Crash Story: The Trinity UFO Crash Hoax

Crash Story: The Trinity UFO Crash Hoax
On January 13, 2023, the New York Times posed a question in its headline, inspired by specific claims about a purported UFO crash in New Mexico in August 1945. After a three-month investigation, I believe I have the answer, which I have superimposed on the book that promotes the claims.

By Douglas Dean Johnson

@ddeanjohnson on X/Twitter

Original publication: May 1, 2023. All substantive changes since initial publication are logged at the bottom of the article.

So we have a very unusual situation there, where we have the best possible witnesses.” – Jacques Vallee, A Different Perspective, June 3, 2021 (at 19:27)

You are reading the hub article: Crash Story: The Trinity UFO Crash Hoax. Below you will find a series of links to the Crash Story Files – sub-stories that present documentation and conclusions about specific issues related to the credibility and claims of the “witnesses” to a purported UFO crash and military recovery near San Antonio, New Mexico, in August 1945, the subject of a book titled Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, by Jacques F. Vallee and Paola Leopizzi Harris (2021, 2022). Each of these Crash Story Files is being published as a freestanding article with its own URL. Additional articles may be added at any time; when this occurs, they will be added to the Index below. You can subscribe to this free blog merely by entering an email address; your email address will not be sold or used for any commercial purpose.


The Trinity UFO Crash Hoax [this is the hub article that you are reading] (May 1, 2023)

"Witness" Credibility Implodes for Jacques Vallee's Trinity UFO Crash Tale (January 25, 2024)

Selected Comments About and Media Coverage of the Trinity UFO Crash Story (running compilation)

Trinity UFO-crash fictions clash with real atomic history (September 30, 2023)

"My dad is a pathological liar" (September 29, 2023)

Ryan Wood: Trinity story "most likely" a hoax (June 1, 2023)

The Reme Baca Smoking-Gun Interview (May 20, 2023)

Eddie Apodaca: The Real Policeman Who Cracked the Trinity UFO Crash Case (May 20, 2023)

The Shifting Narratives of the Trinity UFO Crash and Recovery (May 20, 2023)

The Sources of the Trinity Tale (May 20, 2023)

Looking for a Payday (May 20, 2023)

Reme Baca (AKA Ray Baca): Fantasy Kingmaker, Fabricator of Tall Tales (May 20, 2023)

The “Secret File” of Governor Dixy Lee Ray (May 20, 2023)

The Morphing Fantasies of Billy Brophy About His Airman Father (May, 2023)

The Suppressed Tale of the Captured Alien (May 20, 2023)

Jose Padilla’s “Stolen-Valor” Claims to California Highway Patrol Service (May 2023)

The “Alien” Artifact with Metric Dimensions (May 20, 2023)

The Baca UFO Sighting of July, 1994 (May 20, 2023)


The astonishing story of the “Trinity UFO crash” -- an alien craft crashing in August 1945 near the site of the first atomic test, witnessed by two boys, carted off by the Army and hidden ever since-- has been presented to a wide audience in two editions of the book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, by Jacques Vallee and Paola L. Harris (in June 2021 and August 2022), and through promotional efforts spun off the book. In late 2022 and early 2023, the story reached a substantially expanded audience through amplifying treatments by Fox News Network host Tucker Carlson, writers Josh Boswell and Christopher Sharp of the UK Daily Mail, the hosts of various UFO-themed podcasts and platforms– and even a respectful spin-off feature story in the New York Times, written by Remy Tumin. (See Crash Story File: Selected Comments About and Media Coverage of the Vallee-Harris Book and the Trinity UFO Crash Story.)

As I have written elsewhere, I believe that anomalous devices under apparent intelligent control, operating in the air and sometimes seen on the ground, have been reported by many credible observers since at least late World War II. I believe that some of these UFOs are likely of non-prosaic, unknown origin—unknown to me, anyway. I entertain the possibility that some component of the U.S. government may have recovered an anomalous device, or portions thereof, on one or more occasions over the past 70 years. Few things could delight me more than to see such a claim proved true, and the details laid out for public and scientific examination, before I pass from this mortal sphere.

But this story is not that story.

No, the Trinity UFO-crash story is a tale dreamed up by a serial pretender, Remigio (Reme) Baca, AKA "Ray Baca," now deceased– who faked a history as a political "kingmaker" and senior aide to a governor, and fabricated a story about viewing an ultra-secret government file about his fake UFO crash. Baca enlisted a man who faked a history as a police officer and wounded veteran, Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla. These two fakers hijacked the names and personas of a real policeman (Eddie Apodaca) and a real governor (Dixy Lee Ray) as characters in their shoddy work of fiction.

The story of the supposed 1945 UFO crash and recovery is not a story that was told to adults by children, as it is sometimes presented by Vallee, Harris, and others. Rather, it is a tale first told by two men who were each in their mid-60s at the time. They hoped to profit from it. In a presentation on September 16, 2023, Paola Harris belatedly acknowledged, "Reme Bacca was pretty greedy. He wanted $250,000 for the piece [an aluminum bracket that Baca and Padilla claimed that Padilla had pried off the inner panel of the alien space craft], and he wanted $250,000 for the story."

To the original fiction of Baca and Padilla, Harris and Vallee later grafted on the morphing delusional fantasies of the eccentric son (William P. “Billy” Brophy) of a long-deceased military pilot (William J. Brophy). The pilot himself probably had no connection whatever to any of the multiple and conflicting UFO-crash stories to which his name has been attached by his fabulist son.

