Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Novel recounts horror in Maryland town

 The story of a town's dark secret and young boy's fear

The little town of Upper Marlboro, Md. in 1951 was a place of politely drawn racial lines.
A state senator, the toast of his constituents and a part-time champion of Negro youth, as the world called African Americans in those years, does the unthinkable when he lynches black children in his cellar.
Twenty years later, in 1971, a young boy moves into the dilapidated farm house that was once the senator's home. Billy Sanders sees the ghosts and living dead in the dark corners of the property and must unearth the truth to free himself from fear and the dead from their unfinished lives.
"Just Us: Horror in a Small Maryland Town", written by John L. Guerra, is now available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and other sites.
Published by New Atlantian Library and Absolutely Amazing E-Books, it is a scary read that takes the reader on a journey of fear, violence, and the reclamation of honor and love.
Click here for the link: http://amzn.to/1A7Rrb6
The paperback version is now available on those sites, too; publish on demand gives readers a choice between paperback or ebook.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Air and Space Museum put aircraft in your face

The newer Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Va., is outstanding in the way the aircraft are displayed.

The aircraft hang just feet away off the walkways that course above the hangar floor.
This U.S. Navy Corsair is in your face and banking for another strafing run on a Japanese aircraft carrier
I spent a few days in the enormous hangar that holds the Space Shuttle, SR-71 spy plane, F-14 Tomcat, as well as Nazi fighters from World War II and German, French, and British biplanes from World War I.

It's a great way to spend a rainy and misty day in the middle of the winter.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Police use taser on Key West reporter

 Citizen Reporter Arrested for threatening waitress

Longtime Citizen staff writer Terry Schmida was arrested early Saturday morning on allegations he attempted to run over a restaurant waitress with his car after failing to pay a $9 bill, according to Key West police.

Schmida, 45, of the 3300 block of Duck Avenue, faces charges of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, misdemeanor DUI and misdemeanor petty theft.

There was no indication in two arrest affidavits released that the waitress was seriously injured, but the reports did note she feared for her life during the incident.

Those reports written by Key West police officers and later released by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office also allege Schmida tried to bite an officer, and he was placed in a restraint chair after being shocked with a Taser and pepper sprayed while being booked into jail.

Officers described the incident this way:

Schmida was at Denny's, 925 Duval St., at 2 a.m. when a waitress reported it appeared he was attempting to walk out without paying a $9.23 bill. He was stopped at the register and "fumbled" through some papers in his pockets before an employee helped him find his driver's license and a $5 bill -- both of which he left inside the restaurant. He then went outside to his car in an effort to find a credit or debit card to cover the rest of the bill. The female employee at the register followed him, writing down his license tag number. The employee reportedly asked Schmida if he should be driving, and he allegedly replied, "No, but I'm going home."

When Schmida couldn't find a credit or debit card in his car, the employee asked him to come back inside and to call a friend to help him pay the bill, or she would be forced to call police. Schmida reportedly refused and stated, "She wouldn't like what happened if she called police."

Another female employee came outside to help when Schmida started his car and attempted to leave. One of the two employees was in front of his car at that time, and Schmida allegedly began "tapping the accelerator and pushing her with his car," reports state.

At one point, the employee was pushed with "enough force that her feet were no longer on the ground and all her body weight was on the hood of the car." She then jumped out of the way "for fear she was going to be run over," reports state.

The other employee outside captured the incident with her cell phone, which police placed into evidence. She also told police it appeared Schmida was "barely able to stand" during the incident.

Schmida was later stopped on Flagler Avenue at Government Road after an officer saw his car and began following him, noting that the car was "straddling the center line," according to reports.

Schmida reportedly stopped in the roadway when the officer activated his blue lights before "accelerating" and then stopping in the parking lane.

While inside his car, Schmida reportedly "searched the owner's manual, cover to cover, several times for no reason and attempted to turn on the car's stereo system while the car's ignition was off."

Officers noted he also allegedly "attempted to roll up and down the car's electric windows, again attempted to manipulate the car's stereo and fumble with the driver side interior door handle and lock," reports state.

Officers also wrote that Schmida appeared unaware that he had left his driver's license at the restaurant.

