Hanging around with one of the Army goat killers blew my mind

Steven Colbert did a satire piece on a real U.S. Army top secret group that in the ’70s and early ’80s was planning mind warfare and said they killed goats by bursting their hearts through staring at them. In his segment, Colbert said about the Manual they used, “it promised to train soldiers to predict future events, read other people’s thoughts, stop their own hearts, even bend spoons with their minds.” Well, while deployed to Egypt on a U.S. Central Command major exercise in 1984, I hung around with a Lt. Col. who had been a key player in that mind group and I saw him bend spoons and forks, at least 40 of them, in a Cairo Hilton restaurant. That was amazing enough, but nothing compared to what he did to a hotel brass key holder.

George Clooney is starring in a movie about this group out in November, “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” Although I can’t remember the name of the colonel I knew in Egypt, he probably is one of the main characters in the movie. From this point, I will call him Lt. Col. Mindbender. The movie is based on a book by Jon Ronson with the same title. He interviewed the main players and no doubt Mindbender, if he is still alive.

One Amazon book reviewer, Mr. Benjamin Emlyn-jones described the book this way,

This is the kind of book that contains information that most readers will find hard to accept. I am familiar with many of the subjects covered within, but even so it contained a lot of amazing ideas and discoveries that fascinated me. It was a professional, dedicated, serious look at secret government explorations into the world of the supernatural. In this way it could not be more different from Ronson’s previous book “Them” which was nothing much more than a humorous micky-take (affectionate rather than aggressive). It’s nice to see so-called “conspiracy theories” dealt with seriously for a change.

Because I was a public affairs officer, I had to do hardship duty and stay in the Cairo Hilton and drive back and forth 70 kilometers to the exercise area at Cairo West airfield adjacent to the Giza Necropolis (pyramids). Come on, someone had to stay where the media stayed instead of those wonderful Army tents. Mindbender was also staying at the Hilton and drove back and forth with us some of the time. I don’t remember what Mindbender told his superiors because he was no longer a member of the mind group in the Pentagon and yet wasn’t qualified for tent duty. Maybe he just used his powers to make arrangements.

When he told tales about his former Army group, he said their mission was to explore the full capability of the mind. He said nothing about goats. He was most proud of the potential of using long distance mind control through telephone lines to affect the enemies thinking. He didn’t seem spacy or weird except for what he told us. He claimed that it was very easy to bend spoons and forks with mind concentration and that he had taught a lot of others how to do it. The technique was to gently rub the neck of the spoon while bringing your scattered mind to full concentration on the neck, thinking of the sun. The metal would feel hot, then bend very easily. I’m sure all of us said to ourselves, Yah, right.

That night in the restaurant he demonstrated the technique. He started at our table. He would get the spoons and forks so limp that the the stem could be twisted around as many as three times. He was sitting right next to us and there was no way to palm already twisted spoons. When the restaurant manager heard what was going on, he came to watch and suggested Mindbender go to other tables. I’m sure he bent at least 40 spoons or forks and he did get some other people to partially succeed at his technique. I tried and failed.

What totally convinced me of his powers was the amazing bending of the hotel key holder I witnessed riding with him to Cairo West. This brass 2 1/2”x5” holder was solid metal, 3/8ths of an inch thick. The hotel got tired of guests losing their keys so the huge holder was implemented. It’s weight and size reminded guests to remember to leave the key at the hotel by dropping it through a slot into a rectangular container adjacent to the front entrance. Mindbender kept his and he took it out and told us he would bend it with his mind. I could not even get the holder to bend one-hundredth of an inch. I sat next to him in the car. Mindbender was no giant. He was 5′ 8” and weighed no more than 140 pounds. He did not bend the holder quickly like the spoons. It took time. He had to work at it hard. A lot of rubbing and concentrating. Slowly it started to bend and when he finished it was bent 180 degrees. Everyone else in the car was bigger and stronger than Mindbender and we all knew his feat was impossible through strength alone. Not much was said for the remainder of the trip.

As amazed as we were, so too were the hotel desk staff the next time Mindbender turned in his key because it obviously would not fit through the slot. I often wished I would have asked Mindbender to give me the holder and I would pay the fine for it being lost. Even keeping a spoon would’ve given me proof when trying to convince skeptical listeners of this mind blowing experience.

