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Face of Defense: Curiosity Drives ‘Ghost Hunter’

By Scott Prater
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2012 – When Air Force Capt. Stan Maczek was a young child, he responded to frightening sights and sounds in the dark like most of us: He pulled the covers up over his head and hoped the event would pass quickly. Nowadays, Maczek sprints enthusiastically toward such events.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Capt. Stan Maczek, right, with fellow paranormal investigator Josh Burger, demonstrate the use of an electro-magnetic field detector through the lens of a video camera equipped with an infrared attachment on Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 18, 2012. Maczek is assigned to the 1st Space Operations Squadron and Burger is an Air Force contractor. They hunt ghosts as a hobby. U.S. Air Force photo by Scott Prater

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

He's not sure what to call himself -- ghost hunter, spirit seeker, paranormal investigator -- but he's sure this is the most exciting hobby he's discovered yet. His fellow paranormal investigator, Josh Burger, thinks the same way. He also plays golf and the guitar, but paranormal investigating has pretty much captured his attention during the past six months.

It all started last year when Burger, a contractor here, mentioned his parents owned a haunted home nearby in Calhan, Colo.

"Our investigations began recently, but I've been fascinated by this phenomenon since I was a child," said Maczek, who works with the 1st Space Operations Squadron. "I grew up in a haunted house in Maryland. My parents used to hear voices in their bedroom. I figured if just one of them heard them we could explain that as some sort of schizophrenia, but not both of them. 

“My father was a U.S. Army research lab scientist and very skeptical,” Maczek added. “He didn't believe in paranormal stuff -- until this happened."

Another part of the hobby Maczek enjoys is performing research. Prompted by the strange events that occurred at his house in Maryland, he managed to find some history on the property.

"The house was relatively new, built by an original owner who employed subcontractors," Maczek said. "As it turns out, he had some financial trouble and didn't pay the subcontractors.”

Maczek said the house fell into disrepair, noting his parents then bought it at an auction.

He relayed his story to Burger, who responded by relaying his own story of his parents' home in Calhan, and of the strange events that were happening at his current home. The investigators researched both homes and found nothing eventful, but the process spiked their curiosity.

That's when Burger purchased some equipment, including an infrared motion-sensor camera.

"I kept noticing this shadow in my basement, so I turned the camera on that spot and left it on overnight," Burger said. "The next day I found the camera had captured the strange shadowy mass and it's something I can't really explain. Since then we started making plans to investigate other places."

A ghost hunter’s tools are a gadget enthusiast's dream, the duo said.

The investigators carry an electro-magnetic field detector, what some folks call a ghost detector, but Maczek said it just reveals whether an electro-magnetic field is present or not. They also use Burger's infrared camera, which presents a green-tinted image and allows the investigators to shoot in dark rooms.

"People may be familiar with the [infrared] image because that's what they use on those television ghost [-hunting] shows," Maczek said.

While Burger's motivation for investigating is to debunk those types of TV shows, Maczek said his motivations stem from his curiosity, his psychology education and his religious leanings.

"I'm attempting to answer life's big questions, but with my psychology background I don't just believe something at face value; I've got to have evidence," Maczek said. "I've got to see it and record it and I've got to be able to show it to somebody and say there is a face or a body or something there. That's kind of the challenge. Nobody has really found that, yet."

Both admit that their reactions to strange events run the gamut.

"We get mixed reactions in most cases," Maczek said. "First, I explain I'm not crazy and that I'm as sane as the next person, but that I'm just trying to investigate and see what I can find out. Even though I'm in the Air Force, I'm in no way associated with the Air Force or [Department of Defense], as far as this investigating goes. It's just my own fascination."

Sometimes, Maczek and Burger said, they are warmly received and other times they are not. Many people remain skeptical, they said, but most often agree to let the paranormal investigators go ahead with their research.

"We've had only a few investigations so far that haven't revealed much, but we're planning to visit locations on Fort Carson and the Pioneer's Museum downtown," Maczek said. "Word-of-mouth has spun around my neighborhood, too, so I've done some investigations there."

Burger finds the proposition of investigating buildings where people have reported activity extremely exciting and even plans to bring his teenage son along for upcoming investigations.

In the meantime, Maczek's squadron commander has sent well wishes to the pair.

"I encourage our entire 1st SOPS team to find ways to get involved with our local community to make a positive impact," said. Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Manor, the 1st SOPS commander. "Although some people may be skeptical about this type of research, I'm sure there are many within our community who are equally interested in Maczek's work.”

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