Cmdr. Robert B. McLaughlin
Robert McLaughlin was an engineering graduate of the Naval Academy and an expert on anti-aircraft gunnery.  He migrated into guided missiles work and worked on a primitive beginning of what we would call an “intelligent” missile, able to alter flight on its own to destroy evasive targets.  McLaughlin was active in the Pacific Theater during the war, and in 1946 was assigned to White Sands Proving Grounds in charge of navel research units at the base.  As we have seen, there was a great deal of UFO activity in the vicinity of White Sands, and Commander McLaughlin heard about it.  He was one of the first to hear from Charles Moore’s group about the theodolite observation of an object during their balloon launch of April 24, 1949.  McLaughlin himself saw a UFO on May 9, 1949 during a WAC-B rocket launch at the Proving Grounds.  These were not the only incidents he had heard about, and on May 12, 1949, he wrote his friend, the legendary atmospheric physicist Dr. James Van Allen, about the phenomenon.  McLaughlin was more than intrigued, all this excited him. His collection of reports indicated to him that these objects could accelerate.  This meant they were powered, and therefore, were technology, and that the acceleration maneuvering characteristics precluded them being manned.  He had already talked to Clyde Tombaugh prior to writing Van Allen.  Both McLaughlin and Tombaugh thought that the technology perhaps came from Mars.  (Tombaugh has seen an unusual, anomalous “flesh” light up an area of the Martian surface in his telescope in 1941 and other rare flashes had been seen by Tsunco Sahchi of Japan; plus Mars was in one of the closer positions to Earth when the U.S. set off its first atomic bomb.  Both McLaughlin and Tombaugh wondered whether a Martian race had been alerted by that event to come take a closer look).  McLaughlin admitted to Van Allen that all of this gave him a bit of a crazy feeling, but the observational facts were at least facts. (UFOs & Government, Swords)   McLaughlin became the target of an extraordinary AFOSI leak investigation in Sept 1949, aimed at finding out who leaked highly sensitive AF UFO investigations to the press at cancelled V-2 launches in July and August 1949.  McLaughlin had dual roles as both the chief of the Naval Rocket Unit at White Sands but also the Public Relations Officer for all three military services at White Sands Proving Ground, with inherent authority to declassify info to release to the press and public.  Thus McLaughlin was "untouchable."  The Navy backed McLaughlin all the way, contrary to later rumors that he had been disciplined for publishing a pro-UFO article in "True"  magazine, March 1950, "How Scientists Tracked a Flying Saucer."  In fact the Navy promoted McLaughlin to first or second in command of a destroyer, considered a much higher honor than a desk job in the desert at White Sands.  The Navy was especially angry at the AF over the failed "Revolt of the Admirals" early in 1949 and was highly interested in anything, such as mishandling of UFO investigations, that might make the AF look bad.  Thus the Navy also backed Marine (Navy) pilot Keyhoe against the AF coverup of UFO's. (Brad Sparks)