By: An Delen Dir, Lightcudder, Aquaboi, Colin M. Taylor, James Killian, dragon & spousal unit
…or a Logical, Canon-Based Early Biography
This is the result of several weeks’ worth of diligent, serious research, and two months of careful planning and much brainstorming, some with civilian, but most with official sources.
Every basic fact about the US Air Force has been verified to being possible, even if only theoretically. Verifications have been extended as far back as to the 1960ies, and also to circa 2002, so that both those looking at the original timeline of the show, as well as those planning on advancing Straker’s biography to the current time, can be certain of facts. A similar, equally fitting updated (to the current day) biography soon can be found in the SHADOpedia.
You are free to use this biography or the other biography in your writing UFO fanfic or about UFO on the condition that you refer to us, preferably with a link to the Ed Straker Herald, and a notice of its origin.
Boston College High School – Library
Some Hard U.K./European Facts
There are several speculative biographies of Ed Straker around. However, none of them really heed canon facts, including Straker’s basic character and mindset, and most try to bend what we see and hear to what appears to be stereotypically opportune or fits preconceptions and prejudices. Let us address these first, so it becomes clear why our biography is so different from the usual ones.
Something people tend to forget: UFO is a series written, directed, acted and filmed in Great Britain in 1969 and 1970. Few non-British people were directly involved (none in any decision-making positions) and fewer US Americans yet. It deals with an international military unit on British soil. This has several consequences regarding how specific areas of the UFO canon and characters need to be looked at.
Europeans for instance have a not exactly friendly connection already with their own armed forces, and even less so with the services of other countries. Few civilians consider rank (of an officer for instance) anything to be in awe of and will not even notice it, unless it is so high up (general, admiral etc.) as to mean someone is in charge of the whole army or at least large parts of it. Individual uniforms are practically never worn in the public while off duty, and only civilians like specialised news reporters would be aware of details. Even someone who was in the armed forces of a European country himself usually will not feel the need to notice rank and details of forces not his own and commonly lack knowledge of details.
Translated into reasonable behaviour this means that the assumption that e.g. Paul Foster would “of course immediately notice” that Straker is young for his rank or has had a curious break in his career other than that he switched from the US Air Force to become a film producer is assuming far too much. Unless Foster had been in the British Military Intelligence (which we know he was not) he – like most everyone else – would not have noticed.
Civil Air Patrol – Cessna 182
The next problem is that as few Europeans have hands-on knowledge of US American ranks and military mores (short of what transpired during WWII), this spotty knowledge and their own countries’ armed forces is what they go by and what appears natural to them. This rather obviously was the case with Gerry Anderson and his writers, else they just might have made Straker a Major or Lt. Colonel after Ed Bishop agreed to play the role. There’s no reason to make him a full bird Colonel inherent in the series’ concept.
The fact that Bishop had been Anderson’s preference for that role right from the start also supports that neither Anderson, nor the writers, saw any problem in having a 36 year old actor play a full bird Colonel ten years back from his present time. As to Ed Bishop, he would have known about the age discrepancy, having been in the US army himself. However, he still chose to play Straker as ten years younger in the flashbacks of Confetti Check A-O.K. and Identified – to a present-time (1980) Ed Straker unchanged in physical age from that of the actor.
This is clearly obvious in just about everything: looks, muscle-tone, movements, behaviour, abilities and physical capacity. Everything about Ed Straker claims him to be a healthy male of 37-38. With a bit of stretching things one might advance him as far as being 43-44 in for instance The Last Sleep (which shows a rather gaunt Ed Bishop after the hiatus between filming the first 17 episodes and the rest). But otherwise Ed Straker is a man in his late thirties, without any hint at anything else.
Young Ed Straker
Now, Ed Bishop was an excellent actor. He managed to very credibly make the Ed Straker in the flashbacks to 1970 a man ten years younger. Had he so wanted, he could have made Straker 50 years old in the 1980 timeframe of UFO and, with a grey instead of a platinum-coloured wig and a different make-up and muscle tone, that would have been easily believable for the audience. But he did not, nor was he asked to. Else we would not have him bouncing on the balls of his feet while prowling down an aisle, we would not have him running or fighting as easily as he did, and he most assuredly would have keeled over much faster during the fight scene with Foster on Moonbase in Kill Straker!, and died in both Subsmash and Timelash. More important yet, we know that Ed Bishop defended his shy and diffident portrayal of the young Ed Straker even against the direct order of director David Lane, consistently going against Lane’s wishes, and refusing to portray Straker as an older, self-assured officer. So this portrayal of the young Straker has been done expressly, it is not the result of happenstance either.
All this is the reason why the audience is incapable of believing in a 50-year-old Straker, people simply see and sense he was much younger. And because we so clearly see Straker’s age, and see the carefully enacted younger self in the flashbacks, it is canon – whether we like it or not. It means we have to make this canon work with the rest of his particulars: also the one which states he is a full bird Colonel at 27-28 years of age, regardless of how rare or special this is within the US military.
Boston University – Castle House
So, instead of finding means to cram normality into what is an obviously abnormal career , we need to find credible provisions for these abnormalities, preferably without turning Straker into some incredible, superhuman figure.
A look at hard canon data for Straker and what they could mean
Ed Straker was the most fleshed out character in UFO, giving us many hints as to his life and background. For his back-history relevant data are these:
- Born on the 21st of September, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
This is referred to in The Cat With Ten Lives. His East Coast origins and the influence of Boston are evident in his spoken, well-educated English. Combined with some of the other canon facts, like for instance his perfect, diffident and shy manners and ascetic, near asexual behaviour in much of the series, his almost virginally naïve reaction to being thought cheating on his wife, and his self-contained and nearly friendless lifestyle all put together hint at several things:
Incirlik Air Base
|We use grey canon by accepting the birthdate of 21st September 1942 from the unfilmed script The Patriot. This date is not contradicting anything and it is the closest we have to a canon source of a birthdate. Next likely only would be using Ed Bishop’s own birthdate. The year 1942 is congruent with Bishop’s age for his portrayal of Straker in UFO’s 1980.|
Straker was either a single child, or an extremely late latecomer (with all other siblings already out of the house), born to a well-off upper class, catholic family. He had little early contact with other children and received firstclass education. This education must have been rigid, very much attentive to protocol and proper manners, for Straker was never even half as relaxed and “common” in his behaviour as for instance General Henderson or Alec Freeman and on several occasions (especially through his appreciation of Alec) he showed a certain wistful attraction to people more able to let their hair down.
All put together made us go for expensive private tuition first (up to 7th grade), followed by two years in a notable Boston Jesuit high school of high academic standing, before Straker himself opted at the age of 14 (9th grade) for a catholic military boarding high school having a strong JROTC contingent and a CAP wing close by.
F-100 in Formation
- Superior Marksmanship and a very Capable Pilot (Fighter/Test Planes, Astronaut)
Straker was shown to be a superior marksman in Kill Straker!, and he must have been an outstanding pilot to be accepted straight from college into a pilot slot. Straker himself affirms that he was an astronaut in The Man Who Came Back (it is highly unlikely this reference already means S.H.A.D.O. missions, as with S.H.A.D.O. space flights were daily fare and hardly worth mentioning). During this era the only way to achieve astronaut training was a US American or Russian space program and to go there you had to be a test pilot, and to achieve that practically right out of the college you had to be top 5% of your class and have flying experience as well.
The Very Young Colonel
Straker was shown to be a diligent, hard-working and very single-minded person. He clearly wanted to go into space, which he expressed already through his choice of astrophysics. He would not only have done everything to facilitate and ensure this goal, he also would have started this as early as possible.
Straker was a still very capable athlete in the series, hence we have him also running in high school, besides rifle and chess. These considerations have led us to have Straker volunteer and join the Civil Air Patrol at the age of 12 years, still in Boston, and stay with CAP throughout his High School up to college, whenever his JROTC program permitted.
|His service with the Civil Air Patrol enabled him to acquire an FAA glider license at the age of 14, an FAA student pilot certificate at 16 and an FAA private pilot certificate at 17, using CAP as a source of instruction and relatively cheap access to aircraft. When he enrolled in the Boston University he switched to ROTC training and flew missions for CAP strictly only when having the time to do so. The humanitarian aspect of CAP certainly would have appealed to him the way the young Straker was portrayed. They also provided him with first experiences in recon missions.|
Both his time in JROTC and in ROTC training helped him hone his marksman skills, with rifle, running and chess being his main sports activities on High School apart from flying.
