The 1957 Merom “Light Beam” UFO Incident

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
October 18, 2019
Last Updated
October 5, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
7 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

A strange UFO sighting over a small farming town in Indiana in early November 1957 was not only witnessed by several people but is one where the main witness would suffer apparent medical complications following the encounter. Injuries for which he would have to seek out medical help.

Furthermore, he would receive a strange visit from the United States Air Force in the days following the incident. And like many other encounters in the years that would follow, the visit revolved around the notion that the witness should not speak of the encounter.

A depiction of a UFO over a wheat field

Many UFOs feature strange light beams

In this case, through the information passed on by the witness’s doctor, a NICAP investigator was already looking at the incident. And consequently, it would find itself in the public arena despite the efforts of the military.

Perhaps of even more interest, as we will examine a little later and in more detail in one of our case study articles, the encounter occurred as a sudden wave of UFO sightings swept across the United States. A wave that would seemingly stop just as suddenly as November handed the reigns over to December.

While we can unfortunately not take away an explanation or indeed understand how this sighting fits into the larger picture of the UFO and alien question, what we can take away from it is yet further confirmation, as if it was needed, that there was most definitely “something” strange happening over the United States during November 1957. And perhaps more importantly, the military and most likely at least certain sections of the government were decisively more aware of such activity than they would admit publicly.

An “Eerie Penetrating Light” Bathing The Entire Area

Like he would most evenings, on the night of 6th November 1957 at a farm in Merom – a small town near Terre Haute in Indiana – 33-year-old ironworker, Rene Gilham was relaxing at his home. However, the evening was disturbed when the child of their neighbors burst into their home. They were looking for their own young children.

They should come outside immediately the excited child urged, in order to see the strange, glowing light outside. Following all the youngsters’ excited cries, Rene and his wife got up from the kitchen table where they were eating and went outside to see for themselves what the matter was.

As they exited their house, they could see other residents of the street already outside their homes. Then, the Gilhams looked up to see “a circular thing” hovering around 300 feet overhead. Rene would later estimate that the object was approximately 30 to 40 feet across. Furthermore, despite the relatively low altitude, the mysterious object appeared to be completely silent.

A superimposed UFO on a cloudy grey sky

What is the purposes of these strange light beams?

The witnesses continued to monitor the bizarre situation, mostly silent in awe at the scene unfolding before them. That would change when “brilliant beams of bright blue light” began to emanate from the craft’s underside. This “eerie penetrating light” would illuminate the entire area in its blue glow.

The family from the house opposite the Gilhams’ home left the street. They went inside, presumably unnerved by this latest development. Rene’s wife urged her husband to also return inside. However, he would insist that he wanted “to see this thing”.

His family returned to the relative safety of their house. Rene, though, remained on the street, waiting to see what would happen next. He didn’t have to wait long. He would soon witness a brief but dazzling display of seemingly highly advanced technology.

A Delayed Medical Reaction

He would remain where he was for around ten minutes watching the craft as it remained overhead. However, nothing of consequence happened. Then, he could hear a sudden strange “sizzling sound”. Rene would later liken it to a “high-speed electric motor”.

The craft then shot upwards and vanished almost instantly. With it, the light also went out leaving the street in what seemed by comparison to be total darkness. After several more moments ensuring that nothing else of consequence occurred, he went back inside.

The rest of the evening and the following day went by with no untoward happenings. However, two days later by the 8th November, Rene began to experience slight swelling on his face. Furthermore, it was constantly itching, and his eye was also swelling. This would continue and worsen into the following day. In fact, so noticeable and painful was the swelling that Rene would seek medical assistance.

A superimposed UFO over a field

Many people have medical reactions to these strange crafts

After seeing Dr. Joseph Dukes, he would find himself at Sullivan hospital upon his recommendation for urgent treatment. He would remain inside for several days and would seemingly make a full recovery.

However, after being released from the hospital he would face a sudden interest in the events by the United States Air Force. They would visit and question Rene, even “advising” him that he should not discuss the incident with anyone else.

This is an interesting if unnerving notion. One that we see in many other UFO encounters both before and since. It was perhaps much easier to tap into such unquestioning patriotism at the time to achieve the silence of potential witnesses. On this occasion, at least, such actions were of little consequence and came several days too late.

Injuries Similar To Overexposure To Electric Rays!

Unbeknown to them at the time, was the fact that Rene had already informed his doctor (Dr. Dukes) of the incident in full. In turn, Dukes had informed the Indiana NICAP UFO investigator, Frank Edwards, who would conduct his own investigation. [1] And, of more importance, would put the incident into the public arena almost immediately following the sighting.

According to the information given to Edwards by Dukes, Rene’s burns were akin to injuries caused by “overexposure to the rays from an electric welding torch”. Given that Rene was of a credible character, Dukes believed him when he said he hadn’t been near any such equipment for several weeks. And that ultimately, the only variable that could have caused the condition was the strange, bright blue lights of the disc-shaped object.

According to Edwards’ investigation, Rene would ultimately make a full recovery from the incident. However, he was also informed – several years later – that he should “return to the hospital every year for blood tests”. It is not known if he did do as advised. Or who advised him to do so or for what exact reason.

A superimposed UFO over a wheat field at dawn

Might light beam accounts actually be cases if alien abduction?

