In the fall of1966, the sleepy little town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia became the home to a number of strange sightings. A large, winged man-like creature was reported by two young couples traveling together. Not even a week later, five grave diggers reported seeing a similar creature.
The creatures described in both of the sightings were eerily the same: about seven feet tall with glowing red eyes and a wing span that stretched at least to15 feet. Thus from these sightings, the Mothman legend was born.
For the last half century, people have theorized that the creature was everything from aliens to angels to a misidentified species of bird to an unidentified species of bird. However, one writer claims that the Mothman was nothing of the sort. His claim is that the Mothman sightings were a number of different men, the Green Berets.
From the initial eyewitness accounts on, reports of the Mothman continued to circulate. Then, when the Silver Bridge collapsed, killing 46 people, the Mothman was immediately associated with death and destruction. Once people began connecting the Mothman to the bridge disaster, theories about aliens and giant birds began to fade and theories regarding it as an Angel of Death, demon, or some other evil supernatural being moved to the forefront. This theory seemed to have been perpetuated by the fact the sightings became more numerous leading up to the bridge collapse and then tapered off after the tragedy.
Green Beret, Bird, or Something Else?
Of course, skeptics discard all of the theories and propose that the Mothman is nothing more than the misidentification of a known bird or just an all out hoax. Some wildlife enthusiasts and Mothman skeptics believe a possible answer to the mystery lies in the Common Barn Owl.
Many of the characteristics seen in the Mothman are applicable to the barn owl, as well. For example, at night, the owl’s eye shine is a dark red color. Additionally, because of the animal’s lack of tufts it almost appears that its eyes are on its chest instead of its head. Even though the common barn owl does not grow to the proportions of the Mothman, advocates of the idea claim their four-foot wingspan could be misinterpreted because of their coloration and shadows at night. Finally, the Mothman is said to inhabit an abandoned TNT factory. Similarly, barn owls often choose to roost in abandoned buildings.
However, one writer states the Mothman was neither a supernatural beast nor a bird; it was a Green Beret: actually, a number of Green Berets. In the February edition of Soldier of Fortune magazine, writer Harold Hutchison contends that the sightings were the result of top secret Special Forces training on High-Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jumps.
HALO jumps consist of a jump from an aircraft, at a high altitude. The jumper free-falls for a period of time at terminal velocity, and opens his parachute at a low altitude. The high-speed fall and forward air-speed helps to prevent detection by radar and minimizes the amount of time the parachute might be visible from the ground.
Hutchinson contends that the Green Berets were being trained on perfecting HALO jumps near Point Pleasant. As for the Mothman’s glowing eyes, Hutchinson contributes that to paint that the Green Berets wore so they could track the jumpers after jumping from the aircraft.
What Did Trigger the Legend?
Even though this explanation is as plausible as many of the other theories, there are some key points from eyewitness accounts that do not match up. The one major point is that most of the witnesses claim to have seen the moth man fly away. One witness stated, “I was just petrified for a few minutes… Then it just got up on top of this 5-story building and just went off the top of it.” Green Berets are good…but they can’t fly.
It is very possible that many of the Mothman reports can be contributed to the top-secret training of Green Berets on HALO jumps near Point Pleasant. Just as it is highly possible that many of the reports can be contributed to the Common Barn Owl. Do you think the Green Berets triggered the legend?