In the afternoon, Montague and Groves met with Secretary of War Patterson. Quite possibly these meetings with Montague and Groves had to do with Montague's upcoming appointment as the new base commander at Sandia. Then again, we have two generals flying in from New Mexico the day after the Roswell incident, one an expert on missiles and the other on atomic weapons. There has also been some testimony that units from Fort Bliss and White Sands were involved in the Roswell recovery. Adding to the intrigue are rumors of some of the Roswell material (and even an alien) being taken to Los Alamos and Sandia for analysis. Furthermore, both Montague and Vandenberg were allegedly part of the so-called Majestic 12 UFO control group established a few months later, according to highly controversial "documents" that showed up in a suspicious way in the 1980s.
Gen. Doolittle, Vandenberg's UFO point man during the 1946 European ghost rocket phenomenon and possibly also in charge of the Foo Fighter investigation for Truman during WWII, also showed up on July 9 in a lengthy meeting with Vandenberg and Army Chief of Staff Eisenhower along with AAF Secretary Symington and Gen. Norstad, AAF Director of Plans and Operations. Immediately afterwards was a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Was this a social gathering or something else?
Where was General Spaatz?
As mentioned at the beginning, Gen. Vandenberg was the acting AAF Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, because Gen. Carl Spaatz, the Chief of Staff, was out of town, supposedly vacationing in the Pacific Northwest, including going fishing in Medford, Oregon. This was reported in many newspapers on July 7, such as the New York Times. While in the Pacific Northwest, Spaatz was asked to comment on the flying discs, and "denied knowing anything about the flying discs —or of plans to use AAF planes to look for them. ‘I've been out of touch with things for four or five days.'" Then it was reported he supposedly went fishing in Medford.
However, recent research by former MUFON head James Carrion indicates Spaatz's activities were not so simple. In fact, what can be documented seems confusing and contradictory, leaving open the question as to exactly Spaatz's whereabouts between July 7 and July 10 at the height of the Roswell incident. On July 10, the Corpus Christi, Texas newspaper reported Spaatz arriving there and then fishing at Port Aransas, near Corpus Christi. Carrion asks the question, "Why did he continue on his fishing expedition in Texas if Roswell allegedly represents a watershed event in human history?" Indeed! What was Spaatz up to?
According to newspaper reports, Carrion found that Spaatz was:
test flying a new Boeing jet on July 3, 1947 in Seattle
Giving a speech at a July 4, 1947 celebration in Seattle (thus similar to Vandenberg giving a July 4 speech in Wichita Falls, Texas)
Inspecting an Army Air Field in Tacoma on July 7, then supposedly going fishing in Medford
On July 10, flew to Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas on his B-17, then flew himself to Kerrville, TX (northwest of San Antonio), and then flown by private plane to Corpus Christi, arriving by 5:30 PM.
Went deep-sea fishing from July 11-13 at Port Aransas.
Directly contradicting this, however, Stanton Friedman tracked down Spaatz's flight log and desk calendar at the Library of Congress, which instead placed Spaatz in Corpus Christi on July 7 and "Fishing at Port Aransas". So did Spaatz go fishing in Medford or Port Aransas on July 7, and why does Spaatz's flight log and caldendar contradict the newspaper reports?
In addition, the supposedly "out-of-touch" Spaatz is known to have written a letter to Dr. Vannevar Bush on July 7, since Bush responded to it on July 17 (although the subject matter doesn't seem to be known). Again Bush's name pops up. Asdetailed above, Bush and his Joint Research and Development Board met with Gen. Vandenberg the following morning, July 8, in a lengthy and suddenly-called meeting, simultaneous with the Staff morning meeting at Roswell (where Roswell public information officer Walter Haut said the crash, bodies, and coverup were all discussed). One questionable document also allegedly placed Spaatz in Alamogordo with Gen. Nathan Twining on July 7. (Twining, head of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, is known to have been in New Mexico between July 7 and July 11.)
Why the convoluted trail about where Spaatz was at between July 7 and July 10? Carrion advocates an even more convoluted conspiracy theory about Roswell and the flying discs being created by military counterintelligence to supposedly smoke out Soviet spies and that Spaatz's presence in Texas was somehow part of this. But I fail to see how this makes any sense. The Chief of Staff would not need to be involved in any of this, being in Texas would add nothing, and anyway his presence in south Texas was barely even reported.
However, Randolph Field, San Antonio, where Spaatz reportedly flew to July 10, was only a few miles from Fort Sam Houston, home of the 4th Army. In 1946 the Institute of Surgical Research, which specialized in trauma surgery, was moved to Fort Sam from Halloran General Hospital in New York. It would make sense that if there were bodies killed in an air crash at Roswell, at least one might end up at the surgical research facility in San Antonio for examination.
We know of one flight from Roswell to Fort Worth late on July 9, with the circumstantial evidence pointing to bodies being on board (see B-29 flight). From there, one or more could possibly have been flown to Randolph Field the following morning, July 10, with eventual destination being the trauma research facility at near-by Fort Sam. If this were the case, it would make perfect sense for Spaatz to fly to Randolph Field to view the bodies early on July 10, before finally proceeding on later that day to Corpus Christi for his fishing trip. At present, this is all conjecture. (Researcher Tom Carey, however, in email has informed me of two witnesses claiming to have seen Roswell bodies at Randolph AFB and Lackland AFB in San Atonio in 1964, both with aeromedical facilities capable of handling cadavers.)
It is also interesting that Gen. Roger Ramey, commanding officer of the 8th AAF at Fort Worth and architect of the Roswell weather balloon cover story, was also near Spaatz on July 10, in Harlington, Texas, only about 90 miles down the coast from Corpus Christi. The Harlington paper reported Ramey being there to inspect and help coordinate an upcoming air show in honor of Air Force Day. Ramey was quoted denying that the flying discs were some secret military project, and then after his duties there was also reported going fishing. Ramey's presence had been announced in the Harlington paper the previous week, so being so close to Spaatz could easily be a true coincidence. However, Ramey's whereabouts while Spaatz was in the area are not well-documented and the close proximity would make it easy for Ramey and Spaatz to meet, but it is currently unknown if this actually happened.
Other Pentagon involvement
On July 9, United Press' main Roswell article led with an opening sentence stating that the Army and Navy were conducting a debunking campaignin order to stop all the rumors about the flying saucers. This included a number of weather balloon demonstrations apparently designed to convince the public that these accounted for all the flying disc sightings. In addition, some high-ranking military officers were making statements in the newspapers scoffing at the flying saucers.
However, it was later learned that at least one Pentagon general was taking the flying disc reports in dead earnest in the midst of the public debunkery Brig. General George Schulgen, Chief of the Air Intelligence Requirements Division of Army Air Corp Intelligence, began an investigation into the saucers on July 9. Schulgen stated that research was "being conducted with the thought that the flying objects might be a celestial phenomenon, and with the view that they might be a foreign body mechanically devised and controlled." In other words, Schulgen wanted to know whether the flying discs were of Russian or celestial origin. Schulgen said his intelligence organization was using "all of its scientists" to determine whether such craft could, in fact, exist.
In addition, Schulgen wanted to use the resources of the FBI to help interrogate witnesses. However, in a memo from July 10, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover expressed reluctance, citing previous lack of cooperation with the Army Air Force on a hoax disc case from Louisanna, where Hoover mentions that the Army "grabbed it" and wouldn't let the local FBI field office examine the object. However, Hoover relented. Schulgen's intelligence estimate three weeks later concluded that the saucers were not imaginary; "something is really flying around," and summarized saucer descriptions and flight characteristics.
Vandenberg's later UFO involvement as Air Force Chief of Staff
Vandenberg's involvement with UFO's didn't end in July 1947. As all good students of UFO history know, at the end of the year, the Air Force established "Project SIGN", the first publicly official Air Force UFO study group. This was done on the urging of Gen. Nathan Twining, C/O of the Air Material Command at Wright Field, where Roswell debris was flown for analysis by the laboratories there. On September 23, 1947, Twining wrote a famous Secret memo(text format) stating that the saucers were real, and urged their serious study through the cooperative effort of many government and military agencies. (The day after Twining's memo, Truman allegedly created the Majestic 12 group.) Twining's memo was prompted by Schulgen's earlier probe, also concluding that the saucers were real. Schulgen then requested that Twining and his command conduct a more thorough investigation.
Twining is another general closely linked to the Roswell case, and, in fact was in New Mexico during the critical period in July (July 7-11). He was quoted at the time in newspapers saying that his command was investigating the flying saucer reports and evidently people had seen something. Further, Twining was another of the alleged members of Majestic 12 along with Vandenberg and Montague. He and Montague had been classmates at West Point. Twining succeeded Vandenberg as AF Chief of Staff in 1953 and became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 1957. (For public comments Twining made on UFOs in 1954 see Ramey and UFOs section.)
Vandenberg became the new Air Force Chief of Staff in the spring of 1948, succeeding Gen. Carl Spaatz. At the end of the summer, Project SIGN produced its first intelligence estimate of the saucers. The infamous "Estimate of the Situation" likewise came to the conclusion that the saucers were quite real and probably of interplanetary origin. Vandenberg ultimately ordered the report destroyed, citing a lack of physical evidence. (See Chapt. 3, "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects"by Cpt. Edward Ruppelt, the first director of Project Blue Book, one of the successors to Project Sign. Insider Ruppelt said he read a surviving copy of the Estimate. Ruppelt was also the first person to disclose the existence of the Estimate and Twining's famous memo. However, the Air Force continued to deny the existence of Twining's memo for a number of years and has never acknowledged the existence of the Estimate.)
