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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 21

Roswell Witnesses Interviewed By Houston Chronicle

From: Stig Agermose <Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk>
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 07:23:03 +0200
Fwd Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 06:56:39 -0400
Subject: Roswell Witnesses Interviewed By Houston Chronicle


In connection with the 50th anniversary of the Roswell crash the
Houston Chronicle interviewed some of the principal witnesses.
Text as well as RealAudio versions are available online, but as
I haven't seen them quoted elsewhere I'll bring some of the most
interesting ones.

Links to all of the interviews can be found at

http://www.chron.com/voyager/ufo/people.html

but I would like to start with Robert Shirkey. The URL is

http://www.chron.com/voyager/ufo/shirkey.html


Stig

*******

*RealAudio of Robert Shirkey

ROBERT SHIRKEY

By Stephen Johnson
Houston Chronicle
stephen.johnson@chron.com

509th Bomb Group operations officer Robert Shirkey first learned
that something unusual was being flown to Fort Worth when he
returned from lunch July 8, 1947 and wonders if his interest in
it caused him to be transferred unexpectedly to a non-existent
job days later.

"I entered the Operations building and asked the civilian clerk
on duty what was going on and he said, `We just got an order
from Col. Blanchard to have a B-29 go to Fort Worth.'

"I walked out towards the ramp on the south side of the building
and watched the B-29 pull up by the building and shut its
engines off.

"I walked back in to (say) the plane was there and a voice
behind me said, "Where's my airplane?' and it was Col. Blanchard
who had come in through the front door. He stepped back into the
hallway and waved at several people who were standing outside.
They came into the front door and down the hallway and Blanchard
stepped back into the doorway.

"I said to him, `Colonel, turn sideways I want to see too.' Of
course he gave me his usual scowl and we stood belt
buckle-to-belt buckle with our heads turned, watching these
people go through the hallway carrying boxes of this material
they picked up.

"Maj. Marcel came along with an open cardboard box with several
pieces of this aluminum-like material with one of the I-beams
sticking up in the corner...with characters written on a portion
of it. What the characters were I cannot recall at all.

"Another gentleman in a civilian suit was walking along with a
piece stuck under his arm like a poster board."

"The group went out on the ramp and across to the airplane. Col.
Blanchard and I watched them hand the boxes up through the wheel
well and they climbed the ladder and shut the door."

At the same time a staff car came up to the back end of the
airplane and was handing some boxes up to the rear door. It left
and the aircraft started up its engines and taxied over to the
runway and we stood there until we saw it leave the ground and
start its turn toward Fort Worth."

Shirkey said the debris that he saw loaded aboard the bomber
looked nothing like weather balloons he saw launched from the
weather building located near his own office at Roswell Army
Airfield.

Shortly after this event, Shirkey, who was awaiting promotion to
captain and assignment to a new job at Roswell air base, shortly
afterward received some startling news.

"Nine days later I got a telegram from the Eighth Air Force
sending me to Clark Field in the Philippines to fill the request
the 13th Air Force had made for a weights and balance officer,"
said Shirkey.

His orders, oddly enough, were signed by Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey,
the Eighth Air Force commander who ordered Marcel to pose next
to the debris that Marcel said was not what he had recovered.

If Shirkey felt he was being shuffled away from Roswell
unceremoniously he found himself receiving unusually grand
treatment in the way he was to fly to Hamilton Field, Calif., on
the way to the Far East.

Deputy Base Commander Lt. Col. Payne Jennings, who flew the B-29
with the debris aboard to Fort Worth, informed Shirkey that he
would personally fly him to California for his next assignment.

"He told me, `Take a few says off and next Sunday give me a call
and I'll take you to California.'

"A week or two later, Lt. Col. Payne Jennings - the deputy base
commander - flew me as a first lieutenant to my next station in
California before going overseas.

"As we were flying along at altitude I asked him why are you
making this flight colonel and he said, `Just to take you to
your next base.'

"When was the last time you heard of a first lieutenant being
taxied by a deputy base commander in a B-29 to his next
station?" asked Shirkey.

When he arrived at Clark Field in the Philippines he had another
surprise when he was informed that no such job vacancy existed.

Shirkey was told the 13th Air Force had a weights and balance
officer and didn't need one. He would instead be made assistant
operations officer in a photo reconnaissance unit.

As far as Shirkey's concerned, his inexplicable departure from
Roswell "was part of the cover-up" of the saucer crash.

Today, Shirkey teaches oil field safety techniques at a junior
college branch of Eastern New Mexico University located on the
grounds of the former Roswell Army Airfield.

Nearby is the one-time operations center, where Shirkey worked.
It is today used by an aviation firm.

