My Last Year in R&D: The Hoover Files, Fiber Optics, Supertenacity, and Other Artifacts

I BARELY PICKED MY HEAD UP FROM THE PILES OF TECHNICAL proposals on my desk during the winter months of
1961. The work didn’t even stop for the Christmas holiday, when most of Washington likes to take a break and head for the West Virginia mountains or the Maryland countryside. I was traveling a lot during the final months of 1961, seeing weapons undergo testing at proving grounds around the country, meeting with university researchers on such diverse items as the preservation of food or the conversion of spent atomic pile material into weapons, and developing intelligence reports for General Trudeau on the kinds of technologies that might shape weapons development into the next decade.

With my other eye, I was keeping a look out for any reports going to the Air Intelligence Command about UFO sightings that I thought Army Intelligence should be thinking about. The AIC was the next step in classification from the Project Blue Book people. Its job, besides the obvious task of moving any urgent UFO reports up the ladder of secrecy to the next levels where they would disappear behind the veil of camouflage, was to classify the type of event or incident the sighting seemed to indicate.


Usually that meant separating real aircraft sightings that needed to be investigated for pure military intelligence purposes from either true UFO sightings that needed to be processed by whatever elements of the original working group were on watch or false sightings that needed to be sent back down to Blue Book to be debunked. The AIC loved it when it had actual false sightings it could send back: an obvious meteorite that they could confirm, some visual anomaly having to do with an alignment of planets, or, best of all, a couple of clowns somewhere that decided to pull a Halloween prank and scare the locals.


There were guys running around wheat fields with snowshoes or submitting photos of flying frozen pie tins to the local papers. Then the folks at Blue Book could release the story to the press, and everybody patted themselves on the back for the job they were all doing. Life could be fun in the early 1960s, especially if you didn’t know the truth.

Moving into 1962, Army Intelligence was lit up with rumors about potential threats coming in from all over the place. The anti-Castro Cubans were mad about the President’s refusal to support the Bay of Pigs invasion and were looking for revenge; Castro was mad about the Bay of Pigs invasion and was looking to get back at us; Khrushchev was still furious about the U2 and the Bay of Pigs and thinking Kennedy was a pushover, would soon jump on an opportunity to force us into some humiliating compromise.


The Russians were on the verge of sending manned spacecraft into extended orbital flights and robot probes out to explore Venus. We were way behind in the space race and none of the services had the budget or the ability to get us back into the fight. NASA was telling the President they would have to dig in, develop the technology base, and, by the middle of the decade, put on a show for the whole world. But now, as the year turned, it was all silent running until we could put something up we could brag about.

The army was making ominous noises about events in Southeast Asia. The more the army pushed to get troops on the ground, the more the Kennedy administration refused to get involved. The army was telling the President we would eventually be sucked into a war we could not win and the events would control us instead of our controlling them. Later that same year, I would be offered the job of director of intelligence for the Army Special Forces units already operating in the Southeast Asian theater.


At about the same time the army said it was going to name Gen. Arthur Trudeau as the commander of all U.S. forces in South Vietnam. As our names were being circulated, General Trudeau confided to me that he doubted we would get the jobs. And if we did, he said, it would be a toss-up as to who would be the most unhappy, the Vietcong or the U.S. Army.

“If they send us over there, Phil, “ he said after one of our morning briefings, “one of two things will happen. Either we’ll both get court martialed or we’ll win the damn war. Either way the army’s not going to like the way we do business. “

As usual, General Trudeau was right. Before the end of 1962 and right about the time the old man was making up his mind whether to retire or not, his name was vetoed as the commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam and I was told to stay at my desk. The handwriting was on the wall: Vietnam was going to be a political war run by the disinformation specialists at the CIA and fought under a cloud of unknowing. Unfortunately, history proved us to be correct. By the time Richard Nixon surrendered to the Chinese and we crawled out of Southeast Asia a few years later, we would learn, I hope for the last time, what it was like to be humiliated on the battlefield and then eviscerated at the negotiating table.

The new year brought J. Edgar Hoover over to the Pentagon. The FBI director was growing increasingly anxious at all the Roswell stories circulating like ice cold currents deep under the ocean throughout NASA and the civilian intelligence agencies. Somebody was conspiring about something, and that meant the FBI should get involved, especially if the CIA was messing around in domestic issues. Hoover didn’t like the CIA and he especially didn’t like the cozy relationship he thought President Kennedy had with the CIA because he believed his boss, the President’s brother, was keeping him on a short leash when it came to taking on the agency about territorial issues.


Hoover knew, but didn’t believe, that after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy had become very suspicious of the intelligence information he was getting from the CIA. By the end of 1962, the President would learn from his own brother, who would learn from me, just how deliberately flawed the information coming out of the CIA was. And I would also learn, when I worked for Senator Russell on the Warren Commission in 1964, how that had sealed his fate.

But in 1962, still near the height of his power, J. Edgar Hoover was as territorial as any lifetime bureaucrat in Washington could be. And when somebody stepped on his toes, or when he thought someone had stepped on his toes, he kept kicking them until the guy was dead. Even his own agents knew what it was like to get on his bad side. I was as territorial in my own way as the FBI director was in his, and during my years at the White House under President Eisenhower, we had established a professional relationship. If he needed to know something that bore on some KGB agent nosing around the government, I helped him out. If I needed to find something out on the qt. about somebody I needed to take out of the bureaucratic loop, he would tell me what he knew. We never established any formal relationships in the 1950s, but we let each know who we thought the bad guys were.

In the 1950s, Hoover got interested in the rumors about Roswell because anything the CIA got their teeth into made him nervous. If it were only the military running a cover-up, he could live with that, although he thought the military never should have run the OSS during World War II. But once he suspected the CIA was part of the Roswell story, he wanted in. But in my years on the White House staff, there wasn’t much I could tell him. It wouldn’t be until 1961 that I got my hands on what really happened at Roswell, and then I didn’t have to contact him. He called me.

We found we could help each other. Besides being territorial, J. Edgar Hoover was an information fanatic. If there was a bit of information floating around, whether it was rumor or truth, Hoover was obsessive about putting it into his files. Information was such a valuable commodity to him, he was willing to trade for it with anybody in government he trusted. I wanted information, too. I was going out to meetings with scientists and university researchers whose loyalties I couldn’t verify. I had to be very circumspect about the technological information I was delivering, and many times I needed to know whether a particular chemist or physicist had ever been suspected of dealing with the Communists or, worse, was on the payroll of the CIA.

In retrospect I can see how all this smacks of the thinking of Senator Joe McCarthy, but I was at the White House during the army McCarthy hearings and I can tell you straight out that Joe McCarthy - unwittingly - was the best friend the Communists ever had in government. Single handedly, Senator McCarthy helped give respectability to a bunch of people who would never have had it otherwise. He turned behaving in contempt of Congress into a heroic act by his very tactics, and the Communists in government were laughing at the free rein he gave them. All they had to do was provide him with a human sacrifice every now and then, someone completely unimportant or actually innocent of any wrong doing, and McCarthy pilloried them on television. But when he turned against the US. Army, he crossed into my territory and we had to shut him down.

The Communists used McCarthy to give them good press and open up an area where they could work while the anti-Communists were made to look like fools. I told this to Robert Kennedy, who as a young lawyer had been a member of Roy Cohn’s investigative staff working for the McCarthy subcommittee and who had learned firsthand what it was like to be completely misled into self destructive behavior. It was a mistake, he confided to me, that he would never make again. Unfortunately, his brother’s enemies were his own, and he was misled into thinking that being president would allow him to settle the score.

But in January of 1962 all that was on my mind was reestablishing a relationship with J. Edgar Hoover so that I could pursue my agenda while keeping a lookout for who might be dangerous out there in the academic community. Now I had something to bargain with for the information I wanted. Not only did I have the bits and pieces of the Roswell story that I knew Hoover wanted, I also had information about the domestic activities of the CIA. Hoover was more than interested in sharing information, and we continued to talk right through 1962 until I left the army and went over to Senator Thurmond’s staff.


Our relationship continued right through1963. And in 1964, when I was an investigator for Senator Russell on the Warren Commission and Hoover was pursuing his own independent investigation into the President’s assassination, he and I could only stare at one another again on either side of the abyss of that crime. Stacked up against the enormity of what had happened, Hoover and I both understood that there are some battles you cannot win. So you leave them alone so you can fight another day.

I’m not sure whether J. Edgar Hoover ever really believed that the Roswell story was true, an absolute conspiracy to cover up something else, or just a delusion that became mass hysteria out there in the desert. There were so many details buried in army memos and maintained under layers of cover stories fabricated by military intelligence experts that he couldn’t possibly know the truth. But like the good cop that he was, he took information wherever he could find it and kept on searching for something that made sense.


If the army saw a threat to our society, then Hoover thought there was a threat. And whenever he could follow up a report of a sighting with a very discreet appearance by a pair of FBI agents to interview the witnesses and get away with it, he did. He was more than willing to share that information with me, and that was how I found out about some of the unpublicized cattle mutilation stories in the early 1960s.

My J. Edgar Hoover connection was important to me as I began my work in the early weeks of 1962 because the level of research into the types of projects we were developing became very intense. The rumors of General Trudeau’s appointment to the Southeast Asia command and my selection as intelligence director for the Green Berets in Southeast Asia, as vague and unconfirmed as they were, set a deadline for the general and me to push our projects forward because we knew we had only a year or so left on our tenure at R&D.


So when the FBI director and I would talk, I had questions ready to ask. No information we ever shared was in writing, and any notes that I took from the conversations we had I later destroyed after committing them to memory or taking action on the things he said. Even to this day, although FBI agents have contacted me about records supposedly still left in the old files, I don’t know what notes the FBI director took about our conversations and what specific actions he ever took. Because we trusted each other and remained in contact once every six months or so even after I left government service, I never followed up on anything I said and never asked for any verification of information in the files. I think Hoover appreciated that.

By February of 1962 I had lined my nut file projects up for an end run that would take me to the end of the year and either South Vietnam or retirement. The first folder on the desktop was the “glass filaments. “

Fiber Optics
Members of the retrieval team who foraged around inside the spacecraft on the morning of the discovery told Colonel Blanchard back at the 509th that they were amazed they couldn’t find any conventional wiring.

Where were the electrical connections? they asked, because obviously the vehicle had electronics. They didn’t understand the function of the printed circuit wafers they found, but, even more important, they were completely mystified by the single glass filaments that ran through the panels of the ship. At first, some of the scientists thought that they comprised the missing wiring that also had the engineers so confused as they packed the craft for shipping. Maybe they were part of the wiring harness that was broken in the crash. But these filaments had a strange property to them.

The wire harness seemed to have broken loose from a control panel and was separated into twelve frayed filaments that looked something like quartz. When, back at the 509th’s hangar, officers from the retrieval team applied light to one end of the filament, the other end emitted a specific color. Different filaments emitted different colors. The fibers - in reality glass crystal tubes - led to a type of junction box where the fibers separated and went to different parts of the control panel that seemed to acknowledge electrically the different color pulsing through the tube.


Since the engineers evaluating the material at Roswell knew that each color of light had its own specific wavelength, they guessed that the frequency of the light wave activated a specific component of the spacecraft’s control panel. But beyond that, the engineers and scientists were baffled. They couldn’t even determine the spacecraft’s power source, let alone what generated the power for the light tubes. And, the most amazing thing of all was that the filaments not only were flexible but still emitted light even when they were bent back and forth like a paper clip.


How could light be made to bend? the engineers wondered. This was one of the physical mysteries of the Roswell craft that stayed hidden through the 1950s until one of the Signal Corps liaisons, who routinely briefed General Trudeau on the kinds of developments the Signal Corps was looking for, told us about experiments in optical fibers going on at Bell Labs.

The technology was still very new, Hans Kohler told me during a private briefing in early 1962, but the promise of using light as a carrier of all kinds of signals through single filament glass strands was holding great promise. He explained that the premise of optical fibers was to have a filament of glass so fine and free of any impurities that nothing would impede the light beam moving along the center of the shaft. You also had to have a powerful light source at one end, he explained, to generate the signal, and I thought of the successful ruby laser that had been tested at Columbia University. I knew the EBEs had integrated the two technologies for their glass cable transmission inside the spacecraft.

“But what makes the light bend?” I asked Professor Kohler, still incredulous that the aliens seem to have been able to defy one of our own laws of physics. “Is it some kind of an illusion?”
“It’s not a trick at all, “ the scientist explained. “It only looks like an illusion because the fibers are so fine, you can’t see the different layers without a microscope. “

He showed me, when I gave him the broken pieces of filament that I still had in my nut file, that each strand, which looked like one solid piece of material enclosing the circumference of a tiny tube, was actually double layered. When you looked down the center of the shaft you could see that around the outside of the filament was another layer of glass. Dr. Kohler explained that the individual light rays are reflected back toward the center by the layer of glass around the outside of the fiber so that the light can’t escape. By running the glass fibers around corners and, in the case of the Roswell spacecraft, through the interior walls of the ship, the aliens were able to bend light and focus it just like you can direct the flow of water through a supply pipe. I’d never seen anything like that before in my life.

Kohler explained that, just like lasers, the light can be made to carry any sort of signal : light, sound, and even digital information.

“There’s no resistance to the signal, “ he explained. “And you can fit more information on to the light beam. “
I asked him how the EBEs might have used this type of technology. He suggested that all ship’s communication, visual images, telemetry, and any amplified signals that the vehicles sent or received from other craft or from bases on the moon or on earth would use these glass fiber cables.
“They seem to have an enormous capacity for carrying any kind of load, “ he suggested. “And if a laser can amplify the signal, in their most refined form, these cables can carry a multiplicity of signals at the same time. “

I was more than impressed. Even before asking him about the specific types of applications these might have for the army, I could see how they could make battlefield communications more secure because the signals would be stronger and less vulnerable to interference. Then Professor Kohler began suggesting the uses of these fibers to carry visual images photographed in tiny cameras from the weapons themselves to controlling devices at the launcher.

“Imagine, “ he said, “being able to fire a missile and actually see through the missile’s eye where it’s going. Imagine being able to lock onto a target visually and even as it tries to evade the missile, you can see it and make final adjustments. “

And Kohler went on to describe the potential of how fiberoptics based sensors could someday keep track of enemy movements on the ground, carry data heavy visual signals from surveillance satellites, and pack very complicated multichannel communications systems into small spaces.

“The whole space program is dependent upon carrying data, voice, and image, “he said. “But now, it takes too much space to store all the relays and switches and there’s too much impedance to the signal. It limits what we can do on a mission. But imagine if we could adapt this technology to our own uses. “

Then he looked me very squarely in the eye and said the very thing that I was thinking.

“You know this is their technology. It’s part of what enables them to have exploration missions. If it became our technology, too, we’d be able to, maybe we could keep up with them a little better. “

Then he asked me for the army’s commitment. He explained that some of our research laboratories were already looking into the properties of glass as a signal conductor and this would not have to be research that was started from complete scratch. Those kinds of start ups gave us concern at R&D because unless we covered them up completely, it would look like there was a complete break in a technological path. How do you explain that? But if there’s research already going on, no matter how basic, then just showing someone at the company one of these pieces of technology could give them all they need to reverse engineer it so that it became our technology. But we’d have to support it as part of an arms development research contract if the company didn’t already have a budget. This is what I wanted to do with this glass filament technology.

“Where is the best research on optical fibers being done?” I asked him.
“Bell Labs, “ he answered. “It’ll take another thirty years to develop it, but one day most of the telephone traffic will be carried on fiberoptic cable. “

Army R&D had contacts at Bell just like other contractors we worked with, so I wrote a short memo and proposal to General Trudeau on the potential of optical fibers for a range of products that Professor Kohler and I discussed. I described the properties of what had been previously called a wiring harness, explained how it carried laser signals, and, most importantly, how these fibers actually bent a stream of light around a corner and conducted it the same way a wire conducts an electrical current. Imagine conducting a beam of high intensity single frequency light the same way you’d run a water line to a new bathroom, I wrote. Imagine the power and flexibility it provided the EBEs, especially when they used the light signal as a carrier for other coded information.

This would enable the military to recreate its entire communications infrastructure and allow our new surveillance satellites to feed find store potential targeting information right into frontline command and control installations. The navy would be able to see the deployment of an entire enemy fleet, the air force could look down on approaching enemy squadrons and target them from above even if our planes were still on the ground, and for the army it would give us an undreamed of strategic advantage. We could survey an entire battlefield, track the movements of troops from small patrols to entire divisions, and plot the deployments of tanks, artillery, and helicopters at the same time.


The value of fiberoptic communication to the military would be immeasurable. And, I added, I was almost certain that a development push from the army to facilitate research on the complete reengineering of our country’s already antiquated telephone system would not be seen by any company as an unwarranted intrusion. I didn’t have to wait long for the general’s response.

“Do it, “ he ordered. “And get this under way fast. I’ll get you all the development allocation you need. Tell them that. “ And before the end of that week, I had an appointment with a systems researcher at the Western Electric research facility outside of Princeton, New Jersey, right down the road from the Institute for Advanced Study. I told him it came out of foreign technology, something that the intelligence people picked up from new weapons the East Germans were developing but thought we could use.
“If what you think you have, “ he said over the phone, “is that interesting and shows us where our research is going, we’d be silly not to lend you an ear for an afternoon. “
“I’ll need less than an afternoon to show you what I got, “ I said. Then I packed my Roswell field reports into my briefcase, got myself an airline ticket for a flight to Newark Airport, and I was on my way.

Super-tenacity Fibers
Even before the 1960s, when I was, still on the National Security staff, the army had begun to look for fibers for flak jackets, shrapnel proof body armor, even parachutes, and a protective skin for other military items. Silk had always been the material of choice for parachutes because it was light, yet had an incredible tensile strength that allowed it to stretch, keep shape, and yet withstand tremendous forces. Whether the army’s search for what they called a “tenacity fiber” was prompted purely by its need to find better protection for its troops or because of what the retrieval team found at Roswell, I do not know. I suspect, however, that it was the discovery at the crash site that began the army’s search.

Among the items in my Roswell file that we retained from the retrieval were strands of a fiber that even razors couldn’t cut through. When I looked at it under a magnifying glass, its dull grayness and almost matte finish belied the almost supernatural properties of this fiber. You could stretch it, twist it around objects, and subject it to a level of torque that would rend any other fiber, but this held up. Then, when you released the tension, it snapped back to its original length without any loss of tension in its original form. It reminded me of the filaments in a spiderweb. We became very interested in this material and began to study a variety of technologies, including spider silks because they, alone in nature, exhibit natural super tenacity properties.

The spiders’ spinning of its silk begins in its abdominal glands as a protein that the spider extrudes through a narrow tube that forces all the molecules to align in the same direction, turning the protein into a rod like, very long, single thread with a structure not unlike a crystal. The extrusion process not only aligns the protein molecules, the molecules are very compressed, occupying much less space than conventionally sized molecules. This combination of lengthwise aligned and super compressed molecules gives this thread an incredible tenacity and the ability to stretch under enormous pressure while retaining its tensile strength and integrity. A single strand of this spider’s silk thread would have to be stretched nearly fifty miles before breaking and if stretched around the entire globe, it would weigh only fifteen ounces.

Clearly, when the scientists at Roswell saw how this fiber - not cloth, not silk, but something like a ceramic - had encased the ship and formed the outer skin layer of the EBEs, they realized it was a very promising avenue for research. When I examined the material and recognized its similarity to spider thread, I realized that a key to producing this commercially would be to synthesize the protein and find a way to simulate the extrusion process. General Trudeau encouraged me to start contacting plastics and ceramics manufacturers, especially Monsanto and Dow, to find out who was doing research on super-tenacity materials, especially at university laboratories. My quick poll paid off.

I not only discovered that Monsanto was looking for a way to develop a mass production process for a simulated spider silk, I also learned that they were already working with the army. Army researchers from the Medical Corps were trying to replicate the chemistry of the spider gene to produce the silk manufacturing protein. Years later, after I’d left the army, researchers at the University of Wyoming and Dow Corning also began experiments on cloning the silk manufacturing gene and developing a process to extrude the silk fibers into a usable substance that could be fabricated into a cloth.

Our research and development liaison in the Medical Corps told me that the replication of a super-tenacity fiber was still years away back in 1962, but that any help from Foreign Technology that we could give the Medical Corps would find its way to the companies they were working with and probably wouldn’t require a separate R&D budget. The development funding through U.S. government medical and biological research grants was more than adequate, the Medical Corps officer told me, to finance the research unless we needed to develop an emergency crash program. But I still remained fascinated by the prospect that something similar to a web spinner had spun the strands of super-tenacity fabric around the spaceship. I knew that whatever that secret was, amalgamating a skin out of some sort of fabric or ceramic around our aircraft would give them the protection that the Roswell craft had and still be relatively lightweight.

Again, I didn’t find out about it until much later, but research into that very type of fabrication was already under way by a scientist who would, years later, win a Nobel Prize. At a meeting of the American Physical Society three years before, Dr. Richard Feynman gave a theoretical speculative assessment of the possibilities of creating substances whose molecular structure was so condensed that the resulting material might have radically different properties from the non-compressed version of the same material. For example, Feynman suggested, if scientists could create material in which the molecular structures were not only compressed but arranged differently from conventional molecular structures, the scientists might be able to alter the physical properties of the substance to suit specific applications.

This seemed like brand new stuff to the American Physical Society. In reality, though, compressed molecular structures were one of the discoveries that had been made by some of the original scientific analytical groups both at Alamogordo right after the Roswell crash and at the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, which took delivery of the material. As a young atomic physicist, Richard Feynman was a colleague of many of the postwar atomic specialists who were in the army’s and then the air force’s guided missile program as well as the nuclear weapons program in the 1950s.


Although I never saw any memos to this effect, Feynman was reported to have been in contact with members of the Alamogordo group of the Air Materiel Command and knew about some of the finds at the Roswell crash site. Whether these discoveries suggested theories to him about the potential properties of compressed molecular structures or whether his ideas were also extensions of his theories about the quantum mechanics behavior of electrons, for which he won the Nobel Prize, I don’t know. But Dr. Feynman’s theories about compressed molecular structures dove tailed with the army efforts to replicate the super-tenacity fiber composition and extrusion processes. By the middle of the 1960s work was under way not only at large industrial ceramics and chemical companies in the United States but in university research laboratories here, and in Europe, Asia, and India.

With my questions about who was conducting research into super-tenacity fibers answered and learning where that research was taking place, I could turn my attention to other applications of the technology to see whether the army could help move the development along faster or whether any collateral development was possible to create products in advance of the super-tenacity fibers. Our scientists told us that one way to simulate the effect of super-tenacity was in the cross alignment of composite layers of fabric. This idea was the premise for the army’s search for a type of body armor that would protect against the skin piercing injuries of explosive shrapnel and rounds fired from guns.

“Now this won’t protect you against contusions, “ General Trudeau told me after a meeting with Army Medical Corps researchers at Walter Reed. “And the concussive shock from an impact will still be strong enough to kill anybody, but at least it’s supposed to keep the round from tearing through your body. “

I thought about the many blunt trauma wounds you see in a battle and could imagine the impact a large round would leave even if it couldn’t penetrate the skin. But through the general’s impetus and the contacts he set up for me at Du Pont and Monsanto, we aggressively pursued the research into the development of a cross aligned material for bulletproof vests. I hand carried the field descriptions of the fabric found at Roswell to my meetings at these Companies and showed the actual fabric to scientists who visited us in Washington.


This was not an item we wanted to risk carrying around the country. By 1965, Du Pont had announced the creation of the Kevlar fabric that, by 1973, was brought to market as the Kevlar bulletproof vest that’s in common use today in the armed Services and law enforcement agencies. I don’t know how many thousands of lives have been saved, but every time I hear of a police officer whose Kevlar vest protected him from a fatal chest or back wound, I think back to those days when we were just beginning to consider the value of cross aligned layers of super-tenacity material and am thankful that our office played a part in the product’s development.

Our search for supertenacity materials also resulted in the development of composite plastics and ceramics that with stood heat and the pressures of high speed air maneuvers and were also invisible to radar. The cross stitched super-tenacity fibers on the skin of the Roswell vehicle, which I believe had been spun on, also became an impetus for an entirely new generation of attack and strategic aircraft as well as composite materials for future designs of attack helicopters.

One of the great rumors that floated around for years after the Roswell story became public with the testimony of retired Army Air Force major Jesse Marcel before he died was that Stealth technology aircraft were the result of what we learned at Roswell. That is true, but it was not a direct transfer of technology. Army Intelligence knew that under certain conditions the EBE spacecraft had the ability to hide their radar signature, but we didn’t know how they did it. We also had pieces of the Roswell spacecraft’s skin, which was a composite of super-tenacity molecular aligned fibers.


As far as I know, we’ve still not managed to recreate the exact process to manufacture this composite, just like we’ve not been able to duplicate the electromagnetic drive and navigation system that enabled the Roswell vehicle to fly even though we have that vehicle and others at either Norton, Edwards, and Nellis Air Force bases. But through the study of how this material worked and what its properties are, we’ve replicated composites and rolled an entirely new generation of aircraft off the assembly line.

Although the American public first heard about the existence of a Stealth technology in President Jimmy Carter’s campaign against President Ford in 1976, we didn’t see the Stealth in action until the air attacks on Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. There, the Stealth fighter, completely invisible to Iraqi radar, launched the first high risk assaults on the Iraqi air force air defense system and operated with almost complete impunity. Invisible to radar, invisible to heat seeking missiles, striking out of the night sky like demons, the Stealth fighters, with their flying wing almost crescent shaped, look uncannily like the space vehicle that crashed into the arroyo outside of Roswell.


But appearances aside, the composite skin of the Stealth that helps make it invisible to almost all forms of detection was inspired by the Army R&D research into the skin of the Roswell aircraft that we sectioned apart for distribution to laboratories around the country.


Depleted Uranium Invisible Artillery Shells
For the air force, Stealth technology meant that aircraft could approach a target invisible to radar and maintain that advantage throughout the mission. For the army, Stealth technology for its helicopters provides an incredible advantage in mounting search and destroy, Special Forces recon, or counter insurgency missions deep into enemy territory. But the possibility of a Stealth artillery shell, which we conceived of at R&D in 1962, would have allowed us something armies have sought ever since the first deployment of artillery by a Western European army at Henry V’s victory at Agincourt in the early fifteenth century.


Certainly Napoleon would have wanted this ability when he deployed his artillery against the British line at Waterloo. So would the Germans in World War I when their artillery pounded the Allied forces hunkered down in their trenches and again at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 when those of us stationed in Rome could only pray that our boys could hang on until the clouds broke and our bombers could hit the German emplacements.

In all artillery battles, once a shell is fired, it can be tracked by an observer back to its source and then return fire can be directed against whoever is firing. But as the range of artillery increased and we found ways to camouflage guns, we became proficient in hiding artillery until the advent of battlefield radar, which allows the trajectory of shells to be tracked back to their source. But imagine if the shell were composed of a material that rendered it invisible to radar? That was the possibility we proposed to General Trudeau: an invisible artillery shell, I suggested to him in his office one morning as we were designing the plan for research and development of composite materials.


On the night battlefield of the future you could deploy weapons that were invisible even to radar tracking planes flying over head behind the lines. Shells would start falling, and the enemy wouldn’t know where they were coming from until after we had the advantage of five or more unanswered salvos. By then, and with the advantage of surprise, the damage might well be done. If we were using mechanized artillery, we could set up positions, fire a series of quick salvos, redeploy, and set up again.

The secret lay not just in the same Stealth aircraft technology but also in the development of a Stealth ceramic that could withstand tremendous explosive barrel pressures and still maintain an integrity through the arc of its trajectory. The search for just such a molecularly aligned composite ceramic was inspired by the composite material of the Roswell spacecraft. In analysis after analysis, the army tried to determine how the extraterrestrials fabricated the material that formed the hull of the spacecraft but was unable to do so.


The search for the kind of molecularly aligned composite began in the1950s even before General Trudeau took command of R&D, continued during my tenure at Foreign Technology when the early “Stealth” experimentation began at Lockheed that resulted in the F117 fighter and Stealth bomber, and continues right through to today.

The general was also more than interested in the kinds of warheads we would propose for just such a shell, a warhead that did come into use in 1961 and was successfully deployed during the Gulf War. And we had a suggestion for a round that we thought could change the nature of the kinds of battles we projected we’d be fighting against the Warsaw Pact forces, a warhead fabricated out of depleted uranium. This was a way to utilize the stockpile of uranium we foresaw we’d have as a result of spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors, reactors powering U.S. Navy vessels, and the nuclear reactors the army was developing for its own bases and for delivery to bases overseas.

Depleted uranium was a dense, heavy metal, so dense in fact that conventional armament was no match for a high speed round tipped with it. Its ability to penetrate even the toughest of tank armor and detonate once it was inside the enemy vehicle meant that a single round fired from one of our own tanks equipped with a laser range finder would disable, if not completely destroy, an enemy tank. Depleted uranium would give us a decided advantage on a European battlefield on which we knew we’d be outnumbered two or three to one by the Warsaw Pact or in China where sheer numbers alone would mean that either we’d be overwhelmed or we’d have to resort to nuclear weapons. The depleted uranium shell kept us from having to go nuclear.

Privately, I suggested to General Trudeau that depleted uranium also fulfilled our hidden agenda. It was another weapon in a potential arsenal we were building against hostile extraterrestrials. If depleted uranium could penetrate armor, might the heaviness of the element enable it to penetrate the composite skin of the spacecraft, especially if the spacecraft were on the ground? I suggested that it certainly merited development at the nearby Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, and if it proved worthwhile, it was a weapon we should deploy.

Even though the composite ceramic Stealth round is still an elusive dream in weapons development, the depleted uranium tipped war head saw action in the Gulf War, where it didn’t just disable the tanks of the Iraqi Republican Guard, it exploded them into pieces. Fired from the laser range finder equipped Abrams tanks, TOW missile launchers, or even from Hedgehog infantry support aircraft, the depleted uranium tipped warheads wreaked havoc in the Gulf. They were one of the great weapons development successes of Army R&D that came out of what we learned from the Roswell crash.

HARP - The High-Altitude Research Project
HARP was another project whose need for research and development was suggested to us by the challenge posed by flying saucers. They could out fly our own aircraft, we had no guided missiles that could bring them down, and we didn’t have any guns that could shoot them down. We were also exploring weapons systems that had a double or triple use, and HARP, or “the big gun, “ was one such system. Essentially, Project HARP was the brainchild of Canadian gunnery expert and scientist Dr. Gerald Bull. Bull had studied the threat posed by the German “Big Bertha” in World War I and the Nazi V3 supergun toward the end of World War II. He realized that long range, high powered artillery was not only a practical solution to launching heavy payload shells, it was very affordable once the initial research and development phase was completed.


Mass produced big guns and their ordinance, assembled in stages right on the site, could provide enormous firepower well back from the front lines to any army. They would become a strategic weapon to rain nuclear destruction down on enemy population centers or military staging areas.

