Geographical Index > United States > Georgia > Fannin County > Report # 2393|
Submitted by witness David K. on Thursday, March 9, 2000.
The Georgia chopper crash story has been debunked. See msg from P. Caulkins in the investigator notes
(Show Printer-friendly Version)
COUNTY: Fannin County
LOCATION DETAILS: The location was northwest of Dalonega, Ga about 5-6 miles in the Chatahoochee Forest, 4 miles north of Camp Darby [Camp Frank D. Merrill] (US Army Ranger training camp). [The crash site is in the Blue Ridge Wildlife Refuge] The main N - S Park access (dirt and gravel) road was about two miles from the location. The Park starts about 1/2 mile north of Camp Darby and the access road is the road from Darby into the Park - follow this road for about 2 miles and take the right (north) fork. About 2-3 miles north of the fork and on the west side of the road is a large mountain (I dont know the name of it, and was probably only known as a number on the military maps, however I do not recall what it is) the incident occured near a ridge, about 1/3 of the way up mountain. If I had a military map of the area I could show you the exact location.
NEAREST TOWN: Dalonega
NEAREST ROAD: state park access road about 2 miles away
OBSERVED: [Prefatory Note 1: Some, but not all, of the grammar, spelling and structure from the original submission was edited for clarity. Usually we don't do this at all, to preserve the "voice" of the witness, but it was necessary in this case due to the length of the report, and by the request of the witnesses after he re-read his report online.]
[Prefatory Note 2: The few statements and insertions shown in brackets [like this] were added by the investigator, and were based on statements of the witness in the interviews. They are inserted at the relevant points of the narative to give a clear picture of the events described.]
[Prefatory Note 3: The recent information gathered (November 11, 2004) can be found at the bottom of the report.]
Here is the story from witness David K.:
"In 1985 I was assigned as a Military Policeman to the US Army Garrison at Fort McPhearson, Ga.(Atlanta). We recieved a alert for my squad to go and secure the crash site of an AH-1 (Cobra) helicopter that belonged to the Texas Army National Guard that crashed in the Chatahoochee Forest, North of the Ranger Camp.
We were helicoptered into the ranger camp with our gear and we boarded a "Duece" (2 1/2 ton truck) for the ride to the crash site.
We made it to within about 1/4 mile of the site and had to carry our gear in.
We relieved the Rangers that were guarding the site (the crash occured about 12 hrs earlier) and set up camp. Our job was to keep people out of the area (curiosity seekers, news people, etc.) until the crash investigation team arrived and took over.
The crash site was small, about 100 feet by 30 feet because the Cobra crashed in one piece and then burned, so the whole area had that fuel smell and that "burned flesh" smell.
We set up camp adjacent to the wreckage about 50 feet away and posted our guard shifts. (I will not name complete names here because of 2 reasons, 1. some of the people involved refused to even talk about it afterward. 2. I do not know where they are today.)
My squad consisted of 5 men:
SGT Ken R. - Patrol Supervisor (NCOIC)
SPC Rodney T. - MP
SPC Shaun N. - MP
PFC Tim A. - MP
PFC David K. (Me)-MP
We finally got the camp set around 6:00 pm and the sun was going down. A large fire was built in our perimeter (which was pretty stupid in retrospect due to the large amount of fuel on the ground from the crash) and had set 4 hour shifts. Myself and SPC Shaun N were on the second shift (10:00 pm-2:00 am) we finally racked out about 8:00pm to get some shut-eye.
Around 10:00 pm I woke to the most god awful howl/scream you could imagine and when I looked at SGT Ken R, SPC Rodney T and PFC Tim A, you would have thought that they saw a ghost! All three had their 45's out (we were armed with [45's] with two 6 round magazines) cocked, locked and ready to rock!
All were visibly shaken. Myself and SPC Shaun N got up and asked what the hell was that, the only answer we got was another howl/scream that was about 50 feet to our east (from the direction of the wreckage) at which time SGT Ken R started dousing the fire from a 5 gallon water can and then told us to spread out online. He told us to keep our flashlights off until he told us and then told us to move out to the wreckage keeping online. His words were "If these locals wanna F*** with the Army then lets give em what they want."
