because, you got no room to talk, dude. You were on the Nimitz the whole time.”
A cryptological communications operator aboard the USS Princeton during the fateful span of days in November 2004 compressed into what’s become known as the Tic Tac Incident, Kammerzell is coming in late to this brouhaha. But, as with a small but outspoken group of USN colleagues before him, Kammerzell decided to join them in telling Florida filmmaker Dave Beaty that American taxpayers still haven’t gotten the full story about what happened off the coast of Baja California 16 years ago.
To the extent that the Pentagon finally and formally admitted in April that it doesn’t know what Fravor and his “Black Aces” squadron aboard the USS Nimitz encountered over the Pacific on 11/14/04, Kammerzell is absolutely right – we don’t know the whole story. But how much of that mystery is being deliberately shielded from public scrutiny?
Since the NY Times broke the Tic Tac story, with its attendant revelations about the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, we’ve seen the momentum escalate in ways no one could’ve predicted just three years ago:
In April 2019, the Navy made a public show of updating its pilot procedures for reporting UFOs. Last summer, the DoD established its Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force “to detect, analyze and catalogue” UAPs/UFOs deemed potential national security threats. In June, the Senate Intelligence Committee introduced as part of its omnibus spending bill for 2021 a provision for the military to publicly release its findings. When and if Congress ever gets around to passing a budget, and assuming the Committee’s mandate survives, the UAPTF will have 180 days to pony up. And lately, even the venerable Scientific American is cheerleading for a rigorous, transparent pursuit of the facts.
So lots of things are happening, but the corridors are still dark and we’re all trying to find our way. Just ask Dave Beaty, who started a related Facebook page immediately after the AATIP reveal. The chatter led to an earful from one of the drama’s key players, retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Kevin Day.
Day was anchoring the Combat Information Center aboard the USS Princeton, the guided missile cruiser and comm hub of the carrier task force, when bogeys began shadowing the exercises. Day’s big-picture framing helped inform Beaty’s visual recreation of the incident, which fused stock footage with CGI, and motivated him to contact the To The Stars Academy.
|Filmmaker Dave Beaty cut out direct references to Lt. Cmdr. David Fravor in his documentary on the Tic Tac incident after being threatened with legal action/CREDIT: Dave Beatty|
The re-edited update, however, was expanded to 32 minutes in order to accommodate additional voices who responded to Beaty’s appeal for more participants and eyewitnesses. From the get-go, Fravor has been reasonably perplexed over the ostensible lack of official interest in his squadron’s documentation of the flying object(s) that zipped around the Pacific skies like a cursor on a computer screen and rendered front-line carrier warplanes obsolete. Yet, after listening to Beaty’s witnesses, the commander felt obliged to push back.
“Position-wise, I’m probably, as commanding officer of the squadron, in the top 20. Out of 6,000 (sailors). And no one came to talk to me,” Fravor told Joe Rogan in October 2019. “No one came to take my tapes, no one showed up in a suit, no one told me not to talk. No one talked to any of my air crew that were involved in this, and there were six (fliers) involved.” And as Fravor told a live audience attending the McMenamins UFO Festival five months earlier, “Excuse my language, but it kinda pisses me off when people started making stuff up.”
Presumably, those unnamed fabulists include Princeton shipmates Petty Officer 3rd Class Gary Voorhis, Leading Petty Officer Ryan Wiegelt and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Turner, along with Petty Officer Patrick Hughes, assigned to the Nimitz. And now, more recently, the Princeton’s Karson Kammerzell.
Voorhis goes on camera to state that, after the incident, he was ordered to turn over the Princeton’s Aegis 3-D radar system data tapes to two unknown authorities who arrived by helicopter; furthermore, he was directed to reload the CIC radio communication tapes because they’d all just been scrubbed of recent content.
Wiegelt claims two unknown men wearing generic flight suits stepped off a helicopter and tended to none-of-your-business on the Princeton before taking off for the Nimitz. They later returned to the Princeton with unmarked bags, and retired to guest quarters with a sentry posted outside.
While in the Ship’s Signal Exploitation Space aboard the Princeton, Turner says he got a look at the Tic Tac sequence on the console, and that the video was roughly 10 minutes long. Fravor says the video lasts maybe 1½ minutes, and that allegations to the contrary are “bullshit.”
Back on the deck of the Nimitz, meanwhile, aviation technician Hughes says he removed and secured memory cartridges from the all-seeing E-2 Hawkeye, which was monitoring the chase scene from high above the action. Shortly thereafter, Hughes said his CO, accompanied by two unidentified men, confiscated the E-2 “data bricks” and deposited them into bags, which left with the visitors.
Kammerzell decided to weigh in with Beaty only after discovering Fravor’s dismissive comments from 2019.
Over the span of the Tic Tac affair, Kammerzell says he got a first-hand look at a UFO from the deck of the Princeton one night. And it didn’t look a thing like the oblong Tic Tac. It was a silent, triangular array of lights, flying close, maybe no more than a mile away. In fact, he says the entire crew was aware that something extremely bizarre was going on upstairs but nobody freaked because the activity wasn’t threatening.
Kammerzell also said two superior officers were summoned to the Nimitz, where they were instructed that the confusion was merely a “falling ice” phenomenon, a line nobody believed. The day following the incident, Kammerzell added, the boatswain’s mate charged with logging official records for the Princeton discovered his notes from the prior day had been removed and replaced with a sanitized version, in someone else’s handwriting.
None of these details made it into the “Executive Summary,” the unsigned and “unofficial official” accounting of the Tic Tac intercepts prepared in 2009 and released to KLAS-TV journo George Knapp in 2018. But as we follow the trail, Luis Elizondo, the man Fravor credits for persuading him to talk to the Times, urges caution.
“David Fravor is a good man and a hero,” says the former director of the AATIP project. “But yes, it’s possible the commander was out of the loop. He had complete situational awareness of what was going on with his squadron. But it’s not fair to say he necessarily had an awareness of everything that happened.”
Is it logical to suppose that analysts poring over Tic Tac data wouldn’t want to interview the aviators who actually acquired that data? Not really. But when it comes to The Great Taboo, logic has never been a co-pilot. In the meantime, Dave Beaty continues to work with other retired Navy sources.
“In the beginning, I was thinking this thing was completely unknown, and nobody seemed to have a clue within the military,” Beaty says. “But as more people come forward, it seems to paint a different picture that leans more towards the military knowing more about what’s going on with that event than they’re letting on.”
Certainly, if they’re sitting on classified data, that much is indisputable. At least now, with Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist running the UAP Task Force, we know where the buck stops.
Here’s to clarity.