* 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.
Ramey was born in 1903 in Sulphur Springs, Texas, but grew up in Denton, Texas, about 40 miles north of Fort Worth. He graduated from North Texas State Teachers College in Denton and wanted to study medicine. But he won a rodeo competition and "preferred working on a ranch to books."
He was the mess sergeant in a local National Guard unit, and the captain insisted young "Cowboy" Ramey take the competitive examination for entrance to the U.S. Military Academy, winning the West Point appointment. He entered West Point in 1924 and graduated in 1928.
At West Point, his graduation biography describes "Cowboy" Ramey as having trouble with the academics, but ultimately winning out through his perseverance. He was described as witty, fluent, good-natured, and easy at making friends. He was known as a prankster with fellow classmates. "There are few tricks or jokes that he doesn't know." This seems to have carried over into being a rebel against upholders of regulations with which he waged many battles, costing him many lost days of Christmas leave. But he seems to have settled into being a serious, careful, and diligent officer after graduation.
His early days as a rebel against authority are rather ironic in retrospect considering his later prominent role in covering up UFO information as a general from 1947 onward. His noted fluency and social skills no doubt also served him well in his later dealings with the press, where he displayed adeptness at spinning events and talking around questions, whether it concerned mistakes made during nuclear testing in 1946 or the reality of UFOs and what happened at Roswell.
In Dec. 1949, Ramey was named Fort Worth's Man of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce for his mobilization and personal direction of thousands of base personnel for rescue work during Fort Worth's disastrous flood of May 17. He also had relief flown to Texas City after a disastrous explosion there. Retired Gen. Eisenhower attended the ceremony. So did the National Guard captain who made him go to West Point 25 years earlier.
With the announcement in May 1950 of his appointment as Air Force Director of Operations at the Pentagon, the Air Force Times described him this way. "...General Ramey has a quick, incisive mind, the habit of getting immediately at the nub of a problem and of expressing decision in a few, simple words, embellished by a fabulous sense of humor. Air officers who served with him in World War II are still repeating with chuckles some of his classic, always wise, but often unprintable comments on unit problems."
However, the magazine also called Ramey a "tall Texas bachelor." Ramey was by no means "tall". (See, e.g., photo of Ramey with Lyndon Johnson. Johnson, who stood 6' 4", towers over Ramey, as do others in the photo.) It appears at least some journalistic license had been used.
However, reporting a farewell talk in June to the 8th AF before several thousand men along the flight line, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote, "The normally jocular airman cleared his throat and gripped a lectern with an effort to keep his voice steady..." Ramey then said, "I'm probably a victim of sentimentality, but I've asked you people of the 8th to meet here for no other reason than to tell you goodbye as the retiring 8th commander."
Again the description was of Ramey normally being good-humored.
Ramey's life and career were briefly marred by scandal a month after his transfer to Washington when he struck and killed a women while driving near the Capitol. He was in the company of a young airline stewardess. The stewardess later testified in his behalf, saying the auto's speed was only between 15 and 20 miles per hour. The coroner's jury acquitted him, ruling that the woman died as a result of her own carelessness.
Ramey married for the second time in Dec. 1950, to Latane Worsham, whom he had known for four years. The Star-Telegram reported he was, "A typical bridegroom who forgot his cues during the ceremony," and "had to be prompted three times by the minister before he began repeating the traditional, 'With this ring...'"
Ramey suffered his first heart attack in Sept. 1956 at Barksdale AFB, La., before he could check into his new post as Deputy air defense commander. He told friends the heart attack meant the end of his Air Force career. He retired in January 1957. Soon after he became vice president of a life insurance company.
In Jan. 1958, he was named by the Texas governor to the Board of Regents of North Texas State College, his old alma mater (now University of North Texas).
In July 1958, he was made corporate vice president of Northrup Aircraft in charge of the company's district offices in Washington, D.C., Dayton, Omaha, Ogden, Huntsville, and Colorado Springs. He resided in Washington, D.C.
