Let’s talk about Frank Kaufmann. He told a marvelous story of being one of the insiders who knew everything about the Roswell UFO crash, retrieval and cover up. He talked from the first moment I interviewed him in 1990. He was cagey at the time, hinted that he knew quite a bit about the case, but was somewhat reluctant to talk about it.
First question... how did I learn about Frank Kaufmann? Walter Haut told me that someone I would want to talk to was Frank. Walter hinted that Frank had some inside knowledge that would be helpful. I called Frank not long after Walter had given me his name.
Frank told me (and several others) that he had been at the base in July 1947. He hinted then that he had been part of the military, but the truth was, he was assigned there in a civilian capacity. Frank said that when the war ended, he was not going to be released from the service because he was in a critical job. They decided that he could do it as a civilian and draw less attention to himself, so he was released from active duty in 1946.
Frank provided a copy of his separation paper showing that he had been a master sergeant and that he had some very specialized intelligence training. The document looked to be authentic and in one sense was (seen above is the doctored version of Frank's separation papers).
Frank’s picture appears in the Yearbook that Walter Haut put together in 1947. Frank is receiving a medal from Payne Jennings. Studying the picture carefully (seen here), I believe the medal to be a World War II Victory Medal, though I don’t know why there were be a presentation for it. Everyone who served in the military during WWII received it.
Those in Roswell I asked about Frank, including Walter Haut told me that he was honest and that, according to Walter, "Anything Frank tells you is golden."
Each time we began to waver, each time we began to suggest that we were getting nowhere, Frank would come up with another bit of documentation. He provided notes, on authentic paper from the era (that is post WW II) that suggested they were old. Don Schmitt told me, based on his experience as an artist (yeah, I listened to that), that he thought the drawings were quite old (they would have been around fifty years old at the time) which suggested that Frank had made them in 1947.
The paper was the kind used by the military during the war, and included the little "Buy War Bonds," logo.
He gave me a copy of a page from the log book that documented the time of the crash, according to what Frank said. We talked to William Woody, a young man in Roswell in 1947, who told us of seeing the craft in the sky and Frank’s notes seemed to confirm what Woody said. Since the two didn’t know one another, there was no collusion between them.
Later he would give me a letter signed by Edwin Easley, that said, "For the purpose of analysis and evaluation, the craft recovered is being assumed to be manned craft of unknown origin and may in fact represent an interplanetary craft of some kind."
Yeah, this would be a smoking gun document, but it seems that a couple of the office symbols used didn’t exist in 1947. To Frank’s credit, he did spell marshal correctly, as in provost marshal.
He provided a document dated 25 Sep 47 that begin in part, "In accordance with (which we would now write as IAW) directive from the Directorate of Intelligence, Air Intelligence Division... the following military/civilian personnel will adhere to the duties and responsibilities as outlined in AIRD Manual E723."
Frank's name tops the list, as do the names of other members of "the nine" that Frank had identified.
This letter also said, "It is recommended that... be initiated whenever possible to include:
And was signed by Robert J. Thomas, Major, Air Corps.
He gave me a document dated 25 July 47 that said, "In accordance with directive from headquarters Strategic Air Command... the following military/military civilian personnel are relieved from duty assignment on Project AIRD 723, as it pertains to recovery 'Flying Disc...'
And Frank's name is at the top of the list.
So, we had Walter Haut giving us Frank Kaufmann, we had some of the people in Roswell vouching for him as an honest man. We had some documentation that did prove some of what Frank was telling us... and quite frankly, as Karl Pflock pointed out, we had the will to believe.
There wasn’t really much evidence to show that Frank was lying at the time some decided that he was. If you accepted the Mogul myth, as Karl did, then you knew that Frank was lying, but if you thought the crash might have been extraterrestrial, then Frank could be telling the truth. He would give us pictures and shows us documents and hint that other things would be given to us when the time was right.
There were little confirmations. Frank said the craft fell late on the evening of July 4, and that worked out so that Woody and his dad went out looking for it on the weekend rather than on a Tuesday night and that seemed more logical.
He said that he had met Werner von Braum and when we questioned that, he produced a "Congressional Recognition" which was an official document showing that von Braun had been in Roswell to help dedicate the museum about Robert Goodard. So, Frank, who was the Executive Vice President of the Roswell Chamber of Commerce was there. One paragraph said, "Frank Kaufmann... has, through the years, made a notable contribution. National leaders such as Dr. von Braun..."
So, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. Frank had been at the same event as von Braun. I mean we have all had a chance to talk to celebrities in strange circumstances. Who would have thought that I would meet David Letterman in Baghdad? (Letterman and me in Baghdad.)
Frank’s stories all unraveled right after he died in 2001. Dr. Mark Rodeghier of the Center for UFO Studies, with Mark Chesney and Don Schmitt were in Roswell and were asked by Kaufmann’s widow, a very nice lady named Juanita, if they would check his papers to make sure there were no obligations that he had failed to meet prior to his death. While searching those papers, they found the evidence that Frank had forged many of the documents, that he had a supply of the old paper, that he had been nothing more than a staff sergeant (which is not to say that staff sergeants aren’t important, only that he hadn’t been a master sergeant), that he had two old typewriters, and other bits and pieces. It meant that th Kaufmann tales were little more than the inventions of a clever man.
So, to answer the question, how did he slip through? His name had been provided by Walter Haut, he was vouched for by Walter and others (such as Robert Shirkey, an operations officer at Roswell in 1947), and he had some documentation.
For those interested, I had written to St. Louis in an attempt to get Frank’s record and was told, "If the record were (sic) here on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed."
In another attempt, made in 2003, they provided no records other than to write, "This veteran was a member of the Army of the United States from August 5, 1942 to March 27, 1944. He was honorable discharged as a staff sergeant." This isn’t correct. According to Frank’s "real" separation, he was discharged on October 30, 1945. I don’t know why those in St. Louis reported the date as 1944.
Needless to say, had this information been available to me ten years earlier, I could have avoided the embarrassment of believing that Frank Kaufmann had anything of value to contribute to the investigation.
I don’t know how we go about preventing this in today’s world. Yes, we should be more skeptical and yes, we should check out as much as we can. Independent documentation is necessary, and it is good to have someone vouch for the witness. But Frank had the documentation. The verification of his military service simply didn’t work and I don’t know why. The Records Center in St. Louis should have been able to do something more than say the records burned and later providing inaccurate information.
Frank appeared to be who he said he was. He was clearly in Roswell at the right time and he clearly had been assigned to the base. We had documentation, we had others vouching for him. The only thing we could have done is not report his story, but then where would we be.
We’ve all been fooled. Some by Gerald Anderson who seemed to be credible but was not. Glenn Dennis who told a marvelous tale with a missing nurse, only to change the name, and the conditions when it was found there had been no nurse by that name. Jim Ragsdale told of seeing the crash and seemed to have some inside knowledge that, at one time, corroborated part of Frank’s story, but later blew up just as badly.
I suppose all we can do is look at the tales with a skeptical eye, search for verification and report the facts as we learn them. Otherwise we’ll just never get anything done.
I will point out one other sad fact here. As we, meaning Don Schmitt and I were working on this investigation, there were many who wondered where our financing originated. They thought MUFON, the Center or FUFOR was providing it. Both the Center and FUFOR did contribute, but nowhere near the amount we needed. It came from our own pockets and one of the ways to recover some of that money was to publish what we had. Yes, it was premature and preliminary, but it was also necessary so that we could continue. We went with the best we had. Unfortunately, at this point, people were coming out of the woodwork with great stories of the crash. I mean, it was great to begin a lecture by saying, "This story starts like those Science Fiction tales in the movies... a couple in a desert area and something falls from the sky..."
So we published what we had, but then, Karl Pflock published what he had and while he was right about Kaufmann (and for the wrong reasons) he was wrong about others including Brigadier GeneralArthur Exon whom he virtually ignored. We were attempting to increase our cash for more research. The solution would be funding for UFO investigation so that the money doesn’t come out of the pockets of the researcher... or investigators who are rich enough to finance their work. (Frank later in life seen here.)
I really have no solution for this problem of financing. I’ll also note that some aspects of the UFO field are revisited periodically because there are those who believe it with a passion. We have contactees, cattle mutilations (yes, I’ll stir up that hornets nest again) the Allende Letters and so on, all coming back so that we don’t progress. We do the same things over and over and don’t progress at all. We stagnate and never realize it.