Thursday, December 07, 2017

Lonnie Zamora's Sobriety

Lonnie Zamora and others on the landing site in 1964.
In one of the most outrageous statements about the Socorro UFO landing case, Tony Bragalia, in his latest assault on the case wrote:

Sergeant Zamora was not “Saint Lonnie of Socorro”. Many people over the years have elevated this man to a place of undeserving virtue. Dave Thomas (an employee of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and President of New Mexicans for Science and Reason) decided to set up an intranet website expressly for staff and alumni of the College. The purpose was to create a venue where people could place comments on the Socorro UFO event. It was hoped that such comments would provide further understanding of what happened that day.

Incredibly, the site generated several posts from those who had personal knowledge about the occurrence and about Zamora, people who were there in the 1960s. And what they said was revealing:

“It was widely believed then that it was a Tech student’s prank. There were numerous pranksters at Tech in those days.”
Larry Boucher

“Zamora did drink too much.”
Richard X.

“Lonnie Zamora was reported to have a fondness for drink.”
Bill Stockton

“I always felt that late afternoon on a Friday was pretty curious, and feels like ‘grand finale’ for pranksters to me."
Anonymous

“Tech has always had older grad students who were (are still) brilliant, quickly clever and just subtle enough to pull off such a believable prank.”
William S.

“Lonnie drank. I hung out at the Capitol Bar with him.”
Lou Clark

It should be noted here that Dave Collis, formerly of the College’s Energetic Materials Research Center and a student in the 1960s at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, told me in no uncertain terms that Lonnie was often seen drinking beers at the local tavern and was not averse to tipping the elbow. Others interviewed have indicated that Zamora (who worked for eight years at the College as a mechanic before becoming an officer) was irritated by the out-of-towner students and was quick to anger with them.

There is no real evidence to back this up, other than the statements made about Zamora long after the fact. There is, however, something that is more to the point and even more critical than these somewhat biased statements. There is a report in the Project Blue Book files which is the transcript or notes of an interview conducted with Zamora in the days that followed the landing. That document said, “Feeling good. Last drink – two or three beers – over a month ago.”


This, of course, is the relevant statement simply because it is Zamora’s words given in the days that followed the incident, not some memories that are decades old. We can put to rest any notion that alcohol had anything to do with the sighting, the perceptions of the events, or Zamora’s sobriety on the evening of April 24, 1964.

12 comments:

Lance said...

I'm not sure that this is enough to put it to rest. After all, having watched enough Cops TV, I know that the drunkest drivers always seem to claim that they have had the least amount to drink...

But it does put us in the position of not having any good evidence one way or the other. I'm can't say the PBB account is that more definite than Tony's collection of accounts.

Don said...

Back in 1995, on one of the ufo newsgroups on usenet (and to be found in ufoupdateslist as well) was a comment from "Ron Ricketts" who said he was at NMIMT at the time of the incident (his opinion was Zamora saw a lunar lander prototype).

About Zamora he wrote:

"As far as Lonnie Zamora is concerned, I wished they had been straight with him. He once busted me for underage drinking, but instead of the slammer, took me back to the campus & told me to be cool. He was a good guy, and the only person who really got screwed in this episode."

Since this is from 1995, long before AJB's drunkard Zamora (and not from an ETH'r), he offers a different picture of Zamora than does AJB.

I have no idea who Mr Ricketts is (or was), but it seemed worth noting it here regarding Zamora's character.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Sorry, Lance -

But no. We have a statement made by Zamora in April 1964 that he hadn't had a drink for about a month. And we have statements gathered fifty years after the fact that said he was seen drinking at some point. The relevant statement is that by Zamora, and there is no indication in the documentation that either Harder or Byrnes thought that Zamora had been drinking prior to going on duty, while on duty or after duty on April 24. The other statements indicate that Zamora was seen in a bar (or bars) drinking at some point. If you were to survey people, you'd find that I have been seen in bars (though not for a couple of decades) having a drink or two. Can't the same thing be said about you and many, many others? The whole Zamora was seen drinking thing is irrelevant, unimportant, and should be ignored.

John Steiger said...

Slurs against Lonnie Zamora's sobriety decades after the fact are evidence of debunker desperation against the truth of the matter. Nothing more, nothing less.

cda said...

Tony Bragalia is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand he is 'over the moon' over Roswell and thinks it the best substantiated UFO=ET event since the beginning of time. On the other hand he debunks Socorro as a hoax, which took place in the same state of NM. There is, or was, a tenuous connection between the two in that the Roswell 'legend' as originally published in 1980 (and promoted by Stan Friedman) involved a 2nd or 3rd-hand witness to another UFO crash taking place near Socorro on the same day as the Roswell crash.

We need not suppose that Zamora was influenced by Roswell or indeed knew anything about Roswell. Nor need we suppose he had ever heard of Barney Barnett (the supposed witness to the Socorro event of 1947). But the connection is still there for those who want it to be.

