Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Nuns Story - Roswell Edition

It has been a matter of controversy, only on this blog, as one of the critics has demanded information about a footnote in The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell. I believe he suspected some deceit on my part, and I have refused to bow to his demand to answer his questions simply because I didn’t care for the tone of his comments on the blog, not to mention that I had supplied most of that information to him in the past. I had planned to hold off on this until we were ready to publish all our results, but that doesn’t seem to be close at hand, so, I decided to explain this here and now and address it in a footnote later, if we publish.

The offending paragraph, on page four of the hardback is, “In Roswell proper at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Franciscan Catholic nuns Mother Superior Mary Bernadette and Sister Capistrano making routine night observations, saw a brilliant light plunge to earth, due north of their location. They believed it was a disabled aircraft of some kind and recorded the passage in their logbook. The entry noted the sighting was late on the night of July 4, between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m.”

The footnote said, “Records held by the Franciscan Catholic nuns,” which, by the way, isn’t overly helpful.

So, what do I know now?

The information originated with Bill English, who had come to see a lecture by Don Schmitt and me in Alamogordo in the early 1990s. He approached Don after the lecture and told him about a nun, Sister Day, who was over in Roswell. He said that she had seen the diaries of the nuns mentioned above and gave him the information which he passed along to us. English, it seems, was a former Special Forces officer or so he claimed, and seemed to be a reliable source.

We were in Roswell the next day, or maybe a day later, and had a chance to chase this down. Sister Day was quite candid about what she had seen, and since information about the Roswell case was now being widely circulated, she remembered the entry quite well. She said that she had seen it herself, had told English about it, but that the diaries were no longer housed in Roswell. We’d have to follow the trail from there.

Since Don is Catholic, it seemed natural for him to follow up on this. He learned that the diaries have been sent to Oklahoma, and was in communication with church officials there in an attempt to find the right diaries. He talked to someone who said these records were in disarray. I believed that at some point the entry had been corroborated by church leaders, but neither Don nor I, had not seen it.

Using the information we had, based on what we had been told, I wrote the offending paragraph, but in the manuscript, the footnote is actually a little longer. Originally it said, “Records held by the Franciscan Catholic nuns as viewed by Sister Day.” Somehow that last bit was left out of the book… and yes, I had a chance to review the page proofs and didn’t catch the deletion.

Here’s what I know now. The records we want were sent from Oklahoma to Wisconsin, but we learned that they only went back to 1960. Where the diaries from 1947 are is, at the moment, the question that I can’t answer. We’re still trying to get that information.

Now for some of the other, worrisome, bits of this. Bill English, it seems, was not a Special Forces officer as he claimed, and if the documents I have seen from St. Louis Army Records Center are accurate, and this is the same guy, he was not an officer and not in Special Forces. That certainly taints any information that he supplied. That he was not an officer or in Special Forces does not change the underlying information because it was confirmed for us, by Sister Day.

At the time that the information was gathered, I was under the impression that some of the data we had was not known outside our small group. That is to say, our working hypothesis about the times and dates was known to a few people, but we weren’t being overly secretive about it. In other, clearer words, there were those outside our group who knew what dates and times we suspected as being accurate. Some of this information might even have been included in our lectures… and before anyone asks, we rarely wrote a script for those. We used the slides as our outline, spoke to them specifically as they appeared on the screen, and each lecture was different than the last.

English might have been aware of this information and it was English who provided the lead. We did talk to the nun, and she did give us the information. Don did attempt to verify it through the available records, and I thought that he had. That was my error.

In the end, this calamity of errors resulted in a footnote that seemed to suggest that I had seen the entry when I had not. The qualifier was left off, which I should have caught but did not. I should have been more careful in producing this bit of information, but then, I had three other sources for it, including a written record that supported it… That record, I’m sorry to say, was probably a forgery and is something that I now consider useless. The two other sources are still reliable.

In the end, here is where we are on this. I erred in not making sure we had the exact quote and could point to the exact place where the diary could be seen… and in the last twelve months of attempting to resolve this, have failed. I had a source who said she had seen the entry, remembered it because of the Roswell case, and because she was a nun, I had no reason to doubt her. If I had it to do over again, I would have made sure that it was understood that the information was reported to us, but that we had not seen the actual diary entry.

Here’s what I can say for certainty today. According to Sister Day, she saw what she was told were the diaries of Mother Superior Mary Bernadette and Sister Capistrano. She said that there was an entry in the diary about a bright light in the sky they believed to be a disabled aircraft. Sister Day believed this was on July 4, 1947.

The thing here is that as we work on our reinvestigation, this information, because of the initial source (English) is less credible would have been evaluated differently. We would give the benefit of the doubt to Sister Day, believing that she was accurately reporting what she saw, but until we could confirm it by finding the diaries ourselves, would be less forceful in our reporting of it. We would not overlook the possibility that English had contaminated the source before we had a chance to interview her. The diary entry would certainly answer that question.

