Crash Story File: Jose Padilla’s “Stolen-Valor” Military Claims

Crash Story File: Jose Padilla’s “Stolen-Valor” Military Claims

By Douglas Dean Johnson

Original publication: May 1, 2023

You are in the Crash Story Files, a series of investigative reports examining claims that a UFO crashed and was recovered near San Antonio, New Mexico, in August 1945. To go back to the Crash Story hub story and index, click here.

In 2003, Joseph Lopez Padilla (Jose Padilla) (1936- ), one of the two "primary witnesses" to the purported August 1945 UFO crash near San Antonio, New Mexico, told writer Ben Moffett of the Socorro County Mountain Mail that he (Padilla) had joined the New Mexico National Guard at age 13 (that is, in 1949 or 1950), under a New Mexico National Guard policy that allowed this at the time, and that he later "spent time in Korea."

In 2015, Moffett wrote that he had based his articles entirely on information provided by Reme Baca and Jose Padilla.

At some later date, Padilla told Vallee-Harris that he had received a wound during the Korean War – a wound that still troubled him in 2020, according to Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (Second Edition), page 229:

On Friday, the 16th of October 2020, Paola and I were back in Socorro one more time, to meet again with Mr. Padilla...Jose was recovering from an operation on his first bullet wound, the one from Korea. The second wound would require another surgery, a few weeks away. He now walked with a cane but after a period of depression his old energy was returning.

[The "second wound" is a reference to "a bullet that had lodged itself in his abdomen as he was arresting a criminal in California during his active years," according to Vallee and Harris (pages 126, 234)– a bogus claim that I debunk elsewhere.]

In the real world, the New Mexico National Guard (like the rest of the Army) never enlisted anybody known to be under age 18 (or 17 with parental consent), and there was certainly never a policy allowing enlistment persons under age 17. The claim of Padilla (via Ben Moffett) that there was a policy allowing enlistment by a 13-year-old into the New Mexico National Guard was implausible on its face – but, as Moffett wrote in 2015, he merely dutifully recorded what Jose Padilla and Reme Baca told him.

Searches of the membership records of the New Mexico National Guard and the New Mexico Air National Guard found no record of Joseph Lopez Padilla ever having served in either organization. The search was conducted using name variants, date of birth, and Social Security number.

The Korean War ended on July 27, 1953, when Padilla would have been 16 years old—too young to serve in the military, much less in combat. Moreover, no variation of Joseph Padilla's name appears on the official lists of Army personnel killed or wounded during the Korean War, which may be searched through the on line resources of the National Archives and Records Administration.

It is my opinion that Padilla did not serve in military service in the Korean War and was not wounded during the Korean War. It is my opinion that if he made such claims, as clearly reported by Vallee-Harris, it would constitute an example of what is sometimes termed “stolen valor.” That is not a crime, but I believe that if Padilla told such lies it is reprehensible, and certainly further destructive of Padilla's credibility.

These findings do not exclude the possibility that Padilla may have served in some component of the military at some time; it would not surprise me to learn that he did. There are easy steps that Padilla could take to authorize me to access his full military record, if any military record actually does exist. I will be happy to post those records here as soon as I obtain them directly from government sources.

But, since Padilla's advocates, Paola Harris and Jacques Vallee,  have recited his purported Korean War service and supposed war wound as part of the portrait of credibility that they disseminated in their book, perhaps the burden should now fall on them to document that they were not deceived– and that they did not, being deceived, mislead their readers.

Clockwise from 1 o'clock: Remigio (Reme) Baca, Paola Harris, William P. "Billy" Brophy, Jacques Vallee, Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla. To return to the Crash Story hub story, click here.