WHEN ROSWELL FAMILY SECRETS ARE REVEALED
(Originally published Oct 2020)
All families have hidden histories. But what would possess a father to never mention his military service to his own sons and daughters? If that service was at Roswell Army Air Field in July of 1947, then there may be some very good reasons. Investigation shows that a number of adult children of Roswell servicemen that were born after the purported UFO crash did not know until they were informed by researchers that their father was ever stationed at Roswell, the base implicated to have been involved in the recovery of extraterrestrials. Their reactions when told of this fact have ranged from a type of "alien shock" - extreme surprise at the sudden awareness of a family connection to alien reality - to even anger at being told by a stranger about such a thing instead of by their parents.
Then there are those curious reactions by some when contacted by researchers: People that confirm that their relative was stationed at Roswell, but who do not wish to engage further or hear more about what may have been learned by researchers about their relative and the crash incident. They also don't wish to relate what may have been said to them about it. In the words of one such person: "I don't want to remember what he told me!" Children should have pride in their parent's time in military service, not want to forget it. Combined with photo albums that skip the period of time at Roswell and the obituaries that fail to mention service at Roswell, these family reactions to such secrets can be as strange as the crash incident itself.
WE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HE WAS AT ROSWELL!
Why would parents not tell their own children (born after the crash) that their Dad was stationed at Roswell and that, as a young couple, they lived for years in the State of New Mexico? Over the years researchers have noted many examples of this, including these two families' stories.
Reverend Hankerson's Family
One of the most stunning of these examples is the family of Rev. Elijah Hankerson, who I discovered through national records was the Base Chaplain at Roswell Army Air Field in 1947. It had occurred to me that the Base Chaplain at Roswell in 1947 would have been involved in the aftermath of the crash. He may have said prayers for the dead beings and he may have been required to provide counseling to those who
were not spiritually or psychologically equipped for such a momentous event. When I reached Hankerson's daughter, I had intended to ask her whether her father ever said anything about the Roswell crash. Instead, she replied that she never even knew he was stationed there! She and her brother were born after 1947. She was frustrated to find out a part of her parents' past from a stranger. She also made a startling observation: She recounted how, at the end of his life, her father said that the "universe was a big place" and that "too much knowledge was not a good thing." In light of this Roswell revelation, she then knew why he had said those things. The family tried to locate any photographs from their family albums that would have shown her mother Annie and her father's time in New Mexico. They could find nothing. I felt almost a sense of guilt that I had brought to the Hankerson family knowledge for which they may not have been prepared. Not coincidentally, Reverend Hankerson was shipped out of Roswell to an assignment in the South Pacific shortly after the crash. And it is no coincidence that this is where the family history picks up. For Hankerson's part, he (a Baptist) was replaced at the Roswell base by a Roman Catholic. Catholic chaplains take confessions of servicemen and thus know who's talking out of turn.
Hankerson and his wife intentionally omitted mentioning to their children that Roswell was part of their lives. Men of the cloth are not supposed to commit the sin of omission. He must have done so for a very good reason.
The Divil Family
Darrell D. Divil, PFC, RAAF Base Yearbook, 1947
Darrell Divil in front of Base Hospital building
Another excellent example of this type of scenario is the family of Pfc. Darrell Douglas Divil. When I reached his daughter recently, she was very cordial. I explained to her that her father was stationed at Roswell in 1947. He was associated with the Medical Unit, Squadron M, believed to have been involved in receiving and processing the alien bodies found fallen there. Like Rev. Hankerson's daughter, Divil's daughter was born after the crash and was stunned to learn for the first time that her father was ever at that base - or ever even in the state of New Mexico. Her mother and father never mentioned this to her, and she is at a loss now to know why. Not only did his daughter and the rest of his surviving family not know of his service at Roswell, but his obituary does not include this information either. They would not learn it from the obituary because instead, Divil's obituary only states that Divil "was a veteran of the Army Air Force during WWII." But WWII ended in 1945, two years before Roswell. Why is there no mention of his following years (including in 1947) that were served at Roswell Army Air Field? Divil's daughter indicates to me that the reason is that her own mother changed up her father's military history for the obituary and made it a lie. Her father never served in WWII, he was too young. He only ever served at Roswell! And incredibly, another family secret surfaced during my second conversation with Divil's daughter recently: Darrell Divil did not serve out his assigned term in the service. It was cut short because he was placed in a sanitarium for mental health issues. Divil's daughter learned this because when her father died in 2007, VA burial benefits were denied to him by the Veterans Administration. It was explained this was because Divil willfully took leave for rest in a sanitarium. Divil's daughter believes that the reason was because, as part of the Medical Unit, her father could not handle seeing the bodies and likely "cracked up" - a kind of alien shock. Fortunately, Divil recovered after rehabilitation.
I emailed to her photographs of her father in uniform found in the Roswell Base Yearbook for 1947 (see pictures above). These were totally unfamiliar to her and she had never had a glimpse of that part of her father's life. She thanked me for contacting her and for sending to her images of her beloved Dad. She believes that he was the type who had a love of country and could keep secrets - and Darrell Divil certainly did!
WE KNOW HE WAS THERE, AND WE DON'T WANT TO BE REMINDED
Some Roswell veteran children do not take too kindly to inquiries about their knowledge of their father's potential involvement at Roswell. Some are well aware of that fact and do not wish to acknowledge it or elaborate in any way:
The Darden Family
Major Robert Darden is not a name generally associated with the Roswell crash retrieval, but it should be. He is mentioned by two Roswell veterans as having been directly involved with managing security for the recovery efforts at the site, along with Major Edwin Easley, the Base Provost Marshall. The first mention of Darden's involvement was by Pfc. Eleazer Benavidez. Benavidez worked in base security and told researchers that a superior, Major Robert Darden, directed the retrieval efforts. The other serviceman naming Darden was M/Sgt. Louis S. "Bill" Rickett, Counter Intelligence Corps at the Roswell Army Air Field. Rickett worked at the base under Captain Sheridan Cavitt, and told researchers that he saw and talked to Darden at the UFO crash site. Like Benavidez, Rickett said that Major Darden was in the company of Major Edwin Easley at the time. Just a year later, Darden replaced Easley as Provost Marshall.
Darden passed away in 1971. He has two surviving daughters and a son. They were in their late teens in 1971. Their mother lived some years more. It is possible that they learned of their father's involvement directly in conversations with him, or through their mother or another family member.
When I emailed Darden's children, I initially heard nothing back from any of them. I still have not heard from one daughter, and his son has for some reason elected to communicate through his wife. The other daughter, in a reply email after several tries at contacting her, was brief. She simply repeated that she understood it to be a military balloon project. She had no interest or curiosity in the fact that two servicemen at Roswell at the time implicated her father as having been involved in the retrieval. I gave her their names and emailed to her their pictures from the Roswell Base Yearbook and explained that their testimony about her father was given independently, separated by distance and time. She just did not wish to consider them, and though she did not dismiss them, she just did not comment.
Darden's son works as a senior engineering manager for a major US defense contractor. I emailed him the same information that I had send his sisters. I heard nothing from him. I then emailed again, mentioning that I was perplexed as to why a son would have no interest in learning more about his own father's military service. I received an email back this time. But it was not from him, it was from his wife, Major Darden's daughter-in-law. Dee said that the family knew that that Darden was stationed at Roswell and she was interested to learn more. She herself had no problem with the idea that her father-in-law was involved. She wanted to know if there were any physical items (i.e. diaries, photos) that I could share. I had the sneaking suspicion that she was acting on behalf of her husband, trying to figure out just how much I knew. I emailed her back saying that while she apparently had interest in learning more, 1) her husband himself did not reply to me concerning his own father; 2) one daughter simply did not reply to me at all; and 3) one was dismissive and not curious about information on her own father. From the "CC" on Major Darden's daughter-in-law's email to me, I know that she was sharing my emails to her not only with her husband, but also with her two sisters-in-law. I never again heard back from any of them.
The Camenar Family
I reached the widow of Corporal Ernest Camenar, Squadron S at Roswell Army Air Field in 1947, some time ago. I told her that I was conducting "military history" research and that I had just a few brief questions of her. She immediately interrupted me, "I don't know anything about any of that. I met him and married him years later in the mid-1950s so I can't help you." I wanted to keep the conversation going so I asked, "So, he was stationed in New Mexico?" to which she said, "Mexico?" and I replied, "New Mexico, Roswell." "But I have explained to you that I was a teenager in '47, I didn't even know him." But I was not going to let her get away with that excuse, and I knew that I could get more out of her. I said, "Gee, but when you met, before you married him, you must have asked about his military background…all guys back then went into the military…So he did tell you where he was stationed?"
She replied, "Of course he did." Then I told her that I had talked to people with the base at the time who said that there was an unusual crash there in the summer of 1947. "Did your husband ever tell you about anything like that?" Mrs. Carmenar replied, "It was a long time ago. He may have." I asked: "Did he tell you in the 80s or 90s when all of the Roswell books and programs first came out, or did he tell you back then, in the 1950s?"
She responded, "Back then, in the 1950s." I then point blank asked her: "Did your husband tell you that a flying saucer had crashed there back then?" She finally admitted, "Yes he did. He told me but I don't want to remember it!" In that instant, I knew that some families were well aware of their loved one's historic involvement in the ET recovery at Roswell, but they do not wish to me reminded of it. It's alien shock - they do not want to remember it.
JUSTIFYING THE MISSING PAGES
There are missing pages in everyone's book of life. We keep secrets to protect others and to protect ourselves. Why did some Roswell veterans from 1947 never tell their children that they served there? Some we know were sworn to secrecy to never speak of it to anyone, including family. And I strongly suspect that the men engaged in the Roswell recovery did not wish to upset or in any way endanger their children or relations. In fact it is entirely likely that many were themselves not able to process the enormity of the incident, so they dealt with it by boxing it away and compartmentalizing a memory too disquieting to think about. Thankfully, many such vets have told their Roswell stories before their deaths, finding it to be a relief to their psyches. They also came to recognize it as a fulfillment of their ultimate obligation - which is to truth and to history.
And why do some adult children of Roswell veterans not wish to learn more, or to discuss what they may know about the event? It could be seen as a threat to their personal and professional standing if they were to be publicly associated with such things as ET and flying saucer crashes. And it is perhaps a coping mechanism: They do not wish to carry any unnecessary psychological or spiritual burden to have to think about such things that they may see as being disruptive to their lives. It's alien shock.
Even though a refusal by all of these people to tell what they know about Roswell denies us valuable insight, we cannot fault them. There can be no "right" or "wrong" behavior when it comes to dealing with the reality of the visiting extraterrestrial.