Brig. Gen. Arthur E. Exon
Gen. Exon has been the highest ranking military officer to come out and say directly that Roswell was the crash of a spacecraft and that alien bodies were recovered. (Click here for Exon's biography on the Air Force biographical Web site of their generals.) Exon was another inconvenient, high-ranking witness, like Brig. Gen. Thomas Dubose, that Air Force debunkers wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. Even though his statements on Roswell had been published before the Air Force began its investigation in 1994, Exon was never interviewed and completely ignored by AF investigators. By the time some Congressional staffers interviewed Exon in December 1994, one of them reported he had become paranoid and extremely guarded in his comments, thinking his house might now be bugged.
In 1947 Exon was a Lt.-Colonel stationed at Wright Field at the time of the Roswell crash and heard of the incident at that time. He said he also flew over the area of the crash some months later. He observed two distinct crash sites and gouges and tire tracks on the ground leading into the "pivotal areas."
From 1964-66 he was the Commanding Officer of Wright-Patterson AFB, where crash material was taken in 1947. He said other UFO-related field operations were staged at W-P during his tenure. Teams of men would fly in from Washington on an investigation. W-P would supply them with planes and crews for their operations
From 1955 to 1960, he was a colonel stationed at the Pentagon. He said he was aware of a UFO controlling committee made up primarily of very high-ranking military officers and intelligence people. His nickname for this group was "The Unholy Thirteen".
Exon's knowledge of the Roswell events was primarily second-hand. Except for his later fly-over the crash area and the later operations out of W-P when he was C/O, Exon disclaimed direct knowledge. He said he never saw the actual Roswell crash material, but was told the result of testing by other personnel involved. Likewise for the recovery and shipment of bodies. However, Exon did emphasize that he was told these things by men who were directly involved and whom he knew well and trusted. He mentioned knowing some of the photographers who photographed the sites.
How the Roswell crash would have been handled and how it would have been covered up seems to be largely speculative, based on his knowledge of how the government and military chain of command would have functioned under the circumstances. And seemingly he knew only indirectly of the UFO control group while he was at the Pentagon.
Sources of the following material
R&S: UFO Crash at Roswell, 1991 & The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell, 1994, by Kevin Randle & Donald Schmitt (Based on phone and personal interviews from July 1989 - July 1990)
RUCU: Roswell UFO Crash Update; Kevin Randle, 1995; transcript of interview, June 18, 1990
TS/M: Top Secret Majic, Stanton Friedman, 1996; (based on interviews 1989 - 1991) New!
C&S: Witness to Roswell, 2007, by Tom Carey & Donald Schmitt New! 2007
Breakthrough: Breathrough-- The Next Step; Whitley Strieber, 1995
Confirmation: Confirmation--The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us; Whitley Strieber, 1998
What Roswell Was
(RUCU) (C&S, p. 191, 194)
"...They knew they had something new in their hands. The metal and material was unknown to anyone I talked to. Whatever they found, I never heard what the results were. A couple of guys thought it might be Russian, but the overall consensus was that the pieces were from space. Everyone from the White House on down knew that what we had found was not of this world within 24 hours of our finding it. ...Roswell was the recovery of a craft from space."
(Confirmation, p. 250)
Among the things that Exon was very specific about was that everybody "from Truman on down" had known about the Roswell incident from the day it happened, and that it was known to be an alien spacecraft "almost as soon as we got on the scene."
(Breakthrough, p. 275-276)
When I originally spoke with General Exon [in 1991] after being introduced to him by my uncle, he was quite straightforward about the fact that he felt that the Roswell debris was extraterrestrial and that the issues it raised had been debated in the White House. In interviews for public attribution that he agreed to later [in 1994], he was much more guarded.
“Everyone from the White House on down knew that what we had found was not of this world within 24 hours of our finding it.”
[Note: Strieber's "uncle" was Col. Edward Strieber, who had spent much of his career at Wright-Patterson AFB. Strieber then wrote (Breakthrough), "My uncle informed me that he had knowledge of the Majestic project. He spoke of the delivery of alien materials, artifacts, and biological remains to Wright Field from the Roswell Army Air Base in the summer of 1947. He felt sure that the existence of these materials and what to do about them had been debated at the highest levels of the government. ...In 1991, after I had written Majestic, my uncle put me into contact with a general -- an old and trusted friend of his -- who knew even more. The general, Arthur Exon, is the cousin of Senator Exon..."]