At this point as we started to move out I could hear metal being pulled, thrown and moved around at the crash site and I kept looking for a light down there as I was moving. About 30 feet away SGT Ken R turned on his mag-lite and what I saw scared the S*** out of me: 3 creatures were there among the wreckage and they were not bears! the closest one (about 10 feet away) was holding a piece of metal from the heicopter and stood on 2 legs at least 7 1/2 feet tall, covered in hair except for the face, which looked like a chimp, the one behind him(15 feet away) was dragging part of the pilot's body from the wreckage, he (or she) was larger than the first one, however it was stooped while dragging the body. My estimate was over 8 feet tall with the same facial features. I only saw the 3rd one briefly 40 feet away as it was fleeing.
SPC Rodney T. was the first one to fire [after dropping the only flashlight] which sent everyone into "Dodge City" mode [basically shooting everywhere].
[Important detail from the interview: The flashlight was dropped before the first round was fired, so none of the rounds fired were aimed precisely at the animals. These soldiers were shooting in the dark. ]
After SGT Ken R. got everyone to stop shooting and got us calmed down (yea right!) we reloaded a fresh clip and circled the wagons so to speak. This all lasted about 20 min from start (when I heard the scream) to finish (when we stopped firing) however we stayed locked and loaded till sunrise and did not move from our 360 at the wreckage.
Around 6:00 it started getting light, so we moved out to see if we killed one of the creatures or could at least get a bloodtrail. We found no creature bodies or bloodtrails.
The crash invesigators arrived at 8:00 am and we said nothing to them (upon agreement) and we left and returned to Fort McPhearson.
When I think about that night I really get the "Willies" about what I saw and as I said earlier some of the guys with me absolutely refused to talk about it. I honestly think (looking back on this) that these creatures ment us no harm - they were only scavaging. I think they may have smelled the burned bodies in the same way you can smell someone bar-b-quing, how good it smells? They sensed a free meal - even though we were 50 feet away - and were willing to take the risk.
The howl/scream? one of the creatures calling the others to his find. I have only talked to 2 other people about this and because I am still in the military (though I am no longer an MP) I wish to remain unknown to the public - at least until I retire (in 4 years). As an investigator you are free to contact me any time and I will answer any of your questions that I can.
OTHER WITNESSES: 5 total witnesses involved 2 were sleeping - (myself and SPC Shaun N.) 3 were guarding - (SGT Ken R., SPC Rodney T., PFC Tim A.)
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 10:00-11:00 pm Light Conditions: dark but clear Weather: clear and about 60 degrees
ENVIRONMENT: Geography: mountain terrain (by Georgia standards) with elevations around 3000 feet (highest peak in the area). It has many fast flowing creeks and streams with deep beds. The terrain tends to be very steep in most places with lots of gullies and draws.
Heavily wooded with areas of clearcut. underbrush is thick with lots of deadfalls. Virgin forest and 2nd generation forest about 50 / 50. Mostly Oak and Pine, some Walnut and a few Elm. Blackberries and wild plums abound. Enviorment of Encounter Area: 2nd generation hardwood forest (about 20-30 yrs old) and thick underbrush (oak scrub) about 200 meters (175 yards) from the edge of virgin timber (hardwood)
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
Primary BFRO investigators: Matt Moneymaker and Army Ranger Instructor Carl J.
Matt Moneymaker spoke with the witness David K. by phone from Korea. Carl J. was able to confirm that there was a helicopter crash with fatalities at the described location in 1985.
If you are one of the other witnesses mentioned in the report, please contact via the comments submission form. You'll find a link to it on the Submit-a-report page, which is linked to the homepage. Here is the URL: http://www.bfro.net/GDB/comments.asp.
Witness David K. and Ranger Instructor Carl J. would both like to speak with you about the incident.
