The other day I was interviewed by Whitley Strieber for his radio show/podcast about my book, Encounter in the Desert. I mentioned the book just because I could and hope that some of you will be inspired to buy it.
During the course of the interview, we touched on the Roswell UFO crash case, and he mentioned Brigadier General Arthur Exon who had become one of the important witnesses in the case. He said that Exon was a witness that Stan Friedman had found but I said, “No,” I had discovered Exon (this is
|BG Arthur Exon|
Naturally, he asked how I had learned of Exon, and I explained that J. Bond Johnson had mentioned the name to me and I had tracked him down, calling him in 1990. But, that got me to thinking about all this and I went back to my notes and files about the interviews with Exon.
For those who don’t know, I had called him, but rather than mention Roswell, I said that I was interested in tracking some of the information about ATIC and Project Blue Book, retrieval operations or four separate incidents, figuring that once we got into the topic of UFOs, we could expand from that.
After we had discussed those incidents, which had nothing to do with Roswell and the name of the town hadn’t even been mentioned, we did finally get to the meat of the interview. Most of that isn’t all that important here. I did ask him if he had heard about the rumors of little bodies and he said, “Well, yes, I have. In fact, I know people that were involved in photographing some of the residue from the New Mexico affair near Roswell.”
And that was the first mention of Roswell in the conversation.
I asked if this was from 1947 and he said, “Yeah. It was in the late 40s.”
He then said, “What they had done… this fellow was in [the] PR business apparently in command there at Roswell at the time of the sighting was found when the rancher reported it and some of the people as you obviously know collected a good bit of the information and took it into the commander’s office and took photographs. This fellow took the photographs of the residue. I’m talking about metal and stuff.”
I suppose you all can figure out the next question I asked. “Do we know his name?”
Exon said, “His name is Johnson. He lives here in Long Beach…”
Naturally, I said, “I know him. James Bond Johnson.”
Exon said that he didn’t know him all that well but did say that he had his telephone number. I already had that as well.
Yes, I know what you all are thinking but that interview took place on May 19, 1990, before we all learned the truth about Johnson and his ever-shifting story. At the time I knew that Johnson held a commission and was a colonel in the Reserve. I hadn’t really thought about this in a long time, and in 1990, I didn’t realize the importance of the statement.
And, to be fair, I did provide copies of the transcript to several people including Philip Klass, Karl Pflock, Don Schmitt and Tom Carey. One page was missing from that I had sent Klass, and I replaced it. The point is that these people, and probably a couple more have had this information almost from the time that I collected it. Had the Air Force, during their investigation contacted me about Roswell, I would have sent them copies of the tape. In fact, I offered copies of a number of the taped interviews to them, but they seem uninterested in them. I always thought it was because they didn’t want to have to attack the reputation of a general officer. Had they taken the tapes, they would have had all this information as well.
The other thing here is that Exon was right about knowing one of the photographers who took pictures of the residue. Johnson did take them and it was from Johnson that I got Exon’s name. I shared that information with Stan Friedman when were both in Roswell to film the segment of Unsolved Mysteries that dealt with Roswell.
What is the take away here?
Exon’s information about the photographer isn’t startling, and in fact, is somewhat depressing. Johnson took pictures of the weather balloon debris in General Ramey’s office. He didn’t photograph anything of overwhelming importance. Exon provided some additional details, but the fact of the matter is, that Johnson didn’t photograph an alien spacecraft and Exon’s statements didn’t do anything to provide additional information on this aspect of the case…
But I’ll bet my skeptical pals will suggest this is another reason that we should not place any emphasis on Exon’s statements. This is another example of how jumbled his memories were nearly a half century after the fact.
(For those who would like to but the book, Encounter in the Desert, you can find it here: