Strategic Air Command
SAC Bases:  Roswell / Walker Air Force Base
Location: 8 miles south of Roswell, New Mexico.
Home of: 509th Composite Group, 6th Bomb Wing, the famous "Roswell Incident"
Status:  Closed June 30, 1967
Links:  Walker Restoration Advisory Board

    The former Walker Air Force Base, also known as Roswell Army Air Field, consists of approximately 5,072 acres. The site was deactivated on 1 July 1967 and declared excess some 5,055 acres to the General Services Administration (GSA) and the lease on 17.2 acres. The property was transferred to the city of Roswell, Eastern New Mexico University, Roswell Independent School, and the State of New Mexico Health (Rehabilitation) Hospital. The transfer included a valid recapture clause of the airport property. Several condition were included in the transfer of this property which insures the continued use of indenture releasing the U.S. Government from restoration liability. The city leased some of the land to private individuals and industries.
     The site was acquired in 1941 for the purpose of establishing a Military Flying Training Center and Bombardier School. Although there was a bombing target adjacent to the runway, the only items dropped from an aircraft were bags of sand or flour. The practice bombing and gunnery ranges were due south of the air field and on Matagorda Island. The 509th Wing, training on the B-29 aircraft, dropped the first special weapon on Japan. The Army Air Corps utilized the airfield until June 1949, when it was transferred to the Department of the Air Force, thereafter known as Walker Air Force Base.

Strategic Air Command
     In May 1946, the Army Air Forces (AAF) gave SAC the responsibility of delivering the atomic bomb. Only one of the command’s bombardment units, the 509th at Walker Air Force Base (then Roswell Field) in New Mexico, was trained and ready for the atomic bomb mission. Walker, and Kirtland to the north in Albuquerque, would quickly become the bases around which this mission first centered.
       The 6th Bombardment Wing, Medium was established on December 20, 1950.  It was activated on January 2, 1951 at Walker AFB, NM.  It then flew the B-29 Superfortress.   In  August of 1952, it received the new B-36 Peacemaker and the unit was redesignated the 6th Bomb Wing (Heavy)
Photo of disk, reportedly found near Roswell Scene from Alien Autopsy Movie
The Roswell Incident
The modern preoccupation with what ultimately came to be called Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) actually began in June, 1947. Although some pro-UFO researchers argue that sightings of UFOs go back to Biblical times, most researchers will not dispute that anything in UFO history can compare with the phenomenon that began in 1947. What was later characterized as "the UFO Wave of 1947" began with 16 alleged sightings that occurred between May 17 and July 12, 1947, (although some researchers claim there were as many as 800 sightings during that period).
     The "Roswell Incident" refers to an event that supposedly happened on July 2nd 1947.   A "flying disc" crashed during a severe thunderstorm near Corona, New Mexico.  After studying the wreckage, strewn over half a mile, examining the light plastic, but terribly strong materials, everybody up to the country sherriff, George Wilcox, and Colonel Blanchard, the officer in charge of the army air force base at nearby Roswell concluded it was of alien origin.  On July 7th the local KSWS radio station started reporting the news, but the transmissions were mysteriously cut off.   On July 8th Blanchard ordered a press release confirming the UFO, but by then Washington wished to quash the story and on the same day General Roger Ramsey in Fort Worth held a press conference claiming the wreckage was the remains of a 'Project Mogul' balloon designed to monitor soviet nuclear tests.  Soldiers subsequently removed the wreckage, and witnesses were incarcerated, but already the story was out.
    There are those that maintain the "Roswell Incident" was not even considered a UFO event until the 1978-1980 time frame. Prior to that, the incident was dismissed because the AAF originally identified the debris recovered as being that of a weather balloon. Subsequently, various authors wrote a number of books claiming that, not only was debris from an alien spacecraft recovered, but also the bodies of the craft's alien occupants. These claims continue to evolve today and the Air Force is now routinely accused of engaging in a "cover-up" of this supposed event.
