Before we look at all that, let’s take a moment to get to know the man himself. Saunders was born in Alabama in 1916 and died 76 years later in 1995 in Florida. He attended the University of Florida and was graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Air War College. During the Second World War he flew 37 combat missions and was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. Patrick Saunders died in November 1995, after a fall that put him into the hospital.
I first talked to Saunders in June 1989, as I was beginning my research into the Roswell case. He had just gotten out of the hospital after a heart attack, which, had I known, I would have waited several weeks before calling him. Sometimes my timing was very bad. That didn’t mean he wasn’t up to a telephone conversation and when I asked about the possibility of the UFO crash, he said that he knew nothing about the little green bodies and said that the whole thing was a big joke. He did confirm that he had been the 509th adjutant for only a few weeks when the events of July 1947 transpired.
I asked if he could remember any of the rumors and which of those might have some truth to them, he said, simply, "I can't specify anything." Saunders, it seemed, was not a witness to the story. Or rather, that was what he led me to believe at the time, which probably saved him from dozens of telephone calls from around the world wanting to know what the truth was.
But that really wasn’t the end of it. I learned that later, after both UFO Crash at Roswell and The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell were published, he bought copies. In fact, he bought lots of copies, because, according to what he wrote on the first page of The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, he believed that was the truth.
Files were altered. So were personal records, along with assignments and various codings and code words. Changing serial numbers ensured that those searching later would not be able to locate those who were involved in the recovery. Individuals were brought into Roswell from Alamogordo, Albuquerque and Los Alamos. The MP s were a special unit constructed of military police elements from Kirtland, Alamogordo, and Roswell. If the men didn’t know one another, or were separated after the event, they would be unable to compare notes and that would make the secret easier to keep.
On the flyleaf to UFO Crash at Roswell, and sent on to his daughter, he wrote, "You were there! Love, Dad." It said:
Rickett, the senior counterintelligence man an the Provost Marshal walked the perimeter of the debris field examining the wreckage scattered there. Most of the pieces were small, no more than a few inches long and wide, but some measured a couple of feet on one side.
The came to one piece that was about two feet by two feet. According to Rickett, it was slightly curved. He locked it against his knew and tried to bend it or break it. The
metal was very think and very lightweight. Rickett couldn’t bend it at all. As they prepared to leave the crash site, the senior CIC agent turned to Rickett. "You and I were never out here," he said. "You and I never saw this.You don’t see any military people or military vehicles out here either."
"Yeah," Rickett agreed. We never even left the office."
Of course it could be argued, and probably will be, that the messages are opened to interpretation. Here is a man who was at Roswell during the critical weeks suggesting, obliquely, that the information about the crash, retrieval and cover up is real. In fact, according to one letter I received from one of his children, Saunders had "At one point... bragged to me about how well he had covered the "paper trail" associated with the clean up!"
In the months before he died, he confided in a number of close and life long friends that suddenly, the officers of the 509th Bomb Group were confronted with a technology greater than that of Earth. They, meaning the creatures in the flying saucers, had control of the sky. The Air Force was powerless against them. And they, the members of the Army Air Forces, had just seen the power of control of the sky. It was one of the factors that defeated the enemies in the Second World War.
Saunders went on, telling people that military officials had no idea about what their, the pilots of the craft, intentions might be. Their technology was more advanced than that of the United States. Top military leaders didn't know if the alien beings were a threat so the government was reluctant to release anything about them.
He did warn those he talked with to be careful. He was aware of the threats that had been made and he believed that those making them were serious. Here was a retired Air Force officer who was warning his family to be careful about what they said and who they said it to. One of his daughters wrote, "...he asked me a lot of questions probably to see if, in fact, I had read [UFO Crash at Roswell] carefully. Then he wanted me to understand that he felt the threats to people who ‘talked’ were very real..."
So, once again, I’m confronted with information, from a reliable source, that suggests that threats were made. The people who heard those threats believed them to be real.
I’ll note one other thing. When the Air Force was making their Roswell investigation, they did not interview Saunders, though they certainly had the chance. He wasn’t all that old, only 76, and while his heart might have been weakened, he certainly had the strength to sit through an interview with another Air Force officer. Colonel Richard Weaver, who conducted some of these interviews in 1994, would have been welcomed in the Saunders home, as he was in others. But Weaver didn’t bother to search out Saunders, just as he failed to find Brigadier General Arthur Exon or ask to hear the tapes and read the notes that I had made with Edwin Easley. Why talk to those men, when you knew that Sheridan Cavitt would follow the script and that the men of Mogul would offer the information you needed to follow that lead?
What's important here is that Saunders did not share this information with UFO researchers or outsiders at all. He kept it to himself, telling close friends and family only after the story had been told by so many others. It can't be said that he was seeking fame or fortune by creating a tale to put himself in the limelight. He told only his closest friends and family.
In fact, Saunders, when he prepared for his own funeral, added a note to his list of accomplishments, mentioning his role in Roswell. It was there beside the notes of his Air Force service, flying "the Hump" in the Chinese-Burmese-Indian Theater in the Second World War, and the list of the awards and decorations he acquired during his military service. Clearly the events in Roswell were important to him.
What we have now are several statements, written in his own hand, and shared with friends and family. Statements that suggest that Saunders was deeply involved in the Roswell events and they had nothing to do with a balloon, regardless of the mission of that balloon or who was claiming that it was a balloon.