I have often wondered why it was that Karl Pflock went after me in his anti-Roswell book. I have often wondered why there are those who quote from it as if it had been written in stone but ignored the mistakes he made in it. I have wondered why the fourth note on the map included on the inside covers of the book said, “The ‘revisionist’ Randle – Schmitt/first Ragsdale/ ‘true’ Kaufmann crash site,” when it was, in fact, the first site that Ragsdale identified. Wouldn’t the new site, out by Boy Scout Mountain and championed by the late Max Littell, be the “revisionist” site since it came after our interview with Ragsdale and his identification of the site we mentioned?
But none of this is overly relevant to the purpose here, and that is to clarify another short group of quotes that is not exactly accurate. These concerned two witnesses Don Schmitt and I had named in our earlier books, which Pflock seemed to believe were misrepresented at best and confabulated at worst. Jay West and Lieutenant Colonel Albert Lovejoy Duran were the men named and Pflock said he couldn’t find them. He wrote:
Also included is Jay West, purportedly in 1961 a United Press International Stringer working in Alamogordo. According to Randle and Schmitt, West “became friendly with the base [presumably, Holloman Air Force Base, formerly Alamogordo Army Air Base] [brackets in original] public information officer. The PIO had found a file that mentioned the Roswell crash that included a map. The PIO got a topographical map of the crash site. According to West, they made trips out to try to locate the crash. West described the map as showing the debris field and then, two and a half miles to the east, a second site.
Curiously, other than the above, which appears in the timeline section of the UFO Crash at Roswell, and the entry in the list of interviewees (“conducted in person, Nov 1989”) [parens in original], West and his story appear nowhere else in the book, including the index [which for those of you keeping score at home neither Don nor I constructed], and he is given similarly short shift in Randle and Schmitt’s second book, The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell. Yet, clearly West could be the key to the Roswell mystery, the lever needed to pry the lid off the crashed-saucer cover-up.
Early on, Fred Whiting of the Fund for UFO Research and I sought to learn more about West from Randle and Schmitt. The answers we got were vague and rather evasive. Meanwhile with the help of a friend with extensive experience in New Mexico, and national journalism, I attempted to track down Jay West. We came up completely dry, rather like Glenn Dennis’s nurse.
A few years later, on August 3, 1999, I received an email message from Kevin Randle asking, “Did you talk to Frank Lovejoy Duran [previously mentioned alleged witness to alien bodies] [brackets in original]? This was a source that Schmitt developed and seemed to be quite impressed with.”
Replying in the negative, I took the opportunity to once again bring up Jay West. The next day, Randle replied, “Jay West was a guy Schmitt met in Florida (if I remember the story correctly [and in listening to the tape again, they were in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the time]) while he was down there interviewing either DuBose or Rickett. West provided him with the information but no documentation. We did search the files at White Sands and I took a FOIA request to Holloman….” Presumably with negative results, although Randle did not tell me that explicitly.
While all this is the truth, it is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Starting with Jay West, I will note that I have a tape of the interview that Don conducted. It sounded like they were at an indoor swimming pool for the interview because of the level of noise in the background and the noise sounded like that when I was on the swimming team in high school. There are points where it seems that you can hear the life guard’s whistle reinforcing the idea of an indoor pool.
West spends a great deal of time talking about his experiences at White Sands watching the missile launches and mentioned, specifically, the anti-missile missiles. After a strange gap in the tape, he finally got around to talking about their attempts to find the crash site. He had a map that was found at Holloman AFB and the base PIO was involved in the search. They traveled around New Mexico attempting to find the location.
West said, “So we went back to Roswell… and I’m not talking about the road maps, I’m talking about the topography maps and what they had were little ‘Xs’ all over the place and what [appeared] to be crossed lines… [What we saw during our searches] they could have been gouges… they could have been tire tracks… We walked around for a couple of hours and tried not to step on any snakes…”
He then launched into an explanation of what the map was. A huge topographical map which sounded to me as if he was talking about the kind of map we used in Army Aviation. Not really an aeronautical chart, but something that contained the surface features such as rivers, ravines, mountains, hills, elevations and that sort of thing. He finally said that it was like a military land navigation map.
He then said, “Over here there was a circular object… [here meaning an area on the ground].”
Don said, “There are a lot of sinkholes in the area.”
West replied that it wasn’t a sinkhole or anything like that. He seemed to be suggesting that it was some sort of circular area on the ground but the quality of the tape is so bad that I’m not sure. He could have been talking about some kind of a burned area, or a place where the sand had fused into glass. None of that is particularly significant because this could have been the result of a lightning strike at some point and there was nothing said that would tie it directly into Roswell except for the file in which the PIO said the map was found.
West said, “Now I don’t have… aside from the fact that was circular and the scale wasn’t all that big…
Don asked, “Where would this area have been in relation to…
West interrupted to say that he didn’t know. That he’d have to see a map but that the map they had been using was a photocopy of a larger map. He said that north was not to the top.
He began to describe the area. It looked as if someone had used a bulldozer and that “it looked like the whole area had been vacuumed.”
But the problem was, of course, even though he said the map had come from a file that had been labeled “Roswell,” and he had been out there seeing terrain that varied from that which had not been manipulated, when all was said and done, he had been out there in 1961, at least according to what he said, and he was now talking about this in 1989 or nearly thirty years later. While this had the potential to provide some corroboration for the Roswell crash, and he had said he still had the map, which would, of course provide some documentation, he never produced the map. This was a lead that went nowhere.
