- The 509th has lots of things in its long history to be
proud of; as many of you know, they dropped the only Atomic bombs ever
used in anger. They also participated in many secret nuclear tests, in
the US and the Pacific, in the 1940's and 1950's, and they were the first
to "capture a flying disk according to radio reports from July of
- "The Army Air Forces here today announced
a flying disk had been found"
- On July 8, 1947, a press release stating that the wreckage
of a crashed disk had been recovered was issued by the Commander of the
509th Bomb Group at Roswell, New Mexico, Col. William Blanchard. "RAAF
CAPTURES FLYING SAUCER ON RANCH IN ROSWELL REGION- No Details of Flying
Disk are Revealed" "The many rumors regarding the flying disk
became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb
Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough
to gain possession of a disk through the cooperation of one of the local
ranchers and the sheriff's office of Chaves County."
- "The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell
sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the
disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff's office, who
in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence
Office. "Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at
the rancher's home. It was inspected at Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently
loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters." -- Press release from
Roswell Army Air Force Base, issued on July 8, 1947
- As most of you know Roswell was the home of the 509th
Bomb Group, and the Roswell UFO crash debris was initially taken to Roswell
Army Air Field, and then flown to Ft. Worth, then on to Wright Field in
- The 509th was an elite nuclear air wing, and at the time
was the only nuclear air group in the world. On the morning of July 8,
1947, Colonel William Blanchard, commander of the 509th Bomb Group, issued
the infamous press release stating that the wreckage of mankind's first
captured "flying disk" (UFO) had been recovered.
- Hours later the first press release was rescinded and
the second press release stated that the 509th Bomb Group had mistakenly
identified a weather balloon as wreckage of a flying saucer
- Jesse Marcel with the weather balloon. (Photo courtesy of
Fort Worth Star - Telegram Photographic Collection, Special Collections
division, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries)
- Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer Ramey Says Excitement
is Not Justified General Ramey Says Disk is Weather Balloon
- "Fort Worth, Texas, July 9 (AP) An examination by
the army revealed last night that mysterious objects found on a lonely
New Mexico ranch was a harmless high-altitude weather balloon - not a grounded
flying disk. Excitement was high until Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commander
of the Eighth air forces with headquarters here cleared up the mystery.
- The bundle of tinfoil, broken wood beams and rubber remnants
of a balloon were sent here yesterday by army air transport in the wake
of reports that it was a flying disk. But the general said the objects
were the crushed remains of a ray wind target used to determine the direction
and velocity of winds at high altitudes.
- Warrant Officer Irving Newton, forecaster at the army
air forces weather station here said, "we use them because they go
much higher than the eye can see."
- The weather balloon was found several days ago near the
center of New Mexico by Rancher W. W. Brazel. He said he didn't think much
about it until he went into Corona, N. M., last Saturday and heard the
flying disk reports.
- He returned to his ranch, 85 miles northwest of Roswell,
and recovered the wreckage of the balloon, which he had placed under some
- Then Brazel hurried back to Roswell, where he reported
his find to the sheriff's office. The sheriff called the Roswell air field
and Maj. Jesse A. Marcel, 509th bomb group intelligence officer was assigned
to the case.
- Col. William H. Blanchard, commanding officer of the
bomb group, reported the find to General Ramey and the object was flown
immediately to the army air field here. Ramey went on the air here last
night to announce the New Mexico discovery was not a flying disk.
- Newton said that when rigged up, the instrument "looks
like a six-pointed star, is sivery in appearance and rises in the air like
- In Roswell, the discovery set off a flurry of excitement.
- Sheriff George Wicox's telephone lines were jammed. Three
calls came from England, one of them from The London Daily Mail, he said.
- Sheriff George Wilcox
- A public relations officer here said the balloon was
in his office "and it'll probably stay right there."
- Newton, who made the examination, said some 80 weather
stations in the U. S. were using that type of balloon and that it could
have come from any of them. He said he had sent up identical balloons during
the invasion of Okinawa to determine ballistics information for heavy guns.
- From Roswell Daily Record for July 9, 1947
- And today the 509th literally owns the skies, with the
509th being the only active B-2 Bomber group in the U.S. Air Force. One
has to wonder, is it just coincidence that the 509th. Is still so active?
Or is the 509th still getting "paid back for keeping quiet about the
- "A lot of the information that has been in the media in
the past few
weeks was inaccurate. - Brig. Gen. Thomas Goslin Jr., of the 509th Bomb
- The July 1947 history for the 509th Bomb Group and RAAF
stated that the RAAF public information office "was kept quite busy
. . . answering inquiries on the 'flying disc,' which was reported to be
in [the] possession of the 509th Bomb Group. The object turned out to be
a radar tracking balloon." By his signature, the RAAF's commanding
officer certified that the report represented a complete and accurate account
of RAAF activities in July 1947.
- The GAO report on the Roswell incident states "our
search for government records concerning the Roswell crash yielded two
records originating in 1947--a July 1947 history report by the combined
509th Bomb Group and RAAF and an FBI teletype message dated July 8, 1947.
