are those who believe that Lieutenant General Nathan F. Twining’s letter of
September 23, 1947, closes the door on the Roswell crash. They cite the line
about the lack of crash recovered debris as proof that there was no crash
because all the testimony gathered from so many of the officers in Roswell and
Fort Worth pointed to Wright Field as the destination of the crash debris. If
such was the case, then Twining had to know because he was the commander there and
since he mentioned the lack of crash debris, it must not exist.
Friedman has countered this by claiming that the letter was only classified
secret and if Roswell was an alien spaceship, then that information would have
been classified as top secret. That would prevent the information being
a letter with a lower classification… and to include it would have
raised the classification to top secret. He is right that the inclusion of top
secret material raises the classification but he is wrong about why there is no
mention of the Roswell crash in the letter. That answer lies in the history of
its creation, something that is rarely examined.
|Wright Field, now Wright Patterson AFB. Photo|
courtesy of the USAF.
whose responsibility it was to determine the nature of the saucers in 1947 wondered if the saucers might not be a
highly classified research project, which meant that a few, at the very top of
the chain of command, would have access to that information. Army Brigadier
General George Schulgen and FBI Special Agent S. W. Reynolds believed that it
was a waste of time, money, and personnel to investigate something that would
eventually lead to that classified project which would remain classified but might
be compromised by the investigation.
George Garrett, working under Schulgen, also believed that nothing useful would
be found by additional Air Force investigation. Garrett and Schulgen decided
that the answer was held above their pay grade and thought of a way to pass the
buck back up the chain of command. They were quite certain that when they
assembled their information in what might be considered an intelligence
Estimate of the Situation, they would be told that those at the top knew what
the flying saucers were and there would be no need to continue to investigate.
began his work on this, what I think of as a mini Estimate in July, 1947. He
selected sixteen flying saucer reports with two to be added later, that seemed
to demonstrate the truly unusual nature of the phenomenon, and then provided
his analysis of the data that had been collected. It might be said that he drew
on these specific cases because he, along with Schulgen, believed they most
accurately described the objects seen, the maneuvers they performed, and they
would most likely lead to the conclusion that these sightings were of a
classified project then in development. They thought they would be told to quit
because of that.
of those reports was a sighting, from Manitou Springs, Colorado, that happened
sometime between 12:15 and 1:15 p.m. on May 19, 1947 (and I note here that I
found no evidence that it was reported prior to Arnold, which is an important
consideration for me but not necessarily anyone else). This was a silver object
that remained motionless, giving the three witnesses a good look at it, and
then made a number of aerobatic maneuvers before disappearing at incredible
speed. The sighting report mentioned that it had been watched through optical
instruments and had been in sight for over two minutes meaning they had time to
study it carefully.
also reported on a case from Greenfield, Massachusetts on June 22, 1947.
According to the files:
L. de Rose said, “...there appeared across his line of vision a brilliant,
small, round-shaped, silvery white object” moving in a northwesterly direction
as fast as or probably faster than a speeding plane at an estimated altitude of
1,000 feet or more. The object stayed in view for eight or ten seconds until
obscured by a cloud bank. It reflected the sunlight strongly as though it were
of polished aluminum or silver… He said it did not resemble any weather balloon
he had ever seen and that “I can assure you it was very real.”
to the information available, this was a case that had been secretly
investigated by the FBI, and given Special Agent Reynolds’ participation with
Schulgen and Garrett it is not difficult to believe that the FBI was involved.
Estimate also included a sighting that involved multiple witnesses and pilots. The
information shows that two Air Force (at the time Army Air Forces) pilots and
two intelligence officers saw a bright light zigzagging in the night sky over
Maxwell Air Force Base on June 28, 1947. The sighting lasted for about five
Ed Ruppelt, one time chief of Project Blue Book reported it this way:
night [June 28, 1947] at nine-twenty, four Air Force officers, two pilots and
two intelligence officers from Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama, saw a bright
light traveling across the sky. It was first seen just above the horizon, and
as it traversed toward the observers it “zigzagged,” with bursts of high speed.
