UFO REPORTS - 1945 - Hanford Engineer Works, Washington



4 January 1945
SUBJECT: Daily Diary (Period 1600 3 January 1945 to 1600 4 January 1945).
TO        : Commanding General, Army Air Forces, Washington 25, D. C.
                (Attention: Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Training).

 . . . .

3.      Japanese Balloon Incidents.    RESTRICTED

In accordance with request from the Public Relations Officer, Western Defense Command, notified all subordinate headquarters this command directed that no publicity be released concerning the Japanese balloons which have been found at different areas of the Pacific Coast and further directed that local inquiries be referred to this command.


 . . . .




23 January 1945
SUBJECT: Daily Diary (Period 1600 22 January 1945 to 1600 23 January 1945).
TO        : Commanding General, Army Air Forces, Washington 25, D. C.
               (Attention: Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Training).

 . . . .

2.      Air Defense Measures at Hanford Engineering Company  SECRET

Resulting from an unidentified aircraft flying over the Hanford Engineering Company Plant at Pasco, Wash. on at least three nights in the past month (this Company is engaged in undisclosed projects for the War and Navy Departments) this hq was requested by WDC, about ten days ago, to move one Btry of searchlights from Seattle to the Pasco plant.  The Thirteenth Naval District has made arrangements for Naval Air Station, Pasco, to employ both radar and fighter aircraft in attempting interception of these unidentified aircraft.  The airspace over the Hanford Company is both a Danger area and a Restricted area.  Our battery of searchlights has been in place since 15 January; one incident has occurred since that date in which a brief radar contact was made - attempted night interception again failed.  It is understood that WDC has obtained permission from War Department in this instance for the Navy to fire on such unidentified aircraft as can be intercepted over this area.  The U.S. Army Commanding Officer at the Hanford Project was called by this Division and agreed to release the searchlights this week, however, he desires to withdraw only approximately half of the battery; i. e. one platoon of six lights.  This proposal was passed to both 4th AAA Command and WDC who concurred and instructions have been issued to withdraw one Platoon this date, the other platoon will remain approximately one week, depending on further incidents.


 . . . .




25 January 1945
SUBJECT: Daily Diary (Period 1600 23 January 1945 to 1600 25 January 1945).
                Two-Day Period
TO        : Commanding General, Army Air Forces, Washington 25, D. C.
               (Attention: Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Training).

1.        1. Commanding General's Office.   UNCLASSIFIED

Major General Charles R. Parker assumed command of the Fourth Air Force effective 25 January 1945.

 . . . .

3.        Security Measures, Pasco, Washington   CONFIDENTIAL

a.   "Danger Area" over Handford Eng Co.

At the request of G-3, Western Defense Comand, Hq Fourth Air Force has, through the Seattle Control Group, sent special notification to: (1) CAA, (2) Ferry Command, (3) ATC and (4) Navy, as well as to Fourth Air Force bases in the Northwest, re "Danger Area" to flying, over the Hanford Eng. Co, near Pasco, Wash.  This same information is carried in Chart 2 of the "Weekly Notices to Airmen" for 11 January 1945.  Naval Air Station, Pasco, Wash, has WD authority to fire on unidentified aircraft intercepted over this "Danger Area."

b.    Request for Night Fighters at Pasco, Wash.

Western Defense Command and Army Commands represented at the Hanford Eng Co, Pasco, have informally asked Hq Fourth Air Force for one or more night fighter aircraft to be based, temporarily, at Naval Air Station, Pasco, for employment against the alleged "bogie" which has been detected by radar on several nights in the past three weeks.  Presumably, such night fighters as we might furnish would operate under Naval GCI Station at Pasco.  Decision is being withheld pendng more definite information regarding this incident.


 . . . .


PROJECT 1947 Comment: Commander R. W. Hendershot revealed his role in the Hanford incident many years after 1945.  Decades after that some possible official confirmation was located at the National Archives.

The NICAP Subcommittee in Washington State indicated that Commander Hendershot had agreed to a tape recorded interview at some future date.  We do not know if this occurred.  However, among Richard Hall's' files were hundreds of tape recordings from various NICAP members and groups.  Perhaps this interview is contained in this collection.

Further information on the Hanford incident is probably in the records of the Western Defense Command, Thirteenth Naval District, the Naval Squadron stationed at Naval Air Station, Pasco, Western Sea Frontier, Hanford Works, and in other records of the HQ Army Air Force.

