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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Different Perspective


Who Put the Roswell Press Release on the News Wire?

by Kevin Randle

In the last day or so, I have been asked about the press release issued by Walter Haut concerning the discovery of a flying disk near Roswell. We can argue all day about what it was, but that term was used in the press release. The Roswell Daily Record reported that military had "captured" a flying saucer in the Roswell region. What is interesting now is that some are wondering if the Roswell Daily Record put the press release on the news wire and the source of that information is quoted as evidence is Philip Klass.

In his book, The Real Roswell Crashed Saucer Coverup, Klass wrote, on page 16 (of the hardback), "The newspaper sent its blockbuster story out over the Associated Press wire service, resulting in a deluge of inquiries."

In a world where the slightest mistake that I have made, even those of more than 40 years, are broadcast today to prove I’m a sloppy researcher, those of the skeptics and debunkers are often overlooked. I point this out because, I’ll now give you the sequence of events and how the story made it into the national press (the term for media at the time).

After a staff meeting held at the 509th Bomb Group on Tuesday, July 8, 1947, the base public affairs officer, First Lieutenant Walter Haut, received a telephone call from Colonel William Blanchard, the Group commander. Haut would later say that he didn’t remember if he was given the details over the phone or if he went to Blanchard’s office. He didn’t remember if Blanchard gave him the completed press release or just the details with instructions to write it. He was then to deliver it to the four media outlets in Roswell, that is, the two radio stations and the two newspapers. In another relatively unimportant discrepancy to this basic story, Haut would say that he drove the release into town, or he would say that he used the telephone and dictated it to them. Either way, the press release went out to the media, and then was put on the news wire by Frank Joyce of radio station KGFL and George Walsh of radio station KSWS. Who got it on the wire first doesn’t really matter to us here because the point is that the Roswell Daily Record did not put in onto the Associated Press wire but we can answer that question as well.

Walsh remembered that Haut had telephoned the press release to him "about mid-day." He copied the press release exactly or almost exactly, as Haut read it to him over the phone. According to what Walsh told me, he 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.

Joyce, on the other hand, told me that Haut had brought the press release to him at the radio station. He said that he put it on the United Press news wire and he kept the press release. Fearing that someone would return to confiscate it, he hid it but to no avail. It has since disappeared.

Art McQuiddy, who was the editor of the Roswell Morning Dispatch told me, "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." MQuiddy’s timing is slightly off as we’ll see later.

There is a document, created in 1947, that provides the exact times for some of this and helps us understand what was going on. 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 2:26 p.m.

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 Office.

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 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, said:

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 possession.

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 Intelligence Office.

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.

Here’s what all this minutia tells us. Walsh put the story out first with Joyce following by fifteen minutes. The Roswell Daily Record had nothing to do with that. There are two versions of the story that differ enough to suggest that Haut dictated them over the telephone to Walsh and Joyce. What we don’t know is how long the vetting process took, meaning simply, that the time of the two press releases does not reflect the time they arrived in the news wire offices. McQuiddy could be right about the time Haut got there, but it wasn’t all that long after the stories arrived that they were put on the wire.

What’s all this prove? Very little, really. We have been able to assemble, from various documents and newspaper stories, a timeline for the release of the information. Doesn’t mean it was a flying disk from another world, only that we have been able to trace, to a fair degree of accuracy, the sequence of events.

We haven’t been able to learn if Haut met with Blanchard in person or talked to him on the telephone. We don’t know if Haut wrote the release or if Blanchard dictated it to him. I’m not sure that these questions are important today because we do have the release as it appeared in two forms in the newspapers and we do know that it originated with the 509th Bomb Group… Oh, and we know that Philip Klass made up the comment about the Roswell Daily Record putting it on the news wire.

Gen. Roger M. Ramey

Gen. Ramey was a major player in the Roswell Incident, but information on him is hard to come by. Even though he became a fairly important Air Force general in the early 1950s, for some reason the Air Force biographical Web page on their generals doesn't list him.

Here is some background information gathered from various sources. Most of this information comes from the newspaper morgue file on Ramey from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, archived at the University of Texas at Arlington Library in their Special Collections division. This includes a fact sheet from the Fort Worth base dated July 1948. Additional biographical information was included in the 1947 Roswell base yearbook. There are also some items from a few other newspapers such as the NY Times, San Francisco Examiner, and some books on UFO history.

Background on Gen. Roger M. Ramey
Ramey the person: Did you know he was something of a real Texas cowboy and wanted to be a doctor before being urged to apply to West Point? Known as a witty, good-natured prankster and rebel against authority at West Point. Also said to have an incisive mind and a good sense of humor sprinkled with salty language.

* Ramey's military career: A chronological summary of his career. Highly decorated during WWII, and noted for his heavy bombing campaigns against the Japanese. In charge of air operations during the post-war A-bomb tests for Operations Crossroads and Sandstone. Air Force Director of Operations and headed the 8th and 5th Air Forces. Left the service a three-star general and Director of the Air Defense Command.
Ramey and UFOs: Of course Roswell, but did you know Ramey was already debunking UFOs before Roswell? Or that in 1952 was said to be the Air Force's "saucer man" and one of their top UFO experts? Or that he played an important role in debunking the 1952 flying saucer wave, including going on television? Or that he issued a false press release that the Air Force never gave an order to shoot down the saucers? Also includes some related quotes from AF Chief of Staff Generals Vandenberg and Twining from 1952 and 1954. (New material added in May 2003: Newpaper articles of Ramey and Vandenberg debunking UFOs in 1952; 1954 newpaper and magazine articles involving newly discovered "natural" orbiting satellites and possible relation to Twining quote; recording of Donald Keyhoe announcing discovery of the satellites on Frank Edward's show 2 days before Twining statements.)

* Ramey Photos (New!): Some rare photos of Gen. Ramey, mostly from 1946. One published just before the Roswell incident, shows him conversing with the San Francisco Examiner science reporter Dick Pearce along with Berkeley atomic physicists Dr. Ernest O. Lawrence and Dr. Donald Cooksey. On the afternoon of the Roswell base flying disk press release, Pearce was to call Ramey directly within an hour of the press release, Pearce writing that he was the first reporter to talk to Ramey, and Ramey described a weather balloon and radar reflector to him.

What the acting Army Air Force Chief of Staff and others at the Pentagon were doing at the time of the Roswell Incident