The 509th- RAAF report noted the recovery of a "flying disc"
that was later determined by military officials to be a radar- tracking
balloon. The FBI message stated that the military had reported that an
object resembling a high-altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector
had been recovered near Roswell
- The 509th's Strange History
- The 509th Bomb Wing, one of the most famous wings in
the Air Force, traces its historical roots back to its World War II ancestor,
the 509th Composite Group. During the hectic days of that bygone era, the
Army Air Forces formed the group with only one mission in mind: to drop
the atomic bomb. Led by Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the group trained hard
for its unique task.
- A good movie that covers the 509th's activation and how they had to
maintain absolute secrecy during their operations is from 1952, and called
Above and Beyond it's described as a meaningful account of the U.
S. pilot who flew over Hiroshima with first atomic bomb; the film focuses
on his training and its effect on his personal life. Tibbets' story was
also told in 1980 TV movie Enola Gay.
- 509th Bombardment Group HQ North Field, Tinian Erected in 1944
- On Aug. 6, 1945, the 509th fulfilled its destiny when
the B-29 "Enola Gay" piloted by Colonel Tibbets dropped the first
atomic bomb and destroyed Hiroshima, Japan. On Aug. 9, 1945, the group
once again visited the Japanese mainland and unleashed the atomic inferno
on another city, Nagasaki. Within days, the Japanese sued for peace and
World War II ended.
- After the bomb was dropped, Tibbets said: "Would
I do it again? Give me conditions and circumstances similar to those that
prevailed in 1945, and I would not hesitate. I feel that, at that point
in time, it was the only thing to do. I am convinced that the use of the
two weapons prevented an invasion that would have cost more Japanese lives
than did the bombs, not to mention the American lives or the added billions
of dollars that would have been expended."
- Upon returning to the United States in late 1945, the
group settled into Roswell Army Air Base, N.M. Shortly afterward, it became
the core of the newly created Strategic Air Command. In August 1946, the
now-called 509th Bombardment Group again traveled to the Pacific where
it participated in Operation Crossroads. During this special maneuver,
the group dropped an atomic bomb on an armada of obsolete and captured
naval vessels moored off the Bikini Atoll.
- On Nov. 17, 1947, SAC activated the 509th Bombardment
Wing at Roswell and assigned the group to the wing. Within five years,
however, the Air Force inactivated the 509 BG while turning over the lineage
and honors of the group to the wing.
- The wing pioneered a new concept in July 1948 when it
received the 509th Air Refueling Squadron, one of the first two such units
ever created, and its air refueling KB-29Ms. With the addition of tankers,
the 509th's bombers could reach virtually any point on earth.
- The dawning of a new decade brought more changes to the
wing. In June 1950, it began receiving B-50s. In January 1954, the KC-97
aerial tanker replaced the aging KB-29Ms. The wing entered the jet age
in June 1955 when it received the first all-jet bomber: the B-47.
- The wing also received a new home toward the end of the
1950s when it moved its people and equipment to Pease AFB, N.H., in August
1958. There, the wing continued to function as an integral part of SAC.
By 1965, SAC scheduled the B-47s for retirement. Unfortunately, this retirement
also included the 509th. Fate intervened, however, as SAC decided to keep
the 509th alive and equipped it with B-52s and KC-135s. Thus, the wing
received its first B-52 and KC-135 in March 1966.
- The wing's association with the B-52 included two major
deployments to Andersen AFB, Guam, as part of the now famous Vietnam War
Arc Light missions. In April 1968 and again in April 1969, the wing began
six-month ventures in the Western Pacific. During the last deployment,
SAC informed the 509th that the wing would swap its B-52s for FB-111As.
Accordingly; the wing began receiving the formidable fighter-bomber in
- Over the next two decades, little changed for the 509th
BW as it became SAC's fighter-bomber experts. However, a decision by the
Department of Defense in 1988 to close Pease created major changes for
the famous 509th.
- Headquarters SAC decreed that the 509th would not inactivate
but transfer to Whiteman AFB to become the first B-2 Stealth bomber unit.
As such, the wing moved to Whiteman on Sept. 30, 1990, without people and
equipment. That same day also saw most of the wing's squadrons inactivated.
- This took place since the wing was expected to remain
non-operational until the arrival of the first B-2 drew nearer. While the
wing waited for that date, several more changes occurred. On Sept. 1, 1991,
SAC changed the wing's name to 509th Bomb Wing. A second change occurred
on June 1, 1992, when the Air Force disestablished SAC. Concurrently, the
509th became part of the newly created Air Combat Command.
- The wing's hibernation at Whiteman lasted more than two
years. However, on April 1, 1993, the Air Force returned the 509th to operational
status as people were again assigned to the wing. The wing grew larger
on July 1, 1993, when it accepted host responsibilities for Whiteman from
the 351st Missile Wing.
- On July 20, 1993, the 509th took another important step
when it received its first fixed-wing aircraft in almost three years: a
T-38 complete with a B-2-style paint job. After this, the wing's attentions
turned to the arrival of the first B-2.
- For the next several months, this passion consumed all
509ers. Finally, on Dec. 17, 1993, the first operational bomber, named
"The Spirit of Missouri," touched down on the Whiteman runway.
Not only did the date mark the 90th anniversary of the first powered flight
by the Wright Brothers, it also fell on the 49th anniversary of the original
activation of the 509th Composite Group. As more B-2s arrive at Whiteman,
the 509th continues to pioneer the operation of this unique aircraft.
- Throughout the wing's history, its people, ever conscious
of their proud history, realize their 509th ancestors established tough
standards to follow. Still, 509ers have every intention of equaling, if
not surpassing, the past accomplishments of the 509th Bomb Wing.
- The 509th of Today
The Whitman Era
- Today, Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri is the home
of the 509th Bomb Wing, which operates and maintains the Air Force's premier
weapon system, the B-2 bomber. Located just sixty miles southeast of Kansas
City, nestled among the wooded, rolling hills of West-Central Missouri,
and two miles south of Knob Noster, is the bustling community of Whiteman
Air Force Base and its more than 10,000 military members, Department of
Defense civilians and Air Force family members.
- Whiteman's proud heritage dates back to 1942. U.S. Army
Air Force officials selected the site of the present-day base to be the
home of Sedalia Army Air Field (Sedalia is one of Whiteman's neighboring
communities, some 20 miles east of base), and a training base for Waco
glider pilots, who saw action in World War II. In fact, the pilots of one
former unit assigned to the base -- the 314th Troop Carrier Group -- participated
in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and the D-Day invasion of Normandy
on June 6, 1944.
- Following the end of the war, the airfield remained in
service as an operational location for Army Air Force C-46 and C-47 transports.
In December 1947, the base was inactivated, but Sedalia Army Air Field
was not forgotten.
- With the birth of the U.S. Air Force as a separate, independent
service in 1947, and the subsequent formation of Strategic Air Command,
the site of the former airfield was considered for other Air Force missions.
There was even a time in the late '40s that it was looked at as a possible
site for the "West Point of the Air," the U.S. Air Force Academy.
- In August 1951, SAC selected the base to be a site of
one of its new bombardment wings, with both bombers and tankers assigned
to the unit. Construction of facilities to support SAC's first all-jet
bomber, the B-47, and the KC-97 aerial refueling tanker (the forerunner
of SAC's all-jet tankers, the KC-135 and the KC-10) began in early 1952.
In October 1952, SAC activated the 340th Bombardment Wing at the redesignated
- In October 1955, wing members saw their base's name change
to Whiteman AFB, in honor of 2nd Lt. George A. Whiteman, a Sedalia native.
Whiteman was one of the first American airmen killed in combat during World
War II, when his P-40 fighter, the "Lucky Me," was shot down
as he attempted to take off during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7,
- From 1955 to 1960, the 340th BMW played a key role in
SAC's mission of strategic deterrence. Its men and women were on the front
line of the nation's strategic defense -- a force for peace that helped
preserve America's freedom and safeguarded the world from another world
- However, as Whiteman entered the '60s, its mission shifted
from aircraft to SAC's newest weapon system, the Minuteman intercontinental
ballistic missile. In June 1961, Air Force officials selected the base
to be the location of SAC's fourth Minuteman missile wing -- the 351st
Strategic Missile Wing.
- The new missile wing was activated in February 1962,
and continued its deterrent mission until July 31, 1995, when the wing
and its missiles were inactivated under provisions of the Strategic Arms
- Whiteman's current mission -- the B-2 -- is a dramatic
leap forward in technology and represents a major milestone in the U.S.
bomber modernization program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear,
in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable
- The 509th's Emblem's History
- The significance of the 509th Bomb Wing's emblem is rich
in tradition. The shield is like a family coat of arms and uses symbols
to tell its story. Each symbol on the shield represents some part of the
- First, the Air Force wings represent the branch of service
but the wings are not in the familiar out-stretched position. When the
ancient Greeks approached a stranger, they raised their arms with the palms
outward to show they were carrying no weapons"a sign of peace.
- The 509th obtained special permission to display the
wings in this configuration to show that it, too, comes in peace. Next,
the words "Defensor-Vindex," (Translated: Defender-Avenger) means
that its mission was, and still is, to protect and retaliate for any infringement
on that peace.
- The atomic cloud burst represents two things: the fact
that the 509th dropped the only two atomic bombs ever in wartime, and that
it still uses atomic power as a deterrent to war and defender of peace.
Finally, the eldest son symbol shows that the wing is the oldest atomic-trained
military unit in the world.
- While researching this article, I came across a curious
thing, a Classified Flight Test shoulder patch from the 509th Bomb Group,
with an alien pictured on it, along with the strange phrase in Latin, "Gustatus
Similis Pullus which translates into "Taste's like Chicken Hmm?
- Jim Hickman Director-Aerial Phenomena Research Group
www.cufos.org Homepage: http://aerial.itlnet.net/
- "All warfare is based on deception" General
Sun Tzu-The art of war- 500 BC
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