Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Aztec in Perspective by Monte Shriver - Part One

(Blogger’s Note: The following is reprinted by permission. Given the length of the original article, I have broken it into three parts and will publish all three over the next week. It was written by one-time resident of Aztec, Monte Shriver, and provides an interesting insight into the alleged crash. Again, reprinted by permission of Monte Shriver.)



Monte Shriver

I was born in El Dorado, Kansas in 1934 and in 1937 we lost our ranch in the depression and moved to Aztec, New Mexico. My Grandfather Shriver bought the old experimental farm north of the Estes Arroyo and my Dad rented a farm on the Ruins Road. I entered the first grade in 1940 and had my first experience with riding a school bus. In 1941, my Uncle Jim Shriver joined the Army so my Grandfather sold the farm and we moved to town in 1941, purchasing a house on Mesa Verde Avenue. In May 1946 we sold the house in Aztec and moved to Falcon, Colorado where we lived until February 1947 when we returned to Aztec and purchased a home at 402 San Juan Ave - a home where my Mother lived until she passed away in 2006.
I graduated from Aztec High School in 1952 and enrolled at the New Mexico College of  Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in Las Cruces, New Mexico and graduated in 1957 with a degree in mechanical engineering. After various jobs including serving in the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer, I went to work for the Bell System in 1962 and retired in 1990. In 1989, I was transferred to Las Cruces, New Mexico by the telephone company and we have lived in southern New Mexico since that time.

I would like to thank my classmates from the Aztec High School Class of 1952 all of whom let me test my memories of the late 40’s and early 50’s with them during our recent 60th class reunion. These included Herb Collins, John Franchini, Bruce Hare, Robert Sipe, Alice Crane Hardin and Lee Atchison and Betty Lawson Waggoner and Bud Crane from the Class of 1951. I would also like to thank Elizabeth Flores and her staff at the Special Collections Branch at the NMSU Library for providing me with access to old New Mexico State Highway Department Maps as well as other historical documents. Others I talked to included Gerald Williams,  Evaleene Andrews Dunn and Jack Dunning.

The first time I recall hearing of the UFO crash in Hart Canyon was when I

learned that the Aztec City Library was holding an annual symposium about the UFO crash. During the 2000s, I read about the symposium in the Aztec newspaper, the Talon and even wrote one or more letters to the Talon on the subject. Finally, I attended my first symposium in 2011 (the last one unfortunately) and revisited Hart Canyon for the first time in many years. 

As a result of the Symposium, I purchased  two books, Behind the Flying Saucers -- Updated Edition by Frank Scully with Bonus “Truth About Aztec UFO Crash” by Sean Casteel and published by Conspiracy Journal as well as William S. Steinman’s UFO Crash at Aztec - A Well Kept Secret. I also recently purchased Scott Ramsey’s book The Aztec Incident - Recovery at Hart Canyon. After reading these three books, I decided it was time that someone from Aztec reviewed these books and reported their findings and conclusions.  I hope that future researchers will find this information helpful in their quest to determine what really happened in Hart Canyon if, in fact, anything did happen. I know that the Ramsey’s believe that “…the Aztec Incident is a real event….” I start this work as a skeptic based on my research and interviews with my classmates who attended the Aztec Public School system in 1948. And you, dear reader, may make your own decisions based on the mistakes I have found and the questionable conclusions that have been reached. The question that must be answered is “How many errors and mistakes must be made before the entire work is invalidated?”
In Ramsey’s book, at page 20, he quotes a Virgil J. Riggs as saying “As a young kid growing up in Aztec, NM in the late 1940’s to the late 1950’s, I had heard many rumors and talk about the UFO crash north of Aztec.” At my recent class reunion with members of the classes of 1951 and 52, I asked them if they knew Virgil Riggs and if they remembered any talk of a UFO crashing north of Aztec. Many of them remembered Mr. Riggs, but no one, including me, could remember anyone talking about a UFO crash in the Aztec area during the 40’s and 50’s. As one of my classmates said, if we had heard about a UFO crash in Hart Canyon, we would have been all over the place looking for it. Robert Sipe told me he and his father had  cut fence posts in Hart Canyon in 1948 and never heard anything about a UFO landing there. Sometime between 1947 and 1950, I shined shoes at Ray Current’s barber shop for two years. During that time, I never heard anyone mention a UFO in Hart Canyon. The conversations always seemed to center on hunting, sports and farming. Of  course, Mr. Current would become quite animated when he would talk about how Farmington tried to steal the county courthouse from Aztec. The barbershop had hot showers and on weekends, it was quite common for farmers to come into the shop for shave, haircut and a hot shower since many of the farms did not have running water. Afterwards, they would sit around the shop and “bat the breeze” but no mention of a  UFO was ever made to my recollection.  I was a boy scout during 1947-49 and I remember camping at the cave about 5 miles up Hart Canyon and no one in the scouting group ever said anything about a UFO in the Canyon. I have know Jack Dunning for over 60 years and I never remember him mentioning it at all until I asked him about it in 2011.

Beginning at page 210, the Steinman book contains an article by Mike McClellan which indicates that Roy Sullivan was sheriff of San Juan County in 1948 and he “… had no recollection of a crash, aircraft being in the area or anything that would support Carr’s claims…”. Further, Bruce Sullivan (the sheriff’s son who would have been in Aztec High School at the time) is quoted as saying he lived in Aztec all his life and never “knew or heard anything about it”.


On page 24, Mr. Steinman states that “A flying saucer did indeed crash land …twelve miles of Aztec on 25 March 1948...This craft, of unknown origin, was recovered  by a team composed of military intelligence and scientific personnel…dismantled and secretly carted off to a covert hiding place…”.

At pages 27-28, he has the reported sighting of the 25 March 1948 UFO going directly to Secretary of State George C. Marshall and that Secretary Marshall was giving direct orders as to how this situation should be handled.  I would have thought the reports would have gone through the military chain of command to the Secretary of Defense.

On page 31, he states that the IPU scout team found the “crash landed disc” and gave directions to the recovery team on how to reach the disc. Further, he indicates that the IPU team members reached the crash-site virtually unnoticed by civilians living in the area. As soon as the IPU team arrived at the scene road blocks were set up two miles from the site on all roads leading to the area. Guards were then posted and only people with the appropriate pass could enter. This assertion is contradicted by the Ramsey book which states that oil field workers, Doug Noland, Bill Ferguson, people in route to California, a traveling preacher, local law enforcement and even a law enforcement officer from Cuba, New Mexico (more about him later) and others were on the site before military and/or government personnel arrived on the scene later in the morning.

Further, he states that the Dunning family was held incommunicado within their own ranch house and that the Dunning property upon which the disc was located was immediately transferred from the ownership of Harold Dunning to federal status. The Dunning’s  phone line was also monitored.

In 2011, I raised these issues with a long-time friend on mine, Jack Dunning, the son of Harold (Hy) Dunning. He told me that they were not held incommunicado on the ranch, no property of theirs was transferred to the government and that their phone line could not have been monitored because they did not have a phone.  He reaffirmed the same with me in 2012 after I visited Aztec for my 60th class reunion June 29-30.

On page 38, Mr. Steinman says the government scientists reportedly gained entry to the disc by breaking out a porthole window with a hammer, then finding a long pole which they pushed through the porthole, barely reaching  a “pushbutton” which when pushed by the pole caused a door to open, allowing access to the disc. On page 139 (of the Conspiracy Journal’s Behind the Flying Saucers Updated Edition by Frank Scully), the scientists (Dr. Gee’s group) waited two days before deciding it was safe to approach the disc. They found a broken glass porthole and rammed a pole through this defect in the ship (No mention is made of breaking the porthole with a hammer). They prodded around with the pole used to push through the opening in the broken porthole, ultimately hitting a double knob which caused a door to fly open. Compare this to  Ramsey’s book, page 3, as related to Scott Ramsey by Doug Noland, Doug’s boss, Bill Ferguson “…was trying to poke around the craft with a fire pole or something…Soon, he hit some damn thing and a door or walkway appeared…”.  (No mention of pushing the pole through  a broken porthole.) When there are conflicting stories about the same event, only one can be right or they could all be wrong. You, dear reader, must decide.

On page 42, the saucer was disassembled, loaded on three trucks, covered with tarps with signs indicating the trucks carried explosives so that anyone seeing these trucks would be easily deceived. Contrast this with Ramsey’s book on  page 159 where his transportation expert speculated that separating the disc into thirds would result in 1/3 of the craft being 50 feet wide, 86.6 feet long and the top of the craft 17 feet above ground level and extending about 26 feet behind the trailer carrying it. Anyone seeing 3 trucks loaded like this and marked explosives must have had one hell of a scare and obviously they would have been easily deceived.  Unlike Mr. Ramsey who has extensive detail on how the disc could have been moved to Los Alamos, Mr. Steinman basically says the disc was moved to Los Alamos without giving any details of how the move actually took place.