When it was directly overhead it made a sharp 90-degree turn and was lost from
view as it traveled south.
not relevant to our discussion here, the eventual label applied to the case was
that this was a balloon. Although it seems that four officers, including the
intelligence officers, would have been able to identify a balloon if that was what
they had seen, the Air Force concluded otherwise. It would also seem that the
maneuvers of the object would rule out a balloon, regardless of how strong the
winds aloft were blowing.
gives a brief glance at a few of the cases that Garrett selected for his
Estimate. With Schulgen’s approval, the document was submitted to those at the
Air Materiel Command for analysis. It is clear that it received some attention
and it is clear that the report was given to Colonel Howard McCoy for his
|Colonel Howard McCoy. Photo courtesy of the USAF.|
as those of you who have read my most recent books know, had been involved in
the investigation of these aerial phenomena since the Foo Fighter sightings of
the Second World War. And, when the Ghost Rockets were sighted over Scandinavia
beginning in 1946, McCoy had a role in investigation of them, though that role
was in the background. The Swedish government, fearing the Ghost Rockets were
some sort of intimidation ploy by the Soviets, didn’t want overt participation
by American military officers.
to information developed by Wendy Connor and Michael Hall, McCoy had been
tasked in December 1946, to create an unofficial project to gather and analyze
data about all this. It was a small investigation operating from a locked
office that had very restricted access by a limited number of officers. When
the Arnold sighting was reported six months later and caused all that trouble,
the unofficial investigation evolved into an official one. And when Garrett’s
Estimate arrived in Ohio, McCoy was the natural choice to review it.
then, wrote the response to be signed by Twining. I seriously doubt that he
undertook the task without consultation with Twining. It seems that this
response was drafted using only the information supplied by Schulgen and
Garrett and that McCoy added nothing to it or more accurately, those at Wright
Field added no additional data to it. As I have mentioned in the past, I think
of this in the vein of lawyers at a trial who are aware of other relevant
information but do not include it because of some outside force. They make
their case based on the evidence at hand and admissible and not on other
information floating around them. The jury never learns about it or in this
case Schulgen and Garrett never learned about it.
September 23, 1947, Schulgen, Garrett and the others received the written
response from Twining’s staff. This response was telling them that
the phenomenon was “something real and not visionary or fictitious.” Not only
that, Twining was telling them that his command didn't know what the flying
disks were and that they should be investigated, though it can be argued they
had a good clue based on what had fallen near Roswell.
If the flying disks were a U.S.
project, then the last thing anyone at the higher levels of the chain of
command would have wanted would be an official investigation. Any investigation
would be a threat to the security of the project. To end such an investigation
one of those on the inside of the secret would have to drop a hint to someone
on the outside. If, for example, it was such a secret project that General
Twining and the AMC were outside the loop, then another general, on the inside,
could call Twining to tell him to drop the investigation. He wouldn't have to
spill any details of the secret project, only tell Twining that it was something
he didn't need to worry about and the answer was not Soviet or anything else
that could threaten national security. Twining would then end his inquiries
secure in the knowledge that the solution to the mystery was already known to
someone inside the US military and the government.
That didn't happen. Instead, Twining
suggested that a priority project, with a rating of 2a, be created to
investigate the flying saucers. He wanted information found and reported to his
office. The priority level of the new project also suggested that Twining
wanted his answers quickly because he was under pressure from above to end the
panic that Ruppelt had reported in the Pentagon in the summer of 1947.
According to Ruppelt, there were two
schools of thought about all this. One believed that the Soviets, using their
captured German scientists had developed the flying disks (I reported this in The Government UFO Files). ATIC technical
analysts searched for data on the German projects in captured documents in the
United States, and intelligence officers in Germany were doing the same there.
It became clear, however, that the
second school of thought, that is, that the UFOs were not manufactured on
Earth, began to take hold when no evidence was found that the Soviets had made
some sort of technological breakthrough. Even if they had, it seemed unlikely
that they would be flying their new craft over the United States. If one
crashed, the Soviets would have just handed their breakthrough to the US
government. This is probably the inspiration for the paragraph that laments the
lack of crash recovered debris, which is a reference to the lack of this sort
of information contained in the material written by Garrett.
All this really does, however, is suggest that the
door to the Roswell crash was not completely shut by Twining’s (McCoy’s)
letter. Those on the extraterrestrial side of the argument should be disturbed
by Twining’s letter but those on the skeptical side of the fence should also
note that there is still a gap through which the Roswell saucer can be flown.
The Twining letter does not completely rule out the crash when the history of
that letter is understood.