UFO Conjectures

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Famous LIFE Photographers' Roswell Crash Revelation by Anthony Bragalia


Famed Life magazine photographer Allan Grant may have provided to us his greatest "picture" just before he died. The cameraman's portrait of the Roswell crash in 1947 illustrates that the event that summer was of urgent importance to the military. It also shows that the skyfallen object was in fact of a genuine "unknown."

With his passing last year, Allan Grant has been rightly elevated to legendary status in the world of journalistic photography. For decades Mr. Grant was a permanent member of the prestigious Life photographic staff. He captured on film some of the most recognizable images in history. Grant's legacy includes such memorable work as the first-ever public picture of Lee Harvey Oswald's wife Marina (taken after Lee's capture) to the haunting, last-ever picture of Marilyn Monroe. His work's "movie still" clarity, his many Life cover shots and his photographic studies were a gift left to all of us.

But Allan's best chronicle was left before he died- and surpasses any captured image of a politician or an entertainer that he ever took. His greatest gift to history was his revelation that he was involved in the Roswell saga- and his confirmation that what crashed in New Mexico those many years ago was not of a balloon or a secret aircraft experiment, but of an Unidentified Flying Object!

In 1997, Mr. Grant had written a very brief Letter to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times. Allan was upset after having read in the LA Times of the second Roswell "debunking" report issued by the USAF that year. In the letter he was somewhat cryptic- but adamant that he knew that Roswell was not what the Air Force was reporting as a balloon project. He explained that he had a personal experience fifty years prior that had left a life-long impression on him. It also left no doubt in his mind whatsoever that something "very significant" had happened.

In online researching archived newspapers this author became aware of Grant's Letter to the Editor only last year, in 2008. Hoping that Mr. Grant was still alive and able to relate more, I tracked him down and emailed him.

Unfortunately Mr. Grant was very ill. As it turned out, Allan only lived for three more months after we began corresponding, passing at age 88. His wife Karin (also a Life magazine employee for many years) helped to facilitate these communications and she also replied with her own assessments about the Roswell event as she was "Mrs. Grant" back in 1947.

In early July of 1947 Allan stated that he had received an urgent call from his Life Editor in New York- "You have to get to Roswell, NM, and fast!"

All Allan was told at the time was that a very large "meteor" had apparently crashed "outside the Roswell area" and that the Army Air Force was attempting to recover the crashed object. Mr. Grant (and Mrs. Grant) maintained that the relationship between the US military and Life magazine at the time was "very strong and deeper than people will ever know."

In fact, Allan Grant said that the Army Air Force had informed his Editor that they would even provide an officer pilot from the Air Force who would personally fly Allan out there and put him in the vicinity of the crash to visually document the "meteor" event.

From Los Angeles, Grant was flown to Albuquerque, NM. Once there he was greeted by a US Army Air Force pilot officer named Major Charles Phillips. Grant stated that they both then boarded a "military training plane" (a single engine trainer) and departed. They later landed on a makeshift runway- a dirt landing strip. When they alighted the plane, Grant was handed a loaded semi-automatic pistol by Major Phillips. Disturbed, Allan asked of the Major "what the hell do I need that for?" Phillips replied that his orders were to see that Grant was armed with a weapon. When Grant asked of Phillips "Against what?" Phillips replied "we don't know!"


Photographer Allan Grant shown with Major Phillips before departure to Roswell

Something seemed very strange about all of this to Grant. They then got into a jeep and began driving, seemingly on a "wild goose chase." But they never located a thing! No meteor, nothing. Allan could not understand why they could not find it, and the Major was oddly being of little help in trying to understand why this was so.

But we learn from Allan's widow Karin Grant that there was a reason for this strange scenario having played out in the desert those many years ago. She and her husband discussed his strange flight to New Mexico for many years after. Both had agreed that there were one of three reasons why Allan was taken out there-

1) Allan said, "Of course we never found the big "meteor' and I wonder whether or not we had arrived too early or too late."

2) He also thought that "perhaps we landed in the wrong place."

3) Ultimately though, the Grants decided that the best explanation was that "the government knew all along that there was something more than a meteor that had crashed- and what better way to deal with it than to "invite" the prestigious Life magazine to come take a look."

Grant's widow continues, "You take them someplace near -but not exactly to- the spot. Show the world there's nothing there- and everybody is happy and relieved, and you can go about your business." She believes that "perhaps they thought you could keep other media out of there if need be by saying that Life has already been there, and they found nothing." And she was right- no mainstream media reported on the event after the first wire stories based on military press releases.

Before Allan died, he told Karin that he always believed that he was "used" by the military as a "potential cover" to in some way obfuscate something. He told her that the "something" what he had always thought -even at the time- was much bigger- an unidentified flying object.

So incensed was Allan about the event -and the Air Force's 1990's reports that explained away the crash as that of a balloon crash and dummy drop- that he felt compelled to write to the LA Times. It was after he read the Air Force Roswell reports that he knew they were lying. It was then that he got the sinking, knowing feeling that Roswell was real. It was a UFO that had crashed to the desert floor decades ago.

This author decided to see if there ever was a "Major Charles Phillips" as alluded to by Grant. If so, what things was this Major associated with during his years of service in the Air Force? The answer was found in reviewing the records of the now-defunct civilian UFO organization NICAP.

Incredibly, Major Phillips -just one month after the Roswell crash- would become one of the US Air Force's first official UFO researchers! Phillips teamed with famed astronomer Dr. Lincoln LaPaz from the University of New Mexico. Together they would lead what they termed "ground survey teams" to investigate the mysterious -and still unexplained- "Green Fireball" sightings that plagued New Mexico for the next several years!


  • Dear Anthony,
    Once again you prove that the Roswell story is not over. You can not look at the whole picture of the crash without realizing this was something very big. It is amazing how skeptics still cherry pick certain facts to reinforce there pet theories. If you look at the whole picture and start to give the witnesses the respect they deserved you come away from Roswell with one answer; a craft and bodies of non-humans.
    I hope other UFO investigators learn from you tenacity and continue the search on Roswell I doubt she has given up all her secrets yet.
    Thanks again for being your own person.
    Joe Capp
    UFO Media Matters
    Non-Commercial Blog

    By Blogger Phyllis, at Tuesday, July 14, 2009  

  • So you are using the fact that this photog found "nothing" as proof that "something" happened?

    By Blogger Thom, at Tuesday, July 14, 2009  

  • The story is just another anecdotal yarn, told decades after the event. LIFE magazine did a long special article in the spring of 1952 devoting several pages to UFOs with photographs and at least six high profile cases. There was not the slightest mention of Roswell. What happened to this editor, who supposedly had the surprise phone call from the USAF in 1947, in those 5 years? Had he forgotten the case? Or was he, and Mr Grant, told to keep their mouths shut?

    I suggest this Allan Grant has confused later events, possibly green fireball sightings or genuine meteor/meteorite falls, with Roswell. This very belated testimony is as worthless as some of the other stuff we have had in recent years.

    Put it to bed and forget it.

    By Blogger cda, at Tuesday, July 14, 2009  

  • Further to the above I have just discovered that the LIFE article on UFOs was entitled "Have we visitors from space?" It appeared on April 7, 1952 and was authored by H. Bradford Darrach & Robert Ginna. Both had cooperation from Project Bluebook before writing their piece. This is revealed in David Jacobs' book "The UFO Controversy in America".

    So we have to ask whether Allan Grant knew either of these two writers and whether he is confusing his alleged 1947 experience with this feature article written 5 years later. The said article proved to be one of the most popular ones ever published in a wide circulating magazine, rivalling Keyhoe's January 1950 one in TRUE magazine.

    It also appears that LIFE published an early 3-page article on UFOs on July 21, 1947, in which they compared the flying disc sightings with sightings of the Loch Ness Monster! This date was very soon after Roswell, so it would be interesting to see (if anyone cares to research it) whether it contains any mention of Roswell. My strong hunch is that it does not. In which case we must seriously question Mr Grant's memories of the events of 1947.

    By Blogger cda, at Tuesday, July 14, 2009  

  • I've a grand idea. Let's play "find the holes in the story!"

    By Blogger Gary, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • CDA:

    I have purposely avoided responding to your many rant-comments on stories that I have written. Many have noted your ultra-skeptical, knee-jerk reaction to any and all articles on Roswell. You have a "will to disbelieve" and (to paraphrase a well-known playwright) "the man doth protest too much."

    This is no more evident than in your two responses to this article. Is it perhaps because such an acclaimed man as Allan Grant - with talent and insight that you will never possess - asserts that he was "used" by the Air Force and that Roswell was in fact something much, much more?

    How dare you "seriously question" Mr. Grant's memory. You are disrespectful and foul in your thinking.

    Mrs. Grant has the original notes from July 1947 that Grant took on his Roswell odyssey! Grant documented the event by having a a picture taken of he and Major Phillips embarking on the NM flight together. What you do not
    know- the back of the picture (in my possession) has the date on the back!

    And it is historic fact Major Phillips went on to become and official Air Force UFO researcher! Your insisting that Grant somehow confused this with another event is insulting to Mrs. Grant and to her husband's legacy.

    And your mention of LIFE magazine not having written about UFOs favorably in no way relates or impacts on the Grants' testimony.

    I do not know where you are coming from CDA, but it is most assuredly not from a place called "Honesty."

    Anthony Bragalia

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • Let me defend Christopher Allen [CDA] a bit here...since I often agree with him, about Roswell and UFOs in general.

    His skepticism about memory has been dealt with by me in various venues, and is a valid skepticism, marked by studies such as that with the Smiley Blanton Syndrome, where several events are fused into one memory set and seen as related while they are not.

    Roswell witnesses example the Smiley Blanton syndrome as outlined in the psychiatric literature, which I cite at our RRRGroup blog.

    CDA isn't, I think, attacking the veracity of Mrs. Grant of her husband, but the fallible memory they may have or had.

    Tony Bragalia's interviews with Mrs. Grant dispels some of the skepticism about what her husband remembered and related to her, but CDA is right to question what transpired and what was accurately recalled.

    CDA, if I can speak for him, and I (along with a few others, such as Nick Redfern and Paul Kimball) think something bizarre happened at Roswell, but that bizarre something should not necessarily be concluded as an ET visitation or alien flying saucer crash per se.

    Tony Bragalia's continuing investigation of the Roswell incident adds footnotes to the event that should lead to a denouement that puts the thing to rest once and for all, to which I and CDA might be able to say "amen."

    Meanwhile, let the colloquies continue...

    Rich Reynolds

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • Allan Grant was a brilliant and and highly respected man. It galls me to see him trashed after his death when he cannot defend himself.

    Anthony, I respect the amount of research you've done on this matter. Unfortunately, the American public is more interested in what's popular to believe in, than finding out what the truth is.

    Keep researching and publishing. There are some of us who want the facts, no matter where they lead us.

    By Blogger Stella, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • Ufos were reported in the Anchorage, Alaska area in 1965. The rumor mill had it that Life magazine had photos to publish, but the military confiscated them.

    I was a teen on Ft. Richardson and babysitters were afraid to walk home nights. I did not see anything. but my sister and mother said that they had. I could not Google up anything when I last tried several years ago.

    By Blogger joye, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • I think this research represents one branch radiating from the trunk of Descartes tree, and as such, is a valiant effort to pin the tail of this stubborn mule. That being said, whether this is a long way around the mountain or a pin point trajectory is ultimately the authors to decide, so any bias on my part or others by our own orientations, toward his research seems more than slightly presumptuous and discounts, or side steps the respondent's own fallibility. While my own leaning is far from the author's orientation, this has nothing to do with a fair assessment. That being said, the best comment I can offer is that this reinvestigation of loose threads in a sixty year old gordian knot is "interesting" but unfortunately, perhaps the passage of time has made all of this a moot point in relation to the dynamics of the phenomenon itself, as a foot note rather than the subject itself. None the less, it is interesting and that in of itself for me, at least, makes it worthwhile.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • Thanks Stella. I appreciate your comments and continued interest.

