An army lieutenant disappears and is declared AWOL, but his family thinks he may have been sent on a secret CIA mission.
On August 17th, 1958, a fish and game warden in Death Valley, California, found a car abandoned in the desert 42 miles from the nearest town. The keys were still in the ignition and there was no sign of foul play.
The car was registered to Lt. Paul Whipkey of Fort Ord, California, almost 500 miles away. The Army reported that Whipkey had been missing for five weeks and, in fact, was wanted as a deserter. But, there was a problem: by all accounts, Paul Whipkey was the perfect soldier. No one who knows him believes he could have been a deserter. Carl Whipkey is Paul’s brother:
Paul Whipkey was an R.O.T.C. honor graduate. After basic training, he won a spot in the Army aviation school. In 1957, at Camp Desert Rock in Nevada, Paul flew an observation plane during testing of the atomic bomb. He was exposed to radioactive fallout, and it soon after that when unusual blotches appeared on his skin. Several months later, stationed at Fort Ord, California, Paul had to have all of his teeth removed.
On July 10th, 1958, late one afternoon, Paul left Fort Ord. He told friends that he was headed for the town of Monterey, less than a mile away. But Paul never returned. The next morning, Paul was reported AWOL and 30 days later, he was declared a deserter. The following week, his car was discovered in Death Valley.
The army says that on the day Paul left, he apparently ended up at Whites Motel in Mojave, California, some 350 miles from the base. Paul had signed the motel’s guest registration. Army investigators say they found a gasoline receipt in Paul’s car. It showed that he had bought gas in Mojave, before his car ended up in Death Valley, 145 miles away.
On the very morning Paul turned up missing, two soldiers stripped his room at Ft. Ord. Everything was removed, including Paul’s personal belongings. According to his brother Carl, this was an odd and perhaps illegal procedure:
Four weeks after Paul was reported AWOL, a witness driving through Death Valley saw his car. He said it was being driven by a man in military uniform. However, when Paul left Fort Ord, he was wearing civilian clothes. When the car was found, a pile of cigarette butts was on the ground next to it: Paul didn’t smoke. Also troubling to Paul’s family was the fact that the Army waited nine months before looking for his body. And it was only by accident that Carl Whipkey heard anything about the car at all:
The investigation into Paul’s disappearance also troubled his commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Charles Lewis:
I found it almost unbelievable that he would be classified as a deserter. I was curious what the basis for it was. And I was quickly and promptly told ‘Charlie, forget this. The case has been closed and I would recommend that you don’t carry it any further.’ In essence I was told to shut up and drop it and blow away.”
Charles Lewis and Paul Whipkey were both stationed in Nevada during 1957. Lewis recalls the day he saw two men in plain clothes talking to Paul:
Over the next few weeks, Lewis often saw Paul talking to the same two men:
In hindsight, Lewis now believes that Paul may have met with the two men for one simple reason:
Paul’s brother, Carl, thinks there may be some truth to this as well:
Carl now believes that his brother was assigned to a secret mission and left his car with the Army. He thinks they kept it four weeks before driving it into the desert. But not knowing the answer leaves him always wondering:
In 1982, the Army reviewed Paul Whipkey’s case and found no basis to support his status as a deserter. Two months later his final status was officially changed from “deserter” to “died in the line of duty.”
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and n season seven with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.SUBMIT A TIP[/su_button
You are quite a clown thinker, Dean.
Jenny from the Block
So in 1958 when America is not actively engaged in a military conflict with another country, an American soldier stationed at an American base goes missing without explanation – and decades later, the Army declares the soldier killed in action? What action? Killed when? Usually when a soldier is KIA, there’s a conflict or war that their death is connected to. No such thing in Mr. Whipkey’s case here.
They did not declare Whipkey killed in action though, they declared him to have “died in the line of duty.” This is an entirely different classification than KIA, which as you stated would apply to military personnel killed during an active war or hostile conflict. To have declared him “dead in the line of duty” is applicable because it changes his status as a deserter to someone who was killed while on active status in the military, even though they don’t know what happened to him, all evidence suggests he would never abandon his post.
Are you the same Jenny that lives in Lake Isabella,or should I say “Lake is a puddle” ?
This is really eerie…
Strangely enough this case has eerie similarities to another disappearance/ awol
In 1993 Justin Burgwinkle also stationed at Fort .Org military base in California
Disappeared and 3 months later his car was found abandoned at a motel
Wallet, car keys, dog tags, credit cards
Left in the car.. he was never found or located
Mystery also surrounds his disappearance..
I didn’t even realize until I started reading about
Paul whipkey and Fort .Org. Military base
Then I realize this case was somewhat similar.
