August 16, 1945
Location: San Antonio, New Mexico, United States
Baca and Jose Padilla were young boys living in San Antonio,
New Mexico in August 1945 when, they say, they literally
stumbled across the remains of what they believe to have
been an alien spacecraft. Their personal account of the
case displays many of the key ingredients of crashed UFO
Illustration by James Neff ©2003. Based on the description
by Reme & Jose. When asked
how close this rendering comes to what they saw, Reme
says "Almost as if you were there...
It doesn't get any better."
Photograph of witness Reme Baca taken in 2005. Baca served
in the Marines for six years
during the Vietnam War, worked as a tax compliance officer
for the Washington State
Department of Revenue, and was involved in Washington
State politics. He served on the
executive staff of former Washington State Governor Dixy
Lee Ray. In 2005, Reme Baca
presented his experience at the 3rd Annual UFO Crash/Retrieval
Ben Moffett, The Mountain Mail, Socorro NM, Nov. 2, 2003
Mexico UFO Crash Encounter In 1945
By Ben Moffett, ©. 2003 The Mountain Mail - Socorro,
before dawn on July 16, 1945, scientists detonated the
world's first atomic bomb at Trinity Site, some 20 miles
southeast of San Antonio, N.M. Three weeks later, on August
6 and 9, the United States brought World War II to a dramatic
end by using the bomb to destroy the Japanese cities of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
August 6, the world first learned that the Trinity event,
which had frightened San Antonioans witless, was not "an
ammunition magazine containing high explosives and pyrotechnics"
as the military had reported. It was an atomic bomb, "death,
the destroyer of worlds," in the words of project
physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.
was in this crucible of suspicion and disinterest bred
by familiarity that a small contingent of the U.S. Army
passed almost unnoticed through San Antonio in mid-to-late
August, 1945 on a secret assignment.
or nothing has been printed about the mission, shrouded
in the "hush-hush" atmosphere of the time. But
the military detail apparently came from White Sands Proving
Grounds to the east where the bomb was exploded. It was
a recovery operation destined for the mesquite and greasewood
desert west of Old US-85, at what is now Milepost 139,
the San Antonio exit of Interstate 25.
the course of several days, soldiers in Army fatigues
loaded the shattered remains of a flying apparatus onto
a huge flatbed truck and hauled it away.
such an operation took place between about Aug. 20 and
Aug. 25, 1945, there is no doubt, insist two former San
Antonioans, Remigio Baca and Jose Padilla, eyewitnesses
to the event.
then age 9, and Baca, 7, secretly watched much of the
soldiers' recovery work from a nearby ridge. Their keen
interest stemmed from being the first to reach the crash
they saw was a long, wide gash in the earth, with a manufactured
object lying cockeyed and partially buried at the end
of it, surrounded by a large field of debris. They believed
then, and believe today, that the object was occupied
by distinctly non-human life forms which were alive and
moving about, on their arrival minutes after the crash.
reported their findings to Jose's father, Faustino Padilla,
on whose ranch the craft had crashed. Shortly thereafter,
Faustino received a military visitor asking for permission
to remove it.
their school years, Jose and Remegio, best friends, would
sometimes whisper about the events of that August, which
occurred before any of the other mysterious UFO incidents
in New Mexico, but they didn't talk to others about it
on the advice of their parents and a state policeman friend.
significance of what they saw, however, grew in their
eyes over time as tales of UFOs and flying saucers multiplied
across the country, especially in a ban across central
the most prominent was Socorro police officer Lonnie Zamora's
April 24, 1964 on-duty report of a "manned"
UFO just south of Socorro, less than 10 miles north of
the heretofore unnoticed 1945 Padilla Ranch crash.
and Remigio were long gone from the area by the time UFOs
and flying saucers became news, and although both kept
up with Socorro County events, they lost contact and never
discussed the emerging phenomenon with each other.
moved to Tacoma, Wash., while still in high school and
Jose to Rowland Heights, Calif. Then, two years ago, after
more than four decades apart, they met by chance on the
Internet while tracking their ancestry. It was then that
their interest in the most intriguing event of their childhood
one of the conversations, Remegio and Jose decided to
tell their story to veteran news reporter Ben Moffett,
a classmate at San Antonio Grade School who they knew
shared their understanding of the culture and ambience
of San Antonio in the forties and fifties, and who was
familiar with the terrain, places, names, and people.
