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Fame From Outer Space

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 13:35:19 -0400
Archived: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 13:35:19 -0400
Subject: Fame From Outer Space

Source: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram - Texas, USA


Sun, Jul. 15, 2007

Fame From Outer Space

In July 1947, when the country was aflutter over 'flying disks,'
a young Fort Worth photographer wrote himself into history
without realizing it.

By Matt Frazier
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - J. Bond Johnson is one of this newspaper's most
famous photographers.

He has been portrayed in Hollywood films and documentaries and
discussed at length in magazine articles and on blogs and other
Web sites. His photos have been a prominent exhibit for almost
two decades in a museum that draws 150,000 visitors a year.

And they are "the most frequently requested images from our Fort
Worth Star-Telegram collection - really from all of our photo
collections," said Brenda McClurkin of the University of Texas
at Arlington Library of Special Collections. "I just sent one to

That's because on a warm afternoon in July 1947, Johnson, at the
age of 21, took the only known photographs of the supposed
remains of the UFO crash near Roswell, N.M. - and then forgot
all about it until researchers came looking for him more than
three decades later.

They made Johnson, by then a Methodist minister, something of a
celebrity as they argued over his photos and espoused theories
of vast government conspiracies and intrigue.

Thanks to modern technology, Johnson, who died last year,
remains at the forefront of the ufology world, said Julie
Shuster, director of Roswell's International UFO Museum and
Research Center.

Rumors, sightings and debris

Cigars and cigarettes fed a cloud of smoke above typewriters and
black rotary phones in the Star-Telegram newsroom in July 1947.
There was no air conditioning.

Phil Record, who later rose to associate executive editor, was a
copy boy at the time. He remembers Johnson, but not much about
the Roswell photos.

"I don't really recall it being a big story," said Record, who
retired in 1997.

But he said reports of UFOs were common.

"There were a lot of people who would swear, 'I saw something,'
but they wouldn't tell anybody because they would come off as
being nuts," Record said.

From July 5 through July 8, headlines screamed the news of the

"'Flying Disk' Sighted Shooting Over Decatur 'At Tremendous

"Disks Cavort All Over US While Mystery Deepens"

"Disks Continue to Bob Up (And Away) in Ft. Worth"

Readers were bombarded with at least a dozen UFO stories on
those days, according to the Star-Telegram archives.

"The phenomenon has been reported by hundreds of persons in at
least 33 states since June 25. Descriptions vary, but generally
the informants agree that the objects skimming through the skies
are saucer-like disks," one article says. "As yet there has been
no explanation tending to give the object a touch of earthly

But there were rumors of proof west of here, in New Mexico just
past the Pecos River.

On July 8, the Roswell Daily Record quoted a spokesman at the
local air base announcing that the wreckage of a "flying disk"
had been found and that its remnants were being flown to Fort
Worth, according to page reproductions still sold as souvenirs
in Roswell.

"He said the material wasn't a weather balloon or any of the
other explanations that the government put out," said Johnson's
son, Jerry Johnson.

A chance assignment

Inside a walk-in vault in the Star-Telegram's downtown office is
a file cabinet filled with musty handwritten time sheets. At the
front of the top drawer is a page with the name J. Bond Johnson
typed across the top.

Title: Reporter.

Hourly salary: $1.06.

"The only reason he got to go was that all of the other
photographers were out somewhere and he had a camera in the
trunk of his car," said his sister, Elaine J. Carroll.

Johnson, who had done some Civil Air Patrol pilot training at
Fort Worth Army Air Field, roared west toward fame in his 1947
Ford club coupe, according to his sister.

What looked like beams of balsa wood and sheets of tinfoil were
laid out on the carpet in the office of the airfield commander,
Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey. Boxes around the office were thought
to hold more wreckage that had not been examined. Ramey and Maj.
Jesse A. Marcel, who brought the debris from Roswell, posed for
pictures holding the material.

After filling both sides of three glass-plate negatives with his
Speed Graphic camera, Johnson, on deadline, rushed back to the
paper, printed his photos, handed them - still wet - to his
editors and went home.

By sunrise the next morning, his photos of the shiny material
adorned newspapers around the world, accompanied by a story that
the Army had explained the wreckage as a fallen weather balloon.