During the two months before he achieved the required age of 21 for commissioning he flew missions for CAP full time, acquiring over the course of all that time quite a respectable number of experience and flying hours and recommendations from his commanding officers and teachers throughout.
- The Scientific Approach, M.I. and the USAF
In the series Straker was shown to be foremostly taking the scientist’s approach (e.g. Computer Affair), intent on going for scientifically proven, logical and if possible even computer-based solutions. The educational background we do have (astrophysics, MIT) also claims him as being someone rather steeped in science and logic and he usually is approachable through this tangent (e.g. in Close Up).
In the early and middle 1960ies going to space meant he would have worked hard to be sent to the research pilot school at Edwards and angled to be assigned to a space program. He certainly would not have volunteered for Vietnam, as some biographies have him do, as he obviously detested brute warfare, this war would not have appealed to him as just and it would have held him up as well. Depending on his assignments he might easily have avoided being ordered there anyway (once into a space program he would not be ordered into any battle zones without his express wish).
Edwards Air Base – Dry Lake
|Choosing the renowned Boston University with its adjoint USAF ROTC contingent and a Bachelor of Sciences in Astrophysics would be a logical start for such a career. He finished in the top 5% of his class, spent the summer flying missions with the Civil Air Patrol and was commissioned on his 21st birthday as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force through the Reserve Officers Training Program.|
We have him with the Tactical Air Command as his first assignment after he earned his wings, flying re-con missions in Southern Europe and Northern Africa during the Cold War period (TAC also makes it a very logical choice for his superiors to later send him on to MOL and then to Military Intelligence). During these missions, while based at Incirlik Air Base for North African and Soviet Union flights, he met with the RAF combat and re-con pilot Alec Freeman, who also already was working for the British military intelligence.
He was suggested for the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California by his superiors, completed that training and stayed as a flight instructor after graduation, enabling him both to gain flying hours, as well as experience with high altitude planes, some of which were top secret (“blackbirds”). In addition, instructing pilots would work well with his character scope as shown in the series, where he takes several young officers under his wings, foremostly Paul Foster.
SR-71 Lockheed Blackbird
- Visible young age, Astronaut, MIT and Full Bird Colonel
Straker is 28 years old when shown in the uniform of a full bird USAF Colonel, and it is impossible to achieve this rank the normal way at that age.
At least two speculative biographies try to reconcile this young age with normal promotions and both fail. During research we discovered that it seems to be so anchored in the public mind of US Americans that such promotions are impossible, that we contacted senior USAF military personnel in the States to get a correct answer to the puzzle.
To this day and throughout time USAF (as all other armed forces of the USA) is and has always been able to commission (sometimes only as per presidential order) officers in what is called “battlefield” or “wartime” promotions. Some such commissions were “brevet” ranks, meaning that they were taken back afterwards, unless the relevant officer had proven his worthiness still bearing his raised rank. However, up to 1980 the US President could suspend just about any promotion rule, including the one about temporary-only wartime promotions.
These commissions were used in the past with outstanding individuals. Col. Thyng (26 as a Colonel in WWII) and Brigadier General Kuter (youngest general officer in WWII) were such USAF officers, the former receiving a straight battlefield promotion, the latter a “jump-promotion”, meaning he was commissioned a rank above which he would normally have been promoted to. A rather recent (1990ies) jump-promotion was that of Capt. McDonnell to first Rear Admiral (for one day) and then Vice Admiral, so he could serve as the Director of NSA. It is intriguing to note that Wikipedia does not mention this as clearly as it should be, whereas there are US officers remembering this promotion from Captain to Vice Admiral within 3 days only distinctly.
The reasons for such extraordinary promotions are diverse: they are done in wartime to fill up officer ranks depleted by enemy action, or to advance someone with very particular knowledge or abilities into one of the higher command ranks, or such promotions were used to raise someone to an acceptable rank for interaction with allies. And they still are possible and will remain possible as a provision to extraordinary circumstances.