This article, Crash Story: The Trinity UFO Crash Hoax, and the linked Crash Story File series, are based on my journalistic investigations (which had consumed three months, as of May 1, 2023). I present extensive documentation establishing that all three of the claimed “eyewitness” sources – Baca, Padilla, Brophy -- have propagated lies and/or fantasies that are absolutely fatal to their credibility. Because I have demonstrated, in my opinion, that the three primary sources have all engaged in multiple gross fabrications, it would be folly to attach any credence whatever to any of the oft-conflicting versions of the UFO crash-recovery events that they have described.

Those are my conclusions. I believe that any objective reader will find in the attached Crash Story Files ample evidence to justify my assessments. Indeed, I believe that my discovery of a 30-minute recording in which Reme Baca pitched an entirely different boyhood UFO-crash-adventure account, less than year before the first publication of the incompatible Baca-Padilla story that Vallee and Harris later popularized, is by itself utterly fatal to the entire Trinity edifice and all the extrapolations that Vallee, Harris, and others have based on it. This is thoroughly documented in my May 20, 2023 report Crash Story File: The Reme Baca Smoking Gun Interview. Vallee himself has conceded in September, 2023, that the UFO-crash tale that Baca presented to Carey is best described as "fiction."

Even before that discovery, my reporting on the real history of Eddie Apodaca was sufficient to demonstrate that the Baca-Padilla story was a work of fiction.

Regarding the nature and quality of earlier “investigations” of the Trinity story by Paola Harris and Jacques Vallee, readers may reach their own judgments after reviewing the linked series of Crash Story Files. Remember, the material you read in the Crash Story Files was all assembled by a citizen journalist (very much “part time”), with no corporate media platform, and with financial resources that (I feel it safe to assert) are very far short of those reputed to be available to Jacques Vallee. Nobody paid me to do it. I have a longstanding personal interest in the subject matter.

I do not apologize for the formidable volume of the material linked here. The current elaborate version of the Trinity UFO crash tale has been constructed in layers over the past 20 years. The story has been entertained by some in the mainstream media and by some in the halls of Congress. In the dismantling of this hoax, the devil is indeed in the details.

The Trinity crash tale has grown and morphed over a 20-year period. The current Vallee-Harris presentation incorporates claims that flatly contradict early statements by Baca and Padilla that have been overlooked, ignored, or forgotten. Still, I do not claim that I have drilled down to bottom on every aspect of the history of the hoax. If I am convinced of an error, I will correct it here, and show my work. But the information that I have already compiled, and that I distill for you here, is more than sufficient to reach an unequivocally negative conclusion, beyond a reasonable doubt, on the credibility of the Trinity UFO crash-recovery story.


That such a shoddy narrative-- pasted together from the rough-hewn and morphing tales of Reme Baca, Jose Padilla, and Billy Brophy-- could have received such wide exposure over the past couple of years, with respectful reception even in the pages of The New York Times and apparently by some on Capitol Hill, is due in very large part to the embrace of the story by Jacques F. Vallee.

Jacques Vallee has made impressive contributions to multiple fields over his long life (he is now age 84), including influential books of analysis and reflection on the nature of UFO phenomena. Vallee is widely respected among people who take aspects of the subject of UFOs seriously (among whom I number myself). A profile of Vallee in Jerome Clark’s UFO Encyclopedia 3rd Edition (2018) stated, “Vallee as an elder statesman of ufology is an almost universally revered figure.”

Vallee first heard about the case from his friend Ron Brinkley in October 2017, but apparently only became immersed in it after he first visited with Paola Harris in October 2018. From the start, Vallee has depended heavily upon Harris’ material. Regarding that visit, Vallee wrote in Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (Second Edition, p. 54): “There had been no publicity, no big story, no interest from TV reporters and only casual attention for a few ufologists [in the 1945 crash story]. Paola had the only consistent, historical data and was eager to upgrade the research.”

Regrettably, in my view, Vallee invested in the Trinity case his prestige. In so doing, I believe that the scientist has placed his trust in persons unworthy of that trust. He has also devoted some portion of his reportedly ample financial resources to promoting it (he hired a publicist, who appears to have been quite effective).

Still, I was forced to conclude that Vallee himself has displayed a extraordinary degree of confirmation bias. He has neglected to heed numerous warning signs. He has at times displayed impatience, perhaps veering into displays of arrogance, when presented with meritorious objections to the case. Moreover, I am troubled that Vallee has carefully cherry-picked from the utterances of his star “corroborating” witness, Billy Brophy, omitting such claims as the recovery of aliens both living and dead – perhaps, I speculate, because he felt that such elements would be disruptive to a polished narrative, “a bridge too far” for some readers and journalists.

I believe that Harris and Vallee both were seriously remiss in failing to conduct elementary background research into checkable claims by their so-called witnesses. In the absence of such true investigation, I regard as it as particularly regrettable that Vallee chose to use the news media to interject a story with a rotten foundation into a nascent, congressionally mandated study of the federal government’s past involvement in UFO-related matters.

Some foreign editions of the First Edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret.


On April 17, 2023, I submitted to Jacques Vallee, through his publicist, a request for a 30-minute, on-record interview in which I would ask questions based on some of my findings. With that request I also submitted three questions that I regarded as very simple. Dr. Vallee declined the interview request, and answered one of the three questions; the complete e-mail exchange is reproduced below.

On April 19, 2023, I sent an email to Paola Harris, with whom I had never previously communicated. I set forth three simple questions, asking the dates on which she had conducted two previously published interviews with key figures in the case, and asking whether she holds U.S. citizenship (the latter point having legal significance with respect to one of her public claims, as I discuss in Crash Story File: The 'Secret File' of Governor Dixy Lee Ray). If Harris had responded to these simple inquiries, perhaps additional discussion would have ensued, but I have received no response.

How might we expect Vallee, Harris, and others who have energetically promoted the Trinity UFO crash-recovery story to respond to the findings reported in these the Crash Tale Files?

