Sometime in the mid-1960s or so I saw a science fiction movie called Robinson Crusoe On Mars. In the movie were flying machines apparently used by an alien culture mining Mars. For some reason the crafts were vaguely familiar in a gnawing-away sort of way. Eventually the gnawing that stemmed from nothing more than a movie was put on hold and faded well back into the recesses of my belly brain. Then one day, like a name, word, or phrase that suddenly pops out of nowhere after months exhausting yourself trying to recall it, it dawned on me what it reminded me of --- the Martian flying war machines in the 1953 movie War of the Worlds. However, the gnawing away aspect of it all was NOT that the 'Robinson Crusoe On Mars' ships and the 'War of the Worlds' ships were similar, BUT that when I saw the mid-60s era ships and finally figured it out, it sent me back to the first time I saw the 'War of the Worlds' flying machines and how strongly seeing them affected me. Although the crafts in both movies were lithe and fighter-like, seeing them, in a fleeting shadow-like way, were vaguely reminiscent of the giant object of unknown origin that flew over my house that I saw as a young boy and describe in UFO Over L.A..
Interestingly enough, the flying craft in both of the movies were designed by the same man, Al Nozaki (1912 – 2003), an Oscar nominated art director. For some reason his designs were completely different from typical science fiction movie fare of the day --- which were invariably modifications of Flash Gordon or V-2 rockets or flying saucer disc-like contraptions. Because of that difference and continuingly being haunted by the similarity between what I saw over my house and what he had designed I decided to seek Nozaki out to see if I could learn the source of his inspiration.
TYPICAL ROCKET OR DISC-LIKE OBJECTS
DESIGNED OR OBSERVED DURING 1950's
The 1953 movie 'War of the Worlds' wherein Nozaki's handiwork appeared, was based on the novel of the same name by H.G. Wells. The action in Wells' novel was primarily based in London while the movie moved it to Los Angeles, making it in essence a Battle of Los Angeles. It was my suspicion, since Nozaki had been raised in the L.A. area and was of the right age, that he himself had seen the L.A. object. In that the movie circulated around the destruction of Los Angeles by an alien ship, consciously or subconsciously, I felt Nozaki incorporated what he saw into his creations.
Being a prominent art designer for a major studio I figured finding him would be easy, getting next to him and talking for any length of time might be another matter. Actually it ended up just the opposite. By the time I made my decision to seek him out, Nozaki, although only in his early to mid 50s, had left Paramount and retired, primarily because an eye disease that had impacted his work and, although he would live to age 91, would soon render him blind. At first, the fact of his retirement broke the chain in my ability of having intermediaries introduce us, but eventually I remembered a friend of mine I had met in boot camp, who as a young boy, had been interned along with his parents in one of the wartime Japanese relocation camps. Somewhere along the way I had learned Nozaki and his wife had been sent to Manzanar and, although my friend and his mother and father had been sent to a camp in Poston, Arizona, his parents maintained a close contact with a long list of former internees from all the locations. It was not long before I met someone who knew someone who knew Nozaki.
Although I came on good authority, initially the two of us did not hit it off too well because, as I quickly discovered, at least up to that point of time in his life, there were two things Nozaki did not talk about, especially to people he did not know well: Manzanar and the so-called 'Battle of L.A.' He did not talk about Manzanar because six months into internment he signed a loyality oath to the United States and was allowed to move to the midwest with his wife for the duration. Early on many in the Japanese community viewed such actions with disfavor, so it was many years before he discussed it openly. As to the 'Battle of L.A.' he kept his mouth shut because people would think he was nuts. For whatever reason, out of the blue, after he learned I had studied under the Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi, he basically just opened up and told me anything I wanted to know.
