Thanks to Dex for this article.
BLACK VIRGIN MOUNTAIN RECOVERY
Throughout his tenure Sgt. Clifford Stone was to do and learn things the Department of Defense would classify Top Secret. When he became the unit communications-specialist Nuclear-Biological-Chemical - Communications - Non Commissioned Officer in Charge - (NBC/COMMO/NCIC), he signed an agreement - Standard Agreement Form #4193 - that would never permit him to share his experiences with anyone, not even his family.
With the death of Sgt. Stone's son on Aug. 18/1995 he feared his family did not really know him. Grief stricken, Stone decided to make information which he would have otherwise taken to his grave, public. Stone's decision to do this is an effort to show his family why he could not tell them what he did; why military personnel would come late at night precipitating Stone's absence for weeks; why he could not always be there for his family; why he missed the ball games, graduations and birthdays.
The material contained herein has been reviewed by Sgt. Stone prior to publication. In January of 1970 Stone arrived in Vietnam for what he considered would be a "plush" assignment. He was assigned to 277th SS (Special Services) battalion Headquarters-headquarters. Upon his arrival Stone decided to tell the First Sergeant that he could not type despite his file showing that he was a 71-Bravo (clerk-typist.) Having a deep sense of duty, Stone chose to put it all on the line by asking to be assigned to combat. Although his superior felt this was admirable and showed signs of being a good soldier, Stone's request was denied. Stone assumed his 8AM to 4PM-shift which left his evenings open to other pursuits.
Stone reflects: "There was not a lot of night-life in Vietnam - particularly in the base camp located only 7 miles from the Cambodian boarder - and being young, and I guess foolish - I felt I had to prove I was not afraid to face the enemy." Stone found himself sneaking out of camp in the evenings to encounter the enemy. One evening while Sgt. Stone was chatting with Sgt. Gaston, they noticed unusual red, green and blue lights dancing above and through the trees in the area of a rubber plantation owned by the Michelin Rubber Company. "The lights," reflects Stone, "were red, green, blue, self luminous and unusual."
Stone left for that area the next evening in hope of determining the source of the lights. Upon arriving at the road which paralleled a section of the three-hundred meter kill-zone surrounding the camp, Stone heard someone say, "You're late. What kept you?" Stone spun in the direction of the voice raising his weapon. Stone could make out a familiar face. It was the face of the man Stone had come to know as "Colonel." Stone had met the Colonel on several previous recovery operations. He had always been the man in charge. "You're lucky I didn't shoot you," said Stone. The Colonel smiled saying, "I don't believe you're here to kill. I believe you would die for your country, and you might kill to protect others, but I don't believe you would kill to save yourself."
The Colonel motioned towards three helicopters known as "Jolly- green's." Stone noted that they looked like the "Psy-opps" craft used for dropping propaganda leaflets. Stone followed the Colonel and entered one of the helicopters. Stone immediately noticed the equipment within the craft was not typical equipment. He recalled that it looked as though the chopper was equipped for electronic surveillance rather than for war. Stone turned to the Colonel and asked what he was doing there and why he (the Colonel) had him (Stone) flying with him. The Colonel said, "We have a situation here that we think you may be able to help with."
Stone concluded that his nocturnal forays from the camp had not gone unnoticed. "We uncovered a VC tunnel complex half way up the Black Virgin Mountain," the Colonel said. It was generally believed that the US-forces had the top of the mountain. This position was held by a special-forces communication center gathering information for the National Security Agency. The bottom of the mountain was also considered to be held by the US- forces. Everything between was thought to be held by Charlie.
The choppers found a safe landing-zone touching down. Sgt. Stone was extremely concerned, thinking that Charlie was about to unload everything it had on the group. Curiously, nothing happened. The Colonel told Stone this was a dead zone and quite safe. "Dead zone," thought Sgt. Stone, "what did that, mean?" The group exited the craft making their way toward the opening of the alleged communist tunnel complex - one hundred and fifty meters away. They encountered other friendly troops which were alleged to be combing the area for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Vietcong (VC) who were known to be in the area. They were told by these troops that they would remain in touch with Stone and his group because Charlie was known to have many entrances and exits in their tunnel systems.
Stone and the team entered the tunnel and started to deploy their equipment. Stone was shocked when he noticed the tunnel surface was not typical with any tunnel he had ever encountered. "You could drive a truck through that entrance. The rock wasn't chipped away like it would be with an air-hammer; it was like a shiny-black rock. When we shone our flash lights on it, it was smooth all the way around." The team started to move down the tunnel maintaining communication with their field radios. Shortly, the team noticed that their radios were going dead the further they moved into the tunnel. This prompted the team to deploy a 3-12-field telephone and run the wire back to a contact team at the tunnel entrance. The team kept running wire as they moved further into the tunnel.
Sgt. Stone recalled: "As we got back one hundred meters or so, we started to notice that our flash-lights were going dead and that our field radio was not working the way it should. We found a location where the telephone would work properly, which was about like if you would draw a line in the sand, if you were on the outside of the line, the telephone would work. If you stood inside of the line, it wouldn't work - nor did our flash-lights. Our flash-lights would just go dead on us. Anything electric would not work the way it was supposed to." Puzzled, the team noticed that they did not need their flash-lights - the tunnel seemed to possess a luminescence of its own. The team left 3 men to maintain the field telephone at this point. It was clear any communications would have to be made by having a man run back and relay the information to this team so they could in turn relay it back to the team at the entrance.
The main team pressed further into the tunnel. The tunnel became brighter the further they moved forward. Stone felt he was in some science fiction setting. Things did not make sense. A complex of this size should have been noticed by reconnaissance. Even the removal of the enormous amount of rock should not have gone undetected. Shortly, the team came upon what looked like a big cavern. Stone recalled: "Stepping into that cavern was like stepping into a light bulb. You couldn't make out anything in the room. Even the soldiers with us looked like a dark silhouette." Stone thought if a fire fight was to break out he would not be able to distinguish between Charlie and his own team.
Stone looked about the cavern telling the Colonel that he did not have a good feeling about this place. Stone felt a genuine fear expressing it to the Colonel that Charlie could not have built this place. He further suggested that if the Colonel wanted to blow it up, that would be fine, but they should not be in this place. The Colonel stayed close to Stone as they moved around the area.
Stone noticed a green luminous glow which looked to be fifteen inches to eighteen inches by three feet. Stone and the Colonel walked over to the glow and noticed a holographic image of what Stone considered to be dials, gauges and control buttons. As they looked at the control panel, the Colonel suggested that Sgt. Stone touch it. Stone used several expletives to point out what he thought of the Colonel's idea. Stone continued to look at the panel. He overcame his immediate fear and ran his hand through the luminous glow. The bright light in the cavern immediately reduced itself to a twilight setting allowing the team to see that they were standing in a huge cube. The light had seemed to be coming from the walls of the cube. They noticed a shiny black cigar-shaped craft with, Stone felt, were windows emanating an arc-welders type of beautiful blue light.
The team looked around noticing what appeared to be human-organs -- lungs, hearts, livers, skeletal structures -- encased in glass casings. Stone figured that they had stumbled into a biological laboratory of sorts. In close proximity to the glass vessels, the team noticed the cadavers of American service members, VC and, as Stone called them, `unearthly'. He said the unearthly beings were what most would term Grays, having the large heads and spindly bodies and arms. There were also other bodies which Stone could not say were of this earth. Although these cadavers had humanoid features, Stone could not catalogue them against anything he had ever encountered or read about in any intelligence reports.
An Aside: The team found, what they thought were, glass test tubes. Stone was later to find out that if you were to fire at one of these test tubes, it would not break. In effect, they were on par with several inches of armor plating. He was further told it was not so much like glass but a modified acrylic polymer.
As Stone continued to play with the control panel, the wall of the cavern next to the ship became clear. They could see out on the night sky but could not see any grass or earth. The team could also see troops outside moving about. It looked as though the troops were walking on thin air. They, however, were not aware of the team within the cavern. A runner was sent back to the 3-12 field telephone to ask the troops to stop and look to see if anything strange could be noticed. The troops were asked to perform different motions so the team within the mountain could reconcile which group of troops they were observing. Nervous laughter rippled through the team.
The Colonel gave an order to carry all material that could be lifted, out of the cavern. Stone continued to play with the control panel. At one point Stone decided to attempt lifting the panel. The panel moved easily. Stone recalls: "The side that was open to the night sky, went out. A buzzing sound went off and thin red lights shot around the room. They were about the size of a number two lead in a pencil." Stone was hit in the eye with one of the beams. He screamed out in excruciating pain, spinning away from the light. As he turned falling, Stone could hear other screams and felt as though his back was on fire. From this point on Stone could not recall what happened inside the cavern. Stone regained consciousness outside the tunnel. He recalled being carried to a helicopter and flown to the 25th med-detachment. Stone recalls a doctor looking him over and telling the doctor that his right arm would not function properly. Sgt. Stone said his arm had significant spasms. The Colonel arrived and asked Stone to follow him to a hut after his eye was patched - Stone was introduced to another doctor. The Colonel then asked, "Do you recall anything that happened in the cavern?" Sgt. Stone was puzzled saying, "You were there with me, sir. You know what happened." "No," said the Colonel. "Do you recall anything of an alien presence being in the cavern? Any communications?" Sgt. Stone said all he could remember was being hit with the beam of light and feeling like his back was burning - like he had been hit with napalm. The Colonel then told Stone that the doctor was going to give him a shot to help him remember what had happened. Sgt. Stone protested saying, "It just happened, I remember everything. Didn't I just tell you everything that happened prior to me passing out?" Stone said the Colonel looked at him with a weird look saying, "Sergeant, you didn't pass out. There were other events that happened that are not coming through. We all were out. You were down. Let me explain to you that we need to know what happened during that forty-five minutes or so that you were away from us, you were still in the room, we were not there."
