the Wanderling

Just before the official outbreak of World War II, hostilities between belligerents had been raging around the world for years. However, it wasn't until December 7, 1941 when the U.S. formally entered the fracas that for almost everybody in America, World War II began in earnest. Within months of December 7th, 1941, not unlike thousands of other fellow countrymen, a young boy come man by the name of Ralph Albert Multer, born April 22, 1925 and barely 17 years old, stepped forward and joined the U.S. Navy.

Before his first year in the Navy elapsed he had risen to the enlisted rank of Gunner's Mate 2nd Class and assigned to the little known and still to this day, largely unheralded U.S. Navy Armed Guard, a unit formed during World War II especially for defending U.S. and Allied merchant ships from attack by enemy aircraft, submarines and surface ships.[1]

By the time the new year of 1943 rolled around Multer had been placed into a complement of 19 Armed Guards assigned to protect an over two decades old quasi-tub of a ship, albeit a noble hard-working vessel, pressed into convoy duty early in the war, named the S.S. Rosario.

At 9:35 PM on February 21, 1943 after leaving Avonmouth, England toward New York in convoy, approximately 550 miles west of Fastnet, Ireland, in the dark of night and without warning, the German submarine U-664 launched several torpedoes toward the lumbering ships with direct hits against a steamer and a tanker.

Photo courtesy of SSHSA Collection, University of Baltimore Library

One of the two ships hit was the Rosario in convoy position 11. The first torpedo slammed into the Rosario on the starboard side at the Number 2 hold; a few seconds later a second one hit the starboard side at the Number 4 hold. Immediately the ship began to list heavily to starboard, taking on water and sinking so quickly that the crew was unable to launch the lifeboats, with many of the crew washed overboard where they clung to wreckage or the few life rafts that had floated free. U-BoatNet picks up the events of the sinking as found at the source so cited:

The engines were stopped immediately because the ship developed a 35 degree list and eventually listed to 45 degrees. The eight officers, 36 crewmen and 19 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, five 20mm and two .30cal guns) began to abandon ship in great confusion because the heavy list prevented the launching of boats and rafts. The ship capsized and sank within three minutes. The survivors had to jump overboard and swam to one raft and two floats that floated free. Several men swimming in the water were picked up after about one hour by a lifeboat from H.H. Rogers. One officer, 13 crewmen and 16 armed guards were picked up three hours after the sinking by the British rescue ship Rathlin and landed at Halifax on 6 March.(source)

Multer, who was wounded in the attack, after enduring three hours in the cold North Atlantic, was one of the 16 surviving Armed Guards picked up by the British rescue ship Rathlin.[2] Not one much to talk about his wartime experiences, Multer is however, on record as saying after his recovery from his wound and Armed Guard duty in the North Atlantic he was assigned to a U.S. Navy ship in the South Pacific that participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima.

Discharged at the end of the war in 1945 at age 21 and already with a lifetime of experiences behind him, he went back to civilian life. He took a job with the Timken Company in Canton, Ohio, famous for their roller bearings, and by age 22 was married. Initially with Timken he worked in the steel operations, but by 1947, for whatever reason, had moved into a position as a truck driver.

In the summer of 1947, unrelated to any of the events of Multer being in the Navy or leading up to his employment with Timken, I was a young boy traveling with my Uncle visiting a number of archaeological sites and places of interest throughout the desert southwest.

Several weeks had elapsed since school let out and we left on our trip, all the while basically living in the back-county, moving from site to site and camping along the way with very little contact with the outside world. In the process I had lost track of day and date. I was, however, fast asleep in my sleeping bag somewhere on the desert floor near Fort Sumner, New Mexico on the night of, it is thought, Friday, July 4, 1947, with all intentions of visiting the gravesite of Billy the Kid the next day, said by my uncle to be located near Fort Sumner. Around midnight my uncle, who had been sitting up pondering the stars and possibly his insignificance in the overall scheme of things, through a smattering of clouds, saw a brilliant meteor-like object streak across the night sky arcing downward toward the Earth all the while dissipating a string of quickly extinguishing small glowing hunks or particles dropping in it's wake.

