Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Understand Kent Jeffrey

Back in the mid-1990s, airline pilot Kent Jeffrey (in th red shirt with Tom Carey center, and Colonel Jeffrey on right) developed an interest in the Roswell case. He believed, at that time, that something alien had fallen there and that the cover up of it should be broken. He believed that we all had the right to know what happened and he was willing to put up some of his own money and his own time in an attempt to learn the truth.

He began the Roswell Initiative which was a worldwide petition to the US government to release all its Roswell information and all its UFO files. He put it online and he gave copies to friends in other countries to demonstrate the worldwide interest in learning the truth. He met with the witnesses and offered them the services of a legal team if they got into trouble for telling what they knew. He traveled to Roswell to meet them.

About the time that we arrived at the 50th anniversary of the crash, in July 1997, Kent had changed his mind. He believed that the Roswell crash, if there was anything at all, was caused by something mundane. He no longer thought of it as extraterrestrial and he appeared on several radio and television shows explaining why he had changed his mind. I debated him in a couple of those forums and responded, at length, to his article about what he thought of as the "real" truth that appeared in the MUFON UFO Journal.

He did complete his Initiative and delivered some twenty or thirty thousand petitions to Washington, but included a letter that watered down the whole thing. It sort of undermined the power of the petitions by saying that he now believed Roswell was explained, but there were still UFO truths to be learned.

I won’t go into all of that here. In wrote about it in the Roswell Encyclopedia, including Kent’s article. He granted permission to use it and though I edited it slightly because of space limitations, I didn’t change it. For those who wish to read this, they can do so in that book.

I will note, however, that one of Kent’s reasons for changing his mind was because he had attended some of the 509th Bomb Group reunions, talking with officers who served in Roswell in 1947 and who said they had heard nothing about the UFO crash. They said that had it happened, they would have known.

I don’t believe that is right, given the nature of security regulations and how these things work. I believe that if the crash was highly classified, many of these officers might have heard rumors, but they wouldn’t have been involved in the retrieval and now, fifty and sixty years later can provide us with nothing more than their opinion that nothing happened. Kent thought this persuasive. I do not.

It was Frank Kaufmann who might have killed it all for Kent, though I don’t know this for certain. I know that Kent, and his father, a World War II triple ace, meaning he shot down, at least, fifteen enemy aircraft, met with Frank on a couple of occasions in Roswell. Frank told them the same story that he had told me and others. He talked of his hobnobbing with generals, and mentioned General Robert Thomas who had sneaked into Roswell in the guise of a warrant officer... or, at least that was what Frank said.

But Kent’s father was a retired, high-ranking Air Force officer and had friends who could check all this out. He could find no evidence of this General Thomas and this, I believe made Kent suspicious.

Given all this, I believe Kent decided that there couldn’t have been a crash because he would have been able to get something from these officers at the reunions. He would have found some trace of this General Thomas even if the general would corroborate any of the story. And his failure to find independent corroboration of the crash beyond those in Roswell talking about it suggested to him that there had been no crash.

I think Kent was further disillusioned by some of the "revelations" about Major Jesse Marcel. Marcel’s entire military record was leaked into the public arena in violation of the 1974 Privacy Act. You can read the story of Marcel in the Archive in the April 2007 list on this blog.

And he had talked with officers who had been at Wright Field or who had been part of the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) and who told him that nothing happened. Kent believed this to be the truth, though had there been a crash and had they been ordered not to talk about it, they very possibly would have said nothing happened. The lies told would be lies to protect national security and would therefore be part of the job.

I talked to a general who had been the chief of ATIC, or had overseen a larger part of the intelligence operation at Wright-Patterson AFB and when I asked him some questions he said, not kindly, "I don’t know who you are and I don’t know what is still classified and what is no longer classified and I can’t talk to you."

For a few moments more I tried to ask questions but it was clear that he wasn’t going to tell me anything. Does this prove a cover up in Roswell? No, it proves that there are military secrets and some are better at keeping them than others.

Kent didn’t get a chance to talk to Edwin Easley or Chester Barton, who worked for Easley and only had a couple of interesting things to say about the crash. He didn’t talk to Marcel but he was concerned about the contradictions in the Marcel’s military record and what Marcel had told Bob Pratt. He was concerned with the denials of men who claimed if something had happened, they would have known it, never understanding that sometimes military secrecy trumps friendship and those who thought they would have known were not inside the loop and they didn’t know.

I think Kent’s attempts to validate the information failed him and he lost some of his confidence in the Roswell case. I think that learning that Kaufmann was not who he claimed to be before we knew it for a fact, shook him. I think that learning that Glenn Dennis’s nurse didn’t exist under the name Dennis gave us, eliminated one of the better testimonies that led to the extraterrestrial. At the end of the day, there just wasn’t sufficient evidence for Kent to conclude that Roswell was alien. The Air Force explanation, the failure of so many of the eyewitnesses, and the damage done by those inventing their tales was enough for Kent. He concluded that Roswell was nothing alien.