In an intriguing anecdote, Roswell researcher Kevin Randle in his UFO Casebook, mentions bumping into a colonel during the early 1980s. The colonel, who had been affiliated with Project SIGN when he was a lieutenant, told Randle that earlier drafts of the Estimate did include mention of metallic material recovered from New Mexico. Allegedly Vandenberg ordered this physical evidence removed from the report, then, in true military "Catch-22" fashion, spiked the final report citing no physical evidence.
According to others, such as Major Donald Keyhoe, director of NICAP, Vandenberg killed the report to prevent it from becoming official Air Force policy, fearing public reaction if and when news of it leaked out. Loren Gross, a well-regarded UFO historian of this period, wrote further that Vandenberg's experience from a year before with the media frenzy that accompanied the Roswell base flying disk press release had left a big impression on him. Vandenberg apparently was not anxious for a repeat performance.
Vandenberg also did some public UFO debunkery, which lends support to the idea that he feared public panic, particularly about extraterrestrial origins.. E.g., following nationally publicized reports of flying saucers on radar over Washington D.C. being chased by jet interceptors, a large press conference was called on July 29, 1952 to debunk the whole thing. (One of the lead debunkers was the same Gen. Roger Ramey of Roswell infamy, who was now the chief USAF operations officer and called the Air Force's "saucer man".) . The following day, Vandenberg added his two cents to the debunkery.
According to a United Press story out of Seattle, Vandenberg said they "certainly are not machines flown by men from Mars or from any foreign power. I don't like the continued occurrence of mass hysteria about flying saucers. The Air Force has had teams of experts investigating all reports since the end of World War II, and they never have found anything to substantiate existence of such things." (Denver Post, Washington Star, July 31, 1952, Also found in St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Oakland (CA) Tribune. See section on Ramey and UFOs for more scoffing quotes from Vandenberg, Spaatz, and Ramey.)
There is certainly a lot of smoke here. But ultimately the fire comes from the Ramey memo, because it documents that Vandenberg knew of a disc and body recovery at Roswell on July 8, 1947. In this context, it seems highly likely that at least some of the events mentioned in Vandenberg's log were directly connected with the Roswell incident.
Lt. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg and Roswell
What the acting Army Air Force Chief of Staff and others at the Pentagon were doing at the time of the Roswell Incident
The address header of the Ramey telegram tells us that the message was directed to Lt. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg. At the time of the Roswell incident, Gen. Vandenberg was the Army Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff. With AAF Chief of Staff Gen. Spaatz out of town (allegedly fishing in Oregon, according to news stories of July 7, 1947, such as in the New York Times), Vandenberg was the acting AAF chief at the Pentagon. Vandenberg's official Air Force biography can be read here. (Also check out biography on Arlington Cemetery website.)
Air Force tries to finesse Vandenberg's Roswell involvement
In their 1994/1995 Roswell report, the Air Force had the following to say about Vandenberg's activities around the time of Roswell:
"Similarly, it has also been alleged that General Hoyt Vandenberg, Deputy Chief of Staff
at the time, had been involved directing activity regarding events at Roswell. Activity
reports (Atch 15), located in General Vandenberg's personal papers stored in the
Library of Congress, did indicate that on July 7, he was busy with a "flying disc" incident;
however this particular incident involved Ellington Field, Texas and the Spokane
(Washington) Depot. After much discussion and information gathering on this incident, it
was learned to be a hoax. There is no similar mention of his personal interest or
involvement in Roswell events except in the newspapers.
In brief, because Vandenberg's activity logdidn't explicitly mention him being involved with Roswell, the implication is left that he wasn't involved in any way, despite such mention in the newspapers. Note the cleverly worded "it has also been alleged", as if researchers who had previously mentioned Vandenberg's involvement simply made up or misrepresented the newspaper accounts.
"In Washington, Lieut. Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg, Deputy Chief of the Army Air forces,
hurried to his headquarters' press section."
Both the Post and Times had permanent Pentagon correspondents. Are we to believe they made the whole thing up?
Some Associated Press stories had the following:
"News dispatches from Roswell announcing the finding of the material apparently
caught AAF headquarters without any information. Lt. Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg,
deputy chief of the AAF, hurried to the press section to take an active hand in the
situation. Telephone calls from headquarters here were hurriedly put to the Roswell
field and then to Ramey's headquarters at FortWorth."
According to the San Francisco Examiner, who claimed to be first news organization to contact Gen. Ramey after the Roswell base press release:
"Roswell's announcement sent high brass from coast to coast scurrying to telephones
for more information. Lt. Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg, deputy chief of the AAF, hurried
to the AAF press section in Washington and personally took charge as newspapers
and wire services clamored for details. Within an hour telephone lines into sparse
New Mexico were jammed. ...Surmising that the find had been flown to Brig. Gen.
Roger M. Ramey, commanding general of the Eighth Air force at Fort Worth, Tex.,
The Examiner telephoned him. (First to reach him, The Examiner got a complete
description of the "disc" from him, together with his expressed suspicion that it was
just part of a weather balloon.")
Note that in all these accounts, there is a suggestion that Vandenberg being in the AAF press room was unplanned. Vandenberg "hurried" to the press room, or "dropped in." Reconstruction of events from the newspaper accounts and Vandenberg's log indicates that this must have happened sometime between 5:14 and 6:15 (EST) when his log shows him being out of his office. All that's indicated for this one hour period is Vandenberg meeting with AAF Secretary Stuart Symington about Pres. Truman's Air Board. But only 6 minutes before he left, his log shows him previously stepping out for only 4 minutes to likewise talk to Symington about the Air Board. (Obviously Symington's office was very close by.) A few hours before this, Vandenberg had another meeting with Symington, again supposedly on the Air Board, lasting half an hour.
The Roswell base press release of recovering a flying disc didn't hit the AP wire until 4:26 EST (5:26 EDT). Vandenberg could easily continue his third meeting with Symington on the Air Board later while he dealt with the immediate public relations' crisis. Since the events happened in the press room and were unplanned, this might explain why no note of it was made by his secretary if Vandenberg neglected to mention it when he returned.
On the other hand, it is rather odd that this nationally reported story involving Vandenberg didn't receive a single mention in his activity log, whereas the previous day a hoax recovered disc story personally handled by Vandenberg was written up in great detail (see further below).
There is a hidden assumption by the Air Force that the daily log detailed everything that happened in Vandenberg's day. Even a casual look at the log indicates this clearly wasn't true. A number of other items in Vandenberg's diary are not detailed. E.g., on the previous day, Vandenberg personally met Symington at the airport and returned with him to his office. Vandenberg was out for 1 hour 40 minutes. No details were provided (more on this possibly highly significant event below). He also met with Symington later the same day for 15 minutes, again with no subject matter listed.
Furthermore, even when subject matter was noted, it doesn't tell us whether that was the only topic of discussion. E.g., were Vandenberg's three meetings with Symington on July 8 only about the Air Board? Couldn't other other matters be discussed, such as the situation in Roswell, which had created such a public relations crisis? The daily log usually wasn't a detailed account of the various meetings, but a brief note that meetings occurred. Sometimes some detail was added, but often not.
Besides the public newspaper accounts of Vandenberg personally taking charge to get to the bottom of things at Roswell and Fort Worth, there is now the Ramey memo which implicates Vandenberg at a much deeper and much more secretive level. Obviously, if a flying saucer had crashed, Vandenberg would have to become involved. The whole operation would ultimately be directed from the Pentagon.
Although the Air Force report claimed they went through Vandenberg's papers at the National Archives, they apparently didn't dig too deep and chose only to present Vandenberg's appointment book and diary. However, even in these there are some hints that something important was taking place (though no smoking guns).
Vandenberg earlier in Roswell/Fort Worth region, but probably not related
One item, which at first seemed very suspicious, upon closer investigation probably was not related. The very first entry in the Air Force's published portion of Vandenberg's diary from Saturday, July 5 noted him returning from Wichita Falls, Texas, at 1:00 pm. His business there was not specified. Wichita Falls was the site of an AAF base, only 100 miles NW of Fort Worth and 350 miles east of Roswell. Furthermore, Dallas and Austin newspaper stories from July 7 also placed him in Dallas on his return to Washington.
The same newspaper stories also have Vandenberg briefly talking about the current UFO situation. "Lieutenant General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, deputy commander of the US Army Air Forces, stopping off briefly at Hensley Field in Dallas, said the AAF was receiving thousands of queries about the flying discs. One curious woman, he said asked: 'Has Russia discovered the secret of the flying disc?'"
[Dallas Morning News, Austin Statesman, Austin American, July 7]
So what was going on here? Vandenberg was in the Roswell incident region only three days before the story broke on July 8. Was this merely a coincidence or was something else happening that required the personal presence of the acting AAF Chief of Staff?
As it turns out, this probably was a coincidence. Closer examination of earlier Texas newspaper reports indicate that Vandenberg was attending the opening ceremonies on July 4 of the national soaring contest held in Wichita Falls, perhaps as a political favor to the local congressman who accompanied him from Washington. In fact, his expected presence there was announced in a Dallas Morning News story on June 29.
Conceivably Vandenberg was also quietly checking out the flying disc situation in the area (see section on New Mexico UFO reports), hence his comments about the AAF being inundated with queries. Major incidents had just occurred at White Sands Proving Ground on June 27 and June 29 and there had also been some widely reported sightings from nearby El Paso. On June 30 and July 1, Gen. Ramey and his intelligence chief Col. Kalberer were already granting press interviews with the seeming intent of debunking these reports. (See Ramey and UFOs section)
A smoking gun? Vandenberg's sudden meeting at same time as Roswell
Why would is this significant? For one, this meeting was also going on at exactly the same time as the morning general staff meeting in Roswell, where Roswell public information officer Walter Haut said Ramey and the Roswell staff were discussing how to publicly deal with the situation. Ramey proposed a coverup strategy and Haut said he thought Ramey was getting his orders from the Pentagon.
After the meeting with Eisenhower, Symington and Vandenberg went to an hour-and-a-half meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (presumably Eisenhower and Norstad showed up there as well). Vandenberg's appointment book suggests it was a previously scheduled "luncheon." Whether the luncheon was limited to social "chit-chat" or included heavier matters is open to speculation, because nothing is detailed here either.
After the "luncheon", Vandenberg again conferred with Symington for 40 minutes, but again no details of this meeting are provided in the daily log.
Possible Congressional involvement
By another remarkable "coincidence", at the same time as Vandenberg's morning meeting, Truman also just happened to be seeing New Mexico Senator Carl Hatch in a private meeting requested suddenly by Hatch two days before on the afternoon of July 7 (right after Vandenberg got back from his meeting with Symington at the airport). According to some testimony, a staff member of either New Mexico Senator Dennis Chavez or Sec. of Agriculture Clinton Anderson (formerly a N.M. Senator) had called Roswell radio station KGFL the morning of July 8 or July 9 and warned them not to air an interview they had just taped with rancher Mack Brazel concerning his crashed flying disc (see, e.g., affidavit of KGFL co-owner Judd Roberts).
In another account from Pete and Ruben Anaya of Roswell, New Mexico Lt. Governor Joseph Montoya had told them of seeing alien bodies and crash debris in a base hangar, probably on July 8. Some time after this, Chavez allegedly told them, "Joe Montoya is a damn liar! He didn't see anything. It was a secret project, and it could hurt us with Russia and Germany if word of it got out."
This suggests that Chavez was indeed told something, true or not, and that New Mexico's Congressional delegation may have been informed about and involved to some extent in what happened at Roswell.
One documented example of Congressional "meddling" in the Roswell incident concerns Senator Ed Johnson of Colorado. According to a short INS item in the Los Angeles Herald-Express the evening of July 8, Johnson had called the Denver Post from Washington and told them that the solution to what happened at Roswell may have been either a radar target or meteorological balloon. What's remarkable about this is just how early Johnson announced this (not to mention how he had gone out of his way to personally phone a major newspaper in his state.) In Fort Worth, Gen. Ramey had just begun to suggest that the Roswell "disk" was a weather balloon and radar target, but this wasn't to become official for another hour-and-a-half, after Ramey had brought in his weather officer. How Senator Johnson got a hold of the story isn't clear, but is suggestive of a predetermined "solution" that perhaps got leaked too soon.
July 10: Meetings with New Mexico Generals Groves and Montague
July 8: AAF says flying saucers are NOT "Space Ships"
Probably right after Vandenberg's specially convened Joint Research and Development Board meeting at the Pentagon, United Press reported that the Army Air Force Pentagon spokespeople were stating that the flying saucers were NOT "space ships", nor were they a new-type Army rockets nor a secret bacteriological weapon of some foreign power (meaning Russia). Clearly such a denial would not have been issued unless there was some talk to the contrary. It is also extremely interesting timing and probably not a "coincidence" that this extraterrestrial origins denial went out right aftrer the JRDB meeting and just before Roswell base was to announce they did have a flying saucer in their possession. (The "not spaces ships" story made it into the evening edition of East Coast papers on July 8, something that did not happen with the Roswell story, which came out a little too late for the East Coast papers.)
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. So they were NOT space ships and they did NOT carry "men from Mars." (See Ramey's debunkery 10 days earlier of the idea that they were "men from Mars.")
In addition, one version of the story also carried explicit debunkery by a JRDB member: "Dr. L. R. Hafsted, executive secretrary of the joint research and development board, said he couldn't figure out why people wasted so much time talking about the saucers. He would describe them, he said, in one word--'poppycock!'" (sample stories) (Hafsted's 1993 obituary in the New York Times)
Again the "coincidendences" just keep piling up.
July 7: Why did Vandenberg change schedule to meet Symington at airport?
As already noted, there were numerous meetings with AAF Secretary Symington on July 7 and 8, including Vandenberg personally going to the airport to meet Symington on July 7 at 2:30 p.m. The two then returned to Symington's office at the Pentagon. This does not seem normal and suggestive of some urgent piece of business which Vandenberg thought couldn't wait until Symington returned on his own. Of course, this is speculative, however Vandenberg canceled a previously scheduled dental appointment in order to meet Symington.
According to Roswell public information officer Walter Haut, he learned of a body/craft site north of Roswell late on the afternoon of July 7, which had just been discovered by civilians. Had the first reports been received by around noon in Roswell or 2:00 p.m. in Washington, this could well explain the urgent piece of business that demanded Vandenberg personally meet Symington at the airport. (More speculation).
Also possibly related is that Vandenberg upon returning to his his office at 4:10 p.m. immediately met (for 5 minutes) with Maj. General Emmett O'Donnell. O'Donnell was director of information for the Army Air Force, i.e., their chief public information officer. It would be his responsibility to deal with the media. In addition, O'Donnell the previous year had been deputy chief of engineering for the Air Technical Service Command (soon afterwards, the Air Materiel Command) at Wright Field, where it is believed Roswell crash debris was taken for analysis Thus one can further speculate O'Donnell, with his background in both engineering and public relations, would be a good person to advise Vandenberg on how to deal with both aspects of a flying saucer crash. Immediately after meeting O'Donnell, Vandenberg again spoke with Gen. LeMay for 5 or 10 minutes. At 5:00 p.m., Vandenberg again went to see Symington, again with no details provided.
Vandenberg handling disc rumors and hoax disc story--much detail in log
Vandenberg's log of July 7 shows that he had been been dealing with "flying disc" reports and speculation all afternoon. At 1:10 p.m., the log shows Vandenberg personally took a call from the Toronto Star. They said it was their understanding that the discs were some secret U.S. plane. Vandenberg was said to be "noncommital" when asked his opinion as to what the discs were. He also added that only the National Guard "on their own volition" had put some planes in the air to search for the discs, but HQ AAF had not (Begging the question, why not, if there was a chance that real unknown aircraft were violating US airspace? Wasn't that their job?)
It is interesting that Vandenberg would even personally field such a call. Normally this would be handled by underlings, particularly the public information people. My interpretation is that Vandenberg wanted to put his seal of approval on the official story that the Army Air Force wasn't particularly concerned over the flying disc reports. In modern parlance, Vandenberg was spinning the story.
Two extremely rare articles immediately after the Roswell incident have Vannevar Bush denying any knowledge of the "flying saucers." The reporters commented, however, that people like Bush would be held to such strict rules of secrecy that they couldn't even hint at what they might know even if they did know.
Another JRDB member, physicist Dr. Lawrence. R. Hafstad (N.Y. Times obituary) was openly debunking the saucers right after this meeting. "Dr. L. R. Hafstad, executive secretary of the Joint Research and Development Board, said he couldn't figure out why people wasted so much time talking about the saucers. He could describe them , he said in one word--'poppycock!'"
This statement by Hafsted was in the same story that came out early on July 8 stating that the Army Air Forces (AAF) had issued a press release stating what the saucers were NOT: They weren't Russian germ warfare weapons, they weren't some new-type Army rocket, and they weren't "SPACESHIPS"! Very soon after this came another official AAF press release out of Roswell that they had actually recovered a flying saucer. (stories) issuing the somewhat earlier press release, it seems the AAF was already laying the groundwork for denial that they had recovered something like an actual "spaceship".
Just prior to this hastily called meeting of the JRDB, Vandenberg was briefed about the meeting by Gen. Curtis LeMay, then vice-chief of staff of the AAF for Research and Development. One Roswell witness, Army photographer Frederick Benthal, said he was briefed that he might encounter LeMay at the body site he was eventually taken to. If true, this would mean LeMay may have seen what happened at Roswell first-hand. Vandenberg's log mentions him meeting with LeMay on July 7 at 4:20, which would have given LeMay adequate time to fly to Roswell thereafter, quickly assess the situation, and then fly back to brief Vandenberg on the morning of July 8 before the JRDB meeting. Alternatively, LeMay could have sent an agent in his stead, who would then report back to him.
Evidence of the latter scenario has recently emerged. In 2007, veteran USAF pilot Ben Games told a UFO group that he had flown Maj. Gen. Laurence C. Craigie to Roswell from Wright Field. At the time, Craigie was chief of the Research and Engineering Division at Headquarters Army Air Force (with LeMay his boss). Games said Craigie had been sent to investigate the crash on the orders of Gen. LeMay. Craigie was there during the night for a few hours before returning to Washington D.C., and didn't tell Games what he had seen or found out.
If true, then LeMay dispatched Craigie in his stead. As if this wasn't enough, Craigie also sat on the JRDB with Vannevar Bush. Further, on December 30, 1947, Craigie issued an order that would establish Project Sign as the first official investigative body tasked with examining UFO reports. According to Craigie's directive, it would be the role of Sign to: “… collect, collate, evaluate and distribute to interested government agencies and contractors all information concerning sightings and phenomena in the atmosphere which can be construed to be of concern to the national security.”
The "coincidences" keep piling up.
In addition, Vandenberg was briefed by Dr. Edward Bowles of MIT, who also acted as a consultant to the Secretary of War. Bowles had close connections to Vannevar Bush going back before the war. Bowles, an expert in radar, served on the Microwave Committee of the National Defense Research Committee, headed by Bush, the immediate predecessor of the wartime OSRD. The two of them helped establish the radar and radiation research facility at MIT.
Connections between Bowles and LeMay date back to at least 1945 when Bowles, along with Gen. Hap Arnold (AAF Chief of Staff), Gen. Lauris Norstad (AAF Asst. Chief of Staff, Plans), Donald Douglas (President of Douglas Aircraft), and others established the first post-war military think-tank, Project RANDas a division of Douglas Aircraft. RAND reported directly to LeMay, the first AAF vice chief for R & D.
RAND's very first report in 1946 was titled Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship, an analysis of the design, performance, and use of man-made satellites. Interestngly, the only known subject matter from the JRDB meeting was their ordering the War Department to proceed with building a new missile launching facility capable of orbital flight, since White Sands was unsuitable for this. The selection of a new site had been in the works for almost a year and eventually this led to Cape Canaveral (now Cape Kennedy). [That the JRDB ordered this on July 8, 1947, was reported in The History of Cape Canaveral, Chapter 2, "The Missile Range Takes Shape (1949-1958)", Written and Edited by Cliff Lethbridge, source]
But it was still over 10 years before the U.S. achieved orbital flight, so what was the great urgency in Vandenberg suddenly calling this meeting of the JRDB on the morning of Roswell? I would speculate it was because of a perceived threat from space which they felt they had to confront in space, thus a policy response to the current flying saucer wave.
The previous day, Vandenberg is also noted as meeting briefly with LeMay on two occasions, one of them being noted "with reference to discs." The context, however, may indicate that this was in reference to a hoax disc recovery in Houston (the incident mentioned by the Air Force in their Roswell report).
(For an interesting though unrelated historical photo of Ramey, LeMay, Symington, and future President Lyndon Johnson all together in 1949, see below. Originally from Carswell AFB B-36 history page..)
Second, the JRDB was chaired by Dr. Vannevar Bush. During WWII, Bush was the nation's science czar, head of OSRD (Office of Scientific Research & Development) which coordinated wartime weapons development. After WWII, Bush and the Pentagon created the JRDB as a successor for OSRD. In late 1950/early 1951, Canadian documents fingered him as heading up a small group within the RDB looking into the "modus operandi" of the saucers. These documents also state (based on a briefing provided the Canadian embassy in Washington) that the stories of crashed saucers circulating at the time were essentially true, the saucers were real, and that the entire subject was classified higher than the H-bomb.
Dr. Vannevar Bush
During the morning of July 10, Vandenberg and LeMay met with Gen. Leslie Groves and Gen. Robert Montague at the Pentagon. Groves and Montague had flown together unannounced to Washington the previous day. Groves was military director of the wartime Manhattan Project and currently commander of the Armament Development Project at Los Alamos, N.M. He was also affiliated with the highly secretive Special Weapons Project at Sandia Base near Albuquerque. Gen. Montague was commander of the Army Guided Missiles School at Ft. Bliss, El Paso, Texas and also in charge of the White Sands Missile Range. A week later, Montague was publicly named commander at Sandia base.
Gen. Robert Montague
This ceremonial signing with President Truman on July 10, 1947, two days after the Roswell incident, certainly looks innocent enough, but there may be more here than meets the eye. American aviation hero Gen. Jimmy Doolittle (seated left) had been Gen. Vandenberg's (standing left) primary investigator during the 1946 UFO incidents over Europe (the "ghost rockets") when Vandenberg was head of the Central Intelligence Group (predecessor of the CIA). In 1945, he may also have investigated on behalf of Pres. Truman the mysterious "Foo Fighters" or "Nazi fireballs" dogging Allied aircraft. Gen. Norstad (standing right), as AAF Director of Plans and Operations in 1947, would have been responsible for monitoring incoming reports on the new flying disk phenomenon. AAF Secretary Symington (seated right) along with Vandenberg, Norstad and Doolittle had all conferred the previous day in a lengthy meeting with Army Chief Gen. Eisenhower. Was such a lengthy, high-powered meeting merely about signing a slip of paper or is there some connection to the flying saucer reports at the time and Roswell?
Vandenberg then got in touch with a Colonel Warren at Ellington Field, Texas, who told him the Chronicle had a small disc with Hackett's name on it. Vandenberg instructed him to go look at the disc himself, tell them the AAF was investigating but didn't knew anything about it, and "explode" the story.
Then Vandenberg, for unexplained reasons, canceled his dental appointment and rushed out to the airport to meet Symington.
This raises the big question as to why Vandenberg's log greatly details his interest and involvement in the Houston hoax disc based entirely on the say-so of a newspaper, yet records not a single word the next day about an official announcement from Roswell Army Air Field that they had recovered a real flying disc. Surely this should have deserved a brief mention. Yet only the newspapers reported his involvement, saying he rushed to the press room and took charge. But not even that is written down in his activity log. From this, the Air Force propagandists try to make an argument that Vandenberg had no interest in what happened at Roswell and therefore nothing of importance must have happened there.
However, if Vandenberg had little or no interest in Roswell, it becomes very hard to understand why Vandenberg would be this concerned the previous day over what he must have known to be a hoax disc or spend this much time personally dealing with it instead of letting underlings handle the situation. However, if Vandenberg knew they had a real crashed disc on their hands over in New Mexico, he might have been concerned that there had been security leak, or that the hoax crashed disc might compromise the secrecy of the real thing by making the press ask questions. Vandenberg did seem to be either seeking public relations advice or giving out instructions concerning PR handling of the discs, first from Symington's PR man, then perhaps from Gen. O'Donnell after having just met with Symington.
Other possibly significant meetings on July 9
More potentially important meetings occurred on July 9, including several more with Symington. Vandenberg and Symington conferred with Lt. Gen. James "Jimmy" Doolittle in the morning, before the three of them went to an hour and a half meeting with Army Chief of Staff Eisenhower. Also at this meeting was Gen. Lauris Norstad, AAF Director of Plans and Operations. In all these meetings, Vandenberg's diary lists no subject matter.
Doolittle is best known to most Americans as an aviation pioneer and the man who led the daring bombing raid of Tokyo in April 1942 (also commonly called "Doolittle's Raid"). Little known was his connection to military intelligence.
In 1946, when Vandenberg was Director of the Central Intelligence Group (the CIA's predecessor), he had sent Gen. Doolittle to Europe to look into the so-called Scandinavian "ghost rocket" situation, the first major post-war UFO incident. Exactly what Doolittle might have learned and reported back to Vandenberg has never been disclosed. However, Gen. David Sarnoff (founder and President of RCA), who also checked out the ghost rockets with Doolittle, was later quoted by the New York Times as saying the objects were "real missiles." (In 1948 Swedish military intelligence was to disclose to USAF European intelligence that some of their analysts thought the ghost rockets and flying saucers were not made by any nation on Earth because of their extraordinary technology--Top Secret document.)
Furthermore, during WWII, Doolittle may also have been commissioned by President Truman to look into the mysterious "foo fighters", glowing balls of light or larger structured objects that frequently paced both Allied and Nazi planes. Supposedly, according to an officer who accompanied Doolittle, Doolittle reported back that they weren't secret weapons of either side and were most likely extraterrestrial in origin. (However, the truth of this is much more questionable than Doolittle's well-documented involvement with the ghost rockets.)
Gen. Norstad, like Vandenberg and Doolittle, also had a strong military intelligence background. From November 1940 through February1942 he had been the Assistant Chief of Staff of Air Force intelligence at the Pentagon. As already mentioned above, he was one of the people intrumental in establishing Project RAND in 1945, still a major military think tank in the present day.
As Air Force Director of Plans and Operations in July 1947, he likely would have been in charge of monitoring all reports of unidentified or suspicious aircraft posing a potential security threat, otherwise known as CIRVIS reports (standing for Communications Instructions Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings) as detailed in this later CIRVIS set of regulations (see Section 5). In other words, Norstad would have been the likely person at the Pentagon in charge of handling the flood of flying disk reports that had come in the previous two weeks.and which Vandenberg himself admitted to the newspapers they had actively been investigating since July 3.
The morning after the Roswell base flying disc press release and Gen. Ramey's telegram to Vandenberg about finding a disc and "the victims of the wreck", Vandenberg, Symington, Doolittle, Norstad and Eisenhower were all conferring together about something that wasn't disclosed in Vandenberg's daily log. What was it?
Vandenberg also spoke on the phone to President Truman during this meeting. Officially, Vandenberg's log says the White House first called Vandenberg's office to "advise" him to meet with the President the following day about the signing of an Air Force proclamation. Doolittle accompanied Vandenberg to that meeting with Truman the next day, along with Norstad and Symington (see photo immediately below).
Then at 1:55 p.m., Vandenberg had the brief meeting "with reference to the discs" with Gen. LeMay and Sec. Symington's director of public relations, Stephen Leo. What was going on here? Perhaps this was connected to what happened next at 2:00 when a phone call was placed to a Colonel Hackett in Spokane. Vandenberg informed Hackett that they had received a call from the Houston Chronicle saying that flying disc had landed there with Hackett's name on it. Further, Hackett was told it was reported that he had said his people knew all about it and that a statement would be coming from Washington. Hackett denied knowing anything about it or saying anything, but had his people call the Chronicle, telling them to contact the FBI.
(Unrelated photo at right from 1948 shows Symington, LeMay, and Vandenberg conferring together during Berlin Air Lift crisis.