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The role of a Chaplain at Roswell was an aspect that was not considered or examined by early Roswell researchers. Though military officers, ranchers and others were contacted about their possible knowledge of event surrounding the 1947 crash, no one ever considered the Chaplain, and what he knew. Given the significant role that a Chaplain would have played, I decided to track down any information that might lead to the identity of the Roswell Army Air Field Base Chaplain at the time.
Recently, through working with the US Army Chaplain Corps -and with assistance from the Executive Director of the US Army Chaplain Museum at Ft. Jackson, SC- I have conclusively identified the Base Chaplain at RAAF in July of 1947 as Reverend Elijiah H. Hankerson. Rev. Elijah Hankerson was a Black man and a National Baptist. Hankerson began his military career in 1944 and passed in 1990. However, I have located and contacted his daughter- Esther.
Elijah and his wife Annie lived off-base at 601 E. Summit in Roswell. Though Hankerson is mentioned in the RAAF Yearbook, he is not pictured.
Esther Hankerson recounts how, when she was a child, she remembers her father having been "called out at all hours" to act as a "first responder" to air accidents. He did tell her about these events and it left an impression on young Esther. Esther herself became a "first responder" and became certified in administering pre-hospital care for medical emergencies! She laments though that he, and mother Annie, never mentioned Roswell. She says that "he would have to have been involved. Given what he did on other bases when I was growing up, it would have been his job -his duty- to respond to the Roswell crash. Why didn't he tell us he was at Roswell?"
Asked if there is anything that he ever said during his life that would possibly indicate his knowledge of the Roswell incident, Esther thought about it and replied, "Yes, there is. Towards the end of his life in 1990, before he became entirely unable to speak, he said some things over and over that made no sense at the time. But they do now."
Asked what it was that her father said that she found unusual, Esther replied: "There were a few things that he kept repeating as he drifted in an out. My father kept saying over and over "I'm just a Man. But in my Father's house there are many mansions." When she asked him "what do you mean?" he replied to her, "Dear, knowing too much is not always a good thing." This was something she did not understand at all. Her father had a PhD and was also a Doctor of Divinity. She said that her father kept on referring to "the Universe and man's place in it. He kept on repeating to us, "I'm just a Man, but the Universe, oh the Universe..."
She never knew what to make of these statements, they made no sense- until now. Clearly upset by the implications, Esther said, "Oh dear God, I'm realizing that he was trying to say something to us without saying. My father kept his oath till the end!"