Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Del Rio UFO Crash and MJ-12

There is a flaw in the Eisenhower Briefing Document (EBD) that has gone unnoticed since the MJ-12 controversy first erupted more than two decades ago. It is one that gives us a time frame for the thinking in the early 1980s and tells us that the document is a hoax. It goes beyond the misspellings, beyond the grammatical errors and beyond the flawed history. It tells us that the document is not authentic and even points a finger at one of those who might have had a hand in creating it... and no, it wasn’t the US government, the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI) or any other official agency.

First, however, one question that has not been answered. If the document is authentic and if there were UFO crashes on the Plains of San Agustin and at Aztec, New Mexico, why is there no mention of either event in this briefing? It covers the Roswell crash and references one near Del Rio, Texas. It would seem that if a briefing was prepared to advise the President-elect, in this case Dwight Eisenhower, it would cover everything on the subject. That those two events were left out seem to indicate some kind of fraud somewhere.

That, however, is not the main point in this discussion. What I’m looking at is the case from Del Rio, Texas, as reported in the EBD. It said, "On 06 December, 1950, (sic) a second object, probably of similar origin, impacted the earth at high speed in the El-Indio – Guerrero area of the Texas – Mexican boder [sic] after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere. By the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object had been almost totally (sic) incinerated. Such material as could be recovered was transported to the A.E.C. facility at Sandia, New Mexico, for study."

The only report I know of that talks of a crash in December 1950 and on the Texas – Mexican border came from a man who said that he was a retired Air Force colonel. He originally told the story, in the late 1960s, to a reporter in Pennsylvania who was asking Civil Air Patrol (CAP) pilots about UFO sightings. Robert B. Willingham (seen here in his "Air Force" uniform) said that he had seen something fall close to the border. That story was sent on to the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in Washington, D.C., where it sat unnoticed for more than a decade. I now wonder if those making the original report about the story might have gotten the organization wrong. This will become clear later.

W. Todd Zechel, a researcher of mediocre ability, found the story and tracked down Willingham. He got an affidavit from Willingham, signed in 1977, giving additional the details of the crash. At the same time, Zechel was talking to William Moore about the case, hoping to write a book about it.

In fact, in The Roswell Incident, Moore wrote, "Then a second group, Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) was formed in 1978 under the directorship of W. T. Zechel, former research director of GSW [Ground Saucer Watch] and a one-time radio-telegraph operator for the Army Security Agency. CAUS’s announced aim was nothing less than an ‘attempt to reestablish that the USAF (or elements thereof) recovered a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft’ in the Texas – New Mexico – Mexico border area sometime in the late 1940s emphasis added)."

According to the work done by Len Stringfield, the original crash story was of an event in 1948, but it was after Zechel entered the case that the date shifted to December 6, 1950. The best evidence was the affidavit signed by Willingham, who was the witness and who, as a retired, high-ranking officer, gave credibility to the report.

But it seems that no one had bothered to check Willingham’s military record. I asked a number of people about it and they all assumed that Zechel had done so. I saw nothing to verify this, so I attempted to do it.

Robert B. Willingham, according to the Air Force Records Center in St. Louis, entered the Army in December 1945 (which technically makes him a veteran of World War II) and left the Army as an E-4 in January 1947. That is all the military service that I have been able to verify and we all now know how accurate that information is (see National Personnel Records Center and UFO Witnesses from February 6, 2010).

I did learn that he had a long association with the Civil Air Patrol and I have seen a plaque given to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Willingham for his years of service to the CAP. It is dated 1948 to 1973 and was from the Pennsylvania Wing, meaning he was in Pennsylvania at that time, which is in conflict for some of his claims of lengthy military service.

For those who don’t know, the CAP is an official auxiliary of the Air Force, but the members are all volunteers who have no real standing in the Air Force. Twenty years of service to the CAP doesn’t qualify one for a retirement pension from the military. Those who serve perform a valuable service in search and rescue and during times of local emergency. They just aren’t Air Force officers even though they wear modified Air Force uniforms and are addressed by military rank.

And if all that is true, then Willingham’s story, of seeing a UFO crash falls apart because he wasn’t an Air Force fighter pilot as he claimed, is not a retired military officer as he claimed, and wouldn’t have been in a position to see what he claimed to have seen when he claimed to have seen it.

But even if Willingham was less than candid about his military service, he now claims that the crash didn’t take place in 1950. That had been Zechel’s influence. According to Willingham he had seen the crash in 1954, or 1955, or maybe in 1957. He is no longer sure of the date. He only knows that it wasn’t in 1950... and even if Willingham is telling the truth now, it suggests that the information about Del Rio as it appears in the EBD is inaccurate which undermines the validity of MJ-12.

Of course, nothing is that simple in the world of the UFO. I had searched for the original article because I wanted to know what it said, in relation to what the 1977 affidavit implied and what Willingham has said over the last five or six years. While I have been unable to locate the newspaper article, I have found the next best thing.

In the February/March 1968 issue of Skylook, once the official publication of MUFON, I found a single paragraph that causes even more trouble for the Del Rio crash, and tells us something more about Robert B. Willingham. That article said:

Col. R. B. Willingham, CAP squadron commander, has had an avid interest in UFO’s for years, dating back to 1948 when he was leading a squadron of F-94 jets near the Mexican border in Texas and was advised by radio that three UFO’s "flying formation" were near. He picked them up on his plane radar and was informed one of the UFO’s had crashed a few miles away from him in Mexico. He went to the scene of the crash but was prevented by the Mexican authorities from making an investigation or coming any closer than 60 feet. From that vantage point the wreckage seemed to consist of "numerous pieces of metal polished on the outside, very rough on the inner sides."

So, let’s connect the dots. We know that Willingham told his story to a reporter in the late 1960s and that article may have gone to NICAP but certainly found its way to MUFON. Zechel allegedly discovered the article in the NICAP files and tracked down Willingham who confirmed what he had said and even signed an affidavit about it in 1977. Zechel, in communication with Bill Moore, told him about the Del Rio crash and provided details, which is verified, to an extent by the paragraph in The Roswell Incident. Bill Moore’s friend, Jaime Shandera received, in the mail, the film on which, when developed, he and Moore found the EBD. That document contains the information about Del Rio that we all now know is inaccurate, to put it kindly.

Now, if there was no Del Rio crash, then there is no reason for it to be mentioned in the EBD... and if it is, then the document must be a fake. Even if you accept the last dates provided by Willingham, the crash happened years after the document was written and couldn’t have been included unless the writer was clairvoyant or wrote the document sometime after 1952.

There is no other evidence of a crash at Del Rio. There are no hints in other documents, no other witnesses contrary to Willingham’s claims, and nothing to support the idea. Eliminate it completely, and the EBD falls with it. Change the dates because of what Willingham has said and the EBD fails again. This might be the final proof that the document is a fake... especially when all the other evidence is added in. This should put the whole thing to rest (though I now expect the vilification to begin).


cda said...

Interesting that Willingham claims the crash occurred in Mexico and that he was prevented from getting too close to the scene by Mexican troops. However the MJ-12 paper alters the site of the crash to the US side of the border; the remaining debris was taken to Sandia Labs in New Mexico.

If Willingham is right, presumably there is a similar document, dated late 1950 or 1951 among the official Mexican Air Force papers, briefing their President about the crash.

I trust some diligent UFO researcher is now busy pestering the Mexican authorities for the release of this document. With luck, it may even refer to the Roswell crash (as an 'extra').

Lance said...

Great work, Kevin!

I have always thought that Klass' work on the date format of the MJ-12 documents, linking them to a somewhat unusual format favored by Bill Moore was very compelling.

This is the kind of article I love to read,


edithkeeler said...

I have a book written by Noe Torres and Ruben Uriarte about the Del Rio Crash. It was written in 2008.
In it, Willingham claims that he joined the Army in 1944, serving in France with a unit that worked to clear sunken boats out of waterways in order to assist with troop movement. There are a couple of pictures of him that are supposedly taken in Germany and France during this time, and he is pictured in the book standing by an Archer County WWII memorial that bears the veterans names including his own.
Later, he says he was in Korea in December of 1950, in fact, claiming that he was wounded on Dec 27, 1950, suffering serious leg injuries as well as a severe head injury that plagued him with memory problems for the balance of his life. This is the explanation for his inability to recall the crash date. He claims he was hospitalized in Tokyo General Hospital and later in an Air Force hospital in San Antonio for an extended period of time. You would think there would be some record of this, if it happened. I don't know anything about the various military medals and what not, but wouldn't he have probably received some type of medal for being wounded this seriously during wartime?

In the book, he places the crash sometime in 1955. In addition, he claimed that he was repeatedly denied his military pension, in his mind, it was because he went public with the UFO crash story. He claims that he repeatedly fought the denial since the 1970s. One would think that if that were true, there would have been a fairly extensive paper trail of that process.

With regard to the EBD, the authors claim that the crash mentioned on Dec 6, 1950 was not the same crash as the one Willingham claimed to have seen.

Citing several descrepencies, the most obvious being the fact that he was supposedly in Korea in 1950. They also cite that the locations were not an exact match. Willingham said the crash site he visited was in Langtry, TX, more than 60 miles from Del Rio, and that El Indio and Guerrero were also not that close to Del Rio. They reasoned that Del Rio may have simply been a known reference point for both crashes. They also point to the fact that the site Willingham described, while still hot and had expelled debris, was certainly not incinerated. Also, Willingham consistently said that the object was first picked up by the DEW, Distant Early Warning radar in Canada which was not available until 1952 at the earliest according to the authors.

In absence of any other collaborating evidence that there were two separate crashes, that theory seems quite a stretch to me. Good luck with this Kevin, let the games begin

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Frank Stalter said...

Yeah, the MJ-12 documents are bogus, but they were a useful reference for me when I started getting really interested in UFOs last year. They are a very entertaining fan fiction.

starman said...


I don't have the book by Torres and Uriarte but it's about Coyame not Del Rio. Coyame is probably no better.

starman said...

Concerning the EBD's failure to mention Aztec or the Plains, Friedman would say the latter involved a live ET, therefore required a "higher level of classification" than the briefing document.

cda said...

Your argument is false.
There is absolutely nothing higher than "Top Secret - Majic". Nothing.

Paul Kimball said...

Two things:

1. I absolutely agree - this is news? Did anyone really think that Maury Island was anything other than a hoax? Bragalia posting on this, in his usual breathless "I've just discovered something amazing" style, is kind of like CNN reporting that the earth is round. Big deal.

2. CDA - there is indeed a classification higher than TS / Majic... TS / Friedman. ;-)

starman said...


It's not my argument: I was just stating Friedman's likely view, in defense of the EBD, which I don't buy myself.

Keith Chester said...

Hello, I've always been curious about secrecy classification levels. In Terry Hansen's excellent book, Missing Times, News Media Complicity in the UFO Cover-up, he cites a passage from Herbert N. Foerstel's book, Secret Science, Federal Control of Science and Technology:

"Author Herbert Foerstel reported in 1993 that the Pentagon alone had 10,000 classification compartments, often referred as Special Access Programs (SAP) and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). These new levels of secrecy above Top Secret have confused political leaders and retarded scientific progress, even on the atomic bomb."


Randel Smith said...

And non-pilot Willingham is supposed to have landed his jet fighter out there and walked up to this crashed saucer?! Land a jet where? Silly old bugger.

Rick Nielsen said...

Does Stan Friedman have comments on this?

KRandle said...

All -

I have tried to make it clear that Willingham originally placed the date in 1948 using aircraft and equipment that were not off thee drawing boards. The only documents I have found that related to military service have Willingham joining the Army in Decmeber 1945 and being relieased in 1947. He served in Europe but after the hostilities had closed. I have found no records he was an officer in the Air Force, a pilot, or served anything beyond the 13 months documented. He was, however, an officer in the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the Air Force that has no standing in either the active or re3serve component in what is now known as the uniform services.

Given the changes in the story, the types of equipment used, and the lack of corroborating documentation, the only conclusion is that Willingham's tales are not based in reality.

chAange my name please said...

On information and belief Specialist 4 Willingham appears to be lying.

Anonymous said...

I am one who lived in El Indio, TX. I was born in the 70s and know of a story that happened to my dad who was a rancher and before him my grandfather. They ranched those areas before El Indio was founded in the 30s or 40s. They both ranched and had many stories about working the late night moon hours in those fields that will make the hair in the back of your neck stand. From red and blue lights hovering over the Mexican mountains to other things that could only happen out in the middle of no-where! All they ever did was just observe and go about their days. Back then ranchers were used to seeing odd stuff like that.
One that sticks out to this day and one that my oldest brother also remembers who was very small around the time, 6 or 7 years old in about 1955 and 58 can confirm this. He remembers being in the truck with my parents on a late night going down the hwy when something flew over the skies just a few miles before the ranch house, maybe crashing over the border just across the same ranch my father & grandfather worked. This ranch was just a few miles south past El Indio -the town. He remembers the unknown thing flying -glowing light passing by and at the same time shutting down all electricity including vehicles as it passed over them -yes they were not able to turn the vehicles on for a while! Other local ranchers also driving on that same hwy had no clue as to what they were seeing, a few of them got out of the cars, one being my dad and gathered around with concerns over what just had happened and the unreal electricity problem. A few minutes later everything corrected itself and everyone went back about their buis. You know, it was just one of those things, no explination for it and like anything else just gets forgotten over the years.
I found these articles floating around, surprised to read about it did ask my brother who is in his late 50s right now and this is what he remembered about it -The story I just told you. My Dad is long gone and so is my grand father. They were alive in the 90s and could have given so much more input and probably pointed to a few other who remembered it.

The people they interviewed from what I've read in recent articles from back in the 90s was our post office lady Mrs. Courtney she lived next door to us in El Indio, TX -not the ranch house. Another family they looked into was the orig. owners of our house living in San Antonio, TX in the 90s. They probably didnt have any info to give because, one, they didnt work in ranches which were a few more miles down the road and two some of the orig. settlers had already moved out by the mid 50s early 60e and reason why we became owners of that house around the same time. My grandfather had owned his main house in El Indio by the late 40s and was an active ranch foreman working the areas way before this UFO crash thing had happened.
Is this the same story "El Indio crash siting" 1950? Who knows but this is the closest thing I can give you that did happen in the area around mid to late 1950s.

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Kandinsky said...

I just noticed Col. Willingham was involved in another sighting report in the March 1968 NICAP Investigator.

During the early morning hours of January 12, Colonel Robert Willingham, of the Civil Air Patrol...was alerted by Chairman George Cook to a UFO seen by a police dispatcher near Camp Hill.

Col. Willingham sighted the orange-and-white glowing object at an altitude of not more than 150 feet, as it travelled toward North Mountain. The UFO appeared to be between 30 and 40 feet in diameter. The former jet pilot followed the object by car until it disappeared behind trees in the mountain section.'

Unknown said...

to Randell Smith. Col. Robert B " Burt" Willingham was a pilot. He is a dear friend of mine who now lives in the Lawton Veterans Center and suffers from dementia.
I have access to the Colonel's dress USAF jacket and he has a chest full of medals including a purple heart. He was injured near Seoul. He had traveled there to visit a family member because he was assigned as a bombardier and the planes did not have the bombsight installed in them when he arrived for duty. The family member was a Marine and the ChiComs tried to overrun the area.
Everyone there was given a weapon and told to get in a foxhole. A mortar shell lnded in his foxhole and severely wounded him. If Burt said it, it's true!!! Burt was a pilot and a ham radio guy. He loved to play guitar and fiddle and dance.
Burk MOrris

Unknown said...

Actually they wrote both books hon, they wrote the Coyame one first and came across the Del Rio "incident " while writing the first book.