Note: We have engaged in a lot of discussion that surround the events
described below. It shows the extent of research into the news coverage, which
one asked about, it provides documentation about the events of July 8, and it
tries for sort out the story of the press release as it has been told and
retold. It doesn’t prove that what fell outside Roswell was an alien spacecraft
but it does show, to some extent, who was doing what and where. I think it
answers some of the questions that have been raised. As an aside, I see that the footnotes reset after a certain point. I was unable to get them to run properly in sequence, so be aware of that as you scroll through the article.)
At about 9:30 that on July 8, 1947, Colonel
William Blanchard called First Lieutenant Walter Haut in his office and
dictated the “Flying Saucer” press release to him. He
was told to deliver the press release to the four media outlets in Roswell,
that is, the two radio stations and the two daily newspapers. In what would
become a discrepancy in Haut’s memory of the event, Haut would suggest at one
time that he drove the release into town, and later say that he used the telephone
to dictate it.
Either way, the press release went out to the press, and then was put on the
news wire either by Frank Joyce or
or by both of them.
Walsh remembered that Haut had telephoned the
press release to him “about mid-day.” He
said he copied the press release exactly, as Haut read it to him over the
phone. Walsh, in turn called it into the Associated Press in Albuquerque. From
there the release was put on the AP wire and that story was published in a
number of newspapers.
Art McQuiddy, who was the editor of the Roswell Morning Dispatch said, “I can
remember quite a bit about what happened that day. It was about noon and Walter
brought in a press release. He’d already been to one of the radio stations, and
I raised hell with him about playing favorites.”
Unfortunately for McQuiddy, the Dispatch was a morning newspaper, so
there wasn’t much for him to do with the story. He said, “By the time Haut got
to me, it hadn’t been ten minutes
and the phone started ringing. I didn’t get off the phone until late afternoon…
The story died, literally, as fast as it started.”
At 2:30 p.m. (MST), Blanchard announced that he
was going on leave (which, of course, makes no real sense). He would not be
available to take telephone calls about the flying saucer and would be out of
touch for four days.
There is a document, created in 1947, that
provides the exact times for some of this. According The Daily Illini, the first of the stories on the Associated Press
wire appeared at 4:26 p.m. on the east coast.
That would mean that the stories went out from Albuquerque, sometime prior to
The Associated Press version, as it appeared in a
number of west coast newspapers said:
The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a
reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb
Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to
gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers
and the sheriff’s office of Chavez County.
The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell
sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc
until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn
notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence
Action was immediately taken and the disc was
picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field
and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.
At 4:30 p.m. (EST), there is the first “add” to
the AP story, which mentioned “Lt. Warren Haught [Walter Haut],” who was
described as the public information officer at the “Roswell Field.” This new
information suggested that the object had been found “last week” and that the
object had been sent onto “higher headquarters.”
The original United Press bulletin, which went out
fifteen minutes later, at 4:41 p.m. (EST), according to newspaper sources,
Roswell, N.M. – The army air forces here today
announced a flying disc had been found on a ranch near Roswell and is in army
The Intelligence office reports that it gained
possession of the ‘Dis:’ [sic] through the cooperation of a Roswell rancher and
Sheriff George Wilson [sic] of Roswell.
The disc landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime
last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher, whose name has not yet
been obtained, stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the
Roswell sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office notified a major of the 509th
Action was taken immediately and the disc was
picked up at the rancher’s home and taken to the Roswell Air Base. Following
examination, the disc was flown by intelligence officers in a superfortress
(B-29) to an undisclosed “Higher Headquarters.”
The air base has refused to give details of
construction of the disc or its appearance.
Residents near the ranch on which the disc was
found reported seeing a strange blue light several days ago about three o’clock
in the morning.
In Fort Worth, Texas (3:30 p.m. CST, 4:30 p.m.
EST) Cullen Greene, an editor at the Fort
Worth Star Telegram would have read the story as it came over the wire. J.
Bond Johnson who worked at the newspaper in July 1947 said, “I don’t know the
mechanics. We’d get those alerts. The bells would ring and it would be an
attention thing. It would be an editor thing.”
