Since it has been suggested that Ramey had invited reporters from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to his office, and since some of the quoted material came from a web site that hosted an interview with J. Bond Johnson, the reporter, I thought I could clarify some of this by posting the following. This is from my second interview with Johnson, made about a month after he called me, left his telephone number on my answering machine asking me to return the call. I note here that Johnson claimed I had called him cold and he had no opportunity to review his notes or the
newspaper articles that appeared in 1947… though in the first interview he
actually reads the July 9, 1947 article that he claimed to have written. Or, in
other words, he was not called cold. There are other indications in that
interview that he had already reviewed his “UFO” file, that he had talked to
Betsy Hudon at the University of Texas at Arlington, and he was aware that she
had forwarded a copy of my letter to him which gave him my telephone number. She
wouldn’t tell me who he was but she did say she would forward a letter to him
to facilitate our communication.
|Johnson's picture of General Ramey|
holding the memo. Photo copyright
by the University of Texas at Arlington.
In my March 24, 1989 interview, I said, “Could you just sort of tell me what you did… what transpired when your editor gave you the assignment to go out to the base.” In response, Johnson said:
My name is initial J Bond, it’s also James Bond Johnson. I’m the original [referring obviously to the master spy by the name of Bond, James Bond). I was a reporter and back up photographer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in July 1947 after having served in the Air Corps as a pilot-cadet in World War Two.
On the… Tuesday, July 8, 1947, late in the afternoon, I returned from an assignment to my office in the city room of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram which was both a morning and afternoon newspaper. My city editor of the morning paper ran over and said, “Bond, have you got your camera?” I said, “Yes,” I had it in my car. I had a four by five Speed Graphic that I had bought recently and I kept it in the car because I was working nights and police and so forth and had it at the ready. He said, “Go out to Ramey’s office and, he said, they’ve got something there [and] that to get a picture. I don’t recall what it he called it. He said they’ve flown something down… I don’t think he called it something… he gave it a name because I was kind of prepared for what I was going to see. He said something crashed out there or whatever and they’re… we just got an alert on the AP wire [emphasis added to prove a point] … though it might have been the UPI… that the Air Force or the Air Corps as it was called then [actually it was the Army Air Forces in July 1947] is flying it down from Roswell on orders from General Ramey. It would be located in his office. It was or would be by the time I got out there.
So I drove directly to Carswell [Fort Worth Army Air Field in July 1947] and my recollections now are I went in and I opened my carrying case with my Graphic and I had brought just one holder with me with two pieces of the 4 X 5 film. Black and white of course. I posed General Ramey with this debris piled in the middle of his rather large and plush office. It seemed incongruous to have this smelly garbage piled on the floor… spread out on the floor of this plush, big office that was probably, oh, 16 by 20 at least.
I posed General Ramey with this debris. At that time, I was briefed on the idea that it was not a flying disk as first reported but in fact was a weather balloon that had crashed. I returned to my office. I was met by a barrage of people that were unknown to me. These were people who had come over from Dallas… In those days, any time we had… we normally bussed any prints that we were sending to the AP, we bussed them to Dallas to be transmitted on the wire photo machines. We had a receiver but not a sender in Fort Worth in those days. And no faxes.
After a discussion of how they transmitted the pictures and we chatted about all the pictures including the ones of Major Jesse Marcel that Johnson would later claim he hadn’t taken, he said, “It is entirely possible that I was briefed by the PIO.”
We can take this even further. Dennis Balthaser published an interview with Johnson that can be found here:
During that interview, Balthaser said, “Finally, another researcher seems to remember a statement you made that the paper in General Ramey’s hand was a press release that you handed to General Ramey. Can you verify that as a true statement you would have made in a previous interview? If yes, please explain.”
Johnson said, “Yes, that was an early speculation of mine that I might have handed Ramey the copy of the AP ‘flash’ my editor had given me regarding the Roswell crash craft being flown to Fort Worth. Obviously I was in error in that speculation.”
What all this shows is that the information about the debris going to Fort Worth was in an AP news alert and had nothing to do with Ramey inviting people out to the base. We don’t have to speculate about this because we have the information from the reporter who was involved in it provided before he began think of himself as “the Roswell photographer.”
We can corroborate all of this from the news stories that appeared at the time and the chronology that was published in the Daily Illini. I also recovered a transmittal letter sent with the photographs that gave the date as July 8, 1947, the time as 11:59 p.m. and the photographer as J. Bond Johnson. Later, we can see that Johnson dramatically altered his story attempting to put himself into the spotlight. He went so far as to deny that he had written the story that appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on July 9, a story that he had told me he had written. He said during my first interview with him, “Seven nine [July 9] is my story on the front page that was in earlier … [which, of course, negates the idea that I called him cold and he hadn’t reviewed his UFO file].”
The problem for Johnson’s claim that they didn’t know what it was when he was there is the last paragraph in that article. It said, “After his first look, Ramey declared all it was was a weather balloon. The weather officer verified his view.”
For those who wish to follow this to its end, I did a blog posting on October 9, 2009, about the whole Johnson tale. It can be found here:
This then should end the idea that Ramey invited anyone out to his office. The story was on the news wire and the astute editors and reporters would think of calling Ramey on their own. He received telephone calls from far away and even did a telephone interview with a reporter on the West Coast. The idea that it was a weather balloon quickly killed the story and just hours after it broke on the news wires the interest faded.
But the point is that Ramey did not call anyone and invite them to his office. The testimony and the evidence negates that idea. Johnson may have well taken the teletype alert with him but we don’t know. He might well have taken it into General Ramey’s office but we don’t know. The evidence for that is contradictory because Johnson spun many tales about what he did and didn’t do in General Ramey’s office. However, given what we can prove, it would seem that we no longer have to speculate about the reason Johnson went out to the base.