From the (Portland, OR) Oregonian, Thursday, July 19, 1990 Why did 6 GIs desert posts in G

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From the (Portland, OR) Oregonian, Thursday, July 19, 1990 Why did 6 GIs desert posts in Germany? Apparently to meet UFOs By Nolan Walters Knight-Ridder News Service WASHINGTON -- Six U.S. soldiers, who apparently deserted sensitive intelligence posts in West Germany, may have believed they were chosen to greet alien spaceships and lead humanity to a science fiction-style heaven, according to friends and acquaintances. The group has puzzled authorities since a note was found in their quarters that contained Biblical referenced and the words 'End of the World.' Mention of a possible 'End of the World' cult at a Pentagon briefing Tuesday has spawned a frenzy of media speculation. Now, after being detained at Gulf Breeze, Fla. -- the site of a rash of recent UFO sightings -- the five men and one woman are being held in isolation and debriefed by the Army at Fort Benning, Ga. 'They Believe that Jesus is an astronaut,' said one man who sold them a van. The group member, in fact, believed in an offshoot Christian belief called the 'rapture,' said Stan Johnson, a friend of the apparent group leader. He described it a a 'combination of science fiction and fundamentalist Baptist beliefs.' Rapture is the second coming of Jesus Christ, in which he returns to Earth to take the believers with him and the rest of Earth would be destroyed. This group, though, believed Jesus was an alien and would return in a spaceship for the chosen. 'How can I phrase this: Jesus Christ drives a spaceship,' Johnson said. 'They were apparently convinced that the aliens had chosen them as the chosen few to be on hand when they reclaimed the Earth,' he said. While the military is investigating the incident with apparent intensity, there has been no evidence that national security was compromised. 'This does not appear to be an espionage case,' said a Pentagon spokesman. The bizarre chain of events began in late May or early June when Johnson, a Bybee, Tenn., photographer, got a cal from his longtime friend Kenneth G. Beason, 26, from Augsburg, West Germany, where he was stationed. Johnson said he had met Beason a few years ago when he'd asked to have some spaceship models photographed. They became friends and often talked of science fiction and philosophy. 'Other than an interest in science fiction, he's perfectly normal,' Johnson said. 'Basically what has happened is his imagination has interwoven with reality.' Johnson said he met Beason and another soldier, Michael J. Hueckstaedt, 19, at the Knoxville airport and helped them buy a used Volkswagen van on July 7. Bill Grant, a neighbor, sold them the van for $800, but now, 'I'd give them $1,600 just not to have my name on it,' he said. The two soldiers planned to meet the other group members in Chattanooga, Tenn., then drive to meet the first spaceship landing at Gulf Breeze on Aug. 6, then continue on to New Mexico, where 'something else was going to happen,' Johnson said. The spaceship's arrival would be heralded by war in Lebanon and a shakeup of the U.S. military, Johnson said he was told. The group's plan was based on psychic messages being received by another group member they identified as 'Vance,' Johnson said. But they denied they were AWOL, or absent without leave, Johnson said, and they became 'almost belligerent' when he tried to dissuade them from the trip. The six were detained early Saturday, after Gulf Breeze police stopped their van. They put the driver's name through a national crime computer, and he turned up AWOL, Police Capt. Kenneth Hicks said. Gulf Breeze has recently been the focus of national interest by believers in UFOs since the publication of a book called 'The Gulf Breeze Sightings.'

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