I had some fun the other day that had nothing to do with the Fourth of July holiday. I received an email from a woman who had stumbled across an article about Brigadier General Arthur Exon. She wanted to know the source of the quotes I had published. Her tone was nearly accusatory. She wrote, “… I'm wondering if you have any corroborating source material for what you are attributing to General Exon?”
|Arthur Exon. Photo by Tom Carey|
She went on to explain that her father had been a close friend of Exon and that her father said that reports he had ever discussed Roswell were “completely false.” She added that her father had once asked Exon about Roswell and that he, Exon, refused to talk about it. She said that it was hard to believe that “during those later years he would not have told my dad that he went public with military secrets.”
She then wrote, “I would so appreciate a response. I’d like sources that I can trace.”
I emailed her almost immediately, which is something I rarely do. But I thought of this inquiry as a treat. I told her that I could provide the source of the quotes in two words. “Arthur Exon.”
I went on to explain that I had interviewed Exon in May 1990. Don Schmitt interviewed him a few weeks later. Both interviews were recorded, though Don’s was intermittent, given his recorder and the lawn mowing going out just outside the window. A few months later I met Exon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base but it wasn’t recorded, given the circumstances.
To make this even better, I mentioned that I had a letter from Exon attesting to the accuracy of the quotes. Stan Friedman, in one of his many attacks on my integrity, said that I had misquoted Exon. I told Friedman that I had the quotes on tape, but he said he didn’t care. Exon had told him I had misquoted him and Friedman was going to continue to push that point.
I sent a copy of the book, UFO Crash at Roswell, to Exon where the “offending” quotes were published and copies of the taped interviews, as well as the transcripts. Exon responded with a handwritten letter saying, “Although I believe you did quote me accurately, I do believe that in your writings you gave more credence and impression of personal direct knowledge than my recordings would indicate on their own.”
I also sent her a link to an article that Greg Sandow had written about the Exon episode. Kal Korff, that perigone of journalistic integrity, had made several allegations about Exon’s testimony. Sandow, a disinterested third party, responded to those allegations at length. For those interested in that, you can read it here (reprinted in the post with his permission):
With that, I believe that the questions about the source of the information was established. We had the tapes, I had the letter from Exon, and later Tom Carey became involved so that he heard many of the same things and took a picture of Exon as well.
There is one other thing that came from all this. Friedman never again raised the issue of misquoting Exon. I believe that was because he’d look a little bit vindictive by continuing the allegation when Exon himself had called the quotes accurate.
In the end, I gave her the information about the sources she could trace, provided documentation that the quotes were accurate, and told her I would be interested in her response to all this. She sent a longer email, giving some additional information about her research. The important line in all this was, “E[xon] intimated, though he could not claim first-hand experience, that it was all true.”
I will note that is not exactly true since Exon did talk about having flown over the crash sites, sometime later and could describe that he had seen burned areas and tire marks. Not exactly reporting on the downed craft, or the soldiers cleaning the area, but of some interest to us all.
But I think the questions about what Exon said have been laid to rest once again. I am certainly glad that I recorded the conversations and Friedman’s allegation inspired a handwritten response from Exon. It put all this to bed… again.