Roswell,” the very mention of the word brings
images of a crashed UFO, aliens, government cover-up, autopsies, hidden debris,
guarded charred bodies, and weather balloons. In the history of UFO reports, no
case has received the world-wide attention as the Roswell event of 1947. Not
only did the alleged crash of a flying saucer create mass coverage at the time
of the event, but remains today as an often discussed case by which all other
cases are judged. So many books and articles have been written about Roswell, it
is not an easy task to write another, but I feel that no UFO enthusiast cannot
include it among his comments. The Roswell event is the cornerstone of UFO
research. The case offers everything one could imagine; a crash of some flying
craft, direct, hands on testimony of witnesses who handled crash debris,
government cover-up and secrecy, and most of all a list of participants which is
generally listed at around 500 first and secondhand testimonials.
Ironically, the alleged crash story originally
died as quickly as it began. It would be many years before UFO researchers
refueled the fire behind it’s enormous potential. Most all of us are familiar
with the famous Roswell headline stating that the Army had captured a “flying
saucer,” and then the retraction a few hours later, substituting a balloon for
the crashed saucer. At the time of the original event, a sense of naivety and
trust gave birth to a rapid, quiet acceptance of the retraction, and there the
event died. But, fortunately, it was resurrected in 1976, and has kept pace with
all other events of the last 50+ years. It would be January 1976, when
ufologists William Moore, and Stanton R. Friedman were mulling over some
interview notes from two witnesses whom Friedman had met with. A man and a
woman, who both had knowledge of a crashed saucer in July 1947 in Corona, New
Mexico were the key witnesses.
A retired Air Force officer, Major Jesse A.
Marcel asserted that he had first hand involvement in the crash debris, and the
Air Force cover-up. The woman was Lydia Sleppy, who had been employed at an
Albuquerque radio station KOAT. She claimed that the military had covered-up the
story of a crashed saucer, and the bodies of “little men,” who were aboard the
craft. She also claimed that the Air Force had literally stopped the sending of
a teletype news report of the incident.
The USA Military had announced to the world
that it had captured a flying saucer on a remote ranch in Corona, and then about
four hours later corrected the story, saying that what was found was just a
weather balloon with a radar reflector kite. We have two stories. Which one is
the truth? Though subsequent confirmations of the balloon theory continue, as
long as we have firsthand witnesses who defy this explanation, the investigation
must continue. Of all of the explanations given to Project Bluebook, it is quite
strange that the Roswell story was never mentioned. The story that died so
quickly was rarely mentioned from the beginning, the only one, to my knowledge,
was in a mid-1950’s lecture by UFO enthusiast Frank Edward. It seems that from
the beginning, a grass roots group of believers would perpetuate this grand
story. When we solve the puzzle of the many UFO reports, it will be due to this
grass roots movement. The truth is hard to kill.
It would be June 24, 1947, when the term,
“flying saucer” was coined by pilot Kenneth Arnold. He used this term to
describe UFOs flying over Mr. Ranier, and only a couple of weeks later, the
phrase was used by the Air Force to explain what had been found in Corona, New
Mexico. The alleged crash debris was flown to Eight Army Air Force Headquarters
in Ft. Worth, Texas, and somehow between the time that Jesse Marcel Sr. had
handled the “other worldly” material and it’s arrival in Ft. Worth, the strange
material had lost it’s luster, and became just a weather balloon. The Air Force
had effectively murdered the eye witness accounts, and made fools of all who
were involved. Marcel would categorically state that the debris he held in his
hands, and showed to his family, was not the same material shown in photos of
the “balloon wreckage.”
What happened to the saucer debris? An
uncertified, but controversial document might provide an answer. Supposedly a
brief prepared for then President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower, this document was
authored on November 18, 1952. It asserts that on September 24, 1947, President
Harry S. Truman ordered the genesis of the highly top-secret “Operation
Majestic-12,” to study the remains of the Roswell crash. These papers would
arrive in a plain manilla envelope, postmarked Albuquerque, in the post of Los
Angeles television producer Jaime Shandera in December 1984. In the early part
of 1987, another copy was given to Timothy Good, a British ufologist. Good
released it to the British press in May. These documents caused quite a stir,
but their authenticity cannot be established beyond doubt. The jury is still out
on the MJ-12 papers, but many ufologists view it as a hoax. The issue itself is
not insurmountable, however, as a huge amount of evidence still remains to
establish the Roswell crash as a reality.
The Roswell saga actually began in Silver City,
New Mexico on June 25. Dr. R. F. Sensenbaugher, a dentist, reported sighting a
saucer-shaped UFO fly over, that was about one-half the size of the full moon.
