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(originally published June 2014)

Air Force Office of Scientific Research

The government’s efforts to recover debris from the UFO crash near Roswell, NM in July of 1947 were not as complete or thorough as many believe. This is because a decade later- in the late 1950s- a Roswell cowboy retrieved a very strange piece of metal from the desert floor. The material was in fact so extraordinary that it was examined by a military scientist who would soon afterward be appointed Commander of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, located at Roswell-involved Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The Commander, Dr. Knox Millsaps, indicated that the cowboy’s find was very similar to what witnesses to the crash debris had reported in 1947.


The lead to this story was provided by General Nathan Twining’s namesake son. Twining was Commander of the Air Materiel Command (AMC) at Wright Field at the time of the crash and later became the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


My associates Tom Carey and Don Schmitt relate this information in their 2013 book 'Inside the Real Area 51: The Secret History of Wright-Patterson.' Tom shared with me some additional details on this extraordinary debris find. And in researching the story further, this author has learned more. The namesake son of the Air Force Commander who had examined the flexing metal is the Chair of Aerospace Engineering for the US Naval Post Graduate School. It is the US Navy that invented Nitinol (memory metal.) And the Commander’s son’s research interests include shape recovery alloys and the use of memory metal in space vehicles.  And interestingly, the year after Millsaps Sr. was appointed Commander of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the first shape-memory alloy in history, Nitinol, would be produced by the US Navy. Other telling connections have recently made supporting the story .




General Twining’s son Nathan Twining Jr. became very close with Tom Carey and Don Schmitt. He provided to them intriguing stories learned from his father about the UFO subject. Of special interest to researchers (including myself) is the persistent mention of strange debris found at the crash, some of which was described as thin pieces of “shape memory” alloy. Such material is a distinctly post-Roswell concept. When Twining Jr. was asked by the researchers if he may have any leads on this, he suggested that they get in touch with his friend, retired Lt. Colonel Sidney Johnston.  Johnston, he told them, was very credible and may be able to provide some insight into the matter because Johnston had himself held and inspected the material.  He may be willing to relate to them his own Roswell metal story. Thankfully, he was.




In verifying his credentials, it was established that Sidney Johnston was a Lt. Colonel and accomplished Pilot and Aeronautical Engineer during WWII for the Army Air Corps.  Upon retirement from service, he became a civilian Test Engineer with military contractor Northrop Aviation and worked at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, NM. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base often used Hollloman for testing aircraft, flight endurance and other experiments and evaluations. Johnston (who flew 44 combat missions) also served as pilot for Holloman’s Commanders - Generals Davis, Hooks and Branch. While there, Johnston collaborated with two extremely accomplished engineer-scientists. One was John “Rocket Man” Stapp, an MD, PhD and Air Force Flight Surgeon who also personally tested ultra-high-speed vehicles. He was known within his time as “The Fastest Man On Earth.”


Metal Rubber/ memory metal).jpg

Johnston’s other associate (with whom he shared office quarters) was the late Dr. Knox Millsaps. Millsaps, an acclaimed mathematician with a focus on thermodynamics, was an associate of Werner von Braun and other science luminaries. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell stated in a radio interview that von Braun was involved in the Roswell crash investigation. Millsaps was prior assigned to Wright Field where his research included working on metallurgical projects. In fact he was there in 1947, the year of the Roswell crash. Knox was also associated with the T-3 Branch (Research and Development) at Wright under General Curtis LeMay at the Pentagon. LeMay, according to the late Senator Barry Goldwater and others, had knowledge of the UFO crash material. From 1960-1965 Millsaps would serve as Commander of our nation’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Located at Wright-

Patterson, Millsaps likely knew Wright’s Base Commander in 1964 and 1965, General Arthur Exon. In the late 1990s Exon admitted to researchers Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt the ET nature of the crash and talked about the debris and its testing, saying, “the reports are still around.” Given where he was, who he was and the people he associated with at various times (von Braun, LeMay, Exon, etc.) Millsaps would be uniquely positioned to have known more than a little about the nature of the Roswell crash. As shown in the interview transcript below, what he said to Johnston and Stapp made it clear that he knew this newly-found material related to the Roswell crash from years ago and that he must get it to Wright’s Materials Lab as soon as possible.