The incident, however, while remaining unexplained, is one, like many others that would result in a direct injury to the witness. In fact, we have examined several of these incidents previously. And while some of these other encounters appear very much to have been purposeful “attacks”, if the condition that Rene suddenly developed was the result of the strange light beams of the UFO – and it almost certainly was – was this another purposeful attack on an individual? Or was it merely an accidental incident?

A Demonstration Of A Similar Light Or Ray Technology?

Many of the other light or laser beam incidents would result in some form of paralysis. Other incidents, though, including ones not always involving particularly bright lights, result in similar “burn-like” injuries as those suffered by Rene Gilham.

Are these injuries – whether intentionally caused or not – the result of the same extraterrestrial technology? Or do we need to separate such incidents out, perhaps into different technology and even, in turn, different extraterrestrial races?

As bizarre as that last statement might sound to many, we should perhaps remind ourselves that several UFO researchers, including those who have held former high-ranking positions in government – perhaps most notably Paul Hellyer – who claim that anywhere between “four and twelve” alien races are visiting the Earth on a regular basis.

A depiction of a UFO over a field at night

A depiction of a UFO over a field at night

Whatever the truth is regarding the origin of the craft, and indeed the technology on display, that the United States’ military wished to cover over such incidents is perhaps an open secret. And while it is a question that has been asked many times previously by many UFO researchers, we have to ask just what the reason was for such secrecy?

Was it really to protect the public from themselves and their own panicky nature? Or is there really something more untoward and, at least to most, something rather more unbelievable to the whole affair? We will come back to some of these points shortly. First, however, we should briefly mention the obvious connections to UFO activity taking place at the same time. Activity that is remembered as the 1957 UFO wave.

Just One More Sighting In A Decade Awash In UFO Activity!

We will examine the November UFO wave of 1957 (or 1957 November Flap as it sometimes referred to) in another case study article, as to examine such an event in passing in relation to one of its cases would not do the surge of sightings justice. However, with that said, it would also be irresponsible of us to not mention it at all.

As its moniker suggests multiple sightings would explode on to the record during this time. And it would border on the unreasonable to think that at least some of these sightings didn’t share connections. One particular other sighting worth mentioning here, however, occurred on the same day, several hours earlier just before 5 am in the state of Ohio in the town of Springfield.

Two on-duty police officers would report a “frosty blue light” moving through the air. It would remain visible for approximately 10 seconds before disappearing from their sight. Further corroborating their sighting was local resident, Julius Roseman, at least in a roundabout way. While he was driving to work at the same time as the two officers he saw the strange light in the sky, his vehicle suddenly cut out for several seconds. He would further report that a taxi traveling on the same stretch of road suffered the same problem. They would come to a sudden stop almost at the side of his vehicle.

A depiction of a UFO over a river bank

A depiction of a UFO over a river bank

Later that same day, and shortly before the sighting in Indiana, at around 10:50 pm local time in Radium Springs, New Mexico, a police officer, and a county deputy sheriff witnessed a round object rising high and fast into the sky. As it did so, it changed colors from “red to green to blue” and disappearing glowing white.

If Everything Is Connected Where Do All The Roads Lead?

The 1950s were awash with UFO sightings. With the Merom incident being just one of an absolute abundance of such incidents. Indeed, as we have examined over several other articles, entire waves of UFO sightings, not only across the United States but around the world, had occurred regularly in the years leading up to the incident. And what’s more, they would continue to do so after the 1957 November wave. Although they would begin to become further apart and less regular.

Whether this last detail is of importance or not perhaps remains to be seen. Many sightings could very well be put down to a “rational” explanation. However, the fact that so many remain unsolved and without such an explanation, rational or otherwise, tells us that something truly remarkable was taking place in the skies of our planet during this time.

Given the obvious significance to the overall existence of the human race such a presence would present, it is hard to imagine that the aftereffects of this bizarre aerial activity are not still unfolding around us today. Shaping our personal and collective realities as they do so. And, until we are able to gain an understanding of these and other bizarre events occurring all around us, they will continue to influence our lives in ways we likely don’t recognize.

Is everything connected, as some researchers into these strange and bizarre events assert? Will understanding one aspect of the mysterious lead us closer to understanding others? And in turn others, and so on. Indeed, gaining an understanding of these seemingly strange paranormal and supernatural encounters may ultimately prove more spiritual than many of us might suspect.

Check out the video below. It looks at the idea of these and mysterious bizarre connections a little further.


1 Merom/Gilham Incident, NICAP

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Wayne Ferree says:

    Excellent article. I have followed Dr. Michael Salla and other for a few years.

    I grew up on a farm in southern Indiana, approximately 15 miles from Merom, IN and recall my Dad talking about the UFO incident. I believe that Rene Gilham’s son graduated from high school with my sister. Joe Dukes was our family doctor.

  • Cajunboy says:

    I was hoping that the government report would shed some light on this subject.
    Aboard a Navy ship cruising the Formosa Straits in November 1957, I saw something that was definitely not made by humans nor piloted by human. It is something that I rarely discuss but never, never forget.

  • Patricia Owens says:

    Pine Bush, NY…. From 1990 to 1993 I went to the meetings at the veterans hall in Pine Bush and I meet many people who had sightings and also saw a lot of stuff during those two years. One of the contact people is Linda Zimmerman for Pine Bush sightings.
    I made some really nice friends and the people were very sweet for the most part… They just had very, very strange things happen to them or very strange things that they saw.
    I was never afraid, but for those two years it was quite interesting….God bless. Patricia Owens

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