Kevin Randle recently had a discussion about Colonel Blanchard’s leave starting on the afternoon of the 8th of July. According to Randle, this was highly unusual for him to go on leave in the middle of the week. Was it unusual or is there a reasonable explanation?
A 9 July 1947 teletype (see image to left) unearthed by Robert Todd (The Cowflop quarterly - 070596) makes reference to a teletype message
that was sent on 7 July, where it stated that Colonel Blanchard and Oliver Lafarge had an appointment on 9 July with Governor Mabry. This indicates that on July 7th, Blanchard had made plans to be in Santa Fe on the 9th of July. This was confirmed by a press release that appeared in the Albuquerque Tribune of 10 July 1947 (page 2 - see image to the lower left), which stated that Blanchard had left on 9 July for a three week leave in Santa Fe and Colorado. All of this is well documented but why did Blanchard wait until the 8th to go on leave?
A reasonable explanation is that he was heading towards Colorado and wanted to make a stop in Santa Fe to meet with the Governor. To go on leave before the 8th would have meant he would have to spend more of his personal leave time in Santa Fe than he desired. This seems plausible
but I believe there were other reasons for him delaying the start of his leave until the evening of the 8th.
As noted in the unit history, the 509th was undergoing a major inspection
by the Eighth Air Force on the 8th of July. I don’t ever recall seeing the commanding officer of any unit that I served on taking leave during a major inspection (minor inspections were a different matter). During peacetime, the results of such inspections are important for advancement
and I doubt that Blanchard would simply disappear in the middle of one. Once the team left the base, or had completed their inspection, Blanchard could then take his leave.
Another reason Blanchard would probably not have gone on leave over the fourth of July weekend was because of the local festivities
for the fourth of July in Roswell. As noted in SUNlite 4-4 (Page 4), some of the 509th’s bombers were flying over several locations putting on a show. This included Roswell. I would not be surprised to see that Blanchard was present at the public festivities in Roswell that may have coincided with the fly over. Most Commanding Officers I had enjoyed appearing in public with the local government
officials. This was especially true when members of his unit were part of the festivities and the local media was involved. Blanchard appears to have been no different.
I find it odd that Randle implies that a leave starting on the 8th was highly unusual. Why was it unusual? Was it unusual because he started his leave on a Tuesday evening? Looking at what we know about was transpiring on base (besides the Brazel debris recovery),
I would find it unusual if Blanchard went on leave before the evening of the 8th. The beginning of Blanchard’s leave was, more than likely, dictated by the inspection and had little to do with the debris brought back by Jesse Marcel Sr.
Quelle: SUNlite 2/2013