      In 1978, an article appeared in a tabloid newspaper, the National Inquirer, which reported the former intelligence officer, Marcel, claimed that he had recovered UFO debris near Roswell in 1947. Also in 1978, a UFO researcher, Stanton Friedman, met with Marcel and began investigating the claims that the material Marcel handled was from a crashed UFO. Similarly, two authors, William L. Moore and Charles Berlitz, also engaged in research which led them to publish a book, The Roswell Incident, in 1980. In this book they reported they interviewed a number of persons who claimed to have been present at Roswell in 1947 and professed to be either first or second hand witnesses to strange events that supposedly occurred. Since 1978-1980, other UFO researchers, most notably Donald Schmitt and Kevin Randle, claim to have located and interviewed even more persons with supposed knowledge of unusual happenings at Roswell.
     There is no dispute that something happened near Roswell in July, 1947, since it was reported in a number of contemporary newspaper articles; the most famous of which were the July 8 and July 9 editions of the Roswell Daily Record. The July 8 edition reported "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch In Roswell Region," while the next day's edition reported, "Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer" and "Harassed Rancher Who Located 'Saucer' Sorry He Told About It." The first story reported that the Intelligence Officer of the 509th Bomb Group, stationed at Roswell AAF, Major Jesse A. Marcel, had recovered a "flying disc" from the range lands of an unidentified rancher in the vicinity of Roswell and that the disc had been "flown to higher headquarters." That same story also reported that a Roswell couple claimed to have seen a large unidentified object fly by their home on July 2, 1947. The July 9 edition of the paper noted that Brigadier General Roger Ramey, Commander of the Eighth Air Force at Forth Worth, Texas, stated that upon examination the debris recovered by Marcel was determined to be a weather balloon.
     Finally, in the mid-1990s, Air Force officials conducted exhaustive research on the incident via documents, eyewitness accounts and interviews. In two reports, the Air Force concluded that the saucer debris found near Roswell had been parts of a special balloon used by an ultra-secret operation, Project Mogul. Project Mogul was designed to detect radioactive traces resulting from an atomic blast by the Soviet Union. The reports also concluded that the alien bodies were likely test dummies used by the Air Force to gauge the effects of acceleration and deceleration of high-speed aircraft ejections.
Atlas Missiles
     With the decision to construct Atlas lift-silos around Roswell reached in January 1960, the Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District commissioned soil samples that verified that the region could geologically sustain the underground complexes. The Albuquerque District then acquired the 12 sites surrounding Roswell and on May 16, 1960, advertised for bids to convert the Bechtel Corporation blueprints into reality. On June 15, 1960, a joint venture consisting of Macco Corporation, Raymond International, Inc., The Kaiser Co., and Puget Sound Bridge and Dry Dock Co. was announced as the winning bid. Work started a week later. In November 1960, as construction continued, the Albuquerque District transferred responsibility for construction to the Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office (CEBMCO) based in Los Angeles.
      The last site was completed on January 6, 1962,57 days behind schedule. As at other sites, constant design changes resulting from the “concurrency” concept as well as some labor-management problems added days to the construction schedule. During the project there were six walkouts, which led to a total of 2,512 man-days lost. Several accidents resulted in fatalities. Seventy-four disabling injuries contributed to 51,086 man-days lost on the job.
       Reportedly, the first Atlas missile to arrive in Roswell received a welcoming parade. New Mexico’s Governor Mecham gave the keynote speech at a Site 10 ceremony held on October 31, 1961, in which CEBMCO turned the site over to the Air Force. Although Cheves County residents took patriotic pride in the news of the missile squadron’s arrival, Roswell residents submitted 10 permit requests for bomb shelters in October 1961 as construction went ahead. The 579th SMS received its first missile on January 24, 1962. In April 1962, a completed liquid oxygen plant built at Walker AFB was turned over to the Air Force. The squadron completed missile installation approximately 1 month before the Cuban Missile Crisis.
     Roswell’s sites developed a notorious reputation due to three missile explosions. On June 1, 1963, launch complex 579-l was destroyed during a propellant loading exercise. On February 13, 1964, an explosion occurred during another propellant loading exercise, destroying launch complex 579-5. Again, a month later, on March 9, 1964, silo 579-2 fell victim to another explosion that occurred during a propellant loading exercise. Fortunately, these missiles were not mated with their warheads at the time of the incidents. The only injury reported was that of a crewman running into barbed wire as he fled a site.
     The accidents at Walker and at other Atlas and Titan I sites accelerated the decision to deactivate these systems. After the Air Force removed the missiles in 1965, the dozen sites reverted back to private ownership. Within a year of the deactivation of the 597th SMS, the Air Force announced that the base would be closed. This occurred on June 30, 1967.