When I first met Nozaki he was living in an area of Los Angeles called Echo Park and, except for his relocation during the war, had done so since 1938. Echo Park is a neighborhood in Los Angeles located barely west and a little north of downtown --- and a long ways away from the direct path of the object. So my first question was, if he lived so far from the direct path of the object, what was he doing that put him in a position that he was able to observe the object up close at three or four in the morning? Secondly, if he was interned in Manzanar how was it he was still in the L.A. area when the 'Battle of Los Angeles' occured?
In that the answer to my second question is not as long and much easier to answer, I will respond to it first. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066 February 19, 1942 that basically set in motion U.S. policy regarding internment camps. March 7th the land for the Manzanar camp was set aside. On March 22nd the first large contingent of Japanese and Japanese Americans were moved from Los Angeles to the Manzanar by the Army. The so-called 'Battle of Los Angeles' or 'UFO Over L.A.' happened February 25, 1942 giving Nozaki a minimum of a one month window before he was interned. What led him to being able to observe the object as clear and as close as he did is as follows:
Nozaki was born in Japan in 1912 arriving in the United States with his parents when he was three or four years old, settling in the Los Angeles area. Growing up in Southern California, he was a product of local schools and universities, earning both a Bachelor's and Masters Degree from USC and entering the job market in 1933, the height of the depression. Knowing the only people in the area really hiring in those days that paid any kind of money, along with a certain job security, was the film industry, Nozaki began his search there. He was more than happy to take a job offered him by Paramount Studios.
Things went well the first few years, then, in December of 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. A wave of anti-Japanese sentiment swept across America and especially so along the Pacific coast. Nozaki, for no other reason than he was Japanese, was caught up in it all and fired from his job within days of the attack. Besides firings, closing of bank accounts and not cashing checks, all kinds of rumors began to surface of wrath unleashed against individuals of Japanese descent. In BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: The Radar Dilemma there is a report that an unarmed American merchant vessel was torpedoed south of Los Angeles in the channel between Santa Catalina Island and Point Fermin on Christmas day 1941, with the loss of one life and several injured. Immediately following the attack the submarine was spotted in the waters north of Point Fermin apparently headed toward the deep marine trench off Redondo Beach. According to World War II Comes To Redondo and a number of other historical sources about the era, U.S. aircraft caught the sub blatantly navigating on the surface and attempted to pepper it's decks with bombs. The next day newspaper headlines screamed "Army Flyer Sinks Coast Raider, Air Filled with Debris as Nippon Submarine Is Destroyed." The high initial enthusiasm turned to outrage when it was discovered the submarine that had, through it's actions not only sank a U.S. ship off the coast and causing the death of an innocent American merchant seaman, actually escaped. Within days rumors circulated that three Japanese individuals were pulled out of their home in the middle of the night and hanged from the rafters of their front porch or their house near Hawthorne Blvd and Torrance Blvd, halfway between the cities of Torrance and Redondo Beach. True or not, Nozaki, out of work, was requested by high ranking family members to seek out other family members or close family friends in the same area and convince them, for their own safety, to move. Instead he procastinated. Then, on February 23, 1942, word came out that a Japanese submarine shelled the Ellwood oil fields near the town of Goleta, 12 miles north of Santa Barbara. The next day, February 24th Nozaki drove down to the city of Gardena to try and talk close family friends living there into moving. If he was ultimately successful in his endeavors are not known. However, in those days most of the general vicinity was rural and the Japanese living in the area were simply hardworking farmers and their families. Nobody he talked to expressed any desire to leave. Matter of fact, many of the younger Japanese would spend night after night or rotating nights sitting in their parents or neighbors fields protecting the crops from vandals that would sometimes race through the fields in their cars or trucks in the middle of the night churning up the soil, turning doughnuts, destroying the plants and ripping up the irrigation systems.
