The witnesses -> Roswell 1947 -> Homeclick!

Cette page en françaisCliquez!

Roswell 1947 - Documents on the witnesses

Joe Briley

(Joe BRILEY, Joe C. BRILEY, Joseph BRILEY, Joseph C. BRILEY, Joe Charles BRILEY, Joseph Charles BRILEY).

Joe Briley.

Please, before asking any question or sending any comment or criticism, read this.


Here is biography information I found on Joseph C. Briley from non-ufological sources:

Joe Charles Briley


Joe Charles Briley, 91, died peacefully in his home in Kerrville, on Dec. 8, 2008, attended by his devoted wife of 69 years, Nona Jean (Pugh). He was born in Mineral Wells, TX, on March 8, 1916, in a hotel owned and run by his late parents, Charles and Myrtle Edwards Dowell. His early experiences with farm work and oil field "roughneck" labor prompted him to dream of a loftier career -- he wanted to fly planes. His talents on the football field took him through high school, where, as a senior at Ranger, TX, High School he had an opportunity to play in the first Sun Bowl football game in El Paso, and subsequently led to football scholarships to Texarkana Junior College and then to the University of Arkansas, where he was to meet the love of his life, Nona Jean. In 1939, a recruiter for the newly formed United States Army Air Corp gave him the chance to fulfill his life's dream. Just short of graduation from the university, Joe jumped at the chance to enter flight training school, and he and his new bride embarked on a 22-year adventure that sent him to assignments throughout the United States and around the world. He was so successful as a new pilot, he was immediately assigned as a flying instructor at Kelly Field in San Antonio, a position that became even more critical with the outbreak of World War II. In September 1943, he was given command of one of the first B-29 squadrons formed and was assigned to combat action with the 20th Bomber Command operating from bases in China, Burma, and India. Returning from this mission, he was made Director of Training for the B-29 Flight Engineer School in Hondo, TX, until the end of the war. He then was assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Roswell, NM, participating in the Bikini bomb tests. He served in England from 1950 to 1953 with the 3rd Air Force and the SAC 7th Division, which allowed him and his family to witness the celebrations of the coronation of the young Queen Elizabeth and to visit many of the European countries. From there he became Chief of the Bomber Test Organization of the Air Proving Ground Command, Eglin Air Force Base, FL, which was responsible for conducting Suitability Tests on various Strategic and Tactical Bomber Weapons Systems and all transport and tanker aircraft purchased by the Air Force. This work culminated each year in a "Fire Power Demonstration," attended by dignitaries from all over the country. In 1958 he was assigned Director of Operations of the 314th Air Division in Osan, Korea, responsible for monitoring the USAF responsibilities to the Republic of Korea Air Force and maintaining the relationship between the American and United Nations ground forces. In 1959 he assumed command of Johnson Air Base, Japan, and in 1960 he was named commander of Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa. During his long military career, he was awarded numerous medals and honors, including the Air Medal and Commendation Medal. He retired from active duty in 1961, and returned to Texas, exploring new endeavors in the lumber industry, real estate and manufactured housing sales, until finally winding down to several years of "snowbirding," enjoying sunny Mexico winters and cool Oregon, Utah, and Canadian summers. He and Jean finally settled down in Kerrville in 1988. In addition to his parents, Joe was preceded in death by his brothers and their wives, Harold and Ruby Briley and Les and Irene Swafford, and one sister, Gertrude Swafford Jones, all of Odessa. Together with his wife, Jean, he is mourned by two sons and their wives, Don and Wanda Briley of Lufkin, and Bill and Kathy Briley of Waller, and two daughters, Barbara Trapp of Crosby, and Elizabeth Warner of Kerrville. He also leaves behind grandchildren and spouses, Davin and Carman Myers and Eric and Dasha Myers of Crosby; David Myers of Belton; Clint and Michelle Briley of Lufkin; Shea and Carlton Fisher of Jacksonville; Chris Kirk and Mikaela Mercer of Kerrville; Katera and Richard Rutledge and Brian Briley of California; Alisha and Michael Hyatt and Kris Briley of Waller, as well as 14 great-grandchildren, special niece, Nola Whirlow, and numerous other nieces and nephews. Memorial services will be held Friday, December 12, 2008, 10 a.m. at Grimes Funeral Chapels officiated by Rev. Frankie Enloe and with military honors provided by Lackland Air Force Honor Guard. Interment will be at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio at a later date. The family invites you to send condolences at by selecting the "Send Condolences" link. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Grimes Funeral Chapels of Kerrville.



