I was the lodge master of a German/American Freemason lodge in San Francisco, California. On a cold Monday night in December 1966, I had just closed the weekly meeting, and, as was my habit, I was waiting until the last lodge member had left so I could turn off the lights.
One lodge brother was still present, putting on his overcoat and hat. His name was Richard Decker. He was a slight, white-haired gentleman in his seventies who owned an engineering business in San Francisco.
I had always had a special liking for Richard. He seemed to have few, if any, friends among his lodge brothers, perhaps because he always displayed a very reserved manner. He did not partake in the lodge's social events, and I never saw him laugh or even smile. When Richard spoke, it was short, precisely to the point, and without embellishment. He had earned the reputation for only saying was absolutely correct, reliable, and truthful, and it was this character trait that had earned him my friendship and esteem.
When Richard approached me that night to shake hands and say goodbye, I noticed that he wore a silvery metal ornament on the lapel of his overcoat. It was shaped like a small, round flower head and had a strange, iridescent reflection that I had never seen before. I inspected the pin closely, touching it with my fingertips, and I asked Richard what its meaning was.
He said, "Walter, that is the reason for my leaving the lodge room last, because I don't want the others to see it and ask me about it. I like you and I trust you, so I will answer your question, but you must give me your word that you will divulge to no one what I am going to tell you."
"You see, this is how we recognize each other," he said, pointing at the lapel pin.
"Richard, who recognizes whom?"
Then Richard told me this story: "Nobody knows it, Walter, but I am not from this world. I come from the star (he then mentioned a name that I had never heard of, did not understand, and therefore cannot remember). You should know that I am not alone—there are thousands of us here on Earth, and that is why we need to recognize each other."
I said, "But Richard, I know for a fact that you were born in Germany, that you came to the United States to study engineering, and that you have been a member of this lodge for a long time."
"That is all true, of course," he replied. "When one of us is assigned to a secret mission on Earth, we have the power to walk in, which means that we take over the embryo of a pregnant Earth woman, usually from a well-situated family, and we are born like any other human child. We go to school and study a profession. We may even get married and have a family. But as soon as we have reached adulthood, we begin working on our assigned mission, the nature of which is totally secret to everyone, and I cannot tell you about this either.
"When we have reached human old age, we are called back to our home star. The present one is my fourth Earth mission. Very soon I will be called back again, but I know this is not my last mission on Earth. The next mission might be after your lifetime."
Richard reminded me to keep everything I had just heard secret, shook my hand, and left the lodge room. I had to sit down for a few moments, stunned by what had been entrusted to me. Because I had known of Richard Decker's sincerity for years, I had not the slightest doubt that what he had divulged to me was the truth. I am a doctor of metaphysical science, and I firmly believe in the supernatural and the existence of extraterrestrials.
Fifteen months later, in February 1968, Richard Decker disappeared without a trace, but I knew where he was. I kept his secret for 28 years before I told my family and lodge members about it. After that length of time, I believed Richard would have considered my promise fulfilled.
—Walter H. Arden, San Raphael, California
Excerpted from Strange But True, edited by Corrine Kenner and Craig Miller