How St. Charles man does PR for UFOs
This week's INfrequently Asked Questions profiles John Mars of St. Charles. Why? He's director of marketing for the California-based Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), an organization that investigates UFO sightings worldwide. A former journalist and SIU grad, he headed several of his own business ventures before recently accepting his current job.
Q: So do you think your last name had any sway in getting the job?
A: "When I talked to the (director) initially, I said you're going to get an email and my last name is Mars. I said, 'I'm serious. That's my last name. And it's just a coincidence.'"
Q: It's instant name recognition. Do you feel like people think you're more of an expert with the last name?
A: "It's comical. So you've got to laugh about it. Working with MUFON, they're spectacular people. I say 'I'm going to be working with MUFON and the name on my card is legit.'"
Q: How did John Mars become involved with a UFO organization?
A: "They're out there. There's no doubt about it. That's why I was so infatuated with UFOs. I watched a lot of these programs and I found out about MUFON and who the head director was. So I just sent him an email about MUFON and 'Hangar 1.' I just tossed it out there. 'Would you be interested in some marketing ideas?' and he said, 'Absolutely.'"
Q: So you sought them out?
A: "It was a Saturday in May. An absolutely gorgeous day. I was going to go out and exercise. And then I put on the History Channel and they had 'Hangar 1' on. They purchased UFO files from MUFON. MUFON has over 80,000 UFO files over the last 46 years. They'd take some of those files and feature them on 'Hangar 1.'"
Q: How long have you had an interest in UFOs?
A: "I've always been fascinated with UFOs. There has to be more to our life than this planet earth. I mean, come on. There's billions of stars and planets and galaxies. God's masterful. What he's created here is not just this place called Earth."
Q: Have you seen a UFO?
A: "The first time I saw a UFO, I was coming back from Arizona. I was sitting on the right side of the plane by the window. As we're coming in to Midway, I see this silver ball alongside the plane and it was just totally bizarre. And I'm looking at this thing and it's just following the airplane just to the right. I called my son over to look at it, and it just took off."
Q: MUFON offers a variety of holiday gift ideas on its website. Do you have a favorite?
A: "There's a pen that lights up. There's a lot of great merchandise. I pretty much bought one of all of them."
Q: What's John Mars' mission?
A: "There's just a lot of educating the public. I want to get the military involved more. And first responders. We need to take the drama out of aliens and invasions and the way I look at it objectively: There is other life out there. And let's see what's out there. Let's do the research."
INfrequently Asked QuestionsA weekly feature of the Daily Herald that explores the sides of suburbanites' jobs or hobbies that you might have always wondered about. To see more, go to www.dailyherald.com/topics/INfrequently-Asked-Questions/