8 Bizarre Unsolved Military Mysteries

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

The military world is full of unsolved mysteries that are both creepy and intriguing. Here we have found some of the eeriest military mysteries from a handful of different events that remain unsolved today. Perhaps these mysteries will be solved one day, but there is no single explanation for these events for now.

1. The “real” foo fighters

AAF Heavy Bombers
AAF heavy bombers during the Second World War. (Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force)

Although the Foo Fighters are a popular rock band formed in the 1990s, they took their name from a very mysterious and still unsolved phenomenon from the Second World War.

During the Second World War, American and British aircraft pilots would often spot bright lights off in the distance. They initially assumed these lights came from Russian or German planes- until the light began to move. Reports indicate that the objects were red, or orange, or green. The lights could change direction and fly away faster than any possible military aircraft could.

These lights were nicknamed after the words used by characters in the “Smokey Stover” firefighter cartoon, “foo fighters.” Although there are many theories about what these lights could be, this military mystery remains unsolved.

2. The bizarre case of Paul Whipkey

Paul Whipkey
Paul Whipkey. (Photo Credit: Unsolved Mysteries Wiki/ Creative Commons)

The disappearance of Lt. Paul Whipkey has baffled military historians and true crime fans since the 1950s. The facts of the case are so obscure that it was actually featured in the third season of the show Unsolved Mysteries.

In the early 1950s, Lt. Paul Whipkey found himself stationed at Fort Ord, California, with the United States airforce. He was one of the first individuals to witness the atomic bomb tests but found his health extremely impacted by the aftermath of the atomic tests he worked on. On July 10, 1958, Whipkey decided to leave Fort Ord and drive to Monterey, California,  just one mile from his base. When he fails to return back to base, he is declared AWOL before being declared a deserter 30 days after his disappearance.

Five weeks after Whipkey’s disappearance, his abandoned car is found nearly 500 miles away in a remote section of Death Valley, with his car keys still in the ignition. The army believed that he was stressed from his assignment and suffered some sort of breakdown, so he left the car and walked into the desert, where he likely died. In 1977, the army destroyed all files pertaining to Whipkey’s case, making the many discrepancies in his disappearance impossible to look into. However, many of Whipkey’s family and friends believe that he was part of the CIA and died during a mission.

3. No one knows where the American Revolution war dead were laid to rest

Unite or Die
A cartoon published in the Pennsylvania Gazette by Benjamin Franklin urging the American colonies to unite together against the French and Indians. Variations of this motto were later used during the American Revolution. (Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

Obviously, during the American Revolution, there were a lot of injuries. To try and help the injured soldiers, a hospital was built in the town of Easton, Pennsylvania. Medicine in the 18th century was not yet as effective as modern medicine, and medical records were poorly kept. However, it is safe to assume that hundreds of soldiers passed away at this hospital.

During wartime, especially in the 18th century, it was common for hospitals to have to deal with lots of war dead. However, the hospital at Easton kept no record at all of where they buried their war dead. There was not yet a formal graveyard in the town of Easton, so the easiest assumption is that they were all laid to rest in a mass grave somewhere. However, no formal discovery of a mass grave in Easton has ever been recorded.

4. The mysterious killer of the Red Baron

Red Baron
Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron. (Photo Credit: The Wartenberg Trust/ Wikimedia Commons)

The Red Baron has gone down in history as one of the most lethal aerial fighters of all time, with over 80 confirmed kills during the First World War. He was a severe threat to the Allied forces for most of the First World War until he was mysteriously shot down. One would think that we would know the individual responsible for taking down one of the most notorious pilots in history, but the Red Baron’s killer has never been found.

A Canadian pilot named Roy Brown claimed to have shot down the Red Baron, but experts, historians, and doctors now largely agree that the Red Baron’s plane was shot down from the ground rather than from the air. However, we ultimately still do not know who was responsible for shooting the Baron’s plane down from the ground.

5. The “accidental” death of Ralph Sigler

Ralph Sigler
Ralph Sigler. (Photo Credit: Reddit)

Ralph Sigler was a 47-year-old Army Intelligence Officer when he was found dead in his motel room near Fort Meade, Maryland, on April 13, 1976. Initially, the death was ruled a suicide, but during funeral preparations, his daughter noticed that his nose was broken, he had teeth missing, and he had strange bruises on his body that was inconsistent with suicide.

Sigler worked as a double agent for the United States from 1966 until his death. Throughout his ten years in counterespionage, Sigler frequently fed false information to the Soviet Union. It is estimated that his work led to the identification of 14 SVR agents.

