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Paul Hayden

Science Fact or a Conspiracy?

The next time you're watching a science fiction movie and laugh at the plot and story line, remember Camp Hero.

November 9, 2020

Chances are you will read this article after the presidential election. As to whether a candidate can claim victory on November 3rd remains to be seen; hopefully, it will be the incumbent President Trump. I considered waiting to the last minute after the Tuesday results to submit something to the editor, but decided we all could use a break from the virus, long lines, shutdowns, and political and cultural vitriol and hateful rhetoric.

This is a story about a place and events of the past, and perhaps even the present, and has all the ingredients of something out of a creepy and harrowing Hollywood science fiction movie, but it is true - believe it or not. I will make an effort here to convince all you skeptics and unbelievers that what you have seen on the screen at home or some movie theater can be more fact than fiction, but first a brief introduction.

New York State is composed of 62 counties, and New York City has 5 of those; the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Two of those counties, Brooklyn and Queens, are attached to a 120-mile-long land mass that stretches east and that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean called Long Island that is not recognized as part of the city itself. At the eastern most tip of Long Island, on the ocean, is Montauk Point, and just beyond it is Camp Hero State Park, which was the inspiration of the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” This is where our story begins.

Camp Hero was named after Major General Andrew Hero, commander of coastal artillery, and rests on 754 acres of woodland and beachfront property. In 1942 the U.S. Army commissioned the camp as a coastal defense station, disguised as a fishing village, and meant to prevent an invasion of New York from the ocean. The camp’s weaponry consisted of three big gun batteries, ammunition magazines and other equipment in a concrete bunker covered over by foliage. So get the popcorn ready and open up your minds, this is the stuff that a good Sci Fi script can offer.

In 1992, about ten years after the camp was decommissioned and donated to the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation, the rumors and scuttlebutt among the locals began. That same year “The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time” was published. Its authors Preston Nichols and Peter Moon alleged that secret experiments were being conducted at the camp while active.

Some local Montauk residents mocked the tales of Camp Hero as some clandestine secret government and military adventure in experiments in mind control, time travel, wormholes, teleportation, and children, young boys, used as guinea pigs and being hooked up to wires; all this taking place in an underground laboratory.
Local resident Paul Fagan over the course of 14 years explored Camp Hero and conducted a painstaking investigation using government documents at the National Achieves in Manhattan. He came to believe that there may be a nuclear reactor buried at the site that was put in place in 1958 during the Cold War era as part of the U.S. Army Nuclear Power Program. Fagan also believes that the conspiracy theories were a calculated effort created by the government to deflect from the existence of the reactor. 
Another local is Joe Loffreno who grew up in Montauk and is now employed by the park at Camp Hero. Loffreno believes he is one of the child victims known as the “Montauk Boys,” mentioned in the Nichols-Moon book. He believes he was abducted and abused during the summer of 1980-81 when he was 12 years old. Something in the back of his mind told him to further investigate this feeling, so he sought out a certified hypnotist, and under hypnosis memories came flooding back. “They did very bad things to us out there. We were just kids; they had no right to experiment on us. It was a very dark, very evil thing.” He recalls lying on a table with what he thinks were electrodes coming out of parts of his body, and said “They analyzed us like animals, and there was something like 50 other kids there, some of them were later killed.” Loffreno is considered a well-adjusted family man, and is well liked in the community.

Filmmaker Christopher Garetano, who grew up near Montauk produced the 2014 documentary “Montauk Chronicles” that detailed the allegations of three men who claimed they were brainwashed and forced to partake in experiments. He also believes the Nichols-Moon book was not believable, but he also went a step further and explored Camp Hero, and together with a geophysicist analyzed the ground beneath the base and found structures that did not appear on any map or mentioned in any available document.

Peter Bove is a former Madison Avenue advertising executive, and the author of “Montauk Time.” He spoke about his book and stated “I believe it’s entirely possible that the human experiment stories are true, scientifically and psychologically it’s all conceivably real. I believe there were army experiments out there that involved inter-dimensional travel.”

Rising high above the main structure is a 90-foot tower with a 40-foot wide dish; the last of the super-powered Cold War era SAGE radar towers. It was installed to act as a warning system against a Soviet attack. It emits 425 megahertz (MHz) which is the frequency capable of entering human consciousness. Locals who looked askance at the underground structure stories, decried the antenna and complained that when in operation it interfered with the reception of televisions and other electronic devices, and many people complained of experiencing headaches.

One resident commenting on the antenna stated “I don’t believe in all the zombie stuff, but the impact of that tower on the town was real. I don’t know if it affected our thoughts like some people do, but it was a force.”

Today, the tower, like Camp Hero and the mystery surrounding it, is a big tourist attraction. Is this all fact or fiction, or quintessential food for the conspiracy theorist. Before you decide, keep in mind that all of what you have read is based on fact and accounts from local community residents and outside investigators. Believe, if you will.

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