The Real “Roswell Incident” Part One

This is from the ABQjournal. It is a longer article discussing the real Roswell incident.



July 1994

The “Roswell Incident” refers to an event that supposedly happened in July, 1947, wherein the Army Air Forces (AAF) allegedly recovered remains of a crashed “flying disc” near Roswell, New Mexico. In February, 1994, the General Accounting Office (GAO), acting on the request of a New Mexico Congressman, initiated an audit to attempt to locate records of such an incident and to determine if records regarding it were properly handled. Although the GAO effort was to look at a number of government agencies, the apparent focus was on the Air Force. SAF/AAZ , as the Central Point of Contact for the GAO in this matter, initiated a systematic search of current Air Force offices as well as numerous archives and records centers that might help explain this matter. Research revealed that the “Roswell Incident” was not even considered a UFO event until the 1978-1980 time frame. Prior to that, the incident was dismissed because the AAF originally identified the debris recovered as being that of a weather balloon. Subsequently, various authors wrote a number of books claiming that, not only was debris from an alien spacecraft recovered, but also the bodies of the craft’s alien occupants. These claims continue to evolve today and the Air Force is now routinely accused of engaging in a “cover-up” of this supposed event.

The research located no records at existing Air Force offices that indicated any “cover-up” by the USAF or any indication of such a recovery. Consequently, efforts were intensified by Air Force researchers at numerous locations where records for the period in question were stored. The records reviewed did not reveal any increase in operations, security, or any other activity in July, 1947, that indicated any such unusual event may have occurred. Records were located and thoroughly explored concerning a then-TOP SECRET balloon project, designed to attempt to monitor Soviet nuclear tests, known as Project Mogul. Additionally, several surviving project personnel were located and interviewed, as was the only surviving person who recovered debris from the original Roswell site in 1947, and the former officer who initially identified the wreckage as a balloon. Comparison of all information developed or obtained indicated that the material recovered near Roswell was consistent with a balloon device and most likely from one of the Mogul balloons that had not been previously recovered. Air Force research efforts did not disclose any records of the recovery of any “alien” bodies or extraterrestrial materials.

Air Force involvement in the alleged UFO-related incident popularly known as the “Roswell Incident” began as the result of a January 14, 1994, Washington Post article (Atch 1) which announced Congressman Steven Schiff’s intent to initiate a General Accounting Office (GAO) effort to resolve this controversial matter. Having previously been involved in numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Congressional requests on “unusual aircraft,” to include Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), The Director, Security and Special Program Oversight, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, (SAF/AAZ) believed the Air Force would become involved in any GAO effort involving this subject.

Thus, in late January, 1994, SAF/AAZ directed its research/declassification team, SAF/AAZD, to attempt to locate any official records relative to this matter. These initial research efforts focused on records at the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the Air Force Safety Agency (AFSA) at Kirtland AFB, NM, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

On February 15, 1994, the GAO officially notified Secretary of Defense William J. Perry that, it was initiating an audit of the Department of Defense (DoD) policies and procedures for acquiring, classifying, retaining, and disposing of official government documents dealing with weather balloon, aircraft, and similar crash incidents (Atch 2). This notification was sub- sequently passed to the Department of Defense Inspector General who in turn officially notified the Secretaries of the Services and other affected parties of the audit in a February 23, 1994, memo (Atch 3). This memorandum indicated that the “GAO is anxious to respond to Representative Schiff’s request and to dispel any concerns that the DoD is being unresponsive.” These were the first official US Government documents that indicated that the purpose of the GAO was to review “crash incidents involving weather balloons and unknown aircraft, such as UFOs and foreign aircraft, and (2) the facts involving the reported crash of an UFO in 1949 (sic, 1947) at Roswell, New Mexico … (and an) alleged DoD cover-up.”

An entrance meeting of potentially concerned parties was held in the offices of the DoD Inspector General on February 28, 1994. During this meeting it was learned that, while the audit officially would be reviewing the records of a number of DoD (and possibly other Executive Branch entities), the bulk of the effort would be focused on Air Force records and systems. The audit was officially given the GAO code 701034, and entitled “Records Management Procedures Dealing With Weather Balloon, Unknown Aircraft, and Similar Crash Incidents.” Although this official title appeared rather broad, there was no misunderstanding that the real purpose was to attempt to locate records and/or information on the “Roswell Incident.” This incident, explained later in more detail, generally dealt with the claim that in July of 1947, the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) recovered a flying saucer and /or its alien occupants which supposedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. When the USAAF ultimately became the United States Air Force (USAF) in September, 1947, the USAF inherited equipment, personnel, records, policies, and procedures from the AAF. In this particular case, the Air Force also inherited the allegation that it had “covered up” the “Roswell Incident” and has continued to do so for the next 47 years.

Within the Air Force, the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force (SAF/AA) is responsible both for information management procedures (SAF/AAI) and security policy and oversight (SAF/AAZ). Because of this organization, SAF/AA was the logical entity to assist the GAO in its audit and SAF/AAZ was officially named as the Central Point of Contact for this endeavor (Atch 4). Subsequently, the then Administrative Assistant, Mr. Robert J. McCormick, issued a tasking memorandum dated March 1, 1994 (Atch 5), to a number of current Air Staff and Secretariat offices that might possibly have records related to such an incident if, indeed, something had actually occurred. This search for records was purposely limited to Air Force records and systems since:

(a) The Air Force had no authority to compel other agencies to review their records;

(b) The Air Force would have no way to monitor the completeness of their efforts if they did; and

(c) the overall effort was the task and responsibility of the GAO–not the Air Force.

During the in-briefing process with GAO, it was learned that this audit was, indeed, generated at the specific request of Congressman Steven Schiff of New Mexico. Earlier, Congressman Schiff had written to the Department of Defense Legislative Liaison Office for information on the “Roswell Incident” and had been advised that it was part of the former UFO “Project Bluebook” that had previously been turned over to NARA by the Air Force. Congressman Schiff subsequently learned from NARA that, although they did, indeed, have the “Bluebook” materials, the “Roswell Incident” was not part of that report. Congressman Schiff, apparently perceiving that he had been “stonewalled” by the DoD, then generated the request for the aforementioned audit.

It is within this context that the following research and assistance efforts were conducted in support of the GAO. This report is intended to stand as the final official Air Force response regarding this matter.