Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 5:43 AM
By Cherie Ward - The Mississippi Press
PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- The news of Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker allegedly being abducted by aliens in 1973 prompted reporters from around the world to flock to Pascagoula.
Hickson, who died on Friday in Ocean Springs, was a foreman at Walker Shipyard and Parker was a welder. The now-closed shipyard was located on the Pascagoula River in the 1970s.
The two men were known to go fishing after their shift and that's what they were doing when, according to their accounts, they had an encounter with aliens on Oct. 11, 1973.
Shipyard officials hired Pascagoula attorney Joe Colingo to handle the flood of media persistently seeking interviews with both men about their experiences.
"There was just so much confusion in the beginning," Colingo said Tuesday of the international media attention. "We don't know where they came from, or how they all found out, but they were here, in the parking lots just camped out."
Hickson and Parker made global headlines with their alleged encounter.
Colingo said reporters constantly asked him if the alien abduction story was true.
"I would just tell them that they passed a polygraph test and they believe it," Colingo said.
Charles Hickson's story of his claimed UFO abduction was told in his book, "UFO Contact at Pascagoula."
The alleged abduction also prompted other alien sightings around Jackson County.
The Mississippi Press reported numerous other sightings from local people, but none were ever proven.
The Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen -- at the request of Alderman William F. Dale -- even considered passing a resolution forbidding aliens from landing spacecrafts within the city limits. Dale wanted police officers to enforce the proposed policy.
The measure tied 2-2 and Mayor Tom Stennis broke the deadlock by casting a no vote and saying, "Let's welcome them," according to media reports.
"That's pretty much the way it was in the days that followed," said Glenn Ryder, a former shift captain at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
Ryder took the initial report from Hickson and Parker.
"I mainly remember Charlie (Hickson) saying, 'I have something to tell you and you're going to laugh.'" Ryder said Tuesday. "I told him that I would not laugh and to tell me. He told me. I laughed."
Regardless, Ryder said the claim was investigated.
"We went down to where they claimed the abduction happened," Ryder said. "We thought there would be burnt marks from a spacecraft engine or something. We never found anything."
Ryder said he took Hickson and Parker to the sheriff's department and put them in a room with a hidden tape recorder.
"I thought I'd record their conversation when they were alone and they would say something like, 'We fooled that dumb cop good,'" Ryder said. "But, they didn't. They stuck to their story and they were scared."
Ryder said three other people reported seeing a flash of green light on Oct. 11, 1973, at 8 p.m., the time Hickson and Parker claimed they were released by the aliens.
Ryder said Larry Booth was operating the Standard Service Station on the corner of U.S. 90 and Market Street and reported seeing a green flash of light. "Puddin'" Broadus, a Pascagoula detective, and Mike Cataldo, a retired Navy chief petty officer, also reported seeing a flash.
"But, that was the only proof we ever had," Ryder said. "All I know is Charlie (Hickson) and Calvin (Parker) believed it. Calvin was all tore up about it."
According to previous reports in the Mississippi Press, then-Sheriff Fred Diamond contacted the U.S. Air Force and NASA to investigate. Diamond is now deceased.
"I will go as high as the President because people down here are entitled to know what's going on," Diamond said in a previous report. "People here are beginning to panic."
Both agencies declined to investigate and the abduction claim was never proven.