There was no affidavit by Joe Briley.

Interviews and public statements:

There is apparently no public statement by Lt. Col. Joe Briley about the Roswell incident.

Investigators notes and comments:

Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt:

The authors that in July 1947, Joe Briley was a lieutenant colonel and assigned as the operations officer at the Roswell base. When asked about the Japanese balloon bombs [a.k.a. the "Fugo" balloons], he said "I never heard it mentioned. There were no rumors about it. It certainly wasn't talked about at the base, and if it had ever been suggested I would have heard about."

The authors say that Lieutenant-Colonel Joe C. Briley confirmed that colonel Blanchard's leave was just a "blind", when he was actually at the crash site.

The authors indicate this comes from interviews conducted by phone in October 1989, April 1990 and December 1990.


Kevin Randle:

First, we have the testimony of Lt. Col. Joseph Briley. (According to the unit history, Briley became the Operations Officer in the middle of July. Prior to that he had been a squadron commander.) Briley asserts Blanchard had gone to the crash site. Available information indicates that this visit was made on July 8 and that Blanchard's leave began on July 8. The leave was actually a cover for Blanchard's activities revolving around the crash.


[...] Colonel Joe Briley, who, in July 1947, was Blanchard's operations officer, said that Blanchard couldn't have cared less about a balloon, the answer most often suggested as the culprit in scattering the debris. While this is certainly not the most positive of statements, it does call into question the repeated Air Force excuse of a weather balloon.



Karl Pflock

This researcher says that Randle and Schmitt reported that then Lt. Col. Joe Briley told them he was "sure" Blanchard went to the crash site, although Briley denied "he [Who? Briley? Blanchard?] had any firsthand knowledge of the crash", having at the time been in command of the 509th Bomb Squadron rather than serving in group headquarters as he did later in the year.


The NICAP website:

Lt. Col. Joe Briley confirmed that Col. Blanchard's "leave" was just a "blind", when in actuality he was at the impact site.


US Air Force 1995 report - James McAndrews:

The following text by 1st Lt. James McAndrew, USAF, comes from a summary of the Air Force's findings on Project Mogul, the top secret project that was proposed by some researchers as the answer to the Roswell mystery. In appeared in the 1995 Air Force publication "The Roswell Report: Fact Versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert."

The full report is here as a PDF file on


On July 10, 1947, a newspaper article appeared in the Alamogordo Daily News displaying for the press the devices, neoprene balloons, and corner reflectors which had been misidentified as the "flying disc" two days earlier at Roswell AAF (Atch 11). The photographs and accompanying article quoted Maj Wilbur D. Pritchard, a Watson Laboratory Project Officer (not assigned to MOGUL) stationed at Alamogordo AAF. This article appeared to have been an attempt to deflect attention from the Top Secret MOGUL project by publicly displaying a portion of the equipment and offering misleading information. If there was a "cover story" involved in this incident, it is this article, not the actions or statements of Ramey.

The article in the Alamogordo Daily News stated that the balloons and radar targets had been used for the last fifteen months for the training of long-range radar personnel and the gathering of meteorological data. The article lists four officers -- Maj W.D. Pritchard, Lieut S.W. Seigel, Capt L.H. Dyvad, and Maj C.W. Mangum -- as being involved with the balloon project, which was false. Moore and Trakowski could not recall any of the officers in the photograph, with the exception of Dyvad, whom Moore identified as a pilot who coordinated radar activities. (43) Additionally, some of the details discussed (balloon sighting in Colorado, tracking by B-17s, recovery of equipment, launching balloons at 54 AM, and balloon altitudes of 30,000-40,000 feet) relate directly to the NYU balloon project, indicating that the four officers had detailed knowledge of MOGUL. (44) Moore's unorthodox technique of employing several balloons and several radar targets was shown in one of the photographs. Other techniques unique to Moore, [...]



Many of the claims surrounding the events of July 1947 could be neither proved nor disproved. Attempts were not made to investigate every allegation, but rather to start with what was known and work toward the unknown. To complicate the situation, events described here took place nearly 50 years ago and were highly classified. This Top Secret project appeared to have utilized the concept of compartmentalization very well. Interviews with individuals and review of documents of organizations revealed that the ultimate objective of the work, or even the name of the project, in many instances was not known. It was unlikely, therefore, that personnel from Roswell AAF, even though they possessed the appropriate clearances, would have known about project MOGUL. In fact, when the NYU/AMC group returned to Alamogordo in September, their first trip since the "incident" occurred, one of the first activities of the project scientists, Peoples and Crary, who were accompanied by Major Pritchard and Captain Dyvad, was to brief the commanding officer of Alamogordo AAF and the 509th Bomb Group Operations Officer, Lt Col Joseph Briley, on MOGUL. (48)

48. Combined Hist, 50th Bomb Grp and Roswell AAF, Sep 1-30, 1947, p. 79; Untranscribed journal of Albert P. Crary, p. 64.


Note: This shows that the idea that the Mogul people informed Joe Briley of the Mogul Project in September was published by the US Air Force in 1994.

However, the same source includes the transcript of a June 8, 1994, interview with Professor Charles B. Moore, who was involved in Project Mogul. The USAF interviewer recalls that a document indicates a visit of Roswell Army Air Base by "Mogul" people, and asks Moore - twice - if he knows the reason of this visit:

Q: I saw that you had a copy of the 509th Bomb Group history. In the 509 the Bomb Group history from September I saw a meeting where Dr. Peoples met with LTC Joe Briley, 830th the Bomb Squadron Commander, 509th, Air Group Roswell. Do you know why Dr. Peoples would meet with the squadron commander of a B-29 outfit?

A: Only if he wanted to get in to put a receiver on the base there. That would be my guess. We had a big operation. We went back to Alamagordo in September. We had our first 20 foot diameter General Mills balloons. We had a very successful set of balloon launches in Alamagordo in September of '47. My only guess is trying to have a down-wind receiving station.


Q: What about then Colonel Blanchard and General Ramey? Do you think they may have had any knowledge of what your ultimate purpose was?

A: I think not. I want to say something about Colonel J.D. Ryan. He was Chief of Staff of the Air Force later, but "Dr. Peoples, Murray Hackman, and First Lieutenant Thompson from Air Material Command, were out at the field to inspect Air Material Command installations and to confer with LTC Briley."

My note: "Skeptics" have suspected, suggested or even claimed that the visit of White Sands "Mogul" people to Roswell Air Force Base was to inform the base people about the Mogul project to prevent that their balloons would cause incident any other incident (See for example Guttierez and Fernandez, below.) - To many skeptics, the "Roswell incident" being caused by debris of Mogul project balloons.

This Air Force interview shows that it is unlikely that it is a proven fact that the purpose of this visit was to inform Roswell Air Force base about Mogul.

It appears that in this visit, Lieutenant Colonel Briley was met by the Mogul people. No source about Lt. Col. Briley indicates he ever heard of the Mogul project or ever was informed that the "crash" was called by balloons. One may expect that if the Mogul people informed him about Mogul in September 1947, he might have told about it later to the "pro-Roswell" investigators.

I also note, just as with many military people they could have interviewed, the US Air Force investigators of 1994 could have interviewed Lt. Col. Briley, but did not do it.

Gregory Guttierez:

Gregory Guttierez said that on July 11, 1990, Fred Whiting of the Fund for UFO Research had an interview with Walter Haut recorded in video, where it was said:

Whiting: Has Colonel Blanchard spoken of this incident after General Ramey's statement? For example, in a staff meeting?

Haut: During the staff meeting that followed, about a week later (I think they took place was every Monday), he made a comment about the agenda. It seems to me that after that, he said something like, "We really made a mistake with this story last week. In fact," he said, "the team that sent these balloons was on our grounds. They came from White Sands and measured the winds in the upper atmosphere, from east to west."

Of course, this revelation could not have taken place the week after the incident, because at that time Blanchard was on leave. However, in the "Calendar of Visitors and Executives" from 3 to 15 September 1947 (in "Joint History of the 509th Bomb Group and the Roswell Base, 1 to 30 September 1947"), there is this mention at the date of September 10: "Mr. Peoples, Mr. Hackman, and Lieutenant Thompson, of the Air Materiel Command, arrived at the base to inspect the facilities of this command and to discuss with Lieutenant-Colonel Briley."

James Peoples was the scientific leader of the Mogul project. Obviously, his visit to Roswell was intended to ensure that the activities of the Mogul / University of New York project, which had just been resumed in Alamogordo, would not generate further misunderstandings. Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Briley, bomber squadron commander in July 1947, was the operational officer of the 509th in September 1947. Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt introduced him as one of the witnesses whose statements support the assumption of the flying saucer crash.