Depending upon whose account you read, the roads in Hart Canyon were barricaded for anywhere from three days to two weeks or more. With oilfield workers and ranchers in the area, wouldn’t you think someone in Aztec would have heard about it?

On page 72, Mr. Steinman makes a statement that I am sure will come as a complete surprise to the citizens of Aztec as it did to me and I quote “MJ-12* ordered the entire town of Aztec, New Mexico placed under complete surveillance. The family of the ranch owner H.D. were under special watch. Their phone calls, all mail, and all movements were monitored at all times. All of their relatives, school mates, teachers, close friends, etc., were also watched like a hawk. This close surveillance is still going on 39 years after the event(that would be 1987), and will  continue (emphasis added) until MJ-12 sees fit to relax the net.” So watch it Aztec! Someone is watching you. Heck, they might even have been at my 60th class reunion because I will admit there were some people there from the class of  ‘51 that I didn’t recognize”.

*Some people maintain that an MJ-12 organization never existed.

I should note that when Mr. Steinman visited Hart Canyon in 1982, he noted on page 257 that “…two huge unmarked helicopters followed me in and out of the canyon!! This didn’t bother me so much at first; but, when I got back home, the same type of unmarked helicopters circles very low over my house…over a period of several months….” REALLY??

On page 242, when Mr. Steinman arrived at the Durango airport in 1982, he states that he headed the back way to Aztec on Highway 172 which, I understand him to say, was the route the recovery team took from the airport to the crash site. The only problem with this is that in 1948, Highway 172 went from Ignacio to Arborles, CO and wasn’t rerouted south to meet NM Highway 511 until 1972. NM Highway  511 wasn’t extended north from the Navajo Dam to meet CO Highway 172  until the early 1970’s.  In fact, the 1948 New Mexico State Road Map doesn’t show any road going into Colorado on the route now covered by NM 511. That of course doesn’t preclude the possibility of dirt roads between the states but how the recovery team was able to travel over unnamed dirt roads and find Hart Canyon is a mystery to me. In fact, Jack Dunning told me that in 1948 there was no road that he knew of that would take you from Hart Canyon to Durango.  What I never understood was why not take the easy way to Hart Canyon? Just drive west from the Durango Airport to paved highway US 550 from Durango to Aztec  and drive south to the entrance to Hart Canyon.

A few other areas where Mr. Steinman is wrong:

1. On page 72, he states that “Admiral James V. Forrestal was the Navy Chief of Staff at the end of the war.” I could find nothing in the record to indicate that Mr. Forrestal was ever an admiral. Further, unlike the Army and Air Force who were headed by a Chief of Staff, the Navy is headed by the Chief of Naval Operations(CNO). The office of CNO was established in 1915. During the war, Mr. Forrestal was Under-Secretary of the Navy for several years, appointed Secretary of the Navy in May 1944 and in 1947 appointed the first Secretary of Defense. This is an example of rather shoddy research if you ask me.

2. On page 258, he reports finding an eyewitness  (V.A) whose place “…is a neatly kept little farm on the Animas River, on the outskirts of  Blanco….” The only minor problem here is that it is the San Juan River on the outskirts of Blanco, not the Animas. If you can’t get the name of the river right, what  do you get right? 

3. On page 259, he states that V.A.’s daughter told him that you could see the south side of the south walls of Heart(sic) Canyon from her father’s front yard. A friend of mine told me that to see Hart Canyon from Blanco, one had to have either a very long neck or be a world champion high jumper or both. When I drove the area on June 29-30, 2012 I found it impossible to see Hart Canyon from the Blanco Area.


cda said...

Sounds promising and very exciting. I just can't wait to see the next two installments.

(Actually I can wait, but it is a great strain on my well-being).

Steve M said...


Thanks for this article on your blog. I've enjoyed reading it and I'm looking forward to the next 2 parts.

starman said...

Very interesting but didn't Aztec already have enough nails in its coffin?

KRandle said...

starman -

Apparently not... it keeps rising from the dead. I would hope this might be the final stake through the heart but it won't be. Too many who simply wish that it were so.

Lance said...


Many people brought up the problems with Ramsey’s story both before and after the book.

Have you ever seen Ramsey respond anywhere?

I don't recall him ever addressing any of the inconsistencies or idiocies.