We tried to follow up and I spoke to people at the White Sands Missile Range, but they said they knew nothing about this. I hand carried a FOIA request to Holloman AFB and to the PIO office, but again, this was now more than thirty years after the fact, and the request produced no results. I had thought, and still think, that it should be possible to learn who was assigned to the PIO office in 1961 (though my recent attempts to follow up have gone nowhere and there had been no answers to my questions) … though such records might have been moved more than once and determined to be of no importance today. We never did not learn who the PIO was that had talked to West.
So, when Pflock noted that the information about West only appeared in the timeline of our first book, part of the reason was that we had found nothing to corroborate the story. That didn’t mean it was untrue, it simply meant that we were somewhat dubious about it. Had the tape been easier to understand, had we been able to learn the name of the PIO, had we found anything to establish that this was a more important part of the Roswell case, we would have given it a more prominent place in the book. As it was, here was a story that had been told to us, one of which we had no reason to reject, but then, little reason to feature because it provided nothing more than a map we hadn’t seen, file that no longer existed and a description of a site that we couldn’t find.
There were reasons for the somewhat vague answers to Pflock’s questions. I had given him everything that I knew and while we couldn’t prove the information useful, I did have a tape which proved we hadn’t invented it, though that seems to be something implied, vaguely, in Pflock’s book.
There was something else operating here and it was that I had read Roswell in Perspective, that is, Pflock’s report on Roswell to the Fund for UFO Research, some years earlier and realized that I was often the target. To complicate matters, when he had completed that project, I had sent him a carefully worded note congratulating on the completion of a long task but he immediately began telling people that I had agreed with his conclusions. There was nothing in the note to support that claim and I issued a statement explaining that my intent was to note a colleague’s completion of a task but had said nothing about endorsing his conclusions.
Here’s something else that seemed to have been ignored. Pflock never identified this “a friend with extensive experience in New Mexico, and national journalism.” While I suspect that might have been Jason Kellahin who had been one of the reporters sent from Albuquerque to Roswell in 1947, I don’t know this. We don’t have the person’s identity which means we don’t even know if it was a man or a woman, and there is no way to confirm the person’s expertise or to confirm Pflock’s conclusion on this. In other words, this unknown person with unknown credentials adds nothing to our knowledge at all but is used to suggest something nefarious on the parts of Schmitt and me. West might not have been who he claimed to be, but the information provided by Pflock does not allow us to evaluate West’s claim and does nothing to discredit it.
We then move onto Lieutenant Colonel Albert Lovejoy Duran. Pflock didn’t do much with this, other than a vague suggestion attributed to me that Schmitt had found the witness and was impressed with him.
I’m not sure why Pflock would ignore Duran almost completely if he was convinced we had done something that was unfair. We had relegated Duran to a single footnote in the first book and never mentioned him again. This, by itself, would suggest that he was not a source that we had done much with given the facts. Pflock provided no new information about Duran and apparently was unable to find any record of the man, though Pflock did mention the Army Records Center in St. Louis in his attempts, or others attempts, to find the nurses from the base in 1947. Apparently Pflock’s attempt to verify Duran’s military service failed, which is not to say that Duran had not served in the military only that Pflock had failed to confirm it.
The information came to us after a lecture in Alamogordo. A friend told us that her friend, Juanita Valenzuela, whose father had been in the military and who was currently living in Utah, said that he had been assigned to a unit at White Sands Proving Ground (which became the White Sands Missile Range) that had been sent into the desert north of Roswell. She suggested that bodies had been found at that location. Because of this information, which seemed to corroborate part of the Frank Kaufmann story, we had put it in a footnote, naming the name. We had confirmed his military service. I will note here that since Valenzuela didn’t know about Kaufmann, this was independent information which should not be judged by the failure of the Kaufmann testimony.
And, here's why we didn’t do much else with this. We were able to confirm his military service and retirement at the rank provided. Duran was apparently an alcoholic, who eventually moved to Colorado. A friend, Sergeant Arne Oldman, who was assigned to White Sands at the time (meaning early 1990s) attempted to interview Duran, but Duran’s cirrhosis of the liver made that problematic and Duran died before Oldman could meet with him in person though he did talk to him over the telephone conducting a somewhat preliminary interview. After he died, Don did talk to the daughter one more time and she stood by the tale she told. Because all this, and our failure to get Duran on tape, we let go of the story.
However, since someone brought this up on this blog, assuming, I believe because of Pflock’s failure to identify Duran (and his failure to locate West for the matter) that we had fudged the information. No one seemed to think that Pflock might have stopped his search when he had gotten the answers he wanted, spun that information the way he wanted, and made it sound as if we had invented these guys or their stories.
But there was a problem for Pflock and that was he didn’t know anything about Duran, and if he attempted to run the name by the Army in St. Louis, and he didn’t supply something other than the name, he might not have found the guy. On the other hand, I used a government publication, one printed every year, looking for any mention of Duran and found his name in it, confirming that he had retired as a lieutenant colonel. This does not mean the story he shared with his daughter, especially when he had been drinking, was true, only that the man existed and that he had retired as a lieutenant colonel.
This then, should answer all the questions about Jay West and Lieutenant Colonel Albert Duran. They are real people, West was interviewed on tape, and evidence proving Duran was a military officer has been found. They fell out of “favor” when there was no corroboration for what West said and when repeated attempts to interview Duran in person failed. Moving to higher standards of evidence was another of the reasons that they weren’t mentioned. But the claims of Pflock were not proven and while his dismissal of them was understandable, some of the reasons given were as nebulous as the stories told by these two men.
As I have said so often, these two tales, because they are now part of the Roswell case should be relegated to footnotes (which is basically where you can find them). Since they are part of the Roswell story, they must be addressed, but they added nothing significant to the case.