Three of the Air Force veterans personally appeared in the hearing while a fourth one was brought into the National Press Club conference via video feed from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri.
The story of each veteran was different but they share one important claim: UFOs tampered with Air Force nuclear weapons in the 1960s, which both terrified and mystified the airmen and made them remain silent for decades. (Related: Former US military officer claims UFOs shut down nuclear missiles.)
Also capturing the attention of Washington were the reports of Navy encounters with unknown flying objects or unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP) that have made national headlines and put UFOs back into political attention for the first time in years.
"I waited 40 years before I opened my mouth, and that’s a long time," said David Schindele, a retired captain who worked as a nuclear missile launch control officer at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. "I had this terrible secret on my mind for all that time, and I felt such great relief to finally admit to my friends and close relatives what I experienced in the Air Force."
Veteran Robert Salas told his story about a glowing red-orange craft that hovered at a Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile silo in Montana and his account has been told for decades and has become a part of the growing UFO lore.
Through the years, the government has remained aloof to reports of UFOs flirting with the most powerful arms during the Cold War. But a different Capitol heard the stories of Salas and his fellow veterans this year.
The group claimed that UFOs have appeared since the 1960s and they're backed up by the current accounts of Navy witnesses and fighter jet footage of UAP.
Salas has also gathered other Air Force veterans who have written witness affidavits describing their own alleged encounters years ago. He claimed that UFOs appeared at different times and put 20 Minuteman ICBMs off-line at different sites.
Schindele, on the other hand, shared that he and his commander visited a missile launch site near Minot in September 1966, and he was told that 10 missiles at silos in the area suffered guidance and control malfunctions when an 80- to 100-foot wide UFO with bright flashing lights lingered over the site.
Salas, who was a first lieutenant stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, in 1967, said he was working as a deputy missile combat crew commander in the underground nuclear missile control room when a flight security controller called in a panicky manner after seeing a large glowing, pulsating red oval-shaped object linger at the front gate.
Robert Jacobs, who graced the conference via video link from Missouri, said he was an Air Force first lieutenant based at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in 1964 when he set up a telescope video camera to catch an Atlas rocket test.
Jacobs said the video showed a disc-shaped object flying over the dummy warhead as it soared over the Pacific Ocean, circled it and shot it down with beams of light.
He said the film footage was cut and taken by men in gray suits. His commander ordered him not to say anything about it but Jacobs offered the story to media and it was eventually sold to the National Enquirer tabloid.
Meanwhile, former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves disclosed that the Navy spotted UFOs in restricted American airspace daily for years. He disclosed the UAP incidents during an interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes," which was aired May 16.
Graves, in an interview with Bill Whitaker, said that his F/A-18F Super Hornet squadron spotted UFOs southeast of Virginia Beach in 2014. The squadron, which has upgraded radar, zeroed in with infrared cameras on the UFOs.
Another encounter that his squadron recorded on video was a UFO hovering over Jacksonville, Florida in 2015. Graves, who worked for the Navy for more than a decade, confirmed that his squadron regularly spotted UFOs every day for at least a couple of years.
The retired lieutenant believes that UFOs are a threat to national security but agrees that they might be something else. He cited that other pilots think UFOs were one of three things, namely a secret American technology, an enemy's spy plane or something out of this world.
"I would say the highest probability is it’s a threat observation program," Graves said, adding that UFOs could either be a Chinese or Russian technology.
"If these were tactical jets from another country that were hanging out up there, it would be a massive issue. But because it looks slightly different, we're not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We're happy to just ignore the fact that these are out there, watching us every day," he added when asked whether he is worried about the presence of UFOs in restricted U.S. airspace.
The Department of Defense already has a special unit known as the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force that is dedicated to UFO research. It was established in August last year to gain understanding into the origins and nature of UAP, which is the preferred term for UFOs given by the Pentagon.
The task force replaced the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which secretly existed from 2007 to 2012. The AATIP’s existence was never known to the public until the New York Times wrote about it in 2017.
Luis Elizondo, who led the AATIP in its final two years, confirmed that UFOs are real and the government itself said that they do exist. He added that unanswered questions still remain like what are UFOs and what are their intentions and capabilities. The former AATIP head noted that some sightings remain unexplained.
According to Elizondo, some of the UFOs could perform extraordinary feats.
"Imagine a technology that can do 6-to-700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar and that can fly through air and water and possibly space," noted Elizondo, who added that the UFOs had no propulsion engine yet were able to defy gravity.
The Pentagon did not take his findings seriously, Elizondo said. He decided to quit out of frustration in 2017 and one of his last achievements was declassifying three UAP videos that the Pentagon made public last year.
The videos were leaked to the New York Times by Christopher Mellon, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Elizondo said he was troubled that the government was doing nothing about UAPs. "It's bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda," Elizondo stressed.
Watch the "Health Ranger Report" video below to know more about UFOs or UAPs.
Follow UFOs.news for more news and information related to UFOs.