The following morning after a brief mention of the meteor and a sense of loss on my part for having not seen it, we began breaking camp well before sunrise. After loading up the truck we were about to turn onto a main highway from some side road not far from Fort Sumner when we were stopped by a military convoy. The following relates the events of that morning as I remember it from the source so cited:

"The convoy itself was headed north or northeast and composed of several flatbed trucks carrying large crates, some covered with tarps some not, escorted by jeeps and followed in the rear by a huge tow truck. My uncle made his turn and eventually caught and passed the convoy, continuing on our trip without incident. However, the event was highly memorable for me as a nearly ten year old boy. The year before I had witnessed the Hughes flying boat being moved in a similar fashion and just the sight of all the army trucks trundling along out in the middle of the desert was exciting, but passing them, smelling the diesel, hearing all the noise, seeing all the wheels, and having the drivers salute or give a wave going by was unforgettable."(source)

During that same summer of 1947 a U.S. Army officer named Philip J. Corso with the then rank of Major was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. On Sunday of the 4th of July weekend of that year he had been routinely assigned as post duty officer, an assignment that consisted of spending the night at the main base headquarters running things with a reduced staff while the primary base command, et al, was 'off.' By late night the base pretty much settles into a pattern. The sentries walk their posts, the various administrative offices close down, and whoever is on night watch takes over the base communications system. The duty officer walks a beat as well, checking the different buildings and sentry posts to make sure everyone was on duty. He also closes down the enlisted men's and officers' clubs, etc. It was during the time Corso was walking his beat that he crossed paths with a bowling buddy who was standing watch.

When Corso approached the enlisted man's post the sentry told him that a convoy had arrived on base earlier and that the crews of the deuce-and-a-halfs have their own well armed security and he can't even get close. They told him "they brought these boxes up from Fort Bliss from some accident out in New Mexico." Fifty years later Corso, then a retired Lt. Colonel, wrote a book published in 1997 titled The Day After Roswell. The 'Roswell' Corso was referring to in the title of his book was of course, not the small New Mexico town itself, but the alleged crash of an unidentified flying object, a UFO, in the New Mexico desert in the summer of 1947. The object, thought by many to be intelligently made and extraterrestrial in origin, streaked in out of the north-northwest night sky at an incredible high rate of speed, all the while shedding bits and pieces of metal and foil only to slam unseen and unceremoniously into the cold granite boulders along the lower north slope of the Capitan Mountains some fifty miles west of Roswell.(see) Corso writes, refering to the convoy:

"Nobody seemed to take much notice of the five deuce-and-a-halfs and side-by-side lowboy trailers that had pulled into the base that afternoon full of cargo from Fort Bliss in Texas on their way to Air Materiel Command at Wright Field in Ohio. If you had looked at the cargo manifests the drivers were carrying, you'd have seen lists itemizing landing gear assembly struts for B29s, wing tank pods for vintage P51s, piston rings for radial aircraft engines, ten crates of Motorola walkie-talkies, and you wouldn't think anything of the shipment except for the fact that it was going the wrong way."

The convoy Corso described in his book as having arrived, then staying overnight at Fort Riley, is surprising similar in visual appearance, and eerily so, to the convoy my uncle and I saw near Fort Sumner in the early pre-dawn hours of the day before, not to mention the incredible coincidence of the brilliant object thought to be a meteor that streaked across the sky toward the same direction the convoy came from. However, that morning admittedly, at the time, neither my uncle nor I made any connection between the two events --- nor did we, at that moment, have reason to.[3]

In 1960, thirteen years after the convoy nobody took notice of that arrived at Fort Riley --- and had long since been forgotten --- Corso ended up assigned to the Pentagon. During the course of his Pentagon duties Corso was directed by a higher up to look into what most easily could be called 'things Roswell.' In the course of those duties he soon became privy to official confirmation, albeit top secret above others to need to know, of what he saw in relation to what was being transported via convoy that day at Fort Riley and on its way to the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field.[4] In relation to Corso's official confirmation, the following is found at the source so cited:

"According to Corso what was in all those crates and under the tarps was Roswell related, most likely from the so-called archaeologist site in the Capitan Mountains 50 miles or so west of Roswell rather than anything from the Brazel debris field located out in the desert flatlands near Corona --- and directly from the archaeologist site at that, with no Fort Bliss involved other than initially providing the transport vehicles and crews --- and even that is questionable. Since White Sands was tracking the object before it came down it was probably their quick-strike V-2 recovery team that was at the archaeologist site almost immediately. White Sands had been launching V-2s regularly in those days and a good portion of them were landing all over the desert where they weren't supposed to, even in Mexico, so they had a team with vehicles at the ready to bring back the remains. It could be some of the vehicles were from Fort Bliss but the core of the convoy and crew was centered around vehicles from White Sands."(source)

Ralph Multer, the aforementioned World War II U.S. Navy Gunner's Mate 3rd Class, died September 30, 1982 at age 57, years after ending his job relationship with the Timken Company. Twenty-seven years following his death, in 2009, Multer's one time wife passed. Prior to her death, in the early-to-mid 1990s, Dr. Irena McCammon Scott,[5] previously with the Battelle Memorial Institute and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, along with UFOlogist William E. Jones, while in pursuit of another story, interviewed her. The basis for the Scott and Jones interview emanated from the discovery of a previously unknown connection that inadvertently came to light between the events at Roswell and the former sailor and Timken employee, Ralph A. Multer, the results of which were published in a co-authored article about Multer in the Summer 1994 issue of the Ohio UFO Notebook.[6]

According to how Scott and Jones have presented it, in the summer of 1947, possibly August or September, Multer, as a truck driver for Timken, was dispatched by the company in Canton, Ohio along with two other drivers to 'pick up loads at the railroad yard.' When they arrived at the 'railroad yard' already waiting and NOT on rail cars at all were three flatbed trucks each carrying a load with each load covered with canvas. The convoy of trucks was escorted by their own security, what has been described as 'officials' of some type. Multer asked about the loads and has always said he was told flat out without hesitation that they were parts of a flying saucer recovered in New Mexico.

The material being carried apparently came up from Wright-Patterson where much of it had been put through a series of tests without the results sought being fruitful, primarily because the material being tested was able to withstand the tests from the equipment they had available to them. The Timken Company got involved because the strength and durability of the material being hauled was to be tested in a super-hot Timken furnace. Sundi Multer-Lingle, Multer's daughter, is quoted by Scott and Jones as saying, speaking, it is presumed, of her dad and the two other truck drivers:

"They talked to a person later who was there that night (at one of the Timken plants), and they said they couldn't cut it, they couldn't even heat it. The piece of metal, well I don't know if you can call it metal, the object was absolutely impenetrable."

She went on to say her father described the mysterious material as being metallic, silver or dark gray, and lightweight, although nowhere is it mentioned he had personal contact with the material himself. It could be, as a driver with knowledge of the inside workings of the plant having worked in the steel operations prior to becoming a truck driver for Timken, wanting to keep the 'circle' small, he might have been selected specifically and assisted in unloading and movement of the material within the plant.

The interesting part is that the same way the convoy seen by Corso at Fort Riley in the summer of 1947 was to me surprising similar in visual appearance, and eerily so, to the convoy my uncle and I saw near Fort Sumner and headed north-northeast toward Kansas, Multer's story was just as surprisingly similar in visual appearance, and eerily so, guards and all. So too, just as the destination for the convoy at Fort Riley was said to be Wright-Patterson, it seems as though the convoy Multer interacted with came from Wright-Patterson.

For the record, as to the credibility of the story, there is no known instance of Multer himself ever being interviewed. What Dr. Scott learned came from his former wife after hearing the story many times throughout the years and confirmed independently by Multer's daughter Sundi Multer-Lingle, who grew up hearing the story over-and-over as well. Accordingly, up until the interview, it had been a well-kept family secret, outsiders having never been privy to it. It should be mentioned several boxes of material similar to what Multer described, metallic, silver or dark gray, and lightweight, ended up being tested for their properties and possibilities of being some sort of an extraterrestrial breathing apparatus at Area 51 within a few years.

Not long after graduating from high school I got a job with an aerospace company that designed and built the "on the edge of space" breathing equipment for the then super-secret high altitude spy plane that would eventually be called the U-2. With so much secrecy surrounding the craft, working there required me to obtain a security clearance. Because of that clearance I met a person called "Harry the Man," who, at that time, was the top-rated high altitude breathing equipment specialist in the world. Top-ranked generals and pilots from all over the world would come by to pay him homage. Kelly Johnson of the Lockheed Skunk works was his friend as well as Howard Hughes. Because of the nature of the work and what was involved Harry made frequent U-2 related trips to both Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave High Desert located on Muroc Dry Lake and Area 51 located in a remote area of the Nevada desert. Often on those trips I accompanied him.

On one of the trips to Area 51, even though I had a clearance and been there with Harry before, whatever he was doing was so secret they sent me back.

It was a week or more before Harry showed up back at work. When I asked what it was all about he said he couldn't talk about it. However, just as I was leaving at the end of the day Harry told me to never ask him again, handing me a large manila envelope telling me to stuff it inside my shirt and open it later on the QT. When I opened it, inside, with no handwritten notes or explanation, was an 8X10 glossy publicity photo from the 1951 science fiction film The Man From Planet X along with a related page neatly torn from a comic book.

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The envelope was one of those large 9X12 manila envelopes with a fold over flap with both glue and a clasp to seal it closed. Harry had put the photo inside the envelope and closed it shut using only the clasp. Years later, for whatever reason, the envelope was sitting on the table with a number of other things when a nearly empty glass of water or iced tea was knocked over allowing some of the water to run up under the envelope. I quickly wiped everything down and blocked the envelope in an upright position to dry out. Later, when it was quite dry and without really checking it out or looking it over I stuck it between a couple of books on a shelf and forgot all about it.

One day I was telling someone about Harry the Man and I dug the envelope off the shelf only to find it had long been sealed shut apparently, I guess, by the water that had seeped on to it. I slit the top open with a letter opener but then wasn't able to get the photo out, it somehow getting stuck too. Using the letter opener I slit the envelope all around the edges so I could open it like a book and lift the photo out.

If you recall from the main text above, the first time I opened the envelope after Harry gave it to me, other than the photo and a related page from a comic book, I found no attached or enclosed handwritten notes or explanation. However, years later when I slit apart the envelope and folded it open like the pages of a book, roughly printed on the inside in pencil were letters about an inch high that when linked together spelled out the word TIMKEN.




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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

Footnote [1]

In October 1941, the U. S. Navy organized an Armed Guard to provide gun crews for duty aboard the country's 1,375 merchant ships. The first Armed Guard were given 3 weeks of training at Little Creek, Virginia and the first trainees and their officers were ready to sail in November 1941, when Congress repealed the Neutrality Act. By war's end, Armed Guard training bases were located throughout the country, and over 144,900 men served on over 6,236 American and Allied ships. Nearly 2,000 of these men gave their lives in defense of their country.(source)

Footnote [2]

When I was in high school I worked part time doing odd jobs and running errands for a person I call my Merchant Marine Friend. Less than a year before Multer's ship was torpedoed my merchant marine friend was a crewmember on the American steam tanker S.S. Halsey. The Halsey had traversed around the southern tip of Florida from New Orleans filled to the gills with highly flammable oil and naphtha, joining a number of other ships forming up into a convoy scheduled to go to Puerto Rico. Near midnight Wednesday, May 6, 1942 the Halsey was hit by two torpedoes from U-333 somewhat less than four miles east of Jupiter Inlet. Regarding the attack, U-Boat.net in Notes on Loss writes:

"The torpedoes struck close together on the port side at the #2 and #3 main tanks. The explosion ripped a hole in the side 60 feet long. The master stopped the engines and headed toward the shore. No distress signal was sent, because the radio antenna had been destroyed. The entire crew of eight officers and 24 men abandoned ship in two lifeboats 15 minutes after the attack, the other two boats had been destroyed by the explosions. The men were nearly asphyxiated by the naphtha fumes before they could clear the ship. After one hour, the U-boat came alongside the lifeboats and offered assistance, but it was declined." (source)

In order to save himself my merchant marine friend had no choice but to jump overboard, landing in an area with oil and naphtha burning along the surface of the water, the fire scorching his skin as he plunged through and returned for air. He was found weeks, possibly months after his ship had been torpedoed somewhere in the Atlantic strapped with heavy ropes to a piece of debris floating all alone in the middle of the ocean, and except for being unconscious and heavily scared from the burn marks, which had seemingly healed, he was in pretty good shape. Everybody said it was a miracle, that his burns must had healed by the salt water. How he had made it in the open ocean without food or water nobody knew. Most people speculated he had been picked up by a U-boat and ejected at a convenient time so he would be found, although no record has ever shown up to substantiate such an event, nor did he recall ever being on a submarine, German or otherwise."(source)


Footnote [3]

All of that was soon to change. Although it may seem odd to those in today's world who have an interest in Roswell that in 1947 most people did not just automatically think 'flying saucer' every time a meteor crossed the sky. The first thing my uncle thought of was his long time friend and confidant, the famed astronomer and meteorite hunter Dr. Lincoln La Paz, as the following, from the source so cited, will attest:

"Thinking it was a meteor and thinking his friend La Paz might be interested in a fresh strike, my uncle began an effort to contact him. In that it was long before the days of cell phones it took a couple of days for the two of them to connect. La Paz informed my uncle that from all indications whatever he saw streak across the sky that night it was NOT a meteor nor a known aircraft of some type --- but whatever it was, after talking with La Paz my uncle was chaffing at the bit to go to the suspected impact site and see for himself if there was any truth behind the so called hieroglyphic writing La Paz heard rumors of as being on some of the metal scraps."(source)

As for the 'chaffing at the bit' my uncle experienced, he and I did access the debris field within hours of the strike, the events of which, leading up to and the results thereof, are fully explored in:



Footnote [4]

Corso writes in his book that while at Fort Riley, after basically breaking into a secured area he describes as an old veterinary building that served as the medical dispensary for the cavalry horses before the First World War, he finds some 30 crates all neatly stacked attributable to the convoy and for reasons unclear, having been offloaded. Opening one of crates of which the top was already ajar, Corso writes:

"Whatever they'd crated this way, it was a coffin, but not like any coffin I'd seen before. The contents, enclosed in a thick glass container, were submerged in a thick light blue liquid, almost as heavy as a gelling solution of diesel fuel. But the object was floating, actually suspended, and not sitting on the bottom with a fluid overtop, and it was soft and shiny as the underbelly of a fish. At first I thought it was a dead child they were shipping somewhere. But this was no child. It was a four-foot human shaped figure with arms, bizarre looking four-fingered hands - I didn't see a thumb - thin legs and feet, and an oversized incandescent light bulb shaped head that looked like it was floating over a balloon gondola for a chin. I know I must have cringed at first, but then I had the urge to pull off the top of the liquid container and touch the pale gray skin. But I couldn't tell whether it was skin because it also looked like a very thin one-piece head-to-toe fabric covering the creature's flesh."