In 1960 he became president of Permanent Filter Company in Los Angeles and retired in July 1962. He suffered another heart attack at his home in Palos Verdes, Cal., and died a week later on March 3, 1963, at age 59.
Among survivors were Ramey's two children, Kent, 11, and daughter Mary Latane, 5, his parents, and three brothers, M. G. Ramey of Denton, S. W. Ramey of Houston, and J. R. Ramey of Atlanta.
Ramey's wife Latane and their two children still survive and, according to the last information I received, are still living in Denton. Son Kent is a pilot for Delta Air Lines. Attempts by some to elicit information from the Rameys regarding any knowledge they may have on Gen. Ramey's involvement with Roswell have been reported to be unsuccessful. Mrs. Ramey is reported to refer all queries to her son, who has refused all attempts at interview. Given the young age of Ramey's children at his death, it is very doubtful they would have any direct knowledge.
Ramey made his name during World War II as an authority on heavy bombardment, leading a number of attacks against the Japanese.
1924: Entered West Point. Previously was in the Texas National Guard.
1928: Graduated from West Point. Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the cavalry.
Sept. 1929: Completed flight training at the Air Corps Primary Flying School, Brooks Field, Texas, and the Advanced flying School, Kelly Field Texas. Transferred to Air Corp in November 1929. Served next 5 years at Kelly and Brooks Fields in Texas and at Selfridge Field in Michigan.
July 1934: Transferred to Randolph Field as an instructor.
1938: Promoted in September to first lieutenant and in June to captain.
1939: Transferred to Hawaii in March as Intelligence Officer of the 18th Pursuit Group at Wheeler
Field, becoming CO of the 19th Squadron in July and Executive Officer of the 18th Group the following April.
Oct. 1949: Sent to Hickam Field as CO of the 42nd Bomb Squadron, where he was
Jan. 1941: Promoted to major.
December, 1941: Ramey was the 18th Bomb Wing operations officer at Hickam Field, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii, during the Japanese attack. He won a special commendation for attempts to save planes while enemy planes strafed and bombed hangars, airplanes, and personnel.
1942: Soon after Pearl Harbor, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel as Plans and Training Officer for the 7th Bomb Command. In March, he was promoted to full colonel. He was Deputy Chief of Staff of the 7th Air Force, then commanding officer of the 43rd Bombardment Group in Australia and New Guinea. Directed bombing attacks in support of operations which turned back the Japanese thrust at Port Moresby and resulted in their expulsion from Papua, New Guinea.
Oct. 21, 1942: Col. Ramey assumed command of the 43rd Bombardment Group.
March 1, 1943: Battle of Bismarck Sea. Ramey directed bombing attacks against the Japanese resulting in the loss of 22 Japanese ships. Ironically, he assumed command of the 5th Bomber Command during the battle after General Howard K. Ramey, of no relation, was killed in action. [Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico is named after Howard Ramey, not Roger Ramey.]
April 19, 1943: Ramey officially becomes commanding officer of the 5th Bomber Command.
1943: Afterwards directed extensive bombing operations in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and other sections of the Southwest Pacific. Had charge of planning and directing the bombing and strafing attacks during the campaign which led to the capture of Lae, conducted the operations which crushed the strong Japanese base at Wewak, and directed bombing of critical targets in areas under land attack by allied forces. Received the Distinguished Service Medal for these operations.
Also awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for conducting first bombing attack on Wake Island (June 27) and the Distinguished Service Cross for "extraordinary heroism" while participating in an attack on the Japanese base at Rabaul, New Britain. As command pilot leading a flight against the base, Ramey remained at the scene of attack for over two hours, making 20 passes over the target, dropping flares on each run, and thus drawing attention of searchlights and diverting much of the anti-aircraft fire from other bombers to his own.
July 1, 1943: Promoted to Brigadeer General.
December 1943 or January 1944: Returned to U.S. and assumed command of the 38th Flying Training Wing at Kirtland Flying Field, Albuquerque, N.M., replacing Brig. Gen. Martin Scanlon (who also may figure in the Roswell story).
