“Yes, Mr. President, you heard me right, another invasion, this time in Nevada.” Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, kept it brief and to the point while the president got his bearings. This was a matter that could not wait for the morning. It required immediate attention.
President Dwight D.Eisenhower rubbed the sleep from his eyes and squinted at the bedside clock. It said three o’clock in the morning. “This better be important,” he thought. Speaking into the Pentagon hotline telephone, he demanded, “Okay, then. Talk to me. What do we know so far?”
Radford gave a quick report. “Two days ago, apparently a single pilot, its ship crashed and burned just north of Las Vegas, body recovered, the damn thing’s alive.”
“What!? Who’s alive? What kind of invasion? Las Vegas? How did they get so far inland? Quick, man, I need answers!” The President was suddenly wide awake.
“We have already begun containment procedures, Mr. President. We would like to meet with you as soon as possible… today… to go over details. Best not speak over the phone, even this phone, with Hoover and all.”
“Understood. That nosy bastard is everywhere.” Presidents tolerated J. Edgar Hoover, but there was no love for the man. He was irritatingly intrusive, and he liked to preen for the press. It was important to keep the FBI out of this for as long as possible.
“I have a full schedule today, which I can cancel,” the President suggested.
“I recommend you keep to your schedule and routines as usual, Mr. President, to not attract curiosity. Can we meet this evening, say at 2200 hours?” Radford was a man of action, a military man, practical and clear-thinking. Eisenhower liked that.
“Roger that, Admiral. 2200.” Eisenhower hung up the phone and immediately went into action himself. He donned his robe and slippers, and headed downstairs to the White House Presidential Library, to Truman’s files.
In the library, Eisenhower walked past rows of old wooden bookcases and unlocked the door to the back room. The walls of the musty room were lined with file cabinets labeled with the names of some of the most powerful men the world had ever seen. These were the personal notes of the Presidents of the United States of America. He walked directly to the last file cabinet. The top drawer had FDR’s notes, just before he died, during the final year of World War II. He let his fingers linger for a moment over that label, allowing a brief wash of memories and feelings about the second great war.
Eisenhower then opened the next drawer, labeled “Harry S. Truman.” The drawer was organized into sections by year. He went directly to the section marked “1947.” He walked his fingers through the alphabetically ordered files until he got the the R’s. “Here it is,” he said to himself. “Roswell.”
Meanwhile, Radford called the Joint Chiefs- General Nathan F. Twining of the Air Force, General Matthew B. Ridgway of the Army, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. of the Marines, and Admiral Robert B. Carney of the Navy, to confirm their meeting with the President. These were the finest of the nation’s military men, and they had a big job ahead.
Eisenhower had a difficult time concentrating that day, his mind entirely on the invasion, and on Truman’s notes. He was thankful Truman had been so meticulous. He spent the early morning hours pouring over each page. Every detail of his Roswell notes seemed to be pertinent and useful. He planned to follow Truman’s playbook to the letter.
Eisenhower’s day of presidential appointments and phone calls seemed to last forever, but eventually the day was done. He then rushed through dinner and made his final preparations for the late evening meeting with the Joint Chiefs.
At precisely 2200 hours, the White House doorbell rang. Eisenhower sprang from his desk chair and marched to the foyer, pushing the doorman aside to open the front door himself.
The President greeted each man by first name, as they had been friends and acquaintances for many years. He shook each one’s hand and nodded as they entered the house. “Hello, again, Art… Hello, Nathan… Matt… Lem.” Each one said, “Hello, Mr. President,” in a formal, military tone.
The Joint Chiefs were dressed in their military uniforms. Each appeared as crisp and fresh as if this had been 0600. Eisenhower himself had dressed for the occasion, in his old Army uniform with full Five-star General regalia. This was a special moment for Eisenhower. He enjoyed serving as the Chief Executive of the land, but he loved his role as Commander-in-Chief much better. He was glad to be back in command of a major operation!
Eisenhower led the Joint Chiefs to the White House meeting room where they all found their seats, opened their briefcases, and spread documents around the table.
Admiral Radford led the meeting. “Mr. President, I trust you are up to speed about the Roswell Invasion of 1947.”
“Yes, I am,” Eisenhower responded. “I reviewed Truman’s excellent notes earlier today. He’s done most of the work for us.”
“Good old Hairy Ass,” Ridgway joked in his typical rough growl. There was a brief round of laughter at the irreverent remark.
“Yes, good old Harry.” Radford cleared his throat and redirected the group to the serious matter at hand. “He did a magnificent job containing the Roswell Invasion, and creating the CIA to manage the Roswell intel, and reorganizing the National Guard, and the Air Force. All of it brilliant, really. Because of Truman, we learned a lot of things from that dead alien and what was left of his ship, and most importantly… we kept it from the Russians!” There were nods of approval around the table.
Radford signaled to General Twining that it was his turn to speak. “Mr. President,” Twining began, “let me take you through what we know.” Twining laid out a number of black and white photos on the table in front of President Eisenhower. “This is the crash site, about 75 miles northwest of Las Vegas.” Twining pointed to a spot on a map of southern Nevada and marked it with a small x. “And this is where the invader’s ship hit a mountaintop before the final crash.” He marked that spot with another x.
“You mean it hit a mountain and kept on going?”
“Yes, Mr. President…”
“Oh, stop that ‘Mr. President’ shit. I’m ‘Ike’, remember?”
“Yes, Mr. President, er, I mean… Ike,” Twining stammered. He was uncomfortable with the familiarity, Eisenhower being the President of the United States and all, but he was glad the president considered him a friend.
Twining continued, “The crash site coordinates and those of the mountaintop give us an exact direction of the invader’s final glide path. The line corresponds with witness reports from Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.”
“Eye witness reports?” Eisenhower cocked his brow.
“What did they see?”
“A flash of light. A bright light. A trail of dark smoke. Some heard a rumble after the light flashed by.” He wanted to resume his report, but the president could not contain his interest and kept interrupting.
“Did anyone see the actual ship?”
“Not in the air, Sir,” Twining could still not quite get himself to call the president by his first name, “only at the crash site. A few officers and a handful of civilians saw what was left of it, burnt to a crisp, essentially unidentifiable.”
“Can we contain what the people saw? Do we need to? And can we get any intel from the ship?”
“We believe so. The ship broke apart after hitting the mountain, and the larger parts continued to break up for another forty miles before it finally came to a stop. Then it burned extremely hot, probably the last of its fuel. What the people saw was mostly burnt and deformed beyond recognition, so in that sense there is nothing to contain.” Twining showed the president detailed pictures of the crash site. “Despite the extreme damage, we may be able to reconstruct some of the ship from what we can find, though frankly, we don’t envision obtaining as much intel as we did from the Roswell ship.” Twining closed his file of photos and turned the meeting over to Admiral Carney.
Carney took over the briefing. “But none of that matters, Mr. President… Ike. The unique opportunity here is not with the ship’s technology or weapons. It’s with the pilot.”
“Is it still alive?” After seeing the pictures of the crash site, it seemed impossible to Eisenhower that anyone, or anything, could have survived.
“How is that possible?” the president inquired.
“The cabin was the last part of the ship to break up. On final impact, the pilot was thrown some distance from the burning ship. Its suit was made of an unknown material that seemed to provide it with just enough protection from the intense heat of the burning wreckage to survive, at least for the time being. The pilot did suffer major burns, fractures and internal trauma. Its condition is critical. It may very well not survive for long.”
“Where is it being held?”
Carney deferred to General Ridgway, as the Army was making the next plans for the alien’s medical care. “The local first responders took it to the Groom Lake airfield, which is very close to the crash site. They cut it out of its suit and administered first aid. The Groom Lake air boys went up the chain of command, which to their credit got all the way to Twining PDQ. Air Force docs have been taking care of him until we get the MASH set up later today. We’ve got DeBakey himself flying there from Houston as we speak. We’re going to save that alien bastard’s life.”
Eisenhower nodded slowly, his mind swimming with all the ramifications, and a dawning sense of responsibility. A lot of people had already come into contact with the alien. They would all have to be contained. “No exceptions.” It said so in Truman’s playbook.
“What’s the scuttlebutt? What are people saying?” Carney interrupted, as if reading Eisenhower’s mind. “How much containment will this require?”
General Shepherd responded, “We can control our own people. No one knows better than military personnel what the military is capable of doing. The civilians are another story. They think they have rights. We are developing an accurate list of everyone who has had direct contact with the crash site. They will be contained. Those with indirect contact will be kept under surveillance. We have organized a leak to the press that this was a military jet accident. People will then understand why the name of the pilot is not being released. If there are any loose ends, we will take care of them.” Everyone knew what that meant, coming from the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
For the following several hours, the Joint Chiefs briefed the president, covering all the pertinent who, what, when, where, and whys. At the end, Eisenhower was satisfied with the progress that had been made. He thanked his Joint Chiefs of Staff and then summarized his list of orders.
“I want that alien to survive. I want to know everything it knows. I want top security, like in Roswell. No FBI. I want that asswipe Hoover to stay out of it. No government supervision. I want Truman’s CIA to run intel. I want his National Guard, too. I want the whole area contained. This is the second invasion within ten years and I don’t need to tell you how serious that is. Our enemy is escalating. This is war, gentlemen!”
So the Joint Chiefs had their orders. They gathered their papers and began organizing their briefcases. As they were doing so, the president added his final remarks.
“It goes without saying, this must remain top secret. The intelligence we gather here will give us the upper hand over the Russians, perhaps for decades to come. So we must keep this to ourselves. We cannot make this public. In so doing, we take responsibility for defeating these invaders not just for our own national security, but for the security of the entire world. We are tasked with a great responsibility, gentlemen. I am confident that you will see this through.”
“Yessir!” The Joint Chiefs saluted their president.
“It will be contained,” Shepherd confirmed.
“And that alien sombitch will talk,” Ridgway swore.