In March of 1962 five teens from Fort Walton Beach, Florida set out on a raft to explore the semi-submerged shipwreck of the USS Massachusetts. Of the five teens that set out on the mission only one returned alive. The 16 year old survivor was named Brian McCleary and his account of what happened to him and his friends that day is bizarre and truly disturbing.
Brian retold his account of the events to Fate Magazine in 1965. Brian was joined on the trip by his friends Eric Ruyle, 16, Bradford Rice, 14, Warren Felley, 16, and Larry Stuart Bill, 17. He says he checked the weather report before embarking on their journey and the weather was supposed to be clear. They drove from Fort Walton to Fort Pickens State Park, where they entered the waters of Pensacola Bay. The boys had a “seven-foot Air Force life raft,” outfitted with “a drift anchor, pockets for provisions, and oars.” The water was ice cold.
The boys took turns paddling to help save energy for exploring the shipwreck, but on the trip out, a storm rolled in. The wind and waves were pushing the raft out to sea. Eric, Warren, and Brian jumped into the water to try to push the raft from behind, but were unable to make any progress towards shore so they climbed back into the boat. The waves were getting higher and higher and the boys had to hold on tight to the sides of the boat.
The sky began to grow dark and other boats out at sea began to heading in to shore. They attempted to wave down help from other vessels but they just waved back oblivious to the trouble the boys were in. After a while, the storm lets up but a thick fog rolls in limiting their visibility to 25 feet. The water around them suddenly becomes unseasonably warm and the smell of rotting fish fills the air. Out of nowhere what looked like a telephone pole with a bulb on top appeared near the boys, bent in the middle and then dove under the water making a high pitched whine.
The boys began to panic and jumped into the water. Patches of brown, crusty slime lay all over it’s surface. The boys tried to swim for the shipwreck but they were all tired and cramping up. After they have been swimming for about 30 seconds Warren cries out, “Hey! Help me! Help me! It’s got Brad…” before he, too, vanishes beneath the surface. Brian, Larry and Eric keep swimming but have lost sight of Warren and Brad.
Next Larry suddenly vanishes. Eric and Brian frantically search for him but it has become so dark they can’t see him. Eric becomes overcome with fatigue and holds on to Brian’ to stay afloat. After what felt like a couple of hours, lightning flashes and Brian is able to make out the wreck of the USS Massachusetts. He frantically swims toward it. Eric and Brian are separated by a wave but they both continue to swim towards the wreckage.
Suddenly the the long telephone pole like figure emerged from the water once more and dove on top of eric, dragging him under the water. Brian screams and swims past the ship. He can’t remember anything after this until he wakes up on the shore and is found by some bystanders.
Brian was taken to hospital and he reported his story to the local police. They told him to keep quiet about the sea monster from his story as no good would come of it. They didn’t believe him to be guilty of any wrongdoing so let him be. Brian had a mental breakdown after the incident but was able to resume his life after 3 months of recovery. He was honest about what happened to him, telling people about the sea monster but suffered greatly for the rest of his life as few people believed his story about the sea monster.
Skeptics claim the boys were simply hallucinating from exhaustion and drowned. Others claimed they saw a whale which caused them to panic and then drown. In the end Brian stopped talking about what happened and passed away in 2016.