Letter from Terry Clarke, news broadcaster, radio KALG, Alamogordo, New México,
To Edward Ruppelt, June 1, 1959
1110 Juniper Drive
Alamogordo, New Mexico
June 1, 1959
Mr. Ed Ruppelt
1911 Josie Avenue
Long Beach, California
I’ve dug through my files and found a copy of the Dec-57 edition of WRITER’S DIGEST in which I did a companion piece to August Derleth’s “Where Does Science Fiction End and Reality Begin?” which contains a complete transcript of a tape-interview I did with James Stokes at the time of his UFO sighting.
Following that report, air force headquarters in Washington issued a statement indicating they felt he was psycho. However, officials at Holloman Air Force Base (the Air Force Missile Development Center under ARDC) still maintained, even after the air force release, that they had no other choice but to believe Stokes’s story.
In fact, he has been promoted several times SINCE the sighting and now holds a civil service rating of GS-12 as an electronics engineer and is now in charge of the new Solar Furnace project here, having formerly been with the Arobee-hi-altitude research project at the time of the sighting, which has now been fased out.
I have never been able to make up my mind entirely whether to believe Stokes’s story …since I was never able to locate the other witnesses he said saw the UFO at the same time he did. The only explanation I can find for this may have been that there is an access road to White Sands Proving Ground (formerly called White Sands P. G. but now W. S. Missile Range) and if there were other witnesses, they have been White Sands employees and decided not to talk for fear of losing their jobs.
One other thing that seems to substantiate Stokes’s story is a similar sighting in almost the same location a few days later by 3 witnesses I would consider reliable beyond question. This sighter is recounted in the magazine story enclosed with a tape-interview transcript. I did not release it to the wire services because of all the furor stirred up by the Stokes incident…I gained quite a few gray hairs thinking Stokes’s might get the axe after I released that one thinking no one would take it seriuosly. It is horrible to watch the torture and ridicule a man, even one as highly thought of as Stokes, goes through after revealing such a sighting.
There was one other disturbing incident about the same time as the Stokes hassel, which I could not release on the air or to my wire services for reasons which will be self-evident:
First, let me give you a approximate time table of the “fap”:
SAT NIGHT---Levelland, Texas sightings by sheriff, Texas Ranger (a state trooper) and other witnesses of lighted objects in the sky which seemed to have the power to stop cars.
SUNDAY NIGHT --- Identical reports of TWO MP patrols on opposite sides of White Sands P. G. reporting a hovering UFO above the old atom bomb bunkers. MP’s had no way of communicating or cooking up story.
MONDAY AFTERNOON---The Stokes sighting.
WEDNESDAY MORNING---The sighting by 3 reliable witnesses known to me…one a prominent local businessman, his wife and his son, a brilliant college student now studying on a scholarship in Rio D., Brazil.
THESE were followed by a rash of reported sightings from all kinds of witnesses through the following Sunday when the suddenly stopped as abruptly as they had started.
THE disturbing incident involved one of the MP’s who reported the White Sands sighting of Sunday night.
On Wednesday I heard a rumor through a news-contact at White Sands that the boy was in the WS hospital suffering from radiation burns. I called the PIO officer at White Sands, and, without mentioning the MP’s name or the rumor I had heard, asked if any more details had come out that might add to their story. The PIO man seemed rattled and immediately declared that the MP in question (whom he named but whom I had NOT mentioned) had just left on leave. He said, “He had some leave time coming, and I told his commanding officer to go ahead and let him go.”
And I let the story go at that.
The next day, White Sands PIO released a story to AP that this same MP was hospitalized at White Sands “because of a severe cold”.
My White Sands contact was unable to check on this because the MP was in isolation, not in a regular ward.
Later, when I attempted to contact the MP, I was told he had been transferred but nobody seemed to know where.
I don’t recall this MP’s name off-hand, but if you would like to have it, let me know and I’ll dig it out of our files. I never felt I could use the story as news as I was never able to prove the radiation angle. However, I did take the precaution at the time of the initial phonecall to White Sands PIO of having my secretary take down the conversation in shorthand on an extension. I have never been able to fully explain this paradox to myself.
I was formerly engaged in missile work at Holloman and later in PIO there during the Korean war and I can also give you some info on some UFO sightings here during that period that were never released for your own information if they would be helpful.
Hope you find something of interest here.