Although few details are different
Both stationed at the same military base
Just 40 years apart
Both disappeared/ awol
Both left the military never to be seen again
Both had cars found abandoned
With keys in the car
No sign of foul play
Like poof they walked off
Never to be seen again
Both families distraught with little to no answers
No bodies, no sightings
Both very little investigating in cases
Although both cases have none to do with the other
Both are extremely strange
Fort Org. Military base shut down 1994..
John J Whipkey
can anyone tell me where i can find the episode about Paul Byron Whipkey?
Im watchin it right now on hulu “mysteries of the outdoors” s1e2-“Evil in the Desert” half hr show pauls section comes on 13 min in and lasts mabe 5 min. But these programs always leave parts out because its about the mystery its not about solving anything. They just have him walking out into the desert never to be seen again. And “50 years later his family is still looking for answers” apparently his status
was changed from deserter to KIA
35+ years ago.
Mabe the government can actually fess up at times. LoL
No, it was not change get to KIA, it was changed to “died in the line of duty”…these are 2 very different classifications. Many people are misunderstanding these classifications as the same and perpetuating further conspiracy theory around the classification itself where there should not be any.
I’m adding some important details to the story I told previously, above. On the second occasion 1st Lt. Whipkey had the other recruit and myself come to the Ft. Ord airfield, to talk about us joining the special mission, we saw those two mysterious men in suits, waiting in the back of a hanger. Nothing was said about who they were. At the time, I spoke no foreign languages, but the other recruit was born and raised in Belgium and spoke French, as well as English. Since French was one of the official languages of South Vietnam, that’s another reason I suspect that’s where we would have been going, to take aerial photos and make maps. I and the other soldier were sent to advanced training at the same Army base, although we were in different schools. I saw him once, during our time there. I asked if he’d heard anything more about our secret mission, but he said no and then chided me for talking about it, as it was supposed to be kept completely secret. I never saw or heard anything of him again. When my training was finished, I was shipped out to duty at a stateside base, but no special orders came. At my duty base, I asked our company’s training and education sergeant to make a confidential search for possible orders that might have come for me, from Fort Ord. He understood that it was about a secret mission, which I didn’t describe and sent a personal message to an old friend who worked at the Ft. Ord personnel office. But nothing was found and I just put it out of my mind, until i saw the TV program, 33 years later. I never mentioned the name of Lt. Whipkey or said anything about aviation being involved. I came to the attention of Lt. Whipkey, because I was selected to go to helicopter training, although I declined the offer.
Paul Whipkey was my mother’s first cousin. I have heard different stories from the family. All we know is he is gone and my Grandfather’s brother never knew what happened to his son. The military NEVER gave our family a straight answer!!
Can anyone please advise? I would like to buy a copy of the “Episode 84”, (Season 3), Aired: April 3, 1991 (repeated August 7, 1991), “Viacom” owned TV show from “1991 unsolved mysteries”, which covers this, but my internet research is coming up short. If you can help me, please post here, or email me at Stauffer01@SBCGlobal.net. Thanks! -Titus
Check the SSDI (Social Security Death Index) with his name and Social Security # to see he is on the index. I am a genealogist and recently found the grandfather of a friend on the SSDI (with the help of another genealogist). The grandfather had left home in Sept. 1938 and said he was going to San Francisco and would be back that day but he never returned. The genealogist that helped me find him had searched his name and birth date in the SSDI and found that he died in Phoenix, Arizona in 1975 and was buried in a cemetery in Phoenix (she found that in a death notice in a local newspaper). The SSDI is available on Ancestry.com and also by writing the correct federal agency with his name and birthdate.
The story told here on this website is almost totally different than the one that is told on the 1991 Unsolved Mysteries TV program. Watch that old program and you’ll see what I mean. I had personal contact with this Army Lieutenant two days before his disappearance and was told about a secret detail he would be leading, which I think most likely was to be in SE Asia. I and another person had been summoned to the post airfield and there, he invited us to join that detail, which he said was to be aviation-based. He said we would go to Australia and spend two months learning to speak with the accent of that country. We would then pose as employees of a civilian Australian map-making and aerial photography company, flying in planes marked accordingly and go to an unnamed place. My best guess is that this place was to be Vietnam. Afterwards, he drove us back to our barracks in his red, ’55 Chevy convertible. He was supposed to contact us later about getting orders back to Fort Ord and joining the detail. But I heard nothing more and no special orders ever came. I didn’t know about his disappearance until 33 years later, when I saw the TV show.
This country is the most corrupt country on this planet and always will be.The home of the free,brave,corrupt and ignorant.