In reviewing what UFO expert Barry Greenwood had written about the Ramey Memo I thought about my interaction with J. Bond Johnson, the man who had taken the photographs. It started cordially enough with two long telephone conversations and ended with two more that were somewhat acrimonious. All this came about because Johnson started talking to others and realized that what he originally said and originally believed was in conflict with the spotlight he wanted to draw to himself. To keep that spotlight tightly focused on himself, he had to say things about me and about his interactions with General Ramey that he had to know were not true.
As I h
ave explained in the past, I learned about Johnson by accident. I was attempting to find an original copy of the picture of Warrant Officer (later major) Irving Newton that had been taken in Ramey’s office on July 8, 1947. According to that old Look magazine special on Flying Saucers, the picture was held by the Bettmann Photo Archives. They sent me two black and white Xerox copies of the photographs they held which told me that the pictures had been transmitted by INP Soundphoto at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time and had been taken by J. Bond Johnson (seen here with cutline seen below). This, of course, confirms Johnson’s presence and some of his testimony in the case.
I learned that Johnson had worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
and that the negatives should be there. Of course, they weren’t and I was directed to the University of Texas at Arlington and to their Special Collections library. And that is where I found additional pictures. None of Newton, by the way, but others of Major Jesse Marcel, Sr., Brigadier General Roger Ramey and Colonel Thomas J. DuBose.
The woman who worked there at the time, which was 1989, was Betsy Hudon and she mentioned that she had been talked with a fellow who claimed to be the photographer. Given my cynical nature, I wasn’t sure I believed that, but thought I should check it out and asked who that was. She refused to give me the name, believing that it would violate his privacy. She had no problem, however, sending along a letter to him from me as a way of introducing me to him. Then, if he was interested, he could call me.
As a courtesy, she sent me a copy of the letter she had enclosed with mine, and on it was the name and address of the photographer. So, I knew who it was though I’m sure her mistake was unintentional.
In a few days I received a telephone call from J. Bond Johnson and in a taped interview, he told me what happened in General Ramey’s office. Of course I asked him if he minded if I recorded the call and he said he did not. As a note, on the second call to him, I asked him on tape if he minded and again he said that he did not. Later he would claim that I had called him cold and that I had not said anything about recording the conversations.
I will note here that I didn’t call him cold because he had received a letter from me so he knew my interest and I got his telephone number from him. He knew something about the events because he had been tracking the pictures, and he had a copy of the article that appeared on July 9 in an early edition of the Star-Telegram. He called me so that we could talk about this aspect of the Roswell case.
Given the nature of the following events, I believe that the first and second interviews with Johnson are the closest to the truth. I believe this because the facts, as established through other sources including newspaper articles including one that Johnson originally claimed he wrote, and with interviews with others who were in Ramey’s office corroborate these facts. Later, as Johnson moved into his fantasy world, his comments were completely contradicted by all the other evidence. In fact, his comments were contradicted by other comments he made, sometimes in the same conversation.
I began this first interview by asking, " You took the pictures of Marcel and the guys with the wreckage?"
J. Bond Johnson (JBJ): I took the picture with Gen. Ramey and the wreckage. Gen. Ramey was the commander of the 20th Air Force at that time. Or maybe not the 20th, maybe the 15th.
KDR: I think it was actually the 8th Air Force at that time.
JBJ: I think that's not right. [It was, in fact, the 8th Air Force.] I have the information anyway. I went to Texas around Christmas just before and went down to the newspaper and they turned me over to the library and I found and went back in the microfiche. I found the pictures. Interesting. I looked for the- they had tuned the negatives from those years over to UTA [University of Texas at Arlington] where you had contacted...
KDR: I found that out as well.
JBJ: They, interestingly, they could not find the negatives that I had taken. They had disappeared which is kind of interesting. [Actually, some of the negatives are on file at the library.] But of course I got copies from the paper. It ran in both the morning and afternoon editions.
KDR: That was the Star-Telegram.