Dr. Bull had also suggested that the gun could be retasked as a launch vehicle, blasting huge rounds into orbit, which could then be jettisoned, like the booster stage of a rocket, so the payload warhead could thrust itself into position. This would require a minimum amount of rocket fuel and could effectively push a string of satellites into orbit very quickly, almost like an artillery barrage. If the army needed to put special satellites into orbit in a hurry or, better still, explosive satellites that would pose a threat to orbiting extraterrestrial vehicles, the big gun was one method of accomplishing this mission.

There was still a third potential to the supergun. General Trudeau foresaw the ability of this weapon to launch rounds that could ultimately be placed into a lunar orbit. Especially if hostilities broke out between the United States and USSR or, as we expected, between Earth military forces and the extraterrestrials, we could re-supply a military moon base without having to rely on rocket launch facilities, which would demand long turn around times and be very vulnerable to attack. A camouflaged supergun, even a series of superguns, would allow us all the benefits of a field artillery or quick response antiaircraft unit, but with a piece that could launch payloads into space. It was this combination of capabilities that delighted General Trudeau because it enabled one R&D project to help create many different systems.

The United States, Canada, and the British military combined their joint expertise to find ways to develop Dr. Bull’s supergun with General Trudeau, I believe, becoming one of Bull’s staunchest supporters. But by the time military budget decisions had to be made to fund the weapon, all of the governments military establishments had become committed to the guided missile and rocket launched space vehicle rather than a supergun. While the weapon had some potential, the United States, UK, and Canada were too far along with their own missile programs to start up a completely new type of weapon. And in the end, they decided to end the research while still keeping close tabs on Bull’s efforts to sell his technology to other powers, especially governments in the Middle East.

Through the 1980s, Gerald Bull, whom I had met at a reception honoring General Trudeau in 1986, Entered into negotiations with the Israelis as well as with the Iraqis and perhaps even the Iranians. The decade long war between Saddam Hussein and Iran proved a fertile sales territory for weapons merchants in general, and particularly for Gerald Bull, who was courted by both sides. In the end, he cut his deal with the Iranians, testing experimental versions of a supergun and planning to build the monster weapon before the British intervened and seized shipments of gun barrel units before they were shipped out of the country. By this time, Dr. Bull may have become a liability to the Iraqis, as well as to the Israelis and to the United States as well, and was shot to death outside his apartment in Belgium before the outbreak of the Gulf War.

Like Jules Verne’s character Barbicane in From the Earth to the Moon, Bull had a vision of the potential of a long range artillery piece. Unlike Barbicane, he came very close to proving it a practical way of launching vehicles into space. The murder of Gerald Bull has never been solved, and whatever secrets he still possessed about the assembly of a gun to launch vehicles into space probably died with him in the hallway outside his apartment.

List of Omissions
As I worked through the stack of projects on my desk during the spring months of 1962, I found I was devoting more of my time to the Roswell file and less to some of the other projects under development. It was apparent to me that the treasure trove we’d retrieved from Roswell was beginning to pay off in ways that not even I thought would happen. There were so many army research projects under way, I told my boss, that were not foundering, but sputtering along that could benefit from something similar found in the Roswell wreckage it we could find the match between the two.


Night vision, lasers, and fiberoptic communication were obvious, I said to him, but I was sure there were other areas we could find just by looking at the problems posed by what we discovered from Roswell, not just retrieved from the wreckage.

“Make it specific, Phil, “ the general asked. “What do you mean?”
“If you just look at what we didn’t find at the crash site, “ I said. “That goes a long way to explaining the differences between what we are and what they are. It also shows us what we need to develop if we’re going to prepare for long periods of travel in space. “
“Can you make me a list?” the general asked. “There are a lot of ongoing research contracts out there that could benefit from a list of things we’d have to concern ourselves with if we’re going to be planning for space travel in the next fifty years. “

By the time our conversation was finished, General Trudeau had asked me to prepare not only a list of what were called the “omissions” at Roswell but a very brief report detailing the areas where I thought development needed to take place. So I assembled all the reports and information in the Roswell file and began looking for what was missing that I might expect to find at a space traveler’s crash site.

There was no mention in any of the reports of any food source or nutrient, and no one discovered any food preparation units or stored food on board the spacecraft, nor were there any refrigeration units for food preservation. There was no water on the ship either for drinking, washing, or flushing of waste, nor were there any waste or garbage disposal facilities. The Roswell field reports said that the retrieval team found something they thought was a first aid kit because it contained material that a doctor said was for bandaging purposes, but there were no medical facilities nor any medications. And finally, the army retrieval team said there were no rest facilities at all on board the ship; nothing that could be construed as a bunk or a bed.

From this available data the army assumed that this UFO was a reconnaissance craft and could quickly return to a larger or mothership where all of the missing items might be found. The other explanation Dr. Hermann Oberth came up with was that this was a time dimensional travel ship that didn’t traverse large distances in space. Rather, it “jumped” from one time space to another or from one dimension to another and instantly returned to its point of origin. But this was just Dr. Oberth’s speculation, and he would usually discount any of it the moment he believed I was taking it as fact.

I believed, however, that the EBEs didn’t require food or facilities for waste disposal because they were fabricated beings, just like robots or androids, who had been created specifically for space travel and the performance of specific tasks on the planets they visited. Just like our lunar rover in the 1970s, which was a robot, so these creatures had been programmed with specific tasks to perform and carried them out. Perhaps their programming could be updated or altered from a remote source, but they weren’t life forms that required ongoing sustenance. They were the perfect creatures for long voyages through space and for visiting other planets. Human beings, however, weren’t robots and did require sustenance. Therefore, it would be necessary to provide for long term sustenance and waste disposal needs if humans were going to travel long distances in space.

Other scientists from our R&D ad hoc brain trust suggested that, indeed, this could have only been a scout ship that either got caught in our tracking radars from the 509th or from Alamogordo or was hit by lightning in the fierce electrical storm that night. They believed that the ship was navigated by an electromagnetic propulsion system. Other scientists suggested that even before we could generate the necessary power to drive such a propulsion system, we would have to have developed some form of a nuclear powered ion drive first. As for the absence of food, scientists suggested that this would pose a major drawback for long term human space exploration. Thus, in my quick and dirty proposal for General Trudeau, I suggested that the army had to complete the development of at least two items that I knew had been in the R&D system for at least ten years: a food supply that could never spoil and didn’t require refrigeration and an atomic drive that could be assembled in space out of components as the power plant for an interplanetary space craft.

