I have been advised, by a friend, Tim Banse, who seems to understand these things, that some of my postings are waaaaaaaay too long. He suggested that I break them up into smaller bites. In keeping with what I believe to be sage advice, here is the first part of the entire transcript, with my editorial comments, of the Air Force press conference about the Washington National UFO sightings in 1952.
This came about after the second round of Saturday night radar and visual sightings, and after a number of failed intercept attempts. The Air Force believed it necessary to call a press conference to explain the situation, at least as they saw it. Ed Ruppelt called the conference the largest and longest that had been held by the Air Force since the conclusion of the Second World War. Ruppelt also suggested that the cards had been stacked again Major General John A. Samford, the Director of Intelligence, who was the senior officer at the conference. Because Samford had to "hedge" on many of the answers to questions because the investigations had not been concluded, it seemed, to many of the assembled reporters, that the Air Force was attempting to hide the truth.
The press conference was held at the Pentagon, in room 3E-869, to be precise. Also attending for the Air Force was Major General Roger M. Ramey, then the Director of Operations for the Air Force and the same Roger Ramey who had been at 8th Air Force Headquarters in Fort Worth during the Roswell UFO crash briefings in July, 1947, as our old friend CDA thought to advise me, as if I didn’t know. Others there for the Air Force included Colonel Donald L. Bower, of ATIC, Captain Roy L. James, an expert in radar operations and also from ATIC, Ed Ruppelt, the chief of Project Blue Book, and Mr. Buroyne L. Griffing, a civilian from ATIC.
Conspicuous by their absence were Major Dewey Fournet, the military liaison officer between the Pentagon and Project Blue Book, Al Chop, the official Pentagon spokesman on UFOs, and Lt. John Holcomb, the Naval officer who was an expert on radar and electronics. Since all three had been at Washington National during the second set of sightings, their inclusion would seem to be a natural event. Apparently the Air Force had other ideas because none were there to answer questions even though all were assigned to the Pentagon in Washington.
The press conference began with an introduction by a civilian Pentagon press relations official who said:
Ladies and gentlemen, let me remind the military that, while they are welcome here, this is a press conference and let’s be sure that the press is all seated before the conference begins.
This refers to the fact that many military officers who had no role in the press conference were in the room to listen to it. They were being told to sit down and shut up.
Let me introduce General Samford, Air Force Director of Intelligence, and General Ramey, Director of Operations. General Samford.
Major General Samford: I think the plan is to have very brief opening remarks and then ask for such questions as you may want to put to us for discussion and answer. In so far as opening remarks is [sic] concerned, I just want to state our reason for concern about this.
The Air Force feels a very definite obligation to identify and analyze things that happen in the air that may have in them menace to the United States and, because of that feeling of obligation and our pursuit of that interest, since 1947, we have an activity that was known one time as Project Saucer and now, as part of another more stable and integrated organization, have undertaken to analyze between a thousand and two thousand reports dealing with this area. And out of that mass of reports that we’ve received we’ve been able to take things which were originally unidentified and dispose of them to our satisfaction in terms of bulk where we came to the conclusion that these things were either friendly aircraft erroneously recognized or reported, hoaxes, quite a few of those, electronic and meteorological phenomena of one sort of another, light aberrations, and many other things.
It is important to note that there never was a Project Saucer in a real sense. When the Air Force created its first investigation, code named Sign, it publicly called the project by the name of Saucer. Later, after the code name Sign was compromised, the Air Force announced that it had ended its investigation, but, in reality, continued it as Project Grudge. Eventually Grudge evolved into Project Blue Book, but when speaking with civilian officials and members of the press, the unofficial name of Project Saucer was often used.
The actual press conference began then and will be noted in the next installment of this posting.