Gilles Fernandez:

... In one of the few available periodicals, the Calendar of Visitors and Executives (Annex 4) of the Roswell base from 3 to 15 September 1947, mention is made on September 10, 1947:

"Mr. Peoples, Mr. Hackman, and Lieutenant Thompson, of the Air Materiel Command, arrived at the base to inspect the facilities of this Command and to meet with Colonel Briley."

Note: Gilles Fernandez explains that since Mr. Peoples was one of the Mogul project's scientific managers, the reason of the visit may have been to inform Roswell's base of the Mogul project to avoid further misunderstandings in the future.

... When NYU and AMC personnel returned to Alamogordo for the first time after the incident, one of their first activities did not involve "launching" balloons, but to inform the Roswell command and Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Briley from the Roswell base about Mogul. This mission was mainly accomplished by Peoples, a member of the Mogul project (September 10, Roswell, remember), accompanied by Major Pritchard, Captain Dyvad, Mr. Hackman (who also goes to Roswell on September 10 with Peoples) and Lieutenant Thompson.


Thomas J. Carey and Donald Schmitt:

These authors say that Lt. Col. Joseph Briley who was assigned as the operations officer and the headquarters at Roswell in 1947, mused that "Blanchard's leave was a blind. He was actually setting up a base of operation at the crash site north of town." "We have also been told by airmen and NCOs who were there that Blanchard clandestinely moved his office to the basement of one of the enlisted men's barracks on the base to get away from the press. He may also have checked in at the base guard house (a.k.a "the brig") for a time."

The authors say in the related footnote that this comes from personal interviews of Joseph Briley in 1992, 2002 and 2006.


Kevin Randle:

This researcher says that Lieutenant colonel Joe Briley, a squadron commander until the middle of July 1947 when he became the 509th Operation Officer, confirmed that William Blanchard's leave of the Roswell Army Air Field was a blind and that Blanchard had gone to the crash site. Briley said "I'm sure of it."

The related footnote says that Kevin Randle interviewed Joe Briley by phone on October 20, 1989.

Kevin Randle indicates that Briley said: "The story was changed and hushed up immediately... Frankly it was hushed up so quickly... and so completely that nothing was ever said about it."

The related footnote says this comes from telephone interviews with Kevin Randle on October 20, 1989 and April 9, 1990, and also Carey and Schmitt in "Witness to Roswell pp 88-89, and Pflock in "Inconvenient Facts" p. 249.

Randle says that the members of Col. Blanchard's staff reported with the single exception of Lt. Col. Robert Barrowclough that what was found in the incident was alien in nature.



# Joe Briley, operations officer for the 509th, told Randle that in July 1947 he was a squadron commander at that time, and he did know that Blanchard had gone out to the crash site. Briley said that most stories were "changed and hushed up immediately as soon as the people from Washington arrived.” Briley said that Blanchard, who had been a close friend, "was not stupid enough to call a weather balloon something else."


On his blog, Kevin Randle mentions that in July 1947, there were two base operations officers at Roswell, first was Lieutenant Colonel James Hopkins and second was Lieutenant Colonel Joe Briley.


Tim Printy:

Tim Printy argues that the idea that the Roswell Air Base knew all about what NYU was doing at Alamogordo [i.e. the Mogul Project] and therefore would not have mistaken the debris for a crashed "flying disc" is a myth.

He says he saw this myth numerous times and that Kevin Randle usually is the source of this information, based on 2 points, the point relevant to this file is that "The NYU team went to RAAF and talked to the base about their operations."

Printy says this is misleading, based on what Randle interprets about Moore's comments. The latter stated they tried to get on base but could not because of base security. Therefore, none of them managed to talk to any of the officers. Printy says it is hard to pinpoint when this happened, and that Moore told the USAF that they had to set up their receiver in a hotel in Roswell because of being turned away.

Printy says that some of the Mogul team did eventually make it into a meeting with Lt. Col. Briley, on September 10, 1947, as documented in the 509th unit history. So it was two months after the events in early July 1947 and there is no evidence to suggest that the team met with RAAF officers/personnel in a formal visit before this date.


My comment:

Once again, I see the situation is quite complex. I note:

I thought previously that Joe Briley was probably Lieutenant, not Lieutenant-Colonel, at the time of the incident, and was probably a Lieutenant-Colonel when he retired from the Air Force.

