United Press "Standard" Roswell Story -- July 9
The Post-Dispatch, Bee and Citizen stories together have all elements of the UP "standard" Roswell story of July 9. The others are more edited down versions of the longer story. Parts not common to all samples are in italics.
Note the headlines mentioning the Army and Navy debunking campaign.
** An unambiguous statement in the lead sentence of the story that the military was engaged in a saucer debunking campaign.
Maybe AAF headquarters told the press they rebuked the Roswell "officers", but there is currently no evidence that this really happened. E.g., PIO Walter Haut remembers no such thing. Intelligence officer Marcel's file has no indication of it.
Here's an example of the already skeptical press aiding and abetting the military debunking campaign by mentioning obvious hoaxes. A week later, FBI directory Hoover may have been grousing about this incident when he wrote that the Army had "grabbed" a disc and denied the FBI access for examination in the "La. case."
In spite of the debunkery, there is still a mention of this very interesting mass UFO sighting by knowledgeable Naval personnel that is clearly not some dumb hoax.
Admiral Blandy's skeptical remarks as found in other stories. N.Y. Times story has more details. Why is the very busy Blandy bothering to comment?
Another disk hoax, also mentioned in AP accounts.
Who were the "diehards" and "principles" and why were they dissatisfied with the weather balloon story? Unfortunately, this provocative statement is not fleshed out. It may be a reference to rancher Brazel's retraction of his balloon statement at the very end of his press interview. See item 7 below.
Notice how UP continues to state that the press release was in the name of Col. Blanchard. In contrast, AP stories on July 9 scapegoated Haut.
Actually the original statement said the "disc" landed on the ranch "sometime last week." See UP telexes and initial UP story. Notice how the story has been changed. Brazel's name is finally spelled correctly by UP.
UP continues to report Ramey's early weather balloon/radar reflector identification. Note that in UP's chronology, the identification occurred before photos were taken and official identification by weather officer Newton.
Actually multiple photos were taken.
Later one photo of Newton was taken with the radar target. Newton is given a different hometown than that reported by AP.
Haut today claims no such thing happened. He says he surely would have remembered it.
Blanchard was made incommunicado, as Marcel soon was. Blanchard is thought to have gone to the debris field to make a determination before actually going on his official leave.
30 years later, Brazel's son recalled his father telling him exactly this--that he was told it had nothing to do with the Army or Navy.
UP wasn't represented at Brazel's press interview. UP may have gotten this from AP or the Roswell
Daily Record. It was Brazel's parting shot and a retraction of the balloon story he had just told.
Again frustratingly vague. According to the Daily Record account, Brazel mentioned "flower tape" and "letters on some of the parts." Nobody else, such as Marcel, mentioned anything like this.
A careless mistake. Wilcox, of course, was in Roswell. This paragraph is found only in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch version.
The suggestion that the radar targets were widely used, followed by the suggestion that they accounted for the flying disc reports throughout the nation. This was the basic military debunking theme.
Ramey repeats the singular balloon/radar target story on the radio and denies that any instrumentation was found. If that were the case, then how was this different from an ordinary radar target weather balloon?
Weather people weigh in with their opinions. Later studies suggested maybe 10-20% or so of UFO reports were due to balloons of various types. Certainly they weren't the source of 100% of them, as the military was insinuating at the time as part of the debunking campaign.
Orville Wright's acid remarks in the UP standard story are found only in the Columbus Citizen version.
The rest of the "standard" UP article comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Psychological explanations" were commonly invoked in 1947 newspaper stories to explain the saucer sightings, just as they are today.
Johnson was skeptical but very interested in the phenomenon since Kenneth Arnold's sighting on June 24. Like Arnold, he was a highly experienced pilot. Johnson's sighting was widely reported in the nation's press.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/9/47, page 1
'Flying Disk' Part of Weather Balloon;
'Saucer' Reports Drop
Sacramento (CA) Bee, 7/9, Morning, page 1
Reports of Flying Saucers Dwindle;
New Mexico 'Disc' is Only Weather Balloon
Columbus (Ohio) Citizen, 7/9, page 1
Saucer Found in Desert is Labeled Weather Balloon
Stockton (CA) Record, 7/9, page 1
ARMY IRKED BY 'DISC' YARNS; HOAX EXPOSED
Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal, 7/9, page 1
Flying Disc Tales Decline as Army, Navy Crack Down
Berkeley (CA) Daily Gazette, 7/9, evening, page 1
Military Out to Squelch 'Disc' Rumors
Reports of flying saucers whizzing through the sky fell off sharply today as the Army and Navy began a concentrated campaign to stop the rumors.
One by one, persons who thought they had their hands on the $3,000 offered for a genuine flying saucer found their hands full of nothing.
Headquarters of the 8th army at Fort Worth, Tex., announced that the wreckage of a tin-foil covered object found on a New Mexico ranch was nothing more than the remnants of a weather balloon. AAF headquarters in Washington reportedly delivered a "blistering" rebuke to officers at the Roswell, N.M., base for suggesting that it was a "flying disc."
A 16 inch aluminum disc equipped with two radio condensers, a fluorescent light switch and copper tubing found by F.G. Harston near the Shreveport, Louisiana, business district was declared by police to be "obviously the work of a prankster." Police believed the prankster hurled it over a sign board and watched it land at Harston's feet. It was turned over to officials at Barksdale army air field.
United States naval intelligence officers at Pearl Harbor investigated claims by 100 Navy men that they saw a mysterious object "silvery colored, like aluminum, with no wings or tail," sail over Honolulu at a rapid clip late yesterday. The description fit a weather balloon, but 5 of the men, familiar with weather observation devices, swore that it was not a balloon.