Anomalous Roswell Debris
"We heard the material was coming to Wright Field. [Testing was done in the various labs.] Everything from chemical analysis, stress tests, compression tests, flexing. It was brought into our material evaluation labs. I don't know how it arrived, but the boys who tested it said it was very unusual."
(R&S) (C&S, p. 194)
"[Some of it] could be easily ripped or changed... There were other parts of it that were very thin but awfully strong and couldn't be dented with heavy hammers... It was flexible to a degree... Some of it was flimsy and was tougher than hell, and the other was almost like foil but strong. It had them pretty puzzled.
"...couldn't be easily ripped or changed ...you could change it. You could wad it up, you could change the shape, but it was still there and ... there were other parts of it that were very thin but awfully strong and couldn't be dented with heavy hammers and stuff like that... which at the time were causing some people some concern... again, say it was a shape of some kind, you could grab this end and bend it, but it would come right back. It was flexible to a degree."
"I think the full range of testing was possible. Everything from chemical analysis, and resist chemicals, stress tests, compression tests, flexing...
(RUCU) (C&S, p. 194)
I don't know, at that time, if it was titanium or some other metal... or if it was something they knew about and the processing was something different."
(Sandow) (C&S, p. 194)
[Exon spontaneously bringing up Roswell crash after being asked about rumors of little bodies at Wright-Patterson] "Yes, I have. In fact, I know people that were involved in photographing some of the residue from the New Mexico affair near Roswell."
[Whether bodies were flown to Wright Field] "That's my information...people I have known were involved with that."
(R&S) (C&S, p. 194)
"There was another location where ... apparently the main body of the spacecraft was ... where they did say there were bodies ...
They were all found, apparently, outside the craft itself but were in fairly good condition. In other words, they weren't broken up a lot"
"That's my information [that the bodies went to Wright Field]. But one of them went to the mortuary outfit ... I think at that time it was in Denver. But the strongest information was that they were brought to Wright-Pat."
The Crash Sites
"[It was] probably part of the same accident, but [there were] two distinct sites. One assuming that the thing, as I understand it, as I remember flying the area later, that the damage to the vehicle seemed to be coming from the southeast to the northwest, but it could have been going in the opposite direction, but it doesn't seem likely. So the farther northwest pieces found on the ranch, those pieces were mostly metal.
"...I remember auto tracks leading to the pivotal sites and obvious gouges in the terrain."
(C&S, p. 194)
"[It was] probably part of the same accident, but [there were] two distinct sites. ...[At] the northernmost [site], pieces found on the ranch, those pieces were mostly metal."
"Yes, I have. In fact, I know people that were involved in photographing some of the residue from the New Mexico affair near Roswell. There was another location where....apparently the main body of the spacecraft was...where they did say there were bodies."
"...I remember auto tracks leading to the pivotal sites and obvious gouges in the terrain."
Covering It Up
[There was] "...a national coverup project."
Exon also knew something of the cover-up, especially the one originated at Roswell. Because he knew Blanchard [Roswell C/O], he said, "Blanchard's leave was a screen. It was his duty to go to the site and make a determination."
Concerning the cover-up, Exon pointed out that there were no secret balloon or weather devices that could account for the debris. The lab men and officers at Wright Field, because it was their job, would have known if the debris fit into those categories. The balloon explanation was ready-made. "Blanchard could have cared less about a weather balloon," said Exon.
"I know that at the time the sightings happened, it was to General Ramey ... and he, along with the people at Roswell, decided to change the story while they got their act together and got the information into the Pentagon and into the president."
According to Exon, the instant they understood the nature of the find, Ramey would have alerted the chief of staff, Dwight Eisenhower. Once they had the information in Washington, control of the operation would have come from the Pentagon. The men at Roswell would have been tasked with the clean-up because they were there, on site, but the responsibility for the clean-up would have moved up the chain of command and into the Pentagon and the White House..
According to Exon, the outgrowth of this was a top secret committee to study the phenomenon and the debris found at Roswell. An oversight committee was formed; its responsibility would be to protect the data, to control access to it, and to design studies to exploit it; a small group with control, a secondary group made up of aides, assistants, and staff from the first group, and then a third level where actual testing was done.
...Exon was sure that the material, at least some of it, would still be housed at Wright-Patterson. There would be reports, probably filed in the Foreign Technology Building, that would describe everything learned in the last forty-plus years. There would be photographs, from the debris filed and the crash site, of the bodies and of the autopsies, filed away. Everything needed to prove that Roswell represented the crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft would be found, if those reports were ever to be released.