Whenever I come across people and works by authors who write or talk about having personally seen extraterrestrial bodies or coming in contact with live creatures of any sort, humanoid or otherwise, said to be extraterrestrial in nature and related to UFOs, I find myself getting a little leery. It is sort of a deeply ingrained gut feeling I absorbed into my psych as a teenage boy not yet 16 and still in high school. It was then I met a man named Truman Bethurum, literally the first person to become famous for what would eventually be called contactees, a contactee being a person who had been contacted by aliens from another world.

Somehow he and my Merchant Marine Friend, mentioned previously in Footnote [2], knew each other, the three of us all living within a few blocks of each other all at the same time in the same town. It was through their friendship I met Bethurum. The interaction between Bethurum and me over a roughly two year period sort of soured me on it all as what he originally promulgated and what sounded so amazing at first began to unravel right before my eyes.

That leeriness continues to hold true when it comes to what Corso has to say.

Footnote [5]


Dr. Irena McCammon Scott received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in physiology, did post-doctoral research at Cornell University, and has had a professorship at St. Bonaventure University. Her MS was from the University of Nevada, her BS from Ohio State University in astronomy and biology, and she has done research and teaching at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and the University of Nevada. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) employed her in Ph.D. level (GS-11) research in satellite photography including in its Air Order of Battle section, which involved aircraft identification with above top-secret security clearances. She was employed in MS level work as a Physical Scientist/Cartographer in the DMA Aerospace Center/Aerospace Center using satellite photography, and she worked at Battelle Memorial Institute. She has been sent for work-related purposes to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

She was a volunteer astronomer at the Ohio State University Radio Observatory, is an amateur astronomer, has taken flying lessons, and is a drone pilot. She was a correspondent for Popular Mechanics Magazine. Her publications include books, and works in scientific journals, magazines, and newspapers. Her photography has been shown on television and in magazines, books, and newspapers. She served on the MUFON Board of Directors (1993 to 2000) and is a MUFON consultant in physiology and astronomy and a field investigator. As the MUFON Director of Publications, she co-edited eight symposium proceedings, including several of the most important MUFON publications. She was a founding member of the Mid-Ohio Research Associates (MORA) and an editor for the Ohio UFO Notebook. Her UFO publications include numerous articles in the Mufon UFO Journal, the International UFO Reporter, and FATE magazine. She has taken a scientific approach to UFO phenomena and published papers about UFO data in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Footnote [6]

The pursuit of another story so alluded to in the above main text circulated around a man by the name of Elroy John Center. Center, who died July 15, 1991, was a Senior Research Chemist that worked for the Battelle Memorial Institute from 1939-1957 in materials sciences.

In May of 1992, Dr. Scott, who also worked for Battelle at one time as well as later the Defense Intelligence Agency, had known of Center's work for years and came across an intriguing story involving Center which she, in conjunction with Jones revealed in an article titled The Ohio UFO Crash Connection and Other Stories as follows:

"In May of 1992 one of us was approached by an informant who told an intriguing story. For the record, he was not a Battelle employee. He had attended North High School in Columbus, Ohio, graduating in June of 1960. Between January and April of 1958, he dated a classmate named Cathy Center. One evening while he was visiting her home, Cathy's father, Mr. Elroy John Center, told them that while working at Battelle (he had left their employment in 1957) he was responsible for a project which required him to study 'parts' retrieved from a flying saucer. The parts had some sort of writing on them and his job was to 'find out what the characters meant.' He told them that there was 'lots more I can't go into. It's been bothering me since I saw it.' Given that some of the material (actually described as small 'I beams') retrieved from the pre-crash debris field near Roswell, New Mexico in July, 1947 has been described as having some sort of writing on it, the obvious question is did the 'parts' Mr. Center study come from the same crash event? The fact that Mr. Center's story was told long before the details of the Roswell debris were known publicly, the possible confirmation of his story by the later descriptions of that debris cannot be ignored."(source)

In the process of their investigation into the above they somehow ran into traces of information that led them to Multer. As to additional insight into the comment in the above quote 'find out what the characters meant,' please see: