Most people join the Navy to see the world, Chet Grusinski joined the U.S. Navy in 1957 and saw something out of this world.
Grusinski, born in Hamtramck and raised in Detroit, was a 19 year old fireman's apprentice serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) in 1958 when he says he saw a UFO. The object hovered over the ship and gave him and two dozen crew mates on deck an upclose and personal look at it, he says. He's been in search of the truth about that unusual night ever since.
Grusinski, now 58, works as an automatic screw machine operator at H&L Tool Co. on Dequindre Road in Madison Heights. He previously worked at the Ford Wixom assembly plant, Ford Dearborn stamping plant and Chrysler Mound Road engine plant. "I get teasing at work about it, but I don't mind it", said Grusinski, who has become one of the Detroit area's foremost self-taught UFO experts. "They write stuff on my locker, but that's all right. They put on my locker 'Roswell Lives Here', 'X-Files', 'The Truth Is Out There', 'Close Encounters' and then when I missed a day, they drew a crying alien face that says 'Chet, we miss you'".
Grusinski has been researching UFOs, flying saucers and related phenomena ever since that night in 1958, but over the last seven years, it has become his main outside hobby. The study at his residence in Clinton Township is something of a UFO library, with all manner of books, photographs, letters, documents and related research spread about. But all it takes to understand Grusinski's passion for the subject is to listen to the detailed account of his UFO sighting, which took place aboard the USS Roosevelt in the Caribbean, out of the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Grusinski became one of 3,000 crewmen aboard the ship after it was overhauled at the New York Navy Shipyard. It sailed from New York to Cuba and out of Guantanamo Bay in July 1958, when the young sailor from Detroit witnessed something extraordinary.
"We're out at sea, it was dark 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m.", he recalled.
"We'd seen this little light following our ship. Then it came right at us. It came in close enough that I could see figures inside the spacecraft."
"By watching those figures, the impression I got is that those were not human beings looking at us. I could see them that good. It was lit up inside of those windows, backlit, so I could see the silhouettes. The impression I got? They were not human", Grusinski said.
"I was kind of shocked because I wasn't expecting something like that. Then, while we were looking at it, it turned a red-orange color and took off.
In the meantime, they were screaming for the officer of the deck on the intercom to get up there on the double.
"It could've been a few minutes, or it might've been quite awhile I've got no idea how much time elapsed.
But I could feel the heat on my face when it came up", he said.
"It was cigar-shaped. It came up close to the island superstructure (on the carrier). Then it took off, and I went down below decks.
"The next day, I was drinking a lot of water. I felt like I was dehydrated", he said.
Grusinski's subsequent research into that night reveals some fascinating details, including the fact that the USS Roosevelt was one of only three aircraft carriers in the Navy's fleet that was equipped to carry nuclear weapons at that time.
"I found out there's other military installations that store and have nuclear weapons that also experience a lot of UFO sightings. I found out later that we also lost power on the ship the night it happened, as well", Grusinski said.
"They called them special weapons while I was on the ship. They had certain compartments down below where they had a Marine guard by the hatchway and they'd check you ID", he said.
"When they had any kind of maneuvers, anything to do with the special weapons, they canvassed it off with a heavy tarp where you couldn't see what they were doing. Years later I found out that they were nuclear weapons", Grusinski said.
While Grusinski's Freedom Of Information Act requests to the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency turned up negative, the Roosevelt's deck logs from that night have been mostly blacked out by military censors.
Plus, he ran across a seperate U.S. government document with this interesting notation about a 1952 UFO incident, also involving the Roosevelt:
"Three photographs of a flying disk were taken from the aircraft carrier Franklin Roosevelt during Operation Mainbrace, in the North Atlantic in 1952", the document reads.
"The object was flying extremely fast behind the NATO fleet and witnesses obviously were numerous and competent in identifying them...the same day, a number of sightings were made elsewhere in Europe".
Of his own UFO incident, Grusinski estimates that 25 of the 3,000 crewmen on the ship were on the flight deck at the time. So, much of his research has been spent contacting his old crew mates in search of fellow eyewitnesses. He even had one of his current co-workers, an artist, draw a detailed rendering of the 1958 UFO sighting. Grusinski is simultaneously working on a movie screen- play based on his experience. It's called "Out of the Sky