"It moved extremely fast for a short period, seemed to slow down, then disappeared high in the air," said Yeoman 1/C Douglas Kacherle of New Bedford, Massachusetts. His story was corroborated by Seaman 1X Donald Ferguson, Indianapolis; Yeoman 3/C Morris Kzamme, La. Crosse, Wisconsin, Seaman 1/C Albert Delancey, Salem, West Virginia, and Yeoman 2/C Ted Pardue, McClain, Texas.
Admiral William H. Blandy, commander-in-chief of the Atlantic fleet, said like everyone else he was curious about the reported flying saucers "but I do not believe they exist."
Lloyd Bennett, Oelwein, Iowa, salesman, was stubborn about the shiny 6 1/2-inch steel disc he found yesterday. Authorities said it was not a "flying saucer" but Bennett said he would claim the reward offered for the mysterious discs.
There were other diehards. Not all the principles were satisfied with the announcement that the wreckage found on the New Mexico ranch was that of a weather balloon.
The excitement ran through this cycle:
1. Lt. Warren Haught, public relations officer at the Roswell base, released a statement in the name of Col. William Blanchard, base commander. It said that an object described as a "flying disc" was found on the nearby Foster ranch 3 weeks ago by W.W. Brazel and been sent to "higher officials" for examination.
2. Brigadier General Roger B. Ramey, commander of the 8th air force, said at Fort Worth that he believed the object was the "remnant of a weather balloon and a radar reflector," and was "nothing to be excited about."
He allowed photographers to take a picture of it. It was announced that the object would be sent to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio for examination by experts.
3. Later, Warrant Officer Irving Newton, Stetsonville, Wisconsin, weather officer at Fort Worth, examined the object and said definitely that it was nothing but a badly smashed target used to determine the direction and velocity of high altitude winds.
4. Lt. Haught reportedly told reporters that he has been "shut up by two blistering phone calls from Washington."
5. Efforts to contact Col. Blanchard brought the information that "he is now on leave."
6. Maj. Jesse A. Marcel, intelligence officer of the 509th bombardment group, reportedly told Brazel, the finder of the object, that "it has nothing to do with Army or Navy so far as I can tell."
7. Brazel told reporters that he has found weather balloon equipment before, but had seen nothing that had resembled his latest find.
Those men who saw the object said it had a flowered paper tape around it bearing the initials "D.P."
Sheriff George Wilcox's telephone lines at Fort Worth [sic] were clogged last night. Three calls came from England, one of them from the London Daily Mail, he said.
Newton said four of the wind sounding devices were released daily by every Army weather station in the nation. The incident aroused the possibility that other of the mystery discs have been weather balloons reflecting the sun at high altitudes as they were carried briskly along by the wind .
The devices, composed of a 50 inch synthetic rubber balloon and a star-like device that looks like a box kite, can attain a height of 60,000 to 70,000 feet. They may drift any place. High altitude pressure usually explodes them. Instruments they carry are set to break loose at medium altitudes and flatten down near the observation station.
Ramey made a special radio broadcast over a Fort Worth radio station to deny the object found in New Mexico was a "flying disc." He said it was the "remnants of a tinfoil covered box kite and a rubber balloon." He said the kite originally carried instruments, but that none were found with the wreckage.
In addition to the army weather balloons, hundreds of others are sent aloft daily by government forecasters, United States meteorologists in Chicago said about 80 large balloons five feet in diameter and hundreds of others from 18 inches to two feet in diameter are released in the nation every day.
The weathermen couldn't agree on whether people were seeing the balloons. The Chicago forecasters said the balloons rose too rapidly. J. C. Huddle, Kansas City weatherman, said he considered them a "likely source" of some of the reports.
"On a clear day, I've seen our white balloons several miles high," Huddle said. "They can be seen for a long distance and at about 600 feet they give the illusion of moving very fast."
Meanwhile at Dayton, Orville Wright said the flying saucer craze is "propaganda dished up by the Government to support the current State Department campaign to get us into another war.
The inventor of the airplane compared the saucer stories with the false rumors published in England in 1913 about German dirigibles flying over the British Isles.
"It is more propaganda for war, to stir up the people and excite them to believe a foreign power has designs on this nation," the 75-year-old scientist said. Wright criticized the wide publicity given to the saucer stories.
He believes there is no scientific basis for the existence of the phenomenon reportedly seen by hundreds of persons across the nation.
Scientists said today that the hysteria stirred up over the "flying saucers" could well mean that psychological casualties in an atomic or rocket war would far outnumber deaths from atomic bomb explosions.
Dr. Edward Strecker, director of the Philadelphia Hospital, for Mental and Nervous Diseases, described many of the reports on the "saucers" as due to a mental condition known as "pathological receptiveness."
He said that at the beginning of the saucer episode, some persons "may have seen something such as the glint of an airplane in fast flight." This probably led to a misinterpretation of an illusion, he said, recalling that illusions are common.
He said that the emotional state of many persons had been overactive since the first atomic bomb exploded.
Dave Johnson, aviation editor of the Idaho Statesman, reported today he saw and took motion pictures of a black object as he was flying between Boise and Anderson Ranch dam. Johnson said he hoped the object would turn out to be a flying disk.
Johnson, flying for the third day in search of the elusive flying saucers, said he radioed the weather bureau and asked whether the object might be a weather balloon. The bureau radioed back that it had no balloons in the air at that time.
"I was looking into the sun when I saw the object," Johnson aid over his plane's radio. "It flashed silver against the sun and maneuvered rapidly through the sky. I was able to get only about 10 feet of film before it was gone. It was so far away I don't know whether I got anything or not before it was gone."