Irradiated Foods
The general read my notes a few days later, and seemed impressed. He knew from the memo I had left him the night before that I’d be ready to talk about my omissions list the next day, but he didn’t say anything to me right away Instead, he picked up the phone, dialed a number, told someone at the other end that he’d be right over, then looked up at me.

“Go get your hat, “ he said. “Meet me on the helipad. We’ve been invited to lunch. “

Ten minutes later after the general’s helicopter had picked us up, we circled the Pentagon once and were flown over to the Quarter master Center.

An officer who shall remain anonymous met us at the helipad. He saluted as we got off the chopper. “Thank you for joining us. “

He took us inside to a downstairs store room where he showed off shelves and shelves of all types of meat, fruit, and vegetables.

“Look at this pork, “ he said. “It’s been stored here unrefrigerated for months and it’s completely free of trichina worm. “ He held up a couple of loose eggs and a chicken breast. “Eggs, unrefrigerated, and chicken. Completely free of bacterium salmonella. And it’s the same for the seafood. “

He escorted us along the shelves of food and, almost like a salesman, presented the virtues of each of the items. The food was wrapped, but not vacuum sealed, in a clear cellophane to keep it free from dust and surface dirt, but it was not preserved in any manner that I could determine.

“Free of fungus or any spores, “ he said about the vegetables. “No mold or any insect infestations in the fruit, “ he said.

“And the milk, it’s been here on the shelf for over two years and it’s not even slightly sour. We’ve taken great steps to preserve food completely without salting, smoking, refrigeration, freezing, or even canning. “
“Does this answer one of your questions, Colonel?” General Trudeau asked as we looked at the stocks of food that seemed completely resistant to spoilage.

The commanding general of the Quartermaster Center joined us in the stockroom.

“Pick your lunch, gentlemen,“ he said and chose a thick steak for himself.

“I’m going to have this and, if you don’t mind, I’ll take the liberty of ordering up the same thing for you, General Trudeau, and you, too, Colonel. How about some potatoes and maybe some strawberries for dessert. All fresh, delicious, and harmless. “

Then he paused. “And completely bombarded with what some people would call lethal doses of radiation to destroy any bacteria or infestation. “

We were escorted upstairs to the commandant’s dining room, where we were joined by a number of other officers and civilian research and food technology experts who described the process of ionizing radiation to destroy the harmful bacteria while preserving the food without canning or smoking. The irradiation process was so complete that if the food were maintained in an antiseptic or dust free atmosphere, it wouldn’t be attacked and would remain uncontaminated. However, because the atmosphere was as dirty as any other atmosphere inside any other building, the food was wrapped in cellophane. Other foods were packaged in a clear plastic wrap and were displayed for visitors like us just as if they were on supermarket shelves.

“We first wanted to determine whether the whole concept of irradiated food was safe, “ one of the engineers explained. “So our first studies were made with food which was irradiated and then stored in the frozen area. We fed these foods to rats and noticed no harmful effects. Then we did the same thing except this time we increased the radiation to six mega rads and then froze the food. Again, no harmful effects. “

His presentation continued while we ate, accompanied by charts that showed how the sterilization rate was increased to try to find any harmful effects on rats. Then they tested the irradiated and then frozen food on human volunteers.

“But wait, “ I asked. “I still don’t understand why you irradiated the food and then froze it. “

The engineer was waiting for this question because he had his answer already prepared. He acted like he’d been asked it many times before.

“Because,“ he said, “we were testing only for harmful effects from the radiation, not for spoilage, not for taste, not even for harmful effects from the food itself even though we knew it had been sterilized and was tested completely free from bacteria when it was defrosted. What we needed to prove in field trials was the harmlessness to animals and humans of the irradiation process. “

Then he described the field trials to prove that irradiation preserved food stored at room temperature.

“We selected high spoilage foods, “ he said. “Like the meats, chicken, and especially the seafood. We also made composite foods like stews which we fed to rats and dogs along with straight meat and then straight tuna. We first irradiated a sample at three mega rads then another sample at six mega rads and tested the animals over a period of six months to see whether radiation became concentrated in any of their organs or bones.“ He paused, letting the dramatic effect of what he was going to say sink in while we were sinking our teeth into the irradiated foods that resulted from the years of experimentation throughout the 1950s.

“No toxicological effects whatsoever. And we were very thorough before we tested these foods on human volunteers. “
“What’s next?” I asked.
“We’re setting taste trials of favorite foods at Fort Lee, Virginia, to see how troops in the field respond to this. We think that before the end of the decade we’ll have a variety of Meals Ready to Eat for troops in the field who have no benefit of cooking facilities or refrigeration. “

General Trudeau looked across the table at me and I nodded. This was perfectly good food that was right up to any quality you’d care to measure.

“Gentlemen, “ General Trudeau said as he stood. As a three star general, he was the highest ranking officer in the room, and when he spoke everyone was silent. “My assistant believes that your work is of utmost importance to the U.S. Army, our nation, and the world, and will contribute to our travel in space. I am of the very same opinion. We are most impressed with your test results and want to help you expand your operation and speed up the testing process. The army needs what you’ve developed. In the next two weeks, submit to me your supplementary budget to expand your operation and I want it also included into next year’s budget. “

Then he turned to me, nodded, and we thanked the commanding general for lunch and walked out to General Trudeau’s helicopter.
“How about that, Phil?” he asked. “I think we checked off some of the items on your list right on the spot. “
The pilot helped the general into his seat and I got around on the other side.
“So what do you think?” he asked again.
“I think if we move any faster we’ll have the EBEs down here asking for some of our irradiated food, “ I said.

General Trudeau laughed as we whisked off the helipad and headed back for the short jump to the Pentagon.

“Now you have to get to work on finding out what you can about your atomic propulsion system. If NASA ever gets it into its mind to push ahead with building its space station, I’d like the military to have a power source that can keep us up there for a while. If we can get a surveillance window on our visitors, I want it sooner rather than later. “

And before the week was out, I was at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, again looking at the developments the army had made in the development of portable nuclear reactors.

