Intriguing legacy: Philip Corso and “The Day After Roswell”

Day After RoswellIn 1997, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, Philip James Corso (May 22, 1915 – July 16, 1998), published a stunning book about one of the most enduring myths and mysteries of the 20th Century – the alleged crash and recovery of a UFO near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947.

In The Day After Roswell[1], Corso claimed that in the early 1960’s, as chief of the Pentagon’s Foreign Technology desk in Army Research and Development, working under Lieutenant General Arthur Trudeau, he was handed an above top-secret filing cabinet containing reports and artifacts from the Roswell crash.

Dissemination of extraterrestrial technology

Corso further claimed that he had been responsible for “seeding” extraterrestrial technology recovered from the crash into American industry, and that reverse engineering had led to the development of technological advancements such as transistors, night vision equipment, accelerated particle beam devices, fiber optics, lasers, integrated circuit chips and Kevlar material.

JESSEMARCELUFO-570

Major Jesse Marcel with alleged weather-balloon debris from Roswell crash.

In 1997, Corso was the highest-ranking officer to write a book about Roswell and to make public claims about what he had seen and done regarding the case (Colonel Jesse Marcel, Jr. later “captured” that distinction). Corso’s claims were thus subjected to intense scrutiny, and “problems with his book began to arise almost immediately”.[2]

For instance, Corso’s book contained a foreword by Senator Strom Thurmond, which the publisher, Simon and Schuster, had to pull from subsequent editions when the Senator objected. His foreword had been written for an entirely different book, which was supposed to contain Corso’s memoirs and nothing about UFOs or the Roswell incident.

“This might seem as if it is an argument over trivia”, Kevin Randle writes[3], “but it does speak to the general attitude of Corso in constructing his book. If he was willing to mislead a United States Senator, one who Corso considered a friend, why believe that he wouldn’t want to mislead the rest of the country? The evidence is that he played fast and loose with the truth.”

Most investigators of Corso’s claims eventually came to the conclusion that they were of little value, and either a fraud, a hoax or disinformation built around what had already been published at the time.

Philip_J._CorsoNagging question

Now, here is the question that is nagging me: why would an aging (he was 82 at the time), high-ranking, retired U.S. army officer publish such a book that would presumably serve as his legacy on the public scene, especially in the arena of UFO research? What did he have to gain, aside from his 15 minutes of fame and some book or lecture revenues? Corso must have known that if his claims were bunk, they would eventually be debunked. Why did he choose to leave the world as a hoaxer?

Henri ThibodeauRiderInBlack


Reference Material

Notes

[1] The Day After Roswell was written in collaboration with William J. Birnes (born November 7, 1944), an American author and ufologist. I am unable to ascertain the extent of his influence on the contents of the book. According to Stanton Friedman, he has written and packaged many other books, “so I suspect he should get most of the blame for this exploitation of the great public interest in what I call Roswell fever”.

[2] Philip Corso and The Day After Roswell, Again | Kevin Randle

[3] Idem

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