HELENA – A single drop of water doused Richard O’Connor’s theory that he had photographed an alien spaceship.
The south-facing camera on the outside of his home in the hilly country in Jefferson County in November captured an image of what looked like an unidentified flying object. The oval shaped object appeared to be rocketing across the sky.
“It’s a falling water drop, is what it is,” O’Connor said. “It’s a huge disappointment to me.”
Part of the photo with its dark blue sky and white, high cirrus clouds is now the backdrop on his laptop computer screen.
“I put it there as a reminder to me not to jump to conclusions,” he said, but noted that he's “still continuing to try to get a good photograph.”
O’Connor is a retired doctor who left St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena a year ago in July after 28 years as an anesthesiologist. When his other medical experience is added in, he’s been working in operating rooms for better than 30 years.
At one time he had set up a radio dish in his yard pointing toward the sky directly overhead. A computer with an open email program was attached to the dish in hopes of enticing a message.
“But it just did not happen,” he said.
A computer program helps him scan the roughly 270,000 photographs he had acquired by November from those cameras.
Late last year he was startled by what he thought he saw among those photographs.
“On November the 4th, I thought I had found it,” he said.
“It certainly fit a lot of descriptions people have given about their own sightings,” he said.
Seated in the living room of his home with its view of timbered mountains, he offered two of what he said could be many explanations for the sightings that continue to be reported.
“My conviction that the UFO phenomenon is quite real remains steadfast, and I encounter more evidence to support this conclusion almost daily.”
One theory is the popular one advanced by those who assert extraterrestrial life-forms are responsible for piloting unidentified flying objects.
“For me there’s no single piece of evidence that leads me to that conclusion.”
Instead, it is the preponderous amount of evidence on the subject, he said, that supports his conclusion.
The testimony of government officials, those in the military as well as the sightings by pilots and ordinary people, he explained, all point to a “first contact” already being underway – something that’s been happening for decades and even centuries before more recent encounters.
“Who has the motive to lie about this?” he asked.
For him, the answer to who is withholding the truth appears obvious: those in the deepest reaches of the military-industrial complex and perhaps those who hold political reins.
In November, he advanced that theory but more recently offered another explanation.
“The ‘speed of light argument,’ they can't get here from there due to multiple light-year distances of separation, has remained a major hurdle and one preventing most mainstream scientists from fully embracing the idea that the UFO phenomenon is real, and that they are not ours,” O’Connor wrote in an email.
“Their understandable position for decades has been ‘it can't be, so it isn't.’ If the UFOs seen in our skies are actually the products of a very sophisticated, technologically advanced, yet entirely human or a closely related species that has evolved in parallel with our own comparatively primitive surface civilization, then several major obstacles to embracing the UFO phenomenon as real, and to our understanding of what is behind it – obstacles like the ‘speed of light argument – then vanish.”
“This is all speculation, of course,” he said.
Say that an event from space, such as a solar storm, struck Earth and killed nearly everyone, he said.
However, some of the inhabitants at that time were living in caves and spared the destructive force of that event.
Those survivors, who perhaps emerged from those caves, would have had a head start on the rest of humanity, O’Connor said, and today would be a far more technologically advanced life form.
Space ships could be an example of the technology they possess, he added.
While he offered this as something to be considered, he asked how a person in the 1920s would react to seeing a cellphone of today – a device that responds to voice commands.
Technological advances as evidenced by the last 100 years could be far greater for a civilization that had a much longer head start on the rest of humanity, O’Connor said.
“In my view, at this point in our very limited understanding of what is behind the UFO phenomenon, every possible hypothesis purporting to explain the presence of UFOs in our skies needs to be out on the table,” he said.
Visitors from other worlds are a possibility for him, as is a secret civilization existing among us.
“They’re both possibilities,” he said.
But while he doesn’t ascribe to either one at this point, the existence of UFOs for him is undeniable.
These reports, he said, “they are close-up and personal, profound events in people’s lives.”