"I asked him one time if he believed the artifacts were from
alien beings," said his daughter, Janith Johnson. "Having the
conservative and religious background that he did, he said, 'I
don't know, but it was like nothing I have ever seen on this

Years later, worldwide fame

Two of the photos were published in the 1980 book The Roswell
Incident by Charles Berlitz and William Moore. Johnson soon
became entrenched in the UFO world, giving interviews for books,
magazines and documentaries.

Intrigued by the speculation, Johnson started his own study of
the photographs. He said he didn't believe any of the Army's
stories about the wreckage, but he added that he had no theory
about the crash, his son said.

"I think he was amused by it all," Jerry Johnson said. "He had a
room full of alien souvenirs and memorabilia. Every Christmas we
would get little alien toys."

Many UFO investigators believe that the government used the
Star-Telegram photographer as a patsy to cover up the real
crash. Others say he probably embellished his story a little,
said Dennis Balthaser, UFO researcher and former director of
Roswell's International UFO Museum and Research Center.

Either way, the influence of his photos lives on, Shuster said.

"Now with computer technology we are able to enhance photos,
including a note held in General Ramey's hand, bringing out
words like 'victims of the crash,'" she said.

"It might be one of those photos that finally breaks the rest of
the case."

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives,
Dennis Balthaser's www.truthseekeratroswell.com and the
International UFO Museum.

UFO headlines

From the Star-Telegram, July 5-8, 1947

Shooting Over Decatur 'At Tremendous Speed'

Eyesight May Explain Flying Saucer Mystery


More 'Saucers' Reported; Air Patrol Joins Hunt

PLANE FORCED TO DODGE 'EM - Disks Cavort All Over US While
Mystery Deepens



Ball of Fire Is Latest Sky Oddity Here

Disks Reported in North Mexico

Flashes Of Jet Planes or Radio Missiles

ONE ZIPS OVER TCU CAMPUS - Disks Continue to Bob Up (And Away)
in Ft. Worth

Source: Star-Telegram archives

J. Bond Johnson

James Bond Johnson - he went by J. Bond Johnson - was born in
Fort Worth on June 18, 1926, to Methodist ministers Floyd and
Gladys Johnson.

Skipped two school grades, graduating from high school and
entering Texas Wesleyan College at 15.

Was hired at 16 or 17 as a reporter and photographer at the
Star-Telegram, but he went back to part-time work after
enlisting in the Army Air Forces.

After leaving the Star-Telegram, he earned degrees in education,
theology and psychology from Southern Methodist University, the
University of Southern California and Claremont College in

Was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1962 and
immediately entered the Army Reserve. Retired as a full colonel
after 33 years of service.

Started two aid homes in Long Beach, Calif.: one for emotionally
troubled children, the other for abused children and spouses.

Led the First United Methodist Church of San Pedro, Calif., as
senior pastor.

Died from cancer complications March 25, 2006, in Long Beach,

Source: Star-Telegram archives

The Roswell crash

During the first week of July 1947, something crashed near
Roswell, N.M. Eyewitness William Woody, who lived east of town,
said he remembered being outside with his father the night of
July 4 when he saw a brilliant object plunge to the ground.

Rancher W.W. "Mack" Brazel rode out with his neighbor's son to
check on the sheep after the previous night's thunderstorm. As
they rode, Brazel noticed unusual pieces of what seemed to be
metal debris scattered over a large area, and a shallow trench
several hundred feet long.

A day or two later, Brazel reported the incident to Sheriff
George Wilcox, who reported it to an intelligence officer, Maj.
Jesse Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group. The debris site was closed
for days while the wreckage was cleared. Marcel has been quoted
as saying that the debris wouldn't burn, break or bend and
didn't look like any weather balloon or rocket he had ever seen.

On July 8, Lt. Walter G. Haut, a Roswell Army Air Base
spokesman, issued a news release stating that the wreckage of a
disk had been recovered. The wreckage was shipped to the Fort
Worth Army Air Field, now Naval Air Station Fort Worth. Star-
Telegram photographer J. Bond Johnson took pictures of the

A July 9 news release stated that the 509th Bomb Group had
mistakenly identified a weather balloon as the wreckage of a
flying saucer.

Source: International UFO Museum and Research Center
Matt Frazier, 817-390-7957

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