I would hope to see a drastic course correction—the abandonment of this hoax and all its spin-off activities. But long observation and experience has taught me that in circumstances such as this, in which individuals have a great deal of time and personal credibility invested in a particular set of claims, the response to new and disconfirming evidence is more often generalized denial and deflection, avoiding square confrontation of specific disconfirmations.

If that occurs in this case, then I would expect the promoters of the Trinity UFO crash story to seek to deflect attention away from the most damning and incontrovertible lies told by Reme Baca and Jose Padilla—for example, the revelations about New Mexico State Police officer Eddie Apodaca, or the evidence that Jose Padilla falsely claimed extensive service as a California Highway Patrol officer, or the documents that show that Reme Baca falsely claimed to be a close associate of Governor Dixy Lee Ray and imputed to Governor Ray actions that in the real world would have been serious federal crimes.

If the promoters of the Trinity UFO crash tale choose that path, then I would expect them to keep their responses at a high level of generality. My findings might be deemed not to “dignify a response” – often a favorite of politicians when some unsavory revelation first comes to light. They may speak with indignation of disrespect for “witnesses,” perhaps throwing in some references to “smears” or “character assassination.” We might hear that these sorts of “personal attacks on witnesses” would never happen in Europe.

They are not "witnesses." They are hoaxers, later "corroborated" by a serial spinner of fantasies.

Perhaps the apostles for the Trinity crash story will observe that Remigio Baca is now dead and cannot respond to my findings – but then, neither can the long-deceased Officer Eddie Apodaca or the long-deceased Governor Dixy Lee Ray now confront Baca or Padilla about the lies that the hoaxers told about them– lies that Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris believed all too readily, and have spread far and wide.

Yes, I fear that perhaps we will see such attempts to evade and deflect -- all to avoid dealing squarely with the damning documentation that is fatal to the credibility of a story in which they and others have now devoted so much time and energy.

But if anything like that does occur, then it will be yet another indication that those involved are not engaged, on this particular matter, in anything properly called investigative journalism or science. Responses such as I have described would be defensive maneuvers of the sort that one expects to be employed by those who adhere to a quasi-religious belief system, when confronted with objectively ascertainable information that undermines the foundational claims of their cult.

[UPDATE: Regrettably, in response to my initial articles of May 1, 2003, Vallee and Harris did take the path of deflection and evasion– to which I must add, misrepresentation regarding what I had written on a number of significant points. I discussed some of this in Crash Story File: The Reme Baca Smoking Gun Interview (May 20, 2023).]

[UPDATE: In a "declaration" posted on Paola Harris's website, dated September 23, 2023, and titled "A Tale of Two Urchins: Truth and Consequences in New Mexico Ufology," Jacques Vallee made grudging further concessions, including finally acknowledging that Eddie Apodaca could not have been present at the crash site because I had proved that Apodaca was in Europe at the time, and conceding that Reme Baca had tried to sell UFO writers on a boyhood-UFO-crash story best described as "fiction" before the 1945 Baca-Padilla story was first published. Yet, he continued to insist that the testimony of Baca and Jose Padilla should be believed with respect to the 1945 crash story, and raised several objections to my reporting on the subject. I replied to some of his objections, and offered additional data, in Crash Story File: "My dad is a pathological liar" (September 29, 2023).]


I have broken my findings into a series of topical articles, each labeled “Crash Story File: [title],” each with its own URL. A summary of these Crash Story Files follows. The initial batch of material may be published while some other Crash Story Files are still under construction; if you find a link that is not active, check it again after week or so.

● In the original tale, both in direct accounts by Reme Baca and Jose Padilla themselves, and as the story has more recently been set forth in the Vallee-Harris book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, one key character is New Mexico State Police officer Eddie Apodaca. Consistently in the accounts directly from Baca and Padilla, Apodaca is not just a random state policeman sent in response to a trouble call. No, he is someone already well known to Faustino Padilla, “a friend of the family" who is summoned to help deal with a puzzling situation. Apodaca was identified as follows by Reme Baca in his 2011 book Born on the Edge of Ground Zero (on page 42): “State Policeman Eddie Apodaca, a family friend who had been summons [sic] by Faustino arrived at the Padilla home.” Moreover, in the Baca-Padilla tale, Eddie Apodaca is one of only three named human beings known to have entered the downed alien craft.

I found that Eddie Apodaca was a real New Mexico State Police officer, who was assigned to Socorro County, New Mexico, where Baca and Padilla grew up, in the early 1950s, when they were in their early teens. However, I have documented that Eddie Apodaca was not commissioned as a state police officer until January, 1951. In August 1945, the date of the fictional UFO crash, Eddie Apodaca was with his Army unit in Europe. Yes, in August 1945, Apodaca was very much closer to 5-year-old Jacques Vallee than to San Antonio, New Mexico. I obtained documents showing that Apodaca could not have been anywhere in the state of New Mexico until at least three months after the crash—and, again, he was not commissioned as a New Mexico State Police officer until more than five years after the “crash date.”

Apodaca’s visit to the crash site, his entry into the alien vehicle, all of the quotes attributed to him—they are all pure inventions by Reme Baca and Jose Padilla, inserted into their made-up story. Paola Harris never checked. Jacques Vallee never checked. Read the details and see the documentation in Crash Story File: Eddie Apodaca: The Real Policeman Who Cracked the Trinity UFO Crash Case.

● The Baca-Padilla tale is not a tale told by two children, as Vallee and Padilla often speak of it, but rather a tale told by two men who were in their 60s when they launched the hoax in 2003. These two were not terribly sophisticated liars. They started out somewhat tentatively, but it appears that they learned over time that they could elaborate on their stories to their hearts content, and could slip up in any number of ways, and their stenographers would swallow it all, subjecting very little to skeptical scrutiny. You will find much more detail in Crash Story File: The Shifting Narratives of the Trinity UFO Crash and Recovery, and in Crash Story File: The Sources of the Trinity Tale.

