Interview With Van Simmons
Van is the author of Analytical American History of the Life and Times of Howard Robard Hughes
Jeri Maier: We are delighted to present our interview with Van Simmons.
Van spent a great amount of time (some six years) and money in his efforts to write, print, publish and make limited distributions of the book:
The Analytical American History of the Life and Times of Howard Robard Hughes (ISBN 0 614 11829-1). This book relates a subject of research on Mr. Hughes that portrays another side of the Hughes legacies that have heretofore been unknown by the general public. The bibliography is very large indeed and covers both direct reference and associated reference materials used in this extensive research work. This research is a testament to the author's dedication as well as his desire to establish a suitable Memorial to a Great American, Howard Robard Hughes, in Hughes' native hometown: Houston Texas..
Q: For an opening question-first can you tell us a little
VS: I am a retired soldier aged 76, so I've been around quite a while! Born in small city of Temple, raised in Thorndale
and Austin, Texas. Military service from WWII through Korea and Vietnam gave me a considerable education regarding
respect for people of various different ways of life. I was no outstanding figure (retired as 2nd Lieutenant0 but on the other hand, there have been many great experiences
and friendships along the way. I am married to the wonderful former Miss Anamatilde Gomez of Ubate,
Colombia. We have 5 children ranging in ages from 9 to 24. I was a training specialist (Petroleum Technology) for the Petroleum Extension Service, University of Texas
PETEX, based in Odessa Texas for 4 years following my retirement from military service-a very fortunate way for me to have found a transition way from my previous way
of life. We decided to settle in Temple, Texas, my birthplace, in 1991 and have a happy tranquil life here with
children in college, high school and Civil Air Patrol
activities. Well-Our subject of interest is Howard Hughes, so....
Q: I have a copy of your work. It is the most extensive copy of the research work that I have ever seen.
The next question I would like to ask is: "What are the reasons for your interests in Howard Hughes?"
VS: My reasons for interest in Howard Hughes comes out of my being among the elderly group of people who lived through the times of the Great Depression; the things and people who alleviated the hardships of the times are were indelibly impressed upon my memory! My boyhood heroes were Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes and the Aviation Pioneers of the times.
Of great and compelling interest in the 1930-1940's were of the gathering war clouds and a general feeling that our country ought not become involved. Charles Lindbergh, famous for his solo flight New York to Paris, had become a great and popular celebrity in more than just aviation matters. In Europe the nazi Luftwaffe was vaunted as being "invincible' and Lindbergh
advised British PM Baldwin and French Premier Deladier to avoid war with Nazi Germany at all costs, owing to Germany's 'invincible' military and Air Power.
Shortly thereafter Britain and France abandoned Czechoslovakia and Hitler took that poor nation over practically overnight, without having to fire a shot! During this time Lindbergh was guest of the nazi leadership and accepted a high
military decoration from Goering at direction of Hitler.
Lindbergh began to use his influence to force our country into a "neutralist' position. He was a leading spokesman for the "America First" organization, devoted to keeping the USA out of the affairs going on in Europe. Lindbergh's representations as a senior officer in the uniform of the US Army Air Corps were so inflammatory that President Roosevelt publicly censured him This so embittered Lindbergh that he resigned his commission and left the country.
During these momentous times (late 1930's) a young Howard Hughes, famous moviemaker, had been privately developing high speed, long range originally designed air frame aircraft, at his own expense. His work brought the USA, heretofore woefully behind in aircraft development, to become a world leader in aviation matters, Howard himself flew to international speed and distance records with developments (deemed of genius nature at the time). His personal developments in radio communications, streamlined airframe, navigation and engine metallurgy led to his being awarded International Aviation Awards never before bestowed on any single Pilot and Aircraft Engineer. He was also decorated by the US Government by unanimous acclaim of both houses of the US Congress with the Congressional Gold Medal for his achievements in service of the aviation industry.
Up to these time only 173 persons, worldwide, had been granted this honor. All of this brought the USA, heretofore far behind in aircraft development, to become a leader in Aviation matters. Aircraft Manufacturers everywhere benefited from these unique Hughes developments. Aviation was young Howard's great interest in his life; he went on, as the Congressional Citation predicted, to contribute much more to aviation and other fields for many years yet to come. These things, then, sum up the excitement and admiration that young people of those days felt and admired about this Great American of our time!)
Q: Do you think there was a conspiracy against Howard Robard Hughes?
VS: My researches led me to believe that there was. I must point out, however, that the book relates specific events and characters that in themselves do not establish that a state of conspiracy existed. But as in my own case, conclusions are to be drawn from the facts presented. The reader is expected to open-mindedly consider the information related and to gain their own conclusions from them.
This is of course a highly sensitive matter and needs consideration in light of what is known. This is by no means meant to be a "mystery" or "entertainment" book, but was written to awaken interest in bringing light to some very strange and as yet unexplained events and circumstances involved in the life and death of this very important figure in our country's affairs; at a critical time in our History. Difficulties imposed on attempts to interview either personally in writing, to persons and groups keenly involved in matters being researched brought about a great deal of wonderment at lack of cooperation (or interest?) on the part of sources approached. The Clifford Irving Book of the 1970's, suppressed and dubbed a "hoax" presented a "mystery wrapped in an enigma" that generated a great many questions in my mind. Irving's imprisonment and the unavailability of any information concerning his manuscript material-known to have exceeded 1000 pages of material posed important questions to be looked into.
