LONNIE ZAMORA (1933 - 2009): Eulogy, to a Man of His Word, and The Finest Witness One Could Ever Interview...) By Ray Stanford Founder & Director, Organization for Physical UFO Science, College Park, Maryland, USA
Posted: 17:30 November 6, 2009
On Monday night, November 2, 2009, 'Lonnie' Zamora, likely North America's most highly respected witness to something that the U.S. Air Force's chief scientific investigator of UFOs eventually admitted was, to use his own term, a "close encounter of the third kind" died of what a Socorro Police spokesman described as a heart attack.
The April 24, 1964 (5:50 - ~ 5:53 PM), Socorro, New Mexico, case of a well-documented, multi-witness, UFO landing is so well-known that it need not be described in any great detail here. Instead, our focus is upon the quality and character of Lonnie Zamora, at the time a Socorro policeman, who reluctantly became the 'central' and closest witness to the landing of, occupants of, take-off and high-speed departure of, an ~ 18' UFO shaped like an elongated egg. After the encounter, Zamora's ability as an accurate and careful observer was attested to by the famous meteor tracker, Dr. Lincoln la Paz, because of the extraordinary accuracy of meteor-trail coordinate data Zamora had earlier provided him, in helping search for a fallen meteorite.
Before April 24, 1964, policeman Zamora would have laughed at the suggestion that UFOs are anything about which a sensible person should be concerned. When he had seen a brilliant 'flame' in the sky and, then, the whitish, elongated object with two figures no larger than "ten-year-old boys" in what looked like white coveralls beside it, Zamore didn't think "Wow! A UFO with humanoids beside it!". Absolutely not. He thought, at first sight of the 'flame', of a nearby dynamite shack blowing up, and upon first sight of the landed UFO and occupants, that a car or van might have rolled or tumbled down into the ravine bottom, and that the two well-under-five-feet-tall bipedal figures in white might be children, perhaps escaped from what he had taken to be a car in the ravine bottom.
Such was the character of the policeman, concern for safety and certainly not about turning anything he saw into a UFO and occupants. Until less that two minutes later, UFOs were absolutely not a part of Lonnie Zamora's 'world view'.
Well, most readers know the rest of the story, but in remembering Lonnie Zamora, let's have a brief look into a personal moment of his family life, as a window into understanding the man.
After years of research into the case and publication, in 1976, of my 211-page book thoroughly documenting it, five more years had passed when I received a totally unsolicited letter in 1981. It was from Lonnie Zamora's daughter!
She wrote the following: "I just read your book, SOCORRO 'SAUCER' IN A PENTAGON PANTRY. For once I felt like I was finally finding out the truth about what my dad experienced on April 24, 1964. As you well know, my dad is not a very verbal man, and the only things my brother and I ever knew about my dad's sighting was what we read in papers or books, and you know how distorted those stories were. I was five years old at the time of the sighting. I'm now 23. It was seventeen long years ago."
She continued by writing, "My dad, as I mentioned, has never been willing to discuss the sighting with me. Finally a few days ago he let me have your book and a box full of letters, articles, and other books that he had saved. (All letters unanswered.)"
Zamora's daughter concluded that letter by saying, "Reason for my letter? I'd like to talk with you...", and she gave me her phone number in a location that was not Socorro, so she said that if I'd be more comfortable that she was who she said, it would be O.K. to send a letter to her father's address in Socorro, and that he would forward it to her.
I trusted the young lady and telephoned her. She was delighted, saying, "...After all those years, dad handed me your book and said it would tell me everything anyone could know about the sighting. Dad said, emphatically, you're the only writer who told the story, everything, and with total accuracy. He wanted me to know that, unlike all other accounts he had read, your book had everything right...So what I want to know is whether you've learned anything more about the case since finishing your book."
Of course, I told Lonnie's daughter what I had learned since the book, but at that time, it wasn't very much.
After the nice conversation with her, I began to ask myself what it was in Zamora's character that might make him hesitant to personally tell the details of his sighting to his own children.
For one thing, the experience was both frightening (Those who know the details will understand immediately.) and probably a bit painful to Zamora. You see, he was, upon contemplating what had happened afterward, forced to admit to himself that highly extraordinary, small-occupant-bearing craft are flying around and sometimes landing. He didn't like to talk about that reality -- not to the media, not even to his own daughter and son. Yet, I think there was more to Zamora's hesitancy to talk freely about the occupants. By contrast, he had talked very freely about them to Dr. J. Allen Hynek and me, along with State Police Sergeant Samuel Chavez, who was the fourth and only other person allowed at the site on the morning of April 29, 1964, the fifth day after the landing. [See for reference, page 61 of the U.S. hard-cover edition of my book on the case.]
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