● There is good evidence that the two “eyewitnesses" (especially Reme Baca) hoped and attempted to raise large sums of money with their tale, and that they made repeated attempts to do so. It is not clear, however, that any of those efforts were ever terribly successful. More discussion of the pecuniary aspects of the Trinity-crash hoax are found in Crash Story File: Looking for a Payday.

● Remigio (Reme) Baca (1938-2013), also known during one period of his life as “Ray Baca,” was involved with MUFON in the 1990s, when he was an insurance salesman in California. In publicly promoting his UFO crash story starting in 2003, Baca told substantial lies – documentable and highly pertinent lies -- and he swiped material from various sources to incorporate into his stories. In order to impress Paola Harris and others, Baca grossly exaggerated his stature in the political world of Washington State during the 1970s. Specifically, Baca falsely claimed to have been a crucial electoral "kingmaker" for one-term Washington State Governor Dixy Lee Ray (elected November 1976), and falsely claimed to have been a member of Governor Ray's "executive staff." In support of these claims, in Baca’s own book self-published in 2011, he plagiarized pages of text nearly verbatim from the writings of a man who really was a longtime close associate of Dixy Lee Ray, Louis R. Guzzo. The details and extensive documentation are found in Crash Story File: Reme Baca (AKA Ray Baca)-- Fantasy Kingmaker, Fabricator of Tall Tales.

● Baca fabricated a fantastically implausible tale (that both Harris and Vallee swallowed and have vigorously promoted) in which Governor Dixy Lee Ray of Washington State, a former member of the Atomic Energy Commission, showed Baca an ultra-secret file about the 1945 UFO crash at San Antonio, New Mexico. In propagating this story, Vallee and Harris implicitly have accused the long-dead scientist-governor of committing multiple federal felonies and risking complete political ruin, as a favor to a political functionary. The story, if true, probably would have also involved the commission of heavy federal felonies by Reme Baca himself, and perhaps by others, including perhaps Paola Harris. But don’t worry, no actual crimes were committed--because the secret-file claim itself is completely preposterous (and it would be preposterous even if it did not rest on Baca’s fictional claim to have had a close relationship with Governor Ray). I interviewed two experts about Reme Baca’s “secret file” story and its legal implications in detail in Crash Story File: The “Secret File” of Governor Dixy Lee Ray.

● In 2003, before the Baca-Padilla story was known to the world, a UFO-crash enthusiast named William P. “Billy” Brophy wrote multiple letters to the UK Flying Saucer Review in which he placed his father, a long-deceased military pilot, at the site of a 1947 UFO crash in New Mexico, and associated his father in a murky way with another UFO crash in Mexico in 1950– never mentioning any 1945 crash. However, after the Baca-Padilla story started cropping up in UFO literature, Brophy latched onto it big time, and after that spoke mostly of his father's claimed involvement to the 1945 crash story, which he had never previously mentioned. Harris has revealed that it was Billy Brophy who first brought the Baca-Padilla San Antonio crash story to her attention in 2009. “How I really met Reme was because there was a gentleman in Florida that contacted me on email, and told me that his father had flown the bodies out of San Antonio,” she explained on December 10, 2010 (Veritas Radio, at 24 minutes). ("What bodies?," you may ask. Be patient. We will get to the bodies, and more.)

In the original Billy Brophy story, his pilot father played a modest role—he was sent to the crash site to begin the clean up process (and he flew out the alien cadavers). In a more recent telling, however, airman Brophy has been transformed into an overhead eyewitness, who conveniently sees both the just-crashed craft and the two boys observing from nearby. Vallee and Harris have enthusiastically promoted the overhead-witness claim, even though it directly contradicts unambiguous statements recorded years ago by Baca and Padilla, and even though it differs radically from the original Billy Brophy version of his father’s involvement in the 1945 affair.

It is very unlikely that the real airman, William J. Brophy, was source of any of the multiple and contradictory UFO crash stories to which his name has been attached by son Billy Brophy. I believe the pilot-Brophy story in all its permutations is purely the product of the disordered and fantasy-prone mind of Billy Brophy. In a recorded interview in January 2023, Billy’s younger brother, Sean Brophy, told me that their father once told Sean about an interesting encounter with a UFO while flying a C-47 over Georgia in 1950, but that the airman – whom Sean described as a serious-minded, sober individual – never spoke in Sean’s hearing of involvement in any UFO crash or retrieval. Read more of the words of Billy Brophy in their full, eye-popping context, and learn more about Billy's ever-deepening role in the Trinity-crash saga in Crash Story File: The Morphing Fantasies of Billy Brophy About His Airman Father.

● In an interview by Paola Harris apparently conducted in 2010, later included by Reme Baca in his self-published book Born on the Edge of Ground Zero (2011), Billy Brophy told Paola Harris that his father (pilot William J. Brophy) had been sent to recover the downed alien craft on the Padilla Ranch site, and that a live alien was captured. Even though Vallee-Harris in their August 2022 Second Edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, and in interviews, have placed great weight on the recently minted Brophy fly-over story, they have unaccountably omitted from their book, and from every interview I have yet reviewed, Billy Brophy's earthshaking claim of an alien captured alive — although it comes from exactly the same source, purported statements to Billy by his deceased father.

A December 2010 interview is the only place I’ve found Harris even referring to the recovery of alien cadavers, and then only in passing—they are not mentioned in either edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret. Nor have I come across any other interview in which Harris repeats her passing 2010 oblique reference to the pilot flying the alien bodies away. I have found no reference by Vallee to either the captured live alien or the recovered alien cadavers– even though, I again underscore, the information comes from a source that Vallee finds impeccable with regard to the overhead-pilot claim.

I find these omissions from the current Vallee-Harris narrative troubling, perhaps inexcusable. It appears that Vallee and Harris have been engaged in their own “clean up of the crash site,” so to speak. The details are found in Crash Story File: The Suppressed Tale of the Captured Alien.

● Primary “witness” Joseph Lopez Padilla (Jose Padilla), born in 1936, in 2003 told writer Ben Moffett that he had joined the New Mexico National Guard at age 13 under a policy that allowed this. In two searches of the archives of the New Mexico National Guard and the New Mexico Air National Guard, an archivist for those organizations found no record of Padilla ever having served in either organization. Moreover, the New Mexico National Guard did not have a policy of enlisting persons under age 18, or age 17 with parental consent.

Padilla told Vallee-Harris that he had received a wound in military service in Korea – a wound that still troubled him in 2020, according to the Vallee-Harris book (Trinity: the Best-Kept Secret, Second Edition, page 229); Vallee said he still carried a bullet in his body from that conflict. The Korean War began when Padilla was age 13 and ended when he was age 16--too young to serve in the military, much less in combat. Padilla’s name does not appear in the National Archives and Records Administration database listing all Army personnel killed or wounded during the Korean War. It is my opinion that Padilla did not serve in the military in Korea or anywhere else, and that his claims to have done so constitute an example of what is sometimes termed “stolen valor.” That is not a crime in most circumstances, but I believe that such lies are reprehensible and certainly further destructive of his credibility. For more detail and the documentation, Crash Story File: Jose Padilla’s “Stolen-Valor” Military Claims, which also contains details on Vallee's later acceptance and transmission of a revised and equally improbable war-wound claim by Padilla, subsequent to publication of this article.

● Jose Padilla told Vallee and Harris that he had been a member of the California Highway Patrol for many years, and carried in his body a second troublesome bullet received in the act of apprehending a criminal. In their book, Vallee and Harris six times cited Padilla’s claimed extensive law-enforcement background as credentials for his Padilla’s credibility as a witness, the acuity of his observational powers, his “photographic” memory about details, and so forth. Reme Baca also embraced the claim in his 2011 book (“Jose...served in the California highway patrol,” p. 75). Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (Second Edition, August 2022) contains a formal dedication to five named persons, among them, “Officer Jose Padilla.” The claim has been accepted and repeated without question in some media organs, including the UK Daily Mail. However, I have established that Padilla was never a commissioned officer in the California Highway Patrol, and that he was never even eligible to be hired by that force. Moreover, in my opinion it is very unlikely that Padilla was ever a commissioned law enforcement officer in any jurisdiction. I predict that Vallee and Harris will be unable to provide any authentic documentation of any employment by Padilla as a commissioned law enforcement officer (i.e., an official with statutory powers of arrest, etc.). I present extensive documentation in Crash Story File: Jose Padilla’s “Stolen-Valor” Claims to California Highway Patrol Service. [The article has been updated to include information regarding Vallee and Harris's subsequent withdrawal of their oft-stated claim that Padilla had been a state trooper, and their adoption of an improbable and evidence-free substitute story provided to them by Padilla.]

● Baca and Padilla claimed that Padilla used “a pipe” (Baca, 2005) or a prybar/cheatbar/crowbar (later versions) to pry a 12-inch metal “souvenir” (bracket, artifact) off a panel of the interior wall of the downed alien craft. In his early writings, Reme Baca claimed that tests (by unnamed analysts) showed that the metal had exotic properties, and Harris at times in the past also embraced such claims (micro-circuits, and so forth). However, the artifact has been analyzed by identified labs on several occasions and found to be a conventional terrestrial aluminum alloy, the product of prosaic manufacturing methods. Vallee himself in 2021, noting that the artifact was manufactured with metric dimensions, has speculated that it may have been manufactured in Mexico. Since Padilla did not claim to have found the artifact laying on the ground, but firmly affixed to the inner wall panel of an alien craft, to my mind these facts alone should have sufficed to convince any investigator of modest discernment to avoid investing any further time in listening to or promoting the tales of Padilla and Baca. Instead, Vallee has engaged in tortured speculations regarding how a human-made device became fastened to an inner wall panel of an alien craft. Details are found in Crash Story File: The “Alien” Artifact with Metric Dimensions.

● A provision of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, enacted in December 2022, contains a provision requiring the Pentagon-ODNI office tasked with investigation Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP, UFOs), the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), to prepare “a written report detailing the historical record of the United States Government relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena, including...any program of activity that was protected by restricted access that has not been explicitly and clearly reported to Congress.” The study “shall focus on the period beginning on January 1, 1945...” An earlier version of the legislation, reported from a Senate committee five months earlier (on which I did extensive reporting at the time), had similar language mandating a historical study, but set the start date as January 1, 1947. Jacques Vallee, in a January 2023 interview with the UK Daily Mail, asserted that his book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret was responsible for the change in the start date.

“I was not involved in the drafting of the legislation, but several of my DC friends were, and they got the date of the investigation pushed back to 1945,” Vallée told “Several of the Congressmen involved have the book that Paola Harris and I wrote about our research at [the alleged crash site called] Trinity.”

-- From “EXCLUSIVE: Pentagon ordered to re-investigate 1945 crash of mysterious 'avocado-shaped UFO' dubbed the 'Roswell before Roswell' - as expert reveals eyewitness accounts of the encounter,” by Josh Boswell and Chris Sharp, Daily Mail, December 29, 2022.

Vallee’s claim was also accepted at face value by Remy Tumin, a reporter for the New York Times, and used as the hook for her prominent story that appeared in the web edition of the paper on January 13, 2023, under the headline, “Did Aliens Land on Earth in 1945? A Defense Bill Seeks Answers.” The article also appeared in the printed newspaper of January 15, 2023.

While I claim no certain knowledge on the matter, my impression is that the contents of the Vallee-Harris book, but even more Vallee’s prestige, probably did influence the date change, and it may well have been the primary factor. Whether or not that is so, at the time the final bill was released I publicly welcomed the date change, although I also made it clear that my reasoning was not based on the claims set forth in the Vallee-Harris book (regarding which I was manifestly unimpressed when I read the First Edition in July 2021). I welcome the date change still. Whatever the factors that contributed to the date change, I hope that this series of articles will provide useful information to AARO, and to others, in evaluating the Vallee-Harris claims regarding the purported events of August 1945.

Crash Story File: Selected Comments About and Media Coverage of the Vallee-Harris Book and the Trinity UFO Crash Story. This file is simply a compilation of selected statements made about the Vallee-Harris book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, or other aspects of the Trinity UFO crash tale, which I update from time to time. It is by not intended to be comprehensive. I welcome submissions from persons who are quoted who may wish to update or supplement statements included in this compilation.


I am solely responsible for the opinions and conclusions set forth in Crash Story and in the linked Crash Story Files. Where errors are found, they too are solely my responsibility. Where I am persuaded of an error, or have some information that justifies an update, I will revise the article accordingly, and note any substantial revisions in a dated log at the bottom of any revised article, as is my usual practice.

Many people have been helpful in sharing their time and expertise in helping me pursue specific lines of inquiry. Most of these people listed here helped me find historical materials that were instructive regarding one or another specific aspects of the case. I list those people here (except for a few helpers who desired anonymity) with deep appreciation. But, please heed—none of these people are in any way answerable for my assessments, opinions, characterizations, or conclusions, or for anything other than direct quotations attributed to them by name. I expect that some of them will disagree with some of my assessments, and some might even dispute some of my factual findings (but, I have the receipts).

I list these acknowledgments in alphabetical order. Where an institutional name is given, it is for identification purposes only.


Archivists at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, Stanford University

Research Services staff of the Washington State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State

Michael L. Boss

Thomas J. Carey

Curt Collins

James Clarkson

Barry Greenwood

Robert Hastings, author of UFOs & Nukes (Second Edition, 2017) and co-author of Confession: Our Hidden Alien Encounters Revealed (2019)

Frank Kimbler

Isaac Koi

David Marler, National UFO Historical Records Center

Rick Mattos, author of California Highway Patrol (2008)

Tim McMillan, executive director, The Debrief

Kevin Randle, author of Roswell in the 21st Century: The Evidence as it Exists Today

Mark Rodeghier, scientific director, Center for UFO Studies

Alejandro Rojas, UFO researcher and editor at

SignalsIntelligence, investigative journalist

Rob Swiatek, Mutual UFO Network

Ronald Taylor, author of New Mexico Highway Patrol (2013)

Florian Waitl, Command Historian, New Mexico National Guard

Frank Warren

Alex Wellerstein, author of Restricted Data (2011)

Ryan S. Wood, author of Majic Eyes Only (2005)


“So you know, the people that want to, you know, just debunk it without ever reading the book--anybody that wants to talk to us, please read the book and have some details or data, because I don't want to discuss anything with people that don’t read.”—Paola Leopizzi Harris, The Alien UFO Podcast, October 17, 2022

In addition to sources listed below, many other source documents are cited, linked, and/or reproduced in the individual Crash Story Files. The sources that I list here are presented largely in chronological order. All materials are presented here under Fair Use provisions, for purposes of journalistic investigation and reporting, education, and research, without any commercial aspect. I hope these articles provide information useful to policymakers, scientists, and members of the general public who wish to deal in a serious manner with the subject of unidentified anomalous phenomena.

● Telephone interview of Reme Baca by Tom Carey, late 2002 or early 2003. Audio recording and transcript embedded in my article The Reme Baca smoking-gun interview (May 20, 2023).

Flying Saucer Review (London), Spring, Summer, and Fall issues published in 2003 (Vol. 48, No. 1-3). The pertinent pages are reproduced in Crash Story File: The Morphing Fantasies of Billy Brophy About His Airman Father.

● “Aliens Among Us?” and “Witnesses Still Wonder About Crash Operation,” by Ben Moffett, published in the Mountain Mail (Socorro, New Mexico), in the October 30 and November 5, 2003 editions, respectively. Ben Moffett had attended elementary school with Reme Baca and Jose Padilla. His two-part series was the first publication of the Baca-Padilla story of an August 1945 UFO crash. Moffett included short biographical sidebars on his two sources, cited in these Crash Story Files as “Ben Moffett bio.” A re-publication, easier to read than the PDF images of the original articles, was posted by Jeff Rense here and here.

The Jeff Rense Program, November 18, 2003, interview with Reme Baca and Jose Padilla. Billed as “world exclusive,” this was the originators’ first interview following the first publication of the Baca-Padilla tale, as written up by Ben Moffett, in the Mountain Mail in late October and early November, 2003.

Jeff Rense Program Baca Padilla 11 18 2003 hour 2
Jeff Rense Program Baca Padilla 11 18 2003 hour 3

● [Note to reader: The “Baca vita” circa 2005 (see below) refers to an appearance by Reme Baca on Free American Radio, probably in late 2003, and certainly no later than 2005. I have not yet located a recording of that program. I would be grateful to any reader who can point me to a source.]

Need to Know: UFOs, the Military and Intelligence (Pegasus Books, 2007), by Timothy Good. Good visited with Baca in Seattle, Washington, on June 6-7, 2004. Good apparently was not overly impressed, as he devoted only five paragraphs (pp. 27-28) of his 452-page book to the case. Good personally examined and photographed the “souvenir” (artifact) claimed to have been removed by Jose Padilla from the downed alien craft, observing, “It appears decidedly terrestrial...”