This an animal observation case, not a criminal case. You have nothing to worry about by coming forward. No reasonable person is going to suggest that five MP witnesses are all crazy. As the first witness noted, this database puts your encounter in the proper context. You're not the only one who has seen these animals.
Q&A with witness David K.
Q: How did David K.'s group explain the missing ammunition when they returned?
A: To answer the question about the rounds, ask any MP and he will tell you that he carries his own [small arms] rounds. As a matter of fact most Infantry do too! My section had their own rounds and that is what we used. We had planned to do some [target practice] while we were there.
Q: How did they explain to the crash investigation team that the pilot's remains had been removed from the wreckage? The point of that being that the scene was to supposed to be kept undisturbed until the investigators arrived.
A: In the interview David K. mentioned that the only time his unit worried about others learning what happened was the following morning. Soon after the investigators arrived they started shouting and asking how and why the remains were outside the wreckage. David said his unit was very nervous at that moment. They could only shrug it off.
It's important to keep in mind that the MP unit's order were not to keep the site completely undisturbed. Their instructions were to "keep people away from the crash site." They camped at a spot where they would be able to deter people approaching from the nearest road. They didn't need to camp right next to wreckage.
Q: Can David K. explain why none of the three creatures were hit at such close range although many rounds were fired?
A: David never said that none of the creatures were hit. All he knew was that his unit didn't find any dead animals the next morning, nor did they find a blood trail. That does not mean that none were hit. He doesn't know one way or the other on that.
On the phone he explained that as the guys approached the wreckage, they were holding their guns and only one was holding a flashlight -- the sergeant. After the sgt and the rest of the unit got a good look at the animals in the flashlight beam, the sgt dropped the flashlight to go for his gun. So they were all suddenly laying down panicky cover fire blindly in the dark. If the animals were already starting to flee, the MPs could have easily missed them.
As David K. said on the phone, all his guys were trying to do at that moment was stop the animals from dragging away the remains. Their response definitely accomplished that, regardless of the surprise factor.
Q: Was it possible the wreckage was hit? Wouldn't bullet holes have raised questions?
A: Visible bullet holes in the wreckage would probably have raised questions among investigators. I assume David K. would have mentioned it if his unit had been called back and questioned about that later. Considering that he didn't mention that I can assume 1) they weren't called back and questioned about that, and thus 2) there were no bullet holes in the wreckage, and thus 3) they probably weren't firing toward the wreckage.
Several other questions and comments have been sent in by readers who have doubts about this story. Their questions range the gamut, from "Were there any tracks?" to "What happened to the spent shell casings after the shooting?"
Instead of going back to David K. with every new question and doubt that is sent in about this story, we are going to collect those questions and direct them to the other witnesses when we hear from them. David K. has told us enough. We'd like to seek answers from some of the other witnesses who were there that night.
This very unusual report has been posted to the BFRO site in order to encourage the other MPs involved to contact us with their version of the events that night, and their descriptions of the animals that were attracted to this crash site.
Various readers have responded to this report with questions and comments. A few people with military knowledge have pointed out some elements they consider to be inconsistent with standard military practice. The recurring elements have been put to some active military personnel. They have said that some things seem unusual, but may be due to slightly different practices and tolerances among different units in 1985. In that time period, we are told, operational procedures in various parts of the armed forces were not as strictly uniform among all units as they eventually became in subsequent years. In other words, some units did things a bit differently depending upon the style of the individual supervisors. This may not be tolerated today, but this incident did occur 15 years ago.
Some points, such as an apparent discrepancy in the asserted capacity of a 45 magazine, were later explained by David K. (and confirmed by other sources) as simply a difference in usage among serviceman at that time. The 45 magazine technically holds 7 rounds, but some servicemen put only 6 rounds in the magazine to prevent jamming -- hence David's reference to a 6 round magazine.
This is one example of a circumstantial element and a superficially questionable statement that various folks have focused on. These elements are peripheral, however, to the main question the BFRO is concerned with: What animal species was encountered that night at the crash site?