You can find the current relevant regulation in
Sec. 603. Appointments in time of war or national emergency (10 USC 603)
…In time of war, or of national emergency declared by the Congress or the President after November 30, 1980, the President may appoint any qualified person (whether or not already a member of the armed forces) to any officer grade in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, except that appointments under this section may not be made in grades above major general or rear admiral…
This is the current regulation, similar ones, which were even broader, insofar that even the heads of the relevant armed forces sections could appoint commissioned officers this way (e.g. the US Navy with 10 USC 5598 and the US Air Force with 10 USC 8313 and 10 USC 8441 – 8445), as well as of course the President of the United States, were effective prior to this one:
… Section 8442, act Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 521, provided that a regular commissioned officer, or a reserve commissioned officer who is serving on active duty, may be appointed, based upon ability and efficiency with regard being given to seniority and age, in a temporary grade that is equal to or higher than his regular or reserve grade, without vacating any other grade held by him…
Those wishing to read up on the background of the 1980 repeal, this is a document which is very helpful in this respect, especially as it clarifies that the various states of national emergency have never been abolished prior to 1980:
So, now that we have established quite beyond doubt that jump-promotions and wartime promotions were feasible, legit and also done by the President and his armed forces up to the current day, we can get back to looking at Straker’s extremely young age as a Colonel. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes say quite correctly, that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” As it is clear that Straker could not have achieved his rank of full bird Colonel the normal way, as that is quite impossible (the absolute minimum age for a full bird Colonel is 33 years), yet we have this very young Colonel in UFO canon, want it or not, it must have been the improbable which makes him what he is: a battlefield or a jump-promotion taking him from Major to Colonel.
That there is no recorded USAF jump-promotion after 1945 doesn’t mean Straker couldn’t have had one. After all, there definitely was a Navy jump-promotion and that was a pretty seriously elevating one! Straker is a fictional character, UFO is a fictional TV series, Science Fiction relative to when Identified was filmed in 1969, so it is perfectly possible that this fictional character had exactly such a promotion! As Straker never was in Vietnam, nor engaged in direct combat elsewhere, there is only one war and one battlefield left which could earn him this commission, and it is the most logical for him of them all: the war against the aliens! The only way he can readily meet with them in combat is in space. We do know he was an astronaut.
All that means that we also had to get him into space early on, preferably under the general radar so this still stays believable and realistic. This was easier than we thought and it also solves a load of other fine points and problems.
We found an appropriate space program with attached top secret SSTO research, particular to USAF, which was not exactly noticed much by the general public. In fact, it was a short-lived Cold War-era military program to put a manned reconnaissance station in space, which meshed perfectly with Straker’s later background as M.I. and his own TAC background that we gave him earlier.
And it had the added appeal that it was cancelled in 1969, which fits neatly with the UFO timeframe. Many of the astronauts were transferred to NASA, and some of those who did not make it to NASA were instead transferred either back to their former commissions or to higher commissions in the forces (e.g. R.T. Herres, J.A. Abrahamson). This puts paid to the assumption that no astronauts ever made it back into normal military service, an assumption that has been voiced by another author of Straker biographies. These guys did.
Top Secret MOL Mission
In general, to come up with Straker’s bio, we have used several biographies of participants of the MOL space program for realism, quite a few of them were less than 30 years old. Also interesting is that two space suits (labelled 007 and Lawyer) of MOL astronauts turned up hidden away in a long-unused room at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex. This we also made use of. MOL was so far removed from the general public notice, that neither the first coloured astronaut was much celebrated (that finally was done on December 8, 1997), nor the fact that a first space station launched into orbit in 1966 mentioned much in documentaries about the US space programs, even where these deal with space stations.
The Manned Orbiting Laboratory program provides everything we needed to come up with a credible and realistic background for Straker’s early space missions, for his initial contact with UFOs and for his extraordinary promotion. It is the perfect explanation for his unwavering sense of duty and will to serve where it concerns the fight against the aliens. And it is scientific enough, yet still linked so much closer to the military and USAF than the other space programs, that top secret flights and missions also become credible. MOL was after all a program for space spies (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/features/found_mol_spacesuits.html).
Straker and Freeman
Regarding his promotion we were told that given that Straker would be transferred to M.I., to a top secret project and out of the country, even among US forces few would question his status as an extremely young Colonel, especially during the Cold War: “…the magic words “military intelligence” would keep anyone from inquiring too closely. It is modern law that keeps people a required number of years in service, and thus precludes younger servicemen and women from achieving said ranks. But military intelligence, especially during the Cold War, would have a certain leeway with the law. People would still wonder but it would be more along the lines of wondering what sort of crazy things he’d been through, and why were they important enough that any hint of it was being displayed. But they wouldn’t ask, and they wouldn’t dig…”
So that is what we decided had happened, he was made a Colonel as per presidential order upon his transferral to Lt. Gen. Henderson’s unit, leaving shortly after for Southern America. His new status kept questions within US forces at bay, and anyway he was soon off to UFO sightings and Europe.
