whaut.jpgArmy Lt. Walter Haut typed up one of the most famous press releases ever sent to the media. The dispatch claimed a flying saucer had landed in Roswell, N.M.
In 1947, Haut was a public relations officer at the now-defunct Roswell Army Air Field. On July 8 of that year, base commander Col. William “Butch” Blanchard dictated the contents of the official dispatch to Haut, and ordered him to release it. The press release, which was hand delivered by Haut to two local radio stations and two newspapers, said the 509th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force had obtained the wreckage of a flying saucer from a local rancher.
The following day, The Roswell Daily Record published a story featuring the banner headline: “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.” A second statement from the Army released on July 9 disputed the original report, and said the alien aircraft was simply a high-altitude weather balloon.
Haut was never told exactly where the flying saucer was supposedly found, nor did he ever see the spacecraft, but the Chicago native still believed in its existence. Although he later worked in the insurance industry, Haut and two friends co-founded The International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell. Haut served as its president from 1991 to 1996, and was inducted into the New Mexico Department of Tourism Hall of Fame in 2002. He also received four air medals, a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart for his service during World War II.
Haut died on Dec. 15 of natural causes at the age of 83. He is survived by two daughters, three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and millions of UFO-enthusiasts.
[Update – July 3, 2007: Haut allegedly left behind a sworn affidavit about the Roswell event, to be opened after his death. Last week, the text of the document was released. In it Haut claims the weather balloon story was a coverup, and that the object recovered in 1947 was an alien spacecraft. Haut also claimed to have seen the bodies of two extraterrestrials.]