Lacking in explanation
Livestock mutilations reported in the 1970s in Montana farm and ranch fields lead O’Connor to conclude that perhaps otherworldly life-forms or those of a more advanced earthly civilization are slowly revealing their presence as they watch and interact with Earth’s inhabitants.
O’Connor posted a video online of his interview with two former Montana sheriffs. It can be viewed here: youtube.com/watch?v=nR_hKWv45OY.
“This interview with Montana sheriffs Keith Wolverton and Pete Howard took place on August 3, 2016,” states the text beneath the video. “We hope the information conveyed in this video will inspire others to realize that the UFOs being seen in our skies are real, and they merit our curiosity and our attention.”
Wolverton was the sheriff of Cascade County, and Howard was the sheriff of Teton County, O’Connor said. Both men talked about the cattle mutilation cases they investigated during the 1970s – events that O’Connor said can’t be easily explained.
Intricate designs carved overnight into crop fields are other evidence of this advanced intelligence that pilots UFOs, according to O’Connor.
These designs come in all shapes and contain messages such as mathematical formulas, he said and then explained, “they’re trying to tell us something.”
Several websites are devoted to pondering crop circles and one such circle that’s been decoded reportedly says, “Beware the bearers of false gifts and their broken promises. Much pain, but still time. Believe. There is good out there. We oppose deception.”
A link to an incident
O’Connor, 60, is tall with blue eyes behind gold-rimmed glasses. His brown hair is pulled into a ponytail.
Although he’s soft-spoken, an emotional intensity surfaces when he discusses the threat nuclear weapons pose to the planet and the attention they’ve drawn from UFOs.
“I think what keeps me involved in this is the now apparent link between UFOs and our nuclear weapons,” he said.
That link has been documented by UFO researcher Robert Hastings, O’Connor said, who created an online documentary: “UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed.”
“Our state of Montana is loaded with nuclear weapons. In a nuclear war, this beautiful state will be turned into radioactive ash.
“I would really like to see Gov. Bullock and our state legislators declare Montana to be a nuclear-weapons-free state and begin the process of ridding our state, and eventually our world, of these unconscionable weapons of mass destruction," O’Connor said.
“I think when nuclear weapons entered the picture, UFO activity on this planet really picked up,” he noted and explained that Earth’s civilization can’t be the first to discover the power within an atom, nor will it be the first to vanish because of it.
O’Connor’s interest in UFOs spans decades. Yet a single event, meeting Dr. Jesse A. Marcel Jr., who practiced medicine with him at St. Peter’s Hospital, helped cement his belief.
Marcel told O’Connor he had seen some of the debris from the Roswell, New Mexico, UFO incident in July 1947.
O’Connor and Marcel worked together as colleagues. They were friends and “his story was always the same,” O’Connor said.
“I came to the conclusion 30 years ago that this man was not a liar. He was a very responsible person.”
Marcel’s father, who was also named Jesse A. Marcel, was the chief intelligence officer with the 509th Bombardment Group. He was among the military personnel who responded to the Roswell crash site, O’Connor said.
Marcel’s father brought home some of the crash debris to show his family. His son, who was 11 years old at the time, never forgot what he saw and described the thin metal I-beam parts with their peculiar purple markings, O’Connor said.
According to the Roswell UFO Museum website (roswellufomuseum.com/incident.html) the crash was reported by rancher W.W. “Mack” Brazel, who with the son of another family rode to check on sheep after a fierce thunderstorm the previous night.
Brazel noticed metal debris and saw a shallow trench several hundred feet long carved into the land.
The rancher recovered several large pieces of the debris and took them home with him. He then showed them to the family of the man that had ridden with him.
Brazel reported his discovery to the county sheriff, who reported it to Maj. Marcel at the Roswell Army Air Field. The debris site was closed while the wreckage was recovered.
