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The crash landing of the "extraterrestrial" Braxton County Monster (a.k.a Green Monster, Flatwoods Monster, Flatwoods Phantom) on September 12,1952 sent shock waves throughout the country. This event took place during the height of McCarthyism and the Red Scare; as such, the phenomena was attributed both to the US Government and the USSR as possible secret weapons testing gone awry. Gray Barker, the man who proposed the concept of "Men in Black," was inspired by the Monster.

  • Photo Credit: Gray Barker
  • Kathleen May with a drawing of the monster based on her description.
  • Kathleen May
  • Ceramic replica of the monster.
  • Newspaper Article

Today, UFOs are still believed to exist by as much as 57% of the American public according to the CIA. This number was likely higher in the 1950s considering the United States Air Force, CIA, and other agencies around the world were investigating them as security risks. More than one United States President has claimed to have seen a UFO personally. Many Americans believed that the government was trying to cover up that UFOs were real. No matter your stance on the subject, UFO sightings have an impact on those who believe they experienced them and sometimes their entire communities.

On September 12th 1952, Flatwoods West Virginia was home to an event that that changed the lives of some local residents forever. Edward and Fred May were playing with their friend Tommy Hyer when they witnessed a bright light steak across the sky and appear to land on a hillside owned by a local farmer, G. Bailey Fisher. The three young men, naturally curious and excited, ran home to tell their mother Kathleen May. After explaining what they witnessed, the boys and their new curious posse made their way towards the crash site. Along the way the group had grown from three to seven with the addition of their mother, Eugene Lemon (A member of the National Guard), Neil Nunley, and Ronnie Shaver.

According to their account of the evening, the group's dog ran ahead and began to bark then suddenly returned frightened. As the group approached the top of the hill they came upon what they described as a “Pulsating ball of fire”. The group also came into a mist that had a smell so strong it made their noses and even their eyes burn and water. Lemon noticed what he believed to be two lights in a tree to the left of the glowing ball. After swinging his light towards them, Lemon and the group got the surprise of a lifetime. Standing there was a creature like nothing they had ever seen before, tall, with a red head almost the shape of the ace of spades. When the light hit the creature, it began to make a hissing sound and proceeded to float towards them before changing course and heading toward the light.

Understandably frightened, the group ran back to the home of Mrs. May and immediately called the police to report what they had seen. The local sheriff showed up with a local newspaper reporter in tow. Sheriff Robert Carr would go to the site with the reporter and Eugene Lemon, but could not locate the craft or the creature, although the smell was still there. Other than odor and witness testimony, there was no evidence that the monster was real. This lack of evidence has led to the event feeling more like a ghost story than news.

UFO investigator Gray Barker, a native West Virginian, wanted to make sense of what had happened, so he interviewed everyone involved in the sighting. Later, Barker would work with fellow UFO enthusiast, Albert K. Bender and through their organization would spread the word about what happened in Flatwoods. Bender was pretty well known for his encounters with “Men in Black” or “silencers”. Bender’s contact with these beings scared him so much he abandoned his research and warned fellow researchers to “be careful”. There are no clear answers, but whatever happened that evening it changed what was possible in the minds of many small-town West Virginians that September evening.

Griffin, Buddy "Flatwoods Monster." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 30 August 2012. Web. 07 May 2015.

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