But then, this was one of the purposes of the reinvestigation. See what has changed in the last decade or so, see what more has been learned, and see where we (and here, by we, I mean me) might have erred. This is the chance to correct those errors, look at everything closely with the magnifier of much better information, and see if we can reach some conclusions that would satisfy the majority of those who are interested in UFOs in general and Roswell in particular.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Jesse Marcel and Accident Investigation

I was surfing the net the other night and found a posting that suggested Jesse Marcel, Sr., had violated regulations with his response to the report of debris by Mack Brazel. The premise seemed to be that this was an aircraft accident and military regulations provide for a precise, and classified, response to such an event. Because of this breach of military procedure, we can ignore the testimony provided by Jesse Marcel.
The first note at this site was that Marcel had been so unimpressed with the information that he finished his lunch and then made his way to the sheriff’s office to find out what was going on. Marcel told Bill Moore, as reported in The Roswell Incident, “I was eating lunch at the officers’ club when the call came through saying that I should go out and talk to Brazel. The sheriff said that Brazel had told him that something had exploded over Brazel’s ranch and that there was a lot of debris scattered around… I finished my lunch and went into town to talk to this fellow.”

This certainly demonstrates no sense of urgency on Marcel’s part but we must remember that Marcel had seen nothing, apparently not talked to Brazel, and probably knew that whatever had happened, it had nothing to do with the 509th Bomb Group… which means that had they lost an aircraft, Marcel would have known. Besides it is clear from other interviews that the sheriff did not initially believe Brazel’s story. With that, Marcel’s  sense of urgency would have been aroused.
Phyllis (Wilcox) McGuire, in July 1947, lived at the jail with her father George Wilcox and she heard some of the exchanges that took place between the sheriff, the rancher and the military. In an interview that Don Schmitt and I conducted on January 27, 1990, McGuire said that the military arrived quickly, almost as if they had been waiting for the call (and please don’t read anymore into that… McGuire just said they got there to what she thought of as quickly). I mention this only to point out that whoever wrote that other piece, saying that Marcel didn’t seem to care, had not reviewed all the literature on the subject.
Now if we wish to plow the field of speculation, as did that other writer, let me say this. If I had been Marcel, and had the sheriff called me to tell me that a rancher had found something that seemed to have exploded in the sky, I probably would have checked with Operations to find out if any of our aircraft were missing. Or, it could be that Marcel asked the sheriff when the debris was found, and learning it wasn’t within the last twenty-four hours, knew that it didn’t belong to the 509th, but it might have been something launched from White Sands (if Marcel didn’t know that there was a moratorium on launches after a rocket had fallen in Mexico that May… and yes, I know the moratorium had been lifted, but the July 3 launch, the first in several weeks, didn’t get off the pad).
So, knowing that it is not one of the 509th’s airplanes, and suspecting it was not an Air Force (Army Air Forces if you wish to get technical) aircraft, and possibly knowing that it wasn’t something lost in the last twenty-four hours, Marcel finished his lunch and drove to the sheriff’s office. There he talked to Brazel, thought that something interesting had been found (after looking at the debris Brazel had brought in), drove back to the base to consult with his commander, and then, with Sheridan Cavitt, followed Brazel back to the ranch. At no time was there speculation that this was an aircraft accident and therefore, the analysis, based on this assumption, is now null and void.
Once Marcel arrived on the debris field, and once he saw the wreckage there, he would have known that it was neither aircraft nor rocket. It was not something that required any special handling, if we are guided simply by regulations. If it was a balloon, then there was nothing special about it and the regulations do not come into play. If it was an alien spacecraft, and the skeptics are fond of telling us that he wouldn’t have recognized it as such at the time… and if the debris was of the few varieties mentioned by Bill Brazel and what Marcel told Bill Moore, then the regulations didn’t come into play. There was nothing on the field, at that precise moment, that would suggest to Marcel that this required special handling.
The point here is not to argue about what Brazel found or what Marcel saw, but to refute the idea that Marcel violated regulations by his actions. This was not an aircraft accident and those regulations simply did not apply. We can argue about what Marcel should have done but we do know what he did. With Cavitt, he picked up some of the debris. Cavitt headed back and Marcel stayed out there a little longer. He then returned to Roswell… and never said a word about seeing bodies or anything other than the strange metallic debris.

He was then caught up in the whirlwind of the press release, and others, at a higher rank (or pay grade if you wish to use today’s vernacular), made the decisions. At no time, according to the available records or documentation, was Marcel criticized about his response to the sheriff’s phone call or his reactions to it. Given that, I think we can ignore the idea that Marcel violated regulations. We can ignore that whole, ridiculous posting (and no, I’m not publishing a link to it simply because I have no desire to drive traffic to it).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Project Aquarius, Steve Pierce and Other Questions

There have been a number of questions that have appeared in the comments sections of previous postings and I thought this might be a good place to deal with some of those, rather than searching from posting to posting.

