Navy vet Kevin Day emerges with renewed purpose — and a warning
| After enduring homelessness and alcoholism, the man who guided U.S. Navy pilots to intercept the Tic Tac UFO in 2004 is pursuing a vision inspired by that event.
On July 3, 1988, a young Kevin Day got a horrific lesson in the consequences of misinterpreting radar data. He was a Second Class Petty Officer deployed to the Strait of Hormuz, aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. Iraq and Iran were in Year 8 of their bloody stalemate, and the sea lanes had been
caught in the crossfire. Thirty-seven sailors had been killed the year before when Iraqi warplanes struck an American frigate, the USS Stark.
Day was a newbie assigned to the Combat Information Center on that fateful morning when a blip emerging from the Iranian coast caught everyone’s attention. As the target headed toward the Vincennes and the Joint Tactical Operation System crew sprang to action, Day was churning inside. He’d been tracking similar profiles for days now, same time, same place, and they were invariably commercial airliners leaving Bandar Abbas International — should he speak up? As if reading his mind, Captain William C. Rogers blurted, “Make sure that ain’t a COMMAIR!” Day wasn’t privy to whatever exchanges occurred after that.
“I stood down wrongly as it turned out,” he remembers, “believing the ‘air side’ had this and I simply did not see the whole picture.”
He was four feet away when Rogers turned the fire-enable key and launched a couple of surface-to-air missiles. They scored a direct hit — on an Airbus A300 as it attempted to cross the Gulf into Dubai. All 290 crew and passengers aboard IranAir Flight 655 were annihilated. Its pilots had apparently forgotten to squawk on the International Radio Air Distress frequency, required of all local air traffic since the attack on the Stark.
The lessons of this catastrophic failure propelled Kevin Day to the peak of his game, as a Top Gun Air Intercept Controller with the USS Princeton. Attached to the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group as it completed readiness exercises off southern California in 2004, he was watching the skies from the Princeton’s CIC when the variables changed the game. The electronic map showed an unscripted “real world” event plunging into the fleet’s battlespace. He notified command, which then ordered him to vector already-airborne F-18 Hornet pilots from the Nimitz to engage the intruder(s).
What followed was gun-camera footage of an object dubbed the Tic Tac, an historic rendezvous that would change the conversation in America’s long-running UFO drama. But 18 years later, the aftermath still stings.
“I lost my career because of it – you know how bad that fucking hurts? I’m a top-shelf trainer in the Navy, trained by the best of the best, and I’m telling them I was reading safety concerns into what happened. But all anyone ever heard was ‘UFO,’” Day says. “Doors started shutting in my face, and I got ridiculed for doing my job.”
Today, the retired Operations Specialist Senior Chief is navigating the fine lines between disorder and meaning. The struggle to tell the difference can be as alienating as Roy Neary sculpting Devil’s Tower from gloppy mashed potatoes at the dinner table in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Kevin Day’s journey is still in search of that storybook ending, but his obsession may be no less cinematic.
After the opening credits on this latter-day saga, the camera might track the 61-year-old Navy veteran humping across the craggy Pacific Northwest near his home in Cave Junction. We might be introduced to a life in turmoil, a dissolving marriage of 31 years, a lost soul disappearing for long stretches into homelessness and alcoholism. We may even be given a glimpse of a mysterious liaison with government spooks in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Or not. To family and friends back in civilization, however, there’s no mystery at all — their boy’s lost his marbles.
His fixation is a century-old family mining claim in the middle of undeveloped federal land in southwest Oregon, and he attributes his perspicacity to the life-changing moment aboard the Princeton. And that obsession has transformed Day into a student of the ophiolite strata jutting from the 160-acre stake. What the rocks are telling him is that subterranean treasures here are awaiting discovery, valuable rare-earth minerals interlaced with a sprawling motherlode of gold so vast, its worth is incalculable.
So confident is Day of his electrified instincts that he submitted his geological findings – along with references to his role in the world-renowned “Tic Tac” UFO encounter – to a screening committee in hopes of getting an all-expenses-paid round-trip ticket to the moon. And to his surprise, he was recently notified “I’m on the short list.
Announced by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa in 2018, the proposed off-world tourism junket – called the dearMoon project – is designed to ferry as many as eight tourists into lunar orbit. The super heavy-lift Starship vehicle, developed by SpaceX, is entering the testing phase. Contenders for the six-day voyage include a professional ballet dancer with advanced degrees in laser and atomic physics from Oxford, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and a gold medalist from the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The competition is daunting, but for Day, 2022 looks to be a good year, moon or no moon.
Several weeks ago, Day announced on social media that he had entered his third month of sobriety. And the best is yet to come. UAPx, the nonprofit research group he cofounded with fellow Navy veterans, is looking to make headlines this spring.
For the last two years, UAPx has been conducting field research into Unidentified Aerial Phenomena activity off southern California. A documentary called “A Tear in the Sky,” from director Caroline Cory, will showcase the results, possibly in May. A gaunt online synopsis states only that a multi-disciplinary team aims to “unravel the UAP/UFO mysteries using state of the art, military-grade equipment and technology.” A peer-reviewed paper from UAPx team member/scientists Kevin Knuth and Matthew Syzdagis will follow.
