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Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey

Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force

Roger Maxwell Ramey grew up in Denton, Texas, a small town north of Fort Worth. He attended North Texas State Teachers College in Denton but had an interest in studying medicine. He joined the Texas National Guard and was a Sergeant in the Denton unit when Captain Peter Roberts insisted that Ramey take a competitive examination for possible appointment to the United States Military Academy. He won the appointment and entered West Point in 1924. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Calvary when he graduated in 1928.


Roger Maxwell Ramey's graduation photo from West Point, June 1928.

During 1928–29, Ramey received pilot training at the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, TX and the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, TX. He transferred from the Calvary to the Air Corps on 21 November 1929, and served for the next 5 years at Kelly and Brooks Fields, and with the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan. From 1934-39, Ramey was an Instructor at Randolph Field, TX; he was promoted to First Lieutenant in September 1938.

In March 1939, he was transferred to Wheeler Field, HI to serve as Intelligence Officer of the 18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor). In June 1939, he was promoted to Captain and, in July, became Commanding Officer of the 19th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) at Wheeler Field. He was made Executive Officer of 18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) in April 1940, also at Wheeler Field. Later that year, Ramey became Commanding Officer of the 42d Bombardment Squadron (Medium) at Hickam Field, HI and, in January 1941, was promoted to Major. On 7 December 1941, Ramey was Operations Officer of the 18th Bomb Wing at Hickam Field (Pearl Harbor) during the Japanese surprise attack. He was awarded a special commendation for his attempts to save our aircraft while Japanese planes strafed and bombed hangars, airplanes, and personnel. Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, Ramey was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and made Plans and Training Officer of 7th Bomber Command at Hickam. In March 1942, he was promoted to Colonel and made Acting Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Seventh Air Force, also at Hickam.


Able, atomic bomb detonated in 1946 by the US Army Air Force as part of Operation Crossroads.

On July 1, 1946, General Ramey and Colonel William H. Blanchard, commander of the 509th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)
and Task Unit 1.5.1, flew aboard the B-29 ‘Dave's Dream' piloted by Major Woodrow P. Swancutt for the ABLE drop. The
23-kiloton bomb exploded 520 feet above a fleet of 94 test vessels arrayed in Bikini Atoll, but missed its intended target
by over 1,800 feet. (The miss resulted in a government investigation of the B-29 bomber's flight crew. Eventually,
it was determined that a flaw in the bomb's tail stabilizer had caused the miss; the flight crew was not at fault.)
Although the atomic bomb inflicted heavy damage on elements of the fleet, only five ships were sunk during
Test ABLE. U.S. Navy photo


Photo courtesy of www.roswellproof.com

Colonel Ramey became Commanding Officer of the 43rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) at Port Moresby, New Guinea in October 1942. The bombing attacks of the 43rd repelled the Japanese thrust at Port Moresby and brought about their expulsion from Papua, New Guinea. In early 1943, he became Chief of Staff of the 5th Bomber Command at Port Moresby and, in the Battle of Bismarck Sea in March, Ramey directed bombing attacks that resulted in a loss of 22 Japanese ships. On 19 April 1943, he assumed command of the 5th Bomber Command after its Commander, Brigadier General Howard K. Ramey (no relation) was killed during a reconnaissance mission. [Ramey AFB in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico was named after Howard K. Ramey, not Roger M. Ramey.] Roger Ramey was promoted to Brigadier General on 1 July 1943.

After he took command, the 5th Bomber Command directed extensive bombing operations in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and other sections of the Southwest Pacific. Ramey was charged with planning and directing the bombing and strafing attacks during the campaign which resulted in the capture of Lae. General Ramey also conducted the devastating raids which crushed the strong Japanese base at Wewak, and the heavy accurate bombing of critical targets in the area under land attack by Allied Forces. Ramey was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal for these operations.