Irving, subsequently (late in 1990) reappeared on a major TV interview program during which he was interviewed by the same reporter who had interviewed him in 1970 and pronounced the opinion that Irving's book was what Irving had represented it to be; Now, however, he calmly, almost affectionately acknowledged that Irving had cleverly deceived him at the original interview.
Irving republished the book privately in May 1999 under title Autobiography of Howard Hughes in a much diminished form, down to 284 from the original 1000+ pages book. Subsequent correspondences with Irving produced no information on questions and requests for information that I posed to his.
Another work arousing special interest was "the Business of Science" (1988) written by former Hughes employee Simon Ramo,
kindly presented to me by Dr. Ramo who subsequently, however did not respond to any of the questions that I asked him.
Then the GLOMAR Phase: attempts to get GLOMAR INC information about that astounding, mysterious chapter most directly relevant to the research, received responses denying that GLOMAR INC had no information about either the super ship HUGHES GLOMAR EXPLORER or Howard Hughes. Recently, however, a NOVA TV report covered a great deal of information about the ship, linking Howard Hughes directly to its construction and operations.
The circumstances of Howard's reported death and subsequent burial on the second day thereafter at 7:00 AM are things that
clearly need to be closely looked into. The autopsy and identification reports are highly unusual.
All reports of appearances by Mr. Hughes after 1954 are cloaked in mystery. Stories of his proclivity to do business by nighttime
telephone conversations. Reports of physical meetings with him always had it that the environment was such that no one could possibly have identified him positively...together with reports that he had a stand-in "double" to "protect" his personal privacy,
all of these circumstances and more, arouse suspicions that "Yes, a well organized and powerful conspiracy" was involved
in Howard's existence for many years, while he was reported as having been in closely guarded seclusion over a period of many years before his reported death.
Q: Have your feelings and opinions about Howard Hughes changed after the research?
VS: Shockingly so! His life was of even more impact and value to our times than I could have imagined when I started research on this work. I had asked Mr. Albert Michener and other important writers to take on writing of the book. Mr. Michener, sadly indeed, declined on grounds of ill health. He did honor me with a personal endorsement to do it myself.
Q: Do you think that Howard Hughes received the respect and recognition that he deserved? Tell me a little more about what you discovered.
VS: Almost all of the books and reports that I have examined present a distorted view of this great man. This appears to me to be a classic example that the reality of human nature succumbs to feelings of jealousy and blind hatred against the person of any wealthy and influential person. It has been heart-rending to research these things and come to these conclusions.
Q: Does people you've contacted so far receive your project well?
VS: My most helpful and encouraging friend so far is a gentleman in Edinburgh, Scotland. I perceive that most
people in this country have been affected by the many negative reports that have been spread about. Many people have negative views of the man's character and operations in general. Others are too busy to become involved in studying the facts.
Q: What are your next plans and steps:
VS: I believe that this is a public information matter that can best be addressed by
a well prepared "information" program using Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin's effective methods of the 18th Century.
A caricature-cartoon publication would be an excellent vehicle with which to inform a very wide audience's interests to the subject
presented. This could lead to news syndicated, magazine and movie projects, when and if properly developed.
Q: Are you optimistic about this plan?
VS: Yes. An existing HRH Memorial Group and Historical Research and Publishing Group are excellent bases for an effective beginning if interested members will give some time and talent to making the program work.It would be a shoestring operation to begin with, established solely for the purpose of establishing a suitable Memorial to Mr. Hughes. We need a cartoonist-caricaturist-writer and volunteer management team, which I would be pleased to nominate YOU to CHAIR, Jeri. Our Friend Bianca Bourdeaux is an excellent character to portray Katharine Hepburn and a young popular California Actor named Jerome Courshon could very excellently hold the role of Howard Hughes..(Just my idea of an ideal lineup)..
Q: What can anyone do to help you spread the words about this project?
VS: This program can be arranged as an appeal for Mass individual support or for Specialist individual support, or a combination of both concepts.
Q: How can anyone contact you?
VS: I am open for contacts at any time at my home
418 West Virginia Avenue,
Ph(254) 774 9038
or internet email address:
gsimmons @ vvm.com
I have communicated with Van for many years. I also received a copy of the reseach and I have to say that
it is pretty amazing and complete written reseach about Howard Robard Hughes.
I am glad that I finally have time to look into it and hopeful to spend some time working with Van.
If you are interested in helping spread the words about his project, please contact Van.
You can also join his group at Yahoo for discussion and conversations.
howard robard hughes memorial - Group to promote establishment of Memorial to HRH
- More photos at Yahoo Group
Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat
Spruce Goose's Brief History.
- Spruce Goose Web Site
at Evergreen Aviation Museum
Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat is now on display at the Museum.
- More Photos and info
at All Aviation Flighline Online.
- More Story
Hughes' H-4 Hercules Flying Boat, better known as the "Spruce Goose,"
Article at Boeing Web Site.
Howard Hughes' giant Flying Boat
is now on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum.