Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Captain Lorenzo Kent Kimball and Roswell

Cruising through the blogsosphere the other day I found Paul Kimball’s comments about Captain Lorenzo Kent Kimball (no relation and seen on the left) and how some of us, Stan Friedman and me to be specific, have ignored his testimony. Well, we didn’t really ignore it, we knew about it, but thought that it added little to our understanding of the Roswell UFO case.

Kimball (the captain and not the blogger) was indeed assigned to the base hospital in Roswell as a Medical Supply Officer. That put him into the base hospital and he should have been aware of any unusual activity there in 1947 because he would have been in the center of it. Or so he would have us believe.

Instead, he wrote, "Most of the medical staff spent their time at the Officer’s Club swimming pool every afternoon after duty hours. The biggest excitement was the cut-throat hearts game in the BOQ and an intense bingo, bango bungo golf game at the local nine hole golf course for a nickel a point!! There was absolutely NO unusual activity on the Base..."

He also presents some facts about what Don Schmitt and I wrote about the crash, the alleged autopsy in the base hospital, and Jesse Johnson who was assigned as one of the doctors in 1947. Kimball wrote:

1. There was a physician named Jesse B. Johnson assigned to the Base Hospital. However, he was a 1st Lt., not a Major, and he was a radiologist, not a pathologist. He had no training as a pathologist and would have been the last member of the medical staff to have performed any autopsy on a human much less an alien. He is identified as a 1st Lt. in the 509th Yearbook.
2. After I learned of these assertions, I called Doctor Jack Comstock (seen at the left), who, as a Major, was the Hospital Commander in 1947, and in 1995 was living in retirement in Boulder, Colorado. I asked him if he recalled any such events occurring in July of 1947 and he said absolutely not. When I told him that Jesse B. was supposed to have conducted a preliminary autopsy on alien bodies, he had a hard time stopping laughing - his response was: PREPOSTEROUS!!
Kimball also takes us, meaning Schmitt and me, and Stan Friedman and Don Berliner, to task for identifying a two story brick building as the base hospital. Well, according to Glenn Dennis it was, and according to documentation, it was. The problem is that it was not built until after 1947, and that might give us a clue about what Kimball could have seen. In 1947, the base hospital was made up of a number of different, one story buildings clustered together in an nice neat, military formation. In other words, you could work in one building and not know what was happening in the others. That we all got this wrong is true, but it’s not as if we invented the information for the sake of the story.

And, here’s a bit of a problem for Kimball. In 1947, Jack Comstock was not the hospital commander. He was just one of the doctors. In 1947, the hospital commander was Lieutenant Colonel Harold Warne (seen at the left). A minor point I grant you, but, with Kimball writing the things he has, it would have been nice had he been right about this.

But let’s talk about Jesse Johnson. Here, I’m going to run into a little it of a problem and it’s going to seem as if I’m trying to shift blame, but I am tired of taking flack for mistakes that others made. I will point out here that Schmitt, because of his claimed background as a medical illustrator (a story I believed until I learned otherwise) did the background check on Johnson because it seemed a natural. He would know where to go and he supplied the information that we originally published about Johnson. Later, after I had found that some of the things Schmitt had reported were less than accurate, I decided to look the stuff up myself.

I learned, during 1947, First Lieutenant Jesse Johnson was assigned to the base hospital at the Roswell Army Air Field. There is no evidence that he played any role in the alleged autopsies of alien beings found near there in July 1947, though his name has been connected to it.

Information published suggested that Johnson, a pathologist in 1947, was called upon to perform, or assist in the performance of preliminary autopsies conducted at the base hospital. That information was based on two flawed tales. One of them was by Glenn Dennis, who claimed that he had known a nurse assigned to the base in 1947 and she told him about the autopsies.

The other assumption was that in 1947, Johnson was a pathologist. Using the source that Schmitt had used, The ABMS Compendium of Medical Specialists, I learned that in 1947, Johnson had just completed his medical training. He had no training as a pathologist in 1947 so there was no reason to suspect that he would have been brought in to assist in the autopsies.

In fact, the information available suggests that Johnson did, eventually train as a pathologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston from 1948 to 1949. In other words, he did not have the training in 1947 but completed it after his military service. That he began the training so soon after his military service suggests an interest in it, but certainly doesn’t translate into participation in any alien autopsies.
An interview conducted with his wife in the early 1990s revealed nothing to suggest that Johnson was ever involved in the recovery of alien bodies, or the autopsy of them. She had no knowledge of any connection between her husband and the U.S. government. The fact he had once trained as a pathologist seems to have confused the issue. Dr. Johnson died in 1988.

Finally, Kimball wrote, "I got to know General Blanchard very well as an officer under his command at Roswell AAF and with the 7th Air Division. He was, as his record surely reflects, an outstanding officer, who was highly respected. According to Lt. Haut’s testimony about the event, Colonel Blanchard ordered him to issue a press release announcing that a "flying disk" have (sic) been recovered. While I am sure this is how Lt. Haut remembers it, I would argue that this [is] not the action that a responsible commander would have taken given the importance of such a discovery..."

Say what he will, the truth of the matter is that a news release was prepared and issued and in the absence of evidence to the contrary it must be concluded that Blanchard ordered it. There is no indication that Haut was reprimanded for the release, which certainly would have happened had he issued the release on his own. Kimball is speculating here with no foundation.

Kimball raised some good points but his conclusion that nothing happened because he saw nothing and no one he talked to had seen anything is flawed. Kimball’s attitude and his arrogance comes through in his writing. His information needs to be balanced against that from so many others who say differently.

And a final point to be made was that Kimball, while assigned to the hospital was not a doctor himself. He was a medical supply officer. His expertise in ordering equipment might be sought by the doctors and nurses, but in the matter of an alien autopsy and highly classified medical matters, he would be out of the loop.