First, let’s deal with this Project Aquarius nonsense. It was pointed out that Aquarius was a real classified project from the NSA. At least that was the original premise. However, Barry Greenwood, first in Just Cause and reprinted in the December 1987 (issue 236) of the MUFON UFO Journal, said, “Finally, our last issue [Just Cause] dealt with the sort-lived confirmation of an Air Force ‘Project Aquarius’ by the NSA. The revelation fizzled however when the NSA retracted its confirmation based on a false assumption… No other independent confirmation of the Project Aquarius document has been possible.”
Sure, the true believers are going to say, “And you believe this?” And my answer is going to be, do you have any independent confirmation of Project Aquarius?
I thought not.
More to the point, two of the projects listed in the Aquarius document have been identified. Project Snowbird, which had to do with flying alien craft, according to Aquarius, was actually a joint Army/Air Force cold weather training exercise. Code words are not duplicated because that could lead to the compromise of highly classified information. There is a two volume Code Name Directory to prevent that from happening.
Project Sigma, also in the Aquarius document which claimed it was an attempt to communicate with alien intelligence, was a classified project between the Air Force and Rockwell International.
If the information about these two projects, contained in the Aquarius document is inaccurate, what does that say about the rest of the document? Since there is no provenance for it and since it is filled with misinformation, is it no wonder that proponents of MJ-12 seem to have forgotten about it. Neither Stan Friedman nor Robert Wood has provided answers to my questions about these Aquarius documents.
Another area that has bothered the readers is my interview with Steve Pierce. Frankly I was surprised by some of the responses. I wasn’t advocating for the Walton abduction. I was not suggesting that it was based on alien intervention and anyone who has read my writings on alien abduction knows my point of view. No, I was suggesting that Pierce related what he had seen and done the night Walton disappeared, and his impressions of his interaction with Philip Klass.
What I wanted to know when I interviewed Pierce, was his view of the Klass story. We had heard from others, but not from Pierce himself. It seemed to me that he was more amused by Klass than intimidated or annoyed by him. While it is clear to me that he believed that Klass had offered money for his “confession,” I am not convinced that an actual offer of payment had been made by Klass. In other words, I think that Pierce believed that Klass had made an offer, though that offer was indirect. I think that it was mainly a misunderstanding and with that I think we could say that both sides are telling the truth… which is not to say that both sides are telling a truth grounded in our shared reality.
This means, simply, that Pierce believes an offer was made. Klass had said no such offer was made. Both believe, or believed, what he said. Both are right… I think that Pierce misunderstood what he was told by third parties… In other words, I have no reason to doubt what he said.

I also pointed out that Pierce thought that Klass was a fairly charming fellow, which, when you moved away from some of the outrageous things he said about UFO witnesses and researchers, was true. He could be vindictive and nasty in a UFO fight, but on other topics he was quite funny. He told me once that Aviation Week photographers had taken some good pictures of the latest Soviet fighters at the Paris Air Show in the 1980s. The magazine gave the originals to the Air Force, but somehow failed to get a print of one of the pictures. When they asked for it they were told they couldn’t have it because the pictures were classified… which makes no sense (meaning that the Air Force would classify them since the aircraft had been introduced in a public setting where everyone and his brother could take pictures so the source wouldn’t have been compromised… but I digress…)
So, I published an interview with Pierce providing his perspective on these events with Klass, and I have annoyed some… How could I trust Pierce? Well, I sat down with him, talked with him, and he didn’t say anything particularly controversial, other than Klass could be charming.
Finally, there is this latest allegation that I’m a shill for the military, though I’m not completely sure what this means. This isn’t the first time that something like this has happened. I was accused of working on Project Blue Book with Hector Quintanilla, I was a CIA agent of some kind, that I had been spying on APRO for the Air Force, and I don’t know what all. This latest seems to have been raised by Douglas Dietrich, who I don’t believe I have ever met and who I do not know. No evidence for this has been presented, but some believe it… It is not true and if Dietrich said anything like this, he is on thin ice.
This is one of those situations where the two of us know the truth. If he said it, he knows he’s making it up… I know what I have done in the military and what I haven’t done, and nothing in this allegation is true. If I find a source for the allegation, and Dietrich’s name is attached, I may go after him. And I assure those out there that there is nothing embarrassing in my military file or embarrassing questions to be asked that would prevent this.
Of all these above points, I think those about Project Aquarius are the most important. This is an issue that should have been resolved when more was learned about it, one of the Aquarius documents was proved to be a forgery, and when the information contained in it was found to be inaccurate. In today’s world, there are those who still believe in MJ-12 but ignore those documents that came before the “Big Three” that show just how flawed they are. They continue to pontificate about MJ-12, saying the criticisms have been answered, but, of course, they have not. MJ-12 should be dead but it is not. I don’t know what more we can do it kill it, other than continue to raise these points.