Ramey was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor) for extraordinary heroism while participating in an attack on the Japanese base at Rabaul, New Britain. As command pilot leading a flight against the base in his B-17 Heavy Bomber, (then) Colonel Ramey remained at the attack scene for over two hours, making 20 passes over the target, dropping flares on each run, and thus drawing attention of searchlights and diverting much of the anti-aircraft fire from other bombers to his own.

During December 1943-January 1944, Ramey returned to the U.S. and took command of the 38th Flying Training Wing at Kirtland Field, New Mexico. In May 1944, Ramey became Commander of the 314th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) at Peterson Field, Colorado. Shortly after that, he was made Chief of Staff, 21st Bomber Command at Peterson Field. In November 1944, the 21st was moved to Guam and helped plan and direct B-29 operations against mainland Japan from the Marianas.

Ramey spent most of 1945 in the Pacific Theater of Operations. In January, he replaced Major General Curtis LeMay as Commander of the 20th Bomber Command and 58th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) in the China-Burma-India Theater, based in Kharagpur, India. In April, the 58th Bombardment Wing moved to the Marianas Islands where it conducted raids against Japan until the end of the war. During the Wing's 3600-mile move from India to the Marianas, not a single airplane was lost. (After the war, Ramey was in charge of Operation Sunset, which flew thousands of soldiers home from the Pacific islands; again with a perfect safety record.) In November, Ramey's 58th Bombardment Wing returned to March Field in Riverside, CA.

In 1946, Ramey was assigned to temporary duty as Commander of Task Group 1.5, the Army Air Forces unit responsible for dropping the ABLE bomb (named Gilda and bearing the likeness of Rita Hayworth, star of the 1946 movie 'Gilda') during Operation Crossroads; the code name for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. On 1 July 1946, Ramey and Colonel William H. Blanchard, commander of the 509th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and Task Unit 1.5.1, flew aboard the B-29 ‘Dave's Dream' piloted by Major Woodrow P. Swancutt for the ABLE drop. The 23-kiloton bomb exploded 520 feet above a fleet of 94 test vessels arrayed in Bikini Atoll, but missed its intended target by over 1,800 feet. (The miss led to a government investigation of the B-29 bomber's flight crew. Eventually, it was determined that a flaw in the bomb's tail stabilizer had caused the miss and the flight crew was not at fault.) Although the atomic bomb inflicted heavy damage on elements of the fleet, only five ships were sunk during Test ABLE. At the conclusion of Operation Crossroads in August, Ramey returned to the 58th Bombardment Wing which moved to Fort Worth Army Air Field, TX, in September 1946.

The Eighth Air Force was reactivated at Fort Worth Army Air Field (renamed Carswell Air Force Base in January 1948) on 1 November 1946 and Ramey's 58th Bombardment Wing was merged into it. As a result, he was briefly made Chief of Staff of the Eighth under Major General Clements McMullen. Brig. Gen. Ramey assumed full command of the Eighth Air Force in January 1947, when McMullen became Deputy Chief of Staff of the Strategic Air Command.

The Roswell New Mexico UFO Incident

On the afternoon of 8 July 1947, 1st Lieutenant Walter Haut, Public Information Officer at Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) in Roswell, New Mexico, issued a press release (on the orders of RAAF Commander Colonel William Blanchard) stating that personnel from the Field's 509th Bomb Group had recovered a crashed "flying disc" from a ranch near Roswell, sparking intense media interest. The following day, the press reported that the Commander of the Eighth Air Force, Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, stated that, in fact, a radar-tracking balloon had been recovered by RAAF personnel, not a "flying disc." An ensuing press conference and photo session featured debris allegedly recovered at Roswell that seemed to confirm Ramey's weather balloon description. The explanation satisfied the press, and as a result, this event was quickly forgotten and almost completely ignored for more than 30 years.


Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey, Eighth Air Force Commander, and Chief of Staff Colonel Thomas J. Dubose posed
with weather balloon in Fort Worth, Texas, July 8, 1947. Ramey said this was the debris of what had been reported as a
"flying disk" found near Roswell, New Mexico. A controversial message held by Ramey is highlighted with a box.
Photo courtesy of Frank Kleinwechte

However, since the late 1970s, when important witnesses were first found telling a different story, the incident has become the subject of intense controversy.The U. S. military upholds that what was actually recovered was debris from an experimental high-altitude surveillance balloon belonging to a classified program named "Mogul." But many UFO proponents argue that a crashed alien craft and bodies were recovered, and that the military engaged in a cover up. The event ranks as one of the most publicized and controversial alleged UFO incidents and has made the name Roswell synonymous with UFOs. After his involvement in 1947, Ramey never publicly spoke of the Roswell incident again.

Ramey was nominated for promotion to Major General in the fall of 1947; he was also awarded the Legion of Merit for his role in Operation Crossroads. In 1948, the Eighth Air Force began its conversion from the B-29 bomber to the B-36 bomber. In January 1948, Ramey received his promotion to Major General from President Truman. In the spring of 1948 he repeated his role from 1946's Operation Crossroads by directing Air Force units in Operation Sandstone, the new A-bomb tests on Eniwetok Atoll. In June, he attended his 20th anniversary class reunion at West Point. In August 1948, Ramey led a flight of 135 B-29 bombers in a massive display of 700 planes over New York's new Idlewild Airport (now JFK). In December 1949, Ramey was given the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce's "Man of the Year" award for organizing rescue efforts during a disastrous Fort Worth' flood earlier that year.

Ramey was named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in 1950. A short time later, he became Director of Operations and in announcing his appointment, the Air Force Times described him this way. "...General Ramey has a quick, incisive mind, the habit of getting immediately at the nub of a problem and of expressing decision in a few, simple words, embellished by a fabulous sense of humor. Air officers who served with him in World War II are still repeating with chuckles some of his classic, always wise, but often unprintable comments on unit problems."

In 1951, Ramey took on additional duty as a member of the Military Liaison Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, DC. In January 1953, he testified before Congress regarding air accidents and Air Force plans for more radar surveillance.

In the spring of 1954, Ramey was awarded the third star of a Lieutenant General and assumed command of the Fifth Air Force under Far East Air Force, at Osan Air Base, Korea (a few months later it moved to Nagoya, Japan). Ramey was credited with rebuilding the Fifth Air Force into a major unit, just as he had done with the Eighth Air Force in Fort Worth. On 20 August 1955, Ramey was decorated by South Korean President Syngman Rhee.

In 1956, Ramey was named Deputy Commander of the Continental Air Defense Command and Vice Commander of the Air Defense Command, at Ent AFB, CO. He eventually became Commander of the Air Defense Command but, due to a heart attack in September 1956, it was only for a short time. He retired from the Air Force on 31 January 1957, due to his heart problems.

After his retirement, Ramey became Vice President of Commercial Standard Insurance Company. In 1958, he was hired by Northrup Aircraft as Corporate Vice President in charge of its district offices in Washington, Dayton, Omaha, Ogden, Huntsville, and Colorado Springs. In January 1958, he was appointed by the Governor of Texas to the Board of Regents of North Texas State College, his old alma mater (now the University of North Texas). In September 1960, he became president of Permanent Filter Company in Los Angeles and retired from there in July 1962.


1960 photo courtesy of roswellproof.com

General Roger Maxwell Ramey died on 4 March and his funeral was held on Friday, 8 March 1963 at the First Methodist Church in his hometown of Denton, Texas. He was survived by his second wife, Eunice Latane ‘Worsham' Ramey, whom he married in December 1950; and by their two children; Kent, 11; and Mary Latane, 5.

Bio compiled by Charles A. Lewis with gratitude to David Rudiak for sharing his research materials.

 

Sources:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=59658498
http://roswellproof.homestead.com/ramey_info.html
 
No infringement intended. For educational purposes only.