The Val Johnson Incident in Pictures

August 27th, 1979

In rural Minnesota, just minutes from the North Dakota border, Deputy Sheriff Val Johnson was on patrol. It was nearly 2:00 am when he noticed a strange light on interstate 220. What followed was decades of debate and what some consider to be one of the top 10 UFO related events in our history.

Listen to Episode 58 “The Val Johnson Incident” on any major podcast streaming service or at the end of the article.

The Location

From Val Johnson’s police interview on September 16th, 1979.

“This officer was on routine patrol, westbound down Marshall County Road #5. He got to the intersection of #5 and Minnesota State #220. When I looked down south #220 to check for traffic I noticed a very bright, brilliant light 8-12 inches in diameter, 3-4 feet off the ground. The edges were very defined. I thought perhaps at first that it could be an aircraft in trouble, as it appeared to be a landing light from an aircraft.

The Damage Done

I proceeded south on #220. I proceeded about a mile and three-tenths or a mile and four-tenths when the light intercepted my vehicle causing damage to a headlight, putting a dent in the hood, breaking the windshield, and bending antennas on top of the vehicle.”

The Headlines

From Episode 58 “The Val Johnson Incident”

He and his wife, Rosanne, felt that the attention was causing their family, which included numerous small children, anxiety. They just wanted to move on. Johnson stayed on as deputy for a bit before taking a job as chief of police in neighboring Oslo, Minnesota.

In 1982 he was hired to create a police department in another small Minnesota town before losing his job less than a year later over a funding dispute. From there he took a job as a security guard in a Twin Cities mall before working for the 3M company in customer service.

Eventually people quit coming by his home and his phone finally stopped ringing. In a 2015 article from Minnesota Public Radio, a writer was able to track Johnson down in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He was 71 at the time and was a great grandfather.

According to the limited stalking I’ve done of the man online, it would appear that he and his wife are alive and well in Eau Claire. He’d be 79 now. In the MPR interview, he’s quoted as saying, “It’s unexplainable, and will remain so. I’m happy with my mental stability.”

He’s clearly moved on but UFO enthusiasts can not. The case is often brought up in chat rooms and is still highlighted on various mystery shows.

More on the Story

The Podcast Episode

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