Laredo UFO Crash

Laredo UFO Crash

Date: July 7, 1948

Location: Laredo, TX

The Laredo, Texas UFO Crash is a case in which at least two U.S. military aircraft allegedly chased a 90' diameter silver disk shaped UFO across Texas before watching the object crash approximately 30 miles south southwest of Laredo, TX.

U.S. servicemen were reportedly dispatched from a nearby military base to cordon off the UFO crash site until a special U.S. retrieval team arrived to examine the wreckage and carry it away to a military base in San Antonio, TX. Supposedly, the badly burned body of a non human entity was recovered from the crash site.

Texas Monthly magazine recently included the Laredo UFO Crash on a list of the eight most significant UFO cases in Texas history. Interestingly, this case is said to have occurred almost exactly one year after the more famous Roswell UFO Incident. Rumors about this case first began circulating in the 1950s, although details were not widely known until 1977.

This case shares similarities with the Del Rio, TX UFO Crash of 1955 & the Coyame UFO Incident of 1974, both of which reportedly also occurred along the Texas/Mexico border.

According to Texas Monthly, talk of a UFO crash near Laredo first surfaced in the 1950s, with additional details being released in 1978 by the late Leonard Stringfield, one of the first UFO researchers to advocate serious investigation of reported UFO crashes.

Stringfield wrote:

In the Fall of 1977, new word of a 1948 crash came to me from a well informed military source. His information, however, was scanty. He had heard from other insider military sources that a metallic disk had crashed somewhere in a desert region. His only details indicated that the craft had suffered severe damage on impact and was retrieved by military units.

Also in 1977, Stringfield received more information about the case from another UFO researcher, the late Todd Zechel.

Stringfield wrote:

Formerly with the National Security Agency, Zechel stated that a United States Air Force technician told him that his uncle, then a Provost Marshall at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, TX, had taken part in the 1948 recovery of a crashed UFO, which was described as a metallic disk, 90' in diameter.

In a report presented at the Mutual UFO Network, MUFON, Symposium on July 29, 1978, Stringfield stated that one dead alien was found aboard the craft, which was described as about 4' 6" tall, completely hairless, with hands that had no thumbs.

In December 1978, two photographs fitting Stringfield's description of the dead alien suddenly appeared in Maryland. The photos, along with a brief note about them, were received in the mail by Willard F. McIntyre, founder of a civilian UFO group called the Mutual Anomaly Research Center and Evaluation Network, MARCEN. The photos showed the badly burned body of a small biped with a large head and clawlike hands. The photos were purportedly sent by a retired U.S. Navy photographer from Tennessee who claimed to have taken them at a UFO crash site along the Texas/Mexico border in 1948.

McIntyre corresponded by mail with the unnamed former Navy photographer from 1978 through 1981 and learned more details about the Laredo crash, which McIntyre later disclosed to numerous civilian UFO organizations. McIntyre claimed that MARCEN had thoroughly checked out the photographer's military service record and had verified that he was who he claimed to be. McIntyre further claimed that the Eastman Kodak company and the UFO group Ground Saucer Watch, GSW, had both independently verified that the negatives of the photos given to McIntyre in 1978 were approximately 30 years old.

The photos were first released to the media in April 1980 by Charles Wilhelm, director of the now defunct Ohio UFO Investigators League, OUFOIL, were picked up by the Associated Press, and were published in a number of U.S. newspapers, including the Cincinnati Enquirer on April 29, 1980.

Based on a number of accounts published in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a large UFO was spotted in the airspace above Albuquerque, NM on the afternoon of July 7, 1948, moving at approximately 2,000 MPH. Stringfield said that the object was tracked on radar screens, and other sources stated that the object at one point made a 90 º turn before heading toward southwest Texas.

It is important to note that in the 1980s some UFO researchers confused this story with that of the Del Rio, TX UFO Crash of 1955, which also occurred along the Texas/Mexico border. Some of the early accounts of the Laredo crash, therefore, contain inaccuracies based on this confusion.

A number of UFO investigators have stated that, prior to crashing near Laredo, the UFO was chased across the skies of Texas by at least two military aircraft. Neither the type of aircraft nor the base from which they were dispatched is known. Schaffner referred to the aircraft as Lockheed F-94 Starfire jets, however, the F-94 was not in use until 1949. It is possible that the actual aircraft involved were Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star jets, of which the F-94 was a variant.

It is also not known if the pursuing aircraft might have contributed to the downing of the UFO by firing upon it or otherwise causing it to fall. However, there are numerous other documented cases of U.S. military aircraft firing upon UFOs during this time period.

Stringfield wrote that the UFO crashed about 30 miles inside the Mexican border across from Laredo, TX, and was recovered by U.S. troops after it was tracked on radar screens.

Ohio UFO investigator Ron Schaffner wrote:

At 2:10 p.m., other pilots in pursuit said the object was slowing down and was wobbling in flight. By 2:29 p.m., the object disappeared from all radar screens. Using triangulation from all the radar installations, it was determined that the object must have gone down in Mexico, approximately 30 miles south of Laredo, TX.

