Dennis Balthaser’s editorial for February 2004
Searching for the Truth
“Always Telling the Truth Means Never Having to Remember Anything”
509th Bomb Wing Insignia
Dennis G. Balthaser
“Tastes like chicken”
Mention the 1947 Roswell Incident, and one thing that always comes to mind is the 509th Bomb Wing that was stationed here in Roswell when the incident occurred. Their place in history was apparent in WWII, when they helped bring the war to an end by dropping the only atomic bombs ever used in wartime. Hopefully they will never be used again, but should that need arise, the 509th today stands ready to continue to defend our nation with the B-2 Stealth bomber, now located at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
B-2 Stealth and B-29 (The Enola Gay)
As in 1945 when they dropped the bombs, here in Roswell in 1947 when the Roswell Incident occurred, and continuing today, the 509th is an elite group. 60 years of military history is a long time. I’ve often wondered if that longevity is due to their involvement and secrecy in ending the Second World War and/or the Roswell Incident as both were events that did, and could have dramatic effects on the history of mankind. Is the 509th perhaps getting paid back for keeping secrets all those years? Many of us are aware of the secrecy that was maintained with the development, testing and use of the atomic bombs in the early and mid 1940s. On July 8, 1947, Roswell Army Airfield base commander and head of the 509th Bomb Wing, Col. William Blanchard, gave then Lt.Walter Haut (above left) orders to distribute a press release stating, “Roswell Army Airfield Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.” We are all aware of the secrecy and cover-up of that story, which continues to the present day.
When I met fellow researcher Jim Hickman for the first time last year, one of the things we discussed was the 509th. Jim provided me with a copy of a uniform insignia patch (left) he had recently located for the 509th. My immediate reaction when seeing it was, “here is the proof we’ve been looking for pertaining to the 509th involvement with the Roswell Incident.” It appeared pretty obvious that the 509th was identified on the insignia with the numbers 509; the B-2 Stealth Bomber was shown; and to my surprise an alien head and hands were depicted. This was it! All I had to do was contact the Air Force and verify what was on the insignia. Much to my disappointment after five months of corresponding with the Air Force, I discovered I did not have the proof I had hoped for.
I contacted the 509th at Whiteman AFB in Missouri to submit a (FOIA) Freedom of Information Act Request on Sept. 5, 2003. I received permission to submit the FOIA from the FOIA/Base Records Manager a few days later and I immediately did so with several questions pertaining to the insignia. The next correspondence I received was not from Whiteman AFB however, because my FOIA request had been transferred to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California. The FOIA Custodian at Edwards AFB would make a determination whether any records could be released or withheld from disclosure under the FOIA. A few days later I received a letter from a USAF Colonel at Edwards AFB, with the title of Staff Judge Advocate, indicating, “A search of all relevant agencies has found no records responsive to your request.”
Again a few days later I was surprised when I received a large envelope from a PhD Historian at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB containing not only answers to my questions about the insignia, but a copy of the United States Air Force “History of the 509th Bomb Wing” Fact Sheet, and an Air Force Reference Series, “Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977” pertaining to the 509th. As one who is interested in the 509th, I considered that information a bonus.
Below are the questions I asked about the insignia patch in my FOIA request and the responses I received from the Historian at Edwards Air Force Base Flight Test Center.
Q. Because the B-2 bomber and the numbers 509 are shown on the patch, I assume this is an official insignia patch used by the 509th at some point during the testing of the aircraft?
A. This is not an official patch. The official emblem used by the 509th Bomb Wing was approved in 1952, and is very different from the example given. No official emblem would display a unit number without also indicating its function—bombing, reconnaissance, fighter, etc.
Q. Wording “Classified Flight Test” is at the top of the insignia. During what time period would the flight tests have been done and at what location?
A. No Air Force unit would ever designate “Classified Flight Test” on its emblem. Flight tests, classified or unclassified, are conducted by the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, and no AFFTC patch ever carried such a legend.
Q. Latin words “Gustatus Similis Pullus” are shown at the bottom of the insignia. Please translate to English?
A. Guststus Similis Pullus is dog Latin for “Tastes Like Chicken.” This is supported by the alien figure, which apparently is eating the B-2.
(Ed. Note) You have to appreciate that answer coming from the United States Air Force
Q. What do the nine horizontal lines in the background represent?
Q. What is the interpretation of the symbols shown on the right and left? (One on the left appears to be a fork)
A. The symbol on the left is indeed a three-pronged fork. This would support the eating motif. The symbol on the right is unclear.
(Ed. Note) It appears to be another eating utensil, known to me as a knife.
Q. What does the upside down “Q” represent within the diagram of the B-2 bomber?
A. The “Upside down q” is a symbol used in aeronautical engineering to represent pressure ratio. Such a ratio is dimensionless.
Q. An alien face with two-three fingered hands is obviously holding the bomber on the insignia. What significance would an alien have with the B-2 bomber and/or the 509th?
A. The alien’s three-fingered hands are holding the B-2 in order to facilitate the eating activity.
Q. Who designed the insignia patch and when?
A. It is unknown who designed the patch, or when. It would be a privately-made emblem. To be used informally as a souvenir, a joke, or possibly a party favor of some kind. Such a patch would never actually be officially worn on a flight suit or uniform.
So five months of research on my part put me back to “square one,” and I did not have the proof I had hoped for. We still know of the unquestionable involvement the 509th had with the 1947 Roswell Incident, and in the future new avenues of research will come forward, and we’ll go there too.
With the help of Jim Hickman and my correspondence with the Air Force we do know what the official emblem of the current 509th is, and in fairness to the 509th, I’ll share that with you.
The 509th Bomb Wing’s emblem is rich in tradition. The shield is like a family coat of arms and uses symbols to tell its story. Each symbol on the shield represents some part of the past, except the 1947 Roswell Incident the 509th was involved in.
The Air Force wings represent the branch of service but the wings are not in the familiar out-stretched position. When the ancient Greeks approached a stranger, they raised their arms with the palms outward to show they were carrying no weapons, “a sign of peace.” The 509th obtained special permission to display the wings in this configuration to show that it, too, comes in peace.
Next the words “Defensor-Vindex,” (translated: Defender-Avenger) means that its mission was, and still is, to protect and retaliate for any infringement on that peace.
The atomic cloud burst represents two things: the fact that the 509th dropped the only two atomic bombs ever in wartime, and that it still uses atomic power as a deterrent to war and defender of peace. Finally, the eldest son symbol shows that the wing is the oldest atomic-trained military unit in the world.
Even though I didn’t obtain what I had hoped for with this information, I am grateful to the 509th Bomb Wing for what they have done and are continuing to do for our nation in keeping the peace, so I can continue searching for the truth.
Dennis G. Balthaser
Copyright © 2004, Dennis G. Balthaser