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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 Joyce, 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."
Joyce, a veteran New Mexico newsman who worked for KOB television and radio, was a cub reporter in 1947 working in his hometown.
"I was a stringer for the United Press International and a radio announcer at KGFL. I was sitting at a control board playing records and the phone rang. It was the famous cowboy, W.W. Brazel. This Brazel was on the phone and he had heard me reading a news story about the guy Kenneth Arnold in Washington who had seen a bunch of flying saucers. I'm playing records as I'm doing this. He goes on and starts telling me about what's on his ranch. What he was saying was pretty sensational stuff to me, which I didn't believe."
Joyce will not specify what Brazel told him he found, except to say it was "some pretty graphic unbelievable stuff."
"He was asking me what to do with this stuff. As I recall, I advised him to go to the sheriff. I don't remember whether he said he had already been there. ... So at this point, I said, 'What you should do is go to the Roswell Army Air Force base. I said they are fliers and will know what to do about anything that flies."
Joyce recalls that Walter Haut called that afternoon to tell him he was bringing over a press release, although other witnesses put Brazel's trip to town days before the news release.
"He comes clumping in and he says, 'Here's your story.' And he's practically going out the door. So I grab the story and I see immediately and it says 'U.S. Army Air Corps has a flying saucer.' And I say, 'Hey, wait a minute. I don't know whether you want to run this.' He said, 'The story is OK.'
"I ran out the door and ran down the block. In 40 seconds I was to Western Union. I said, 'Send this immediately.' She sent it to Santa Fe, bang, just like that. I waited long enough for her to send it and then grabbed the copy and brought it back with me. Went back to the station. The phone rang and it's Santa Fe bureau, United Press, saying what about this story?
"Then the flash came on, which was five bells. Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. 'Here it comes,' I said, 'now all hell is going to break loose.' The phone started ringing. I took the story off the wire and read it (on the air) as a bulletin a couple of times."
Joyce remembers Haut's news release as coming before the Fourth of July weekend and the press release that debunked the flying saucer story as coming days later. The two statements were actually released only hours apart.
Later that day, Joyce recalls, the phone rang again.
"It was Brazel. He says 'Look, you know I'd like to talk to you. I don't think we got that story right.' ''
Brazel came to the radio station, joined Joyce in the control booth and told a different story, that what he had found was actually a weather balloon.
Joyce challenged Brazel's story, using a phrase that was common at the time to describe the space aliens that Brazel had spoken of.
"I said, 'That's a very interesting story but not exactly what we talked about on the phone. Especially the little green men.'
"And he paused and he said, 'They weren't green.' And that is gospel."

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