JBJ: The Star-Telegram. The interesting things that you can get into, that you may know about . . . oh, those pictures have been used on a couple of TV shows. . . . One was Star Trek . .. no, Star . . .In Search of which Leonard Nimoy was the host of. [Johnson's photos were not used on In Search of] And I was sitting watching the TV and it popped up and showed this picture and oh, there's my picture. That kind of thing. Then another time it was on ABC. They had done a similar sort of thing and I was going to . . . Alan Lansbury puts together the In Search of and he invited me over to a party at his house and this major was going to be there, the one from Roswell... My interesting part of this, having taken the picture and now going back and looking at the picture because I didn't have a copy of it . . . is that I don't know whether the Air Force was pulling a hoax or not. It looks like a kite. There was another thing that the gal from UTA gave me . . . there is a negative they have of Ramey looking at this ray-wind [sic] kite or something and it was printed in the paper a couple of days earlier. [In fact, this is one of the photos Johnson took. There is no evidence that Ramey was photographed with a Rawin target device earlier in the day or at any other time until Johnson took his photographs.]
KDR: Marcel is ordered off Roswell and they load the material into a B-29 and flew it to Fort Worth for Ramey to look at.
JBJ: That's when I got into it because the AP picked up that they were flying it down there. And I walked into the Star-Telegram. I was primarily a reporter but I had a camera, Speed-Graphic, that I carried in my car. I worked night police. I was a back-up photographer. The city editor came over and said, 'Bond, you got your camera?" And I said yes and he said, "Get out to General Ramey's office. They've got a flying saucer and they're bringing it from Roswell." And they were flying it down there.
KDR: I think what happened was that they realized what they had. They realized that it was something extremely unusual. That it really was an alien spacecraft. Then Ramey comes up with this weather-balloon nonsense.
JBJ: Right. That was a hoax, I think that's when they called and what I saw. I think I was duped... And it's interesting that if it was a ray-wind [sic]or a balloon that the commander of Roswell wouldn't have known that and that...
KDR: The intelligence officer should have known that.
JBJ: That's right but they had to get some warrant officer to chop on it at Carswell. [Technically it was the Fort Worth Army Air Field.] What I want to find now is that negative and see what that picture is that happened to be in the paper just a couple of days sooner with Ramey looking at the weather balloon. I have one identified on the caption of Ramey looking at it and it was published in the Star-Telegram. That's from the Star-Telegram file that
is in Arlington [Texas].
KDR: So you've been through the files at Arlington?
JBJ: No, no. I'm just talking to the same girl.
JBJ: She sent me the list for all Ramey's photographs at the Star-Telegram. At first I didn't know how to identify them. She sent a list of all the Ramey pictures but mine was not included.
KDR: She's doing the same thing for me because I had asked her about Ramey and that stuff. I said, "How about Marcel?" And she said that the other fellow didn't know about Marcel. So I thought maybe the picture (Marcel seen here) . . . I've got a couple of questions that I need to ask you that might help me out later on. Is there any way that you could find out who would have been at the first press
conference and taken the other pictures of Marcel?
JBJ: Never heard of that. They ran in the Star-Telegram?
KDR: There are pictures of Marcel...
JBJ: I didn't know about that at the time and I can't imagine that I wouldn't have.
KDR: There's a picture of him holding the wreckage. There's a picture of Marcel.
JBJ: You're sure that's not Ramey.
KDR: No, it's Marcel. It's Marcel holding the wreckage.
JBJ: When I went there, there was no press conference. I just went out and Ramey was there and the stuff was scattered . . . spread out on the floor in his office. He had a big office as most of them do. And he went over and I posed him looking at it, squatting down, holding the stuff.
JBJ: That's the one I took. Of Ramey.
KDR: Did you only take one picture?
JBJ: I took one. I had one holder. I took . . . they were essentially duplicates. I took two shots. I just had one holder. That's all I had with me. [He actually had three holders and took six photos. At the time of this discussion, neither Johnson nor I realized all of this. As I continued the search, I learned the truth about the number of pictures... but in the long run, none of this about pictures and holders was of overwhelming importance.]
KDR: So you used all your film.
JBJ: That was it. I got back at the newspaper. The newspapers had gotten excited. The AP had sent over a portable wire photo transmitter and I got a call from Blackthorn or whatever or all the news photo people. Everybody wanted an exclusive and I'd taken two...
KDR: Your big chance for fame and you blew it.
JBJ: Exactly. But it was not an exciting thing. It was just a bunch of garbage anyway.
KDR: That's what it says. I had Betsy [Hudon of UTA] looking for the pictures as well. She's sending me the list too. I figure someone is going to go to Fort Worth to look through them to find out if the stuff is really missing. I have seen- I've got one picture and it's a very bad copy of Marcel holding the wreckage. I've seen pictures of Ramey with the stuff . Look magazine did something in 1966 and talked about this; it showed Ramey [actually it was Newton] holding the stuff.
JBJ: lt might be my picture. He was squatting down and looking at it. It was on the floor in his office. There were no other reporters there. I went in and I don't remember. I think there was some aide there.
KDR: His aide was there?
A little explanation might be necessary here. At this point in the investigation, I am unsure of the sequence of events, unsure of who really knew what, and unsure of what Johnson really knows. Later, as I continued the research, I would sort all this out. I would learn about the number of pictures taken, who took them, with the exception of the one picture of Newton, and have a better idea about the exact timing of events based on newspaper articles that provided a time sequence. In this interview, I’m still trying to sort things out so some of the questions seem to be redundant or simple but they eventually lead to the proper conclusions.
And note here that Johnson has suggested that Ramey’s aide was in the office. What I didn’t know then, and don’t know now, is if Johnson meant Captain Roy Showalter, who in 1947, was Ramey’s aide, or Colonel DuBose who some believed was Ramey’s aide but who was, in fact, the Eighth Air Force Chief of Staff. Johnson seems to indicate here that there was only one other person in the office, but we know, based on the photographic evidence that Marcel was also there. This means that the lack of mention about Showalter specifically isn’t of great consequence one way or the other.
Johnson told me, "Okay. And that's all I think were there. I took the two [do I need to point out, again, that this number is incorrect?] pictures and then they said- but that time they said, oh we've found out what it is and you know, it's a weather balloon and so forth. No big deal. I didn't press it. I accepted that. I was rather naive. I accepted it."
KDR: Everybody did.
JBJ: I had no reason to come on then and say, 'oh, you've got to be lying."
KDR: Why couldn't your intelligence officer identify this?
JBJ: See, I was not pressing him.
KDR: Okay. So you went to Ramey's office, you saw the wreckage, you took the two pictures, you talked to Ramey, he said it's a weather balloon, you went back to...
JBJ: The Star-Telegram and gave them the wet prints of the thing. They wanted them right out. I went in and developed them and gave them wet prints. And I wrote...
KDR: And you don't know of any other photographs taken at the Star-Telegram of Marcel when he first got there or anything like that?
JBJ: I never have heard that mentioned.
KDR: I wonder if they got the newspaper wrong. How about the other newspapers in the area like the Dallas...
JBJ: The Fort Worth Press was the only other one.
KDR: The Dallas Morning News...
JBJ: They would not have been over there. I don't think they came. I never saw any other pictures at that time. They wouldn't have been so anxious to get mine if they had had any others. Particularly if they had some earlier. When I got back there they . . . there were a whole bunch of people there. We didn't normally send wire photo directly. They had . . . in fact they went out of Dallas. And they had to send over . . . any time they wanted something they'd have to send over a portable transmitter. That's what they had done just while I had
gone out to . . .
KDR: The Dallas paper did.
(What we know now is that, about the time Johnson was in Ramey’s office, reporter for the Dallas Morning News was on the telephone with Major Edwin Kirton, hearing that it was all just a weather balloon. And we now know that Ramey had already told a west coast newspaper that it was a weather balloon.)
JBJ: No, the AP did. Then we put it right on the air from there. Because we were late . . . it was late in the afternoon. On the east coast it would have been deadline time. And that's why they wanted it . . . for the New York papers and all. That's why they were rushing me. This is towards the end of the day.