Various biographies try to assign early US efforts to deal with UFOs and the aliens’ incursions to a variety of known USAF efforts, e.g. Blue Book etc. This was, given the nature of the enormous secrecy surrounding S.H.A.D.O., highly unlikely. Hence we are convinced that Lt. Gen. Henderson had set up his own task force, asking for specific staff, including the young USAF officer who not only had seen UFOs close-up twice, but also successfully fought them off, and all that with such a scientific and logical mindset, that he needed no counselling, nor talked to anyone about the incidents either.
We think it must have been Henderson who suggested Straker’s transferral to Boston and participation in Lunar Studies at MIT, both to give the young man time to process the first incident, and also to test his scientific capabilities. The second UFO incident was the clincher why Henderson wanted him as a personal assistant. Straker was the best of all possible solutions for the general. His valour and value in addition quite enough to make the promotion advisable and feasible as well. As the war with the aliens is ongoing, his promotion never was rescinded either.
James Henderson and Ed Straker
As the last facet of his canon background comes his marriage. Unlike with a biography by another author we cannot see a young woman of circa 23-24 years (in 1970) marry a 38 year old, very much settled career officer, that Straker would have been, had he been born much earlier (so as to make a normal promotion and those ribbons possible). That would have meant he’d have been well into late middle-age already by the time their children were 10. The way Mary was portrayed she wouldn’t have put up with such an age difference and this is another reason why Straker’s visual age makes so much more sense than anything else.
We have him meet with Mary while stationed at Mildenhall. Mary did not seem to be really knowledgeable about or used to the vagaries and happenstances an army or AF wife could be subjected to, instead she seemed to expect a 9 to 5 work schedule for Straker. This is why we decided she must have been the daughter of someone following such regular daily schedules. Additionally it would explain her intrigue with Military Intelligence, as voiced in Confetti Check A-O.K.. Given her interest in art shown in the same episode, it would follow that she worked at the museum in Mildenhall in some capacity. We have them marry at the US embassy, because that is one of the very few ways Mary could later effect John’s change of surname without Straker’s knowledge and also because Straker would be expected to make it an official US procedure.
|So, in 1966 Capt. Ed Straker was assigned as an astronaut from his position as a test pilot instructor to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), the US Air Force’s manned spaceflight program, which also was linked to high altitude plane tests (Dyna-Soar). There he met with Navy Lt. Craig Collins for the first time, both became good friends.|
He and Craig Collins were part of the test flight of an alleged MOL mockup that was built from a Titan II propellant tank. This capsule however was no mockup, it was the fully functional prototype bearing a crew of two astronauts. The Gemini 2 spacecraft was re-flown on a 33-minute sub-orbital test flight. After the Gemini was separated for its sub-orbital reentry, the MOL mockup continued on into orbit and released three satellites. A hatch was installed in the Gemini 2 heat shield to provide access to the MOL and was tested in the sub-orbital reentry. The test flight was launched by the USAF on November 3, 1966 at 13:50:42 UTC on launch vehicle Titan IIIC-9 from LC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Gemini 2-MOL space capsule was recovered near Ascension Island in the South Atlantic by the USS La Salle.
During this first test flight ground control lost contact for a period of 4.37 minutes. Both Cpt. Ed Straker and Lt. Craig Collins claimed having seen three unidentified flying objects which traversed their flight trajectory one after the other, heading out into open space, taking all of 4.37 minutes to do so. Upon landing reports were taken and filed, extensive interrogation and testing done on both astronauts revealed nothing discrediting their reports. Unknown to Straker and Collins at the time, the UFOs they met were leaving the United States with 8 kidnapped humans, after the aliens created a bloodbath in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The top secret M.I. unit inquiring into both UFO incidents was commanded by a certain Lt. General Henderson. Ed Straker and James Henderson met for the first time then.
The whole mission had been top secret, no mention of the incident was made to any outsider. Lt. Craig Collins continued as an MOL atronaut. Cpt. Straker was assigned to the ROTC contingent at the MIT as a cadet instructor and at the same time ordered to participate in the final phase of an MIT lunar research project dealing with potentially setting up a lunar space station in case the Apollo missions succeeded.
He was transferred back to MOL in late 1968, where he did several test flights with a British blackbird, meeting Wing Commander Alec Freeman again who was the RAF liaison for those tests.
Another space mission was secretly prepared and launched early in 1969, allegedly as part of unmanned NASA tests for the Apollo missions. Straker flew this top secret mission with Lt. Col. Richard E. Lawyer, himself holding the identification number 00-7. The capsule was brought up by a UFO during its orbiting phase, with mission commander Lawyer being hurt and unconscious. Captain Straker managed to fight off the aliens, gets injured, and after extra-vehicular activity, detached the capsule from the UFO to safely land it in the Pacific. He saved the mission, the capsule and brought with him parts of the cable with which the UFO tried to tow the MOL capsule.
USAF aborted its MOL program after that incident, most of the material got hidden within Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, including the spacesuits of Captain Straker and Lt. Colonel Lawyer. Together with the other MOL astronauts Straker and Collins were transferred to NASA, where both continued their astronaut training, now for the Apollo program, for another few months. Straker is made Major in March 1970. In late summer he was transferred to Military Intelligence as an aide to Lt. General Henderson who was working on preparing a response to the alien invasion ever since Straker’s first encounter with UFOs, planning a special task force and inquiring into other UFO events, including the one earlier that year with the Carlin siblings.
Upon his transferral Straker was made a full bird Colonel, as per presidential order, to facilitate interaction with the foreign, upper military and political echelon. Henderson had set up at the USAF base in Mildenhall under the cover of the 6985th Security Squadron earlier in 1970. He came back to the United Kingdom with his brandnew assistant to meet with the British secretary of state, a meeting which ended in a direct UFO attack on the Rolls Royce they were driven to London in. Lt. Gen. Henderson was gravely injured, Straker thrown from the car early on and the minister killed.
During Henderson’s recovery phase Straker minded his office, re-established contact with Alec Freeman, and met his later wife Mary during a visit to the Mildenhall Museum. Mary was the sole daughter of a local Suffolk banker and his wife, and worked on an art project at the museum. After a whirlwind romance the two married in December 1970 at the US embassy in London.
Diffident and Retiring
- Straker’s Ribbons
Cmdr. Straker wears a variety of insignia, medals and ribbons when seen in uniform in flashbacks (Identified, Confetti Check A-O.K.). The majority of these insignia make no or little sense, most of them are worn several times either on the wrong side (Missileman Badge) or belong to units entirely removed from the stated canon background or are even outside of his age range. Their assembly makes so little sense, that all one can derive from them is that he earned himself badges, ribbons and medals and was assigned somewhere, and that they are basically a plot-hole.
The Very Young Colonel
All this is easily explained: movies, TV or other acting companies are not allowed to peruse and produce real uniforms and awards which might be mistaken or abused for the real thing. They have to contain enough errors and differences as to immediately proclaim them false to the knowledgable person.
In the case of UFO and those particular uniforms, it is even easier to point out why these ribbons make so precious little sense – they belonged to the general costume equipment of Anderson’s production firm and were worn in movies (one uniform originally belonged to the movie “Doppelganger”, see photo at the end of the article for proof*) filmed prior to UFO. They clearly were not made to measure for Ed Bishop, the way his jumpers and Nehru jackets were. As they related to an entirely different time period that explains why they do not even match Straker’s age.
The Accident With The Rolls Royce
However, for this biography we had a closer look at the various arrays and settled on three ribbons which were not only in common between all instances, but which also were feasible for Straker given his canon age, and thus can be considered canon. These are the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
As said, most of the others make too little sense to use, so all we took from the arrays was the rough number of ribbons. Instead we use canon and our biography above to come up with ribbons filling up the array in a logical manner.
