As Weird as it Gets – Part 4
Serious UFO-related journalism has often been hard to come by via the conventional media, especially in the U.S., but recent events may encourage more credible reporting of the seemingly incredible.
Mike Cataldo, now long retired from the Navy, served in 1973 as a chief petty officer in Mississippi. Like most of the country, he was familiar with the Hickson-Parker report and never met or spoke with either man, but for all the years that followed he shared with friends and family another side to the story, something of vital significance
By Robert Barrow
that he finally decided to impart publicly late last year. He tried to locate a reporter in Pascagoula who wrote the original UFO story, and eventually was put in touch with Natalie Chambers of the Associated Press.
Chambers’ interview with Cataldo appeared in The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal of October 21 last year, but it failed to make the coast-to-coast splash it should have, though even famed radio commentator Paul Harvey realized Cataldo’s importance and devoted part of his Saturday, October 27 national broadcast to Natalie Chambers’ shocker.
“When Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker told the world in 1973 they were abducted by aliens while fishing on the Pascagoula River, few believed them,” her article began. “Now, after 28 years, it appears they weren’t alone in their experience on that October 11 night.” Indeed, at about the same time and in the same area as the UFO incident, Cataldo and fellow crew mates Ted Peralta and Mack Hanna were driving on U.S. 90, heading to Ocean Springs. Cataldo was in the back seat.
“We saw a very strange object in the horizon going from northeast across Highway 90,” Cataldo recalled. “It was going pretty fast. It went down into a wood area and into the marsh. It hovered over the tree line. . .maybe a minute. We actually pulled off the road and watched it. We said, ‘My God, what is that?'” Cataldo said the thing looked like a large tambourine with little lights flashing on it. “As quickly as we saw it, it just vanished.” Some daylight still remained as dusk approached, so the men got a good look at the object. But Cataldo tells of a second sighting minutes later, this time in St. Andrews, as he neared his home. “It wasn’t as high up as we saw the first time. It was real.”
Almost hyperventilating when he ran inside to tell his wife, Cataldo knew he had to tell Navy officials. As a member of the pre-commissioning crew of the USS Tunney, under construction at Ingalls Shipyard, he reported for work the next morning and immediately contacted his executive officer to make a statement. After the weekend, he contacted Keesler AFB in Biloxi and left his phone number. However, if Cataldo expected tea and sympathy, he was mistaken. “My executive officer and crew members thought we were just lunatics, just whacked out,” he told Chambers. “It never came up again. Keesler never called or did anything.”
UFO researcher Kenny Young (Author’s April, 2007 notation to this 2002 article: Mr. Young is now deceased) also contacted Cataldo following Natalie Chambers’ article, also attempting – so far unsuccessfully — to locate his two fellow Navy witnesses. Cataldo provided a few more details of the object, perhaps the most intriguing being that it “was less than half a mile away and looked as big as any big American airliner I’ve ever seen.” He also confirmed that other motorists had slowed down to look at the seemingly inexplicable sky object. “We were the only ones on the road to stop and look at it though,” he advised.
Importantly, Cataldo admitted, “I never knew of the Hickson-Parker abduction until days later. It happened on Thursday and it was not until the following Sunday that I saw the headline in the morning paper about two men taken aboard a flying saucer, I’m telling you I about died.” He emphasizes that he can’t be absolutely sure that his UFO and the fishermen’s were the same, but the place and time were so close that the relationship must surely be taken seriously. […]