Before concluding, I can’t help but tell about the time I did see goats in Egypt, thankfully Mindbender wasn’t with us on that deployment. I was with another fellow CENTCOM Army Lt. Col. public affairs officer. It turned out our Egyptian driver for both exercises one year apart was a Major in the Egyptian intelligence service who was assigned to watch those public affairs guys because they talk to the media. I’m sure our hotel rooms were bugged. Anyway, our driver was getting married and we had become friendly enough to be invited to his wedding. We first went to his parents apartment building. The four-story cement building had goats hanging around the stairwells. But that isn’t what made the wedding so memorable.

While we were visiting with the parents, another daughter brought in a six-month-old baby boy. He had no diaper. I held and goo gooed with him for about twenty minutes. I decided it was time to let my buddy Dave share the fun. I passed the kid lifting him under his arms to Dave. He was grinning from ear to ear holding the baby in front of his face, facing in the right or wrong direction depending on his or my perspective. The baby boy golden showered him right in the eyes. Everyone but Dave were rolling on the floor.

All of this is true even though you may find Mindbender’s part of the story hard to believe. I did and still do.

P.S. I just realized this took place in 1984. Did Orwell predict this mind power?


  1. cocktailhag says:

    Great story, RMP…. I wonder what mindbender was up to in Egypt.

  2. Jim Montague says:

    That was very good RMP! I’ve heard various debunks about mindbending over the years, but after your first person article, I’ll have to reconsider.

  3. So tell me, RMP, how come we ain’t winning in Afghanistan? You figure it’s cause the Taliban don’t use spoons?

    • Jebbie says:

      Nope. All of our Goatkillers are so busy defying the laws of gravity that they have no time, nor residual power to use on Teh Talibans.

  4. dirigo says:

    This dog was taught how to shoot pool by some bored NCOs during some long night shifts down in a missile silo in Montana.


  5. heru-ur says:

    Very interesting. I have never met anyone else (if we can be said to have met) who believed in the power of the mind to do things science would say is not possible.

    • rmp says:

      I find it hard to have faith be part of my belief system. Had I not seen this first hand, I wouldn’t believe it either. It definitely is possible to form friendships with people you have never met in person. In fact, even close relationships.

      • heru-ur says:

        Faith is undoing of us all. It is ‘faith’ that leads billions to believe that the Jesus Myth is in fact literal history. Faith in religion is an abomination.

        The ancient Gnostics demanded experiential truth: not faith in what others claimed to have seen or done.

  6. Karen M says:

    Egypt? Maybe he was channeling some power from the pyramids?

    • rmp says:

      Who knows. Maybe he got some extra power to do that key holder bending. He moved it by centimeters each try and it took 15-20 minutes to finish the bend. So there is no way he could have used magic.

      I walked one time through the back way via the camel barns to see the pyramids. Surprised a lot of camel drivers who I don’t think had seen a foreigner take that route. I have a couple of other Egypt stories that I will tell sometime. One involves an invite to go 70 feet underground via a ladder to see some tombs.

      One thing I didn’t like was the number of salesmen trying to get me to buy something or do something. It was very similar to the carnival feeling I got in Hong Kong in 1965. In both cases, I wanted to have a “T” shirt that said “I don’t want anything. Please leave me alone.” I understand why people had to struggle to live and why they pestered me. But it got tiresome after a while.

  7. harpie says:

    It isn’t every day that within 5 minutes I read two unrelated posts which both mention ancient Egypt and unusual powers of the mind:

    Inside the Red Book

    Liber Novus, by Carl Jung

    • rmp says:

      Especially when your link comes from Scott Horton one of my heroes.

    • heru-ur says:

      Jung was a Gnostic, and so an adherent of the perennial philosophy. This involves telling great truth wrapped in Myth. Myth as understood by the ancients and not the way we use the word today to mean “falsehood”. The Seven Sermons was classic retelling of the truth trough myth.

      The perennial philosophy is not anti-science as the Taoists were the natural philosophers of ancient China (the scientist types). It is not anti-science unless one demands that science is totally atheistic and everything came from random chance.

      I look forward to this book; thanks for pointing out this article.

  8. dirigo says:

    Here’s a weird one some of you may know about: the Majic 12 story.

    I know of a script on this story, now in development, which frames the situation in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, where a UFO “incident” supposedly occurred, leading to the formation of a secret presidential committee, under orders from Harry Truman.

    One question is: Did Truman actually issue such orders?

    Hmmmm …