This is their story as told to Moffett.
ANTONIO, N.M. -- The pungent but pleasing aroma of greasewood
was in the air as Jose Padilla, age 9, and friend, Remigio
Baca, 7, set out on horseback one August morning in 1945
to find a cow that had wandered off to calf.
scent of the greasewood, more often called creosote bush
today, caught their attention as they moved away from
this tiny settlement on their horses, Bolé and
Dusty. The creosote scent is evident only when it is moist,
and its presence on the wind meant rain somewhere nearby.
as they worked the draws on the Padilla Ranch, they were
mindful of flash flooding which might occur in Walnut
Creek, or side arroyos, if there were a major thunderstorm
upstream. Gully-washers are not uncommon in late summer
in the northern stretches of the Chihuahuan Desert of
central New Mexico, especially along the foothills of
the Magdalena Mountains looming to the west.
minor perils associated with being away from adults, it
was a routine outing for Jose and Reme. It was not odd
to see youngsters roam far afield doing chores during
the war years. "I could ride before I could walk,"
said Jose in a recent interview. "We were expected
to do our share of the work. Hunting down a cow for my
dad wasn't a bad job, even in the August heat."
length, they moved into terrain that seemed too rough
for the horses hooves, and Jose decided to tether them,
minus bridles, allowing them to graze. He had spotted
a mesquite thicket, a likely place for a wayward cow to
give birth, and they set off across a field of jagged
rocks and cholla cactus to take a look. As they moved
along, grumbling about the thorns, the building thunderheads
decided to let go. They took refuge under a ledge above
the floodplain, protected somewhat from the lightning
strikes that suddenly peppered the area.
storm quickly passed and as they again moved out, another
brilliant light, accompanying by a crunching sound shook
the ground around them. It was not at all like thunder.
Another experiment at White Sands? No, it seemed too close.
"We thought it came from the next canyon, adjacent
to Walnut Creek, and as we moved in that direction, we
hear a cow in a clump of mesquites," said Reme.
Sure enough, it was the Padilla cow, licking a white face
quick check revealed the calf to be healthy and nursing,
and the boys decided to reward themselves with a small
lunch Jose had sacked, a tortilla each, washed down with
a few swigs from a canteen, and an apple.
they munched, Jose noticed smoke coming from a draw adjacent
to Walnut Creek, a main tributary from the mountains to
the Rio Grande.
their task at hand, the two boys headed toward it, and
what they saw as they topped a rise "stopped us
dead in our tracks," Reme remembers. "There
was a gouge in the earth as long as a football field,
and a circular object at the end of it." It was
"barely visible," he said, through a
field of smoke. "It was the color of the old pot
my mother was always trying to shine up, a dull metallic
moved closer and found the heat from the wreckage and
burning greasewood to be intense. "You could feel
it through the soles of your shoes," said Reme.
"It was still humid from the rain, stifling, and
it was hard to get close."
retreated briefly to talk things over, cool off, sip from
the canteen and collect their nerve, worried there might
be casualties in the wreckage.
they headed back toward the site. That's when things really
got eerie. Waiting for the heat to diminish, they began
examining the remnants at the periphery of a huge litter
field. Reme picked up a piece of thin, shiny material
that he says reminded him of "the tin foil in
the old olive green Phillip Morris cigarette packs."
was folded up and lodged underneath a rock, apparently
pinned there during the collision," said Reme.
"When I freed it, it unfolded all by itself. I
refolded it, and it spread itself out again."
Reme put it in his pocket.
they were able to work their way to within yards of the
wreckage, fearing the worst and not quite ready for it.
"I had my hand over my face, peeking through my
fingers," Reme recalled. "Jose, being
older, seemed to be able to handle it better."
they approached, they saw, thought they saw, yes, definitely
DID see movement in the main part of the craft.
looking creatures were moving around inside,"
said Reme. "They looked under stress. They moved
fast, as if they were able to will themselves from one
position to another in an instant. They were shadowy and
expressionless, but definitely living beings."
wanted no part of whoever, whatever was inside. "Jose
wasn't afraid of much, but I told him we should get out
of there. I remember we felt concern for the creatures.
They seemed like us-children, not dangerous. But we were
scared and exhausted. Besides it was getting late."
boys backtracked, ignoring the cow and calf. It was a
little after dusk when they climbed on their horses, and
dark when they reached the Padilla home.
Padilla asked about the cow, and got a quick report. "And
we found something else," Jose said, and the
story poured out, quickly and almost incoherently. "It's
kind of hard to explain, but it was long and round, and
there was a big gouge in the dirt and there were these
hombrecitos (little guys)."
tale unfolded as Jose's father listened patiently. "They
were running back and forth, looking desperate. They were
like children. They didn't have hair," Jose said
check it out in a day or two," Faustino said,
unalarmed and apparently not worried in the least about
survivors or medical emergencies. "It must be
something the military lost and we shouldn't disturb it.
Leave your horse here, Reme, and Jose and I will drive
you home, since it's so late."
days later at about noon, state policeman Eddie Apodaca,
a family friend who had been summons by Faustino, arrived
at the Padilla home. Jose and Reme directed Apodoca and
Jose's dad toward the crash site in two vehicles, a pick-up
and a state police car. When they could drive no further,
they parked and hiked to the hillside where the boys had
initially spotted the wreckage.
they topped the ridge, they noted the cow and calf had
moved on, probably headed for home pasture, then they
walked the short distance to the overlook. For a second
time, Jose and Reme are dumbfounded.
wreckage was nowhere to be seen.
could have happened to it?" Reme asked.
must have taken it," Jose responded defensively.
and Faustino stared intently but unaccusingly at Jose
and Reme, trying to understand. They headed down the canyon
nonetheless, and suddenly, "as if by magic,"
in Reme's words, the object reappeared.
the top of the hill, it blended into the surroundings,"
Reme explained recently. "The sun was at a different
angle, and the object had dirt and debris over it,"
which he speculated may have been put there by someone
after the crash.
and Faustino led the way to the craft, then climbed inside
while Jose and Reme were ordered to stay a short distance
away. "I can't see the hombrecitos,"
replies Jose. "But look at these marks on the
ground, like when you drag a rake over it."
huge field of litter had been cleaned up," Reme
recalled. "Who did it, and when, I have no idea.
Was it the military? Using a helicopter? Or the occupants?"
main body of the craft, however, remained in place with
odd pieces dangling everywhere.
it was time for the adults to lecture Reme and Jose, Reme
remembers. "Listen carefully. Don't tell anyone
about this," Reme quoted Faustino as saying.
"Reme, your dad just started working for the government.
He doesn't need to know anything about it. It might cause
also worked for the government at Bosque del Apache National
Wildlife Refuge and the ranch itself was on leased federal
land. Faustino was a patriotic man and honest to a fault
in his dealing with the federal government, according
government calls them weather balloons," the
state policeman chipped in. "I'm here to help
Faustino work out the recovery with the government. They'll
want this thing back."
this isn't like the weather balloons we've seen before,"
said Reme. "They were little, almost like a kite."
right, Reme. Este es un monstruso, que no Eddie?"
it's big for sure," the state policeman acknowledged.
the hombrecitos?" Reme persisted.
you just thought you saw them," said Faustino. "Or
maybe somebody took them, or they just took off."
they headed home. The cow and calf also grazed their way
back in a day or two.
week: The story continues with the military's removal
of the wreckage, while Jose and Reme, equipped with binoculars,
spy on their every move, including the soldiers slipping
off to the Owl Bar for a little diversion.