These specific 4th Air Force documents, while addressed to the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Training at Washington, D. C., were found in the HQ, Army Air Forces, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, at the National Archives II, Decimal File Number 319.1 Daily Diary.  Note that the 4th Air Force documents give no clue as to what is going on at Hanford, which at the time was producing plutonium for the first atomic bombs.

Further confirmation of the Hanford aerial intrusions and emergency installation of radar coverage of the facility came from Colonel Franklin T. Matthias, Officer in Charge of the Hanford Engineering Works.  One day after the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Colonel Matthias convened a press conference to reveal the previously Top Secret activities undertaken at Hanford.

The Seattle Times carried the report of the conference by Times Associate Editor, Ross Cunningham.  In an article published on August 8, 1945, it was publically revealed that there had been suspected aerial intrusions over Hanford, that radar was hastily installed to detect such intrusions, and that an arrangement was made with the Navy to intercept the intruders.  This confirms that the plans described within the 4th Air Force documents were actually carried out, supporting the testimony of the Naval officers Hendershot, Clem, and Powell regarding encounters by Naval aircraft with intruders over Hanford.  (see Hanford entry in Naval Chronology.)

Excerpt from the Seattle Times article:

“Throughout the war, the project has had no direct protection against external enemy action, no anti-aircraft, no protective troops, and no aircraft.”  Colonel Matthias explained that radar was installed at the project hurriedly, “when we saw or thought we saw unidentified aircraft operating.”  Defensive plans, not to be confused with internal security, rested on an arrangement with the Navy to send fighter planes if needed and arrangement with the 9th Service Command to “send us all the troops they had if we needed them.”

Seattle, Washington, The Seattle Times - 8 August, 1945  

Hanford Made Material For Atomic Bomb That Hit Japs

Associate Editor, The Times

HANFORD ENGINEER WORKS, Benton County, Aug. 8.—Stripping away another layer of the security secrecy shrouding this project, the Army took newsmen on an inspection of some of the hitherto restricted areas today after the project head, Col. F. T. Matthias, in a remarkably frank interview, made these revelations regarding atomic energy production and use:

  1.  The atomic material for the bomb which launched the “finish Japan” attack Sunday was produced in this project.

 2.  The Hanford project and its principal counterpart in Tennessee operate independently and if either were closed down the other could produce the material, although by a divergent process.

 3.  No plans have been made for the peacetime use of the Hanford Engineer Works.

 4.  It is probable that preliminary studies are under way for adapting atomic energy to peacetime use, but no work along that line is under way here.

 5.  Commercial representation is present on the top-flight committee studying the potentialities of the energy so that the greatest good possible may be accomplished.

After these statements by the Army officer here in the position to project the future of atomic energy, newsmen made the 30-mile drive north from Richland to the center of the production area, where the “ghost town” of Hanford lies virtually empty.

Hanford B Plant 1944

The newsmen stared at huge cement plants with smokestacks towering against the sky as workmen within them spin the dials to produce atomic energy to press forward the attack on Japan.  They were not permitted within the plants, which are within wire inclosures and Colonel Matthias explained it thus:

“The disclosure of the nature of their work and its effect upon the enemy has had a stimulating effect and we must get on with production.  It was a terrific relief to the staff to learn the details and they are proceeding, I’m sure, with renewed zip.

“Besides,” he added, referring to the decision not to allow internal plant inspection, “these men are working with delicately balanced force and I don’t think there should be anything to distract them.”

Colonel Matthias' press conference — in which he stood for an hour on a raised platform behind a counter, snapping a cigarette lighter but never getting around to lighting his smoke — covered a wide range of subjects, even including the question as to whether the colonel’s experience with atomic energy led him to conclude a projectile could be made of it in the United States and shot to any place on earth.

The colonel smiled, snapped the lighter a couple of times, and replied slowly:

“We have nothing to lead us to believe it could be done with any degree of certainty.”

Good nature was applied by the colonel when someone quipped about how he kept from revealing the secret while “talking in his sleep.”

“I don’t talk in my sleep — and my wife was just as surprised as any one when she learned Monday what we had been working on,” the colonel smiled.

But the more serious questions were answered in rapid-fire order, the gray-haired colonel seldom avoiding an answer, and then only when security was involved, or the top committee in the East had ruled that the subject was not to be discussed.

Why Hanford Was Chosen

After discussing how the present Hanford site was selected because of the availability of huge quantities of electrical power, an abundance of pure water, isolation and cheap land, Colonel Matthias said that the late President Roosevelt was in close touch with the project from the beginning, as was Secretary of War Stimson.

President Roosevelt wanted to visit the project but decided against it because it would focus too much attention on it.  The Truman Senate investigating committee, too, withheld visiting Hanford, the colonel said, for the same reason.

“The then Senator Truman probably had some inkling of it through Secretary Stimson.”

Reluctance to emphasize the project also prevented it from beginning with a triple-A priority for materials, he said, and work was begun with a third-rate priority.  It later was raised when the pinch of materials threatened to slow construction and it was possible to increase the priority without emphasizing the project.

Actually, Colonel Matthias said, he didn’t know the exact nature of the project when he and two other officers selected the site.

“We had only an approximate idea,” he explained.

“We knew that we had to have firm ground for massive buildings,” he said.

These were the towering buildings which newsmen saw from a short distance.

The looming chimneys cast their shadows in points toward the old construction town of Hanford, where row on row of Quonset huts; large square dormitories which once housed tens of thousands of men and women; the commissary which once fed thousands of the employes (sic), and the research and administrative buildings spread over scores of acres.

No Workers to Remove Town

Officers explained that they were left standing for two reasons.  Construction changes might at any time up until a few weeks ago have necessitated their being used again to house more workers.  The second reason was the reluctance to divert essential manpower to their demolition, although much of the critical electrical materials have been stripped of and shipped to the South Pacific. To get on with Colonel Matthias' revelations, he spoke of the independence of the Hanford and Oak Ridge, Tenn., plants in response to a question.

“Could the material for the atomic bomb be produced in either Oak Ridge or Hanford?”

“Yes, all of the essential materials,” the colonel replied, adding that the processes employed in the two projects differs.

“Have you had any trouble with sabotage-spies?” “The word spies needs defining — but I can say that when the project was in its early stages we had some people here who were here to try to find out something.”

“And I can add with certainty we haven’t any now,” Colonel Matthias said with emphasis.

“You know, when some of them applied and found they had to have their fingerprints taken before they came to work they didn’t show up again.

Low Rate of Injury

“The project,” he said, “had a low rate of injury among workmen, and only 16 of the thousands of men and women who worked on the project were injured fatally — 11 in two accidents, the collapse of a big tank and a train-wreck.

“Its unusual but we are not eligible for the E award given by the Army and Navy,” the colonel said.  “We’re too far along — 90 per cent — with the construction to win a construction award and not far enough along to get an award through comparison with other plants.

“Throughout the war, the project has had no direct protection against external enemy action — no anti-aircraft; no protective troops and no aircraft.”

Colonel Matthias explained that radar was installed at the project hurriedly, “when we saw or thought we saw unidentified aircraft operating.”  Defensive plans, not to be confused with internal security, rested in an arrangement with the Navy to send fighter planes if needed and arrangement with the 9th Service Command to “send us all the troops they had if we needed them.”

“Do you see any peacetime use of the plant?” he was asked.

“Well, they used to say that there was no future for the horseless carriage, but you know what happened,” he laughed.  “I can't answer that question and I don’t think anyone else can because no one knows.

“The project was not built with the idea of being part of any projected Columbia River development.”

He said that the project was a round-the-clock operation, meaning that it is like an aluminum plant in necessity of continuous operation, which brought out that for a time there was an outside chance electrical power interruption by an accident might break off production.  But precautions have been completed now to insure against this.

Other Atoms May Be Used

“I cannot over-emphasize the importance to the nation of security on this project,” he said.

“On the committee working with the future of the process there are commercial interests because it is hoped that it can be handled to the best interest of the country.”

Colonel Matthias said that it is common belief that atoms other than of U-235 uranium — which is used in the present process — can be utilized as research progresses.

“I did not think that the public could so quickly realize the importance of the development of atomic energy,” Colonel Matthias replied in response to a question as to whether it was being over-emphasized.

“I think it is the biggest thing that has happened in many years.”

“The project was financed at first from President Roosevelt's special fund to exploit war production,” Colonel Matthias said.  “But later the funds were obtained from a regular congressional appropriation. This involved letting key members of the appropriations committees know of the importance of the development, but the key secret was withheld.”

Previous 1945 REPORTS    
Return to MAIN PAGE