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Farewell to the ‘Grand Marshal’

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Stanton Friedman during his retirement celebration at last year’s Roswell UFO Festival. (Alison Penn File Photo)

Pioneering UFO researcher Stanton Friedman dies

Famed UFO researcher Stanton Friedman, whose persistence drew international attention to the alleged 1947 UFO crash near Roswell, died Monday. He was 84.

Stanton Friedman, nuclear physicist and renowned UFO researcher, has died. (Submitted Photo)

According to Karen Jaramillo, deputy director of the International UFO Museum and Research Center, Friedman passed away Monday in Toronto.

“He was on his way home from speaking at a conference in Ohio,” she said. “All of us at the UFO Museum were deeply saddened by the news. The reason Roswell is what it is today is because of Stanton Friedman and his curiosity to know the truth. Stan will forever be a part of the International UFO Museum and Research Center. He will be greatly missed by many.”

The news of Friedman’s passing quickly spread throughout the UFO research community, though his fans hoped it was a hoax. The Canadian Press confirmed Friedman’s passing at 12:21 p.m. Friedman had dual citizenship with the United States and Canada. He lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Friedman started out as a nuclear physicist who put Roswell on the world map when, during a 1978 radio interview, he stumbled upon an obscure UFO incident story. In his last interview with the Roswell Daily Record, for the 2018 UFO Festival, Friedman said that the station manager in Baton Rouge told him about Jesse Marcel.

“I certainly had no idea I was going to be a Ufologist and a Roswell researcher,” Friedman said. Friedman got in contact with Marcel — who had been the intelligence officer for the 509th Walker Air Force Base in Roswell — and the rest was history.

Donald Burleson, state director of the Mutual UFO Network in New Mexico, said in a phone interview after hearing the news of Friedman’s passing, “Obviously, Stanton was one of the most important and productive people in the field of UFO studies. He was the first who found and interviewed Jesse Marcel back in 1978. If that hadn’t happened, to this day, we wouldn’t know anything had happened in Roswell. The whole thing was covered up so thoroughly, it was all silenced. Stanton opened all that up. The effects of it were just amazing. Obviously, there would be a whole different world in Roswell.

“I had some correspondence with him before I moved here (Roswell) in 1996 and met him for the first time at the 50th anniversary event in 1997,” Burleson said. “I’ve known him for over 20 years. He wrote a regular column for the MUFON, and he had said last year at the festival that he was retiring — we had a retirement bash, but actually, nobody believed he would. We thought he would be going on forever.

“He, in fact, planned to come back this year. We all are going to miss him, that’s for sure,” Burleson said.

Jesse Marcel III wrote in an email, “Our family was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Stan Friedman. Not only was Stan the original civilian investigator of the Roswell incident, and instrumental in reopening the case, but he always remained a close friend of the Marcel family. When Stan tracked down my grandfather, Jesse Marcel Sr., and they spoke in that first telephone conversation so many years ago, I’m sure he had no thought of what a wave of interest would follow.

“Stan devoted his life to solving the UFO enigma,” Marcel wrote. “His tireless work truly raised the bar for other investigators that followed. Up to his dying day, Stan believed that there was much more about the Roswell incident yet to uncover and with Stan’s voice now silent, it’s now up to us, the next generation, to have the truth be told.”

Juanita Jennings, public affairs director for the city of Roswell, said, “At the last meeting (UFO Festival committee meeting), they talked about it, that he wanted to come to this year’s UFO Festival.

“On behalf of the city of Roswell, our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” Jennings continued. “He was the pioneer for the research and investigating UFOs. I think about the many times he was here — I know he was the grand marshal in many of our parades. The dedication that he gave to his work really had an impact to our city and the tourism industry here in Roswell. He will surely be missed.”

One of Friedman’s closest friends and a longtime colleague, Don Schmitt, was surprised to hear of Friedman’s passing. “It was unexpected,” he said in a phone interview. “He had a turn for the better — we thought we had time. It’s an example, we should never procrastinate, especially when it comes to our family and friends. It would have been fitting if he would have made that last attendance (at this year’s UFO Festival). The realization — not only the knowledge — of the tremendous void in the study of UFOs, that I don’t see anyone stepping in and immediately filling, but personally this is the loss of a family member. My heart aches.”

Asked about his memories of first meeting Friedman, Schmitt said, “Mainly for the fact that I was just getting started in the field at the time, and I was of the schooling that you always sought out the best. If you want to truly learn, go to the masters. I started off like this fresh college kid that was just seeking out the best role models I could in the respected field, and he certainly was one of them. I sought out the mentoring and then the friendship of Stanton T. Friedman, who I not only highly respect and highly regard, but then in the last 35 years, considered a dear, dear friend and colleague. He would be saying to me, ‘Don, we make a great team.’ Talk about the ultimate complement.”

Schmitt said that Friedman had many conversations over the years with him and that they were not always serious. “It was lighthearted and jovial conversations, we could tell jokes to one another,” he said. “I would have him laughing so hard at times that the tears would stream down his face. It would have nothing to do with UFOs. That’s how friendships are. I lost a dear close friend.

“In fact, because of his failing health, I contacted my editor last summer and I immediately suggested that I wanted Stan to write the last foreword, in the book that is just coming out in June, about the aftermath of Roswell and after all was transferred to Wright-Patterson (Air Force Base) in Dayton, Ohio. Stan wrote that foreword and the book is also dedicated in his memory,” Schmitt said. Most likely, these will be Friedman’s last officially published words.

Friedman said in the interview announcing his retirement last year in Roswell, “I think it will be my last time in Roswell, but I won’t give you an absolute guarantee to speak no longer. The only place that could talk me out of it would be Roswell.”

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.