Rhodes and The Press

- by Don Ecsedy, April 19, 2014

We have no report from Rhodes himself about turning over his negatives to the authorities. The evidence reported by others is that Rhodes believed he gave the negatives to two government, or federal, or FBI agents. The earliest such account was in 1949. A now retired from service, George Fugate, was interviewed by AFOSI about his interview of Rhodes and said a friend had told him Rhodes had referred to “two federal agents” in an 1949 issue of Amazing Stories. In 1950, the Phoenix FBI office reported Rhodes inquired there about his negatives. These support Brower’s account that Rhodes delivered his “negatives” to the FBI. Rhodes appears to have become cautious by the end of August 1947 as he denied to Brower that his sighting was related to the ongoing saucer sightings being reported, although a month earlier, according to Harve Mokler, Rhodes was looking for reports of comparable sightings, perhaps of the same object he had photographed. Ten months later, Colonel McCoy would inform Rhodes he was subject to the Espionage Act which required that he only discuss the issues in their correspondence with authorized persons. Since we have to be cautious in accepting anything from the authorities because of the two deceptions, and because Rhodes himself did not to our knowledge write an account of his experience, we are left with whatever might have been written in the press. After some study of archived issues of the Arizona Republic, it is obvious Rhodes had good relations with various employees of the paper, including by-lined columnists, which gives us some names to look for. One of them was Orren Beaty.

Orren Beaty

Beaty joined the Arizona Republic after his service in the USAF in Korea, having previously been the managing editor of the Las Cruces Sun News. During WWII he was a radar navigator instructor in the Army Air Corps. From the late 1950s he was involved in politics and government, working for Senator Morris Udall, following him into the Johnson Administration.

In this account, Beaty writes: "Rhodes photographs and negatives were taken by federal agents and have not been returned.” For whatever reason, the Arizona Republic did not pull a morgue photo of the Rhodes object to accompany the story. I wonder if they had one.

Of interest to me is Beaty had reported another “heel’ shaped disk(s).

Where did Beaty get the federal agent story? It might have been from Rhodes. Two weeks later, Beaty wrote a column with another reference to Rhodes

I don’t know if it was Beaty who got Rhodes out of bed with a phone call, but whoever did, we can assume, knew him well enough to do so. It may be worthwhile to review the archive of Beaty’s papers. They may have some information of value to this study. This is the 1947 story Beaty wrote, courtesy of David Rudiak

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The Press cont.

- by Don Ecsedy, April 21,2014

Don Dedera

In 1958, Don Dedera, columnist for the Arizona Republic, wrote two columns about Rhodes. The first in March was about a bomb shelter Rhodes built which was featured in that month’s Popular Mechanics. The second was published on November 18 in which Dedera took issue with Ray Palmer’s claims concerning the July 9, 1947 issue of the Arizona Republic (David Rudiak has provided a microfilm scan of the front page not from a Palmer publication. I know. I know, but I just wanted the proof). The Dedera column was written four years after Rhodes’ negatives (2) and prints (4) were prepared for returning to him, as recorded in Project Blue Book files, and ten full years after the sighting.

Dedera’s Story

This is the earliest published account I know of about what happened after the Rhodes story was published in 1947. Although this isn’t an interview with quotations, the source is obviously Rhodes, filtered through what Dedera understood of it. He writes: “The true sequel [to the sighting report published in the Arizona Republic] is interesting enough.”

“…Rhodes…heard the whoosh of what he thought was a flying saucer."

I wonder if Dedera confirmed that with Rhodes, and I wish it were a quotation so that we might know whether Rhodes had, at the beginning, thought it was a saucer. The Mokler news story is at odds with Rhodes reported comments in the FBI report on this matter.

“A week after the pictures were published, Rhodes was visited by an FBI Agent and an intelligence officer from Hamilton Field, Calif. The officers questioned Rhodes closely. They asked if Rhodes would give up the pictures, for air corps evaluation. Rhodes voluntarily handed over the pictures.”

This is the first indication Rhodes knew one of the agents — Fugate — was Army Air Forces and that he was sent by Hamilton Field. However, it was nearly two months after the sighting that Brower and Fugate interviewed him, not a week later.

“A month later Rhodes asked for the return of the photographs. A letter from Washington informed him the pictures could not be returned.”

“Washington”…FBI or Pentagon?

“About a half-year later, in early 1948 Rhodes was asked to come to Wright-Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio, for an interview.”

Okay. We have something that can be dated. Colonel McCoy in his letter to Rhodes, date stamped May 26, 1948, inquired if Rhodes could travel to Wright Field for an interview. “Soon two representatives of technical intelligence division, Air Material Command, came to Rhodes home.”

That would be Loedding and Beam, but they date their visit between May 6 and 8 and McCoy’s letter of the 26th refers to their visit. Rhodes…said that was the last of his dealings with the case of the unidentified flying object.”

Not quite. Rhodes does not refer to his own investigation and the information concerning other photos of the object in possession of Lewis Larmore, which was the subject of his correspondence with McCoy, and a matter he brought up during his interview by Loedding and Beam…but then, McCoy had applied the Espionage Act on that matter. There is no evidence Rhodes mentioned it to anyone except authorized persons. Dedera’s story makes narrative sense, but is disordered against the actual chronology. There is information that Rhodes did not share (Larmore), and we do not know whether the chronological mistakes were made by Dedera or whether he reported accurately what Rhodes said to him. We do not learn if Rhodes had actually received his negatives in 1954 from the USAF. If Rhodes inquired about his negatives a “month” after the Brower and Fugate interview, that would be early October. There is no record of it in either Blue Book or the FBI files released to the public. According the the Phoenix FBI office, Rhodes inquired about them in April, 1952. In July of 1952, in an column by Weld Coxe in the Arizona Republic:

“Rhodes called attention to his last meeting with flying saucers on July 9 [sic], 1947…his negatives were later borrowed by the FBI and never returned, Rhodes said.”

This is a direct attribution with no mention of the USAF having them, but six years later in the Dedera column, Rhodes knew they had been given to the “air corps”, Hamilton Field.

Although we can correct Dedera’s narrative by the chronology of PBB’s and the FBI’s files, I am wondering about that “a week after the photos had been published”. Considering the USAF’s concern about the photos being published, I have to wonder why no one suggested to the managing editor of the Arizona Republic that he not publish the story, or if the negatives were so important, why the air force didn’t obtain them from the Arizona Republic or from Rhodes on July 8 when they had them in their possession at Williams Field, if that was the case, or at the Arizona Republic…wherever it was “officers from Williams Field” studied them. If some in the air force thought it was an oversight to be corrected, would it have taken several months for them to figure that out? And if so, does that explain why Fugate showed up at the Phoenix FBI office one day after — August 29 — Lt Col Springer had requested a joint investigation for after the Labor Day weekend — September 2?