At this point, I haven’t figured out that Johnson took two pictures of Marcel, which were then cropped so that it didn’t look like the rawin target. When you see the whole picture, it’s quite clear what it shows. When Marcel looked at those pictures decades later, in the company of TV reporter Johnny Mann, Marcel said that wasn’t the stuff he had taken to Fort Worth. Those were of a weather balloon... but this is a discussion for another time.
JBJ: I don't know who that would have been. Let me look at my UFO file. I have Ramey squatting down. That's July 10 and then there's a consolidated news story right by it from news dispatches. ‘Fireballs Dim Disc over Texas.’ And then I have the other one. On Sunday, July 6, the front page of the Star-Telegram: "Sky Mystery Mounts as More Flying Discs Are Sighted All over the Country." It mentions Texas and New Mexico and Washington and Oregon. But it does say New Mexico in that article. And then on July 7, Monday, on the front page again, 'Flying Discs Cavort All over U.S. as Mystery Continues to Mount." Seven-nine [July 9] is my story [emphasis added] on the front page that was in earlier that day. That's when they debunked it. Oh, [paraphrasing] object found at Roswell was stripped of is glamour as flying disc by a Fort Worth Army Air Field weather officer late Tuesday . . . identified as a weather balloon. Warrant Officer Irving Newton from Medford, Wisconsin, weather forecaster at the base, said the object was a raywind target used to determine the direction of wind at high altitudes. Hurried home and dug up the remnants and so forth. It had been found three weeks previously by a New Mexican rancher, W. W. Brazel on his property 85 miles northwest of Roswell and thirty miles from the nearest telephone. He had no radio and so forth.
We finished the interview with some discussion about other crashes that have been reported, for example those at Del Rio, Texas, and Kingman, Arizona. Johnson then asked if I could send him some material and I agreed to put something together for him. Naturally there were additional questions to be asked.
On March 24, 1989, I called Johnson again in an attempt to clarify some of the questions bouncing around. At the beginning of the call, and on tape, you hear me ask if he objects to my recording the conversation and he says, "No." I then ask for a narration, from start to finish, of what he remembered about the trip out to Ramey’s office and what took place inside.
JBJ: Okay. My name is initial J. Bond; it's also James Bond Johnson. I'm the original. I was a reporter and backup photographer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in July of 1947 after having served in the Air Corps as a pilot-cadet in World War II. On Tuesday, July 8, 1947,late in the afternoon, I returned from an assignment to my office in the city room of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which was both a morning and afternoon newspaper. My city editor of the morning paper ran over and said, "Bond, have you got your camera?" I said yes, I had it in my car. I had a four by-five Speed Graphic that I had bought recently and I kept it in the car because I was working nights and police and so forth and had it at the ready. He said go out to Gen. Ramey's office and . . . He said they've got something there and to get a picture. I don't now recall what he called it. He said they've flown something down. . . I don't think he called it something . . . he gave it a name because I was kind of prepared for what I was going to see. He said something crashed out there or whatever and they're -- we just got an alert on the AP wire . . . though it might have been the UPI [He means the United Press; the UPI wasn't formed until 1958.] . . . that the Air Force or the Air Corps as it was called then is flying it down from Roswell on orders from Gen. Ramey. It would be located in his office. It was or would be by the time I got out there.
So I drove directly to Carswell and my recollections are now I went in and I opened my carrying case with my Graphic and I had brought just one holder with me with two pieces of the four-by-five film. [In an interview on December 23, 1990, Johnson told us he had two holders and four pieces of film.] Black and white of course. I posed Gen. Ramey with this debris piled in the middle of his rather large and plush office. It seemed incongruous to have this smelly garbage piled up on the floor . . . spread out on the floor of this rather plush, big office that was probably, oh, 16 by 20 at least.
I posed Gen. Ramey with this debris. At that time I was briefed on the idea that it was not a flying disc as first reported but in fact was a weather balloon that had crashed. [Emphasis added.] I returned to my office. I was met by a barrage of people that were unknown to me. These were people who had come over from Dallas. In those days, any time we had – we normally bused any prints that we were sending to the AP, we bused them to Dallas to be transmitted on the wire photo machines. We had a receiver but not a sender in Fort Worth in those days. And no faxes.
So Cullum Greene, who was my city editor, said "Bond, give us a wet print," which was not unusual. I normally operated on a very short time span at night or whatever . . . on an accident or a murder or whatever which I usually wound up taking pictures of. And, ah, he said, "Give us a wet print." So I went in. They had brought up a portable wire photo transmitter and had it set up there in the newsroom. There was some assorted people around there.
KDR: Other reporters?
JBJ: No, these were technicians that had come over in the time that it had taken me to drive out to Carswell and interview Gen. Ramey, get briefed and come back to the office. They had come from Dallas and set up this wire photo machine. They were people I did not know. They were AP personnel.
KDR: Did you talk to Gen. Ramey very long?
JBJ: No. There wasn't much to say. As I remember, I probably wasn't there more than 20 minutes which was not unusual. Generals are pretty busy. You get in and I didn't have a whole lot to question him on. This was a very new thing because the very first article I saw in going back and researching it much later – the first story I found in the paper was July 6. I went in and developed those two pictures and they were just identical almost. I came out with 8-by-10 wet prints and gave them to our photo people and they said thank you and by that time the telephone operator gave me a whole stack of messages that had come from all over the country. Everybody photo services like Blackthorn wanted exclusive photos and I could have retired very early. I had those two pictures so I had nothing to sell. I printed those two and that was it. The picture – it was too late in the day as I remember it. They didn't run it in the morning paper but they did run it the next afternoon and the following
morning. Because the photographs I have now are – it ran on the morning of July l0 and the aftemoon of July 9. It is entirely possible that I was briefed by the PIO. [Emphasis added.]
So now I have a narrative with no interruptions by me. Just Johnson telling his story from the top, explaining that it was really no big deal because Ramey knew it was a balloon. He has told me that he wrote the article that appeared in the July 9 newspaper and by one count of the whole transcript, he has repeated this seven times.
On August 4, after a couple of letters, I again spoke with Johnson for 28 minutes. Unfortunately, the tape malfunctioned so that all I have of that conversation are the notes I took. I simply wanted to go over some of the things again and check the exact sequence. I wasn’t concerned. All the information, with one minor exception, was on the other tapes.
Johnson said that it was late in the afternoon when he went to Ramey's office. He mentioned that he was mildly surprised that they were ready for him when he arrived. The front gate had been told he would be coming and there was a pass waiting there [He would later claim that this couldn’t be true because he was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and he had one of their stickers on his car so he had access to the base]. He was sent to Ramey's office and shown the weather balloon. He said that it smelled of burned rubber and wondered why it was so important that they would bring it up to the general's office.
Johnson said that it took him about 30 minutes to get to Ramey’s office after he had been alerted. They had received a teletype (flash) message that the material was on its way to Ramey. When he got there, the balloon was spread out on the floor, filling up one part of the room. He took his photos of it, spoke with the general, and then left.
Please note here that he said they had received a teletype message that the material was on the way to Ramey’s office and when he arrived the weather balloons were spread out on the floor. This will become important as we continue this long examination of the J. Bond Johnson episode.
But then the world shifted and Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera learned of J. Bond Johnson who they described as their new star witness. They interviewed him a number of times and now the story is different. Now, according to this version, Ramey didn’t know what it was in his office. Now Johnson believes that some of the real debris is mixed in with the balloon and rawin target debris. And now, Johnson was telling all who will listen that I have misquoted him.
In an article published in June 1990 issue of Focus, a newsletter created by Moore, Johnson saw the city editor, about 4 in the afternoon and was ordered out to the Fort Worth Army Air Field, later renamed Carswell. He said that it took him about twenty minutes to get there and since he was an officer in the CAP he only had to show his press pass to enter. He still stopped at the gate and he confirmed that he had to pick up his press pass there.
He went to Ramey’s office, which was different than his normal routine, and saw, in the middle of the room, the debris. He told Moore that there was an acrid odor of burned rubber. According to this version, Johnson asked Ramey what it was only to be told that Ramey didn’t know what the hell it was.
He claimed to Moore and Shandera he hadn’t seen Marcel and because of that, the cover story was not in place at that time. Because of that, Johnson rushed back to the newspaper with his photographs.
Now Moore and Shandera claim that this new Johnson story, that is in conflict with what he had told me, "...holds up and sheds new light on the events. The photographs show the actual debris from the flying disc from Roswell."
These conflicts aren’t over minor points in the story, but in significant details and changes nearly everything. Johnson had gone from a straightforward account to one that made him one of the few who had seen real debris. Not only that, he had photographed it and these, with a single exception, were the only photographs of that debris. In fact, Johnson would later claim that there were no other pictures of this. Only the six that he had taken. He denied that the photograph of Irving Newton showed the real stuff and that this photograph was unimportant and had not been published in newspapers of the time.
So I called Johnson because I had the tapes of our conversations and I knew what he had said then. And, I knew what he was claiming in his new story. I was interested in getting his reaction to these things. So I asked him about his quotes to me that Ramey had told him it was a weather balloon.
Johnson asked, "Why would Ramey have told me he didn't know what it was?"
KDR: I have no idea.
JBJ: It was kind of like- I don't recall the words, but when I went back they asked me, "What did he say it was?" He [Ramey] didn't have any idea.
KDR: In the story you wrote you said it was a weather balloon.
JBJ: [Long pause.] Well, I didn't know that; I don't know what I wrote. Unless that was what you were just saying. [Long pause.] Because I didn't know that; I don't yet know that. And I'd have to look at one and see if it looked like it to me. I don't know what size they are...
KDR: They did this because the debris had been quoted as being torn up and wrecked. They ripped the thing apart when they brought it into Ramey's office so it grossly resembled the debris they had at Roswell.
JBJ: I remember that after I got out of the darkroom they had several messages to call people. That's what took up my time. I didn't even write an article then. But it was shortly after that that they received this cover story.
KDR: The cover story went out right away.
JBJ: They did not have it when I got back until after I had developed the pictures because then there would have been no urgency.
I will note here that the times lines developed using newspapers and other documentation from that period prove that the cover story was in place before Johnson returned to the newspaper office, and probably was in place before he left to drive to the base. Johnson is just flat wrong about this.
KDR: What you'd said to me was, "These were people who had come over from Dallas. In those days, any time we had . . . we normally bused any prints that we were sending to the AP, we bused them to Dallas to be transmitted on the wire photo machine. We had a receiver but not a sender in Fort Worth in those days. And no faxes."
JBJ: I would not have said bus unless that was just a slip of the tongue.
KDR: That may well be. Then it talked about they had come from Dallas and they set up the portable.
JBJ: Yes, they had come from Dallas. These were the technicians. These were people I didn't know. They were pushing me.
With that we discussed the genesis of the term flying saucer and some of the technology available during the late l94os. Johnson mentioned that the Star-Telegram did a morning radio program from the news room where the late-breaking stories were read for the listeners. But then we returned to the discussion of the factual errors that Johnson now claimed had crept into our article.
JBJ: That was [a] factual error that Ramey, you said in here [IUR], that Ramey told me that it was a weather balloon.
KDR: That's what you told me.
JBJ: No. That was in error because...
KDR: That's what you told me.
JBJ: Okay. He didn't know because I remember asking him and he shrugged and he said, kinda like, "How the hell should I know?"
KDR: You told me originally that Ramey told you it was a weather balloon.
JBJ: Well, I wouldn't have because even when we got back to the office and I know he didn't say that. The facts of the other people. They were very excited and anxious to get that and get it on the air and they were, ah, to get it transmitted. That's why I had to rush it out so quickly, to give them a wet print and, ah, they were on the deadline of the East Coast with the – it was late in the day and they're three hours later [sic]. This is what I remember talking about, and they had an East Coast deadline. But they didn't at that time know, there had been no cover story. That came some time later before I left the office. I think I normally left there about seven or seven-thirty unless I went to a dinner meeting to cover that or something. Okay, because Ramey, whatever, when he explained about the weather balloon, came along after.
KDR: You said to me and I quote exactly from our March 24 interview. You said to me, "I posed General Ramey with this debris. At that time I was briefed on the idea that it was not a flying disc as first reported but in fact was a weather balloon that had crashed." That's exactly what you told me on the tape so if there is a factual error it's because I was going with what you told
JBJ: Okay. Well. I don't know. I didn't make a recording of it. I'd like to hear it. Ah, but, that wouldn't have figured. I wouldn't have said that.
KDR: That's exactly what you said to me.
But Johnson wasn’t finished with his additions to his story. He was invited to speak to various groups and to various venues and in each of these he had something new to add. Most of the time the details were refuted by facts such as newspaper articles or other documentation. Sometimes, however, these changes raise interesting questions.
And that leads to the point about what this has to do with the Ramey memo. To fully understand, it was necessary to review much of this history. Now we get to the meat of the story.
www.geocities.com/Area51/Hollow/8827/partwo.html, reported that Johnson wrote:
I was given the wire service "flash" announcement of this rapidly developing
story by my city editor and I headed for the air base. Upon arrival at Ramey's
office, I learned that the general was out but expected to return momentarily.
The debris, transported from Roswell in a series of "meat wrapper" paper covered
packages, had been deposited on the carpet in the general's office. Just one
package was opened partially. Some packages, still sealed, were scattered around
While Colonel DuBose went out to look for the general, I was left alone in the general's rather spacious office. This gave me an opportunity to further unpack and to "pose" some of the pieces of wreckage. I well recall how frustrated I was at the burned and smelly debris and how little opportunity this would permit for a good news photograph.
When the General entered the room I handed him the "flash" announcement printed from the news wires. He read it with interest. I then took a couple of shots of him, still wearing his hat in his office, examining the debris with the "flash" announcement held in his hand.
So now we have Johnson suggesting that he had taken the "flash" message out to Ramey’s office with him. We don’t need to infer it from other statements he made, but have those exact words.
I suppose I should point out that while Johnson was photographing the debris and Ramey, he asked Ramey what it was and again claims that Ramey said he didn’t know. He then asked DuBose to join Ramey and took two more pictures. Finally, he photographed Marcel with the stuff, so we now have a sequence in which the pictures were taken. Ramey first, then Ramey and DuBose and finally Marcel. The picture of Newton would come much later and was taken by someone else.
And, finally, the real point. If Johnson handed the "flash" message to Ramey, then we know the source of the Ramey Memo and it is not the military. We know that it would contain the information that was on the news wires about the crash, which means it would mention Roswell and Fort Worth and we can see, easily, that the words weather balloons, though misspelled are on the paper.
With this story, nothing is ever easy. Johnson claimed here that he had unwrapped some of the packages when he was left alone in Ramey’s office. If this is true, then we can deduce from this that no there was no classified material left unguarded in that office and what was on the floor was a weather balloon.
But what do we really know about all this? Johnson did go out to the base and he did take photographs. The ones I found at Bettmann Photo Archives clearly credit the photograph to J. Bond Johnson.
Johnson told me that he had written the article that appeared in the July 9 editions of the Star-Telegram, the last line of which said, "After he took a first look, Ramey declared all it was was a weather balloon." This, of course, refutes Johnson’s later claims that Ramey said he didn’t know what it was.
Timing is everything and we have lots of documents that provide timing. One newspaper even provided a timeline of the events beginning with the 2:26 (MST) message that a flying saucer had been captured. This means, of course, that the message arrived in Fort Worth at 3:26 pm (CST). Within an hour, or about 4:20 according to the San Francisco Examiner, Ramey was already calling it a weather balloon and radar reflector. Please note that it was early on, at 4:20 p.m. in Fort Worth that Ramey was claiming it was a weather balloon.
If we retreat slightly on the timeline, and project into it, we can speculate that Johnson was handed the story about 3:30. He said at one point it took about 30 minutes to get to the base and in another story it took about 20 minutes. It is doubtful that he would have arrived at Ramey’s office much before 4:30, and if that it true, then we know that Ramey had already released the weather balloon story to someone else. Sure, he could have arrived a little earlier, but we know that Ramey was pumping out the weather balloon story early.
