While plowing through the piles of documents and the nearly endless video and audio tapes compiled in the Roswell investigation, we have been able to solve some small and relatively unimportant questions. Take, as an example, the claims by George Walsh of Roswell radio stations KSWS and Frank Joyce of KGFL that they had broken the flying saucer crash story in 1947. It is a point of trivia that means little in the overall scheme of things, but we do know the answer of who did it.
According to the testimony of Walter Haut, he made it a routine to rotate, among the four media outlets in Roswell, the news releases that he prepared. He didn’t want anyone to accuse him of favoritism in his job. Today, it matters little who he gave the release to first. Given the timing of events, we can conclude who broke the story. I suppose I should note here that in a technical sense, that honor goes to Haut. Without his press release, there would have been no story, so, he was the one who broke it.
Let me take a moment here to point out there is a very good possibility that there was a single, written release, meaning that he called the various media outlets and read it to them over the telephone. I say this for a couple of reasons. First is that George Walsh said as much, which, of course, doesn’t make it right, though that it his memory.
Art McQuiddy, editor of the Roswell Morning Dispatch, on the other hand, remembers Haut coming into the office with the release. We now devolve into a “he said… he said” situation. Without the written release, the nod goes to Walsh on this. There is, however, another bit of evidence. Frank Joyce had saved, for 45 years, the teletype messages that went out. There is a query from the Denver office of the United Press for the text of the press release. The response, from the Santa Fe office is, “Army gave verbal ann[oun]c[ment. No text.”
There is one other, circumstantial proof here. The Associated Press quote of the press release is substantially different than that of the United Press. This would suggest that those who received the verbal release made notes and then wrote the story based on those notes. Again, this suggests there was no written release, other than the one that Haut had out at the base.
This does not, however, answer the question of who broke the story… Walsh or Joyce? Here we move into another point that has come up. Walsh, at KSWS had a teletype machine that allowed for both transmission and reception. Joyce, at KGFL, could only receive. To put a story on the wire, he needed to go to the Western Union office and send it that way…
Which, in today’s world, seems cumbersome and archaic. In today’s world, where I can communicate almost instantaneously with friends around the world, send them photos, text, and video, it seems strange that a radio station would have to rely on Western Union to communicate with its office in a different city.
It makes no difference, who Haut told first in this instance. Any advantage that Joyce might have had would have been lost during his trip to Western Union. But, the newspapers of the time including the Daily Illini, which published an almost minute by minute account of what happened on July 8, gives us the answer. Associated Press beat the United Press by about fifteen minutes and that gives the nod to Walsh.
In the end, the answer to this question, in the world today, means little to anyone, including both Walsh and Joyce. The answer is interesting, only for the historical perspective it gives us. But, we did manage to answer this question. It was really Walter Haut.