“I didn’t know what we were picking up,” the museum website noted of Marcel’s comments regarding the debris. “I still don’t know what it was. … It could not have been part of an aircraft, not part of any kind of weather balloon or experimental balloon. … I’ve seen rockets … sent up at the White Sands Testing Grounds. It definitely was not part of an aircraft or missile or rocket.”
Bodies were also reported to have been recovered from the wreckage, according to the website.
A news release from the Roswell Army Air Base was printed by the local newspaper and broadcast by radio stations that the “wreckage of a crashed disk had been recovered.”
A weather balloon was substituted for the wreckage during a subsequent evaluation at what was then Fort Worth Army Air Field, the website explained, and the wreckage became that of the balloon.
“(It) was a cover story. The whole balloon part of it. That was the part of the story we were told to give to the public and news and that was it,” the website quoted Brig. Gen. Thomas DuBose, chief of staff of the 8th Air Force, as having said.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Roswell event was a UFO that crashed in the desert,” O’Connor said. “And our military recovered it and then they covered it up.”
“I think that’s been a huge disservice to humanity, in my opinion.”
Jesse A. Marcel Library
“There’s been a concerted effort to cover all this up,” O’Connor said. “At some point in the near future, that’s got to stop.”
A public-records request by the Independent Record was made to the Department of the Air Force, headquarters 341st missile wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, regarding sightings of unidentified flying objects over Montana since 1999.
“Manual and computer searches were conducted and we have no records responsive to your request and we are not aware of any other records systems which are likely to produce any responsive records,” the Feb. 19 response stated.
“That’s unfortunate,” O’Connor said. “I guarantee you that’s not true.”
O’Connor sees withholding of information as hindering scientific and social evolution of the world and said funding is needed for study and evaluation.
For more than 60 years, people have been convinced that contact by aliens is not real, O’Connor said, explaining that daily life with jobs and families leaves little time for people to consider the issue in depth.
“Trying to sort out what’s fact and what’s fiction is not a simple process.”
To help people learn about these first contacts, O’Connor opened the Jesse A. Marcel Library in March 2012. It’s named for the elder Marcel and located in a building near his home.
On most Tuesday nights between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., when it’s open, presentations and discussions are held for the typical 10 to 20 people who come. Some are there to learn. Others arrive to share stories.
“I think this is so important I want to take every opportunity I can to educate people about it,” he said.
"Those interested in visiting the library can check the library's calendar," he noted.
O’Connor said he asked Marcel, who died about a year and a half after the library’s opening, how the elder Marcel would have reacted at having the library named after him. Marcel said his father would have been honored.
“For me, this has evolved beyond the realm of belief,” O’Connor said.
People who look will find enough good and credible information, he explained, that will transition into “something they will know to be pretty much true.”
Ridicule has helped to keep people from talking about what they have seen and experienced, O’Connor said.
“We don’t want to be labeled as the kook down the block that believes in little green men.”
Yet this is the risk he takes, and he explained he’s had the time to look at the evidence that supports his beliefs.
And had he not known and worked with Marcel at St. Peter’s Hospital, he might be among those who express disbelief, he said.
If people from Earth were to find a planet where life existed, it would make sense to hold off from barging in and instead first watch and study life on that world, O’Connor said of what aliens might be doing if they are indeed who are piloting UFOs.
Earth, he said, may be “the most profound reality show that an intelligent being can observe.”
Aliens watching this planet may be studying us to learn from our actions, he said, but he’s quick to add that this is all speculation. There’s no way anyone can know.
“But these all seem to be plausible explanations, of course, given that they’re here,” he said of UFOs.
O’Connor, who created an Internal Revenue Service-recognized nonprofit organization for his research, said he’s spent several tens of thousands of dollars on what he’s doing to foster awareness of alien contacts.
“I want to help people get up to speed on this and understand,” he said.
And, still, the quest continues to document an encounter even if it’s a fleeting image captured on a camera at his home.
“It would be remarkable if it did happen,” he said, “but so far it hasn’t happened yet.”
“I’m just interested in finding out the truth about this.”
Al Knauber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org