The BFRO's investigation has conclusively established two important things related to this incident.
1) This helicopter crash happened in the area and time frame described by David K.
2) David K. and at least some of the other MPs mentioned were among the people who guarded the crash site that night.
We're assuming that at least one of the other former MPs is still alive and recalls this assignment. We know some of their full names and can probably locate them, but we would like them to contact us on their own when they desire to discuss the incident. According to David K. they were very reluctant to discuss the matter after it happened, so we want to be sensitive to that. Both David K. and the BFRO are confident that at least one of the other MPs will want to make a statement about the incident at some point. It's much more likely that we'll receive a full and forthcoming account from the other witnesses if they initiate the contact with us, instead of them being contacted out of the blue and questioned about it.
If we are ever contacted by one of those former MPs we are actually expecting to hear a somewhat different version of the story than David K's version.
The key thing that interests the BFRO is the description of the animals that were observed that night, and what those animals were observed doing when confronted by the unit. If other elements of the whole story are disagreed upon between different witnesses, it would not be surprising at all, nor would it be relevant to the key issue of this report.
Different people will tend to have different recollections about peripheral details and sequences of events they experienced together many years before. We are only concerned about the recollections of a specific, 5-10 second observation that occurred among this group that night in 1985. If there are discrepancies among versions the story, but a consistency among them as to description of the animals, it would support the credibility of that part of the story.
If David's story is not true, in whole or in part, we assume the other MPs involved won't hesitate to tell us so, but we haven't heard from any of them yet ...
The helicopter crash site has been located. It's in the Blue Ridge Wildlife Refuge.
There are two white crosses at the crash site (obviously memorials for the two pilots), along with bits of debris from the crash.
The person who found the crash site is a search and rescue instructor in a nearby county in Northern Georgia.
The instructor, Alan F., didn't look around the crash site much when he found it, but he's planning to go back there soon with a metal detector and some local, off-duty sheriffs officers.
If there was a shooting at the site, as the witness described, with a hail of gunfire over the wreckage, there should be bullets embedded in the trees. A metal detector should be able to find some of the bullets.
A careful, well-planned, well-documented examination of the site may provide strong corroboration for David's story about the shooting.
Alan is definitely competent enough to conduct this operation in the Blue Ridge Wildlife Refuge and can recruit local assistance and arrange local permits.
Alan expressed an interest in joining the BFRO and will likely attend the 2005 West Virginia BFRO Expedition in April.
Message sent to BFRO from Patrick Caulkins on 9/3/2010
I was with B Co mp USAG at Ft. Mcpherson in 1985 and was on the mentioned crash security mission to Camp Merrill. Very little of the story I read on your page is based in reality.
Vollunteers were asked to join the mission, it was not assigned.
We flew to Camp Merrill in a Huey and were given a Ford cargo van and some MREs by the camp CO. When we arrived at the scene we parked within yards of the debris. Myself and a couple others(I do not remember the other soldiers names, but I don't regonize the ones mentioned in the article.)helped the ranger medic bag and carry the bodies to the ambulance.
After receiving final instructions and everyone left we settled in for the night (no special guard shifts were set) nearly all of us stayed awake all night. The night was VERY quiet and we passed the time talking and eating MREs.
Nothing was seen or heard all night and absolutely no weapons were discharged.The next morning we drove back to the main camp, returned the van and drove back to FT. Mac.
About BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
Matthew Moneymaker is originally from the Los Feliz District of Los Angeles, California.
- Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), 1992.
- Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law, 1996.
- Founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organizaton,1995.
- Writer and co-producer of the Discovery Channel documentary "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science," 2001.
- Co-producer of the TV Series "Mysterious Encounters" for the Outdoor Life Network (OLN Channel), 2002.
- Producer of the "2003 International Bigfoot Symposium" (Willow Creek Symposium) DVD set, 2004.
- Co-host of "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet Channel, 2010 - 2017.
- Current Director of the BFRO
Related Media Articles: