Oliver Wendelle "Pappy" Henderson

Oliver "Pappy" Henderson
Photo, courtesy of Wendy Connors

In July of 1947 Robert E. Smith was a member of the 1st Air Transport Unit, Roswell, NM. 

Robert Smith:
The C-54 into which Smith helped load the single twenty-foot crate would have been Pappy Henderson's. I remember seeing T/Sgt. Harbell Elzey, T/Sgt. Edward Bretherton, and S/Sgt. William Fortner.

Stanton Friedman:
Capt. Oliver Wendell "Pappy" Henderson may have been the most highly regarded pilot at Roswell AAF. A veteran of thirty missions in B-24 Liberator bombers in Europe, he participated in the postwar A-bomb tests in the Pacific and earned major commendations for his flying. Henderson kept quiet about the unsettling events of July 1947 for three decades. Finally he mentioned them to a fellow retired officer; dentist John Kromschroeder, with whom he was then involved in a joint business venture. The dentist said nothing about this until July 1990, more than four years after Henderson's death from cancer. 

In 1977, Pappy had told Kromsehroeder about the incident. He said he transported wreckage and alien bodies, describing the latter as "spacecraft garbage," and adding "the passengers suffered their death." Henderson, in the recollection of Kromschroeder, described the bodies simply as being "small." About a year later; around 1978, Henderson produced a piece of metal he had taken from the collection of wreckage. "I gave it a good, thorough looking-at," Kromschroeder said in 1990, "and decided it was an alloy we are not familiar with (he and Henderson shared an interest in metallurgy). Gray lustrous metal resembling aluminum, lighter in weight and much stiffer. [We couldn't] bend it... edges sharp and jagged." 

The priceless scrap of material may be tucked away in Pappy's records and papers, just waiting to be freed. But there is currently no way to search the two thousand-plus cubic feet of materials that jam two small storage buildings and a garage to the ceilings. His widow Sappho, has rejected suggestions that investigators be allowed to search through a lifetime of her late husband's memorabilia. The prospect is daunting, for a slim piece of metal could be hidden between any two pieces of paper in any of many scores of bulging cardboard boxes. Even if she were willing to have strangers paw through such personal matters, it could take hundreds of hours, and there is no assurance that the scrap of crashed UFO is there. It could have been lost, thrown out, or even confiscated. 

In 1982, Henderson met with several members of his old bomber crew during an Air Division reunion in Nashville. According to one of the men in the group, "It was in his hotel room that he told us the story of the UFO and about his part. All we were told by Pappy is that he flew the plane to Wright Field. He definitely mentioned the bodies, but I don't recall any details except that they were small and different. I was skeptical at first, but soon saw that Pappy was quite serious." 

Pappy died before I got a chance to interview him. But his widow Sappho, agreed to be interviewed, as did his daughter; Mary Sappho described what her husband had told her. 

Mary Sappho Henderson:
We met during World War II when he flew with the 446th Bomb Squadron; he flew B-24s [on] thirty missions over Germany. After the war, he returned home ... and was then sent to Roswell. While stationed there, he ran the "Green Hornet Airline," which involved flying C-54s and C-47's carrying VIPs, scientists, and materials from Roswell to the Pacific during the atom bomb tests. He had to have a Top Secret clearance for this responsibility 

In 1980 or 1981, he picked up a newspaper at a grocery store where we were living in San Diego. One article described the crash of a UFO outside Roswell, with the bodies of aliens discovered beside the craft. He pointed out the article to me and said, "I want you to read this article, because it's a true story. I'm the pilot who flew the wreckage of the UFO to Dayton, Ohio [home of Wright Field]. I guess now that they're putting it in the paper, I can tell you about this. I wanted to tell you for years." Pappy never discussed his work because of his security clearance. 

He described the beings as small with large heads for their size. He said the material that their suits were made of was different than anything he had ever seen. He said they looked strange. I believe he mentioned that the bodies had been packed in dry ice to preserve them. 

 To hear her voice, click here


Mrs. Mary Kathryn Groode, Pappy's daughter, added her remembrances to those of her mother. 

Mary Kathryn Goode:
When I was growing up, he and I would often spend evenings looking at the stars. On one occasion, I asked him what he was looking for. He said, "I'm looking for flying saucers. They're real, you know" 

In 1981, during a visit to my parents' home, my father showed me a newspaper article which described the crash of a UFO and the recovery of alien bodies outside Roswell, New Mexico. He told me that he saw the crashed craft and the alien bodies described in the article, and that he had flown the wreckage to Ohio. He described the alien beings as small and pale, with slanted eyes and large heads. He said they were humanoid- looking, but different from us. I think he said there were three bodies. 

He said the matter had been Top Secret and that he was not supposed to discuss it with anyone, but that he felt it was alright to tell me because it was in the newspaper.

I also spoke with Pappy's son and cousin, both of whom told of having heard Pappy quietly tell his story after the newspaper article appeared. 

On the basis of all that is known of Pappy's brief mentions of his involvement with the events at Roswell, it appears that while he probably saw bodies at the airbase, he may have transported only materials to Wright Field. 

Stanton Friedman
Crash At Corona, 125-128

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