There is another point here and it explains why Johnson repudiated taking Marcel’s picture. Given the timing of the flight from Roswell to Fort Worth, not to mention the timing of getting from the flightline to Ramey’s office, Marcel couldn’t have arrived much before 5:30, though he could have gotten there closer to five. At any rate, he was there at some point while Johnson was still there, and if that is true, then Ramey had released the weather balloon story already and wouldn’t have told Johnson that he didn’t know what it was. Johnson’s new tale is now discredited.
There is a story in the Dallas Morning News that says their reporter had talked to Major E. M. Kirton, an intelligence officer at the Eighth Air Force Headquarters, and was told that what had been found was a weather balloon. The interview took place at 5:30 p.m. which means that while Kirton is being interviewed by the Dallas newspaper, Johnson is either still in Ramey’s office or has just left.
Just after 6:00 p.m., Irving Newton receives a telephone call to get over to Ramey’s office immediately. If he doesn’t have a car, he’s to steal one. He arrived shortly after that and immediately identified the material on the floor as the debris from a rawin target. He told me that he had launched hundreds of them during the invasion of Okinawa during the Second World War.
Since Johnson didn’t see him, Johnson had to be gone by this point. The picture of Newton (seen here), with the debris, s
howed that it had been moved very little from the time the other pictures were taken. In other words, the debris in the pictures taken by Johnson is in virtually the same place as that in the picture taken of Newton.
Where does that leave us? Well, I can say that I have everything Johnson told me on tape with one exception but it is clear that in the beginning he was saying that Ramey told him it was a weather balloon. His photographs verify this claim. It was a weather balloon.
He told me, at least seven times, that he had written the July 9 article in which he wrote that Ramey said it was a weather balloon. This is the story that appeared in an early edition. In a later edition, the story had been expanded by other reporters and later information.
Although we must speculate about some items in the timeline, we have others that have fixed times based on documentation. We can say the story began at 3:26 p.m. in Fort Worth and we can say that Johnson would have arrived at Ramey’s office, probably, within the hour.
Marcel was ordered to Fort Worth in the afternoon and must have been there around 5:00 p.m. for Johnson to take pictures of him. That means that Ramey already had the cover story in place and had been telling other reporters in other locations that it was a weather balloon for about an hour.
Johnson would have left Ramey’s office prior to 6:00 p.m. because he didn’t see Newton, and would have been back to the office no later than 6:30 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. And finally, we know that his picture was transmitted over the wire at 11:59 p.m. because we have the documentation from Bettmann, though Johnson, Moore and Shandera, for some reason insist that the picture was transmitted at 7:59 p.m.
Which brings me back to the Ramey Memo. Johnson said he brought the flash message with him. He said that he handed it to Ramey and that is the document that Ramey was holding when the pictures were taken. Johnson later said that this wasn’t true. He said that he had picked up a document from Ramey’s desk and handed it to him so that he would have something in his hand.
Some have speculated that Ramey entered his office with the document in his hand and didn’t set it down. Of the three scenarios, the most likely is that Johnson brought in and handed it to Ramey and then posed him for the pictures.
Second best is that Ramey had it with him when he entered the room and just didn’t set it down. That would mean that it was a military document that probably related to the Roswell events.
That it relates to Roswell is borne out by the words that can easily be read. There is no other conclusion to be drawn here.
Least likely is that this was something on Ramey’s desk that Johnson snagged and handed it to the general.
This then, is a long look at the history around the Ramey memo and what we know about the man who took can the picture. It is clear that Johnson changed his story repeatedly in an attempt to keep himself in the spotlight. He blamed me for misquoting him but was never able to offer any evidence this was true. Instead he ignored the tapes and transcripts I sent him, suggesting that I had somehow altered the tapes in an editing process.
Very little of the story he told to everyone else can be trusted. The parts that we can verify through other sources can be trusted. Nearly everything he said is open to speculation. You would have thought with a living witness to this aspect of the case, we’d have a better understanding of what happened in Ramey’s office. Instead we’re left with confused, contradictory claims by Johnson, and very few facts. Such is UFO research.