Straker’s Biography in Tabular Form
|Date||Aged||Rank||Place/Base||Official Activity||Private Activity|
|21.09.1942||<1||Boston, MA, USA||Born|
|1947-1953||5-11||Boston, MA, USA||private tuition (by a Jesuit teacher)|
|1953-1955||11-13||CAP cadet||Boston, MA, USA||Boston College High (renowned Jesuit high school)||Civil Air Patrol (volunteering with 12 years)|
|1955-1959||13-16||BC cadet JROTC cadet CAP cadet||Savannah, GA, USA||Benedictine Military Boarding School (Catholic military school with a JROTC Honor Unit with Distinction), school sports are Rifle, Chess and Running||CAP (private flying lessons) glider certificate with 14 student pilot certificate with 16|
|1959-1963||16-20||ROTC various ranks||Boston, MA, USA||Boston University, Astrophysics, Bachelor in Sciences||CAP (when possible) private pilot certificate with 17|
|1963||20||Boston, MA, USA||2 months of flying full-time for the CAP|
|1963-1964||21||2nd Lt.||Bartow Air Base, FL, USA Vance Air Force Base, OK, USA||pilot and fighter pilot training wings received in March 1964|
|1964-1965||21-22||1st Lt.||Cannon Air Force Base, NM, USA Incirlik Air Base, Turkey||Tactical Air Command: U-2, F-100 and F-105 aircraft while assigned as a pilot with the 523d Tactical Fighter Squadron, flying re-con missions along the Soviet border and over North Africa||met and befriended RAF pilot Alec Freeman in Turkey|
|1965-1966||22-24||1st Lt.||Edwards Air Force Base, CA, USA||Aerospace Research Pilot School, after graduation stays as a test pilot instructor, flies various blackbirds|
|1966||24||1st Lt.||Cape Canaveral, FL, USA||Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) USAF astronaut training, volunteers for the top secret mission, first UFO incident during said MOL mission||met and befriended Navy pilot Craig Collins during MOL training. met Gen. Henderson for the first time|
|1967-1968||24-26||Capt.||Boston, MA, USA||MIT Lunar Research ROTC (cadet and flying instructor)||CAP flights whenever possible|
|1968||26||Capt.||Cape Canaveral, FL, USA||Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) test flights with British SSTO craft||met Alec Freeman again worked again with C. Collins|
|1969||27||Capt.||Cape Canaveral, FL, USA Kennedy Space Center, FL, USA||2nd UFO incident during MOL mission injured; transferred to NASA for astronaut training|
|1970 (March)||27||Maj.||Kennedy Space Center, FL, USA||astronaut training with the NASA||in a team with Craig Collins|
|1970 (Summer)||27||Maj.||South America||transferred to the M.I. unit of Lt..Gen. Henderson, travelling to UFO incidents|
|1970 (Sept.)||27||Col.||Mildenhall Air Base, UK London, UK||receives a jump promotion as per presidential order prior to assignment to Europe, UFO incident with the Minister upon arrival, injured||met Mary in September in Mildenhall|
|1970 (Dec.)||28||Col. Cmdr.||Mildenhall Air Base, UK London, UK New York, NY, USA||replaced the injured Gen. Henderson at the UNO meeting in New York, was appointed Commander of SHADO||married Mary in December in the US embassy in London|
The Ed Straker of this biography has had 16 consecutive years of flying some form of aircraft or spacecraft prior to becoming the Commander. He also has been in some form of paramilitary or military training and environment for 16 years, and he has been raised in a strict, scientific and scholarly and also for 11 years (during his early formative years, no less) in a repressive, ascetic religious environment. Additionally it anchors and expands the aspect of guarding secrecy and secrets in all respects.
Ed and Mary
All of this can be counted on to help create the kind of personality the Commander showed us in the series itself. It explains how such a very young person can be willing to shoulder the immense responsibility he did accept, why he would be so duty-bound and what may have made him such an uncompromisingly logical and driven professional.
This is an Ed Straker who burns to go into space, who is just a hardworking guy and not some pure politician and career officer or superhuman military apparatchik. This Straker is human, he is as young and retiring as he was played by Ed Bishop, against all orders of the directors, he learned the hard way how to be disciplined and the aspects of humanitarian work and greater duty have a logical basis in his education and the way he was raised. This is an Ed Straker who loves to fly, who likes precision, who loves to learn and who foremostly is a scientist, teacher and observer at heart, yet also a man who can and will show his bravery when called to task.
This biography covers every canon fact we could think of, even that which permeates from gestures and expressions only. E.g. it covers the extraordinarily shy and retiring young husband, the diffident, somewhat awestruck young Colonel who has to deal with the UNO politicians and the at times extremely linear, harsh point of view he has of military service and duty. At the end all that we researched slotted neatly into each other, right down to e.g. adding Alec Freeman, Craig Collins and James Henderson very organically to Straker’s bio.
