It has long been the contention of those who worked with J. Bond Johnson on the attempt to read the Ramey memo that Johnson did not take the two photographs of Jesse Marcel holding up what looks to be debris of a weather balloon. I never really understood why that was so because the pictures seemed to be of the same quality as those that Johnson did say he took.
The Roswell Photo Interpretation Team including Ron Regehr and Neil Morris, determined by looking at the shadows and sunlight as seen through the curtains
office that the pictures of Marcel were taken at 3:15 p.m. and that would have
been Tuesday afternoon, July 8, 1947. Given the timing of the events, as they
have reconstructed them, this means that Johnson couldn’t have taken those two
pictures. And, if their estimate of the time is correct, then their assumption
is also correct.
|Ron Regehr (Photo copyright|
by Kevin Randle
I have never understood exactly how they made this interpretation. They talked of measuring shadows seen outside of Ramey’s office, but I don’t know if they had ever been to the base to make measurements, if the building in which Ramey had his office can be identified if it is still standing and how they determined the precise angle of the sun on July 8, 1947. What it is today doesn’t necessarily match what it would have been in 1947. Or, to put it in fewer words, I believe they made many assumptions to come up with the conclusions they wanted.
Here’s what we know based on the documentation. According to the time line published in the Daily Illini on July 9, the first of the AP alerts sounded at 4:26 p.m. Central Time (Fort Worth), or 3:26 Mountain Time (Roswell). Since Johnson had said, repeatedly he learned of the debris coming to Fort Worth from his editor and it seemed that the editor had the news bulletin, that means Johnson couldn’t have received word until after the Marcel photographs were taken.
The RPIT has concluded that there was another photographer there about two hours before Johnson arrived. It was this other photographer who took the two pictures of Marcel. Johnson at one point said that another fellow who worked at the newspaper in 1947 said that Ramey owed them a favor and had called the Star – Telegram to alert them about the situation. It was this man, never identified by Johnson or anyone else, who had taken those first pictures.
The problem here is that no one has ever come forward to claim to have taken the pictures of Marcel. After all the publicity surrounding these events, after all the times the pictures have been shown on television or published in books and magazines, it would seem that the man (and since this was 1947 I’m assuming it was a man) would have appeared to tell us that. Johnson, after all, and according to his own words, had been to Fort Worth to try to find his pictures after he had seen them on a television show or two.
And then there is where the negative of Marcel was filed. It was in the same envelop at the University of Texas – Arlington Library Special Collections as those of Ramey. That means the picture came from the Fort Worth Star – Telegram and that means they were taken by a photographer from that newspaper. But, again, according to Johnson, he claimed more than once he was the only one dispatched from there and to hear him tell it, he was the only one who took photographs in Ramey’s office, overlooking or belittling the picture of Irving Newton crouched in front of the same debris in relatively the same locations as it appears in the other photographers.
There is something else in all this. Johnson said that when he returned to the newspaper office, there was a “whole barrage” of people waiting for him. These were technicians from Dallas who had brought transmitting equipment to Fort Worth so that they could send a picture over the news wires. Johnson was told to develop the film and bring out a wet print because they were in such a big hurry to see what had been found and to get it out over the wire.
But, if there had been another photographer there, who could have been from a newspaper in the area though Johnson said it was from the Star – Telegram, he would have had, at the very least, a two hour head start on Johnson. His pictures,
of Marcel, would have gone out over the news
wire probably before Johnson could have returned to his office in Fort Worth
with his pictures, though there is no evidence of this. While Johnson’s
pictures would have been important because they would have been different, they
wouldn’t have been so critical that his editor wanted a “wet” print. They could
have waited for Johnson to dry them properly. And, there is no indication from
any of the archive services that any other picture, except the one of Newton
which is clearly different than those first six, were ever taken.
|Jesse Marcel with a view of the opening in the|
curtains. Photo copyright by the Special
Johnson had to be the photographer and the estimate of the time of the photographs based on looking through a slit in the curtains of Ramey’s office seems to be an amazing bit of deduction. The documentation from the time, Johnson’s own recollections of what he had been told and then related to me in the first two interviews he had ever given (yes, I was the first to interview him… I know this because I found in my notes that I had asked him about it and he said that no one had ever interviewed him) that Ramey told him it was a weather balloon, and what was written in that very first article in the Star – Telegram, sinks much of what he said later.
I won’t even bother to go through all of that again. Much of the information gathered in those first two interviews appeared in the International UFO Reporter (March/April 1990) and (November/December 1990). These articles outline the first interviews with Johnson and our (Don Schmitt and me) attempts to make some sense out of everything. The second article outlines the alterations in Johnson’s statements after his “interviews” with Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera. The critical interviews, that is, the ones I conducted are on tape.
The trouble here is that Johnson told so many stories, modified, changed and deleted information almost at a whim. We can believe the things that are corroborated by others and documentation and we can reject nearly everything else. Johnson’s desire to become an important part of the Roswell story ended up changing him from a valuable witness into just another clamoring for his fifteen minutes of fame regardless of the facts.