With an assist from cousin Dennis Force, Bill Schroeder mapped out the scenario of their reality-altering evening of March 31, 1967.

Fifty-six years later, they no longer shy away from a story they once feared might’ve wrecked their civilian careers. In 2016, they put it on the record in a book called Unknown Down, by Jack Roth. And as they reconvened for a recent retelling at a bayfront eatery in Palmetto, details from that white-knuckle spring night in south Florida flashed back in fresh gestures and flourishes.

The enormity of it all informs their cynicism over recent public optimism about military transparency concerning UFOs.

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