On February 28, 1959, US Army Private Gerry Irwin, a Nike missile technician, had been driving back to El Paso's Ft. Bliss from leave in Nampa, Idaho when he spotted a bright object streak across the sky over Route 14 in Utah. When the glowing object disappeared behind a nearby ridge, Irwin feared it might have been a downed aircraft. He pulled over and wrote a note indicating he went to investigate a possible crash, which he placed on the steering wheel of his car. He then wrote STOP on the side of his car with shoe polish and headed into the night.
Some time later, a Fish and Game inspector stopped when he saw Irwin's car. After reading the note, he inspector headed for the Sheriff's station in nearby Cedar City. Less than an hour later, Sheriff Otto Pfief and a contingent of deputies and volunteers headed after Irwin. The men hadn't traveled far when they found the Private laying unconscious on the ground. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where Dr. Broadbent examined the officer, declaring him to be in good physical condition. It was unclear as to why the man had lost consciousness.
A day later, Irwin finally awoke. He was confused and frightened. Where was he? What happened to the plane crash? He also seemed to be missing a jacket. Those who found him, however, related that he had no jacket on when he was found.
Once he was feeling better, Irwin--still with more questions than answers--returned to Fort Bliss where he was admitted to William Beaumont Army Medical Center for further analysis. He was again released for duty but within minutes of walking back to the base, Irwin again passed out. He was taken to El Paso's Southwest General Hospital. He awoke the next day, asking if there were any survivors.
Irwin went back to William Beaumont hospital where he remained for over a month for psychiatric evaluation. As before, no ailment--physical or mental--could be discerned and he was discharged.
Immediately after release in mid-, Irwin went AWOL. He boarded a bus for Cedar City, UT. Upon arrival, he returned to where he had seen the light crash. As he examined the site, he suddenly found his missing jacket draped over a bush. In one of its buttonholes was a pencil with a piece of paper wrapped around it. It's not known what the paper said. Irwin didn't say when he later turned himself in to Sheriff Pfief.
Irwin was sent back to Fort Bliss and endured further psychological evaluations that revealed, as before, nothing unusual. He was again released, but this time he did not return to duty. Ever again. By September, Irwin had officially been written off permanently AWOL.
As far as anyone knows Private Gerry Irwin has never been seen again.