Senator Strom Thurmond

When I was first elected to the United States Senate in 1954, the United States and democratic Western governments were locked in a bitter, and sometimes deadly, Cold War with totalitarian Communist governments that sought to expand their bankrupt-ideology throughout the world. Though those who did not live during this era have a hard time picturing it, the 1950s and 1960s were a period in our history when there was a very real need to be concerned about a Communist, especially Soviet, threat to our security and institutions.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I took a lead role in seeking out those in our government who sought to muzzle military personnel who wanted to alert Americans to the threats we faced from our Communist enemies and to speak out against some of the plainly misguided, incorrect and, frankly, dangerous policies of the United States in dealing with the Soviets and Red Chinese. Distinguished officers and patriotic men such as Admiral Arleigh Burke and General Arthur Trudeau were essentially censored by their own government because of the views they espoused about the state of the world and the nature of the threat before our nation. As a veteran of World War II, a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve, and a proponent of a strong and comprehensive military, I could not sit idly by and watch our military be undermined by people in government who were sympathetic to Communism.

During this period, the Armed Services Committee held extensive hearings into this matter. It seemed an alien concept that in a nation that protects and cherishes free expression, the men who risked their lives to keep us free and best understood how we should confront our enemies would be ordered silent. It was under these circumstances that I came to know Philip Corso, then a colonel in the United States Army, who was equally disturbed about the muzzling of our military, and who shared my concern about the future of our military forces.

As the members of the Armed Services Committee worked diligently to discover who was working to quiet our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, Colonel Corso was brought to my attention by two of my former staff members. The colonel had a great deal of credibility and expertise not only as a military officer but also in the fields of intelligence and national security. A veteran of World War II and Korea, Corso had also spent four years working at the National Security Council. In short, he was very familiar with issues that concerned me and my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he very quickly became a valued source of bountiful information that was insightful and, most important, accurate. As a matter of fact, the material he provided was invaluable in helping us prove that the stifling of American military officers was being ordered by individuals in high ranking positions within our own government.

In 1963, when I learned of Colonel Corso’s impending retirement from the army, I thought that having a man with his background and experiences on my staff would be of great benefit. So after offering him a position that promised nothing more than long hours of hard work at a modest salary, Philip Corso once again willingly went to work serving and protecting the United States, this time as an aide in my office.

There is no question that Philip Corso has led a full and adventurous life, and I am certain that he has many interesting stories to share with individuals interested in military history, espionage, and the workings of our government. We should all be grateful that there are men and women like Colonel Corso - people who are willing to dedicate their lives to serving the nation and protecting the ideals we all hold dear - and we should honor the sacrifices they have made in their careers and in their lives.

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My name is Philip J. Corso, and for two incredible years back in the 1960s while I was a lieutenant colonel in the army heading up the Foreign Technology desk in Army Research and Development at the Pentagon, I led a double life. In my routine everyday job as a researcher and evaluator of weapons systems for the army, I investigated things like the helicopter armament the French military had developed, the tactical deployment complexities of a theater antimissile missile, or new technologies to preserve and prepare meals for our troops in the field.


I read technology reports and met with engineers at army proving grounds about different kinds of ordnance and how ongoing budgeted development projects were moving forward. I submitted their reports to my boss, Lt. Gen. Arthur Trudeau, the director of Army R&D and the manager of a three thousand plus man operation with lots of projects at different stages. On the surface, especially to congressmen exercising oversight as to how the taxpayers’ money was being spent, all of it was routine stuff.

Part of my job responsibility in Army R&D (research and development), however, was as an intelligence officer and adviser to General Trudeau who, himself, had headed up Army Intelligence before coming to R&D. This was a job I was trained for and held during World War II and Korea. At the Pentagon I was working in some of the most secret areas of military intelligence, reviewing heavily classified information on behalf of General Trudeau. I had been on General Mac Arthur’s staff in Korea and knew that as late as 1961 - even as late, maybe, as today - as Americans back then were sitting down to watch Dr. Kildare or Gunsmoke, captured American soldiers from World War II and Korea were still living in gulag conditions in prison camps in the Soviet Union and Korea. Some of them were undergoing what amounted to sheer psychological torture. They were the men who never returned.

As an intelligence officer I also knew the terrible secret that some of our government’s most revered institutions had been penetrated by the KGB and that key aspects of American foreign policy were being dictated from inside the Kremlin. I testified to this first at a Senate subcommittee hearing chaired by Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois in April 1962, and a month later delivered the same information to Attorney General Robert Kennedy. He promised me that he would deliver it to his brother, the President, and I have every reason to believe he did. It was ironic that in 1964, after I retired from the army and had served on Senator Strom Thurmond’s staff, I worked for Warren Commission member Senator Richard Russell as an investigator.

But hidden beneath everything I did, at the center of a double life I led that no one knew about, and buried deep inside my job at the Pentagon was a single file cabinet that I had inherited because of my intelligence background. That file held the army’s deepest and most closely guarded secret: the Roswell files, the cache of debris and information an army retrieval team from the 509th Army Air Field pulled out of the wreckage of a flying disk that had crashed outside the town of Roswell in the New Mexico desert in the early morning darkness during the first week of July 1947.


The Roswell file was the legacy of what happened in the hours and days after the crash when the official government cover-up was put into place. As the military tried to figure out what it was that had crashed, where it had come from, and what its inhabitants’ intentions were, a covert group was assembled under the leadership of the director of intelligence, Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter, to investigate the nature of the flying disks and collect all information about encounters with these phenomena while, at the same time, publicly and officially discounting the existence of all flying saucers. This operation has been going on, in one form or another, for fifty years amidst complete secrecy.