May 1944: Went to Peterson Field, Colo. as CG of the 314th Bomb Wing.
November 1944: Returned to the Pacific. Named Chief of Staff of the 21st Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force in Saipan. Helped plan and direct early B-29 operations against the Japanese mainland from the Marianas.
January 1945: Assumed command of the 20th Bomber Command and veteran 58th Bombardment Wing in the China-Burma-India Theater, succeeding Major General Curtis LeMay (another possible player in Roswell).
April 1945: Took the 58th Bombardment Wing to the Marianas Islands where they operated in raids against Japan until the end of the war. It was noted that not a single plane was lost in the moving the bomb wing 3600 miles from India to the Marianas. After war's end, put in charge of Operation Sunset, which flew thousands of soldiers home from the Pacific islands. Again, the safety record was perfect.
November 1945: Ramey and 58th Bomb Wing returned to March Field, Riverside, CA. Afterward commanded the 58th at Bolling Field, Md.
1946: Placed in charge of Task Force 1.5, the Army Air forces contribution to the joint Army-Navy operations for the explosion of two A-bombs at the Bikini atoll (Operation Crossroads). In charge of all the aerial activity at Bikini, including the dropping of atomic bomb #4 (on July 1) on the ships in Bikini Bay from one of the 58th Wing planes. Ramey personally selected the flight crew. He was also on the plane during the drop, along with his right-hand man, Col. William Blanchard, later C/O of the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell during the Roswell incident.
May 1946: 58th Bomb Wing, with Ramey commanding, moved to Fort Worth, Tex. Soon after, he left for the South Pacific and returned in August at the conclusion of Crossroads.
July 26,1946: Ramey wrote Roswell intelligence chief Major Jesse Marcel a commendation for his work during Crossroads, citing his important contributions to security, his handling of complex intelligence matters, and the perfection of his staff briefings. A year later, Marcel was to handle the initial investigation into the strange crash debris found by rancher Mack Brazel near Roswell and fly the debris to Fort Worth for examination by Gen. Ramey.
Nov. 1, 1946: 8th Air Force reactivated at Fort Worth. with Ramey's 58th Bomb Wing merged into it. Ramey was briefly chief of staff of the 8th under Major General Clements McMullen.
Jan. 1947: Ramey assumed full command of the 8th AAF from McMullen. McMullen became deputy chief of staff of the Strategic Air Command under Gen. George Kenney.
June 30, 1947: Ramey and his intelligence chief were giving press interviews and debunking the new flying saucer phenomenon.
July 6, 1947: Ramey spent all day attending an air show in his home town of Denton, TX (and probably visiting relatives). Meanwhile, back in Fort Worth with Ramey away from the base, his chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Thomas Dubose, said he first learned of the find at Roswell by phone from SAC acting chief of staff Gen. McMullen. According to Dubose, McMullen ordered debris samples flown immediately to Washington by "colonel courier," first stopping in Fort Worth. The whole operation was carried out under the strictest secrecy, said Dubose. McMullen ordered him not to tell anyone, not even Ramey.
July 8, 1947 (early morning): (New item added 2008) According to Roswell base public information officer Walter Haut in a 2002 affidavit, Ramey and Dubose attended the morning staff meeting at Roswell to discuss how to publicly handle the crash, since many civilians in the area were now aware of it. Briefings on the debris field and a craft/body site were presented and debris was passed around. Ramey said they were going to cover it up, which would include a diversion from the the closer and more important craft body site. Haut thought Ramey was acting on orders from the Pentagon.
July 8, 1947 (afternoon): The infamous Roswell base flying disc press release put out by Haut on base commander Col. William Blanchard's orders. In Fort Worth, Ramey quickly debunked of it as a weather balloon. According to Dubose, McMullen ordered the cover-up in another phone call to Dubose from Washington. Both Dubose and Roswell intelligence chief Jesse Marcel said the weather balloon was not what Marcel brought from Roswell, being nothing but a cover story to get rid of the press.