● "The Baca Vita": A vita (short biographical profile) of Remigio Baca, surely written by Baca himself or based on his submission, that appeared on websites associated with UFO conferences circa 2005.

● “San Antonio, NM August 1945 Crash Retrieval,” by Reme Baca, published in 3rd Annual UFO Crash Retrieval Conference Proceedings, November 4-6, 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada, organized by Ryan S. Wood (pages 151-156). This is the earliest published document containing an extended description of the purported crash-retrieval events given directly in Baca’s own words. An earlier manuscript that apparently provided the basis for the published paper is embedded below. (At times Baca adopted verbatim language from Ben Moffett’s article, without attribution, a practice found throughout Baca’s writings.) On the first page of the Proceedings chapter, Baca was identified as author of “Born on the Edge of Ground Zero: Living in the Shadow of Area 51, Remigio Baca & Jose Padilla, 2005.” However, that book was not actually published until early 2011. Baca had been scheduled to speak at Wood’s conference, but cancelled; Wood himself presented a Powerpoint that Baca sent in.

Majic Eyes Only: Earth’s Encounters with Extraterrestrial Technology, by Ryan S. Wood (Wood Enterprises, 2005). Wood devoted six pages of his book to the San Antonio event—basically, the same narrative published under Baca’s name in the Proceedings of Wood’s November 2005 conference. In his book, Wood adopted a scheme of “five possible levels of authenticity” for crash-retrieval reports, based on a complicated point system. He rated the Baca story at the second-highest level of credibility “Medium-High...60-80%.” [UPDATE: After reviewing my investigative findings, Mr. Wood said that he now viewed the Baca story as "most likely... a hoax." See Ryan Wood: Trinity "most likely" a hoax (June 1, 2023).]

● Transcript by issued by Paola Harris: Interview With Reme Baca, Washington State, Jose Padilla in California (On the Telephone), July 5th, 2010. This is a key document– Harris' first recorded interview with Baca (in person) and Padilla (by phone).

● “The Rene Baca and Jose Padilla Witness Case,” by Paola Harris, November 30, 2010.

Coast to Coast AM, December 1, 2010. This was the “debut” of a new wave of interviews arranged by Paola Harris. On this program, Harris, Reme Baca, and Jose Padilla were all interviewed by George Noory.

Veritas Radio with Mel Fabregas, broadcast December 10, 2010, back-to-back interviews with Paola Harris (first hour) and Jose Padilla (second hour, recorded on November 24, 2010). Jose Padilla unexpectedly found himself alone on the air with Fabregas, who embraced the tale wholeheartedly but pressed for details for nearly an hour. Without Baca or Harris to intervene, Padilla found himself at sea, contradicting the “official” narrative on multiple substantive matters. In my articles, I dub this Padilla’s Bungled Interview (PBI).

Veritas 12 10 2010 hour 2 Padilla only

[If you have difficulty accessing the file embedded above, the file may also be downloaded from this link:]

The Conspiracy Show with Richard Syrett, December 12, 2010. Paola Harris, Reme Baca, and Jose Padilla, interviewed by Richard Syrett and Victor Viggiani.

Richard Syrett Conspiracy Show 12 12 2010 Baca Padilla Harris

[If you have difficulty accessing the file embedded above, the file may also be downloaded from this link:]

● "The 1945 San Antonio UFO Crash: The Reme Baca and Jose Padilla Witness Case," by Paola Leopizza Harris, November 29, 2010. This document, which appears on various websites, appears to be a sort of press release intended mainly to promote the forthcoming publication of the Baca-Padilla book Born on the Edge of Ground Zero. The release misappropriated language written by Ben Moffett in 2003, quoting it as if Moffett had independently reported on historical events, when in reality Moffett merely wrote a narrative based on what Baca and Padilla told him (as Moffett took pains to clarify in 2015).

Born on the Edge of Ground Zero: Living in the Shadow of Area 51, by Reme Baca and Jose Padilla (copyright by Remigio Baca only). Although Baca at times spoke of this book as if it already existed as early as 2005, it was not actually self-published until early 2011. In Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (Second Edition, p. 337), Vallee and Harris listed Baca’s book at the very top of their list of sources, and wrote: “The primary reference to the events described here [in Trinity] is a monograph by Reme Baca and Jose Padilla, entitled: Born on the Edge of Ground Zero: Living in the Shadow of Area 51.” Although Born on the Edge of Ground Zero still has a page on (with some very interesting customer reviews, including two reproduced in these Crash Story Files), it has long been out of print and is exceedingly hard to put one’s hands on. Fortunately, a collaborator was able to obtain temporary custody of a copy and photograph the pages for me.

Video of presentation by Paola Harris at the MUFON Symposium in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 2013. Harris’s presentation incorporated an extended video interview with Jose Padilla conducted by a crew affiliated with James Fox, at the “crash site.”

● “Examining the 1945 San Antonio UFO Crash,” by Paola Harris, June 1, 2011.

● “Mystery at San Antonio, New Mexico crash site,” by Paola Harris. MUFON UFO Journal, No. 578, June 2016.

Video of “The New Extraterrestrial Paradigm,” by Paola Harris, published August 27, 2016 (includes video footage of interviews of Baca and Padilla, but the audio quality is very poor).

● "The Passport to Magonia Ends at Trinity," by Donald R. Schmitt. 2021.

A Different Perspective, podcast interview of Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris by Kevin Randle, June 3, 2021.

Randle A Different Perspective Vallee Harris posted 6 3 21

The Paracast, podcast interview of Jacques Vallee by Gene Steinberg and Curt Collins, September 5, 2021.