I wasn’t in Roswell in 1947, nor had I heard any details about the crash at that time because it was kept so tightly under wraps, even within the military. You can easily understand why, though, if you remember, as I do, the Mercury Theater “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast in 1938 when the entire country panicked at the story of how invaders from Mars landed in Grovers Mill, New Jersey, and began attacking the local populace. The fictionalized eyewitness reports of violence and the inability of our military forces to stop the creatures were graphic.


They killed everyone who crossed their path, narrator Orson Welles said into his microphone, as these creatures in their war machines started their march toward New York. The level of terror that Halloween night of the broadcast was so intense and the military so incapable of protecting the local residents that the police were overwhelmed by the phone calls. It was as if the whole country had gone crazy and authority itself had started to unravel.

Now, in Roswell in 1947, the landing of a flying saucer was no fantasy. It was real, the military wasn’t able to prevent it, and this time the authorities didn’t want a repeat of “War of the Worlds. “ So you can see the mentality at work behind the desperate need to keep the story quiet. And this is not to mention the military fears at first that the craft might have been an experimental Soviet weapon because it bore a resemblance to some of the German designed aircraft that had made their appearances near the end of the war, especially the crescent shaped Horton flying wing. What if the Soviets had developed their own version of this craft?

The stories about the Roswell crash vary from one another in the details. Because I wasn’t there, I’ve had to rely on reports of others, even within the military itself. Through the years, I’ve heard versions of the Roswell story in which campers, an archeological team, or rancher Mac Brazel found the wreckage. I’ve read military reports about different crashes in different locations in some proximity to the army air field at Roswell like San Agustin and Corona and even different sites close to the town itself. All of the reports were classified, and I did not copy them or retain them for my own records after I left the army.


Sometimes the dates of the crash vary from report to report, July 2 or 3 as opposed to July 4. And I’ve heard different people argue the dates back and forth, establishing time lines that vary from one another in details, but all agree that something crashed in the desert outside of Roswell and near enough to the army’s most sensitive installations at Alamogordo and White Sands that it caused the army to react quickly and with concern as soon as it found out.

In 1961, regardless of the differences in the Roswell story from the many different sources who had described it, the top-secret file of Roswell information came into my possession when I took over the Foreign Technology desk at R&D. My boss, General Trudeau, asked me to use the army’s ongoing weapons development and research program as a way to filter the Roswell technology into the main stream of industrial development through the military defense contracting program.


Today, items such as lasers, integrated circuitry, fiberoptics networks, accelerated particle beam devices, and even the Kevlar material in bulletproof vests are all commonplace. Yet the seeds for the development of all of them were found in the crash of the alien craft at Roswell and turned up in my files fourteen years later.

But that’s not even the whole story.

In those confusing hours after the discovery of the crashed Roswell alien craft, the army determined that in the absence of any other information it had to be an extraterrestrial. Worse, the fact that this craft and other flying saucers had been surveilling our defensive installations and even seemed to evidence a technology we’d seen evidenced by the Nazis caused the military to assume these flying saucers had hostile intentions and might have even interfered in human events during the war.


We didn’t know what the inhabitants of these crafts wanted, but we had to assume from their behavior, especially their interventions in the lives of human beings and the reported cattle mutilations, that they could be potential enemies. That meant that we were facing a far superior power with weapons capable of obliterating us. At the same time we were locked in a Cold War with the Soviets and the mainland Chinese and were faced with the penetration of our own intelligence agencies by the KGB.

The military found itself fighting a two-front war, a war against the Communists who were seeking to undermine our institutions while threatening our allies and, as unbelievable as it sounds, a war against extraterrestrials, who posed an even greater threat than the Communist forces. So we used the extraterrestrials’ own technology against them, feeding it out to our defense contractors and then adapting it for use in space-related defense systems.


It took us until the 1980s, but in the end we were able to deploy enough of the Strategic Defense Initiative, “Star Wars, “ to achieve the capability of knocking down enemy satellites, killing the electronic guidance systems of incoming enemy warheads, and disabling enemy spacecraft, if we had to, to pose a threat. It was alien technology that we used: lasers, accelerated particle-beam weapons, and aircraft equipped with “Stealth” features. And in the end, we not only outlasted the Soviets and ended the Cold War, but we forced a stalemate with the extraterrestrials, who were not so invulnerable after all.

What happened after Roswell, how we turned the extraterrestrials’ technology against them, and how we actually won the Cold War is an incredible story. During the thick of it, I didn’t even realize how incredible it was. I just did my job, going to work at the Pentagon day in and day out until we put enough of this alien technology into development that it began to move forward under its own weight through industry and back into the army.


The full import of what we did at Army R&D and what General Trudeau did to grow R&D from a disorganized unit under the shadow of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, when he first took command, to the army department that helped create the military guided missile, the antimissile missile, and the guided missile launched accelerated particle beam firing satellite killer, didn’t really hit me until years later when I understood just how we were able to make history.

I always thought of myself as just a little man from a little American town in western Pennsylvania, and I didn’t assess the weight of our accomplishments at Army R&D, especially how we harvested the technology coming out of the Roswell crash, until thirty-five years after I left the army when I sat down to write my memoirs for an entirely different book.


That was when I reviewed my old journals, remembered some of the memos I’d written to General Trudeau, and understood that the story of what happened in the days after the Roswell crash was perhaps the most significant story of the past fifty years. So, believe it or not, this is the story of what happened in the days after Roswell and how a small group of military intelligence officers changed the course of human history.

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