Though I thought we would revisit the Mac Magruder story after the first of the year, I have new information. Magruder is the late Marine officer who lead a night fighter squadron during the Second World War and achieved some status in the Roswell UFO crash when his sons said he had told them of the crash long before Roswell was a household name. Magruder, at the time of the crash was assigned, according to them, to the Air War College at Maxwell Field and that students had been taken to Wright Field to view the wreckage, the bodies, and to provide insight into a possible release of information.
A few weeks ago I telephoned, emailed, and questioned various offices at Maxwell Field to learn when the class would have been in session, when the students would have arrived, and if they had made a trip to Wright Field during their studies. I was told then that the records I needed would not be available until a major renovation of the registrar and history areas was completed. However, Dr. James A. Mowbray said that he believed that the class was in session in July 1947 and he remembered that they had taken a trip to Wright Field. Good news for the supporters of the Magruder tale.
Now, however, I have later and better information. Another researcher, Aurimas Svitojus wrote for Magruder’s records from NPRC in St. Louis and received a reply that is interesting.
(Let me take a moment to digress. I’ve had sporadic success with St. Louis. Some records I have requested I have received quickly. Others, including my own, come in parts or not at all. My grandfather’s from World War I was destroyed by the fire, for example.)
According to the documents received by Svitojus, from the first of July to the nineteenth, Magruder was assigned as the commanding officer of VMF-542, a Marine aviation unit. (I’ll note here that he was assigned there as CO in June, but for our purposes, we’re only looking at July and later.)
On July 20, he was "...Detached to: AIR COMMAND AND STAFF SCHOOL, AIR UNIVERSITY, MAXWELL FIELD, ALABAMA."
The records show that he had an authorized delay in enroute from July 21 to 14 August and that from August 15 to August 26 he was to travel to Maxwell.
What this means, simply, is that he was authorized a leave of about three weeks and that he was then given 11 days to travel from his old station to Maxwell. The records suggest he reported in on August 27. He was assigned to the school beginning on August 1 and was released from that assignment on June 6, 1948.
This means that he was not at Maxwell in July so that a trip at the end of the month with his class did not happen. The school, according to the information began in early September. Although assigned there on August 1, the documents show he didn’t arrived until very late in the month.
There is no inconsistency here. This simply means that the morning reports from his Marine Squadron dropped him, and those at Maxwell would have picked him up. Both would have shown him on an authorized delay and this is more for accounting purposes than anything else.
The final bit we can pull from the records is that Magruder did go to Wright Field, but not until April of 1948. This was part of the training for the school. Students were often detailed to other, working bases to see those commands in operation.
What we can find out from Maxwell, once their renovations are complete are the dates that Magruder arrived (or verification of the date we now have), the dates that classes began, and finally, the dates of the trips they might have taken during the class sessions. All that information will be helpful in determining what happened and when.
I also asked for a complete roster of students in the hopes that we might be able to find some corroboration. This, I believe is a long shot given the timing. The students would be senior officers, probably in their late thirties. Since the school ended sixty years ago, any survivors would be in his 90s. Not impossible but so far, of those I have identified as students, all are now dead.
My reading of the records, however, suggests to me that Magruder was on leave in July and all the Air War College really knew about him was that he was a high-ranking Marine officer who had been assigned to the school. They would have known when to expect him, and I would be surprised to learn that he had no communication with the school prior to his arrival. There are mundane things like housing that needed to be arranged before classes begin.
But I see nothing to suggest that he would have been brought into the Roswell investigation at that point. The Army was trying to contain the information, not share it with those who had no need to know, and this is certainly a case where the officer in question had no need to know. Why even think about this?
The suggestion has been made that they had a captive audience of trustworthy men and they brought them in to gauge the public reaction. But couldn’t they do much the same thing by setting it up as a class assignment, what we now call a "tabletop" exercise, and gauge the reaction that way? They could even reference the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast for "real world" information. No need to compromise the secret here.
I know on this one I’m swimming against the current, but everything we’ve been able to learn to this point suggests that Magruder was not involved they way it has been alleged. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t involved in some fashion, but a trip to Wright Field to view the craft and bodies just doesn’t make the grade.