The Roswell Incident
The hot summer of 1947 brought something new
other than it historic contingent of Indians, Spaniards, longhorn cattle,
chili farmers, and plenty of cowboys. This was something new! And, it wasn’t arriving along the usual dusty trail, but rather, from the
That was the summer that
the Roswell skies, as well as the heavens all over America were filled
with unidentified flying objects – UFO’s!
first report came in on June 24, 1947 when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported
seeing a disc-shaped objected flying at high speed near Mt Ranier in
Washington. After this report hit the news, hundreds of other
reports of "flying saucers” were reported across the country.
But, Roswell was to
become home to one of these mysterious objects, disrupting its quiet
pace and making it an immediate destination for all manner of
researchers, military personnel, and curiosity seekers, a fate that
continues to this day.
It was June 14, 1947
when William "Mack” Brazel rode out on the J.B. Foster Ranch, which
Brazel operated to check the stock. Riding along with him was
his neighbor’s, Floyd and Loretta Proctor, son. The pair soon
came upon a large amount of strange debris spread throughout an area
of about 200 yards.
Comprised of brightly glittering tinfoil type
material, dark grey rubber-like strips, and bits of what looked like
thick paper, Brazel didn’t know what to think of it. Further
inspecting the area, Brazel also found a shallow trench, several
hundred feet long that had been gouged in the land. But, he had a job
to do and ignoring the strange fragments, he went on about making his
rounds of the ranch.
However, when he
returned home from work, he told his wife about it and a couple of
weeks later on July 4, 1847, they, along with their 14-year-old daughter,
Betty, returned to the spot, gathering up quite a bit of the rubble
and taking it home.
The very next day, he
took some of the properties over to the neighboring Proctors to show
them. It was the first time he heard about the many "flying
saucers” that locals had reportedly seen in the area, when Mrs.
Proctor suggested it might be piece of one of these strange objects.
The next Monday, July
7, when he went to town to do some business, he stopped in to see
Sheriff George Wilcox, telling him of the find. Wilcox, in turn,
contacted the Roswell Army Air Field, who sent head Intelligence
Officer, Major Jesse Marcel, and head of the Roswell Army
Counterintelligence Corps, Sheridan Cavitt, to investigate. The
pair accompanied Brazel back to the ranch where they retrieved some of
the material before returning with it to the Roswell base. The
Army also cordoned off the site until all of the wreckage could be
The next afternoon, Lieutenant Walter
Haut, Public Information Officer for the Roswell Airfield, under
orders from base commander Colonel Blanchard, issued a press release
reporting that a "flying disk" had been found "sometime last week" by
a local rancher and that remains of it had been recovered by the
Intelligence Office for transfer to "higher headquarters." At
about the same time, the United Press also reported that residents
near the ranch had seen "a strange blue light several days ago about 3
a.m." These two reports caused a mass reporting frenzy as phone
the Pentagon, and Washington D.C. were flooded by reporters clamoring
for more details.
However, just hours after
the press release went out, another was published from Brigadier General
Roger Ramey, the head of the Eighth Air Force in Forth Worth, Texas,
claiming the first release was untrue, and that in fact, the object
retrieved was nothing more than a weather balloon with a radar target
attachment. The second press release appeared in the press on July 9.
Later, he would add that the balloon was a foil covered box kite with no
identification markings or instruments.
To this, Brazel was
astounded. He had previously found two weather balloons on the
ranch, but neither looked anything like the debris that he found in June,
1947. Afterwards, Brazel stated that he wished he had never reported
the finding and short of a bomb, would never do so again.
In the meantime, other
strange things were happening in Roswell. One afternoon the Ballard
Funeral Home received several curious phone calls from the Army Base. Taking the calls from the Mortuary Officer at the base, was a young
mortician named Glenn Dennis. The soldier asked Dennis how he could
get some small hermetically sealed coffins. He also asked questions
about how to preserve bodies that had been exposed to the elements for a
few days, without contaminating the tissue.
curious, drove out to the base hospital that evening where he saw several
large pieces of the wreckage that included odd engravings sticking out of
the back of a military ambulance. He then went into the hospital and began
to visit with a nurse he knew until suddenly he was threatened by military
police and forced to leave the premises.
