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Editorials: Roswell Witnesses
By Dennis Balthaser
A Tribute to Walter Haut
During my affiliation with the International UFO Museum and Research Center here in Roswell, from 1996 until 1998, as a full time volunteer and as the UFO Investigator, I had the opportunity to meet many of the well-known researchers in this field of Ufology. Since then I have developed close personal relationships with a few of those, and continue to do my research in conjunction with our desire to find the truth. That of course is not the case with a larger number of “researchers” I have met.
The same is true for witnesses of the 1947 Roswell Incident that I have met over the years. Several of the many witnesses I have met and/or interviewed, have elaborated on their testimonies, while some have presented hoaxes, and still others have not provided any validation for their claims. Fortunately for those of us that continue to look for answers to the Roswell Incident, there are some witnesses that stand out, (at least to me), as being extremely credible. Walter Haut was one of those individuals that I’ve always had the utmost respect for, and who I will be miss since he passed away on December 15, 2005. As one who knew Walter fairly well, and had the opportunity to visit with daily for two and a half years, I felt a tribute to him was in order at this time.
In 1947, then Lt.Walter Haut, was a key figure in the Roswell Incident due to being the person that wrote the now famous newspaper article of July 8, 1947, “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region”.
It was quite an honor for me to meet Walter in person when I began my affiliation with the UFO Museum in 1996. After all, nothing can be written about the Roswell Incident without including Walter in the events that took place some 58 ½ years ago. It was even more rewarding for me to be able to visit with him daily during my two and a half years with the museum. During that time, Walter was at the museum almost every day, and would enjoy meeting the visitors that came by, always with a smile, a little kidding and explaining his involvement in the incident, as the public relations officer that wrote the newspaper article. Walter was always a gentleman, never looking for notoriety, enjoying life in his retirement years. If he wasn’t occupied with visitors, I would walk into his office and we’d discuss a variety of topics, which always amazed me, because he had such an interesting life, and freely talked about it.
Walter was born in Chicago in 1922, and one of my favorite stories he shared with me several times was that when he was young, he worked for a drug store in the Chicago area and made deliveries to local customers that ordered merchandise from the drug store. One of those customers was the “Capone family”. Walter remembered how most customers he made deliveries to would tip him 10 or 15 cents, while the Capone’s would tip $1.00, $5.00, even $10.00. He indicated that the Capone family was very generous, and always smiled when he shared that story with me.
I’m sure very few researchers, and particularly the general public knew much about Walter’s military career, other than his involvement with the Roswell Incident as a young Lieutenant, who was the public relations officer for the Roswell Army Air Field in 1947.
During WWII, Walter (left) flew some 35 missions over Japan as a bombardier in B-29’s. He received numerous medals for his service, but one of the experiences I enjoyed hearing from him the most, was his description of how those missions were accomplished. He indicated that being a bombardier was a great job, because the missions were sometimes 18-20 hours flying time from their home base to the target, and back home. He said he would sleep on the way to the target and being located up front in the B-29, the pilot or co-pilot would kick him when they got close to the target to wake him up. He would then take over flying and when the target was in his bombsites, he would release the weapons. His job completed he would sleep again on the ride back to their home base.
Several times we talked about the 509th bomb wing’s involvement in the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan to end the Second World War.
Walter also shared his involvement during the testing of an atomic bomb in the Pacific Ocean, during Operation Crossroads in 1946. Walter was in an airplane that flew through the mushroom cloud the bomb created when tested in the ocean and he actually dropped the instruments in it. We would “kid” each other about him “glowing” afterwards, which he of course didn’t, but he did say it was a little “bumpy” flying that close to it.
Walter would often mention Colonel “Butch” Blanchard (left) with much admiration and respect. Blanchard was in charge of the 509th bomb wing here in Roswell in 1947, when Walter was the public relations officer for the base. Blanchard was also the base commander. They had an exceptional relationship according to Walter, and Walter talked about that relationship many times. I remember sharing a similar relationship I had with a Warrant Officer Philpot when I was in the service, so I could relate to his feelings and the respect he had for Blanchard. They were apparently quite a team, and Walter would talk about how “the old man” would call him into his office, where Blanchard (a Colonel), would ask him, (a Lieutenant), for his thoughts about something that Blanchard was thinking about.
Walter was very active in many civic organizations in Roswell after he got out of the military and he and his wife decided to stay in Roswell. He often talked about how they enjoyed living in Roswell, even though the first time he was assigned here, he wondered where Roswell New Mexico was.
My life as a person and as a researcher of the Roswell Incident has been extremely enriched because I had the opportunity to meet and get to know a man named Walter Haut. I will always treasure those times where he and I sat down and just visited with each other. He had a fascinating life in his childhood, being involved with WWII, the Roswell Incident, original founder of the UFO museum and the many civic accomplishments he achieved.
I will miss you Walter.
Dennis G. Balthaser
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