When I began the Roswell investigation with Don Schmitt, I thought we’d find a solution quickly and that would be it. That didn’t happen, but as we talked with various witnesses, prowled various archives, museums and newspaper morgues, and found some limited documentation, it became clear that something had happened back in 1947.
When I interviewed retired Brigadier General Arthur Exon on the telephone on May 19, 1990, I began the discussion by saying that we were doing some research into the activities at Wright – Patterson Air Force Base. The discussion began with him mentioning that some outside agency would call, tell him they needed an aircraft for a mission, and then people would arrive by commercial air to be carried to the site of the investigation by an Air Force aircraft. This was all in the mid-1960s when Exon was the base commander. Seemed like a good way to disguise what you were doing.
Eventually we got around to the events of 1947 and Exon said:
As a result of that, I know they saw the one sighting and then where there… a good bit of the information came down. There was another location where it was, where apparently the main body of the spacecraft was… where they did say there were bodies there. I’ve been in… I’ve got special information but it may be more rumor than fact about what happened to those bodies although they were all found apparently outside the craft itself but were in fairly good condition. In other words, they weren’t broken up a lot.
I know what some of you are thinking. This doesn’t get us to Roswell and 1947 but it does mention bodies and does mention a spacecraft which means he wasn’t talking about an aircraft accident. He then said (after my question wondering if the bodies had come into Wright – Patterson which was simply “And they came to Wright – Patterson?):
Well, that’s my information. But one of them was that it went to the mortuary outfit… I think at that time it was in Denver [Lowery Field] where these people were being identified. But the strongest information was that they were brought into Wright – Pat. But whatever happened to the metal residue, I imagine it’s still there in the [unintelligible] some place.
But back in that ’47 time period, everybody was, it happened and why wasn’t there more information and who kept the lid on it. Well, I know that at the time the sightings happened it went to General Ramey who is now deceased, who was at Carswell AFB [Fort Worth] and he along with the people out at Roswell decided to change the story while they got their act together and got the information into the Pentagon and into the President.
Of course President Truman and General Spaatz, the Secretary of Defense [actually Secretary of War] who has now passed away, and other people who were close to them were the ones who made up the key investigative teams in relation to the released information. In one of my officers who did some research, who worked for me at Wright – Patterson, who had done some research on this part of his school came up with a deal that there was great concern at the time and there was fear that the people would panic if the sketchy information that they had such as what was it and where did it come from and what was their mission and so on and so on got out. So they decided to make it a national cover up. And that there probably wouldn’t be much released until everybody who was involved in it, including the thirteen people I’m talking about and their immediate staff who made up the, oh what was it, the twelve people who made up the investigative team had passed away. So they wouldn’t divulge information or information wouldn’t come out that they may or may not have been involved while they were alive.
That’s the logical thing and I know most of those people were around. I did know that they’re numbers one and two people were at the top of the staff including the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Staff and the intelligence circle including the President’s office, I never heard of any elected officials…
I cut in to ask a very basic question. I asked, “Now, is this personal knowledge that you have of this?” Exon said:
This is stuff that I’ve heard from ’47 on to the present time, really. About why wasn’t it… about who was responsible and it was no problem to find out who was in those positions in ’47 and ’48 and I just happen to remember them because the Air Force was being formed and I was in the Pentagon and worked around a lot between the Pentagon and the field so I knew these people.
Given this information, I wondered who would have been the controlling agency. Who had the overall responsibility for this? Exon said:
I just know there was a top intelligence echelon represented and the President’s office was represented and these people stayed on it in key positions even though they might have moved out to investigate all sightings and stuff and get pictures and get information and bring it into the central repository
From that point, the discussion shifted into who might be able to provide additional information. He did tell me of a man who had been in charge of the Foreign Technology Division at one time by the name of Cruikshank. I actually found him and called him. That conversation was very short and I could think of no way to keep him talking. He was too clever. He just told me that he didn’t know who I was, he didn’t know what was still classified and what wasn’t, and he had nothing else to say. While I didn’t appreciate the short telephone call, it made perfect sense to me. It was what I would have done in a similar circumstance.
I did ask about other crashes, but Exon said that the only one he knew about was the one in New Mexico. We finished our conversation with Exon saying, “…I’d be surprised if you found much in the records of FTD or like that because it was so closely held… If it originated there it ended up being part of the unholy thirteen group… people that I know who were involved in it, they were sworn to secrecy.”
Now here’s something that I came to realize later. We all assumed, and it is almost engraved in stone, that the modern UFO era began on June 24, 1947, when Ken Arnold made his sighting and report. We assumed that nothing else was going on in the world of the UFO, but as I was working on Government UFO Secrets, I learned that the UFO investigations actually went back to the Foo Fighters. There were the Ghost Rockets in Scandinavia in 1946 and finally the flying saucers of the US. But the intelligence networks had been looking into these things since World War II, and one guy’s name surfaced throughout this. Howard McCoy was the man and he was involved in the Foo Fighter investigation, was part of the US Ghost Rocket investigation and was then charged with investigating the flying saucers that were being reported prior to Arnold. And then in September 1947, when Twining’s letter was written, it was McCoy who wrote it for Twining’s signature.
So, if what fell at Roswell was alien, the committee to study these things already existed. It might have been expanded at that point but it was not created in response to anything that happened in July 1947. This was the mistake that I think we were all making. The people who were going to study this were already worried about the national security implications of the flying saucers, though they wouldn’t have called them that until after Arnold. So this committee, these “Unholy Thirteen” as Exon called them, was already at work trying to determine what was going on. If we postulate that they were already in existence because of what had been happening before Arnold it changes the complexion of UFO history.
So, when Exon revealed what he knew, he was talking about something that existed prior to July 1947. When what he told me, and later amplified for Don Schmitt, is looked at in this context, we see something a little different. What he says makes a little more sense, when what we know today is added to what Exon said in 1990.
In the end here, we see Exon’s words with a little more clarity, and we understand a little more about what he was saying. That doesn’t diminish the importance of them, just changes the context slightly and gives us a better understanding of what he said.