Perhaps it is all part of New Mexico being known as "The Land of Enchantment".

Louis Nicholson said...

Now Kevin. Let's be real. Officer Zamora's statement implying his sobriety is of absolutely no significance. How do you know he was telling the truth? It's no more than a self-serving statement that proves nothing. To say that "we can put to rest any notion that alcohol had anything to do with the sighting, etc" because of this statement is really stretching common sense. This is not to say that Zamora had a drinking problem, there just isn't any real evidence either way.

When I was doing criminal defense work, I would have loved to have had a jury full of people with your logic. All I would have to do is have my client take the stand and say, "I didn't do the crime" and the jury would say, "you see, the defendant says he didn't do it which proves he didn't do it!"

Don said...

Nicholson: "When I was doing criminal defense work..."

If the defendant was accused of being drunk, and he said he wasn't, and there was no evidence presented by the plaintiff that the defendant had been drunk, then yes, the jury would take that into account -- and find for the defendant.

It is commonplace to determine if a witness was in any way impaired. Having any alcohol at all (not necessarily being drunk) during the event would qualify. Zamora said he hadn't had a drink recently. It ended there, as there was no one who contradicted his statement. Zamora didn't have to prove he hadn't been drinking...there's a legal problem with that.

Someone comes along, say a half-century later, and says 'Zamora drank beer". And the evidence he drank beer that afternoon? None. It ends there.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Sorry, Louis -

But I have to agree with Don on this one. There are no indications that Zamora had been drinking before, during, or after his duty that night. None of those who interviewed him that night, nor any of the other police officers mentioned a thing about Zamora drinking, and the only statement about this, taken that night, came from Zamora, which seemed to be him responding to a question. Without any evidence to the contrary such as people actually seeing Zamora drinking on April 24, 1964... or bar bills offered into evidence, or empty beer bottles in his police car, why should we discount Zamora's statement. All that has been offered are statements made to a closed website decades after the fact suggesting that Zamora did, in fact drink a beer now and then.

And if your client had taken the stand to say that he didn't do it, and there was no evidence that he did, well, then I would vote to acquit. If, however, there was video committing the crime, forensic evidence pointing to his guilt, eyewitness testimony, even if he did say he hadn't done it, I'd have to vote to convict.

Louis Nicholson said...

Don and Kevin:

I basically agree with both you.

As I originally said, there is no real evidence EITHER WAY showing Zamora had been drinking. I was attacking Kevin's assertion that Zamora's statement, in and of itself, is proof enough that he had definitely not been drinking. It certainly is not that, just like the rumors that he had been drinking is not credible evidence he was. We just don't know, and since no credible evidence has yet been produced either way, it is a non-issue.

Most of the time (not always) credible criminal court juries do not place much weight on the defendant's assertion that he or she is not guilty because the defendant has a tremendous motive to lie. The jury looks at what evidence the prosecution has presented and what evidence the defense presented. The judge instructs them that the prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the defendant doesn't have to prove anything. I've seen and talked to many jurors who found in favor of a criminal defendant while not believing any thing the defendant said. They just did not believe the prosecution proved its case.

With Zamora, since no credible evidence has been produced that he was drinking, its really a waste of time to even discuss the issue, even without his statement of denial.

Brian Bell said...

Yes it’s total nonsense to bring up Zamora’s sobriety that afternoon. There’s no evidence he was drinking and he said he wasn’t.

To imply or believe he had to be drinking is a nonstarter for me. Doing so not only ignores the fact there is no evidence he was, but it brings into question the credibility of not only Zamora but those additional people who investigated the case immediately thereafter - namely the FBI and the USAF.

Are we to assume then that they all simply lied? Were they all drinking perhaps? Or did they all plan this alleged hoax together?

No. Of course not which is why you take the facts on hand as truthful.

Don said...

CDA: "Tony Bragalia is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand he is 'over the moon' over Roswell and thinks it the best substantiated UFO=ET event since the beginning of time. On the other hand he debunks Socorro as a hoax..."

Sometimes, CDA, you can't see the forest for the trees (ET vs No ET).

If some students and academics could keep a secret for 50 or more years (even to today), then why couldn't the 'military' or the 'government' keep Roswell a secret (even to today)?

I doubt AJB considered that, though.

Regards,

Don

Ben Moss said...

As usual, Anthony B. is pushing his own agenda, and now apparently, making things up, to substantiate his ridiculous OPINION of this case. Chavez said that Lonnie was not a drinker beyond a few beers he had had "months ago", and there was not alcohol on his breath. Lance and AB are just throwing goofy comments out since the evidence points to an unusual event, while the is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that either can provide as a hoax. Kevin, I do not envy you having to suffer fools. The facts are evident, but ignored by these armchair opinionated.