"Always Telling the Truth Means Never Having to Remember Anything"
By Dennis Balthaser
KR= Kevin Randle
JBJ=James Bond Johnson
DGB=Dennis G. Balthaser
KR: I have, of course, read your interview with J. Bond Johnson and hope that when you publish it on your website, you will do me the courtesy of examining, in a footnote, sidebar, or addendum, my side of this story Please remember that I do have the tapes, I do have copies of my correspondence with Dr. Johnson, and I have other evidence to support what I say. I have been engaged in this fight for nearly a decade and have told Dr. Johnson that he is free to say anything he wants about his time in General Ramey's office, just, please, leave me out of it. Yes, I know that you asked the question, but he did not have to say the things he did. Please remember, once again, that I am prepared to prove what I have to say.
JBJ: The first phone conversation on that date has been edited by Randle to 40 minutes in length. I, of course, have no way to determine just what has been snipped or relocated. Randle has admitted in writing to me that he had edited the tapes as to length for simplicity in reviewing them. I have tried without success on several occasions to match up the text of the edited tapes with a supposed transcript of the tapes he provided and also a published version in a UFO journal -- and nothing matches. Others reviewing the tapes have had the same experience. I know that Randle did not furnish me a copy of one of our phone conversations and it is unclear just why this one was not supplied.
KR: When this controversy arose, that is, when Dr. Johnson said, for the first time that I had misquoted him, I called and asked, specifically, to which quotes he objected. I pointed out that I had them on tape and that I could prove that he said the things he was now denying he said. He told me that he would like to hear it. As a courtesy to him, I provided an edited version of the conversations that included the quotes he claimed he hadn't made. Later, as he continued to deny the quotes, I supplied him with full copies of the tapes (twice) in which the only breaks were my turning the tapes over as our conversation continued.
The tapes match up with the transcripts that I also supplied. (Have you noticed a contradiction here? He doesn't have all the tapes, but he had tried to match them with the transcript.) The tapes do match, and ask Dr. Johnson who these others are.
There was one telephone conversation that was not recorded, but only one. I have given him copies of everything, including copies of the letters that I have sent him as I tried to clear up this mess.
JBJ: Randle does most of the talking on the tapes explaining his theories as to what happened at Roswell and Fort Worth. I had no reason to disagree with Randle at that time since I had not had an opportunity to review the photos he mentioned (Ramey/DuBose and Marcel) and in fact I did not recall clearly many of the details at that time. Also I had read only the earliest Roswell story printed in the Star-Telegram. There are three major changes in the stories as they developed that evening and I could not have contributed to any of them since I did not possess the information.
KR: First, I learned about Dr. Johnson because I had called the Special Collections at the University of Texas at Arlington trying to get copies of the photographs of General Ramey, Colonel DuBose and Jesse Marcel. The woman there, Betsy Hudon, told me that another man, who claimed he had taken the pictures, had visited. I asked who, but she wouldn't say. She did agree to forward a letter to him so that he could initiate the contact if he wanted. I do, of course, have a copy of the letter Hudon sent to Johnson, which demonstrates that he had already seen the pictures and that he had taken copies to California with him. So he did, in fact, have a chance to review them.
He had a copy of the article that appeared in the Star-Telegram, and you hear him say, in the first conversation, and in the second, that he had written that story. I believe he says that seven times. He read the story to me over the telephone. So, he not only possessed that information, he shared it with me.
While I don't do most of the talking, I certainly do talk more than I should have. I was trying to figure out how Dr. Johnson fit into the scheme of things. I also corrected him as to the numbered Air Force at Fort Worth at the time. Most of what I said was in an attempt to understand how everything fit together.
JBJ: It it interesting that Randle's Feb. 27, 1989, phone "interview" took the form of an ordinary phone conversation in which Randle was primarily seeking information about a "Captain Armstrong." He did not indicate any other purpose of his call until quite late in the conversation and only after I inquired as to his plans. He never indicated that he considered this an "interview" that could be released and he did not ask my permission for any such. In any event, Randle did not appear very interested in my recollections and seemed more interested in convincing me as to his theories as to these events.
KR: Please remember here, that Dr. Johnson called me first. He left his name and telephone number on my answering machine. I then called him, told him who I was and asked permission to record the interview. When he said yes, I turned on the tape. For the second interview, I asked him on tape if he minded if I recorded the conversation and he again agreed to talk. He knew exactly what I was doing, though, at the time of the first interview, I had no book project in mind.
He was the one who brought up "Captain Armstrong", or rather mentioned an unidentified officer I thought might have been Armstrong. It is a minor part of the conversation and this is a new twist. I haven't heard it before.
What you'll hear in the tapes is Dr. Johnson say that General Ramey told him it was a weather balloon, that he wrote the July 9 article in the Star-Telegram, and that he knew who I was. On the second tape you hear a long narration by Dr. Johnson in which he explains the situation, and that he tells me, with no prompting and no question from me, that Ramey told him it was a weather balloon.
