Roswell Case Overview -- Part 5
Pentagon Says Flying Saucers NOT Space Ships

Early on July 8, United Press reported that the Army Air Force Pentagon spokespeople were stating that the flying saucers were NOT "space ships", nor were they a secret military project or bacteriological warfare weapon of some foreign power (meaning Russia)It is extremely interesting and probably not a "coincidence" that this extraterrestrial origins denial went out just before Roswell base was to announce they did have a flying saucer in their possession.

It is also interesting that after the base press release, when Gen. Ramey began to debunk the Roswell flying disc, he and Pentagon spokespeople also made the point that the object they had could not have carried any sort of crew.

Roswell Base Press Release of "Flying Disc" Recovery

Late that morning, Col. Blanchard's Public Information Officer, Lt. Walter Haut, says he got a call from Col. Blanchard about issuing a press release about a recovered flying disk.  Haut says he is unsure whether Blanchard dictated the release to him over the phone or whether he picked it up already written at Blanchard's office.

In 2001 I asked Haut about the release.  Haut said it was too long ago for him to remember exactly what happened.  However, I asked him what standard procedure would be for nontrivial press releases.  He said that if he had written it up based on information provided to him, he would have gone back to Blanchard's office to have it reviewed by either Blanchard or his adjutant for possible mistakes, revisions, etc., before finally publicly releasing it.  Thus, releases of any import could only go out with the personal authorization of Blanchard or his adjutant, whether Haut wrote it up or not.

Whatever happened, United Press stories from early on consistently claimed that it was Col. Blanchard's press release and that Blanchard had specifically used the term "flying disk" to describe the recovered object. 

However, when Gen. Ramey started claiming it was a weather balloon, Associated Press and others quickly scapegoated Haut. They came up with the strange theory that he had been the one to personally  "misidentify" a weather balloon as a flying disk and then write up as an authoritative press release on his own initiative. 

UP was also to claim the next day in its final Roswell story that Haut had told reporters that he had been "shut up by two blistering phone calls from Washington."  Haut in current times has said he didn't remember ever receiving any such calls and is pretty sure he would have remembered them.

Why the base issued the flying disk press release is still a subject of much heated debate.  Frank Kaufmann claimed that the press release was the idea of the special team and was a brilliant stroke of disinformation.  The plan all along was to quickly debunk the initial story and thus discredit any rumors about what was really happening.

The Ramey message may back up Kaufmann's story.  Ramey refers to the base press release as the "MISSTATE" (or perhaps "MISTAKEN") meaning of story," says that it was the "CIC/TEAM" that said it, and seems to be reassuring Gen. Vandenberg that it wasn't his doing or that of Ramey's regular people at Roswell.  This seems to indicate that the press release was an in-the-field decision by the special team, perhaps not cleared from above, and caught even the Pentagon by surprise.  If this is what happened, it was an extremely risky gambit.

However, in a somewhat different version told by Walter Haut in a taped interview with Wendy Connors and Dennis Balthauser plus his affidavit, Ramey had taken a special flight to the base on the morning of July 8 for the staff meeting. At the meeting, Ramey indicated that they would be going with a weather balloon for a cover story.  If true, this indicates that the balloon story was planned well in advance.  Whether the initial flying disk press release was part of this plan, or a spur of the moment decision in Roswell after Ramey left is not clear.

Haut then distributed the press release to the two newspapers and two radio stations in Roswell.  Radioman Frank Joyce recalled questioning Haut about the release, saying that it seemed to be making factual statements in the name of the Army but without proper approval from above.  Haut replied that it was OK because it had Col. Blanchard's authorization.  (See comments by Haut above about standard procedure for reviewing press releases.)

Another person to corroborate that Blanchard authorized the release was Roswell Morning Dispatch editor, Judd Roberts.  He said he was good friends with Blanchard.  After a few drinks a few months later, he asked Blanchard about the release and Blanchard confirmed he had authorized it.  He added that the material his men had brought in from the field was the strangest stuff he had ever seen.

Joyce also recalled that after the press release went out on the wire and the phones began ringing, he got an extremely angry call from a Col. Johnson at the Pentagon, demanding to know where he got the information.  Again this supports the idea that the press release was a local decision and not cleared by the Pentagon.

Contents of the Press Release

There are two slightly different versions of the infamous Roswell base press release reported by the Associated Press and United Press wire services, and yet a third account from the Roswell Daily Record of that afternoon.  The UP version was sent by Frank Joyce, who says he received a written copy from Haut and sent it out by Western Union.  The AP version came from George Walsh at KSWS radio, who claims Haut phoned it in to him, and he then phoned it to the AP central office in Albuquerque.  Both men claimed the wording was exactly as they received it.

The more commonly quoted AP version, which first hit the wires at 2:26 p.m. Roswell (Mountain) standard time, read as follows:

  THE MANY RUMORS REGARDING THE FLYING DISC BECAME 
  A REALITY YESTERDAY WHEN THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE OF
  THE 509TH BOMB GROUP OF THE EIGHTH AIR FORCE, RAAF,  
  WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO GAIN POSSESSION OF A DISC
  THROUGH THE COOPERATION OF ONE OF THE LOCAL RANCHERS 
  AND THE SHERIFF'S OFICE OF CHAVES COUNTY.

  THE FLYING OBJECT LANDED ON A RANCH NEAR ROSWELL 
  SOMETIME LAST WEEK.  NOT HAVING PHONE FACILITIES,
  THE RANCHER STORED THE DISC UNTIL SUCH TIME AS HE
  WAS ABLE TO CONTACT THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE, WHO IN 
  TURN NOTIFIED MAJOR JESSE A. MARCEL OF THE 509TH
  BOMB GROUP INTELLIGENCE OFFICE.

  ACTION WAS IMMEDIATELY TAKEN AND THE DISC WAS PICKED
  UP AT THE RANCHER'S HOME.  IT WAS INSPECTED AT THE
  RAAF AND SUBSEQUENTLY LOANED [or "FLOWN"] BY MAJOR
  MARCEL TO HIGHER HEADQUARTERS.

This UP version went out at 2:41 p.m., although this seems to be an add or update to a still earlier UP bulletin referenced at the beginning but no longer surviving (see original UP telexes):

  THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE REPORTS THAT IT GAINED
  POSSESSION OF THE "DISC" THROUGH THE COOPERATION
  OF A ROSWELL RANCHER AND SHERIFF GEORGE WILSON OF
  ROSWELL.

  THE DISC LANDED ON A RANCH NEAR ROSWELL SOMETIME
  LAST WEEK. NOT HAVING PHONE FACILITIES, THE RANCHER,
  WHOSE NAME HAS NOT YET BEEN OBTAINED, STORED THE
  DISC UNTIL SUCH TIME AS HE WAS ABLE TO CONTACT THE
  ROSWELL SHERIFF'S OFFICE.

  THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE IN TURN NOTIFIED A MAJOR OF
  THE 509TH INTELLIGENCE OFFICE.

  ACTION WAS TAKEN IMMEDIATELY AND THE DISC WAS PICKED
  UP AT THE RANCHER'S HOME AND TAKEN TO THE ROSWELL  
  AIR BASE.  FOLLOWING EXAMINATION, THE DISC WAS FLOWN 
  BY INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS IN A SUPERFORTRESS TO AN
  UNDISCLOSED "HIGHER HEADQUARTERS."

  THE AIR BASE HAS REFUSED TO GIVE DETAILS OF 
  CONSTRUCTION OF THE DISC OR OF ITS APPEARANCE.

  RESIDENTS NEAR THE RANCH ON WHICH THE DISC WAS FOUND 
  REPORTED SEEING A STRANGE BLUE LIGHT SEVERAL DAYS AGO
  ABOUT THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.

Finally, here is how the Roswell Daily Record reported the base release in their July 8 evening edition:

  The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment 
  group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon 
  today, that the field has come into possession of a
  flying saucer.

  According to information released by the department,
  over authority of Maj. J. A. Marcel, intelligence 
  officer, the disk was recovered on a ranch in the
  Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had
  notified sheriff Geo. Wilcox, here, that he had
  found the instrument on his premises.

  Major Marcel and a detail from his department went
  to the ranch and recovered the disk, it was stated.
  After the intelligence office here had inspected the 
  instrument it was flown to "higher headquarters".
  The intelligence office stated that no details of  
  the saucer's construction or its appearance had been 
  revealed.

Analysis of Press Release Versions

There are obvious similarities in these versions, but there are also some significant differences.  This is surprising, considering all three versions are supposed to derive from the same press release.  Among these differences are:

1.  "The strange blue light" from several days before reported by residents near the ranch.  This was in the original UP press release version and repeated in UP stories, but is nowhere to be found in the AP release or any subsequent stories.  Nor is it in the Daily Record story, although the rest of the story after the press release was about a flying disk sighting from six days before by a very-well-thought-of Roswell couple.

2.  Both AP and UP stated that the unidentified rancher found the disk "sometime last week."  But the Daily Record failed to give a time for the discovery.

3.  Both the Daily Record and UP stated that it was the intelligence office that announced the recovery of the flying disk.  But AP did not say the intelligence office announced it, only that they had gained possession of it.  The Daily Record also claimed the intelligence office released the information at noon.  AP and UP gave no time for when the release supposedly went out,  but it is clear that it didn't hit the newswires until mid-afternoon, not noon.  The reason for this discrepancy in time is not clear..

4.  Major Marcel's name is not given in the UP version (Marcel is referred to only as "a major" with the intelligence office), though given prominent display by both the Daily Record and AP.  In fact, UP telexes kept by Frank Joyce indicate that UP did not learn of or use Marcel's name for nearly another hour.  UP also initially misspelled Sheriff George Wilcox's name, calling him "George Wilson."

5.  UP and the Daily Record both indicated that the device was "flown" to "higher headquarters" by Marcel or "intelligence officers."  But AP newspaper articles generally quoted the release as saying that Major Marcel "loaned" the "disc" to "higher headquarters."  The sole exception to this was the Los Angeles Herald-Express AP story which said the disc was "flown" by Marcel.  If the AP version was in fact phoned in to Albuquerque, then "loaned" could represent a simple copying mistake caused by low-fidelity phone lines.  As a junior officer, it made no sense that Marcel could "loan" anything to higher headquarters.  Was he supposed to demand that it be returned to him when they were done with it?  Only the Herald-Express seemed to realize that the wording wasn't right, and corrected it with "flown," as used by UP in their wire stories.

6.  The Daily Record stated that Major Marcel and "a detail" went out to recover the object.  However, AP and UP only mention that Marcel or "a major" in the intelligence office were contacted and the objected was subsequently retrieved.  Exactly who retrieved it and how many were involved was not made clear.  After contacting Sheriff Wilcox, UP was soon to update the story to "an officer and an enlisted man" coming to the Sheriff's office, later amended to Major Marcel and an enlisted man. AP in their regular stories never reported anybody but Marcel being involved.

7.  UP mentioned the flight to "higher headquarters" was in a "superfortress" or B-29, but AP and the Daily Record made no mention of this.

While some of these differences might be due to simple teletype typos, misunderstandings over phone lines, etc., others are not so easily explained away, such as UP not knowing Major Marcel's name and being the only ones to mention the superfortress flight and  "strange blue light" near the ranch.  Did the news people take some liberties with the release and rewrite it? Or was each news outlet deliberately given slightly different accounts, with the intent of adding to the initial confusion?

Walter Haut told me that standard procedure would have been for each news outlet to receive the same typed press release.  So the conundrum of the differing accounts remains.  Conceivably if Haut simply picked up the releases from Blanchard's office and had no hand in writing them, then he may have been unaware of  differences in the releases, if they existed.  Possibly we will never know the real reason for the different press accounts.

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Lt. Walter Haut,
Roswell Public Information Officer