We do hope you have had fun following our reasoning!
Ed Straker and Politicians
- Definition of Canon
Some people seem to have trouble discerning what constitutes the canon of a TV series or movie. That is actually very simple:
Canon are the official facts of a fandom. Information that appears in the actual episodes themselves, exactly and only that which is visible or said on the screen while a viewer is watching a show.
There are fans who assume that for a fact to be or become canon, this fact has to be named, spoken out loud or declared. This is of course nonsense. To be canon, we only have to be able to notice that fact. It can be visual, or audible and some facts can also be deducible and still be canon.
A few examples will clarify things…
Canon fact: Commander Straker regularly wears a beige Nehru Suit
No one anywhere or at any time in the series mentions that Straker wears that suit. Some might say that because that isn’t spoken out loud it isn’t a fact. Yet, of course it is! TV and movies are visual media. We SEE him wear that thing, we see him wear it in at least 60-65% of all episodes. He doesn’t get out of that suit in some of them. Thus, yes, that beige suit definitely is a canon fact.
Canon fact: Straker is an expert marksman
Again no one says this anywhere, and yet this also is a canon fact. It was shown, in the episode “Kill Straker!”, we could watch Straker shoot a nearly faultless row of moving, tiny marks. That’s entirely enough so we know he is just that according to canon.
Canon fact: There’s a staff restaurant in HQ
No, we never see that restaurant. But we are told it is there, e.g. by Alec Freeman in “Question of Priorities”. That makes that restaurant a canon fact. And while we do not know how it looks like, we do know it serves steak and salad at least occasionally. Canon, all of it.
And with that we get back to why it is canon that Ed Straker is definitely a young man, here are visual canon facts (and for those who need it spelled out): the first picture in each row shows a ca. 50 year old Straker. The one beside it shows us canon. Like the beige Nehru suit no one really needs anything specified in so many words to know what these pictures tell.
So – if we say we base this biography on canon, we do so. Straight and simple. The Straker in UFO in 1980 as played by Ed Bishop is not 30, he is not 50 or even 60, he is precisely Bishop’s age: 38 (and that is even taking his age for the filming of the last episodes).
Canon and Ribbons
It has been assumed by some fans that – according to the general definition of canon (including ours) – Straker’s ribbons would have to have a meaning and had been used on purpose to depict his prior activities and his advanced age.
As we explained above, plot-holes are plot-holes and should be identified as such, else – if you took them as canon – e.g. the movie “Ben Hur” would have to be placed in the late 1950ies, simply because one of the extras wears a ca. 1955 wristwatch. Just as you would not change the timeframe of that movie simply for a minor filming error, you don’t change UFO canon because the costume department of 21 Century re-used uniforms which may not sport realistic ribbons anyway.
So, as there were doubts regarding this, see here a screenshot from “Doppelganger”, with Roy Thinnes wearing the exact same ribbons and the exact same Missileman badge on the wrong side, as Straker wore later as proof of the minor film error we speak about:
Roy Thinnes in Doppelganger
An explanation for our Readers
I’ve made this comment part of the article so that the links are easier for you to access.
After we published this article on Straker’s Age a certain fan and her friends made belittling and ridiculing comments on an email list connected to UFO. These comments, as people participating on that list know well enough, were not the first time this sort of thing was done either.
These posts are public, meaning everyone and sundry can look at them and access them on the internet. For example here:
Please take note of the name mentioned in these emails as author so you know who it is we talk about.
Because, after this person enjoyed making fun of this article, one of our readers took exception and commented on the Herald. As this person mentions her name loud and clear everywhere our reader saw no reason not to name her and point out what she had done during the past days and weeks.
You’d expect someone so publicly outspoken to be happy to be named in conjunction with what she proclaims everywhere.
Wrong. We were being threatened with legal action unless we take that person’s name off our website. Or in other words, we are told to CENSOR not only one of our readers, we are told to censor two of them! Or in the words of someone writing us on noticing this: “I believe it is the height of hypocrisy for this person to state and view, and then back down in a gutless way when called to task.” Spot on, I’d say.
Anyway, we do that now. We censor. The name is gone, and anyone who wants to know whom and what our reader is commenting on can easily find out by checking those links.
An Delen Dir