*******

The Walter Haut interview is at

http://www.chron.com/voyager/ufo/haut.html

*******

*RealAudio of Walter Haut

WALTER HAUT
By Stephen Johnson Houston Chronicle stephen.johnson@chron.com

On July 8, 1947 Walter Haut found himself at the epicenter of
the most sensational and shortest news flap of his career as an
Army Air Force public relations officer.

I got a call around 10:30 a.m. from Col. Blanchard's office
saying he wanted to see me so I immediately drove over to base
headquarters and went into to see him," said Haut, 75.

"He told me that he wanted me to put out a press release and
take it to town and hand-deliver it to the news media.

"He told me exactly what he wanted in the press release -- in
essence that we had in our possession a flying saucer that had
crashed north of town and that Maj. (Jesse) Marcel, our
intelligence officer, had flown the material to Fort Worth.

"I did not ask him (Blanchard) any questions," said Haut.

"This was the 509th bomb group which was a very secretive
organization. (Even) I could not get close to an airplane that
had the configuration to carry an atomic bomb in its bomb bay.

"At that point in time if you needed to know they told you. If
you wanted to know -- don't ask -- or you might end up being
transferred to a nice place like Thule (Greenland)."

"I did exactly what he told me and delivered it to two
newspapers and a radio station. I came home and had lunch. I
went back to the base and the phone was ringing. The enlisted
personnel said it had been ringing like mad.

"I picked up (the phone) and they wanted to know primarily how
Maj. Marcel knew how to fly the object," laughed Haut.

The release was worded in such a that it made it sound like
Marcel had flown the mystery craft to Eighth Air Force
Headquarters. Haut explained to reporters that only fragments of
the craft were flown aboard a plane to Fort Worth.

"We were through with it (the saucer story) when I put out that
release," he said. "When (Brig.) Gen. (Roger) Ramey came out
with the statement that it was not a flying saucer, that killed
it."

Ramey was commander of the Eighth Air Force at Fort Worth Army
Airfield at the time and oversaw the new and improved
explanation of what the rancher William "Mac" Brazel had
discovered.

"It (the story) died a quick and sudden death," said Haut who
was then exposed to some ribbing by his colleagues.

"Some of my fellow officers said you sure blew that one didn't
you? I said, `Not me! It was the boss!'"

Except for one, side comment, Blanchard said nothing at all to
Haut about what had happened.

The Monday following the (issuance of the now-famous) press
release we were in a staff meeting," said Haut. "I happened to
be sitting close to him in the chair at the end of the table and
he leaned over to me and said, `We sure blew that one didn't
we?'"

"We never talked about it. I never asked him and he never told
me."

Blanchard was based again at Roswell from 1951-1953 allowing the
two to continue their friendship over occasional luncheon and
dinner meetings.

During this period Haut would occasionally serve as base public
relations officer at Blanchard's request.

One extremely odd circumstance continued for years after the
1947 flying saucer episode in the form of visits that Haut and
his wife "Pete" received over the years from an Air Force
intelligence officer Haut knew from his days in the service.

"Anytime there was a flap over UFO sightings in the news
anywhere in the country he would show up," said Mrs. Haut still
irritated by the visits.

"He would always say he had some business at the base and he
wanted to come by for a visit and he would spend a lot of time
talking about how the Air Force had explained away this UFO
sighting or that one."

"I really got tired of it," she said.

Haut said visits eventually stopped and a UFO researcher
inquired about the intelligence officer only to be told curtly
by the Pentagon that the man had died.

Today, Haut is distressed by those who don't take the mystery of
the Roswell incident seriously by either debunking the event or
by embellishing stories about what happened.

"People are trying to make a farce out of it" said Haut. "The
people I know who were in a position to see and handle the
material were not a bunch of weirdos seeking any sort of
notoriety.

He recalled the then-Maj. Jesse Marcel as a capable and
professional officer who lived two blocks from his own home. The
two would occasionally drive to work together.

"Based on the fact they were in the 509th, their attitude was
different than (that of) the normal personnel. When you handle
atomic weapons you didn't go around flipping out about this,
that or the next thing.

To this day, Haut believes that what Blanchard told him was
something that his commander absolutely believed. The press
release, said Haut, is something that described precisely what
happened.

The events surrounding Blanchard's announcement about the
recovery of a space craft apparently had no impact on
Blanchard's career since he attained the rank of general at the
age of 40 and four-star rank at 50.

The official debunking of Blanchard's announcement about flying
discs was "orchestrated" by higher headquarters and acquiesced
to by Blanchard, the quintessential professional soldier,
believes Haut.

And what does Haut believe was found in the hills south of
Corona?

"A vehicle of some sort, probably coming from outer space," said
the retired insurance man. "Or, perhaps some foreign country may
have had an (aircraft) that crashed, but I don't think that's
feasible."