and Reme also look back at the incident from the perspective
of time. Was the object that required a flatbed truck
and an "L" extension a weather balloon, or an
alien craft from space or from another dimension?
two men, now in their mid to late 60s, still have a piece
of the craft and know where other parts were buried by
also speculates about how the 1945 incident fits in with
the many sightings that were later reported in a ban across
central New Mexico and elsewhere, giving rise to a UFO
and "flying saucer" phenomenon that is still
mid August, 1945, before the term "flying saucer"
was coined, Remigio Baca, age 7, and Jose Padilla, 9,
were first on the scene of the crash of a strange object
on the Padilla Ranch west of San Antonio, a tiny village
on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico.
Remigio, or "Reme" as his friends called him,
and Jose, believe they saw "shadowy, childlike creatures"
in the demolished, oblong, circular craft when they arrived
at the scene, well before anyone else.
U.S. Army told the public nothing about it, and told the
Padilla family it was a "weather balloon," according
to Reme and Jose, now in their mid 60s. And the two men
insist the Army went to great lengths to keep the operation
under wraps, even concocting a cover story to mask their
mop-up mission on the ranch.
recovery operation actually started two days after Reme,
Jose, Jose's father, Faustino, and state policeman Eddie
Apodaca, a family friend, visited the site on August 18,
1945. It was then that a Latino sergeant named Avila arrived
at the Padilla home in San Antonito, a tiny southern extension
of San Antonio.
some small talk, Sgt. Avila got down to business. According
to Reme's and Jose's recollection, and what they learned
subsequently from Faustino, the conversation went something
you may know, there's a weather balloon down on your property,"
Avila said. "We need to install a metal gate and
grade a road to the site to recover it. We'll have to
tear down a part of the fence adjoining the cattle guard."
can't you just go through the gate like everybody else?"
the problem is that your cattle guard is about 10 feet
wide, and our tractor trailer can't begin to get through
there," said the sergeant. "We'll compensate
you, of course."
sergeant also asked for a key to the gate until the military
could install its own. He also wanted help with security.
"Can you make sure nobody goes to the site unless
they are authorized. And don't tell anyone why we're here."
should I tell them?" Faustino asked.
can tell them the equipment is here because the government
needs to work a manganese mine west of here,"
the sergeant said.
was to justify the presence of road-building equipment,"
said Reme in a recent interview. "It wasn't until
decades later, on the Internet, that I learned the Army
told a lot of fibs along about that time. I found another
manganese mine story was used to cover a UFO incident
on the west side of the Magdalenas near Datil in 1947,
about the time of the Roswell UFO incident."
know for sure that the cover story was at least the second
piece of misinformation they gave out in a month,"
noted Reme, a former Marine, chuckling and referencing
the acknowledged false press release used to cover the
Trinity atom bomb explosion as the first.
wasn't long after the sergeant's departure that the Army
was on the scene with road building equipment. Long before
the road was graded, however, soldiers were at the site,
carrying scraps of the mangled airship to smaller vehicles
that were able to immediately get close to the scene.
they were warned by their father to stay away from the
area, Jose, sometimes with Reme, and sharing a pair of
binoculars, watched from hiding as the military graded
a road and soldiers prepared for the flatbed's arrival.
Jose actually made off with a piece, which is still in
work detail wasn't too efficient," said Reme,
who noted from his experience in the Marines that military
parts had numbers and were carefully catalogued. "The
soldiers threw some of the pieces down a crevice, so they
wouldn't have to carry them," he said. "Then,
they would kick dirt and rocks and brush over them to
cover them up."
to Jose, four soldiers were stationed at the wreckage
at all times, with shift changes every 12 hours. "One
stayed at a tent as a guard and listened to the radio.