Schmida appeared unable to focus on stationary objects, had trouble balancing, had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol, reports state.

He told officers he had a medical condition, but that it didn't hinder him from performing field sobriety tests.

"As Schmida performed the exercise, it appeared he mimicked the stance of 'The Karate Kid,'" the officer wrote in reference the 1980s martial arts movie. At one point, Schmida also reportedly asked officers to not arrest him, to let him leave his car at the scene and to drive him home, reports state.

A Denny's manager then arrived with police and identified Schmida as the suspect who left the restaurant without completing payment, reports state.

Schmida was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island and placed in the DUI room, where he allegedly "began to yell vulgar obscenities toward me and that he was intending on planning on impacting my career in a negative manner," the arresting officer wrote. "Schmida then tried to bite my hand or the implied consent card I was holding."

Schmida reportedly declined to give a breath sample, and when turned over to detention deputies, he physically resisted them to the extent they used a Taser and pepper spray. They also placed him in a restraint chair, reports state.

Schmida remained in Monroe County Detention Center Saturday night under no bail. His first court date was scheduled for Dec. 4 before county Judge Peary Fowler.

Schmida writes about public and private Florida Keys schools as well as the Monroe County School Board and nonprofit organizations.


Monday, October 6, 2014

1950 attack showed Secret Service mettle

Protecting the president requires suicidal dedication

By John L. Guerra

As he lay in his bed in the Blair House on a fall morning in 1950, President Harry Truman awoke to the sound of pistol fire.

When he looked down from his second-story window, he saw a man on the front walk, firing at his body guards in an attempt to gain entry.

Most assassins try to get the president while he's away from his living quarters; not this man - nor his two accomplices who were engaged in a gun battle with two of Truman's other uniformed protectors around the corner.

That violent morning, lost to most memories except to those belonging to present-day Secret Service agents, is a measuring stick of valor that all who protect the president are expected to meet.

The Blair House, across the street from the executive mansion, had no fence blocking the front door, no broad lawn, nothing but steps up to the front door. The Trumans were staying there as the White House underwent renovations.

There is another thread worth mentioning: The two Truman attackers were, in effect, terrorists acting in concert with a violent uprising in Puerto Rico.

A possible attack on the White House by those sympathetic to ISIS is one possibility mentioned by lawmakers who grilled former Secret Service chief Julia Pierson at the Hill hearing two weeks ago.

As in the case of the White House sprinter, the would-be assassins in 1950 took the presidential guards by surprise. In fact, the reaction of the men guarding the sleeping Truman is a model for how such situations ought to be handled. It is a showcase of bravery, fast-thinking and everlasting honor.
Here’s how it went down, according to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., a sort of sister museum to the Little White House Museum in Key West.

The attackersOscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola--were members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, a group that was violently seeking independence for the island nation. Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States, in the eyes of the attackers.

Torresola approached along Pennsylvania Avenue from the west, while Collazo snuck up on Capitol police officer Donald Birdzell, who was standing on the steps of the Blair House. As Truman napped on the second floor, Collazo walked up behind Birdzell and pulled the trigger on his 9mm pistol, but he had forgotten to chamber a round. Instead of a shot, the chilling sound of a hammer slamming shut alerted the guard. As Birdzell turned, Collazo--perhaps panicking--quickly chambered a round and fired, hitting Birdzell in the knee.

Hearing the shot, Secret Service agent Vincent Mroz ran through a basement corridor of the Blair House and exited a street-level door and opened fire, stopping Collazo on the outside steps with a bullet to the chest. Meanwhile, Torresola had approached a guard booth at the west corner and took White House Police officer Leslie Coffelt by surprise, shooting him four times with a 9mm Luger, mortally wounding him. Three of those shots struck Coffelt in the chest and abdomen, and the fourth went through his jacket.

Torresola then shot police officer Joseph Downs in the hip before the officer could draw his weapon. As Downs turned toward the house, Torresola shot him in the back and in the neck, but Downs did not go down. He got into the basement and secured the door, denying Torresola entry into the Blair House.
Torresola then turned to the shoot-out between his partner and the other police officers. Birdzell, already shot in the right knee by Collazo, was shot in the left knee by Torresola. Torresola stood to the left of the Blair House steps to reload. The gunfire had awakened Truman from his nap and that's when the president appeared at the window, just 31 feet away from Torresola. Agents screamed at Truman to get down. He obeyed.

At that same moment, Coffelt left the guard booth, propped against it, and fired his .38-caliber service revolver at Torresola, who was about 30 feet away. Coffelt hit Torresola two inches above the ear, killing him instantly. Officer Coffelt--a hero--died in the hospital four hours later.

The entire gunfight lasted 40 seconds, but must have seemed to the officers to have occurred in slow motion. Their bravery made them unstoppable. Injured badly, they continued to fight until the president was safe.

What’s also worth mentioning about this attack is that it was timed to coincide with military attacks by Puerto Rican nationalists in their home country. On Oct. 30, the day before, "terrorists" with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party had launched an uprising to throw off American colonialism.

No one has said the Secret Service of 2014 lacks brave agents, but when assigning presidential detail, using the modern-day counterparts to Birdzell, Coffelt, Downs, and Mroz would be a good start.

Footnote: Puerto Rico meant something politically to the Democrats and Truman's foreign policy.

Oscar Collazo, who survived his wounds, was sentenced to death, but Truman commuted his sentence to life in prison. He was released in 1979, when Jimmy Carter commuted his sentence again, to time served (perhaps Carter was looking to win the two electoral college votes Puerto Rico offers up during Election Night)?

Not only that, but Officer Coffelt's widow, Cressie E. Coffelt, was asked by Truman and the Secretary of State to go to Puerto Rico, where she received condolences from various Puerto Rican leaders and crowds. Mrs. Coffelt responded with a speech absolving the island's people of blame for the acts of Collazo and Torresola.

Oscar Collazo continued to live a long, productive life. He continued to participate in activities related to the Puerto Rican independence movement. He lived to be 80 years old, dying on Feb. 21, 1994, of a stroke.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hanging out with UFO believers

At convention, Big Foot watchers mingle with UFO hunters

They are all perfectly normal people selling tapes, books, and posters as at any trade show or hotel conference. Nothing about them would make them stand out in a crowd. They are believers in God, in country, and in the paranormal.
Fred Salvage, who lives in Weirton, W.Va., is in charge of that state's Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), the organization that collects data on sightings by interviewing people who have seen something unexplainable in the sky. It's a nationwide effort by the organization that reaps hundreds of thousands of reports each month. Salvage does his job, but his interest lies in finding proof of Big Foot in the wilds of his state. With its large sections of wooded and mountainous terrain and few residents, the state is probably good habitat for the large humanoid creatures, Salvage said.
"I have 60 plaster casts of footprints that belong to Big Foot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The problem with reaching out

Hawking warns against contacting aliens

Does the Pentagon have a battle plan in event of extraterrestrial aggression?
Probably not, though some scientists believe it might be a good idea.

Since the dawn of time, humans have watched the stars for the arrival of something, some arrival, some vehicle, being, or god. Galileo imagined beings on the moon and the Voyagers, which last saw the Earth’s atmosphere in the 1970s, have passed Pluto, the last planet in our solar system. In August 2012, Voyager 1 left us all behind and hit interstellar space—the void between our solar system and the next solar system in the Milky Way. We’re in it now, folks. All we need now is for a spaceship from another civilization to see it and wham! the nose of the craft turns toward Earth, and maybe it’s four miles long, contains smaller planetary invasion ships hanging from racks like shirts in a dry cleaners. It’s all automated, sniffing out life like Voyager, except with an entirely different intent.

Steven Hawking, the genius whose extraordinary mathematical and interstellar mind is not trapped in a wheelchair, warned that this might happen when talking about SETI, the scientific project that sends electronic signals into deep space in hopes of receiving a response from other life forms.

I imagine they might exist in massive ships," Hawking said, "having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach."

Uh Oh. That sounds familiar. It happens all the time in nature. Humans invade other countries and try to eradicate their citizens. Locusts, ants, even chimpanzees overrun their fellows when there’s not enough food or other resources.

The U.S. military plans for everything to protect us, but the Pentagon does not plan South Africa’s response to invasion by other countries; France does not plan England’s response, nor does Italy plan Australia’s response. In other words, if Earth is attacked there must be a coordinated plan in place that includes the militaries of all nations.

Such a coordinated, world-wide battle plan to defeat insect bastards swarming over our planet from vehicles hanging in our daylight skies does not exist. So we might as well admit it: we’re goners if Voyager catches something’s attention. We have a 50-50 chance. Either they’re going to be kindly researchers or deadly pests.

Of course, the visitors could be something worse: passive aggressive. The aliens would act like everything’s OK between us but would leave nasty comments on sticky notes on cars, trees, and windows on buildings.

I’ll take a direct attack any day.

Friday, May 30, 2014

UFO investigator at it for 50 years

Former USAF intelligence officer recounts UFO events
By John L. Guerra

As a young Air Force officer during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was Maj. George Filer's job to courier reconnaissance images of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba from Langley Air Force Base to the Air Force Chief of Staff in the Pentagon.

Genl. Curtis LeMay, the head of the Air Force and organizer of the Strategic Air Command, relied on Filer's delivery of those images to plan America's attack on Cuba--an attack that would almost certainly lead to all-out nuclear war.

To say that Filer, who now lives in New Jersey, was in a position of trust at a crucial moment in world history is no understatement. He also was one of only a handful of Air Force officers to ever hold Top Secret clearance.

Yet even as Filer carried the spyplane photos to his bosses, he was in possession of another powerful military secret: That the previous February a giant aircraft of unknown origin had entered British air space, and while being pursued by an American military aircraft, had shot into space at more than 2,000 miles an hour.

Filer hadn't picked up this baffling and terrifying information second-hand; he had seen the craft as the navigator on the U.S. military aircraft that had pursued the mysterious ship.
Filer agrees to interview 
During a phone interview from his home on Saturday, May 17, Filer told me of the night--just months before the Cuban Missile Crisis--when he and fellow crewmembers on his KB-50J mid-air fueling aircraft were ordered to chase down an immense object in the air over central England. Filer said the sighting cemented his belief that "aircraft not of this civilization" routinely show up in Earth's atmosphere.
"When I joined the Air Force in 1958, I became a navigator after a year of training," Filer said. "Near the end of my tour, in February 1962, we were asked to intercept a UFO over England; it was a large object on scene. The crew of our tanker, a modified B-50 bomber, was made up of two pilots, a navigator, an engineer, and two refueling operators."
Filer and his crewmates—members of the 420th Air Refueling Squadron from Sculthorpe RAF Base--had just completed a mid-air refueling mission over the wintry North Sea when London Control, which manages air traffic in the region Filer was operating, picked up a large flying object on its radar. The control tower asked the crew in the KB-50J to intercept the object, which was in the sky over Central England, near the ancient Stonehenge monument.
It may seem counter-intuitive that a large fueling aircraft would be asked to speed to the location of a suspected UFO, but the Air Force was tired of losing aircraft and pilots.
“Fighter pilots often ran out of gas and our tanker was almost as fast and could fly for many hours. We were told there had been many crashes when armed fighters chased UFOs," Filer said.
Pilot error

