His name was Ray Watkins, and he was a helluva nice guy and smart as they come. He got his Double “E” degree through the NESEP Program. Ray had just asked me the question that was sure to come up sooner or later in any Ready Room in the Fleet. I knew Ray was a mathematician as well and mused a bit before answering. “Ray,” I said, “I know the mathematical odds are that there has to be some form of life out there in the galaxies. I just don’t believe they reside in this solar system.” Ray had a twinkle in his eye and said, “I think you’re wrong.”
By this stage of my young life, I was already aware of the fabled New Mexico sightings, the many alien-abduction claims, and even a few unexplained sightings by supposed professionals, but then, as now, I was a skeptic, to say the least. I didn’t believe in psychics, soothsayers, demons, or witchcraft, and I sure as hell didn’t believe in UFOs. My conversation with Ray was one of those I hoped didn’t go any further. It is hard to reason with a true believer. Ray was smart enough to know that and dropped it.
In those days, my recreational reading went from John le Carré to Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour to James Michener; I was always a fan of history and historical fiction. Ray was heavy into Isaac Asimov and other science-fiction writers of the day. To my way of thinking, both pursuits—in their own way—were educational. One (Ray’s) was just on a higher plane, if you will.
I didn’t think much about it for a year or so. I was driving U.S. Marine Corps RF-4s and usually flew with Larry Shreve in my back seat, but often, I’d fly with the other guys as well. I always enjoyed flying with Ray; he knew the radar well and was calm and professional in every aspect. He was just a neat all-around guy.
Read the article from the February 2019 issue, UFOs_vs_Marines.
By Roy “Shadow” Stafford