Philip J. Klass +quot;White Paper+quot; on Mike Rogers, Travis Walton's Partner BACKGROUND

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Philip J. Klass "White Paper" on Mike Rogers, Travis Walton's Partner BACKGROUND On 6/26/74, Mike Rogers received a contract from the U.S. Forest Service to "thin out" 1,277 acres of timber in the Turkey Springs area of the Sitgreaves National Forest having submitted the low bid of $27.40 per acre. Rogers was to complete the job in 200 working days, which, allowing for the long winter in the mountains and other bad-weather days, meant he should complete the job by 8/3/75. To meet this date, Rogers and his crew would have to average 6.4 acres per working day. On 12/12/74, the Forest Service reduced the working area to 1,205 acres to protect wildlife, with a corresponding reduction in total contract price but without reducing the time for Rogers to complete the job. On 7/15/75, Forest Service Contracting officer Maurice Marchbanks wrote Rogers a letter to notify him that he was seriously behind on his contract: Wayne Porter, COR [Contracting Officer's Representative] as of the above listed contract informs me that 92% OF YOUR CONTRACT TIME HAS EXPIRED, YET 32% OF THE WORK IS UNCOMPLETED. It appears that approximately one -half of the fuel-breaks [to prevent spread of forest fires] are yet to be completed. This in reality makes the situation worse than the percentages indicate since piling of fuel breaks in generally slower than the thinning itself. This letter is to remind you that THE GOVERNMENT HAS THE RIGHT TO EXPECT THE PROJECT TO BE COMPLETED ON TIME. Your failure to do so could result in your right to proceed being terminated. Please advise me by letter within 10 days how you plan to complete all the work within the contract time. If you need any assistance, don't hesitate to call. (Emphasis added.) Rogers met with Marchbanks to request a time extension. On 8/4/75, Marchbanks issued contract Change Order #2, giving Rogers an 84 day extension, to 11/10/75. This 84 day extension was based on the fact that during the first year, Rogers had averaged 4.25 acres per working day. If Rogers and his crew could maintain this same average, and if they worked six days per week, they could complete the Turkey Springs job by 11/10. However, because Rogers was late on the original contract, he would be penalized $1 per acre for the remaining 353 acres. On 10/16/75, less than 4 weeks before the deadline for completing Turkey Springs, COR Tom Hentz visited Turkey Springs and then wrote the following report: Contractor [Rogers] has completed approximately 15 acres of fuel-break in Lot D since last payment was made [two weeks earlier]. Contractor [says he] had been working steadily. However, progress has been slow due to the density of the stands being thinned. TO DATE, 80% OF THE TIME EXTENSION HAS PASSED AND [ONLY] 31% OF THE WORK HAS BEEN COMPLETED. CONTRACTOR CLAIMS HE IS TRYING TO INCREASE SIZE OF HIS CREW, BUT SO FAR HAS HAD LITTLE SUCCESS. (Emphasis added.) "HALF THE TRUTH IS OFTEN A GREAT LIE" .....Benjamin Franklin On 10/20/75, knowing that Hentz would report Rogers was far behind on his Turkey Springs contract, Rogers wrote to Contracting Officer Marchbanks as follows: I am writing to tell you personally of our progress on Turkey Springs thinning. I can not honestly say whether or not we will finish on time or not. However, WE ARE WORKING EVERY DAY with as much manpower as I can hire. I will not stop work until the job is finished or until I am asked to stop. I have had considerable trouble keeping a full crew on the job. The area is very thick and the guys have poor morale because of this. I have had to break in several green men. We will keep working and trying hard. (Emphasis added.) Rogers Was Resorting To Falsehood To Try To Explain Why He Was So Far Behind On His Turkey Springs Job. The Real Reason Was That He And His Crew Were "Moonlighting" For Two Other Forest Service Contractors Where They Could Make More Money Than On Turkey Springs - Because Rogers Had Bid Too Low A Price. This I learned during my first telephone conversations with Rogers on 7/11/76 (shortly after he had a telephone installed). Rogers claimed that if it had not been for the Travis Walton UFO incident, he could have completed the Turkey Springs job "in two or three weeks." When I challenged this claim on the basis that as of 10/16 Rogers had used up 80% of his contract extension time and had completed less than one-third of the work, Rogers unwittingly 'let the cat out of the bag' to try to justify his claim. Rogers said: "Because I had NO OTHER CONTRACTS at that time. EVERYTHING ELSE WAS FINISHED." Until that moment, I had assumed that Rogers was devoting his full efforts to his U.S. Froest Service contract for Turkey Springs, trying to avoid default on his contract. When I asked about his "other contracts" Rogers said he and his crew had been working for Western Pine Co. and another Forest Service contractor whom he refused to identify. When I asked if Contracting Officer Marchbanks knew that Rogers was 'moonlighting' for two other contractors, Rogers said he "assumed" Marchbanks knew because Hentz also had inspected the Western Pine timber operations. But Rogers admitted that Marchbanks probably did NOT know about his other job. I Told Rogers I Planned To Call Marchbanks The Next Morning To Find Out. The next morning when I called Marchbanks, I learned that Rogers had decided to drive some 60 miles to Springerville to inform him before I called. Marchbanks told me that he had JUST learned from Rogers - WHO WAS IN HIS OFFICE WHEN I CALLED - that he had been working for Western Pine and neglecting his own Turkey Springs contract. Marchbanks said, "If I had known this I would have insisted 'To hell with what you've got with somebody else. This is your obligation here.' But I was not aware of it." When I asked Marchbanks if Rogers had informed him that he was also working for a SECOND contractor, Marchbanks said he had NOT. ROGERS'S CONVENIENTLY FLAWED TAPE RECORDING Several days later, on 7/18, I called Rogers and asked "why weren't you honest with Mr. did not tell him about BOTH contracts you had?" I was puzzled when Rogers revealed that when he visited Marchbanks on 7/12 he had played for him a tape recording Rogers had made of our 7/11 telephone conversation in which Rogers HAD discussed BOTH of his moonlighting contracts. Yet during my 7/12 conversation with Marchbanks, he said he had not been aware of the second contract until I told him about it. After concluding my conversation with Rogers, I called Marchbanks to explore this curious discrepency. Marchbanks said that not only he but an associate, Dennis Allen, had listened to the Rogers tape recording. Allen had heard Marchbanks tell me that he had been unaware of the second contractor until I told him and did not challenge that statement. Furthermore, Rogers himself was sitting in the room and did not correct Marchbanks. Then Marchbanks said, "A lot of the tape you couldn't understand, there was something wrong with the tape. By a lot I mean a minute here, a minute there, you couldn't make it out. He [Rogers] tried to say something was wrong with his tape recorder. Apparently, Rogers's Tape Recorder Conveniently Malfunctioned Every Time He Discussed The SECOND Contractor. Marchbanks sounded a bit embarrassed that as the Forest Service contracting officer he had not been aware of Rogers's 'moonlighting' activities until I launched my own investigation. He expressed no anger because of Rogers's deception. But he did comment, "I didn't believe the [Travis Walton UFO-abduction] story then. I don't believe it now." "ONE FALSEHOOD TREADS ON THE HEELS OF ANOTHER"..... Terence Recall that on 10/20/75, three weeks before the 11/10 deadline for completing Turkey Springs, Rogers wrote to Marchbanks, saying, "...we are working every day with as much manpower as I can hire..." THAT CLAIM WAS FALSE. Hentz's diary, reporting on his visit to Turkey Springs on 10/28, said: During the past week, the contractor has accomplished 4 acres of fuel-breaks. The reason for the slow progress is that it rained one day. Contractor's vehicle was broken down for two days. And a 4th day of work was lost due to an on-the-job injury that required medical attention. During the 12 days since Hentz's last visit on 10/16, Rogers had completed only four acres. UNLESS ROGERS COULD COMPLETE MORE THAN 230 ACRES IN THE NEXT 13 DAYS, HE WOULD DEFAULT ON HIS CONTRACT. Rogers offered the following explanation for having completed only 4 acres in 12 days, in his letter of 4/19/77 to APRO's James Lorenzen: During the time between 10/2/75 and 10/16/75 we spent most of Out time on another project and only a couple of days on the Turkey springs contract. Between 10/16/75 and 10/28/75, the inspectors (sic) diary clearly shows we lost 3.5 days one week alone due to some unfortunate circumstances. The one-half day accounts for the other 4 acres [that were completed between 