As I have said before, and will undoubtedly say again, I do not care what new tales Dr. Johnson wants to tell. I have his original story on tape, I can prove that I have attempted to remedy this problem with him, and it is Dr. Johnson, not I, who refuses to fix this. Although I have already done it more times than I care to count, I will make the same offer to you. I will send you copies of the tapes, and the correspondence, so that you can hear Dr. Johnson say the things that he says he didn't. I have not altered the tapes, I have not edited them to change the meanings, and I have been quite patient with Dr. Johnson's unfounded allegations. If you are interested in this material, provide a snail mail address.
I will also point out that I have provided copies of this material to Neil Morris, as well as others. You might want to write to Neil to learn his take onall of this.
DGB: When you asked General Ramey what the material was, he replied that he didn't know what it was. General DuBose confirmed that statement later. Is that a true statement of what Ramey told you?
KR: I can, of course, suggest that this statement, based on two separate interviews with Dr. Johnson, is not true. Dr. Johnson, said to me, "I posed General Ramey with this debris. At that time I was briefed on the idea that it was not a flying disk as first reported but in fact was a weather balloon that had crashed."
This statement came in the middle of a long narration by Dr. Johnson. I had not asked questions and I had not tried to force my theories on him. He was telling me what he remembered at that time. Now his story is significantly different.
I know that you probably don't want to get into the middle of this, but with the material that you have posted, you have moved yourself into it. I only ask that you report all the story, not just Dr. Johnson's side, which is in conflict with the documentation and the facts.
If you have any specific questions, please let me know. Please remember that I try not to say things that I can't prove, and that I try not to attack those with whom I disagree. However, when things are said that aren't true, I try to set the record straight.
DGB: Good Morning Kevin-
Thanks for your response to my interview with James Bond Johnson. I anticipated getting that from you. Sorry for my delay in responding back to you.
I figured that anyone seeking the truth would be interested in the other side of the story. I can assure you that I would be happy to post your response.
KR: For your convenience, I had wanted to keep my response short, however, if you would like something longer, I can easily supply that. It will give more of the details and more about the points of disagreement, as well as what I attempted to remedy the situation.
DGB: I had talked to Don Schmitt about the original conversations you had with Bond, and he basically said Bond's story had changed from the original as you stated.
KR: I'm not sure how much about this he really knows. He never heard the tapes and wasn't the one who interviewed Dr. Johnson. He has, of course read the stories about it I wrote and I'm sure that we discussed it a number of times as Dr. Johnson continued to sling his allegations. It was nice of him to corroborate the changes in Dr. Johnson's story. FYI, I did send copies of most of this stuff to Neil Morris so that he would know that Dr. Johnson has shifted the tale.
DGB: I was concerned about some comments he made to me here in Roswell about the alien autopsy film and his photos having the same symbols on the debris and particularly wanted to call his hand about opening packages in Ramey's office without Ramey knowing about it. I really have a problem with that.
KR: He told me that he was met, and later he told others that he was in Ramey's office alone and that he unwrapped the packages. When I asked if he rifled the desk as well, the story changed to he and Colonel DuBose opening some of the packages. I just have a problem with him being alone in the office. Where was the adjutant, Ramey's aide, the secretary, the clerk typists, the sergeant major, and about a half dozen other junior officers? It makes no sense that he would arrive and enter Ramey's office unchallenged, where he could open packages. Not to mention the fact that he wouldn't know that the packages had anything to do with what was going on. Maybe he opened the mail too. No, this one steps over the line, and I know that he has retreated on it somewhat, but it provides us a clue about this confabulation and the accuracy of his "memories" of that event.
DGB: He also said originally the he handed Ramey the paper shown in Ramey's hand in the photos but has now changed that story.
KR: Can you give me a source on where he said that he had handed the paper to Ramey? If he did say this, it is an important bit information.
DGB: He couldn't remember anything about taking pictures of Marcel either.
KR: When I first talked to him, he said that he had only taken two pictures, and that he was confused by the negatives of Marcel in the package (which, BTW, is another contradiction of what he claims today) at the Special Collections. Later he decided that he had taken four pictures, two of Ramey and two of Ramey and DuBose. Finally he decided that he had taken six pictures, including the two of Marcel. Given the "look" of the pictures, I have no reason to doubt this.
DGB: Bond definitely wants to be more involved in the Incident than he actually was. I was pleased with the interview I did although he did side step a few questions I asked.
KR: Yes, he is very interested in being the "Roswell" photographer, which is why he denies there were other pictures taken, that there were other reporters there, that anyone else talked to Ramey. And, on my tapes, after he changed his tale and I asked some difficult questions about his new tale, he dances very well.
As I say, I have a longer piece, and if you had any specific questions, please let me know. I'll be glad to supply whatever documentation you might need.
Kevin, Thanks for the info below. Sincerely, Dennis
Good Afternoon Dennis-
Following here is a brief article about my initial contacts with Dr. Johnson, including quotes from the tapes. You may, of course, quote any of the material that I sent in the first two emails about this story as well. As I say, all I really want is for Dr. Johnson to stop saying that I misquoted him, that I misquoted others, and that I am making this stuff up. I understand why he feels the need to say it, but that certainly doesn't make it the truth.
I learned of Dr. Johnson when Betsy Hudon who was in charge of the Special Collections being housed at the University of Texas at Arlington library told me that another fellow had recently called about those same pictures and said that he was the man who had taken them. Hudon didn't think it was right to give me his name. I asked her if she would forward a letter to him and that way he could contact me, if he wanted. She said that would be fine.
Within days I heard from J. Bond Johnson. With his permission I recorded our conversation so that a record of it exists.
Johnson gave me the sequence of events, and how he ended up in Ramey's office late that afternoon. Johnson then said, "Right. That was a hoax, I think. That's when they called and what I saw. I think I was duped."
I agreed and said, "Yes. You and all the rest of the reporters were duped." "That we saw... that they came up with this weather balloon thing as an added... that's my feeling. I never saw the real stuff." This was a spontaneous comment by Johnson. I was trying, at that time, to figure out how everything had happened and Johnson was throwing in comments about it with no help or coaching from anywhere. Johnson would later complain that I had been "coaching" him, searching for specific facts, but the truth is that I was just asking questions and trying to sort out the new information being supplied by Johnson.
Johnson continued, "Then they came out with that story almost simultaneously afterward that the weather balloon thing..."
Johnson told me, "I took two pictures and then they said, but that time they said, 'Oh, we've found out what it is and you know, it's a weather balloon and so forth.' No big deal. I didn't press it. I accepted that. I was rather naive. I accepted that."
After they discussed the mechanics of transmitting stories over the AP wire in 1947, I said, "You went back to..." Johnson interrupted to say, "The Star-Telegram and gave them the wet prints of the thing. They wanted them right out. I went in and developed them and gave them wet prints. And I wrote... Seven nine [July 9] is my story on the front page that was earlier in the day. That's when they debunked it."
Later he would suggest that what he meant was that his photograph had accompanied an article written by another reporter. However, in that original interview he said, "Okay, this is the article I wrote that was on the front page on seven nine... I went ahead and got the facts and came back and there wasn't any other reporter who wrote it for the Star Telegram. I wrote it that night."
What all of this demonstrates is that, contrary to what Johnson is claiming today, in 1947 he told me he was told by General Ramey that the debris on the office floor was a weather balloon and that he wrote an article for his newspaper about it. These are two of the things that Johnson would later claim I got wrong and that I have refused to change.
About a month after the first interview, I again talked to Johnson. I'd had the chance to digest the materials that had flooded in and had a better feeling for what the situation was in Fort Worth in July 1947. To get a better picture of what happened in General Ramey's office, I asked, Johnson, simply, "Could you just sort of tell me what you did... What transpired when your editor gave you the assignment to go out to the base."
The story he told was essentially the same as it had been during that first conversation. He told me how the assignment had been made, and how he had driven out to the base. Then he said, "I posed General Ramey with this debris piled in the middle of his rather large and plush office. It seemed incongruous to have this smelly garbage piled up on the floor..."
Next Johnson made the statement that he now claims he never made and that I have somehow misquoted, even when the quotes are on tape. He said, "I posed General Ramey with this debris. At that time I was briefed on the idea that it was not a flying disk as first reported but in fact was a weather balloon that had crashed." Ramey told Johnson, there in the office, that the debris was nothing more than a weather balloon.
Johnson would later claim that he didn't write the July 9, 1947 article. This is important because of what the article contains. If General Ramey didn't know what the debris was, as Johnson has recently been suggesting, it would have been reflected in the article. The last paragraph of the article, however, said, "After his first look, Ramey declared all it was was a weather balloon. The weather officer verified his view." This is, of course, in direct conflict with what Johnson claims today. With Johnson claiming that I have misquoted him, I sent him a tape so he could hear what he said. He has provided no answer to me except to suggest that if had said some of the things he had spoken in error.
The sad thing here is that if he had left well enough alone, if he had just told his tale consistently through the years, he would have something valuable to contribute to the Roswell case. It would be valuable to hear about his interaction with General Ramey, even if, during that interaction, he learned that the material was a balloon. But for Johnson, that isn't good enough. Now, he must claim that I misquoted him so that he can boost his importance. Unfortunately for him, the tapes exist. Even sadder, he has copies of them but he apparently won't listen to what he has to say.
Now familiar photos taken by James Bond Johnson in 1947
Gen. Ramey and Col. DuBose
James Bond Johnson and Dennis
Interviews: Kevin Randle Reponse to James Bond Johnson Interview
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