Paracast 9 5 21 Vallee Collins Steinberg

Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, a book by Jacques F. Vallee and Paola Leopizzi Harris (StarworksUSA and Documatica Research). First Edition: June, 2021. Second Edition: August 2022.

● Video of Mystery Wire, interview of Jacques Vallee by George Knapp, October 21, 2021. The entire video is here. A transcript produced by Mystery Wire is here. A PDF version of the transcript is embedded below.

● "Open Minds with Regina Meredith," S20 Ep2, interview with Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris. Date unknown, but probably late 2022. I was able to access only a three-and-one-minute "preview" clip, in which Vallee and Harris summarize certain aspects of the "witness" testimony, including appearances of the purported aliens.

The Alien UFO Podcast, hosted by Simon Bown, an hour-long podcast appearance by Paola Harris posted October 17, 2022. The audio is here and below.

The Alien UFO Podcast Paola Harris 1945 Trinity crash 10 17 22

"Did Aliens Land on Earth in 1945? A Defense Bill Seeks Answers," by Remy Tumin, The New York Times, January 13, 2023 (print edition, January 15, 2023).

Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Network), 3-minute segment broadcast January 15, 2023, in which Carlson and Nick Pope discussed the "Roswell before Roswell." [Video and partial transcript embedded below.]


● "Trinity: The Inconvenient Reality: A response to Douglas Dean Johnson’s 'Crash Story'," by Jacques Vallee (May 15, 2023). Original post archived in PDF here.

● "The Jacques Vallee Declaration: A Tale of Two Urchins: Truth and Consequences in New Mexico Ufology," by Jacques Vallee (September 23, 2023). Original post archived in PDF here.


(1) May 20, 2023: This article initially contained this sentence: "I believe that the octogenarian scientist has placed his trust in persons unworthy of that trust." In a memo issued May 15, 2023, Vallee said that I had engaged in a "personal attack" by referring to "my advanced age..." He cited no specific instance. I have so far failed to find anything in any of my articles that referred directly or indirectly to Vallee's age, other than that single sentence (but would be indebted to any reader who does locate any other such a reference). Therefore I have stricken the word "octogenarian," although I do not consider it pejorative in general or in the context that I employed it – indeed, it is a status to which I aspire, but am unlikely to achieve. May 30, 2023: I found another reference to Vallee's age, but I find no need to revise it. It appears in this article under the subheading "The Role of Jacques Vallee," and it reads as follows:

Jacques Vallee has made impressive contributions to multiple fields over his long life (he is now age 83), including influential books of analysis and reflection on the nature of UFO phenomena. Vallee is widely respected among people who take aspects of the subject of UFOs seriously (among whom I number myself). A profile of Vallee in Jerome Clark’s UFO Encyclopedia 3rd Edition (2018) stated, “Vallee as an elder statesman of ufology is an almost universally revered figure.”

(2) May 20, 2023: I added to the index a new addition to the series, Crash Story File: The Reme Baca Smoking-Gun Interview, published on this date.

(3) May 22, 2023: Added a photo of foreign editions of the First Edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret.

(4) September 21, 2023: I added to the index a link to an article that is based on my May 31, 2023 interview with Ryan S. Wood (who had published the first book that mentioned the Trinity crash story, in 2005). The article is titled "Ryan Wood: Trinity 'Most Likely' a Hoax," published June 1, 2023.

(5) September 25, 2023: I added the following items: A paragraph referring to my May 20, 2023 report on my discovery of an earlier and incompatible UFO-crash story pitched by Reme Baca to a UFO writer less than a year before the Vallee-Harris version was first published. A statement that nobody paid me to do this research and writing; I have a longstanding personal interest in the subject matter. A clarification that in July 1945, Eddie Apodaca's unit was in England, not Germany. I added a quote from a September 16, 2023 quote from Paola Harris asserting that Reme Baca was "pretty greedy" and had demanded $250,000 for "the story" and another $250,000 for the purported alien artifact.

(6) September 25, 2023: I modified a passage that originally stated that Jose Padilla told Vallee and Harris that he had been a member of the California Highway Patrol for "32 years." The "32 years" claim actually came from the first-ever publication of the Baca-Padilla UFO-crash story, written by Ben Moffett in 2003; Moffett later wrote that he had relied entirely on what Baca and Padilla told him. However, Vallee-Harris actually did not specify a number of years; they wrote that Padilla was "a retired State Trooper of long experience."

(7) September 27, 2023: I updated the Jacques Vallee's age to 84 to reflect his birthday on September 24, 2023.

(8) September 27, 2023: I added to the list of sources two papers written by Jacques Vallee and posted on the internet by Paola Harris, linking here to original versions as archived in PDF: "Trinity: The Inconvenient Reality: A response to Douglas Dean Johnson’s 'Crash Story'" (May 15, 2023), and "The Jacques Vallee Declaration: A Tale of Two Urchins: Truth and Consequences in New Mexico Ufology" (September 23, 2023).

(9) September 29-30, 2023: I added to the index two new articles– a major update titled "My dad is a pathological liar" (September 29, 2023), and a minor piece titled "Trinity UFO-crash fictions clash with real atomic history" (September 30, 2023).

(10) December 21, 2023: I added a notation that Jacques Vallee on September 23, 2023, conceded that the UFO-crash story that Reme Baca presented to UFO writer Tom Carey in late 2002 or early 2003 is best described as "fiction." Updated paragraph on possible further investigations.

(11) January 25, 2024: I added a new article, "'Witness' Credibility Implodes for Jacques Vallee's Trinity UFO Crash Tale," to the index of Crash Story Files.

Clockwise from 1 o'clock: Remigio (Reme) Baca, Paola Harris, William P. "Billy" Brophy, Jacques Vallee, Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla.