Likewise, the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff, who head the Special Program Oversight Committee which oversees all sensitive programs in the Air Force, had no knowledge of the existence of any such program involving, or relating to the events at Roswell or the alleged technology that supposedly resulted therefrom. Besides the obvious irregularity and illegality of keeping such information from the most senior Air Force, officials, it would also be illogical, since these officials are responsible for obtaining funding for operations, research, development, and security. Without funding such a program, operation, or organization could not exist. Even to keep such a fact “cover-up” in some sort of passive “caretaker status” would involve money. More importantly, it would involve people and create paperwork.
The aforementioned March 1, 1994, SAF/AA tasking generated negative responses (Atch 6-12) from all recipients; i.e. all offices reported that they had no information that would explain the incident. Consequently, these negative responses led to an increase in the already on-going historical research at records centers and archives.
The extensive archival and records center search was systematically carried out at by the SAF/AAZD Declassification Review Team. This team is composed entirely of Air Force Reserve personnel who have extensive training and experience in large scale review of records. (Previous efforts include the Southeast Asia Declassification Review, declassification of POW/MIA records, and the review of the Gulf War Air Power Survey records). The team members all had the requisite security clearances for classified information and had the authority of the Secretary of the Air Force to declassify any classified record they found that might be related to Roswell. SAF/AAZD conducted reviews at a number of locations, including: the National Archives in Washington, DC; the National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO; the National Archives, Suitland, MD, the National Records Center, Suitland, MD; Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC; Federal Records Center, Ft Worth, TX; the INSCOM Archives, Ft. Meade, MD; National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC; Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, AL; Center for Air Force History, Bolling AFB, DC; Phillips Laboratory, Hanscom AFB, MA, and Kirtland AFB, NM; Rome Laboratory, Griffiss AFB, NY; and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
A listing of the specific record areas searched is appended as Atch 13. The areas included all those subject areas logically believed to possibly contain any reference to activities at Roswell AAF during the period of time in question. It is anticipated that detractors from this effort will complain that “they did not search record group x , box y, or reel z, etc.; that’s where the real records are!” Such complaints are unavoidable and there is no possible way that the millions of records under Air Force control could be searched page by page. The team endeavored to make logical searches in those places where records would likely be found. They were assisted in this task by archivists, historians, and records management specialists, including experienced persons who have continually worked in Army and Air Force records systems since 1943. The team also searched some record areas that were recommended by serious private researchers such as Robert Todd, who had independently obtained almost encyclopedic knowledge of the complexities of Air Force records systems, particularly as related to this subject area.
Not surprisingly, the research team found the usual number of problems in many of the records centers (particularly St. Louis) with misfiling, lost or misplaced documents, mismarking of documents, or the breaking up of record groups over the years and refiling in different systems. This included, for example, a small amount of missing “decimal files” from the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell that covered the years 1945-1949, that were marked on the index as “destroyed.” The researchers noted that there was no pattern to any anomalies found and that most discrepancies were minor and consistent with what they had found in the past on similar projects.
WHAT THE ROSWELL INCIDENT WAS NOT
Before discussing specific positive results that these efforts revealed, it is first appropriate to discuss those things, as indicated by information available to the Air Force, that the “Roswell Incident” was not:
An Airplane Crash
Of all the things that are documented and tracked within the Air Force, among the most detailed and scrupulous are airplane crashes. In fact, records of air crashes go back to the first years of military flight. Safety records and reports are available for all crashes that involved serious damage, injury, death, or a combination of these factors. These records also include incidents involving experimental or classified aircraft. USAF records showed that between June 24, 1947, and July 28, 1947, there were five crashes in New Mexico alone, involving A-26C, P-5 IN, C-82A, P-80A and PQ-14B aircraft; however, none of these were on the date(s) in question nor in the area(s) in question.
One of the additional areas specifically set forth by GAO in its efforts was to deal with how the Air Force (and others) specifically documented .”..weather balloon…and other crash incidents.” In this area, the search efforts revealed that there are no air safety records pertaining to weather balloon crashes (all weather balloons “crash” sooner or later); however, there are provisions for generating reports of “crashes” as ground safety incidents in the unlikely chance that a balloon injures someone or causes damage. However, such records are only maintained for five years.
A Missile Crash
A crashed or errant missile, usually described as a captured German V-2 or one of its variants, is sometimes set forth as a possible explanation for the debris recovered near Roswell. Since much of this testing done at nearby White Sands was secret at the time, it would be logical to assume that the government would handle any missile mishap under tight security, particularly if the mishap occurred on private land. From the records reviewed by the Air Force, however, there was nothing located to suggest that this was the case. Although the bulk of remaining testing records are under the control of the US Army, the subject has also been very well documented over the years within Air Force records. There would be no reason to keep such information classified today. The USAF found no indicators or even hints that a missile was involved in this matter.
A Nuclear Accident
One of the areas considered was that whatever happened near Roswell may have involved nuclear weapons. This was a logical area of concern since the 509th Bomb Group was the only military unit in the world at the time that had access to nuclear weapons. Again, reviews of available records gave no indication that this was the case. A number of records still classified TOP SECRET and SECRET-RESTRICTED DATA having to do with nuclear weapons were located in the Federal Records Center in St. Louis, MO . These records, which pertained to the 509th, had nothing to do with any activities that could have been misinterpreted as the “Roswell Incident.” Also, any records of a nuclear related incident would have been inherited by the Department of Energy (DOE), and, had one occurred, it is likely DOE would have publicly reported it as part of its recent declassification and public release efforts. There were no ancillary records in Air Force files to indicate the potential existence of such records within DOE channels, however.