Just as the sun was setting on the night of February 24th, Nozaki, a well educated "city boy," to show he was cool, went to one of the fields with one of the young men guarding it for the night. By 1:00 AM his friend, who had worked all day and guarded the fields all night the night before, had dozed off. Around three in the morning or so, after drinking almost a whole thermos of hot coffee, Nozaki got out of the truck to shake off a little chill, stretch his legs, and relieve himself. He noticed that when before there was a slight glare of city lights along the horizon from the beach towns a few miles off to the west it was now strangely dark. As a matter of fact when he turned in a circle all away around there didn't seem to be much light radiating up into the night sky anywhere, especially towards downtown Los Angeles. As he turned back, in the distance towards the coast and the north was the only place where there was any semblance of illumination, then only in flashes as though a low-lying electrical storm, which would be highly unusual, high or low, was approaching.
Feeling in his gut something was strange, and since the truck was parked hidden near a small structure and a few trees, Nozaki walked some distance out into the middle of the field to get a clearer unobstructed view. Then, approaching him well above the fields from the west, silhouetted against the slightly lighter night sky, was a fairly huge dark airborne object coming straight toward him at a fairly quick pace. At first it seemed as though it would take a path off to the right of where he was standing, but before it reached him it just barely began turning flatly toward the south, almost as in a controlled drift. By then he was just under the edge of the object as it went over him with the center off to his left, continuing its turn and eventually disappearing in the southern night sky while all the time gaining altitude. It was huge, dark, very long and wide with no lights or signs of windows. Although it did not have protruding wings like an airplane, the object's outside edges ominously curved down. As well, other than feeling a slight vibrational "hum" in his chest as it passed over, the object made no sound. Even though it was airborne it did not seem either lighter than air nor remaining aloft by forward thrust. He felt it was being kept up by some kind of downward facing force although he did not sense any pushing or thrust on his body nor did he see any effects against the ground that would indicate such a theory. His buddy, possibly jared awake by a similar inner humming, woke up and seeing Nozaki gone, got out of the truck only to find him still standing in the middle of the field. His buddy looked off to the south after being told what happened, but by then the object was long gone.
Nozaki said he incorportated some of the ominous-like aspects of the object he saw such as the curving down contours into his 'War of the Worlds' craft wanting to capture some of the fear he felt as the real-life dark object came toward him --- as though he was going to be clutched up by it. So too, how it mysteriously remained aloft, apprently with some sort of technology or power we did not have. In Wells' novel the machines were held upward by three robot like legs. In the movie he tried to make it seem they were being held off the ground and "walking" by three invisible force-field legs. That is why they appeared to tip to one side and fall over when they began crashing.
In June of 1966, one of only two operational prototype mach three XB-70 bombers crashed. As a result there was a short term rash of publicity surrounding the plane in the press, including the release of photographs in a number of popular magazines and other sources that depicted the plane from a variety of angles and operational modes. Although the XB-70 itself did not resemble the object Nozaki saw that night in its totality he did see a couple of photos that struck him because of the way the plane was shown reminded him of the object he saw that night. I did not get copies of the pictures he had nor was I able to locate specific duplicates, however, the closest that captures the essence of what he was trying to say looked something like the following:
MACH-3 XB-70 SEEN FACE-ON IN FLIGHT WITH WING TIPS DOWN
LITTLETON VS THE WANDERLING:
Battle of Los Angeles or UFO Over L.A.?
SEE AS WELL:
ROSWELL: WHAT CAUSED THE UFO CRASH?
THE GREAT 1947 SUNSPOT, ROSWELL AND CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS
ROSWELL I-BEAM HIEROGLYPHS
ROSWELL CRASH: UFO DOWN
ROSWELL: CIRCA 1947
The Dirt Before The Dig
When I was in high school one of my best buddies had moved into the same house the three Japanese were said to have been hanged. He was one of seven brothers --- all in a row and all one year apart except for the year his parents bought their first televison set he used to say. With so many brothers in such a small house he slept on the couch in the living room. He told me on many nights, coming through the front windows along the porch he had seen the shadows of the three hanged Japanese swaying in the wind on the wall behind the couch of the living room. When he would get up and go to the windows nothing was there. I had to see it. It was his father that told me the story of the hanging. I never saw the shadows.