UAPx was formed in the wake of possibilities stirred by the December 2017 NY Times paradigm-busting expose on the Pentagon’s secret UFO research project. The Times’ scoop threw a spotlight on the Nimitz jet-fighter pilots ordered to intercept, a futile effort that forced members of the elite Black Aces to admit America’s front-line military assets had, within the space of seconds, been rendered obsolete.
Emboldened by the coverage, Day was among the first eyewitnesses from the USS Princeton to step up and offer a view from the radar room. He had been keeping a wary eye on the slow-moving enigmas upstairs for days, radar blips that tended to cluster tightly, in groups of 5 to 10, doing maybe 100 knots. “If I added them all up over the two weeks,” he recalls, “there were maybe 100 altogether.” He even got a visual look through the Big Eye binoculars on deck, but the targets were little more than formless blobs that stayed well away and didn’t interfere with naval operations – until suddenly, they did.
On the clear Sunday morning of November 14, 2004, as Navy pilots prepared to conduct wargames with their Marine counterparts, the objects started moving at freaky velocities, dropping from 28,000 feet to the Pacific surface in less than a second. “You better believe that made my hair stand up,” Day says. Invisible to the onboard radar systems of the F-18s, the UFOs couldn’t elude the Princeton’s state-of-the-art Aegis surveillance. Day’s job was to direct the pilots to “merge plot.”
“I had air control communication patched into the overhead speakers and that’s when (pilot Commander David) Fravor screams on the radio, ‘Oh my god, oh my god! I’m engaged, I’m engaged!’ This was from a very senior, highly trained top gun pilot screaming like a little girl on the radio. He was that shocked.”
Day said “about 40 of us” gaped at the stunting radar targets, and the news spread to the entire crew. The UFO formations then headed south, off the eastern shore of Catalina Island, until they dropped off the scopes some 300 miles away, near Mexico’s remote Guadalupe Island west of the Baja peninsula.
After the Tic Tac incident, back on land, things started deteriorating on the professional front, as peers who hadn’t been there questioned Day’s credibility. “They would just laugh me out of the room. I got so pissed off I decided to go home.” Day ended his 21-year career in 2008; immediately afterwards, he decided to write an account of what he’d seen.
“The See’r” was the first of four short stories he tucked into A Sailor’s Anthology, mostly snapshots from a life at sea. The opening page calls the material “Fiction; except for the parts that aren’t.” Day switched the date of the UAP encounters to 2005, but he refused to alter the names of the Nimitz and the Princeton. He published only after registering the book with the Library of Congress. “I wanted a record of it, you know? Just to get it off my chest in a positive way, in case the story ever came to light. Then my little story would be proof.”
What followed were a series of weird dreams and odd jobs, the loss of his home to the housing bubble, a domestic roller coaster, a master’s degree in education, and the nagging urge to make sense of what happened in 2004. There weren’t many clues. The targets blinked off over Guadalupe Island. He remembers those waters well, the way the crew would gather to watch whale migrations, from Catalina south to Guadalupe. He remembers scuttlebutt from other vessels saying UAP had been tracked on sonar before. Was there a connection? Or just useless clutter? “Maybe,” Day reasoned, “they live down there with the whales — I mean, they gotta come from somewhere, right?”
Given the patterns unfolding over the past 18 years, Day suspects he could qualify as a specimen for the so-called Vallee-Davis Effect. In a paper titled “Incommensurability, Orthodoxy and the Physics of High Strangeness,” authors Jacques Vallee and Eric Davis appeal for new methodologies for analyzing the effects of UAP encounters, not merely on the brain, but on consciousness itself.
The Vallee-Davis paper suggests such effects would likely be inflicted during close-proximity encounters. But Day was miles away from the bogeys. Furthermore, in a nod to Skinwalkers at the Pentagon, a very weird read told largely by the Defense Intelligence Agency officer who ran the clandestine UFO program, Day is quick to point out what didn’t happen to him: No “hitchhikers” following him home, no dogmen or poltergeists, no living shadows hovering over his bed at night. “No real woo stuff,” he insists.
Still. Kevin Day talks about the coincidences that continue to pile up, random things, precognitive quirks, long story. Just one example: He says he can now sing at a perfect pitch. “I sing like a bird now.” But Day insists this is about something bigger and more profound — heightened intuition maybe, or inspiration, or whatever it is that sends him on extended camping expeditions to assess the potential of his family’s mineral rights in Oregon. The man whose personal challenges led to a year-long sabbatical from UAPx’s research in 2021 says he’s had an epiphany, he’s back in the game and he’s ready to roll with whatever leads come next. He offers a bit of guidance to others who might find themselves in the same boat:
“If a person encounters one of these objects, whatever it is, you’re gonna be changed. I’ve paid a high price for it, but I’m better off because of it. I’m not religious but I thank God, multiple times a day, for this journey I’ve had. Are you kidding? I wouldn’t trade it for nothin’.
“What’s happening to you may seem like magic, but it’s just physics that we don’t understand. So my advice is, don’t be afraid, embrace it. You’re gonna gain new ideas, new aspirations, new missions, maybe new abilities, things you maybe thought you could never do.”
In the big-screen treatment of the odyssey, now might seem the right moment to roll those final credits. Only, Kevin Day says it’s just beginning. And truthfully, he’s worried — not about his own path forward, but for everybody else.
“If mass disclosure happens and no one’s prepared for it? And no one on the planet knows why they’re suddenly changing and everyone thinks they’re going insane? Dude, man …” A pause. “Then things might not end so well for us.”