At 4:55 p.m. (EST) on the east coast 2:55 p.m.
(MST) in New Mexico, the location of the discovery, that is New Mexico, is
given. This bulletin, described as a “95” which is just below bulletin in
importance, was repeated at 5:08 (EST) and a minute later, at 5:09,
there was another repeat of the story that said the information came from a
radio reporter, but the identity of the reporter was not given.
Johnson, who described himself as a reporter in
said, “…late in the afternoon, I returned to the office… My city editor… ran
over and said, ‘Bond, have you got your camera?’ I said, ‘Yes, I had it out in
my car.’ He said to get out to General Ramey’s office and… he said they’ve got
something there… [and] get a picture… He said something crashed out there or
whatever and they’re… we just got an alert on the AP wire.”
At 5:10 p.m. (EST) or 3:10 p. m. (MST), there was
a message that was addressed to the newspaper editors to let them know that the
Associated Press had now gone to work on the story.
According to the Daily Illini, “One minute later, at 5:11 [p. m. EST], the third add
[additional information] to the bulletin announced, ‘The war department in
Washington had nothing to say immediately about the reported find.’ That meant the AP was on the job
In was about 4:30 p.m. (CST, 5:30 EST) that
Johnson arrived at the Fort Worth Army Air Field. He told Bill Moore and Jaime
Shandera that it was about a twenty minute trip from the newspaper office out
to the airfield.
He said that he routinely covered activities at the airfield, so when he
reached the gate, he showed his press pass. He also had a Civil Air Patrol
sticker on his car, which would have made it easier for him to enter the
airfield. He had been told to go to Ramey’s office, though he normally would
visit the Public Information Officer.
Johnson said, “I posed General 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… I posed General Ramey with this debris. At that
time, I was briefed on the idea that it was not a flying saucer but in fact was
a weather balloon that had crashed.”
Johnson, according to what he said, didn’t stay
long in Ramey’s office because generals were busy. He said, “As I remember, I
probably wasn’t there more than twenty minutes, which was not unusual.” He took
the photographs, gathered some information and left.
He said, “It was entirely possible that I was
briefed by the PIO.”
This last quote could be important. The story that
Johnson wrote to accompany the pictures, contained no direct quotes from Ramey,
DuBose or Marcel, but did quote Irving Newton, the weather officer called in to
identify the debris.
But the timing seems to suggest that Johnson had arrived before Newton had been
called Ramey’s office so it is puzzling. Why is Newton quoted directly, but
none of the others are?
At 5:53 p.m. (EST), 4:53 p.m. (CST), there was
another bulletin which had a Washington dateline but was a statement by Ramey,
which had to originate in Fort Worth, which said the disk had been sent to
What is critical here is the use of the past tense. The story didn’t say it
would be forwarded, but that it had already been sent.
At 6:02 p.m. (EST, 5:02 p.m. CST), the AP put
together the whole story and started the transmission of the “First Lead Disk.”
This story, datelined Albuquerque said, “The army air forces has gained
possession of a flying disk, Lt. Warren Haught [Walter Haut], public
information officer at Roswell army airfield announced today.” That new lead
was to be integrated into the stories that had already been transmitted.
Morning News reporters called out to the Fort
Worth Army Air Field, according to them, at 5:30 p.m. (CST, 6:30 EST) and
interviewed Major E. M. Kirton, an intelligence officer at Eighth Air Force
Headquarters. He told reporters that “there is nothing to it… It was a rawin
high altitude sounding device.” Kirton said that the identification was final
and there was no reason to send it on to Wright Field for confirmation. He
confirmed that the material had been flown to Fort Worth on a B-29.
Warrant Officer Irving Newton said that he was
alone in the weather office and when he received a call ordering him to General
Ramey’s office. Newton said that he was the only one there and couldn’t leave.
General Ramey then called and told him to “get your ass over here now. Use a
car and if you have to, take the first one with the keys in it.”
When Newton arrived, around 6:00 p.m. (CST, 7:00
EST), a colonel or a lieutenant colonel stopped him and briefed him. Newton
didn’t remember who it was, only that he was told that “These officers from
Roswell think they found a flying saucer, but the general thinks it’s a weather
balloon. He wants you to take a look at it.”
Newton, in his signed statement for the Air Force
said, “Several people were in the room when I went in, among them General
Ramey, a couple of press people, a Major, I learned later to be Major Marcel
and some other folks. Someone introduced Major Marcel as the person who found
this material… While I was examining the debris, Major Marcel was picking up
pieces of the target sticks and trying to convince me that some notations on
the sticks were alien writings. There were figures on the sticks lavender or
pink in color, appeared to be weather faded markings with no rhyme or reason.
He did not convince me these were alien writings.”
At 7:03 p.m. (EST, 6:03 CST), there was another
“first lead” story from Washington, but this one hinted that there was nothing
spectacular about the disc. It was now being identified as some sort of a
meteorological device, or in other words, a weather balloon.
Twelve minutes later, at 7:15 p.m. (EST, 6:15
CST), there was a bulletin that said General Ramey would make a statement on national
radio. WBAP, a Dallas radio station, had arranged for the national hook up for
the NBC radio network.
The FBI entered the picture just two minutes
later, at 6:17 p.m. (CST, 7:17 EST). The FBI office in Dallas sent a message to
the FBI office in Cincinnati, about the story. The message was sent to the
director, J. Edgar Hoover, and to the SAC (Special Agent in Charge) and was
titled, “Flying Disc, Information Concerning.” The text said:
Major Curtan [sic, Edwin Kirton], Headquarters
Eighth Air Force, telephonically advised this office that an object purporting
to be a flying disc was recovered near Roswell, New Mexico, this date [July 8,
1947]. The disc was hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a balloon by
cable, which baloon [sic] was approximately twenty feet in diameter. Major
Curtan further advised that the object found resembles a high altitude weather
balloon with a radar reflector, but that telephonic conversation between their
office and Wright Field had not borne out this belief. Disc and balloon being
transported to Wright Field by special plane for examin [sic]. Information
provided this office because of national interest in case and fact that
National Broadcasting Company, Associated Press, and others attempting to break
the story of location of the disc today. Major Curtan advised would request
Wright Field to advise Cincinnati office results of examination. No further
investigation being conducted.
Then, at 7:29 p.m. EST (6:29 p.m. CST), came
another new lead for the story. It said, “Procede [sic] Washington. Lead All
Disk.” This meant, simply, that the lead on the story that had been transmitted
prior to this would be changed and the new lead substituted.
This was broken with another bulletin almost
immediately. It said, “Fort Worth – Roswell’s celebrated ‘flying disk’ was
rudely stripped of its glamor by a Fort Worth army airfield weather officer who
late today identified the object as a ‘weather balloon.’”
At the Fort
Worth Star-Telegram, Johnson had developed the pictures quickly and on
orders from Greene, he brought out a wet print. There were others waiting for
him, including technicians from Dallas who had brought in a portable wire photo
machine so that they could get the pictures out over the AP wire immediately.
He would say that he wrote the first story about
the recovery that appeared in an early edition of the newspaper. The last line
of that story became important because it said, “After his first look, Ramey
declared all it was was a weather balloon. The weather officer verified his
Johnson had been given the solution, apparently
before Newton arrived to provide the final, conclusive word. But that solution
had been handed to the reporter for the Dallas
Morning News, not by Ramey or Newton, but by Kirton, who was the
intelligence officer. This would suggest that Newton was called in to provide
some drama for the other reporters who did drive out to the airfield.
DuBose’s suggestion of a cover up seems to confirm
the suspicions that had arisen given the timing of various press stories. The
timing of statements, such as that given by Kirton to the Dallas Morning News, suggest that the weather balloon
identification had been made before Newton arrived at Ramey’s office.
Even with the questions that should have been
asked about how an experienced intelligence officer could mistake the remains
of a flimsy weather balloon and an aluminum foil radar reflector for a flying
saucer or why no one at Roswell could identify the wreckage for what it was, the
cover story was accepted. According to one story, “Brigadier General Donald M.
Yates, chief of the AAF weather service, said only a very few of them are used
daily, at points were some specific project requires highly accurate wind
information from extreme altitudes.”
Newton, on the other hand, wasn’t saying the
rawins were quite so rare. The Star-Telegram
reported, “Newton said there are some 80 weather stations in the United States
using this type of gadget, and it could have come from any of them.”
That wasn’t the only point on which the stories
disagreed. In earlier editions of the newspaper, it mentioned that “The disc
landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week.”
Later is was reported, “Brazell [sic], whose ranch is 30 miles from the nearest
telephone and has no radio, knew nothing about the flying discs when he found
the remains of the weather device scattered over a square mile of his property
three weeks ago.”
That same day, in the Albuquerque Journal, Jason Kellahin reported, “Scattered with the
materials over an area about 200 years across were pieces of grey rubber. All
pieces were small.”
Interestingly, that is not the only fact that
Kellahin reported that disagreed with the official story line. He wrote, “On July
4, after hearing about ‘flying discs,’ he took the find to Sheriff George
Wilcox at Roswell who referred the discovery to intelligence officers at the
This is an interesting statement because it is in
conflict with almost all newspaper accounts that suggest Brazel had gone into
Roswell on July 7. Marcel, in describing his activities, suggesting that they
remained overnight on the Brazel ranch and went out the next morning, suggests
a time line that put Brazel into Roswell on Sunday, July 6. After spending all
day in the field, Marcel returned, arriving in Roswell, late on the evening or
early in the morning of July 8, and then briefing Blanchard quite earlier.
By 10:00 p.m. (CST, 11:00 p.m. EST), the story was
virtually over. Ramey had not appeared on NBC, but at 10:00 he was quoted on
ABC’s “Headline Edition,” and the weather balloon story entered the public
consciousness. The newspapers were reporting the error on the part of the
officers in Roswell. The Las Vegas Review
The excitement ran through this cycle:
1. Lieutenant Warren Haught [Walter Haut], public
relations officer at the Roswell base, released a statement in the name of
Colonel William Blanchard, base commander. It said that an object described as
a “flying disk” was found on the nearby Foster ranch three weeks ago by W. W.
Brazel and had been sent to “higher officials” for examination.
2. Brigadier General Roger B. Ramey, commander of
the 8th air force, said at Fort Worth that he believed the object
was the “remnant of a weather balloon and radar reflector,” and was “nothing to
be excited about.” He allowed photographers to take a picture of it. It was
announced that the object would be sent to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, for
examination by experts.
3. Later, Warrant Officer Irving Newton,
Stessonville, Wisconsin, weather officer at Fort Worth, examined the object and
said definitely that it was nothing but a badly smashed target used to
determine the direction and velocity of high altitude winds.
4. Lieutenant Haught reportedly told reporters
that he had been “shut up by two blistering phone calls from Washington.”
5. Efforts to contact Colonel Blanchard brought
the information that “he is now on leave.”
6. Major Jesse A. Marcel, intelligence officer of
the 509th bombardment group, reportedly told Brazel, the finder of
the object, that it “has nothing to do with army or navy so far as I can tell.”
7. Brazel told reporters that he had found weather
balloon equipment before but had seen nothing that resembled his latest find.
Those who saw the object said it had a flowered
paper tape around it bearing the initials “D. P.”
While this story was winding down, with the
principals unavailable for comment, that is Brazel being held by the military,
Marcel either in Fort Worth or enroute back to Roswell, and with Blanchard on
leave, reporters were unable to gather any additional information. Sheriff
Wilcox would say little. It was reported, “Wilcox said he did not see the
object but was told by Brazell [sic] it was ‘about three feet across.’ The
sheriff declined to elaborate. ‘I’m working with those fellows at the base,’ he
This then, gives an outline of the events of July
8 based on the available documentation including newspaper reports, interviews
conducted with the principals in the story, and a timeline that was
reconstructed more than a half century after the incident. I think that you all
can draw your own conclusions about what it means, but the information here is
the latest available.
I will note that as I went
through this I did find a couple of places where the footnotes were inaccurate.
In one instance, I sourced the Albuquerque
Journal when it was the Albuquerque
Tribune. I have tried to make sure that everything is accurate but some questions still might
arise. Those will be dealt with as they appear.