many of you know, especially those who visit here regularly, I sometimes chase
footnotes because it provides, well, a different perspective on some UFO
reports. Finding the footnotes to chase isn’t all that easy and it is usually
the result of researching another aspect of the UFO field. Sometimes, however,
it can be a single reference in a book or article that triggers a question or
is the case of an article in the September 2019 issue of The MUFON Journal.
Yes, I touched on this in the report on my interview with Don Burleson, and I
don’t mean to target him here, but there is a point that needs to be made. As
noted, you can hear our discussion in the last half of the October 9 interview.
statement in question, the one that caught my attention, and frankly the
attention of some others, said:
24, 1964, when Socorro policeman Lonnie Zamora saw an egg-shaped, whitish
object down in a gully and observed a red symbol on its surface. As
investigator Ray Stanford discovered, authorities soon published an altered
version of the symbol in order to guard against copycat reports, but area
military pilots would have been given a classified briefing to warn them to be
on the lookout for any airborne craft bearing the insignia the way Zamora had
really seen it, an inverted V with three horizonal lines through its middle.
Clearly the Socorro object and the Holloman object were somehow related, though
I [Don Burleson] infer from various details that the Holloman object was
problem here is that there are errors in the thinking and speculation that is
presented almost as if it is fact. The first real problem is the claim that the
correct symbol is the inverted V with the three lines through it. This is the
information supplied by Ben Moss, Tony Angiola and Ray Stanford. The trouble
here is that
Zamora drew the correct symbol, that is an arc over an arrow with
a line under it on two occasions. As the object departed, he drew the symbol on
a scrap of paper and that scrap can be found in the Project Blue Book files. He
signed that illustration.
|Zamora's sketch of the symbol made moments|
after the object took off.
the evening of April 24, Zamora was interviewed by Captain Richard Holder of
the Army and Arthur Byrnes of the FBI.
They suggested that Zamora not reveal the symbol to others to eliminate
copycats, but he did draw it for them and he signed that image as well. This
was what I think of as the umbrella symbol.
|Zamora's drawing of the craft and the symbol|
signed by him.
the initial investigation, other military officers were involved during the
investigation and they too, filed reports. In those documents, the umbrella
symbol is identified as the true symbol.
Ray Stanford who was on the scene within days sent a letter to Richard Hall of
NICAP in May 1964, a week or two after he had been to Socorro. In that letter
he not only identified the true symbol as the umbrella symbol, but wrote that
the inverted V with the three lines through it was the fake. Ten years later,
when Stanford published his book, he had switched the symbols, now claiming
that the inverted V was the true symbol.
had an illustration made of the craft that he had seen. The Socorro mayor
thought it might be a good idea. The artist was Rick Baca. Under Zamora’s
direction, the umbrella symbol was placed on that drawing.
|The "Umbrella" symbol and the|
inverted V with the lines through it,
as well as a couple of other variations.
Ben Moss and Tony Angiola believed that there had been a “secret” Socorro file
that was separate from that found in the official files. All these official files
entered the public domain when the Blue Book files were declassified in 1976.
These unofficial “secret” files were obtained from Rob Mercer. The Socorro file
was 200 pages that duplicated most of what was in the official file. In that unofficial
file were two cards that held the inverted V. It is clear from the context that
these cards were based on newspaper articles that were released in 1964. Ben
Moss and Tony Angiola believed that this was the true symbol because it was in
Marano, who was the last officer assigned to Blue Book, who had the
responsibility of closing down the office after Lieutenant Colonel Hector
Quintanilla had moved on to a new assignment, said that the information
obtained by Rob Mercer was a document put together by those in the Blue Book
office to show to reporters and others who were there to do research. You can
listen to my interview with Rob Mercer here:
other words, it wasn’t an “official” document and it wasn’t a classified file
about the Socorro landing. It was a briefing document for those without
security clearances or who were civilians who had been granted access to the Project
Blue Book files.
|Rick Baca's drawing of the Zamora craft with the|
"Umbrella" symbol added under Zamora's guidance.
this means is that a suggestion that military pilots had been given a
classified briefing containing the inverted V symbol, is in error because that
is not the correct symbol. I can think of no reason that such a briefing would even
take place. The pilots didn’t need to know what the symbol looked like. If they
encountered an alien craft and saw a symbol, they could report that. If it
doesn’t match that seen by Zamora, well, it just didn’t match. We can assume
here that the military pilots wouldn’t be inventing a tale of seeing an object
when they did not.
if you’ve told them what to look for, then you have contaminated the operation.
You’ve told the pilots what they should see, and that means that they might
just see what you told them to see. In other words, the classified briefing has
defeated the purpose set out for it.
you read the wording in The MUFON Journal paragraph carefully, you’ll
notice the qualifiers. It said, “…area military pilots would have been given a
classified briefing…” I asked Don Burleson for the source of this information.
What I learned, from him, is that this was speculation based on what he
believed would have happened. The real point is that no such briefing was
given. It was pure speculation.
the problem with this. Someone else, writing a book about UFOs or an article
about the Socorro sighting, might quote this particular paragraph, giving
source as The MUFON Journal article. But there is no ultimate source for
the information. The discussion of the symbol is flat out wrong and the
classified briefing never happened. We follow it to this point and we can go no
I don’t discuss the “classified briefing,” in Encounter in the Desert, my
recent book on Socorro, I do discuss, at length, the whole sad tale of the true
symbol seen by Lonnie Zamora. Much of that has also been discussed on the blog.
You can read about that here:
the future, as others research this case, I hope that they’ll find this as
well. They’ll then know that there is a problem with that information. Maybe they’ll
think twice about including it, or, if the do, they’ll qualify so that their
readers will understand what has happened.