However, a noted Roswell researcher informed me in 2021 that Joe Briley was really a Lieutenant-Colonel, at the time of the incident. This researcher told me that according to the Yearbook of those assigned to the 509th Bomb Group in 1947, Joe Briley is pictured as the Operations Officer at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

He was aged 21 +-1 at the time of the incident.

Skeptics have been trying to say that the Mogul people informed RAAF people in September 1947, and thus likely Briley was involved since he is cited in official document as having been met by the Mogul people, that the "Roswell incident" was debris from a Mogul balloon launch.

This seems to be supported by the Air Force investigation of 1994, as it both said that the Mogul Project was Top Secret and "It was unlikely, therefore, that personnel from Roswell AAF, even though they possessed the appropriate clearances, would have known about project MOGUL", and that in September 147, "one of the first activities of the project scientists, Peoples and Crary, who were accompanied by Major Pritchard and Captain Dyvad, was to brief the commanding officer of Alamogordo AAF and the 509th Bomb Group Operations Officer, Lt Col Joseph Briley, on MOGUL."


Mogul team member C.B. Moore, asked twice about the purpose of the visit, did not say it was to inform RAAF about Mogul, but likely to get to set up a receiver at RAAF as the base was downwind from the launch site at Alamogordo.

I doubt there was any need in September 1947 for the Mogul team to go to Roswell to disclose their Top Secret Project because of the incident in early July 1947: this incident had been "closed" within hours by the Army Air Force alone, without the need of any "explanation" by any Mogul people; in September the incident was then totally "debunked" and forgotten, nobody questioned the Army Air Force explanation that the "flying disc" was just the debris of a weather balloon and its radar target. Any "new" incident of this kind would have received the "balloon" explanations even faster without the need of any information about Mogul. So such a useless breach of the "top secret" Mogul projects makes absolutely no sense to me.

It would also be strange that Joe Briley would have been informed of Mogul in September 1947, and never say that to anyone when asked about the incident; it appears that he had been interviewed by one or probably more than one "pro-Roswell" researchers on at least 3 occasions (October 1989, April 1990 and December 1990), and what he allegedly said was not at all that he knew about Mogul. Of course, it could be argued that "pro-Roswell" researchers simply published only those parts of Briley's statements that fit their agenda.

What he allegedly said was:

Base commander Blanchard was not really on leave when the "crash site" was found, instead, this was a "blind" as Blanchard was on the crash site. Blanchard, he said "couldn't have cared less about a balloon".

Apparently, he said "The story was changed and hushed up immediately... Frankly it was hushed up so quickly... and so completely that nothing was ever said about it."


Briley is quoted in bits here and there over the years, no full transcription or audio or video recording of what he said has been published yet, no affidavit was written. It is obvious that he did not really say what the debris were, and probably did not know what they were.

If I stick to what he allegedly said, it does not about to much: Blanchard could have used a "leave" as an excuse to go to the crash site, but this does not mean that there were debris of an alien spaceship at the crash site. Just the same "blind" could have occurred if the debris at the crash site were those of a Mogul balloon train. Of course it is mildly odd to have any "blind" or hush up about what would have been ordinary balloon debris - Mogul balloon trains were ordinary balloons - but as they had been called "flying disk" earlier, Blanchard might just not have been sure of what was actually out there.

In the end, I feel again that everything is very shoddy and sketchy; the effort for investigation I would have expected is not fulfilled. The Air Force in 1994 used what "pro-Mogul" researcher had said earlier and did not even care to interview their own people unless they supported the Mogul explanations, and "pro-Roswell" researchers only gave some short sentences by Briley, in unknown chronology, without any full transcription, without asking if he knew about Mogul etc.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross April 28, 2017 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross November 16, 2021 Paragraph "Joe Briley was probably Lieutenant, not Lieutenant-Colonel, at the time of the incident, and was probably a Lieutenant-Colonel when he retired from the Air Force." replaced with paragraphs "I thought previously that Joe Briley was probably Lieutenant, not Lieutenant-Colonel, at the time of the incident, and was probably a Lieutenant-Colonel when he retired from the Air Force." and "However, a noted Roswell researcher informed me in 2021 that Joe Briley was really a Lieutenant-Colonel, at the time of the incident. This researcher told me that according to the Yearbook of those assigned to the 509th Bomb Group in 1947, Joe Briley is pictured as the Operations Officer at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel."

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict

 Feedback  |  Top  |  Back  |  Forward  |  Map  |  List |  Home
This page was last updated on November 16, 2021.