Not everyone agreed why pursuit aircraft were crashing, Filer said.
“When pilots chased after a UFO, they often didn’t pay attention to their fuel levels," he said. "They want to see and catch up with the UFO, so they’d run out of gas or exceed aircraft and pilot limitations."
Some military commanders, on the other hand, thought UFOs occasionally defended themselves by downing the fighters sent to intercept them.
One of those who believed Air Force planes had been shot down by UFOs was Air Force Genl. Benjamin Chidlaw, commander of the Continental Defense Command from 1951 to 1955 (he also led the development of the first jet engine and jet aircraft for the American military).
According to Filer, Chidlaw once told investigators: “We have stacks of reports about flying saucers. We take them seriously when you consider we have lost many men and planes trying to intercept them."  (italics are editor's)
In his own words
Here’s Filer’s account of the UFO pursuit over England that changed his life:
London Control excitedly notified us—we were flying at 30,000 feet--that they had an unidentified object hovering between Oxford and Stonehenge at around 1,000 feet altitude. We were asked if we were willing to intercept. Our refueling mission was about over, so we quickly agreed to chase their UFO. We were given an intercept heading and started to dive toward the UFO. This was really fun and exciting compared to a standard mission! I never could recall such speed and power as our six engines were advanced to full military power as we dived on the target.
London Control was diverting commercial aircraft to clear our path for the intercept. Then we realized we were above our red-lined, maximum speed and had trouble slowing our aircraft. We pulled back the power on the engines. London Control started giving our distance to the hovering UFO. They called out, ‘You are100 miles apart, 60, and 40 miles …’
At about 30 miles away from the UFO, my APS-23 Radar  picked up the hovering UFO directly ahead. It was an exceptionally large radar return, reminding me of a large bridge or ship. This craft was bigger than anything I had seen in the air before. It reminded me of the radar return from the Firth of Forth Bridge in Scotland. The return was sharp and solid as compared to the fuzziness of a rain cloud. I felt this craft must be made of steel or strong metal. We were doing around 425 mph as we got to within 10 miles, when the UFO apparently realized we were intercepting it.
It was a dark night; we could only see a series of dim lights directly ahead similar to a cruise ship at sea. Now only five miles separated us. Suddenly the UFO seemed to come alive, the lights brightened immensely and the UFO accelerated in a launch, similar to the Space Shuttle at night. We saw much brighter lights and fantastic acceleration as it climbed almost straight up and suddenly it was gone.
We asked London Control if they had any rocket launches underway in our area. The controller said, "There are no rocket launches in that area, thank you for the intercept, you are now cleared to return to your mission."
It is clear they felt there was a strong radar return for the 20 to 25 minutes it had taken to reach the UFO. We had been cleared directly through various altitudes, airways and commercial traffic so they must have considered this mission very important. I can still see that huge radar return in my mind's eye and I've been chasing UFOs ever since.
The incident was recorded in my navigator’s log and was mentioned the next day in operations, but no intelligence debriefing was made.
 Prince Philip questions crew
 A few weeks later, we were invited to a “dining-in” with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who wished to speak with the aircrews that had chased UFOs. About 10 of us sat around a table eating dessert and discussing UFOs. Prince Phillip was very personable and seemed like one of the guys. He was very interested in my intercept and the large radar return. We assume he had also been briefed by London Control because the US Air Force seemed to have no interest.
I asked Prince Phillip: “Why are you interested in UFOs?” He answered. “My uncle who raised me, Earl Mountbatten, had seen UFOs close up while in the Royal Navy and I believe him”
We since learned that Prince Phillip and his aides have interviewed numerous aircrews who had intercepted UFOs over Britain.
A career in UFO briefings
Shortly after the Stonehenge sighting, Filer was transferred to Langley and because he already had Top Secret clearance, he was drafted into the intelligence world as a courier for LeMay and other Air Force brass during the Cuban crisis.
In the years since 1962, Filer served as an intelligence officer who was repeatedly called upon to brief generals about UFO sightings on or near American military bases. Filer has interviewed military pilots (including Iranian F4 pilots who tried to fire upon UFOs near Tehran, Iran in the 1970s. That report was later declassified and was reported as fact by newspapers around the world.
In perhaps his strangest case, Filer debriefed a security commander at Fort Dix, New Jersey, who told Filer that a night security officer had shot and killed an alien being on the base airstrip. Filer interviewed several security guards who claimed to have witnessed the events the base commander described.
Modern UFO investigator
Filer's experience as a military investigator and intelligence officer dovetails nicely with his present role as New Jersey State director and Eastern U.S. Region director of the Mutual UFO Network. He is the chief editor of the National UFO Center, his online compilation of UFO witness reports, which includes photographs, videos, and other artifacts that readers can view to decide whether UFOs exist.
Filer and his colleagues at NUFOC interview witnesses who believe they've seen undefined craft in the sky, in the water, and on the ground. Filer and NUFOC collect thousands of such sight reports a month, building a database of reports for scientists, UFO-ologists, and enthusiasts to chew on for years to come.
If you are to ask Filer whether strange ships of unknown origin are darting about our skies, flying over our cities, or hovering above or near our military bases, the answer is yes.
"I personally believe some of them have been here as long as we have," Filer said.
The National UFO Center website is  www.nationalufocenter.com.

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