Hidden History:  The Battle of L.A.

By Pete Hartinger  The Circleville Herald    Tuesday, Aug 16, 2005


Recently, the Circleville Herald has been doing very well deserved articles on our combat veterans from different conflicts. It proves there are many heroes in our midst.  I have always looked up to these veterans.
One of these articles caught my attention in regards to my research on the UFO phenomenon.  I have had coincidental events occur over the years in regards to my research and investigations.  The following is one of them.  On the morning of June 20th of this year I received a book at the post office titled, "UFOs Over California" by Preston Dennett.  I briefly glanced at the book, but I did notice the reference to the Battle of Los Angeles or the Los Angeles Air Raid.  According to the book it marked the first recorded occasion in which the United States military opened fire upon a UFO. The date was February 24, 1942.  I had known about this event before from my research.  I knew the skeptics or debunkers had explained this as trigger-happy anti-aircraft gunners with war nerves who never really saw anything.  About three hours later the Circleville Herald was on my porch.  On the front page was the story about my friend Harold Hoffman.  He and my father-in-law, Bob Quincel, are good friends and fought in the South Pacific during World War II.  In the news article Harold talks about the night of February 24,1942.  He states, "while on patrol at the airport, anti-aircraft fire suddenly came up as three Japanese Zeros flew right over him as he stood guard.  Only 24 hours earlier, a Japanese submarine had shelled oil fields at Santa Barbara, California to try and disrupt oil production.
In late June Jon Fry and I went and interviewed Harold at his home.  He showed us the 40th Infantry Division unit book in which the incident of February 24, 1942 is discussed.  We showed Harold the famous picture from the front page of the Los Angeles Times of February 25, 1942.  It depicts at least eight spotlights shining on an unknown object hovering over Los Angeles.  In the book, "UFOs Over California", the story line follows.  At 2 a.m. air raid sirens sounded throughout Los Angeles that warned of a possible Japanese attack. Several unknown objects moved overhead, followed by a huge disk-shaped object that hovered over part of Los Angeles.  The mysterious object or objects stayed in place for several hours. The military converged underneath, training numerous searchlights upon the main object.  1430 rounds of ammunition were fired at the craft.  Unreal, it suffered no visible damage.  However, six people were killed from falling debris and heart attacks.  Damage to buildings totaled thousands of dollars.  The objects were witnessed by several thousand people and were last seen over Long Beach.
Harold Hoffman was standing guard at the Long Beach Municipal Airport.  He told us that he saw at least three objects in a V formation overhead.  They were too high for the anti-aircraft fire to reach them.  In thinking back he remembered he thought it was odd for them to be going so slow and he could not see the details of an airplane, just lights high in the sky.  He just took it for granted that they were Japanese planes.  An important note is that Harold did not know that the objects were seen over Los Angeles earlier and were fired upon.  He just knew what had happened in his area.  Then everything was hushed up because of the wartime blackout.
After the Los Angeles Times headlines and a few days of following stories about it, there was nothing else in the newspapers.  I can understand that in wartime news like this should be censored.  However, after all these years there should be an open investigation and to check to rule out any possibility of Japanese aircraft.  There is no question on whether the Battle of Los Angeles happened.  It did because there were accidental deaths involved and property was destroyed. However, one item does stand out.  There were no bombs dropped or hostility shown by the unknown aircraft.  If they were Japanese how did they get over Los Angeles?  Were they from Japanese aircraft carriers?  If the Japanese or U.S. governments know the answer, they sure haven't told the public.
The last two groups of interested people I have talked to about UFOs, a very small percentage had ever heard about the Battle of Los Angeles.  That is why I have called this part of our "hidden history."
The movie "1941" produced by Steven Speilberg is loosely based on the factual battle, over Los Angeles.  Speilberg is known to be interested in the UFO phenomenon.  Some of his movies are "Close Encounters of The Third Kind, "ET", and the recently released "War of The Worlds."
In studying the UFO phenomenon I have seen where some interesting UFO reports are received during meteor showers.  It is as if the UFOs use the meteor showers as a camouflage.  Is this what happened over Los Angeles in February, 1942 when the Japanese threat was real?  In appearance and behavior the "unidentified aircraft" were, as would become apparent a few years later, classic UFOs.
In Harold's defense for thinking these objects were possible Japanese planes there have been similar incidents.  Bob Quincel, another longtime Circleville resident, spotted a strange saucer shaped craft swooping down low over the Army Depot, now DSCS in Columbus, Ohio in 1952 while working there.  He told a couple of his co-workers who also saw it that it must be one of ours because it was a daytime sighting and was so low over a populated area.  Only years later after realizing our government never has come out with that type of craft and listening to my UFO research did he realize he had seen a genuine UFO.  His story is contained in the book titled "Ohio UFOs" by fellow researcher Irena Scott, who is a former Ohio State University professor.  I was with Irena when she interviewed Bob.  Another UFO story connected at the Army Depot occurred the same time period as Bob's and is also written in the book.
In summary, how many other UFO sightings are out there that are similar?  I believe many.
I know some people are scared of this subject.  Because the UFO phenomenon has been around for so many years, I am more curious about it.  Someone once noted, "any panic that might take place because of UFO disclosure is because of the lack of knowledge."
If you have questions about the UFO phenomena please me at 477-6252 or e-mail him at [email protected].