Saturday, September 19, 2015

Who Told Walter Haut about the Rowell Debris Field?

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Walter Haut

By Kevin Randle
A Different Perspective

     Since this debate about the press release has gained a little traction here, I thought I’d add a few facts and perspective to see if we can’t reach some sort of a reasonable conclusion. We do have a great deal of information and while some of it is in dispute, there are aspects of it on which we all seem to agree.

Jesse Marcel Sr (Young)
Major Jesse Marcel, Sr.
Given the testimony we have and the articles that appeared in the newspapers of the time,it seems that Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. and Captain Sheridan Cavitt followed Mack Brazel out to the ranch sometime on Sunday July 6. Marcel, in his interview with Linda Corley suggested they had left in the early afternoon, but I think it was more likely they headed out later in the day. In today’s world, it takes about three hours to drive from Roswell to the ranch. In 1947 the roads wouldn’t have been quite so good and the route might not have been quite so direct. It might have taken four or five hours. With sunset coming sometime around 9:00 p.m., and Marcel’s suggestion they arrived about dusk, it seems they might not have left Roswell much before four in the afternoon.

There is also a question of where they stayed the night. We had heard that it was the “Hinds” house which in the 1990s was a one-room shack that was used to store hay. It was some five or six miles from the actual debris field. If, on the other had they stayed at the ranch house (which, I believe had been, at the very least, remodeled in the 1980s or so) then they were some fifteen or twenty miles from the debris field.

The Hinds House Near the Debris Field
The Hinds House Near the Debris Field

Marcel said that they had cold beans and crackers for dinner. He said nothing about the time they might have gotten up the next morning which is July 7. We know, ironically, based on the Mogul records that sunrise was about five and in similar circumstances, meaning outside my comfort zone, that I would have awakened about dawn. Marcel said nothing about breakfast, what time they got up, or what they did before they went out to look at the debris field.

Don Schmitt & Bill Brazel
Bill Brazel showing us the Debris Field
Given all this, I would suspect that they arrived at the field no earlier than eight, but hell, that’s a wild ass guess. If I was Marcel or Cavitt, I’d want to get home as quickly as possible, so the earlier, the better. As I said in another post, Brazel saddled two horses and he and Cavitt rode out while Marcel drove his car. If they were at the Hines house, the travel time might have been thirty to sixty minutes. If they were farther north, at the location of the ranch house, travel time could have been longer. No one asked about that and there is no one to ask in the world today. All we can do is guess based on other timing.

Marcel said that the debris field was three-quarters to a mile long and a couple of hundred feet wide. Bill Brazel, when he took us out to the field showed us basically where it started and where it ended. We later measured that at about a mile long. This was based on what Brazel said was the length of the gouge, which is a detail that Marcel never mentioned.

Sheridan Cavitt
Sheridan Cavitt
We have no idea how long they spent on the field. Cavitt told Colonel Richard Weaver that he recognized the debris as the remains of a weather balloon

immediately, but no one asked Cavitt why he hadn’t mentioned that to either Marcel or to Blanchard. (I will note here that according to what Cavitt told me, he hadn’t been there… this was after he had given his interview to Weaver.) Anyway, Marcel eventually told Cavitt to head on back to the base. He stayed, and according to what Marcel told Corley, stuffed his car with the debris, which, of course, suggests something more than a weather balloon.

As I’ve said, I don’t understand how they could have spent more than an hour or so at the field, but if they were walking the whole thing to make sure they saw everything around there, it might have taken longer. I have no idea how long it might have taken Marcel to load his car, and we have no information if they had eaten breakfast. I mention this simply because if Marcel, on his way home, stopped for lunch, then that adds time to the trip. Again, according to what Marcel told Corley, he got home late, but we don’t know exactly what that means either. All we really know is that Marcel did not go out to the base that night. He went in the next morning, that is, July 8.

Walter Haut (Young)
Walter Haut
So now we come to the point of this long recap. How did Walter Haut learn about the debris recovery? Haut said that Blanchard had called him and either dictated the press release to him or gave him the major points and Haut wrote it. Marcel

said that they had an “eager beaver” press officer which tells us nothing about how Haut learned about the recovery or if he made a habit of issuing press releases on his own.

Here are a few facts that are new. Based on information in the Roswell airfield telephone directory, I know that Blanchard’s office was in building 810. Marcel had his office in building 31 and Haut’s office was in building 82. What this means is that Haut wouldn’t have run into Marcel in the hallway or near a coffeepot as they came to work or went about their duties. There is no evidence that they would have mingled in a professional sense other than both would have been in attendance at the staff meetings but Marcel would have been considered a member of the primary staff and Haut on the secondary. That means Haut’s job was not essential to the main operation of the bomb group but that Marcel’s was.

So again the question that must be asked is, “How did Haut learn about the recovery?”

And the only answer that works is that Blanchard told him. Cavitt, as the counterintelligence guy would not have wanted to talk to the PIO, nor would he want to be associated with any sort of investigation that would call attention to him, his subordinates or his duties. In fact, in 1947, even his rank was classified so that no one knew what rank any of the counterintelligence guys held or as Cavitt said to me, “You didn’t really want anyone to know that a sergeant was investigating a colonel so our ranks were classified. No one knew what rank we were.” The exception to that would have been Blanchard and some of the senior officers but not many.

Although Marcel lived on the same street as Haut, their houses were a few blocks apart and it seems they didn’t socialize that much. Since they worked in separate buildings, there is very little chance that they ran into each other on the morning of July 8 so that Marcel could tell Haut that he had picked up the debris. Even if they had met, it is unlikely that the topic would have come up. Marcel would have been reluctant to talk about it given the nature of his job. If you had no need to know, then you were outside the loop.

That leaves us with Blanchard. Haut told us that Blanchard called him and told him to issue the press release. Blanchard was the one to make that decision and Blanchard was the only one who had the information and the contact with Haut. There were only three people who knew about the recovery (and I exclude Brazel here because on that morning he was still at the ranch) and two of them wouldn’t have said a word about it to Haut if for no other reason than they wouldn’t have seen him that morning.

I think that we can now end the discussion of who authorized the press release. Without Blanchard telling Haut about the recovery and providing details, Haut wouldn’t have had the information. If Blanchard gave him the information, then it was a tacit approval of the press release. If Blanchard had not dictated it to him but only gave him the basic information, Haut could easily have called back to read him the final draft but, no matter how you slice it, Blanchard is the common denominator here.

I can see no other way, given the facts, which Haut would have learned about the recovery. He could not decide on his own to write the story because he didn’t know about it. He was given the information by Blanchard and told to issue the press release. This should stop the endless speculation about Haut issuing the release on his own.

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