Sunday, October 23, 2016

Boxes of Blue Book Material on Craig's List

Ben Moss and Tony Angiola are probably annoyed with me for sticking my nose into this Socorro investigation. As I have explained, they made some very interesting comments during my radio show and I believed those comments deserved some follow up. That has been the point of several of the postings here. It truly is a descent into the minutia of the case but it has been sort of fun for me, though maybe not so much fun for Ben or Tony.

There was some discussion about the symbol that Zamora saw on the object. Ben and Tony thought that the proper version was the inverted “V” with the three lines through it. They mentioned (or more probably Ben) that they had documents from the Blue Book files that had been found in a box of material purchased at a garage sale. Yes, I know this is beginning to sound like the slides fiasco all over, but there was a provenance for this box as well as a chain of custody. It did contain Blue Book files and it seemed, for a time, that it had once belonged to CPT Richard T. Holder, who had been the first of the military officials to interview Zamora. Holder was an Army officer rather than a member of the Air Force or on the Blue Book staff.

Naturally, I was interested in this aspect of it, especially since there were two documents in that recovered file, both handwritten and both without date or signature that seemed to suggest the inverted “V” with the three lines was the correct symbol. If it could be confirmed that it had been Holder’s son who had sold the box, then that changed the story slightly. I learned, indirectly from Ben, that an Ohio UFO investigator, Rob Mercer, had purchased the box. I wanted to talk to him about what he had found and to learn if there had been a context for those two handwritten notes. Ben had supplied a web site and there was contact information for Rob. I sent an email to him and he responded with a long explanation of how he had come into possession of these Blue Book files… and from the look of what he had posted to his web site, it was clear that he had documents from Blue Book as well as notes and comments made by someone who had been intimately involved with Blue Book. You can review that information here:

(One of the things was the Tremonton, Utah UFO film taken by Delbert Newhouse that had a black line down the center of it… this was a scratch that was magnified with each reproduction of the film and was in the same place as a copy of that film I had received from Blue Book many years ago.)

Rob told me that he had found the material on Craig’s List and bought the box from the man who found it. Through some fine detective work, Rob was able to trace the information to a specific Air Force officer and eventually located the man. His identity was confirmed and he mentioned that he had additional boxes of information. He sent those on to Rob as well. Since some of the boxes contained actual copies of Blue Book cases, Rob was able to establish that the material in the boxes was legitimate and had been, at one time, in the possession of Blue Book or at the very least one of the men who worked at Blue Book. The former officer confirmed all this as well.

Illustration from the San Antonio,
Texas newspaper.
Given the way things had gone in the Socorro investigation, I was interested in those two handwritten notes that suggested the real symbol was the inverted “V” with the three lines through it. They seemed to confirm it, but as David Rudiak pointed out, that description had been published in newspapers on April 30, 1964. Some of the newspapers suggested Hynek as the source while others hinted at “witnesses” who had seen the original symbol as drawn by Zamora.

The key was the officer who had “saved” the material from destruction but the question was about the creation of the files. On October 20, 2016, I had an opportunity to interview the officer. I have a picture of him (courtesy of Ben Moss) standing in the Blue Book office with Lieutenant Colonel Hector Quintanilla and he confirmed that was a member of Blue Book at the end of the investigation.

The Socorro case, from April 1964, was before his time. He mentioned that Sergeant David Moody had been involved in that case, which, of course, we all knew based on what is in the Blue Book files not to mention newspapers from around the country. I knew that we were going back some 52 years, and if he hadn’t been there, I had little or no chance of learning how those documents had been created. I asked him about it, tried to put it into perspective, but since he had not created that specific file, he just couldn’t provide any useful information about it. All I can say with confidence is that the two documents, which reference State
Sergeant Moody on the left. US Air Force
Police Sergeant Chavez, are handwritten and show the symbol to be the inverted “V” with the three bars. I don’t know whose handwriting it is, I don’t know when the notes were made, I don’t know if they are based on newspaper reports (the wording is very close) and I don’t know why these documents are not in the Blue Book file proper if they are representative of the symbol that Zamora saw though many of the newspaper articles that mention it are there.

The upside of this is that the officer has agreed to appear on my radio show for November 2. We’re not going to concentrate on Socorro on that show because his experiences at Blue Book were not during that time, but about the attitudes, investigations, and handling of UFO reports, including how he ended up with boxes of the material. I will note here that everything I have seen (and Rob Mercer has been most generous with that) has no classification markings on it. It was unclassified material so there is no real reason for him not to have it. (It wasn’t even marked “For Official Use Only,” which is a very low level of classification that doesn’t require safe guarding or accountability.)