I understand this because I too think some of the same things at times. Rumors should have circulated at Roswell among the pilots and surely some of them would have heard enough to suggest the crash was real. But I also know, having served with various military units that some secrets simply do not leak and sometimes those who think they have an inside track do not.

And while I might sometimes have my doubts about all Marcel said, when we look at his record we see a fine officer. Some of the things he told Bob Pratt are not borne out in the record, but then, it is possible that Pratt got some of it wrong. I do know the words are important and that Marcel never claimed his was a pilot as some have reported but said only that he had flown as one, and that is an important difference.

And I have watched the collapse of some testimony. Gerald Anderson was clearly making it up. It wasn’t quite as clear with Frank Kaufmann, but he too, was making it up. Glenn Dennis seemed to have a solid tale, but there were little things that went wrong with it. We learned the truth about him when he began to blame others for misunderstanding about the nurse’s name. The destruction there was more subtle, but when he began to say he had made up the nurse’s name, it reset everything to zero. Not quite as evident as Frank’s faked documents but enough to suggest Dennis was no more honest about this than Kaufmann.

So Kent looked at all this and decided that it was evidence that nothing alien happened. It could be explained as the Air Force said it could. Kent just couldn’t find sufficient evidence otherwise.

When I looked at this cesspool of useless evidence, I sometimes thought the same things. But then, I did talk to Edwin Easley and Chester Barton and a dozen others. I know what Easley told me but circumstances prevented a recording of the critical statement. For Kent that was a failure, but I heard what the man said. I can’t prove it for others, but I do know what was said.

And, I haven’t even touched on what Brigadier General Arthur Exon (seen here) told me. Yes, the debunkers and the Air Force have had little to say about him. So there are those who talk of something alien and who are who they claimed to be and who just might know something about it.

All that was too late for Kent. And if I hadn’t had the chance to talk to some of these people, then I might just agree with him. But I did talk to them, and I have talked to others, so I’m not as jaded as he has become. I can understand how it happened and the difference between the two of us is that I talked to some of the people he didn’t.


Bob Koford said...

This is a great article, and it resonates a deeper feeling of the need to stay in touch with this case, as much as others would like to forget it. I earnestly watch for those respected investigators who don't jump ship every time something turns out to be wrong,

because something is always going to turn out to be wrong, and I'll always want to find out what changes these "flaws" cause in the
case. Sometimes it can turn out to be a great big relief to be wrong.

But I also admit that I feel that some of those who don't see the need to go over it, or who want to "put it to rest",do so because they are not even convinced that we are dealing with anything unusual, let alone Extra or Non Terrestrial in the first place.

I would have to challenge anyone who falls into this category to read through at least the first three UFO program Status Reports,

especially number two ( December, 1951 ), that are available at the Blue Book Archives, and explain just who on this planet can hover around 40,000 feet, until f-86 jests arrive, and then bolt "straight-up"...presumably into outer-space, to avoid them? Or who
had giant "flying-Wing" shaped aircraft, in 1951, that could orbit Air Force bases at will, at 55,000 feet, or greater, and never stop to
refuel? There has been solid evidence, in hand, since this time period for extra-terrestrial visitation (or equally "wacky" assertion of an previously unknown, extremely advanced, earthling race).

The YB49 flying wing was in storage, by that month, and it was a dwarf to the flying wing sighted by the pilots, anyway. Sightings of a yellow or gold triangular craft go back even further than that. We send up our best, and then more, and it isn't good enough to get them close enough to even positively ID the craft! Doesn't this put to rest the Air Force assertions that there was no "...evidence of technological advancements beyond our present day scientific knowledge"?

To that end, any crashed UFO story must also be given the standard examination, without preclusions, for it is no more exotic than the idea of facing an extra terrestrial visitation.

And at the time Kauffman stepped forward, there were reasons to give him his day. For instance, not many of us knew about the many wedge or triangular-shaped objects that had been already been seen, and to that point every spoke in terms of them feeling it was a "saucer". Kauffman had asserted that "it" was wedge shaped, making
him seem to be a possible "marker" for the case. As long as we don't get all wrapped up in anyone's particular story, then we simply deal with the evidence as it comes, thanks especially to folks such as yourselves, Dr. Randle, and we'll just see where it goes from here.

John said...

"They said that had it happened, they would have known."

Well, what exactly DID they know? Even the USAF admits something happened -- Project Mogul.

Were they aware that there was indeed a crash? Did they even know there was a weather balloon crash, or a balloon crash at all?

If "they would have known," wouldn't they have known it was Project Mogul then? If "they would have known" about an UFO crash, wouldn't they have known about a much less sensitive occurrence -- Project Mogul, or some type of balloon?

This of course assumes that if the military wanted to keep a secret, they would have worked harder to hide alien wreckage than hide Project Mogul.

Thus, if "they would have known" something happened but didn't even know about Project Mogul, they would have been less likely to know about alien wreckage.

starman said...

Why does Friedman still support a crash on the Plains?? And why did Don Schmitt consider KDR a government agent?