Monday, July 14, 2008

Jason Kellahin and Robin Adair

Jason Kellahin (seen below) was an AP reporter in the summer of 1947 based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was dispatched to Roswell to write about the flying saucer crash and I interviewed him in January, 1993 in his home in Santa Fe. The interview was videotaped.

Ten months later he was interviewed by researcher Karl Pflock and we see that his story changed radically from that first interview. Pflock developed an affidavit from what Kellahin said to him and that affidavit was published in Karl’s book about Roswell.

There are two items of evidence that are important to us here. One is my video tape and the other is the Kellahin affidavit. By comparing these two items, we can learn something about the Roswell case, something about half-century old memories, and how we can be pulled from away from the truth.

Of course, by adding other items of evidence, including the stories written by Kellahin in July 1947, using the time line published in newspapers about the Roswell events, and other, limited documentation, we can figure out who should be believed and who should not. In this case, the answer is surprising.

Once I arrived at Kellahin’s home, I was invited in and we walked through to his rather plush office in the back. I had the chance to observe some of his books and magazines before I set up the video camera, made sure that it was focused, and then sat down.

With the camera running, and after introducing himself to the camera, he told me that he received a call from the New York office of the Associated Press telling him that he needed to get down to Roswell as quickly as possible. "We [Kellahin and Robin Adair, a photographer and according to Adair, reporter] were informed of the discovery down there... the bureau chief sent me and a teletype operator from the Albuquerque office."

Kellahin, said, "It must have been in the morning because we went down there in the daytime. It would take a couple of hours to get down there..."

Kellahin continued, saying, "We went down to Vaughn. Just south of Vaughn is where they found the material."

The ranch, according to him, wasn't very far from the main highway (Highway 285) from Vaughn to Roswell. They turned from that highway just south of Vaughn, onto the Corona road. They were driving to the west and saw "a lot of cars and went over. We assumed that [this] was the place. There were officers from the air base. There were there before we got there."

Kellahin described for me the military cars, civilian cars and even police vehicles parked along the side of the road. In one of the fields adjacent to the road, at the far end of it, were a number of military officers, no more than five or six of them. Kellahin left his vehicle and entered the field where he saw the scattered debris.

Ten months later, in an affidavit prepared for the Fund for UFO Research, Kellahin would say, "Our first stop was the Foster ranch, where the discovery had been made. At the ranch house, we found William ‘Mac’ [sic] Brazel, his wife and his small son. It was Brazel who made the find in a pasture some distance from the house."

He also told Karl Pflock, "Brazel took Adair and me to the pasture where he made his discovery. When we arrived, there were three or four uniformed Army officers searching some higher ground about a quarter mile to a half mile away. Apparently, they had been there for some time."

Kellahin told me, "This man from Albuquerque with me [Adair], he had a camera. He took some pictures of the stuff lying on the ground and of the rancher who was there... Brazel was there and he [the photographer] took his picture."

Kellahin asked Brazel a few questions, interviewing him there, in the field. "I talked to him. He told me his name [Brazel] and we had been told it was on his ranch."

Kellahin didn't remember much about what Brazel had said. "About the only thing he said he walked out there and found this stuff and he told a neighbor about it and the neighbor said you ought to tell the sheriff... it was the next day [Brazel] went down to Roswell."

Standing there in the field, near the debris, Kellahin had the chance to examine it closely. "It wasn't much of anything. Just some silver colored fabric and very light wood... a light wood like you'd make a kite with... I didn't pick it up. In fact, they [the military] asked us not to pick up anything... You couldn't pick it up and have identified it. You have to have known [what it was]. But it was a balloon. It looked more like a kite than anything else."

Which, of course, is not the description of a balloon but certainly is a good description of one of the rawin radar targets. That Kellahin suggested it was bits of a balloon here makes little difference. It is quite clear what he is trying to say.

The debris covered a small area, not more than half an acre (Army officers and one of the Japanese Balloon Bombs seen here). The military men were standing close by as Kellahin interviewed Brazel but didn't try to interfere. "They weren't paying much attention. They didn't interfere with me. I went wherever I wanted to go. They didn't keep me off the place at all. Me or the photographer."

In his affidavit, he described the scene by saying, "There was quite a lot of debris on the site - pieces of silver colored fabric, perhaps aluminized clothe. Some of the pieces had sticks attached to them. I thought they might be the remains of a high-altitude balloon package, but I did not see anything, pieces of rubber or the like, that looked like it could have been part of the balloon itself. The way the material was distributed, it looked as though whatever it was from came apart as it moved through the air."

Kellahin, in the video tapped story he gave me, said he tried to talk to the military people, but they didn't give him any information. "They were being very, very cautious because they didn't know."

He didn't have much time for the interview because the military officers came over and told him they were finished and were going to take Brazel into Roswell. With Brazel gone and the clean up of the debris finished, there wasn't much reason for the AP reporters to remain. Kellahin and Adair continued their trip to Roswell, arriving before dark.

He elaborated on this, saying in the affidavit, "After looking at the material, I walked over to the military men. They said they were from RAAF and were just looking around to see what they could find. They said they were going back to Roswell and would talk with me further there. They had a very casual attitude and did not seem at all disturbed that the press was there. They made no attempt to run us off."

Kellahin told me, "We went down to the Roswell Daily Record and I wrote a story and we sent it out on the AP wire... Adair developed his pictures and set up the wire photo equipment and sent it out."

To Pflock and for his affidavit, Kellahin said, "Adair and I, Brazel, and the Army men then drove down to Roswell, traveling separately. Late that afternoon or early evening, we met at the offices of the Roswell Daily Record, the city’s afternoon newspaper. The military men waited on the sidewalk out front, while I and a Record reporter named Skeritt interviewed Brazel and Adair took his picture. (Adair also took photos of Brazel and the debris at the ranch, but these were never used.) Walter E. Whitmore, owner of KGFL, one of Roswell’s two radio stations, was also present during the interview. Whitmore did his best to maneuver Brazel away from the rest of the press."

The story ended saying, "Adair and Kellahin were ordered to Roswell for the special assignment by the headquarters bureau of AP in New York."

Kellahin, in a break with what he said in his affidavit when he left the ranch, had expected to see Brazel in Roswell, the next day, but, "I don't recall that I did. I think the military was talking to him and wouldn't let him talk to anyone else to my recollection... I saw him there but... there were some military people with him."

Following the story as far as he could, Kellahin told me he talked to Sheriff Wilcox. "When we got down there to the newspaper, he was there. I saw him there or at his office... By that time the military had gotten into it. He was being very cautious."

And in his affidavit said, "After interviewing Brazel, I spoke with the military people outside and then went over to see Sheriff George Wilcox, whom I knew well. Wilcox said the military indicated to him it would be best if he did not say anything. I then phoned in my story to the AP office in Albuquerque. The next morning, Adair transmitted his photos on the portable wirephoto equipment (as seen here)."

"It was a weather balloon," said Kellahin. "In my opinion that's what it was. That's what we saw. We didn't see anything else to indicate it was anything else."

Once they finished in the office, Kellahin returned to Albuquerque and Adair was ordered to return to El Paso to finish his job there. By the time Kellahin returned to Albuquerque, there was a new story for him that had nothing to do with flying saucers. Another assignment that was just as important as his last.

There are some points that must be made. The raw testimony and the later affidavit from Kellahin must be put into context with that provided by others, including Robin Adair, who was also dispatched to Roswell. Both Kellahin and Adair were trying to answer the questions as honestly as they could, attempting to recall the situation as it was in July 1947. However, they are at odds with one another. There clearly is no way for Adair to be both in El Paso as he claimed during Don Schmitt’s interview with him and in Albuquerque as Kellahin suggested to me.

Given the circumstances, there are some things that can be established. A number of newspaper articles about the events, written in 1947, have been reviewed. Although many of them had no by-line, they did carry an AP slug and did identify the location as Roswell. Since Kellahin was the only AP reporter there, assigned by the bureau chief in Albuquerque at the request of the AP headquarters in New York, it is clear that he wrote the articles.

The first problem encountered is Kellahin's memory of getting the call early in the morning. That simply doesn't track with the evidence. Walter Haut's press release was not issued until about noon on July 8.That means there would be no reason for the AP to assign a reporter on the morning of July 8. There was no story until that afternoon. And, by the morning of July 9, the story was dead. No reason to send anyone to Roswell because photos had already been taken of the debris in Fort Worth and the information already released. Besides, the story in the July 9 issue of The Roswell Daily Record makes it clear that they, Kellahin and Adair, had already arrived in Roswell, coming down on July 8.

Second is the story that Kellahin saw the weather balloon on the Brazel ranch. His description of the location, south of Vaughn but just off the main highway to Roswell is inaccurate. The debris field, as identified by Bill Brazel and Bud Payne, is not close to the Vaughn - Roswell highway. In fact, the field where the debris was discovered is not visible from the road around it. It is a cross country drive.

Then in his affidavit, he suggests that he went to the Brazel ranch house where he interviewed Brazel. But with Brazel’s wife standing right there, he asks her no questions and offers no quotes from her in his story. That seems strange. He has what would be exclusive information from another witness, but provides no quotes from her.

More importantly, by the time Kellahin could have gotten to that field, the balloon should have been removed. In fact, according to Marcel and the newspaper articles, the balloon was already in Fort Worth if we believe what has been reported. After all, a balloon wouldn't have taken long to collect and Marcel had done that the day before.

Kellahin's testimony of seeing a balloon out in the field is intriguing, not because he is an eyewitness to the balloon on the crash site, but because of what it suggests. If there was a balloon, it would mean that the Army had to bring one in. In other words, they were salting the area, and that, in and of itself, would be important. It would suggest that the Army had something to hide, if they were planting evidence. That is, if we find Kellahin’s testimony about seeing the balloon in the field to be credible.

In his affidavit, we get the same basic story, but this time Brazel takes Kellahin and Adair out to the field. Adair, the photographer, takes pictures, but none of them are ever used. This makes no sense when it is remembered that all seven pictures of the balloon debris displayed in Ramey’s office were printed somewhere. The pictures of the balloon in the field, with Brazel, and with Army officers around it, would be more important than the pictures in Ramey’s office, or the one of Mack Brazel wearing his cowboy hat and smoking a cigar.

The best available is that Kellahin did not stop at the ranch on his way down. He is mistaken about that. The lack of the photographs, and evidence about the location of Brazel on the afternoon of July 8 suggest it. The location that Kellahin gives is in error. The ranch was not close to Vaughn, and the debris field is not close to any road.

By the time Kellahin and Adair arrived in Roswell and were ready to begin reporting, some of the pressure was off. Ramey, in Fort Worth, explained that the material found in Roswell was nothing extraordinary. No longer was New York demanding pictures. In fact, several pictures had already been taken in Fort Worth.

The interview with Brazel occurred on the evening of July 8, according to the newspaper article in the July 9 edition of The Roswell Daily Record. Brazel was brought into Roswell by the owner of KGFL, Walt Whitmore, Sr. and taken out to the air base, not accompanied to Roswell by the Army as Kellahin suggested much later. Brazel was then escorted to the newspaper office to be interviewed by Kellahin, as well as a reporter for the Daily Record. The pictures transmitted, those of Brazel and George Wilcox, are ones that had been taken in the office for that purpose. Kellahin wrote his story, which appeared in the newspapers the next day.

With the story dead, Kellahin was ordered to return to what he had been doing. He left Roswell. Kellahin believed that nothing extraordinary had been found and there was no reason for the events to stick in his mind.

There are a couple of other comments to be made here. First, I’m surprised that the skeptics haven’t made more of Kellahin’s testimony. It fits into their balloon theory and adds the weight of a first-hand witness.

Second, Phil Klass takes me to task for not questioning the testimony of Robin Adair with the same vigor that I addressed the Kellahin’s testimony. He is, of course, right about that. Some of his assumptions are wrong. He asks why Adair, if he was in El Paso would have been authorized to charter a plane while Kellahin had to drive. The distances are roughly equivalent. The answer could be that the drive from El Paso covers some wild territory including mountains while the drive from Albuquerque does not.

Anyway, Klass is correct and I should have been tougher on the testimony offered by Adair. Clearly both men can’t be right about the circumstances, and I now suspect that neither are.

Finally, Tim Printy makes the case that these nearly fifty-year-old memories (when the witnesses were interviewed) are probably unreliable. As I mentioned, once Kellahin and Adair arrived in Roswell, Ramey had already introduced the balloon explanation. The story went from one that might have been the greatest story of the last thousand years to the misidentification of a weather balloon. The story probably didn’t stick in the minds of either man until we all began asking questions about it a half century later.

So, what do we do with this? Take the testimonies, compare then with the records available and decide from there where to go. I believe, based on my observations of Kellahin, on what I saw as I walked through his house, and on the affidavit he produced, that his testimony is largely confabulation. These are the things that he thought he would have done, these are the descriptions of the debris that he remembers, though it sounds as if it was lifted from the newspaper of 1947 (which he told me he had read just prior to the interview), and these are the actions he would have taken. Unfortunately, there are just too many problems with his story.

And here I need to say that I didn’t interview Robin Adair. I worked from the notes and transcripts of the interview conducted by Don Schmitt. All this means is that I didn’t have the opportunity to study Adair the way I did Kellahin. I don’t know what sources he might have used to refresh his memory or why his testimony is so much different than that of Kellahin.

But Klass was right. I should have been more skeptical about Adair. There are questions that should have been asked that were not.

In the end, we’re left with two conflicting statements, one that bolsters the balloon and one that suggests the alien ship but neither of which is reliable. To learn the truth, we need to go somewhere else.


Bob Barbanes: said...

Kev, if the military was sharp enough to swap a busted wx balloon for the real wreckage, perhaps they altered the location as well. Remember the ground scar? It would not have made sense to reporters and photographers to have a big ground scar ostensibly caused by some balsa wood and aluminized foil. Too, by the time the reporters and other people got on scene, maybe all of the real wreckage had not been completely recovered and removed yet.

So maybe Kellahin's memory of the event wasn't so wrong after all. Maybe they took him to the "right" place...only it was in the wrong location. Maybe they just showed him what they wanted him to see.

On the other hand, I've revisted places years later that were absolutely completely different than the picture I had of them in my mind.

The swapping of balloon pieces for alien wreckage is something I hadn't considered before. It would certainly explain why so many people are so strongly convinced of the "weather balloon" story.

It's really one big jigsaw puzzle, isn't it?

cda said...

Kellahin’s testimony, and his affidavit, are both highly dubious. If he had been at the ranch his article on July 9 makes no mention of it. Instead we read that Brazel came to the newspaper office and gave his interview there.

It seems inconceivable that Kellahin would have omitted that he (and Adair) had been to the ranch and seen the various AF officers and police there (to say nothing of the pieces of the ‘flying disc‘); i.e. the same people and ‘balloon’ he talks about 45 years later.

My conclusion is that neither of them ever visited the ranch, that their distant memories are false and are taken from what they have read in the papers, as you say, plus perhaps some extra reading of Roswell literature up to that time (1993). ‘Confabulation’ you say and I agree. Also his affidavit claims he was editor of the Roswell Dispatch before WW2. That is a very long way back. How old was he when you met him? Was it possible for him to have been a newspaper editor in, say, 1939?

Also, where are those photos Adair allegedly took at the ranch? I suggest they do not exist and never did. Surely you would have located them long ago, if they had any importance, via the archives (like the Fort Worth photos).

As a skeptic I have no hesitation in rejecting Kellahin’s 1993 testimony. A case of ‘wishful thinking and wanting to be there’ by someone 45 years afterwards.

Bob Koford said...

With all the different testimonies, combined over this span of time, what is the most logical condition of the debris field?

Was it, or was it not spread out in a fairly large area?

Was it, or was it not mostly made up of shredded pieces of "foil-like" items?

I ask for reasons alluded to by the very picture you show of the balloon on the ground. Even if the items found represented some type of known-to-be-used tool, it would not have taken up an extremely, or noticeably large space. It would have been fairly contained, minus some parts, here and there, drifting with the wind, would it not?

This is why I used the term "explosion" before, because I can't understand why any weather experiment, or even a "Mogul" train would end up in so many small pieces like that.

Kevin, thanks again for continuing to give us accurate information. It is appreciated!

Mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mac said...

Have others mentioned seeing balloon debris in the same area? That would suggest a deliberate effort by the military to divert attention in case it was still on the lookout for additional UFO wreckage.

cda said...

Further point: Mr Adair says he flew over the site several times enroute for Roswell Municipal Airport. How big was Roswell in 1947 and did it have a municipal airport? Walker AFB was only established in 1941, so I do wonder if the town had both a civilian airport and a military one. Did it?

KRandle said...

To Mac: Bessie Brazel said the debris was a balloon. Karl Pflock's reluctant (Walt Whitmore, Jr.) said that it was a balloon.

To CDA: Yes, they had both a municipal and a military airfield. Given the nature of the base, civilian aircraft would not be allowed to land on the militar airfield.