After our service in Iraq, I was tasked with writing the Unit History. I had, in my possession, hundreds of documents from that time but none of them were classified.  These were notes from the staff meetings, the information from the change of shift briefings and from a dozen or so other things that would be of no real interest to the average person, but for a historian looking into the Iraq War fifty years from now, it could provide a glimpse into what we were doing. I have a copy of the history, which ran to more than 700 pages.

For those interested, Ray Stanford, who literally wrote the book on Socorro (as he likes to say) will appear on November 9, though I don’t think we’re going to devote the show to just the Socorro case. He wants to talk about some of the other cases he has been involved in.

So, the point here is this. Ben Moss and Tony Angiola sparked my interest in parts of the Socorro case. With their help, I delved a little deeper into this and through that research end up communicating with Rob Mercer (who will be on the show November 16) to talk about what he found in the files and some of the ancillary items that went with them. I also had the chance to talk with a former Blue Book officer. We now have the opportunity, together, to learn about how some of this played out and to learn a little about the inside workings of Project Blue Book.


Curt Collins said...

Glad to hear about the guest, and am looking forward to the show. I hope you get to ask him about his knowledge of how Project Blue Book dealt with sighting reports of classified military projects.

Also, I'd like to hear his thoughts on what other material from PBB might have been lost or collected as souvenirs.

Paul Young said...

I'm looking forward to the upcoming show with the BB officer.
Kevin, if you have time, is there a chance you could ask him how he got himself drafted on to the BB investigation team? (And why he thinks he might have been selected.)

Anthony Mugan said...


Sorry to be negative about Socorro (again) but I have become more than ever convinced that the case lacks sufficient information to form a firm conclusion on.
a) The other possible eyewitnesses are either not identified second hand reports or were not investigated to establish the extent to which they actually correlate with the main event or might have other explanations etc. There are too many examples of apparent correlations falling apart to be comfortable with that.
b) There is actually therefore only one eye witness to the main event, Officer Zamora, that we can be reasonably confident about.
c) The characteristics reported by Officer Zamora contain some unusual elements, including the loud roar, the symbol and the exact characteristics of the object, which are not commonly reported in the highest quality cases.
d) There is confusion about the exact nature of the symbol reported (If I had to state an opinion I would concur with Kevin that the version in BB archives that Officer Zamora signed would have to be the best bet, but I accept that others may argue for an alternative). In any case those symbols don't recur in other reports.
e)There is little doubt that the physical traces at the site were created shortly before Sgt Chavez arrived on the scene. Who or what made them is far from clear. They don't seem to have any of the really unusual characteristics such as the biochemical anomalies at Trans-en-Provence that would make me feel that a hoax was completely out of the question.

All in all in might well all have happened as reported but the sorry history of so many UFO cases makes me very uncomfortable about being too certain about this one. If at some stage this symbol were to crop up again in a very convincing way that may be different, but it would have to be highly convincing and at the moment it just has too many loose ends and too much ambiguity for me to be anything other than 'insufficient information'.


ilfakiro said...

happy to read that next month will appear ray stanford: taking aside for a while the symbol issue, I would like to pinpoint that in stanford's book the author clearly states about the finding and further analysis of metal fragments on socorro landing site. Kevin can you ask more about it to ray stanford?

David Rudiak said...

Very interesting find. Too bad you were unable to trace who wrote the note with the inverted V symbol.

The only thing I have to add is that Chavez's quote about the inverted V symbol (wording similar to the note in the found Blue Book files) dates to at least April 28 (or a day before Hynek).

Walter Shrode of KSRC brought the symbol up directly with Zamora when interviewing him on the radio, exact date unknown, perhaps as early as April 26, but maybe later, or earlier. Zamora indicated that the military wanted him when he excused himself from the interview, and we know that Moody and Conner representing Blue Book arrived the afternoon of April 26, though perhaps some other military some other date, such as Holder, maybe the day before.

The AP article citing Zamora as giving the inverted V symbol (with a description close to Hynek's later drawing) seems to date to April 29.

Craig McDaniel said...


I have a name for you. Col. Dr. A Pharo Gagge. He was at Wright Field in 1941 to became chief of biophysics. He was part of a team to build several pressured flight suites and more.

If you read through his history why he was or could be a piece to Roswell, Dr. Gagge study high altitude research. He was also commander of Wright Patterson - AIR FORCE AEROSPACE MEDICAL RESEARCH LABORATORY

This leads to a question...

Your research into Roswell said there was 3 or 4 aliens recovered. Likely all dead and maybe one alive. Either way on this point, would the first real information generated from the Roswell crash come from biological? Col. Dr. Gagge (and his German Paper Clip team maybe) would have studied the alien blood and breathable gas mixture. We know the bodies went to WP. What do you think?

Rob Mercer said...

I'm looking forward to his show. When we last spoke he was enjoying listening to some of the newer cases that were coming in and hearing about the modern tools we were using in investigations.