Sgt. Stone did not like what he was hearing. He felt he was being used as a guinea pig. He felt something was wrong - that he felt he would have remembered if anything happened in there. Stone told the Colonel that if he remembered anything because of the shot, he did not want anything to be blocked - he wanted to know that happened. The Colonel agreed, saying, "Okay. But remember Sergeant, you can't prove anything. I'm going to tell you now that the events of this night never occurred. You are not to mention this Stone smiled asking, "What the hell service I am providing? All I'm doing is being there with you." The Colonel answered, "Oh no, you know more about this than even you know, you know." "To this day, "Stone confesses, "I still don't know what he meant by that statement." The doctor administered the shot. Within moments Stone recalled being hit by the beam once again. This time however, his memory continued. As Stone started to recall his voice became broken - he was fighting hard to keep his composure. With a sobbing voice he continued with fragmented statements, "I didn't pass out. I was in tremendous pain.
You know, a lot of people know I have a fascination with grasshoppers. This is the incident that caused this. These creatures of humanoid shape started to appear. I can remember looking into their face." With a fear stricken voice he continued, "These were like big grasshoppers. I can remember going ahead and picking up my M-16. I was going to shoot. One of them grabbed my M-16 but I wouldn't let go. Then I heard a voice which I had heard many times before, even through childhood - I never wanted to bring this up, but it's going to be brought up in my life's story and it's got to be brought up now. One of the entities I have always known, I always called Koronos - as a matter of fact the first time an effort to try to smile and say you may call me Korona, and that's Korona with a K. - any how he went ahead and told me they had to take care of my eye or I'd lose it - that I'd lose all sight. But it would still be sore for a couple of days and that my people could go ahead and treat it with medications that they had available to them.
Once again I was asked, like I was asked several other times before, `Why are you here? What are you doing, here? This is not your nature. You should not be involved in this - what they call a war.' That's all I could recall. I would still be drilled because the Colonel wanted to know what other exchanges were made. But when I came out from underneath the shot, I remembered vividly that contact but I remembered nothing else." When Stone was ready to leave, the Colonel transported Stone to a position outside his unit location and told Stone that if anyone asked, Stone was to say he was injured by an insect and the burns on his back were to be referred to as a sunburn. Stone remembered at that time a person could get an article fifteen or even a court-marshal for a sunburn. He said, "All they had to do was prove that you were trying to avoid duty." Stone did not consider himself a person to slough off and did not try avoiding his duty. His captain, Captain Pelton, demanded that Stone see a doctor about his eye. Stone ended up seeing the doctor who had first treated him. The doctor said, "I knew they would be sending you back over here." The doctor patched his eye providing a diagnosis suggesting that an insect had sprayed the eye causing the retina to be scratched. Stone returned to his unit.
A few days later the Colonel asked Stone to meet with him in the NCO club. They met talking about the events of the recovery. The Colonel said that after that evening the incident would not be mentioned again. He told Stone that some troops from the 25th infantry and the 1st Calvary had been used around the area of the recovery. The troops were aware of some of the strange things brought out from the tunnel but were not directly involved in the bizarre things that Stone and the composite team had seen. The Colonel said that there was no way to cover up the burns on Stone or the injury to his eye, or the fact that the injuries had happened within the tunnel. The effective cover story, should it be required, was that they did in fact uncover an underground location that was brought about by elements of the 88th NVA Division - 347th NVA Brigade, in which they were working on a biological aspect of producing the bubonic plague to introduce to specific base camps in order to inflict biological casualties among the American forces along with South-Vietnamese forces.
Stone told the Colonel he was still concerned about the bodies which he had seen inside the cavern. The colonel was reluctant to answer Stone's questions but he knew that Stone was extremely troubled by what he had seen. Stone feels the Colonel had a rare moment of compassion when he decided to give Stone some answers. The Colonel shared that some of the bodies and organs were synthetic. He went on to share that the bodies of the American service people were identified and that they had been killed by means of war and not by the visitors. The bodies had been sent to Hawaii where a military forensic unit had made these determinations. When they parted company that evening, Stone felt he had been given the truth by the Colonel. He still feels that to this day.
Clifford will be on Coast to Coast February 4.