    Anthony Bragalia

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • Anthony Bragalia takes me to task for daring to question Allan Grant's dates and memory of distant events. I have had a brief look at the history of the green fireball episode and have ascertained a few things:

    1. The first green fireballs appeared in the southwest US in late November or early December 1948. See Ruppelt's book, start of chapter 4.

    2. Major Charles L. Phillips did indeed help Dr Lincoln LaPaz in the investigations of these, but his involvement did not start until Dec 1948 (not July 1947). He got involved after witnessing a fireball episode with LaPaz while both were sitting in the same car on Dec 12, 1948 on a street at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque. Phillips is described as "Liaison Officer for the Kirtland installation". A few other personnel were also present.
    [See Loren E.Gross's UFO History for that period].

    3. Phillips' name is again mentioned in a report by LaPaz relating to a big fireball incident on Jan 30, 1949 near Roswell, New Mexico and another at Lamosa, Texas where he joined the ground survey party. [LaPaz report of Feb 21, 1949]. Interesting that Walker AFB, Roswell is also mentioned in this report.

    Anthony says it was only one month after the Roswell episode of July 1947 that Major Phillips got involved with the green fireballs. This is not so; it was some 18 months later (assuming Phillips was involved at Roswell at all). I therefore surmise that Allan Grant HAS got his timescales wrong and the call to go to Roswell to report on this 'thing' that crashed had nothing to do with the Roswell case of July 1947, but was instead part of the early green fireball episode in December 1948.
    The reason nothing was found when he got there is that no remains of the mystery fireballs were ever located (as LaPaz said in his reports).

    The editor of LIFE obviously got wind of the fireball episode and decided to put someone on it (Mr Grant). But it had zilch to do with Roswell. It was an entirely separate episode and was confused many decades afterwards with Roswell.

    I presume also that Phillips met Grant at Albuquerque some 18 months after July 1947, and that the date on the back of the photo was either added years later or refers to another Albuquerque visit unconnected with Roswell.

    Such is the fallibility of the human memory. Rich Reynolds is quite correct in his response. Having said all this I still am quite happy if someone can disprove me, and I make NO claim to having refuted completely Allan Grant's (or his wife's) testimony. I have merely questioned it and suggested another explanation.

    Also, it is quite in order to question someone's testimony, whether they are dead or alive. That is the whole point of the investigatory process, is it not, Mr Bragalia?

    Instead of castigating me why does he not look up (if still available) the LIFE article of April 7, 1952 to see if perhaps Allan Grant had anything to say and whether the green fireballs are mentioned therein?

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • CDA answers his own question.

    Grant was specifically "called out to Roswell NM" and to "get there fast."

    He was told that a large meteor had crashed.

    As CDA says, the green fireballs did not ever crash. And Roswell, NM (to my knowledge) was not associated with the phenomena.

    Grant was told he had to get out there because something fell to earth and was going to be retrieved by the military- so it couldn't have involved a green fireball, by CDA's own reasoning!

    I'm glad CDA has "ascertained a few things" about this story. Because I've "ascertained a few things" about CDA- he doesn't read before he writes.

    Anthony Bragalia

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • Further discussion is pointless. There is absolutely no way of knowing what the exact words were (i.e "meteor has crashed" or "get there fast") that the LIFE editor used, since it is all decades old second-hand testimony.
    In fact there is no way of proving anything at all - nothing - on this Allan Grant incident.
    But I am still certain that had such a big event occurred as Anthony Bragalia implies, something about it would have appeared in LIFE, either in July 1947 or soon after. It didn't.

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • Reading all of the arguments on both sides of the Roswell incident reminds me of two holy men of opposing religions vehemently espousing the virtues of their respective belief systems. The lengths both sides (represented in this thread)go to in order to prove each other wrong is in my opinion ridiculous and a huge waste of time. In my experiences in life, I have found that more often than not, the truth usually resides somewhere in the middle. The fact of the matter is, the military themselves have admittedly misled the public leading to speculation, much of which has been of the wild sort. On the other hand, all the talk of false memories and "Smiley Blanton Syndrome" is mere speculation in and of itself since there is no way to prove scientifically that any of the reported players were exhibiting this behavior. The truth is, we may never know what happened in Roswell since the vast majority of the people involved in it have passed away. If ET's and UFO don't exist then we have all have wasted a lot of time but had fun dreaming big. IF they DO exist, then we have more to worry about than pointing at the skeptical egotist and saying "I told you so".

    By Blogger Gdawg, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • The answers might be simple if the correct questions are asked. CDA, perhaps my memory is faulty, but I remember talking to my mother in the early 1950's about an article in a Toronto newspaper about a plan to give filters to the public to put over their camera lenses that would permit a determination of whether or not a light was solid or gas. How many of those determinations were made?

    By Blogger englishwob, at Wednesday, July 15, 2009  

  • When the Debunkers start attacking the people in the story and not the facts that have come out in the last 70 years then they loose any credibility.

    It just amazes me how some try to trash any data they can About UFO's, Now do we know all about them or where they are from or what they are? No. But they are there and to many Highly credible people have come forward with all types of proof that there is something going on and it looks to be something that is not of this earth, Way to many to just say , they can not remember or well they where just a little confused .

    And not to even get into the normal working people who see something that is out side of the norm, this just kills me. Well they just had High School how would they know what they where looking at! Yea, that's it,but one day you might be setting in a court with a jury of these people and I bet you hope that they are smarter than they have been given credit for.

    It seems fear rules these De-bunkers as deep inside of them they hope by all hope that this could not be true as it would trash there whole world as they know it.

    As an Engineer and working as that most of my life I have seen many things that I could not see as true but where, Not UFO's but just everyday things. So I have learned that some of the things we do not understand are really there ,like UFOs, weather we want to believe it or not!

    By Blogger Daedalus, at Thursday, July 16, 2009  

  • Daedalus et al....

    You and UFO buff Joseph Capp are inclined to give Roswell witnesses and other UFO story-tellers the imprimatur of sainthood when some of us understand the fallibility of memory and human nature.

    The "facts" you allude to, Daedalus, are not facts at all but, rather, statements from persons who may have an agenda or a psychological problem.

    Roswell is replete with charlatans trying to cash in on the supposed event -- either for money or their fifteen minutes of Warholian fame.

    UFO and Roswell believers like to throw around the epithet "debunkers" in their agenda to discredit or disallow critical evaluation of the mishmash that passes for certitude.

    If you are privy to some facts about Roswell, we'd all like to have a go at them, since facts, real facts, would resolve the mystery once and for all.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, July 16, 2009  

  • Quoting Friedman about skeptics that are actually debunkers' "modus operandi":

    1-"what the public doesn't know I'm not going to tell them

    2- don't bother me with the facts my mind is already made up,

    3- attack the critics, and

    4- do research by proclamation

    Something out of the ordinary DID happen at Roswell. Too bad the skeptic/debunkers are too close minded to actually take a look at the evidence.

    By Blogger Sebastian, at Friday, July 17, 2009  

  • Sebastian:

    Do us an intellectual favor and present a precis of the Roswell evidence as you see it.



    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, July 17, 2009  

  • hey everyone, its funny how we find Roswell debunkers in this site when we all know its a UFO news site. is it that they too know deep inside that ET's exist and are more desperate for the evidence than the rest of us or is it that they make it a hobby to go around lookin for UFO news to debunk. well we who have little evidence and still believe must be more blessed than the doubters who hide their overwhelming ignorance and lack of belief behind science, asking for everytin to be front loaded so they will believe.like a great philosopher once said, "most of what we know as fact today were ideas that have been proved". wake up and smell the air y'all cos we definitely arent the only ones here!

    By Blogger Fairest I., at Wednesday, September 02, 2009  

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