"I sincerely do not think in my lifetime or your lifetime that
they (the Air Force) will come out with anything new (on this).
I think they've had egg on their face for so long there's no way
they can wipe it off."


*******

The piece on Colonel Blanchard can be found at

http://www.chron.com/voyager/ufo/blanchard.html

and is partly based on an interview with Haut.

*******

COL. WILLIAM "BUTCH" BLANCHARD
By Stephen Johnson Houston Chronicle stephen.johnson@chron.com

Col. William "Butch" Blanchard was commander of the 509th Bomb
Wing at Roswell Army Airfield during the now-famous discovery of
the mysterious wreckage near Corona, N.M.

The extraordinary career of the highly-decorated West Point
graduate -- who rose to the top of the ranks before his death at
50 -- made it seem that Blanchard would know the difference
between a balloon and an alien space craft.

Born in 1916 to a physician and his wife, Blanchard would
ultimately rise to four-star rank in the United States Air Force
before dying suddenly in 1966 of a heart attack at the Pentagon.

During World War II, he commanded the 58th Bomb Wing in the
China-Burma-India Theater. In 1944 he flew the first B-29 into
China from India to begin bombing operations against Japanese
Army forces. He later commanded strategic bombing missions
against Japan from the Marianas Islands.

It was during the war that Blanchard began a close professional
and personal relationship with B-29 navigator Walter Haut who
would later become his public relations officer at Roswell Army
Air Field.

It was to Haut that Blanchard would dictate the announcement
that a space craft had been recovered by the Air Force.

As commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, Blanchard oversaw the only
U.S. military unit capable of delivering America's then-small
arsenal of nuclear weapons. He would later command the bomb wing
during its participation in live nuclear weapon tests at Bikini
Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

A tall man, Blanchard was a perfectionist and a demanding
leader. Those who served under him remembered he could turn
steely cold if he found something done improperly.

Haut recalls that Blanchard would sometimes interrogate
subordinate staff officers mercilessly to test their knowledge
and get to the absolute bottom of a problem.

Those beneath him learned to obey him instantly and completely.

When Blanchard called Haut into his office and dictated to him
the press release about the discovery of a "flying disc", Haut
took the information down, repeated it to Blanchard for
confirmation and issued it to local news organizations.

That was the way you did business with Col. Blanchard, said
Haut. If Blanchard said it, it was the gospel.

"He was a good guy," Haut says of Blanchard. "But you never
crossed him. He didn't put up with foolishness. With him it was
`do it and do it right'.

"I think he was a hand's-on officer. He knew what was going on
on the base. He would ask questions of all his squadron
commanders and provost marshals I remember at staff meetings he
would almost grill someone (asking), "Why did you do it that
way."

"When he wanted information he wanted it then and he wanted it
accurately."

"He was a very fine officer," said Haut whose relationship with
Blanchard ran so deep that when his former superior died in
1966, Blanchard's widow requested that Haut be notified before
any public announcement was made.

Haut, who lives in Roswell where he ran his own insurance
business, recalled his surprise when a uniformed colonel came to
his home to inform him of Blanchard's death.


*******

The Robert Porter interview is at

http://www.chron.com/voyager/ufo/porter.html

*******

B-29 FLIGHT ENGINEER ROBERT PORTER
By Stephen Johnson Houston Chronicle stephen.johnson@chron.com

New Mexico native Army Air Force flight engineer Robert Porter
knew nothing of his sister Loretta Proctor being asked by
William "Mac" Brazel to look at a piece of unusual debris when
he was asked to help fly the wreckage to Fort Worth on July 8,
1947.

Retired from the Air Force and now living in Great Falls, Mt.,
Porter remembers being told to man a B-29 carrying the wreckage
to Eighth Air Force headquarters in Fort Worth.

The 76-year-old Porter said he'd heard nothing about the
so-called saucer crash when he was ordered to man a B-29 bomber
for a flight to Wright Field, Ohio with a stop at Fort Worth.

"They handed it (the debris) through the hatch," he recalled. It
was real light and wrapped in brown wrapping paper and taped."

"There wasn't more than about four or five pieces of it and one
triangular piece about 18 inches across by two feet and the rest
was in boxes like shoe boxes."

Porter said he and his fellow crew members stayed on the field
until the material was unexpectedly transferred to a smaller
B-25 bomber that flew on to Wright Field.

"We just turned around and went back to Roswell," said Porter.

Porter said that shortly after the flight he and his sister
discussed what Brazel had shown her and they decided that it
must have been what he and his fellow crew members flew to Fort
Worth.

Porter also knew Brazel, describing him as a "quiet" man. "You
could believe anything he said."