Oct. 1947: Nominated for promotion to major general.
Nov. 28, 1947: Received Legion of Merit for his role in Operation Crossroads.
1948 & 1949: 8th Air Force started conversion from B-29's to B-36's.
Jan. 28, 1948: President Truman promoted Ramey to Major General.
Spring 1948: Ramey repeated his role from 1946's Operation Crossroads by directing Air Force units in Operation Sandstone, the new A-bomb tests on Eniwetok Atoll.
June 1948: Ramey attended his 20th anniversary class reunion at West Point. Accompanying him were Col. John D. Ryan, his assistant chief of staff, and Col. William H. Blanchard, commanding officer of the 509th at Roswell, who were attending their 10th anniversary reunion.
August 1948: Ramey led a flight of 135 B-29's in a massive display of 700 planes over New York's new Idlewild Airport (now JFK Airport). President Truman was among the dignitaries.
August 19, 1948: Ramey wrote an evaluation of Major Marcel, calling his services "outstanding," protesting his transfer, and calling him command officer material. This is an important document refuting accusations that Marcel somehow mishandled the Roswell crashed flying disk investigation or misbehaved in Ramey's office in front of Ramey and reporters.
Oct. 20, 1948: Ramey flew to Washington to attend the first staff conference of new Strategic Air Command chief, Lt. Gen. Curtis LeMay.
Dec. 1949: Awarded Chamber of Commerce's Fort Worth Man of the Year award for organizing rescue efforts during disastrous Fort Worth flood earlier in the year.
May 11, 1950: Maj. Gen. Ramey named assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
May 1950: Ramey went on a 2-week inspection tour of U.S. air bases in Europe. Among those with him were Col. William Blanchard, now his operations officer, in 1947 the C/O of Roswell base during the Roswell incident.
June 16, 1950: Moved to HQ USAF, Washington D.C. as new Director of Operations.
July 28, 1952: In charge of jet interceptions over Washington D.C. during the big UFO flap, Ramey issued an ambiguous public denial that the interceptors had been ordered to shoot down any saucers. However, newspaper articles and other documents say there was such an order.
July 29, 1952: Participated in a large Washington press conference along with Air Force intelligence chief Gen. John Samford in debunking the flood of 1952 UFO reports, particularly the radar/visual/jet intercept cases over Washington during the previous week. Samford and Ramey were referred to as the Air Force's top two saucer experts.
Aug. 3, 1952: Went on CBS TV Sunday national news show to further debunk the saucer reports. Referred to as the Air Force's "saucer man."
Aug. 30, 1952: Visiting his parents in Denton, Texas, Ramey was quoted as saying that the public's excitement over flying saucers was "regrettable."
January, 1953: Testified before Congress on air accidents and AF plans for more radar surveillance.
March 23, 1954: Named 5th Air Force Commander and given rank of Lt. General. Assumed command of the 5th under FEAF in June 1954 in Korea. A few months later the 5th AF command moved to Nagoya, Japan. Credited with rebuilding the 5th AF into a major unit as he had done with the 8th AF in Fort Worth.
May 15, 1954: In Amarillo, Texas for Armed Forces Day awaiting his new assignment, Ramey was with AF Chief of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining when Twining said that top people in the country were studying the flying saucer problem, and if they were an advanced civilization, then we probably had nothing to worry about. Unknown if he advised Twining in any way.
Aug. 20, 1955: South Korean President Synghman Rhee decorates Ramey.(CBS News film archives).
June 1956: Left command of 5th AF, returning to Colorado Springs to become deputy commander of the Continental Air Defense Command and vice commander of the Air Defense Command in Denver. Eventually the intent was for Ramey to become commander of the ADC, which he did become briefly.
January 31, 1957: Retired from Air Force after suffering a heart attack several months before.
March 3, 1963: Died in Palos Verdes, California, of a heart attack. (Also listed as dying March 4 at Veterans Hospital in Long Beach, California.)