The location of the crash was given more specifically in UFO Crash at Aztec: A Well-Kept Secret, a 1986 book by William S. Steinman and Wendelle C. Stevens.

They wrote:

This site was about 30 miles south-southwest of Laredo, not far from the highway to Mexico City, and near where the Rio Sabinas joins the Rio Salado before they empty into the Rio Grande, in the Sierra Madre Oriental.

The crashed UFO was described by Steinman and Stevens as follows:

As best the source could ascertain, the craft was nearly perfectly circular and was about 90' in diameter and about 28' in thickness at the center and tapering off to about 5' thick at the perimeter. There appeared to be 5 or 6 levels in the center of the craft and they were told some sort of instrumentation and machinery were removed before they had arrived. No propulsion system or mechanism was apparent to the source.

According to Stringfield's account of the Laredo case, a provost marshal stationed at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth admitted that he had taken part in a mission to cordon off and secure the site where a UFO crashed to the Earth near Laredo, TX in 1948. The marshal told his nephew, who later told UFO researcher Todd Zechel.

Stringfield later wrote:

Zechel learned from his sources that the troops involved in the retrieval were warned that if they said a word about the incident, they would be the sorriest people around.

Steinman and Stevens later identified the eyewitness as John W. Bowen, who they said was sent over to take immediate charge of cordoning off and controlling the area. According to the authors, after Bowen's group secured the area, a team was flown in from the missile range at White Sands, NM to photograph the crash site, and later, a convoy of large Army transport trucks removed the wreckage, taking it the San Antonio Air Depot for further study.

Body is face down amidst debris. Left arm and claw like hand are visible. Head is very large. Skin is mostly burned off. Early in 1978, Stringfield described the humanoid found at the crash site as about 4', 6" tall, completely hairless, with hands that had no thumbs. That description seemed to fit the body shown in two photographs that were mailed to MARCEN founder Willard F. McIntyre on December 1978.

Shaeffner later described the body shown in the photos:

There was one body found within the craft. The photographers managed to get a series of pictures even though there was intense heat. When the object cooled down, the body was removed to a hill side and another series of pictures were taken. The body was said to be 4', 6" long with a head extremely large compared to the torso.

In 1986, Steinman and Stevens added:

They, the military photographers, only saw and photographed one body but rumors were floating around the site that two or more creatures had been blown out of the vehicle and were captured and taken away injured severely but still alive. Our source said he had no confirmation of this aspect of the case. The body they photographed was 4' 6" long. Its head was extremely large for the body size by human proportions. The eyes were gone from the fire but the eye sockets were much larger than in humans and were almost wraparound as if to give 180º vision. There were no visible ears or nose, but there were openings where ears and nostrils would have been in humans.

There were no lips and the mouth was just a sort of slit with no teeth or tongue. There were two legs of normal proportions with short feet having no discernible toes. The two arms were longer than in humans and the hands had four claw like fingers each with no apparent thumbs. The arms and legs appeared to have joints in approximately the same places as in humans.

Shaeffner wrote:

Army doctors arrived on July 8 and performed an examination of the body. They could not find any reproductive organs. They compared the gray skin to the texture of a human female breast. The bone structure was more complicated than a human and no muscle fiber was discovered within the torso.

The body depicted in the photos sent to McIntyre has over the years come to be known as the Tomato Man due to its large, roundish head. Many UFO researchers, including Shaeffner and Kevin Randle, believe the body is that of a human pilot who was badly disfigured by intense heat following a plane crash. They argue that one of the photos shows a pair of eyeglasses, such as a human pilot would wear, near the body. Randle has classified the entire Tomato Man story as a hoax.

Other researchers believe the body might be that of a monkey used as a test subject in a missile experiment. Still other UFO researchers argue that even if the Tomato Man photos are fakes, that does not necessarily invalidate the UFO crash incident itself, knowledge of which preceded the appearance of the photos.

Steinman and Stevens looked into a rumor that notable U.S. scientist Luis W. Alvarez, now deceased, may have been involved in an investigation of the site where the Laredo UFO Crash occurred. Supposedly in July 1948, Alvarez and other top U.S. scientists were taken under circumstances of complete secrecy to a location in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, which is the general vicinity of the alleged Laredo UFO Crash. Their mission was to examine the residue on site of a crashed 100' circular flying vehicle of unknown origin. As a scientist, Alvarez was noted for applying scientific principles to paranormal subjects. Steinman and Stevens contacted Dr. Alvarez in the late 1980s and asked whether he was involved in any investigations of crashed UFOs, but he refused to make any comment to them.

U.S. Secretary of State, General George C. Marshall, reportedly intervened directly with the Mexican Government and obtained permission for U.S. Army personnel to recover the remains of a U.S. Special Test Vehicle that had gone out of control and crashed in Mexico. Col. John W. Bowen, USAF Retired, then Provost Marshall at Carswell AFB, was sent over to take immediate charge of cordoning off and controlling the area. The bulk of the residue was picked up on big army transporter trucks and hauled to San Antonio Air Depot for study.

But before removal, a special photographer with a very high security clearance was flown down from White Sands Missile Test Center in NM in a light weight, special slow flight photo liaison airplane. As soon as a complete set of 8"x10” prints were made, Commander Smith took them and left for Washington and the photo people never saw him again. The source of the two photos furnished claimed he had 40 negatives in all showing this crash scene.

Information was extracted from a series of letters from the original photographer to MARCEN, a fledgling UFO Journal. The following is from that report:

What that team observed and photographed was an unearthly shaped craft made up of earthly looking debris. The basic structure looked as if it could have been built by earthly hands. Things were badly burned by the time the photographers got to the site, but they noticed a complete absence of any type of wiring, rubber, glass, plastics, wood, or paper products.

Our source noticed what was some supportive structures, which were held together by what appeared to be conventional bolts but when the mechanics attempted to unscrew them with wrenches, they would not turn at all. They had to be eventually chiseled off and the metal was very hard, The Army was using carbide and diamond drills and diamond saws for the final disassembly. There appeared to be two kinds of metal involved. The first and most abundant could not be cut by the oxyacetylene cutting torches brought in. The second immediately began burning when the cutting torches were used on it.

The structural skin of the craft was apparently blown away in the explosion when the device crashed as the whole valley was littered with fragments of what appeared to be foil, very much like our cigarette packages, only much harder. You could not bend the material. Before anyone could leave the site, the MPs searched them and confiscated all fragments that had been collected.

There was only one body, and it was badly burned at that, still in the structure. Our source photographed it in place in the structure as best he could with the intense heat from the still smouldering remains and the burning hot sand. After they had taken photos of the entire scene and attempted to use multiple flash guns and a tripod to record the overall scene from a nearby hillside, The Air Force crash and rescue firemen on the scene dragged the body from the craft and put it on a nearby bank so they could photograph it away from the intense heat.

During their briefing, before photographic work began, one of the team members asked what this was and where it came from. The commander told him not to answer. An Army Captain who assisted them said the little fellow we were photographing did not come from this Earth.

They only saw and photographed one body, but rumors were floating around the site that two or more creatures had been blown out of the vehicle and were captured and taken away injured severely but still alive. Our source said he had no confirmation of this aspect of the case.

The body they photographed was 4' 6” long. Its head was extremely large for the body size by human proportions. The eyes were gone from the fire but the eyesockets were much larger than in humans and were almost wraparound as if to give 180º vision. There were no visible ears or nose but there were openings where ears and nostrils would have been in humans. There were no lips and the mouth was just a sort of slit with no teeth or tongue. There were two legs of normal proportions with short feet having no discernible toes. The two arms were longer than in humans and the hands had four claw like fingers each with no apparent thumbs. The arms and legs appeared to have joints in approximately the same places as in humans.

There were two Army doctors that arrived on the morning of July 8th and they made a superficial examination of the body. Our source listened to them while taking photos of their work. There was no teeth or tongue in the mouth and no apparent duct connecting the mouth to any part of digestive system. There was no reproductive organs visible by human standards. The most remarkable thing he overheard was that no stratified muscle fibre was discovered in any of the extremities. The tissue, which was gray in color was extremely smooth and the doctors compared its consistency to the tissue of a human female breast. They said that the bone structure in the extremities too was more complicated than in humans and speculated that motion may have been accomplished through the supporting bones instead of muscles. The entire abdomen was encased by a rib like structure all the way to the hips. The doctors were amazed that the right arm extremity had a metallic joint at the elbow, No external examinations were made at the site.

The hands each had four digits, longer than human fingers,and they tapered to an almost claw like appearance at the tip. There were no opposing digits like thumbs. There was no visible evidence of toes and the feet came to a blunt point. The body appeared to have been clothed in a metallic like material, most of which had been burned away.

The doctors said there was no evidence of hair growing on the head or other areas of the body as they found no immediate evidence of hair roots. The only fluid found in the apparent veins in the extremities was colorless with a slight green cast and a strong sulfurous odor.

Our source noticed a strong sulfurous odor and an ozone smell when working around the burning structure.

In November 1979, MARCEN was able to obtain the negative from which a print was made. This original negative was then analyzed by Kodak and other photo laboratories. Eastman Kodak concluded that their analysis indicated a negative that had been processed at least thirty years previously. Their tests also showed no evidence of deliberate hoaxing, at least photographically, in making the negative.

In May 1980 the contact sent a second negative showing the body it lay in vegetation on a slope. That one was also examined and and found to be equivalent to the first. Now there were two photos.

On August 22, 1980 the photos were released to the Associated Press in two areas and to newspapers and broadcast stations. After the release, most of the reaction was that this was a hoax though other photo analysis concurred Kodak’s previous conclusions. As well, MARCEN was looked upon as the party responsible for initiating the ruse.

The crash site is about 30 miles SSW of Laredo not far from the highway to Mexico City, and near where the Rio Sabinas joins the Rio Salado before they empty into the Rio Grande, in The Sierra Madre Oriental.

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