Herrera ufo
He claims that his six-man unit stumbled across a hovering octagonal craft and they were threatened at gunpoint by unmarked US forces at the scene. A rendering of the scene is above
A former Marine claims he and five comrades saw a flying saucer being loaded with weapons while serving in Indonesia in 2009 - and was threatened at gunpoint by unmarked US forces at the scene.

The wild story comes after an Air Force whistleblower from the government's UFO office joined growing numbers of intelligence officials claiming the US has recovered and is even reverse-engineering crashed or landed 'non-human' spacecraft.

Michael Herrera was a 20-year-old rifleman sent on a Navy humanitarian mission during the 2009 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami that devastated the region.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, he claims that while guarding an airdrop of aid supplies outside the city of Padang in October that year, his six-man unit stumbled across a hovering octagonal craft in apparent use by clandestine US forces.

After 14 years of silence, Herrera was emboldened by new UFO whistleblower protections and in April testified under oath to the government's UFO investigation team, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), as well as a Senate committee.

He provided his unblemished four-year service record, and texts about the incident with an alleged fellow witness - who refused to talk, saying it was 'not worth my life or jeopardizing my family'.

Peripheral aspects of his account were verified by DailyMail.com using military sources. But Herrera, 33, does not have documentation or photos of the incident itself.

The Denver native joined the Marines fresh out of high school. He had been serving for less than two years when he was deployed to the Philippines as a member of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to help distribute aid in the wake of a typhoon.

When a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Sumatra on September 30, 2009, his 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, Echo Co. 2nd Platoon was rerouted to help guard helicopter aid drops around Padang City, beset by violence from local insurgents.

Around October 8 he and five marines were dropped off at a clearing in the north eastern part of the city by a CH-53 chopper, and hiked 900ft up a ridge to take their positions for the incoming supply drop, Herrera said.

It was then he spotted a strange object in the jungle on the other side of the hill.

'I could see something moving and rotating. It was changing colors between a very light matte gray to a very dark matte black,' he said. 'It stuck out like a sore thumb.'

Oddly, he said, they had not been given radios, so instead of calling it in they edged down the hill in formation to investigate, while Herrera snapped photos and video on his Panasonic camera.

'The thing was massive, the size of a football field,' Herrera told DailyMail.com.

'The craft was rotating in a clockwise motion while changing colors. It had an audible hum to it, like the sound of a transformer or a guitar amp. It was an octagonal shape with a pyramid at the top of it that was black.

'It had 'scales' that were on the outside of the craft that covered the whole craft. It had seams and sharp edges which I suspect to be man-made. Nothing on it was smooth. It had some panels on the vertical edges that were like Vantablack.'

According to AARO's statistics of UFO reports between 1996 and 2023, only 1% are polygons (like an octagon), 2% disk-shaped, while 52% are orbs or spherical.

However, an object shot down in February over Lake Huron, Michigan by F-16 fighter jets - after their first missile missed - was described as 'octagonal' by congress members briefed on the incident.

Herrera claimed that when he and his five comrades got within 150 feet of the craft, they were ambushed by eight men wearing all-black camouflage, bullet-proof vests, wielding M4 rifles with high-end night vision attachments given to elite US troops.

'They had their weapons drawn on us,' he said. 'We could audibly hear their weapon safety levers flipping off safe.'

'Who the f*** are you guys? What are you doing here?' two of them yelled with American accents, he said.

'They said we weren't supposed to be there, and that they could kill us.'

As the men continued to threaten them, took the marines' weapons, dumped their ammunition and scanned their military IDs, Herrera said he saw others loading 'large weapon cases' and other containers from modified Ford F350 trucks onto a platform beneath the craft.

'When the last two trucks finished unloading and drove off, the lower part of the platform rose off the ground to about 10 feet and the craft lowered to meet it and it came together into one piece,' he said.

'On the corners of the craft, it had lights that were changing between blue, red, yellow and green.

'It rose off the ground and a little past the trees, then shot off to our left towards the ocean at around 4,000mph.

'We can't believe this is f***ing happening. From a dead stop, it didn't make any sound like a sonic boom, it didn't disturb the trees like rotor wash would. We could see coconuts on the trees and none of them were disturbed.'

Herrera said the eight unmarked soldiers gave them back their unloaded guns and marched them back over the hill, 'still telling us how they could kill us.'

'Once we got over the hill they told us to get the f*** away from here and don't look back.'

The six marines ran back to the aid drop site and were scolded by their gunnery sergeant for returning early, Herrera said, adding that they all kept quiet about the disturbing encounter.

'I was f***ing scared,' the veteran said. 'I was thinking: I could have been killed, how the hell am I going to explain this?'

Back on the USS Denver, Herrera's unit were debriefed by a rear admiral he didn't recognize. He said it was odd to have such a high-ranking officer there, and again none of them mentioned the saucer and unmarked troops.

A few days later they were docked in Subic Bay in the Philippines, the marine said. After an evening of drinking with his colleagues, he returned to find his camera's card and battery removed from his locked locker, along with his five comrades' phones missing.

In early December 2009 he was back at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan. He was told to report to the office, where he found an Air Force lieutenant colonel in full uniform but no name tag.

'He starts telling me, 'You're not allowed to talk about what happened, not to your chain of command, not even a general,' Herrera said. 'You will go to prison, or you will die.'

'He told me to keep my mouth shut and slid a paper to me which was an NDA. The only thing I can recall is that it said 'TS/SCI', Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information. And it had Indonesia on it.'

The rifleman said he signed and was told to 'get the f*** out of there'.

'I ran back to the barracks and haven't talked about it ever since. It's something I've kept secret for almost 14 years. But I've thought about it every single day.'

He left the Navy in October 2011, his certificate of release showing four years of active duty and medals for 'national defense service', 'global war on terrorism service', 'humanitarian service', 'sea service deployment' and a 'sharpshooter rifle badge'.

Herrera made several million dollars as an entrepreneur and now runs a private security company called Valkyrie Eye.

New UFO whistleblower protections enacted in December prompted the ex-marine to finally tell his story.

Last year's annual military funding bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), included a new clause allowing whistleblowers to report previously undisclosed UFO 'material retrieval, material analysis, [and] reverse engineering' programs to the Pentagon's AARO team without fear of prosecution for violating their security oaths and non-disclosure agreements.

Herrera said in 2017 he met UFO activist Dr. Steven Greer at a conference, and Greer helped persuade him to talk and connected him with congressional and AARO staffers earlier this year.

Herrera is also planning to tell his story at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Monday organized by Greer, alongside four other UFO witnesses.

The ex-marine claims his five former comrades are too scared to come forward.

In a May 3 text message, one wrote: 'this is asking to[o] much of me and it's not worth the risk.'

'It's not worth my life or jeopardizing my family. I know we go way back, but this is asking to[o] much. You need to get out of whatever you are in and don't get me involved with this mess. My career isn't worth helping you. Don't ask me to do this s**t ever again.'

DailyMail.com verified the sender was a marine serving in the same unit in 2009.