The problem with the Lonnie Zamora, Socorro, UFO sighting was that it was single witness. There were hints that others might have seen something, but the names never seemed to surface. Opal Grinder, who managed a gas station in Socorro, told Dr. J. Allen Hynek that a family had stopped for gas and the father had said something about the aircraft flying low over the town. Grinder didn’t understand the significance of the statement at the time and he didn’t know who the man was. There was no credit card receipt so there was no way to track them and they have never come forward to tell their tale, if they had one to tell.
On April 29, 1964, just days after the sighting, two men who lived in Dubuque, Iowa, told the local newspaper that they had seen the UFO. Paul Kies and Larry Kratzer, who had been in New Mexico to retrieve a boat that had been left behind, when they drove through Socorro. The story that appeared in the newspaper was fairly inaccurate. Since no one had actually talked to them since that initial report, Iowa UFO researcher, Ralph DeGraw decided he would some fourteen years later. According to an article that he published in The UFO Examiner in September 1978 and republished in The MUFON UFO Journal in October 1978, DeGraw recounted what he had learned.
He wrote, “Although the circumstances such as the time, location, etc. were described the same by both men, descriptions of what they saw were entirely different!”
Kies, according to DeGraw, said that he had seen a cloud of dust followed by black smoke. He thought they were about a mile away, and that it was coming up, from the ground. There seemed to be something bright and shiny in the smoke. He wasn’t sure if the reflection, as he called it, had been from the low hanging sun, if it was reflecting from something on the ground or if an object was emitting the light. At that time, he didn’t think about having seen a UFO.
Kratzer told DeGraw that they were about a mile west of Socorro when he saw a cloud of black smoke coming from the ground ahead of them. Kratzer said that he pointed it out to Kies and watched as a saucer or egg-shaped object lifted off vertically, from the black smoke. He wasn’t sure how far away they had been, especially since it had been so long (fourteen years) ago. He thought it was about one-half to a mile away and might have been a thousand feet in the air.
He said that after it had climbed vertically out of the smoke, it leveled off and then disappeared behind the black smoke that was coming out of the rear. He said that the object itself was shiny silver with a row of darker, mirror-like windows that he assumed wrapped around the craft. There was a red Z toward the right end of the object. It made no noise and when DeGraw asked what he thought it was Kratzer said that it might have been a vertical lift aircraft.
They drove on into Socorro and stopped for gas. He thought that Kratzer might have mentioned the sighting to the attendant but he wasn’t sure. There might have been an attempt by some, certainly not DeGraw, to suggest that these were the people that Opal Grinder had seen, but Grinder was sure that it had been a man and woman and their three children.
Kies said they were listening to the radio late that night, as they headed back to Iowa, when he heard about the Zamora sighting. They realized that they might have seen the same object after it had taken off but said nothing about it to others until they arrived back in Dubuque.
DeGraw wasn’t impressed with the testimonies. He noted that the stories differed from one another and that neither matched very closely that given by Zamora. It suggested that they had made up the story, and while that certainly is a possibility, it would seem that had that been the case, one or the other might have said that to DeGraw, especially since it have been nearly a decade and a half since they had talked to the newspaper reporters.
I’m not sure that these discrepancies found in the stories after so long are all that significant. They did agree on the general descriptions and it is only some of the details that are different which could be explained by the time elapsed and the different perspective of the witnesses. I’ve always worried about two guys from Dubuque, Iowa, being in a position to see this but their explanation of that seems reasonable. They called the newspaper when they got home, so it was all recorded, however inaccurately by the newspaper, at the end of April 1964.
If the two men did see something outside of Socorro on April 24, 1964, then it suggests that something unusual was seen by Zamora. This would seem to reduce the possibility of a hoax. It makes the case stronger, and sometimes, after all these years, that’s about the best that can be hoped for.