Thursday, January 8, 1970

Memo to Major V.N. Kovalenko

February 1965
Latest update: 15 December 2009

After walking away professionally from the psy war defense project with Rhine in January 1965, I still felt a moral responsibility for it. Because of Rhine's metaphoric use of the "Manhattan Project" in conjunction with my then position as nuclear research scientist at General Atomic (see previous post), I was in a quandary how to discharge this deeply felt and almost desperate responsibility. Because the only people I had really trusted in those days were all Mormons, I became confused and disoriented by the breakdown in communication with the Church ecclesiastical chain of command. Mormon priesthood authority was still an ultimate, inspired authoritative reference point for me.

Not knowing where else to turn, I contacted Virgil, my only blood brother, an Air Force Officer, who had been the first person to hear my original foreboding idea the previous June. I sent him a copy of the same memo I had sent to President McKay a week or so earlier.The memo to Virgil was sent with a cover name and instructions to find someone responsible in the government familiar with my military background who could take it seriously. As previously mentioned, he was already familiar with the idea from the previous summer. [See blog post The Warning] Having sent the memo again, but this time to Virgil, I turned my attention in a new direction with no idea how the memo would be handled, how it would affect my military brother's career or how it would affect his and my relationship.

The relationship with my brother would collapse the next summer, 1965. Only in May 1988 when we partially reconciled and traveled to Ukraine, the land of our father's birth, did I get an inkling of what had happened to him and his career.

After our 1965 impasse and before our 1988 trip to Ukraine, I had returned to this project in May 1978 when I came into contact with the Eyring Research Institute (ERI) in Provo, Utah and had made a new proposal to scientific and military--not ecclesiastical--Mormons. [See here.]

Click on photo to enlarge

In reviewing this memo from today's perspective (17 November 2009, my 76th birthday), I am aware that my focus then was on developing an effective defense against alleged Soviet advancements in offensive psy warfare systems. And I wonder now if whoever reviewed it back then, when my brother presented it to his military superiors, is in any way connected with a current spook spoofing film Men Who Stare at Goats. More important than that, I am more deeply aware of how ideological institutions of ANY KIND, be they atheistic or theistic, can fall into the trap warned about in this memo.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009. After writing the above update, I received the letter below from my brother in response to my request for his side of the story.

As a birthday greetings to you, I'll give a sketch. I wish, though, that you'd forego projecting what my intents are.

So, in 1965 I was stationed at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations district office 18 in Maywood, California. Between January & July of that year, I was a desk supervisor in the counterintelligence division, responsible for reports from agents in detachment offices from Vandenberg AFB in the North (Santa Barbara) to the Mexican border in the south. Among my duties were to examine and evaluate field reports about various activities agents would write and send in. I also wrote "IIRs" (immediate intelligence reports) of information gathered through confidential sources.

I received several communications from my brother concerning items he felt important. Accepting them at face value and because at the time I had no reason to doubt his or their veracity, I wrote IIRs on those items. In those reports I did not identify him nor his location or his background and experience in Berlin during his army service. I used the writing methods extant.

As was protocol, I submitted those reports to my immediate supervisor, a very long-in-the-tooth lieutenant colonel with many years of experience in the business. He approved them as written and sent them up the chain-of-command.

A few weeks later, I was summoned into the district commander's office. He was a full bird, very profane and demanding. He said he'd received "blue seal" letters from OSI hqs in Washington. He asked if I knew what that meant. I did not. He informed me that my IIRs had "lit a fire" in the D.C. community. He demanded to know who my source was. I refused to comply. Suffice that my refusal resulted in some rather colorful language with many threats. I told him that were I to identify the source, it would compromise many things, perhaps even lives. More invective followed, with more threats. Keeping in mind that I was at the relative beginning of my commissioned career and wanting to protect not just my own family but my brother, I maintained the "standard of conduct" expected of an OSI agent to preserve the anonymity of confidential sources. The man became almost apoplectic. Finally, with a weight of almost unbearable disgust and sorrow, I relented. I then told the colonel that I could not work like that if rules and ethics were of no value. I also notified my brother of this development with a warning to be watchful and careful.

Shortly thereafter, I received orders transferring us to New Mexico to a small detachment. Subsequently, some years later, I learned that my IIRs were sent out of OSI channels to the CIA and FBI. My reports originally were classified as "Secret." They became reclassified as "Top Secret" with limited access by the CIA which took control of the entire affair, restricting it from any other agency in the intelligence/counterintelligence/counterespionage community. What all transpired thereafter is unknown to me, only that many events piled on top of each other. The trickle down effect was a disruption to my career and promotions. The twists and turns of how that happened are not salient here.

Let this suffice; just writing this much brings up things I prefer to keep silent.

Don't eat too much ice cream and cake. Lela already provided a wonderful b-day dinner last Sunday of beef stroganoff, mixed with Vietnamese spring rolls, fresh hot rolls and such.


I was delighted with this message and replied:
This is terrific, Virgil. Thank you!! I will further update what I just wrote.
Don’t sweat my projections, dear brother. We all have that disease!! ;-)

To which he responded:
I would have preferred that you NOT include my e-mail which was intended only for your eyes. Well, that pot is boiling again. Drat! Glad I'm old, disabled, infirmed and on my last legs. My last session in the VA hospital convinces me I ain't gonna go through THAT again.

The following day he surprised me with:
When you wrote asking me if I remembered the events of 1965, I thought hard about responding. Your phrasing lulled me into thinking it was for your own edification, not for public viewing or release. I see that I was mistaken. That shall not happen again. Consider my files, memories, activities, assistance as complete and closed. You cannot know nor conceive of the ramifications of what you have done. Since i don't know anything about such things, my only recourse is to ask you to completely remove my name and information from your blog or any other computer activities that you've written to the world, your friends, your cronies or whomever.