(C&S, p. 195)
[Concerning newspaper reports of Roswell base commander Col. William Blanchard being away on leave when the story broke in the 1947 newspapers]
"Blanchard's leave was a screen. It was his duty to go to the site and make a determination. Blanchard couldn't have cared less about a weather balloon."
"I know that at the time the sightings happened, it was [up] to Gen. Ramey...and he, along with the people at Roswell, decided to change the story while they got their act together and got the information into the Pentagon and into the president."
UFO Control Group -- "The Unholy Thirteen", "MJ-12"
[Note that some of the following names of those allegedly involved are obviously speculative]
...the most surprising revelation was the acknowledgement of an official group that controlled access to the wreckage, bodies, and information about the crash. He referred to them as the Unholy Thirteen, only because he didn't know the actual name of the group. (And, after studying what he said, it seems that the name, Majestic Twelve, does not fit. Majestic Twelve, or MJ-12, was allegedly the group created to study the Roswell material, according to a briefing document released in the late 1980s. There is no evidence that the document is authentic.)
According to Exon, once the nature of the crash at Roswell was understood, the information would have been passed up the chain of command. Ramey probably called the Army Chief of Staff, Dwight Eisenhower.
The General identified others on the committee, men who held high positions in the government. Carl Spaatz, the head of the Army Air force in July, 1947, who became the first Chief of Staff of the Air force in September, 1947, was mentioned as a committee member.
Exon named several others, including James Forrestal in his role as Secretary of War (later Defense), Stuart Symington, at that time the Under Secretary of War for Air, and President Truman. Given the nature of the crash and the preliminary conclusions being drawn, the president had to be included.
..."I just know there was a top intelligence echelon represented and the President's office was represented and the Secretary of Defense's office was represented and these people stayed on it in key positions even though they might have moved out."
One thing that Exon made clear was that no elected officials, outside the President, were ever included as a member of the top echelon. Elected officials were excluded from knowing anything about it.
...Additional names were not supplied for the remaining members, but he knew which offices were represented. These included the head of the CIA in the fall of 1947, Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter. Exon said there were representatives of the military intelligence community. Nathan F. Twining, as the head of the Air Materiel Command, would be another obvious choice.
There were other men who may have had a major role. Brigadier General Roger Ramey eventually left the Eighth Air Force, moving to Washington and duties in the Pentagon. In 1952, Major General Roger Ramey, Deputy Chief (of Staff) for Operations, was involved in UFO research. [See section on
Ramey and UFOs, including Ramey being called the AF "saucer man" in 1952.] Ramey's inclusion would have been natural. He was involved almost from the beginning, had managed to bury the story with the balloon explanation, and the bodies did transit Fort Worth Army Air Field. [See section on the unusual B29 flight with large crate. See also Ramey's telegram message of shipping the "aviators in the disc" to the 8th AAF flight surgeon.]
Major General John Samford, the Chief of Air Intelligence, might not have been an original member of the team, but by 1952 may have held one of the second echelon seats.
"... Stuart Symington, who was Secretary of Defense [actually Sec. of the Air Force], Carl Spaatz [A.F. Chief of Staff until 1948] ...all these guys at the top of government. They were the ones who knew the most about Roswell, New Mexico. They were involved in what to do about the residue from that -- those two findings" [two distinct crash sites].
"In the '55 time period [when Exon was at the Pentagon], there was also the story that whatever happened, whatever was found at Roswell was still closely held and probably would be held until these fellows I mentioned had died so they wouldn't be embarrassed or they wouldn't have to explain why they covered it up. ...until the original thirteen died off and I don't think anyone is going to release anything [until] the last one's gone."
(Breakthrough, p. 249)
In 1991, after I had written Majestic, my uncle put me into contact with a general -- an old and trusted friend of his -- who knew even more. This general, Arthur Exon, is the cousin of Senator Exon, who himself has been interested over the years in UFO-related subjects. The general appeared to me to have more knowledge of the debates my uncle had referred to, and seemed to think that President Truman, Secretary Forestall, and others had been involved.
(TS/M) [Added Nov. 1, 2002]
(pp. 128-130) ...In the summer of 1991, Randle and Schmitt were claiming that Exon knew there was a control group (which they called the "Unholy 13") for Roswell, knew who the members of that group were, and had direct firsthand involvement with the crashed saucer. They claimed that Exon told them the members of the control group included Stewart Symington, then Secretary of the Air Force; Carl Spaatz, first chief of staff of the Air Force; General Eisenhower, then Army chief of staff; General Ramey, head of the 8th Air Force; and others. None of the people they mentioned were on the MJ-12 briefing list.
[After a MUFON conference in July 1991] ...I wrote a generally negative review of the [Randle/Schmitt] book for the MUFON Journal... published in the September 1991 issue... When I finished the review, I decided to give General Exon a call. ..He had not seen Randle and Schmitt's book, and so I read him portions of his supposed testimony from the volume. He politely but firmly indicated that Randle and Schmitt had attributed considerably more to him than he had said. He had no firsthand involvement with Roswell, although he had heard lots of scuttlebutt from people he trusted. He had been at Wright Field in July 1947, when the Roswell wreckage had been brought there. He had heard stories while he was base commander (not even as commander did he have a need-to-know for all activities there) and also during a stint at the Pentagon.
(p. 41) ...I interviewed General Arthur E. Exon, commander of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the mid-1960s. He had heard a lot of scuttlebutt about crashed saucers and aliens while stationed at Wright Field in 1947, as commander of the base in 1964 and 1965, and later while on assignment at the Pentagon. I met with him and we had several telephone conversations. He could find no reason to quarrel with the three primary MJ-12 documents or the list of original members. [as opposed to an "Unholy 13" UFO control group attributed to him by Randle & Schmitt]
Other recoveries or UFO investigations by Special Teams from Washington Centered out of Wright-Patterson
"...We would make an airplane available [at Wright-Patterson AFB] ... T-39s, twin jets, and lots of times we sent a 240, Convair 240 with a crew, and they would go and these guys would do their business and they'd sit [at] an air base someplace and cool it until the guys came back. They'd come back, drop them off, and go about their business. [The teams] would be eight and sometimes it would be fifteen. ...They would come from Washington, D.C."
"And they'd ask for an airplane tomorrow morning and that would give the guys a chance to get there by commercial airline, to meet them. The airplane would take off at such and such a time. Sometimes they'd be gone for three days and sometimes they'd be gone for a week. I know they went out to Montana and Wyoming and the northwest states a number of times in a year and a half that I recall. There probably were other places. They went to Arizona once or twice."
"... Our contact was a man, a telephone number. He'd call and he'd set the airplanes up. I just knew there was an investigative team. There probably was a name but I ...don't recall that there was."
(Breakthrough (p. 275)
[Interview, Dec. 2, 1994, with a high-level, unidentified Congressional staffer looking into the UFO question and Roswell. Exon had held discussions with a few cleared Congressional staff members during the Congressional Roswell investigation by the General Accounting Office in 1994-95.]
[Staffer] "General Exon is afraid. He was afraid he was being monitored at that point. He was probably afraid his whole house was bugged."
[Strieber] When I originally spoke with General Exon [in 1991] after being introduced to him by my uncle, he was quite straightforward about the fact that he felt that the Roswell debris was extraterrestrial and that the issues it raised had been debated in the White House. In interviews for public attribution that he agreed to later, he was much more guarded.
(C&S, p. 195)
Because of how publicly outspoken Exon, a high-ranking officer, was about the incident, we anticipated the reaction in Washington. During the GAO investigation of Roswell in 1994-95, Exon was interviewed by a number of high-level congressional staff members. One of the discussions took place at his home on December 2, 1994. Exon was extremely guarded in these talks, and one of the staff members entered into his report, "Gen. Exon is afraid. He was afraid he was being monitored at that point. He was probably afraid his whole house was bugged."
Exon Disclaimers of Direct Knowledge
"Most of the people you're talking to are a little bit like me. Close enough to know that there was something happening. They had no direct responsibility for any of it."
(RUCU -- Letter to Kevin Randle, Nov. 24, 1991)
"I'm sorry that a portion of my interview has given you trouble. I will acknowledge that the quick quote does have me saying that my flights later, much later verified the direction of possible flight of the object. I remember auto tracks leading to pivotal sites and obvious gouges in terrain.
"Further, you both likely recall on many occasions during my visits with you in person and on the phone when you wanted me to meet others that I did not know anything first hand. Although I believe you did quote me accurately, I do believe that in your writings you gave more credence and impression of personal & direct knowledge than my recordings would indicate on their own! I felt that throughout the portions where my name was used the quotes were O.K. but authoritative emphasis was yours. I want to say that so far your use of my name and discussions have not given me any problem. So let's leave it at that. I did enjoy your and Donald's efforts in digging into who knows what!
"I'm returning the copy of your book. I'll be glad to pay for it but would appreciate it being autographed."