Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Confirmation: Maj. Dewey Fournet and Others

The events in the movie accurately portray the official response to UFO activity in the late forties and early fifties. As chief of the press desk at the Pentagon, Albert M. Chop was routinely exposed to the best military and commercial airline UFO encounters on record, a situation that eventually changed his mind about the UFO phenomenon's reality. Working with Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, chief of the Air Force's UFO investigative division Project Blue Book, allowed Chop a bird's-eye view of important UFO reports.

However, amongst key players in the U.S. government investigation there existed yet another with a ringside seat to the story of the UFO: Air Force Maj. Dewey J. Fournet, Jr., responsible for closely monitoring the UFO project. Like Chop and like radar expert Wendell Swanson (Swanson played his own role in "U.F.O." and was said to be eminently familiar with cases of UFOs -- solid objects -- tracked on radar)), Fournet came to realize there was far more to the UFO mystery than meets the skeptical eye. Fournet, too, was kind enough to answer my questions and confirm the things he had emphasized for years, and in future blog entries I'll post his letters to me in the mid-seventies.

Today's posts include a color snapshot that Fournet arranged in a hurry in 1976 when I requested a recent photo for my Official UFO article. The other photo, a good 10 years or so older, is a poor reproduction, but does show (in order from left) screenwriter Francis Martin, Chop and Ruppelt posing with a copy of the motion picture script (I may have borrowed this photo from the Project 1947 Web site, highly recommended to the reader, incidentally). Fournet, Chop and Ruppelt, as previously noted, were portrayed by actors in the movie itself.  It was originally believed that the photo I bordered in yellow showed Fournet, but researcher Barry Greenwood determined the first person on the left is writer Martin and not Fournet.

Fournet's first letter indicates how busy he usually was, and per his position with a chemical corporation following his military career, he seemed often wrapped up in his job, causing response delays. Nevertheless, Fournet assures me in his initial letter that he examined his section of the script. Also, as on numerous other occasions, I owed a big thank-you to the late Jim and Coral Lorenzen of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) for arranging my contact with Fournet (also since deceased), following his attendance at a UFO-related conference at Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Another photo, one of many black-and-white 8x10s issued by the studio for promotional purposes, shows producer Clarence Greene (left) discussing the script with radar expert Wendell V. Swanson (mentioned above).

The final publicity photo shows producer Greene (standing, left), radar expert Wendell V. Swanson (seated) and Capt. Edward Ruppelt himself. Ruppelt did not play his own role, though Swanson did. Like other former members of the official U.S. UFO project, Ruppelt was on-site to examine and approve every line of the script to assure the accuracy demanded by Greene.