To reciprocate his birthday message three days later, I wrote:
My dear, only blood brother on the event of his three-quarter-of-a-century birthday anniversary!

When I got your birthday present note three days ago in response to my long-time request for your side of the story of THE pivotal year of my life, it gave me a great lift. I rejoiced and thought, at last! My brother has begun to tell the truth that sets my family, if not also his, free!! And I emoted to you about it. It was a new day. Or so it seemed.

However, with this last astonishing reply from you, I realize you did not register that “my personal record” is my blog. Did you not read anything in it and notice my introductory statement?

“I've long been interested in living an authentic, transparent and meaningful life. This has not always been popular or safe””.

When you say, “You cannot know nor conceive of the ramification of what you have done”, I say to you that should have been my line, dear brother! If you will read the two attached poems, written in 1965, and notice the dates and places between each, perhaps that will make more sense to you. It’s in between those two dates and the events that took place therein that our relationship broke down and has never really recovered. I loved and trusted you like no other person in my life that spring. That’s why I wrote the memo.

In the second poem there is a line: “The work demands a strict review, mercy cannot rob it”, which I now realize applies to our present exchange. In the last line the word “lowness” seems now to be claiming its own.

When you broke under interrogation about who wrote the memo, you had the experience of having betrayed your brother. I did not appreciate that until we went to Ukraine together in 1988 and you first told me what had happened to you. I remember your call that spring day in 1965. And I also remember telling you that putting a cover name on the memo was only because I did not want to grandstand. It wasn’t such a big thing to me to be identified. In fact, if you read the memo again, I asked you to be sure to get it to someone who really knew my military background, so that they would not dismiss or marginalize it.

I have no idea how you actually presented the substance of the memo or whether you reworked it with your own spin. But I do know that it got you into trouble and broke your spirit. It does not look like you have ever forgiven me for having put you through such an ordeal, as if I were responsible for your own excesses and distorted perceptions.

In any event, it’s not the end of the world! In fact, I prefer to see it as the beginning of a new, healthier one. I have long ago forgiven you for over reaction and apparent refusal to help me put the pieces of those days into context from your perspective. It was too much trouble, wasn’t it? Well, now it’s time to ramp up and not run away.

When the ego—i.e., the false self—is threatened with exposure, it either runs away or attacks and tries to take control. I think that is what is at work here. The ego fears its death. I say, let your and my egos die right here. Only then will we be free from the demons that have plagued us most of our lives. It’s time to come clean and tell the whole story, which is what I’m trying to do on my blog for the sake of my grandchildren and great grandchildren. Otherwise they may never truly know their grandfather.

You could make a wonderful contribution to this, my brother. That is, unless what you sent to me on my birthday was a fabrication or a CYA thing. You cannot lose by coming clean or re-examining the events of those critical, pivotal months in both our lives.

You will make me proud, my brother, if you stay the course and tell it like it was….

Love, Gene

Below are the two poems mentioned above, which were written in spring and fall 1965. Inversion echoes Night.


The North is silent
Uneasy lull awaits
As darkness gathers

Dry rot unseen
In lofty places
Un-shored structures
Hid by Blackness
Sand and Stone
Appear as one

Who beckons travelers?
Whose voice is clear?
Why are the sounds unsure?

Gusts disturb
This tortured sleep
Words in flooded streams
Still rage!
And Desperation
Strips my soul
Before Abyss—
Or Hope

San Diego
Apr 65

And five months later:


Walls and windows
Friends and faith
To change the scene
From mirror irony.

At first when low
Was disbelief,
And now when high
It is again—
The record
Shows the purpose.

Mysterious ways
Are hid from view
Except to one who knows.
The work demands
A strict review.
Mercy cannot rob it.

Others’ faith
Is quit this time
To prove
This one himself.
At last will come
The final meaning
When lowness
Claims its own...

San Diego
County Psychiatric Ward
1 Sep 65
(Op 9)

On November 25, 2009, Joseph Dillard wrote:

From: Joseph Dillard []
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 4:48 PM
Subject: On your correspondence with your brother

Hey Eugene!

Your communication with your brother is about the clash of two world views. When I think about what I know about your history with your family I can relate a lot personally. I think that we share the same historical naivete - toward assuming that other people will be as tolerant and accepting and trustworthy as they have presented themselves to be, whether as religious or familial figures.

You have a long history of pushing people out of their comfort zone, of playing the Socratic gadfly with them. Their response is to dismiss you as self-involved and bizarre in your interests, communications, and some of your actions. This is normal when people feel pushed out of their comfort zone. The result is that they feel betrayed and distrustful toward you. And with that sort of situation you can protest the sincerity of your intentions all you want; they don't hear you because they don't experience you as respecting their boundaries.

What I have come to believe is that playing the Socratic gadfly will get me noticed but it will also lead to me being written off, at best, and my martyrdom at worst. Instead, particularly in this day and age, I have thrown in my lot with finding, creating, and building my own spiritual family of like-minded individuals who do not have scars and hurts and reasons not to trust that may or may not have anything to do with me.

From where I sit you place far too much importance on reconciliation with and acceptance by your blood family. Your attempts to help them are unsolicited. That makes you a rescuer, not a helper. And because of that, they see you as a persecutor.

They are adults. They deserve the freedom of their own delusions. Your life, like mine, will stand on its own merits for those of future generations to puruse and consider, if they are so inclined. In the meantime, embrace those who have it within them to embrace you. Embrace those who see who you are and who love you and respect you for the song you so bravely sing and your own unique dance.

I am your spiritual brother, and I hear you. I respect you, and there are many, many more like me out there who have the capacity to do the same.



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