I could hear the music. They'd work for an hour and then
lock the gate, climb in their pick-ups and go to the Owl
Café, where they'd look for girls. I know because
one of my (female) cousins who was there told me."
the flatbed was in place, the soldiers used wenches to
hoist the intact portion of the wreckage in place. "They
had to build an L-shaped frame and tilt it to get it to
fit into the tractor-trailer, because it bulged out over
one side," Jose said. "They finally cut
a hole in the fence at the gate that was 26 feet long
to get it out."
it went, shrouded under tarps, through San Antonio and
presumably to Stallion Site on what is today White Sands
Missile Range, where, according to Reme, it still may
this clandestine operation undertaken to recover a weather
balloon? Or, as Jose and Reme contend, was it something
far more mysterious?
think the term 'weather balloon' was a euphemism, a catch-all
for anything and everything that the government couldn't
explain," said Reme.
and Jose knew about typical military weather balloons.
"My father and I found about seven of them before
and after the 1945 crash," Jose remembers. "We
always gathered them up and gave them back to the military.
They were nothing but silky material, aluminum and wood,
nothing like what we found in that arroyo in 1945."
weather balloons were not much more than big box kites,"
said Reme. "They sure couldn't gouge a hole in
the ground. Remember, in 1945, despite the bomb, we weren't
all that sophisticated. The Trinity Site bomb, Fat Man,
was transported on a railroad car to the site. Radar was
primitive or non-existent in some places. Maybe the military
knew what they had, maybe they didn't, maybe they couldn't
and Jose are convinced, and they say Faustino soon came
to join in their belief, that the object on the ranch
was no mere weather balloon, but an object of mystery.
Faustino, however, had no interest in challenging the
status quo, nor did state policeman Apodaca, whatever
his beliefs were.
why would a mere sergeant be sent to negotiate with Faustino
Padilla on a mission that involved something more than
a routine weather balloon flight. "He wore sergeant
stripes," Reme said. "That doesn't necessarily
mean he was a sergeant. And he was Latino. He was sent
to San Antonio because he could communicate with the locals."
why would the military allow such cavalier treatment of
the wreckage, if it were a foreign or alien craft with
don't know if they knew what they had," Reme
said. "It was a fairly crude craft with no parts
numbers on it, and the piece we have, we were told is
not remarkably machined even for 1945. But there's nothing
that says aliens have to travel in remarkable spaceships."
what we know about distances in the universe, space travel
seems far-fetched, I'll grant you. Perhaps they got here
by some method we can't fathom and they manufactured a
crude object here to get around in this atmosphere. We
hear about other dimensions, and parallel universes."
don't know much about those things. But I do know what
I saw, which was some unlikely looking creatures at the
crash site. I know that later other people in the area
reported similar things. And I know the government was
interested in keeping it quiet."
has studied the UFO phenomenon in his spare time over
the years, especially as it pertained to New Mexico. "The
military opened the door at Roswell, and then they closed
it," he said, referring to a July, 1947 report
by the Roswell Air Force Base information office about
the crash and recovery of a "flying disc" that
they reported had been bouncing around the sky. Then,
the base retreated by reporting it was merely a "radar
tracking balloon" that had been recovered.
of the Roswell event can be found in a 19-page Freedom
of Information Act request by the late New Mexico Congressman
Steve Schiff and released by the General Accounting Office
July 28, 1995. It can be found on the Internet at http://www.conspire.com/ds/gao2.html).
Roswell crash, which along with the sighting of a UFO
south of Socorro by city policeman Lonnie Zamora in 1964,
are the two most famous of a string of UFO reports over
central New Mexico and in all of UFO lore.
1946 through 1949, 25 UFO sightings that "may have
contained extra-terrestrial life" were reported worldwide
by the Center for the Study of Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
Of those, seven came from New Mexico, including one near
Magdalena (1946), Socorro (1947), Roswell (actually near
Corona), July 4, 1947, Plains of San Agustin (Catron County),
July 5, 1947, Aztec, 1948, White Sands, 1949 and Roswell
again, 1949. Another was in the pattern, too, on the Hopi
Reservation of Arizona in 1947.
was a pattern of sightings and incidents in a ban across
New Mexico. Socorro and San Antonio are right at the center,"
notes Reme. "Our 1945 sighting just adds to that
base of information. It's intriguing to say the least.
If you were an eyewitness it becomes even more intriguing."
and Jose are excited enough to tell their story after
more than 55 years, even knowing the problems that plagued
Lonnie Zamora after his spotting a UFO near Socorro, less
than 10 miles away, in 1964.
and Reme would like to see an excavation of the crevice
where a few odds and ends from their "alien craft"
were tossed. The crevice was recently covered up by a
bulldozer doing flood control work.
they'd like to have the part they have from the wreckage
examined more closely. They are not eager to surrender
it to anyone, however. "I've heard from others
that if you give it up to the government, you stand a
good chance of not getting it back," Reme said.
second piece, which Reme likened to the "tin foil
in a cigarette pack," is gone. "I used
it to stop a leak in a brass pipe under a windmill at
our house in San Antonio in the early 50s," he
said. "I used it to fill the stripped threads
on two pieces of pipe."
said he regrets using it now, but it was handy. "I
kept it for years in an old Prince Albert (tobacco) can
in the pump house, and it was the nearest thing available."
Reme said the foil stopped the leak in the pipe for years.
The windmill is now gone and the property is no longer
owned by the family.
Jose and Reme were asked why they decided to tell the
tale today, after nearly 60 years.
something you can never get out of your head,"
said Reme. "When we saw it, we had never heard
the term UFO, and 'flying saucers' didn't become a part
of the language until June of 1947 when a pilot named
Kenneth Arnold reported nine objects in a formation in
the area of Mount Rainier."
didn't invent this phenomenon," said Reme. "We
experienced it. Others have apparently had similar experiences.
I believe Jose and I have an obligation to add our information
to the mix."
Baca of Gig, Harbor, Wash., was born in San Antonio in
October,1938, to Evarista Serna and Alejandro Baca. He
attended San Antonio Grade School and Socorro High until
he transferred to Stadium High in Tacoma, Wash., in his
served in the Marines for six years during the Vietnam
War, worked as a tax compliance officer for the Washington
Department of Revenue, and was involved in Washington
politics. A meeting with Vernon Jordan, national chairman
of the Urban League, encouraged him to get into politics,
which he did with enthusiasm.
was instrumental in the election of the famous scientist
and Nixon administration politician Dixy Ray Lee to the
governorship of Washington as a Democrat, and served on
Ray's executive staff.
that role, he helped get qualified Latinos in administrative
positions in government. When Lee was defeated, Reme became
an insurance agent in Tacoma, moved to California for
awhile as an independent insurance broker in Oxnard, Santa
Paula and Santa Barbara, and retired in Gig Harbor, a
suburb of Tacoma.
has been married for years to Virginia Tonan, a classical
pianist and teacher.
has been back to San Antonio many times, and has relatives
in Socorro County.
Padilla was born in San Antonito in November, 1936, to
Faustino and Maria Padilla, attended first San Antonito
Grade School and then San Antonio Grade School when San
Antonito's school burned down. He also attended the Luis
Lopez Grade School for a time. He made first communion
with Reme Baca at the San Antonio Church.
at Socorro High, he left to join the National Guard at
age 13, when very young children were allowed to sign
up because of the World War II death toll in the New Mexico
Guard. After leaving San Antonio, Jose continued guard
duty in Van Nuyes Calif., Air National Guard, and when
the unit was activated, spent time in Korea.
married his wife, Olga, and served with the California
Highway Patrol for 32 years as a safety inspector. The
Padillas have three boys, including a son, Sam, who lives
in Contreras, near La Joya, and he has numerous relatives
in Socorro and vicinity.
Editor's note: Thanks to the Mountain Mail for allowing
us to run this piece by Ben Moffett. The newspaper, which
covers Socorro and Catron County in rural New Mexico,
is rapidly gaining a reputation as a "good news"
newspaper with strong editorial pages which come from
both the left and the right, innovative pieces on such
locally controversial subjects as rooster fighting, gay
rights, and, yes, UFOs, and such locally important ones
as birding, farming and ranching.)