Johnston, when reached, related that in the late 1950s when he was at Holloman, he and “Rocket Man” John Stapp  were joined by Dr. Millsaps one morning on coffee break. And it was on that morning that all three would together be bewildered by a material with seemingly otherworldly properties and characteristics. Dr. Millsaps presented Stapp and Johnston with what Johnston said was:


“Roughly a foot square of aluminum-like metal, about 3/16 of an inch thick. The edge of it was not cut but separated like it had a rough edge, but straight.”


He gives a further description on the impervious yet ultra-thin material’s “squeezability” and flexibility and its odd “tension” and temperature dispersion properties:


“The more you squeezed it, the more tension you could feel. It was flexible…we couldn’t break it or scratch it in any way…yet it was flexible.”


“We put a cigarette lighter to one end of it, and it immediately became the same temperature all over.”


“I had no idea what it was so I asked Millsaps if he knew. Millsaps answered that he’d like to know too.”


Johnston was curious, and asked of Millsaps where he had obtained the remarkable material.  Johnston states that Millsaps then replied, “Go talk to the people over at Roswell.”


When asked what he was going to do with the metal-like debris, Millsaps shared, “I’ve got to talk to somebody at Wright-Patterson about it.”


Later that day the conversation about the magical material picked up again. As Johnston recounts, Millsaps then further explained, A cowboy over at Roswell who came over to Alamogordo to visit a friend had presented him with the strange piece. The other man brought it to the base where his brother worked and brought it to my attention. He wanted to know what it was but I couldn’t identify it myself. Wright-Patterson has a Materials Lab, which is where I’m taking it. Millsaps then took back the bizarre material and headed out. The subject was never discussed again. Johnston apparently felt it best not to inquire of his security-cleared coworker the results of the lab’s analysis, and Millsaps never offered Johnston any further details.




Dr. Knox Millsaps' namesake son is Dr. Knox Millsaps Jr. He is currently the Chair of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the US Naval Postgraduate School. The US Navy’s involvement in memory metal studies has been well-documented by this author. The Naval Postgraduate School is attended only by military officers and select contractors in the private sector.  Department Chairs and other employees at the University often hold Top Secret Clearance with SCI access.


Curiously, Dr. Millsaps Jr. seems to have “picked up” on his father’s interest in exotic materials. He has acted as both Advisor and Approver in guiding research dissertations that relate to the use of Nitinol Memory Metal in Space Vehicles. One of these research documents has led to the award of a US Patent. The Secretary of the Navy is named as assignee. In both 2010 and 2012 Millsaps reviewed and accepted dissertations, the first of which is entitled, “Development of Nano-Satellite Micro-Coupling Mechanism with Characterization of a Shape Memory Alloy Interference Joint.” The 2012 dissertation is similar but includes studies on the actual integration and testing of such memory metal space devices.


And Millsaps Jr. maintains association with his late Commander father’s base, Wright-Patterson. Millsaps Jr.’s picture can be found on the Wright-Patterson AFB website giving awards through the National Defense Education program. It is inconceivable that Millsaps Sr. did not relate the same Roswell metal story to his namesake son. After all, he shared the piece for examination by his co-workers John Stapp and Sidney Johnston and related to them the backstory. Would he not have shared this information with his same-name son, who like his Dad, is a PhD, an engineer, in the military, and who has a specific interest in aerospace metals? This author has left repeated messages (both by voicemail and by email) to Dr. Millsaps to gain the benefit of his thinking on this Roswell-related episode involving his father. Millsaps has elected not to call or email me back. He rather obviously wishes to avoid comment on the matter. But what does matter is that his learned father added to his admirable legacy by sharing the material with a coworker friend who, when sought out, revealed what he knew.


If this story is accurate, it means for that at least 10 years after the crash, some of the debris had yet to be recovered. This gives hope that some might still be left to be found. The military is not infallible and they were unable to retrieve every single piece. Some of the debris from the crash remained to be discovered by a Roswell cowboy on an arid day a decade on. Though that cowboy’s name is now lost to history, his actions have forever changed it.

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