Sunday, November 29, 2009

Socorro UFO Landing and New Witnesses?

There are those who feel the Socorro UFO landing is a weak case because it is single witness. Nearly everything comes down to what Lonnie Zamora, the Socorro police officer who saw the craft on the ground and the two humanoid occupants near it, said he witnessed. This is not completely true.

Opal Grinder, owner of a service station reported that a tourist had said something about jets flying very low over the town. That tourist has never been found and interviewed so any description of the craft and the incident is second hand. It might have provided some important corroboration for the case. As it is, it is simply an interesting anecdote.

There are, however, two other witnesses who have been named and have been interviewed. According to an article published in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald on Wednesday, April 29, 1964, Paul Kies, who was 24 and Larry Kratzer who was 26 (seen here), had been in Socorro the previous Friday when the object took off.

Kratzer told the reporter, "We saw some brown dust, then black smoke – like rubber burning – then a fire. The smoke hid the shiny craft as it flew away."

Then they began to talk about things they couldn’t have seen, but might have heard on the news or read in the newspapers. Remember, they were talking some five days later, after there had been a great deal published and broadcast.

Kries said that federal agents had cordoned the area and that government sources had denied they had anything like the observed craft near Socorro. Kries said that there were four depressions, about twelve feet apart, left by the object. He also claimed that there was a large burned patch on the desert and that the exhaust had melted a pop bottle when it took off.

Sometime later, an Iowa UFO researcher, Ralph DeGraw interviewed the two men, but he was not impressed with their story. He said that it seemed to be in conflict with what Zamora had described. He believed their testimony was not trustworthy.

The descriptions offered by the two men, of what was found on the landing site seems to imply that they had been there and seen it. They suggest the area was condoned. They talked about the landing traces left by the craft as it took off, implying they had seen that as well.

However, there is no evidence that any civilians were on the scene that night. Almost all the testimony that was offered by Zamora, Sergeant Sam Chavez of the New Mexico State Police, FBI agent Bynes and Army Captain Richard Holder and some later filtered through Col. Eric Jonckheere seemed to suggest no civilians on the scene that night. The descriptions given by those we know were there based on the documentation differs from what the two new witnesses said. I’m most bothered by the melted pop bottle. No one we know who was on the scene talked about anything like that. Charred cardboard and other trash, yes, but no melted pop bottles.

Their description of the landing marks were nothing that new. It could have been picked up by anyone who had watched the story unfold for the last couple of days. There had been plenty of stories about what was seen.

While it would be nice to have additional witnesses to the case, and these two men claim to have been on the scene, there are many problems with them. Had they left it with having seen something in the sky, as they drove by, it would be one thing, but it seems they were suggesting they were at the landing site. It might be the way the story was written, or it might have been they incorporated the additional information without thought about ramifications. They might just have been trying to give the reporter the impression of something other worldly, but it is clear that neither man had walked the field.

This report doesn’t seem to add much to the Socorro story. It suggests corroboration, but as it stands now, it doesn’t help.


Larry said...


In his 1976 book, "Socorro Saucer in a Pentagon Pantry" Ray Stanford also mentions Kies and Kratzer as additional witnesses (and shows what may be the same photographs), but makes no mention of the "melted pop bottle" detail.

I am curious; does your information source on Kies and Kratzer give any indication as to when the "melted bottle" first appears in their story? Specifically, does it occur before or after the "melted sand and bubbly stone" story became public?

cda said...

Kevin: Are you perhaps flogging this dead horse (Socorro) a bit too much?
We were promised so much by Anthony Bragalia's initial 'revelations' but he seems to have gone very quiet lately.

I put it to him that his case for a hoax is as good as dead. It rests on sand, just like the UFO itself. The time has come for him to put up or shut up. (But he seems to done the latter anyway!)

KRandle said...

Larry -

I went back through all the clippings I have published prior to the revelations of Kies and Kratzer... none talk of anything like melted sand, though many do mention the exhaust flame. A logical extention of that would be melted sand. On the other hand, the first interview, as far as I know, is the one in which the melted pop bottle surfaces.


Yeah, I've about run out of stuff to say about this. The last story will be about Charles Moore because I had mentioned his rejection of the hoax idea. Some suggested that it was strange that I would label him a liar but then quote him in a different arena. I was going to explain that I never really thought of him as a liar. I was attempting to make a point about those who called Marcel a liar because what he said in 1978 was not reflected in his military record of 1947... meaning that things change. And then it's off to other stuff.


David Rudiak said...

Nov. 30

The melted pop bottle is from another reported incident, the one up in La Madera/Espanola north of Santa Fe, that took place in the early morning of April 26.

Orlando Gallegos, 35, was at his father's and went outside at about 12:30 a.m. to chase off some horses. From about 200 feet he said he saw an egg-shaped object like a butane tank the size of a telephone pole and about 12-14 feet across. It was spewing out blue flames from multiple ports.

When he investigated the next day, there was a large burn area, four rectangular, V-shaped depressions about 12" x 8", and several round depressions about 4" across. The reported details are almost identical with Socorro, the only major difference being that Gallegos said he heard no noise (and the larger size of the object). Gallegos’ father said neither he nor has family had heard of Socorro at the time.

Gallegos contacted the police, who first investigated that evening. They reported the area still smoldering 20 hours later. The main police investigator, Cpt. Martin Vigil, was convinced something was there and burning was caused by “extreme heat of short duration” rather than a smoldering fire over a period of days. He mentioned the melted bottle, rocks being split open near the center of the burn area, and green bushes being set on fire. Many bushes were badly burned. Attempts by investigators to burn others were unsuccessful.

A reporter from the Santa Fe New Mexican went out the following morning, again reported a melted pop bottle in the burn area, though one only 5 feet away was unaffected. (Site was near a dump) Similarly rocks “showed evidence of extreme heat” whereas others only a few feet away were unaffected. Ash was not scattered and he thought “it was not a conventional type object employing thrust.” .(Highly confined burning effects, like Socorro)

Santa Fe New Mexican, April 27

Albuquerque Tribune, April 27:

Major William Connor, who had investigated Socorro with Moody for Blue Book on April 26, went there April 27, was reported taking ash and dirt samples, then seemed to write it off as someone burning trash plus Gallegos drinking. (BB summary sheets list it as “insufficient information”) Hynek apparently wanted to investigate, but the AF didn't send him there. The FBI also wrote up a report (3 pages):
More FBI on La Madera, AF write-off:

A very interesting case. Also, one of the Espanola police officers who investigated La Madera reported 2 unnamed people driving to Expanola only 2 hours before Gallegos' sighting, who told him they saw an object shooting out a jet stream of blue flame head straight for their car, then veer off.

(finished next post)

David Rudiak said...

(part 2)
It sounds like Kies and Kratzer read quite a bit before reporting to the local newspaper, incorporating elements of both Socorro and La Madera. It is possible they were driving through Socorro at the time, and then embellished their story, or merely mentioned the reported newspaper details from both locales, getting confused by the local reporter into being their personal observations.

Knowing exactly what was in the newspaper story and what they said when later interviewed would help clear this up. But it may be we'll have to ignore Kies and Krazter's story as unreliable.

Socorro police dispatcher Nep Lopez did report at least 3 people calling in seeing the bright flame within minutes, long before anything public was known. But no names, unfortunately. Still, it seems there were other remote eyewitnesses beside Kies and Krazter.

And Stanford has reported that he was told by a number of Socorro policeman that Sgt. Chavez, despite his denials, saw the object disappearing in the distance just before he reached Zamora. If true, it's too bad Chavez never went public. Stanford said both Chavez and Zamora were disbelievers. He was told Chavez thought maybe it was a secret US craft and didn't want to draw more credibility and attention to it by confirming Zamora's sighting of the object.

But Socorro wouldn’t be considered a fantastic case if it were only eyewitness testimony. It was also the unexplainable physical evidence plus police swarming over the site within minutes, confirming the fresh burning and absence of surrounding tracks or any other signs of possible hoaxing.

Ray Stanford said...

If I may, please allow me to comment on something you said: "Opal Grinder, owner of a service station reported that a tourist had said something about jets flying very low over the town." The interested should read (or re-read) the affidavit by Whiting Brothers service station owner Opal Grinder on page 16 of my book on the Socorro case. Neither the man driving the green Cadillac (that had stopped for gas), his wife, nor any of his three boys ever said anything about, "...jets...".

The service station owner and his son, Jimmy, both recalled the driver quipping, "Your aircraft [a much more generic germ that "jets".] sure fly around here!" After Grinder asked what he meant, the driver said, "Something [Notice, no descriptor, such as "jet".] travelling across the highway from east to west almost took the roof off our car...must have been in trouble 'cause I saw a police car head off the road and up a hill in that direction. Coming into town [from the south], I met another police car heading that way." (That would have been N.M. State Police Sergeant Sam Chavez, responding to Zamora's radio call.)

All that was reported to Opal and Jimmy Grinder within a very few minutes after the event ended.

You commented, "As it is, it is simply an interesting anecdote." I suggest it's somewhat better than that, because both Opal Grinder and his son Jimmy heard the driver tell what happened before the town of Socorro knew about a police officer witnessing a UFO landing .

If anyone had interviewed Grinder and son, listing to their comments to each other as they related their encounter of the (in my words) 'freaked-out Colorado tourists kind', the Grinder father-son testimony would have been perceived as totally sincere, and the Colorado tourists couldn't have lied, because they had absolutely no way to know, unless they saw it happen. Sincerity example: when Opal Grinder, with his son Jimmy standing right beside us, said there were two boys in the back seat of the Cadillac, the son said, "No, dad, there were three. You must of not seen the littlest guy. I saw him when I was wiping the side windows." (Back-track: That was in the days when there were SERVICE stations, not just gas stations!)

As to Kies and Kratzer, keep in mind that Ralph DeGraw didn't interview Kies and Kratzer until over twelve years after the two were interviewed by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Especially when we're dealing with an event that's unfamiliar and puzzling, across 12 + years, memory can easily become distorted and even integrated with what one has subsequently heard or read about the event.

There is also the matter of misperception. I strongly suspect the 'smoke' reported in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald article was the massive amount of dust Zamora's patrol car was throwing up as he succeeded only upon the third try to get up the first hill, because in the excitement (He thought a dynamite shack was exploding.) his foot was too heavy on the gas pedal.

Kies and Kratzer never claimed to have gone to the site, but just kept on driving.

That, Said, Kevin, I must commend you for your excellent and insightful examination of the spurious claims of a student hoax, made by Bragalia and Colgate.

Ray Stanford
1976 Socorro book author

Larry said...


Since you seem to be reading this blog:

In your 1976 book you quote Zamora as saying that he felt some heat that he attributed as coming from the object, at one point in his encounter. I wonder if you are able to estimate either from direct testimony by Zamora or from the context, how far he might have been from the object when that occurred?

It turns out that this piece of information should allow a relatively precise estimate of how much radiant energy the object was emitting and therefore how possible it was for the object to have caused the other heat effects that were reported.

KRandle said...

Ray -

Thanks for joining the conversation.

About the identity of the aircraft reported by the anonymous witnesses, I have newspaper clippings and other articles that say aircraft, jets and helicopters. But, what the hey, aircraft works for me.

But I disagree about the importance of the testimony by these witnesses. It is anecdotal. It makes no difference how reliable Opal Grinder is, the fact remains, we have nothing from the witnesses in the car...

Anything you care to add is appreciated.


David Rudiak said...

Ray Stanford just sent me the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald article about Kies and Kratzer. My impression is that the reporter who wrote the story got a lot of things mixed up and attributed everything reported to first-hand observations of Kies and Kratzer.

Instead I suspect K&K had seen something as they approached Socorro at the same time as Zamora's incident (the claims aren't all that remarkable here).

Then they talked about what they had read in newspapers afterward (which may be why they came forward, then realizing the significance of their observation). The reporter (or editor) threw everything into a blender and made it seem like it was all their story.

This isn't all that uncommon and happened to me once when I was interviewed by a reporter. He got my educational credentials confused and I ended up with a PhD in physics. I then had to immediately disown the statement lest I be accused of hyping my credentials.

jacarav@ca said...

THE SOCORRO UFO HOAX THEORY ... REFUTED!!! The report Bragalia refuted in its entirety at the following link:

jacarav@ca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gentlemenslwyr said...

Ray, I hope you are still listening. Read your piece on how Officer Zamora was directed to alter his depiction of the red insignia from what he had actually seen. Do you know why he was told to do so? That would be very interesting. Thanks in advance, to me, its the event that should have established visitation by something other than Humans.

Gentlemenslwyr said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KRandle said...


He was asked not to reveal the symbol because the military thought they could use it to screen out copycats... if they claimed to have seen the UFO, but couldn't accurately describe the symbol, or if they used the faked one put out by the military, that would eliminate the sighting. They wouldn't have to investigate it.