Two days later, in Pope, New Mexico, W. C. Dobbs reported a white, glowing
object flying overhead, not too far from the White Sands missile range. On the
same day, Captain E. B. Detchmendy reported to his commanding officer that he
saw a white, glowing UFO pass over the missile range. Two days later, on June
29, Rocket expert C. J. Zohn and three of his technicians, who were stationed at
White Sands, watched a giant silver disc moving northward over the desert. On
July 2, a UFO was tracked at three separate installations; Alamogordo, White
Sands, and Roswell. In Roswell, on the same day, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot saw a
UFO. They report it’s appearance as “two inverted saucers faced mouth to mouth,”
moving at a high rate of speed over their house. Enter rancher Mac Brazel.
them they noticed an area about a quarter of a mile long and several hundred
feet wide, covered with debris of some type. The debris was composed of
small pieces of a shiny, metallic material, a material that Mac had never
seen before. The sheep would not cross the fragmented pieces, and they had
to be taken the long way around that day. Because of the curious nature of
the debris, Mac picked up some of it and carried it back to store in a shed.
Little did he know the significance of his find.
One of his children, Bessie Brazel
recalled: “There was what appeared to be pieces of heavily waxed paper and a
sort of aluminum-like foil. Some of these pieces had something like numbers
and lettering on them, but there were no words you were able to make out.
Some of the metal-foil pieces had a sort of tape stuck to them, and when
these were held to the light they showed what looked like pastel flowers or
designs. Even though the stuff looked like tape it could not be peeled off
or removed at all.”
“[The writing] looked like numbers mostly,
at least I assumed them to be numbers. They were written out like you would
write numbers in columns to do an addition problem. But they didn’t look
like the numbers we use at all. What gave me the idea they were numbers, I
guess, was the way they were all ranged out in columns.”
“No, it was definitely not a balloon. We
had seen weather balloons quite a lot, both on the ground and in the air. We
had even found a couple of Japanese-style balloons that had come down in the
area once. We had also picked up a couple of those thin rubber weather
balloons with instrument packages. This was nothing like that. I have never
seen anything resembling this sort of thing before,- or since…”
Later that afternoon, Mac took young Dee
Proctor back home, a journey of about 10 miles. He took along a piece of the
debris that he had found, and showed it to Dee’s parents, Floyd, and
Loretta. Mac tried to get the Proctors to go back with him, and look at the
strange material strewn in the fields.
Floyd Proctor would later state: “[He said]
it wasn’t paper because he couldn’t cut it with his knife, and the metal was
different from anything he had ever seen. He said the designs looked like
the kind of stuff you would find on firecracker wrappers…some sort of
figures all done up in pastels, but not writing like we would do it.”
Loretta Proctor remembered: “The piece he
brought looked like a kind of tan, light-brown plastic…it was very
lightweight, like balsa wood. It wasn’t a large piece, maybe about four
inches long, maybe just larger than a pencil.”
“We cut on it with a knife and would hold a match on it, and it wouldn’t
burn. We knew it wasn’t wood. It was smooth like plastic, it didn’t have
real sharp corners, kind of like a dowel stick. Kind of dark tan. It didn’t
have any grain…just smooth.”
“We should have gone [to look at the debris
field], but gas and tires were expensive then. We had our own chores, and it
would have been twenty miles.”
of this world” would come the next night from Mac’s uncle, Hollis Wilson.
Mac told Hollis about his find, and Hollis urged Mac to report the findings,
since there had been reports of “flying saucers” in the area as of late. On
July 6, Mac was going to Roswell to strike up a deal for a new pickup truck.
He took along some of the debris, and stopped off at the Chaves County
Sheriff’s Office and spoke to George Wilcox. The story of the find was not
significant to Wilcox until he actually handled a piece of the silvery
material. Wilcox telephoned the Roswell Army Air Field, and spoke to one
Major Jesse A. Marcel, who was the base intelligence officer. Marcel told
the Sheriff he would come into Roswell and talk to Brazel about his find.
Word of the goings on began to spread rapidly in the community, and soon Mac
was talking to radio station KGFL about the incident. Mac told the station
what he knew over the telephone.
Marcel and Brazel met at the Sheriff’s
office. Mac told Marcel what he knew, and showed him a piece of debris.
Marcel reported the results of his interview to Colonel William H. Blanchard
back at Roswell Army Base. A decision was made for Brazel to go out to the
site, and investigate for himself. Marcel would take his old Buick, and Army
Counter Intelligence Corps officer Sheridan Cavitt accompanied him in a Jeep
all-terrain vehicle. Following Marcel back to the ranch, it was too late
that day to visit the site, so they all three stayed in Mac’s ranch house.
After a dinner of beans, the three headed to the site the next morning.
After a brief look around,