The first-hand account of Edward Brian McCleary
Pensecola Harbor, 1962
"We were in an Air Force rescue raft bound for a sunken ship a few miles off the coast. Midway out, we were caught in a storm and dragged out to sea. When the storm cleared, we were in a dense fog. We began to hear strange noises, rather like the splashing of a porpoise . . . also a sickening odor like that of a dead fish. The noise got closer to the raft and it was then we heard a loud hissing sound.
"Out of the fog we saw what looked like a long pole, about ten feet high, sticking straight up out of the water. On top was a bulb like structure. It appeared several more times, getting closer to the raft. The silence was broken once again by something out of the fog. I can only describe it as a high-pitched whine. We panicked. All five of us put on our fins and went into the water . . . 'Keep together and try for the ship!' I yelled.
"After we were in the water, we became split up in the fog. From behind I could hear the screams of my comrades one by one. I got a closer look at the thing just before my last friend went under. The neck was about 12 feet long, brownish-green and smooth looking. The head was like that of a sea-turtle, except more elongated with teeth. There appeared to be what looked like a dorsal fin when it dove under for the last time. Also, as best I am able to recall, the eyes were green with oval pupils.
"I finally made it to the ship, the top of which protruded from the water, and stayed there for most of the night. Early that morning I swam to shore and was found by the rescue unit."
Sketch, by Edward Brian McCleary
Mr. McCleary currently lives in south Florida, refusing to talk about the encounter. Rescue units later found only one of the four boys missing. He had apparently drowned.
Because this report, published in a local Pensacola newspaper, remains just that . . . a report . . . we will always be left to wonder whether the account of Edward McCleary is truth or fiction. What is truth, however, is that four of his companions died, with only one later discovered by rescue units. For McCleary to knowingly risk public ridicule by giving such a fanciful explanation for their deaths is indeed something to ponder, and to consider.
For now, and always, we are left to speculate. We simply will never know.