After all was said and done, the events surrounding the Storm Area 51 meme—which went viral over the summer, drawing in millions of RSVPs on Facebook—appear to have been little more than hot air and social media buzz, as a few hundred alien enthusiasts and revelers partied near the secretive U.S. military base in a largely uneventful manner.
Yet despite the wholly innocuous nature of the Storm Area 51 phenomenon, the U.S. government doubled down on its menacing posture this past weekend in a bizarre tweet promising deadly force toward “millennials” who might “raid” the site.
In a Friday tweet by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), a Pentagon public relations agency, the unit shared a photo of a B-2 stealth bomber accompanied by the ominous caption:
“The last thing #Millennials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today.”
The message has since been deleted, and DVIDS issued a tweet the next day clarifying:
“Last night a DVIDSHUB employee posted a Tweet that in NO WAY supports the stance of the Department of Defense. It was inappropriate and we apologize for this mistake.”
In case anyone wanted to see the tweet in question pic.twitter.com/nGGd8qXD2C
— fightthepower (@heathencandor) September 21, 2019
The tweet was clearly tacky, if not bizarre, yet government officials had in fact previously warned potential interlopers via top USAF command staff of the possibility that service members could legally deploy deadly force against those potentially trespassing on U.S. military property.
Area 51 was created amid the Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union as a top-secret research and development site for aircraft such as the U-2 spy plane and other then-cutting-edge platforms.
Conspiracy theorists and ufologists have claimed that an alien spacecraft crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Since then, some claim, the alien spacecraft, extraterrestrial pilots’ corpses, and other technology are being housed and studied at the base—speculation that has been fed by popular culture and the fact that the U.S. government didn’t actually confirm the base’s existence until 2013.
Raid on Area 51 was a complete bust.
About 1 million people said they would attend, and only 50 people showed up. Now the whole world knows what’s it like to be a local musician, inviting friends to your next gig.
— Yves Jean (@yvesjean) September 22, 2019
Yet over the past weekend when folks finally did converge on the site, the much-anticipated “storming” of the base failed to materialize and no one managed to unearth the base’s alleged secrets.
Instead, small groups of UFO enthusiasts ranging between “several dozen” and “a couple hundred” people simply loitered near the entrance of the facility where they chatted with heavily-armed guards, according to social media reports.
Several thousand campers and curiosity-seekers were also diverted to the Alienstock festival in Las Vegas, where they were treated to various music performances and concessions such as “$8 Bud Light limited-edition Area 51 beer cans.”
According to a sheriff in neighboring Nye County, about 40 people gathered near the Area 51 Alien Research Center early Friday at 3 a.m. to approach a base gate before “heated warnings” from sheriff’s deputies convinced them to leave, reports KTLA.
In the end, only one arrest occurred, and this wasn’t because some intrepid alien enthusiast sought to break into Area 51 but because the reckless Canadian man was caught urinating near the gate.