USS Decoy

A lie is described as a deliberate choice to mislead a target without giving notification of intent to do so. The essential facts are that deception is intentional and that it affects the goal of misleading.

Almost all persons lie in their public and private lives. Some lies are altruistic or protective in that their purpose is to protect another from hurt feelings. An example may be the doctor who lies to a patient or the parent who lies to a child. Other lies are social and minor, such as the boss who asks, “How are you?” and the employee responds with “Fine” even though they are not.

Lies by public officials may be for the purpose of national security or to accomplish public policy. Sometimes, the lies have consequences that are so great that they make people question their elected officials. It’s not unheard of for the government to tell one lie to cover for another.

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Tina twisted her wet hankie and dabbed at the corner of her left eye. “Your dad was a wonderful old guy.” She cracked a smile. “But cheap. I’ve worked here at Jim’s Café for nearly forty years, and in all that time, he’s never tipped me anything but a dime for his coffee. Say, speaking of coffee, you want a cup?”

“Thanks, but I’ll pass for now.”

Dad and I shared a secret. Now, because of his passing, I was the only one left who knew: outside of the government, of course. I needed to tell someone. The secret must not die. Could I and should I tell Tina? I’d ordered my first cup of coffee here at Jim’s as a teen. She’d served it. Over the decades, we’d come to trust and confide with one another.

It was late, and except for the two of us, Jim’s was deserted. “Tina, I need to tell you …”

“Rob, I didn’t know your dad was in the Navy until I saw the American flag on his coffin.”

“Ah, yeah, he joined the Navy Cadets when he was fourteen. He loved tinkering with radios and became a radioman. Five years later, on December 8, he applied to Naval Officer Candidate School. And.”

“Yeah, and what?”

“Tina, there’s something I need to share – about my father.”

“So share.”

Have you ever heard of the Philadelphia Experiment or the USS Eldridge?”

She smiled, get you that coffee now?”

“Ah, no.”

She shrugged. “Okay, later. Continue about your dad.”

“In response to the on-going sea battle raging in the North Atlantic between American destroyers escorting convoys and the Nazi U-boats, the Navy had an idea. In the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, a newly commissioned destroyer called the USS Eldridge was being equipped with several large generators for a top-secret Atlantic mission. The rumor was that the generators generated a new kind of magnetic field that would make the warship invisible. With the full crew on board, in broad daylight, and in plain sight of nearby ships, the switches were thrown on the power generators. The Eldridge disappeared. Or so the story went.

“The thing is, the story is false. Almost everything we know about the Philadelphia Experiment emerged from the mind and pen of a science fiction writer named Carl M. Allen, under the pseudonym of Carlos Miguel Allende.

“A private detective, named Jessup, attempted to investigate Allende’s claims but grew frustrated with the mysterious lack of physical evidence. Jessup was ready to drop the investigation when he was contacted by two officers from the Navy’s Office of Naval Research.

“The two officers were responding to a strange package they received. “It contained notes claiming advanced knowledge of the unified field theory and cloaking of metal objects.”

“Whoa! Rob, run that by me again!”

“Knowledge beyond that of the era.”

“Shaking her head, “Ain’t that some shit.”

“Although the scrawled notes were meant to look like they came from different authors, Jessup instantly recognized the handwriting as all belonging to Carlos Allende. Then, for unexplained reasons, the ONR ordered Jessup to immediately cease his investigation.

“Sadly, Jessup’s story took a tragic turn. He committed suicide or so said the coroner’s inquest. Carlos Allende was never located. His fantasy tale of the Philadelphia Experiment has never been verified.

“So what did this Carlos fella say happened?”

“According to him, the witnesses describe an eerie green-blue glow surrounding the ship’s hull. Then, instantaneously, and inexplicably, the Eldridge disappeared. Not just invisible to the eye, but gone – vanished into thin air! Hours later, there were reports of the Eldridge appearing in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia. Then, suddenly, it’s back in Philadelphia. Rumors said that members of the Eldridge crew suffered from terrible burns and disorientation. Most shockingly, a few crewmen were found partially embedded in the steel hull of the ship, still alive, but with legs or arms sealed to the deck.

“So goes the Philadelphia Experiment Hoax story, perhaps the most famous and widely retold example of secret government experiments with teleportation and time travel. Now, more than seventy-seven years later, despite the absence of any physical evidence or corroborating testimony, the Philadelphia Experiment survives as “fact” in the minds of amateur paranormalists and conspiracy theorists.

“Was your dad involved in that, the ship disappearing, I mean?”

“Sort of. Dad was an officer on the Destroyer Escort USS Elden, a sister ship to the Eldridge, and was docked at the West Patuxent River Basin. A new secret Navy facility on the east coast. A storm damaged the ship’s Radar. It needed re-calibrating before heading to New York to join Convoy SC 94-6 in June. A slow convoy headed to Liverpool, England. The entire crew was given shore leave, All except one Lieutenant JG – Dad. He was the Officer of the Deck, stationed on the quarterdeck.

“He had an excellent view of the North dock on the other side of the Basin. Another Destroyer Escort, the USS Edmore Johnson, arrived at sunset and tied up. Dad watched as large high-voltage electric cables were run from the three generator buildings to the Johnson. The operation lasted most of the night under the dock lights. Dad stood in the bridge’s starboard door and watched as the last of the cables were fastened to the Edmore Johnson. The crew re-boarded the ship.

“An eerie blue-greenish fog surrounded the ship’s hull, rendering it nearly invisible. Then, a blinding flash, like a bolt of lightning. The Edmore Johnson disappeared. Dad flipped the ship’s Radar switch from standby to active. Nothing! The Edmore Johnson was gone – vanished into thin air!

“The U.S. Navy maintains that no such experiment was ever conducted on the USS Eldridge or any other ship or airplane. In 1967, the Navy stated, ‘The details about the USS Eldridge and its missions in the South Pacific are well known. Additionally, the alleged idea does not conform to known laws of physics.'”

“Vanished?” She sighed. “Too bad. Just think of all the lives that could have been saved if that cloaking thingy’d worked.”

I winked at her. “What makes you think it didn’t work?”

Raising an eyebrow. “Rob, are you saying that …”

“I’ll have that cup of coffee now, Tina.”


By Robt. Emmett