Undaunted, Dennis made
plans to meet with the nurse the next day who told him that several
strange little bodies had been found and drew pictures for him. Just
a few days later, the nurse was allegedly transferred to England and even
today, her whereabouts remain unknown.
Other strange things were
also happening. When Bud Payne, a rancher at Corona was trying to
round up a stray in the area where Brazel had found the debris, he was
spotted by military personnel and escorted away. Others locals who
tried to approach the debris field were also forcibly turned away.
The shrouded mystery and
accompanying controversy began almost immediately which has ultimately led
to a number of investigations by private citizens, reporters, and
ultimately the Air Force, in 1994.
One report alleged that
the military had been watching an unidentified flying object on radar for
four days in southern
when they detected that the object was on the ground on July 4, 1947.
An eye witness William Woody, who lived east
of Roswell, backed this report up when he stated having seen a brilliant
object plunge to the ground on the same evening. When he had his
father tried to find the crash site, they were stopped by military
personnel, who had cordoned off the area.
Major Jesse Marcel, the head of Roswell’s Army Counterintelligence Corps,
who was sent to investigate Mack Brazel’s story would later remark that
"something must have exploded above the ground and fell." He also
described the debris saying that the tinfoil type substance was
indestructible and would describe some of the material thusly: "I didn't
know what we were picking up. I still don't know what it was...it could
not have been part of an aircraft, not part of any kind of weather balloon
or experimental balloon...I've seen rockets... sent up at the White Sands
Testing Grounds. It definitely was not part of an aircraft or missile or
Another later statement made by then retired Brigadier General Thomas
DuBose, the chief of staff of the Eighth Air Force said, "[It] was a cover
story. The whole balloon part of it. That was the part of the story we
were told to give to the public and news and that was it." General Dubose
would also say that he personally received the order from Washington to
start a cover-up.
The inconsistencies of
the account were abundant. Beyond dispute is the number of military and
civilian witnesses who gave very different versions of what they had seen,
none of which supported the weather balloon description released by the
Air Force base.
Major Marcel at Fort Worth, Texas with balloon
debris. Though this "staged" picture of Marcel with weather balloon
material was widely published, Marcel would say later the material he
picked up at Brazel's ranch was not part of any kind of weather
balloon or experimental balloon.
these two conflicting accounts of the debris were not enough, later
stories would emerge that the military had also recovered an intact alien
aircraft, complete with the alien bodies. These accounts have since
become known as the "Area 51 Cover-up.”
There are several
theories promoted by UFO proponents including a mid-air collision between
two alien spacecraft or that the craft was struck by lightning.
Though the U.S.
Government continues to deny that aliens have visited our planet, much of
the American public believes that the earth has been visited by
aliens and Roswell is, in fact, the site of a UFO crash.
In any event, there is no
doubt this mystery, as well as UFO’s in general, are of fascinating
interest to the American public and the entire world. In 1991, two
of the original witnesses involved in the "Roswell Incident” decided to
open a museum to inform the public of what really happened. These two men
were Walter Haut, the Public Information Officer at the Army Air Field who
issued the first press release, and Glenn Dennis, the mortician working at
the Ballard Funeral Home that fielded the strange questions from the Army
base. The two witnesses then called upon Max Littell, a local real
estate developer for assistance, and three men started the museum.
The International UFO
Museum and Research Center welcomed nearly 150,000 visitors during its
first four years of business. Dedicated to the collection and preservation
of the many materials written about the 1947 Roswell Incident and other
unexplained phenomena related to UFO research, the museum had grown so
much by 1996, that it had become the top tourist destination of
New Mexico. The next year, the museum was rededicated at a new location as the number
of visitors continued to increase and interactive technologies were built
into the museum.
A visit to the museum
will provide visitors, not only with the history of the event, but also
alleged debris, allegations of the civilians being threatened by the US
Army, depictions of UFO’s, books and other research material.
has become synonymous with UFO's and unexplained phenomena and in addition
to the museum also hosts an annual UFO festival each summer.
International UFO Museum and Research Center
114 North Main St
of America, updated April, 2015.
International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell,
Kathy Weiser-Alexander, February, 2008.
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