However, by the mid-1970s, Sigler began to worry that he was in too deep with his lies and that the Russians were becoming suspicious of him, which may have led him to offer extra information to the Soviets when pressured. By this time, the FBI had approached him and some American intelligence officers were growing suspicious of his loyalties. Sigler was forced to take a polygraph test which showed he was extremely on edge. Concerned over his well-being, the army arranged for Sigler to stay in a motel.

Sigler’s family believes that he was tortured and killed by Soviet agents rather than dying by suicide. Apart from the injuries Sigler sustained, his last call to his wife was extremely suspicious, declaring that he was “dying” and that he “never lied.” However, he was later awarded the Legion of Merit cross for his sacrifices.

6. Guerrilla warfare with an ape

soldier with a grenade launcher
American soldier holding a grenade launcher, May 5, 1965. (Photo Credit: Historical/ Getty Images)

The Vietnam War saw lots of brutal guerrilla warfare happening in the jungles of Vietnam. However, interestingly enough, the one thing both sides could agree on during the Vietnam War was that they encountered violent exchanges with a human-like creature who had reddish hair and ape-like features.

These creatures were known as “rock apes” or “batututs” as they are called in Vietnam. They were described as being up to six feet tall and very strongly built. They had long limbs and protruding stomachs and were thought to live together rather than in a solitary existence. One could assume that rock apes were just hostile apes feeling threatened by the violence so close to their home, but strangely there isn’t a single known species of ape in Vietnam, making one wonder what these creatures are.

7. P-40 Ghost Plane From Pearl Harbor

downed P-40 plane
US Army P-40 plane that was machine gunned on the ground by the enemy during the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941. (Photo Credit: Keystone/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

On December 8, 1942- a year and one day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor- American radar picked up on an extremely odd and unnerving reading. The American Navy was on duty at Pearl Harbor when suddenly it seemed as if a single plane was making its way from Japan, headed right into American airspace. When the radar operators received this reading, it was late evening, and the sky was overcast. Attacks typically never occurred under those conditions.

The American’s didn’t want a repeat of what happened just over a year ago so they sent two pilots up to intercept the aircraft. However, when they reached the plane, the American pilots were shocked to find out that the mysterious aircraft showing up on radar was a P-40 plane with markings that hadn’t been used since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

When they got closer to the plane, they found that it was riddled with bullet holes, and its landing gear was completely destroyed. They also reported seeing the pilot slumped over the cockpit, his suit stained with fresh blood. Eerily enough, the aircraft pilot moved slightly, smiled, and waved at the two American planes. The P-40 then plummeted into the ground and crashed into a field.

When search teams explored the wreckage, they found no body and no sign of the pilot. The search team did find a diary that showed that the plane had been stationed on Mindanao, approximately 1,300 miles away from Pearl Harbor. Historians believe that this tale never happened, rather that it was a fictitious story. However, it is spooky nonetheless!

8. The Disappearance of Flight 19

Five U.S. Navy Grumman TBF-1 Avengers
Five U.S. Navy Grumman TBF-1 Avengers similar to Flight 19. (Photo Credit: Lt. Comdr. Horace Bristol/ Wikimedia Commons)

On December 5, 1945, five Grumman TBF Avengers torpedo bombers, collectively known as Flight 19, stopped responding to the control towner while on a training flight. In response to the missing convoy, a Mariner flying boat was deployed to search for the missing convoy of planes, but the Mariner soon vanished too. No bodies or wreckage from the aircraft were ever found.

Although the disappearance of Flight 19, the Mariner flying boat, and the 27 men onboard helped create the mythology around the Bermuda Triangle, the actual disappearance probably has a logical explanation. The most likely scenario is that Flight 19’s leader, Navy Lieutenant Charles Taylor became disoriented and led the planes out to sea where they eventually ran out of gas and crashed into the Atlantic. The rescue plane is likely to have exploded, as flying boats commonly caught fire mid-flight.

Madeline Hiltz

Maddy Hiltz is someone who loves all things history. She received her Bachelors of Arts in history and her Master’s of Arts degree in history both from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Her thesis examined menstrual education in Victorian England. She is passionate about Princess Diana, the Titanic, the Romanovs, and Egypt amongst other things.

In her spare time, Maddy loves playing volleyball, running, walking, and biking, although when she wants to be lazy she loves to read a good thriller. She loves spending quality time with her friends, family, and puppy Luna!