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One of the six New Mexicans directly affected by the crash of what was first called a UFO, then a weather balloon, shares memories of the event 50 years ago

Frank Kaufmann, 80
"The first or second of July, the radar screen lit up."
"To me," Kaufmann says, "it's something that's true and it happened."
Kaufmann, a native of New York, was a noncommissioned officer in charge at the Roswell Air Field until Oct. 31, 1945, when he separated from the Army Air Forces. He resumed the same duties as a civilian the next day, and served for three more years. Kaufmann was assigned to an intelligence unit, S1.
In early July, he was called to the White Sands Proving Ground (now the White Sands Missile Range) to monitor unusual activity being picked up by radar.
"They were getting these blips and they didn't think too much about it. There was no such thing as UFOs, it didn't exist. But what brought it to their attention was these erratic movements and the repeated rapid movements. That's when they alerted us to find out what the hell was going on.
"The first or second of July, the radar screen lit up. Then the radar started to act normal again. We had trained radar people that were assigned to our group that told us that something went down east, where we didn't know. What drew our attention to the site was that people driving on 285 ... saw this flame going down, they saw this glow. And it was common at that time to call the base and say, 'We saw something.' That's how we knew how to locate it."
The base called Kaufmann and his colleagues back to Roswell, they met with base intelligence officer Jesse Marcel and base commander Col. William Blanchard, and a search crew was dispatched.
"It was pitch black. It was a thunderstorm, by the way. Off the highway we could see this kind of glow. The terrain was very rough and it was very wet. It was full of caliche out there. It was like driving on ice. We had to cut the wire fence and I think maybe we got 200 to 300 yards from it and it looked like it wasn't a plane or a missile or anything like that. So we radioed in for a special group, the chemical boys, to inspect the area. When they told us it was all right to go in is when we saw the debris field.
"We were there just dumbfounded. We didn't know what to think. And we didn't know how anybody else would react if we told them what we saw. They would probably wonder what we had been drinking."
The aliens "didn't have any of these big eyes or horns or anything else or spiny fingers. They were very good-looking people, ash-colored faces and skin. About 5 feet 4, 5 feet 5. Eyes a little more pronounced, a little bit larger. Small ears, small nose. Fine features. Hairless. There were five. They had a very tight, almost a wetsuit, silver colored. I just saw two of them. One was thrown out of the craft itself. And one was half in and half out. They were all dead.
"I didn't go near the craft itself. I just took a quick look because we were too busy trying to get a flatbed out there and trucks to get rid of everything before daylight set in. The craft itself, I'd say it must have been 20, 22 feet long and maybe 10, 12 feet in width. It wasn't too big. It was split in two. The Stealth bomber is the spitting image of what the craft looked like. There was no dome. The interesting thing is, the craft carried no fuel. Underneath the craft was a series of cells, octagon-shaped cells.
"One of our boys noticed that deterioration was setting in on the skin. So we radioed in to have some body bags. They were put in body bags. They took them on the jeep to the highway because we couldn't get too many trucks in there. The bodies were the first to go, then the craft next."
Kaufmann does not remember the date of the operation, but he believes it was the early morning of July 5. Once back on the base, he did not have any further contact with the craft or the bodies. He and the other members of the team were told to never talk about the crash. He began to tell his story in the 1990s after other witnesses began releasing information.
Kaufmann stayed in Roswell, working for the Chamber of Commerce for 30 years before retiring.
"It's something that you live with all your life. You can't erase it out of your mind. Seeing those bodies and seeing the craft -- we're not alone."

All their stories:

  • "To my way of thinking, if we're here why can't somebody else be out there?" Loretta Proctor, 82.
  • "The first or second of July, the radar screen lit up." Frank Kaufmann, 80
  • "He said he needed caskets about 3-foot-6 or 4 feet, hermetically sealed baby caskets." Glenn Dennis, 72
  • "He told me that he wanted me to put out a press release which in effect stated that we had in our possession a crashed flying saucer." Walter Haut, 74
  • "They were carrying boxes of strange-looking material." Robert Shirkey, 74
  • "The phone started ringing. I took the story off the wire and read it (on the air) as a bulletin a couple of times." Frank Joyce, 74


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    Copyright © 1997 Albuquerque Journal