Portable Atomics
A challenge posed to us directly by the army’s retrieval of the Roswell craft and our further discovery that the craft was not propelled by a conventional engine - either propeller, jet, or rocket - pressed upon us the critical realization that if we were to engage these extraterrestrial creatures in space we would need a propulsion system that gave us a capability for long distance travel similar to theirs. But we had no such system. The closest form of energy we had that did not rely on a constant supply of fuel was atomic power in a controlled, sustained reaction, and even that was far away from development. However, at the close of the war the army had operational control over atomic weapons because, under Gen.


Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, the army had established the bureaucracy that developed and deployed the atomic bomb.

So for army engineers, struggling to find out how the Roswell spacecraft was powered, atomic power was the easiest form of propulsion to seize upon, in part because it was the most immediate. However, by 1947, a struggle was already breaking out within the Truman administration over who would control nuclear power, a civilian commission or the military. As the nation was making the transition from wartime to peace time, the specter of a General Groves secretly dictating how and in what manifestation atomic power would be used frightened Truman’s advisers.


So in the end, President Truman made the decision to turn control of the nation’s nuclear program over to a civilian commission. Thus, by 1947, the army was getting out of running the nuclear power business, but that didn’t mean that research into the military applications of nuclear power plants stopped. We needed to develop nuclear reactors, not only to manufacture nuclear power propulsion systems for naval vessels and for on site installation of power generating stations, but to experiment with ways nuclear power could be made portable in space by assembling systems in orbit from component parts.


This would enable us to maintain long term outposts in space and even to power interplanetary vessels that could serve as a defensive force against any extraterrestrial hostile forces. If this sounds like science fiction, remember, it was 1947, and the nation had barely gotten out of World War II before the Cold War had begun. War, not peace, was on the mind of the military officers who were in charge of the Roswell retrieval and analysis of the wreckage.

The army, I discovered from the “Army Atomic Reactors” reports at Fort Belvoir, not only had a very sophisticated portable reactor program under way, but had already built one in cooperation with the air force for installation at the Sundance Radar Station six miles out of Sundance, Wyoming, early in 1962. This was a highly sophisticated piece of power generating apparatus that provided steam heat to the radar station, electrical power for the base, and a very precisely controlled separate power supply for the delicately calibrated radar equipment. But this wasn’t the first portable power plant, as most people thought it was.

The first portable nuclear reactor plant anywhere was for a research facility in Greenland, under the Arctic ice cap, designed for Camp Century, an Army Corps of Engineers project nine hundred miles from the North Pole. Ostensibly operated by the Army Polar Research and Development Center conducting experiments in the Arctic winter, Camp Century was also a vital observation post in an early warning system monitoring any Soviet activity at or near the North Pole and any activity related to UFO sightings or landings.

During the years when I was at the White House, the UFO working group had consistently pushed President Eisenhower to establish a string of formal listening posts - electronic pickets staffed by army and air force observers at the most remote parts of the planet - to report on any UFO activity. General Twining’s group had argued that if the EBEs had any plans to establish semipermanent Earth bases, it wouldn’t be in a populated area or an area where our military forces could monitor. It would be at the poles, in the middle of the most desolate surroundings they could find, or even underneath the ocean.


The polar caps seemed like the most obvious choices because during the 1950s we had no surveillance satellites that could spot alien activity from orbit, nor did we have a permanent presence at the two poles. It was thought that we wouldn’t be able to put any sophisticated devices at the poles, either, because doing so would require more power than we could transport. However, the army’s Nuclear Power Program, developed in the1950s at Fort Belvoir, provided us with the ability to install a nuclear powered base anywhere on the planet.

In 1958, work was started on the Camp Century power plant, which was to be constructed beneath the ice in Greenland. Initially this was supposed to be top secret because we didn’t want the Soviets to know what we were up to. Ultimately, however, the high security classification proved too unwieldy for the army because too many outside contractors were involved and the logistics, transportation to Thule, Greenland, then installation on skids beneath the ice pack created a cover story nightmare. So Army Intelligence decided to drop the security classification entirely and treat the entire plan as a scientific information gathering expedition by its polar research group.

Just like the whole camouflage operation that had protected the existence of the working group, Camp Century provided the perfect cover for testing out a procedure for constructing a prefabricated, prepackaged nuclear reactor under arduous conditions and flying it to its site for final assembly. It also provided the army with a means of testing the performance of the reactor and how it could be maintained at an utterly desolate location in the harshest climate on the planet.

The plant was the first of its kind. It had a completely modular construction that had separately packaged components for air coolers, heat exchangers, switch gear, and the turbine generator. The power plant also had a mechanism that used the recycled steam to melt the ice cap surface to provide the camp’s water supply. The entire construction was completed in only seventy seven days, and the camp remained in operation from October 1960 to August 1963, when the research mission completed its work. The entire operation was successfully taken apart and placed in storage in 1964, and the site of Camp Century was completely restored to its natural state.

I received reports about the camp’s operation during the later months of 1962 after General Trudeau had asked me about the feasibility of the army’s portable atomics program as a way to instigate research into a launchable atomics program for generating power in orbit. I was so enthusiastic about the success of our portable atomics and the way they provided the research platform for the subsequent development of mobile atomics that I urged the general to provide as much funding as R&D could to enable the Fort Belvoir Army Nuclear Power Program to construct and test as many mobile and portable power plants as possible.


Each power plant gave us a kind of a beachhead into remote areas of the world where the EBEs might have wanted to establish a presence because they believed they could go about it undetected. They were a kind of platform. Once we had demonstrated the ability to protect remote areas of the earth, we’d be in a better position to establish a presence in space.

The atomics program, which was in part a direct outgrowth of the challenge posed to us from our analysis of the Roswell craft, ultimately helped us develop portable atomic power plants, which are now used to power Earth satellites as well as naval vessels. It showed us that we could have portable atomic generators and gave the army a longer reach than anybody might have thought. Ultimately, it allowed us to maintain surveillance and staff remote listening posts. It also provided the basis for research into launching nuclear power facilities into space to become the power plants of new generations of interplanetary vehicles. The portable atomics program allowed us to experiment with ways we would develop atomic drives for our own space exploration vehicles, which, we believed, would enable us to establish military bases on the moon as well as on the planets near us in the solar system.

And from our successes with atomics, we turned our attention to the development of the weapons we could mount on surveillance satellites in orbit, weapons we developed directly from what we found in the flying saucer at Roswell.

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