10/16/75 and 10/28/75]. THE OTHER 8 DAYS WERE SPENT ON ANOTHER JOB, AND OF COURSE, A WEEKEND OR TWO. (Emphasis added.) In that same 4/19 letter to Lorenzen, Rogers said: It was AFTER that date of 10/28/75 that I added John Goulette and Dwayne Smith to my crew and by 11/3/75 WE WERE WORKING TURKEY SPRINGS FULL TIME. (Emphasis added.) In Rogers's next letter to Lorenzen, dated 5/3/77, he wrote: We worked Turkey Springs from 10/29/75 to 11/5/75 [date of the UFO incident] except for one weekend off, one lost day due to the truck breaking down on the way to work, one day lost to rain, and six hours because our saws broke down. BUT - in Rogers's letter to Marchbanks, written on 10/20/75, he claimed "...WE ARE WORKING EVERY DAY." In Hentz's report of 10/28/75, he wrote: It is apparent that the contractor will not be able to complete the entire job under the present time-extension. Contractor had stated that he had written you a letter [10/20/75] explaining some of his problems and [he] would like to set up a meeting to discuss what course of action might be taken for him to be able to complete this contract. But as of Wednesday, November 5 - only five days before the contract deadline - Rogers HAD NOT CALLED MARCHBANKS to request a meeting to discuss obtaining another contract extension. WHY? If Rogers requested and obtained another contract extension, he would have been penalized another $1/acre. The fact that Rogers opted to work for two other contractors rather than work on his own Turkey Springs contract reveals that he had erred originally in bidding too low a price. Another $1/acre reduction would not help his situation. More importantly, if Rogers obtained another contract extension, with winter on the close horizon, it would be the following early summer before he could complete Turkey Springs and obtain the $2,638 which the Forest Service was withholding until the job was finished. What Rogers really needed was an "Act-Of-God" - an extraordinary event which could enable him to quickly get out from under his Turkey Springs contract without a default-termination and enable him to get his hands on the $2,638 to tide him over the long winter. On the night of 10/20/75, the night that Rogers wrote to Marchbanks, NBC-TV broadcast a two-hour docudrama telling the tale of the "UFO abduction" of Betty/Barney Hill. Rogers claims that he watched only a portion of the TV show because he found it boring. Challenging this claim of Rogers is the statement by team member John Goulette that UFOs occasionally were discussed by members of the team. Mostly it was just Mike and Travis arguing about what would make them fly," according to Goulette. ["The Ultimate Encounter," by Bill Barry, p.163.] IF ROGERS HAD WRITTEN THE SCRIPT FOR TRAVIS'S UFO-ABDUCTION... If the NBC-TV movie that Rogers saw on 10/20/75, when he was writing to Marchbanks, generated the idea that a similar "UFO abduction" might create a convenient "Act-Of-God" means of getting out of the Turkey Springs contract while gaining speedy access to the $2,638 which Rogers sorely needed (AND MIGHT EVEN WIN THE $100,000 PRIZE THEN BEING OFFERED BY THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER), the scenario had to be carefully scripted. * The "abduction" needed to occur NEAR the Turkey Springs site so that Rogers could claim his team members were too frightened to return to work in that area, preventing Rogers from completing work under his contract. * The "abductee" would need to be someone like Travis Walton who had a long-standing interest and familiarity with the subject and who, allegedly, had always wanted to go for a ride aboard a UFO. * Travis would need to be seated next to the door of Rogers's truck, so he could jump out and run under the UFO. * The UFO would need to "zap" Travis with an explosive beam which would panic Rogers into driving off, leaving Travis to be taken into the UFO. But the beam would need to be so gentle that it would not cause any burn or bruise marks to appear on Travis's body when he "reappeared" five days later. * In some UFO incidents it is reported that the UFO causes failure of automobile engines and/or lights. This UFO should NOT cause such effects because it would prevent Rogers from driving away from the site, enabling the ETs to take Travis aboard the UFO. By A Fortuitous Coincidence, The (alleged) UFO Behaved Exactly As If It Were Following A Script Prepared By Mike Rogers. Philip J. Klass Washington D.C.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank