I have been asked many times if there is anything else we can learn about the Roswell UFO crash now that the first-hand witnesses are no longer available. We are now talking with the second and third hand witnesses, meaning the children and grandchildren of those who were there. As the stories become farther removed from the original, there are distortions that develop through no fault of those telling them. It makes it more difficult to get at the truth.
to my surprise, sometimes things happen to suggest there are some important
avenues that we can follow. Just this last week, I received an email asking
that if I had ever heard of Dalton Smith. According to the email, Smith was an
intelligence officer who had been assigned to the 509th Bomb Group
in Roswell in 1947. The correspondent wanted to know if that was true, or more
precisely, what I knew about Smith.
The late Dalton Smith
In all the years of research, Smith’s name had never come up. In the discussions with those who had been there including the counterintelligence soldiers assigned, no one had mentioned him. We knew of James Breece who had died long before we began our research, but nothing about Smith.
The first place to look was the index for the 509th Yearbook. George Eberhart had created the index decades ago and for those interested, it is only good for my copy of the Yearbook. I had all the pages that had information and photographs of those assigned to the base but the numbering didn’t include some of the other pages that were, more or less, irrelevant. So, if you attempt to apply that index to other copies, it just won’t match. But I digress.
Smith’s name was not among those in the Yearbook. Walter Haut, who created the Yearbook told me that some 10 to 20 percent of the personnel assigned to the base were not in the book. Next stop was the base telephone directory. I quickly found Major Dalton Smith listed with a telephone number of 312.
On the same page and not far from Smith’s name was that of Jesse Marcel and Marcel’s telephone number was 312. That meant that Smith had shared an office and a telephone with Marcel, which put him right in the middle of the activity in 1947.
Given that, I knew that Breece was assigned to the intelligence section, but his telephone number was 459. Breece was not in the same office as Marcel. Given that I’d discovered that Smith and Marcel shared a telephone, I wondered if I could find a similar pairing with Breece. I didn’t find another person who shared his telephone but did find that he was located in Building 31, as were Marcel and Smith.
Under Intelligence Officer in that phone book, I learned that the base S-2 (Intelligence) number was 312, which would be Marcel. The Security Office was 316, Combat Intelligence (Breece) was 459, and the Historical Office was 312.
I also learned that Building 31 was apparently assigned to the 715th Bomb Squadron and housed its Operations, Communications and Personal Equipment offices as well as the base Intelligence Office. It does strike me as strange that the base Intelligence Office is found in a building assigned to a specific squadron, but it’s probably not overly significant.
There is little more to be said about this. I did learn that at the time Smith retired from the Air Force, was Chief of Staff for Air Force Intelligence at the Pentagon. He left the military after more than 23 years of continuous active duty including World War II, in which he served in Europe and North Africa. Among numerous decorations, he received the Bronze Star Medal, the European-African-Middle East Medal with twelve bronze service stars, and the Korean Service Medal. At one point, he was Deputy for Intelligence in the Far East Air Force Bomber Command in Japan.
When Colonel retired in 1964, the Director of Administrative Services of the U.S. Air Force cited his "sound judgment and high professional ability" during "a long and honorable career."
All of this does verify his service. The telephone directory verifies his position in Roswell at that critical time. There are a few additional leads to follow now. I’ll see what I can learn but I fear I learned all this too late. Smith died in 2013. Had we only known.