On the evening of October 11, 1973, 42-year-old Charles Hickson and 19-year-old Calvin Parker – coworkers at a shipyard – were fishing in the Pascagoula River in Mississippi, USA. While fishing off a pier at an abandoned shipyard, they heard a whirring or whizzing sound, saw flashing blue lights, and reported that a domed, football-shaped aircraft some 30 to 40 feet across suddenly appeared near them.
The ship seemed to levitate about 14 inches above the ground. A door opened on the ship, they said, and three five-foot-tall creatures emerged and seized the men, and floated or levitated them into the craft. Both men reported being paralyzed and numb. Parker fainted due to fright.
They described the creatures as being roughly humanoid in shape, and standing about five feet tall. The creatures’ skin was pale in color and wrinkled, and they had no eyes that the men could discern, and slits for mouths. Their heads also appeared connected directly to their shoulders, with no discernible neck. There were three “carrot-like” growths instead - one where the nose would be on a human, the other two where ears would normally be. The beings had lobster-like claws at the ends of their arms, and they seemed to have only one leg (Hickson later described the creatures’ lower bodies looking as if their legs were fused together) ending in elephant-like feet. Hickson also reported that the creatures moved in mechanical, robotic ways.
On the ship, Hickson claimed he was examined by a mechanical eye that seemed to scan his body. Parker could not recall what had happened to him inside the craft, although later, during sessions of hypnotic regression he offered some hazy details. The men were released after about 20 minutes and the creatures levitated them back to their original position on the river bank.
Both men were shaken and terrified by what had happened. They claimed to have sat in a car for about 45 minutes, trying to calm themselves. Hickson drank some whiskey. After some discussion, they tried to report their story to officials at Kessler Air Force Base, but personnel told them the United States Air Force had nothing to do with UFO reports, and suggested the men notify police.
At about 10:30pm, Hickson and Parker arrived at the Jackson County, Mississippi Sheriff’s office. Sheriff Fred Diamond thought the men seemed sincere and genuinely frightened and thought Parker was especially shaken, but harbored some doubt about the fantastic story, due to Hickson’s admitted whiskey consumption.
Diamond interviewed the men, who related their story. After repeated questioning, Diamond left the two men alone in a room that was, unknown to Hickson or Parker, rigged with a hidden microphone. Diamond expected that if the pair had invented a story, they would change their attitude and conversation when alone. Hickson and Parker, however continued discussing the abduction and its effects upon them. This so-called “secret tape” is held on file at the Jackson County Sheriff’s department, and is available for researchers to listen to.
Their conversations were as follows:
PARKER: I got to get home and get to bed or get some nerve pills or see the doctor or something. I can’t stand it. I’m about to go half crazy.
HICKSON: I tell you, when we through, I’ll get you something to settle you down so you can get some damn sleep.
PARKER: I can’t sleep yet like it is. I’m just damn near crazy.
HICKSON: Well, Calvin, when they brought you out-when they brought me out of that thing, goddamn it I like to never in hell got you straightened out.
PARKER said, His voice rising: “My damn arms, my arms, I remember they just froze up and I couldn’t move. Just like I stepped on a damn rattlesnake.”
“They didn’t do me that way”, sighed Charlie.
Now both men were talking as if to themselves.
PARKER: I passed out. I expect I never passed out in my whole life.
HICKSON: I’ve never seen nothin’ like that before in my life. You can’t make people believe-
PARKER: I don’t want to keep sittin’ here. I want to see a doctor-
HICKSON: They better wake up and start believin’... they better start believin'.
PARKER: You see how that damn door come right up?
HICKSON: I don’t know how it opened, son. I don’t know.
PARKER: It just laid up and just like that those sons’ bitches-just like that they come out.
HICKSON: I know. You can’t believe it. You can’t make people believe it-
PARKER: I paralyzed right then. I couldn’t move-
HICKSON: They won’t believe it. They gonna believe it one of these days. Might be too late. I knew all along they was people from other worlds up there. I knew all along. I never thought it would happen to me.
PARKER: You know yourself I don’t drink
HICKSON: I know that, son. When I get to the house I’m gonna get me another drink, make me sleep. Look, what we sittin’ around for. I gotta go tell Blanche... what we waitin’ for?
PARKER (panicky): I gotta go to the house. I’m gettin’ sick. I gotta get out of here.
Then Charlie got up and left the room, and Calvin was alone.
PARKER talking to himself while alone in the room: "It’s hard to believe . . . Oh God, it’s awful... I know there’s a God up there..."
Seeing that the police were skeptical of their story, Hickson and Parker insisted that they take lie detector tests to prove their honesty.
The next day, Parker and Hickson returned to their normal lives. Rumors of the abduction had spread. A company lawyer at the Shipyard where Parker and Hickson worked suspected the story might be worth a small fortune, and discussed the story widely. By October 13, reporters from a number of news agencies arrived to write accounts of the event, which received international attention. Dr J. Allen Hynek was among those who arrived to investigate.
Excitement and controversy continued for several weeks. Parker experienced a nervous collapse or breakdown, and recovered at a Jones County, Mississippi community hospital. Parker has avoided most public attention since the event. Hickson appeared on Dick Cavett’s talk show in January, 1974, and speaks at occasional UFO conferences; he has co-written written a book about the event with William Mendez titled UFO contact at Pascagoula (1983, reprinted 1987).
In an interview several years after the claimed UFO event, Hickson speculated that Parker fared worse after the encounter because he had never previously experienced a profoundly frightening ordeal. While Hickson described the UFO encounter as the most terrifying event in his life, he also noted that he had seen combat in the Korean War, and that he thus had some familiarity with a terrifying experience. The younger Parker, on the other hand, had never suffered through a terrifying encounter, let alone a bizarre confrontation with something that was not even supposed to exist.