An artist’s interpretation of the UFO occupants as described by Hickson and Parker. (Emily Wayland / Singular Fortean Society)

New witnesses came forward recently to corroborate the 1973 abduction experience of Charles Hickson (deceased) and Calvin Parker Jr. on the shore of the Pascagoula River near Pascagoula, Mississippi.

On the night of October 11th, 1973, Hickson, 45, a shipyard foreman, and his coworker Calvin Parker Jr., 19, told the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department that they were fishing off of the remains of an iron pier on the west bank of the Pascagoula River, when they heard a “zipping noise.” The men turned to see an oval-shaped, bluish-gray craft with revolving blue lights hovering behind them. Three bizarre beings then reportedly exited the craft, abducting the two men and examining them prior to returning them to their original location.

For decades the case has sparked interest and debate in the UFO community, and many consider it one of the most credible cases to emerge out of the 1970s. However, one thing that it has always been missing is independent corroboration from any third party who witnessed the event, at least until now.

Maria and Jerry Blair of Theodore, Alabama came forward following the release of Parker’s 2018 book Pascagoula-The Closest Encounter: My Story to tell of a strange sighting they had that same night. That night, the Blairs were sitting in their 1969 Pontiac GTO in the parking lot of Graham’s Seafood on the opposite side of the river from where Hickson and Parker were fishing. Jerry worked for the seafood company, and the couple were waiting for the captain of a ship to arrive and take Jerry offshore. The captain was late, and so they waited in the parking lot for hours, until Maria spotted a strange light.

“I was looking at the sky and I noticed a blue light in the sky over where they were fishing,” Maria told the Clarion Ledger. “It started moving and it seemed like it was following along the Pascagoula River. I just seen the lights on it. It was just going back and forth. Sometimes it would just sit there. It went on for 20 to 25 minutes.”

Maria initially thought the strange light was a plane, but realized that its movements were too unusual for any terrestrial craft. Jerry did not share her concern, at least at first.

“I thought it was a helicopter initially and just blew it off,” he said. “It landed about 150 to 200 yards from us. I was just north of the bridge and it was just south of the bridge. I was there, but stupid me didn’t pay much attention to it. I was just going offshore and thinking about other things.”

Eventually they lost sight of the object, the captain arrived, and they prepared for Jerry’s departure; carrying his belongings onto the boat. It was while walking down the lighted pier that Maria heard and saw something unusual in the water.

“We heard this loud, thumping splash in the river,” Maria said. “I looked over the side of the pier, and that’s when I thought I saw a person in the river.

“I was looking right down on it,” she continued. “It looked like a person, but there was something different about it. It only came to the surface of the water. As soon as I saw it, it just went back down in the water.”

Maria suspected that what she had seen could have been a person in diving gear, although they never resurfaced. Jerry did not see whoever—or whatever—it was, but said it must have been a dolphin; something with which Maria strongly disagreed.

After later hearing reports of Hickson and Parker’s experience, Maria decided that the descriptions of the aliens in the men’s story matched what she had seen in the water.

“I thought it was a person, but now I think it was an alien,” Maria said. “What Parker described was exactly it.”

Fellow witness Judy Branning also came forward following Parker’s book. The now 74-year-old woman said that she was on a double date with her roommate when she saw some strange lights in the sky while stopped at a traffic light in a car a few miles away.

“We were on a double date that night,” Branning said. “We were at a red light at Chicot and Highway 90, and we were basically sitting on the railroad track. I saw some lights, and I wasn’t sure what I was looking at because it was so far away.”

Branning said that, similarly to the Blairs, she thought the lights might belong to an airplane, but she and her friends quickly realized that wasn’t the case as the unidentified flying object flew overhead.

“It didn’t make noise,” Branning said. “It had bright, bright lights. It got closer and it was hovering. It was kind of a saucer shape or disc shape with a rounded top. The radio started sounding like it was running through all the stations and the car went dead. We were freaking out.”

According to Branning, the craft shot straight up at an incredible speed and disappeared after passing over the car. The event left her unsettled.

“I didn’t sleep that night thinking about it,” she said.

Both Branning and Maria Blair remained largely quiet about their sightings over the years.

“When you talked about it back then, people thought you were crazy,” Maria said. “Back then, when I saw what Calvin and Charles went through, I kind of backed down talking about it. The story is very true. That’s what has bothered me for 45 years. It’s been on my mind for 45 years.”

Parker, for his part, has met with Branning and the Blairs, and is grateful that they’ve come forward.

“I checked the people out as best I could, and they seem credible,” he said. “It means a lot to me that that they came forward.”

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more witnesses out there, according to Parker.

“I definitely [believe there are more witnesses],” he said. “There’s been two or three people that have contacted me privately that didn’t want their names used. I believe there are more people that haven’t come forward. Back in the ‘70s you just didn’t talk about it.”

Whether or not they decide to come forward remains to be seen.

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