- Note - Noted UFO Researcher John Schuessler
investigated the Cash-Landrum
- event from the beginning, and knew Ms.
Cash very well. John discussed her
- entire ordeal in a one hour tribute with
Jeff on 1-4-99. You can hear that
- program in our Archives.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The death of Betty Cash at age 69 in Alabama
late last month generated no headlines, and only the Mutual UFO Network
saw fit to make note of it. "She was devoted to family and friends,"
stated the press release, "and never allowed her illness to prevent
her from helping others to cope with the trauma of UFO close encounters."
- One different kind of obit.
- I met Betty in 1983, when she was living
outside Houston, still brimming with fire and indignation over her radiation
poisoning. She, a friend named Vickie Landrum, and Vickie's grandson, Colby,
were confronted by a blazing, diamond-shaped object spewing off massive
heat in the middle of a Texas backroad on the night of Dec. 29, 1980. When
she braked and got out of the car, the thing hovered away.
- Within hours, Betty was vomiting, blistering,
and losing her hair; Colby and Vickie reported similar symptoms. Betty
was hospitalized for what doctors deduced as exposure to ionizing radiation.
Medical records notwithstanding, what really juiced the story was how the
three reported seeing this object being pursued by as many as 23 Army helicopters,
most of them twin-rotored Chinooks.
- The newspaper got interested because
the man leading the unofficial investigation was a Johnson Space Center
space shuttle flight operations manager. John Schuessler did thorough work,
and he was able to locate at least four other witnesses - including a cop
- who'd seen the choppers that same night, as well as their military markings.
- As a result of the publicity, the Army
Inspector General's office was forced to conduct an investigation, but
couldn't seem to find any evidence of its own involvement. An attorney
for Cash-Landrum tried to sue the government for damages, only to have
a federal judge toss it out in 1984.
- Now retired and living outside Denver,
Schuessler retraced Betty's ordeal, which ended on Dec. 29 when she died
from myriad cancer-related health complications. "The judge never
even looked at a page of our evidence," Schuessler recalled. "They
said they didn't have choppers up that night - we have multiple eyewitnesses.
They said maintenance records of their CH-47s are routinely destroyed after
six months - that's a lie, they're kept for the life of the vehicle. This
is the kind of thing we were up against. We didn't really stand a chance."
- Schuessler said he never figured out
what happened to Betty Colby, and Vickie (the latter are still alive) on
that damp, dark Monday night 18 years ago. "But I'm not giving up,"
he said. "I suspect some of those helicopter pilots were probably
burned as well. I'm hoping they'll step forward at some point and talk."
- But even if they do, we already know
how it'll end - at the slammed door of a pathology called "national
- If you want an idea of how well this
lunacy has served the public interest in the past, read Sen. Daniel Moynihan's
new book Secrecy: The American Experience. The former Senate Select Committee
on Intelligence member documents such consistent patterns of paranoia and
screwups behind national security, other less perfect systems of government
would've recruited firing squads over the disclosures. "Secrets become
organizational assets, never to be shared save in exchange for another
organization's assets," he writes. "In the void created by absent
or withheld information, decisions are either made poorly or not at all."
- Kinda makes you wonder who won the Cold
War. Last November, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal for damages sought
by five workers and two employees' widows at the top-secret Nevada air
base called Area 51. This environmental-crimes scandal was huge; plaintiffs
claimed their health had been assaulted by exposure to illegally-burned
toxic waste. But federal attorneys successfully argued that everything
pertaining to the facility - even its name - is privileged information.
After all, only commies and enemies of the state demand a full accounting
of their tax dollars.
- But take heart, Betty. As Lee Greenwood
sings, at least you know you're free.
- Meantime, democracy kicks into high gear
this week on Capitol Hill, where our public servants are busy making history.
The Where's The Outrage? gang wouldn't know what high crimes and misdemeanors
were if they got dunked in steaming vats of Strontium 90, but hey, we've
gotta defend the constitution, and protect the American way of life from
those who would lie about sex.
- Billy Cox's column runs every Friday.
He can be reached at 242-3774, or FLORIDA TODAY, P.O. Box 419000, Melbourne,