Roswell is a small town in New Mexico, United States whose name has become synonymous with the alleged July 1947 crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft and the subsequent recovery by the U.S. military of both debris and alien bodies. The military maintains the incident was a downed, at the time, highly classifed surveillance balloon, while UFO proponents and conspiracy theorists see an attempted suppression of the truth.

On June 14, 1947,  William “Mac” Brazel, foreman of the Foster ranch located some 70 miles (110 km) NW of Roswell, stumbled upon a debris field of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.

On July 6 or 7, probably influenced by a media obsessed with UFOs, Brazel approached Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox and informed him that he might have found a flying disk. Wilcox in turn contacted Roswell Army Air Field home of the 509th Bomb Group.

Within hours Intelligence Officer Major Jesse Marcel and Counterintelligence Agent Captain Sheridan Cavitt  arrived to investigate. After a brief conversation with Brazel they accompanied him back to the Foster ranch where they spent the remainder of the day collecting and examining debris. [1]

On July 8 a press release issued by Colonel Blanchard, commander of the 509th, stated that a crashed flying disk had been recovered from a ranch northwest of Roswell. Within hours the story had changed, according to Roger M. Ramey, the Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force, the disk was actually a weather balloon. A subsequent press conference during which various balloon like debris was displayed seemed to corroborate the General’s declaration.

The incident was relegated to the dustbin of history, dismissed and almost forgotten until a 1978 interview between ufologist Stanton Friedman and Major Jesse Marcel, in which the latter’s astonishing claims, shedding a new and different light on the event, piqued Friedman's interest.

Marcel expressed his belief that their had been a cover-up, the government involved in the recovery of an alien spacecraft, and that the remains of the weather balloon, presented during the press conference, was not what he had found having been switched with the original material.

Marcel’s claim (concerning the switch) was later corroborated by Brigadier General Jefferson Dubose, who at the time of the incident, as a Colonel and Chief of Staff to General Ramey, purportedly had full knowledge of clandestine behind the scenes goings-on.

In an affidavit signed and witnessed 9/16/91 Dubose stated: “The material shown in the photographs taken in General Ramey’s office was a weather balloon. The weather balloon explanation for the material was a cover story to divert the attention of the press.” He further stated that in an operation conducted under the greatest secrecy the real material was sent to Major General Clements McMullen, Deputy Commander, Strategic Air Command, Washington D.C. and from there rerouted by personal courier on the General’s plane to Benjamin Chidlaw, Commanding General of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field (today Wright Patterson Air Force Base).

If further evidence is needed that something is amiss, perhaps it can be found in another affidavit this time signed by Walter Haut (apparently there are issues concerning validity) and released, after his death, on the 60th anniversary of the incident.

As a young 1st Lieutenant, Haut was the public information officer who prepared the press release of July 8, 1947, informing the world about a recovered “flying disk.” After maintaining for his entire adult life that he was never made privy to any secrets, he posthumously revealed that he actually knew far more than he had previously indicated.

Apparently, following the press release, Colonel Blanchard had taken him to a B29 hanger and showed him a recovered spacecraft along with several tiny alien bodies awaiting disposal in a temporary morgue. Haut also revealed that there had been two impact sites, the debris field was the first, the second, 40 miles north of Roswell, was where the flying disk and its crew had been found.

As the years pass more information is revealed, becomes public, changed or modified; eyewitness accounts embraced or dismissed.

A number of those invoved have come forward with stories of military personnel making threats to them and their families, warning them never to reveal to others what they themselves had seen or heard.

In an interview with Omni Magazine, Glenn Dennis former Roswell mortician and a co-founder of the International UFO Museum and Research Center, [2] claimed that on July 7, 1947, while working at the Ballard Funeral Home, he had received two puzzling telephone calls from Roswell Army Air Field, the first asking if he had any small hermetically sealed caskets the second inquiring about embalming procedures.

Later that day, while transporting an injured airman to the base, he had seen piles of strange debris some pieces covered in hieroglyphic-like symbols. A few minutes later he had run into an Air Force Captain who angrily ordered him off the property, then into a nurse whom he knew quite well. The nurse was apparently hysterical and gasping for air, between sobs she had warned him to get away immediately.

The next morning his father had paid him a visit, apparently the sheriff had been at his house with a warning that he was in a lot of trouble out at the base “You tell Glenn, if he knows anything to keep his mouth shut. They want all your kid’s names, they want to know when they were born, and they want to know where they are now.”

As if that wasn’t enough he was contacted later by the nurse and they met for a drink. She told him a wild story of witnessing diminutive mutilated alien bodies with huge eyes and four fingers, of being pressed into service by physicians she had never seen before, of taking notes while they performed an autopsy and all the while immersed in a stench which was apparently so horrific that it had made her and the doctors sick.

After returning the nurse to her quarters he never saw her again. Weeks later, however, correspondence arrived wanting to know if all was well. A return letter, to the address given, came back. On the front was marked "Return to Sender," while down near the bottom, stamped in red, was the word “Deceased.” [3]

In 1994/95 the Air Force changed its story once again. The weather balloon that had been the subject of so much controversy had actually been a high altitude research balloon part of a top secret project called Mogul. These balloons (a forerunner to Skyhook) and the sophisticated instruments they carried were used to spy on Soviet weapons tests and were at the time highly classified.

In 1997 the Air Force also weighed in on the issue of alien bodies found near Roswell. A report called “Case Closed” attempted to convince the general public that those that had claimed to have seen alien bodies had actually been looking at lifelike human facsimiles that had been dropped from high altitude as part of a special government study.

The study they were talking about was project “High Dive” in which anthropomorphic dummies were dropped from altitude, the object to develop a safe way to return humans to Earth via parachute from the edge of space.

When it was pointed out that the dummies weren’t used until 1953, the Air Force’s response was that all those that had witnessed aliens in 1947 were mistaken, possibly experiencing some sort of mass hallucination.

Whether or not an alien spacecraft really did crash near Roswell, New Mexico, is a question to which the public at large may never know the answer. There are of course a few that do know the truth, upper level government officials, along with military and select civilian personnel (scientists, doctors and so forth) that were involved in some fashion in whatever it was that actually did happen. [4]

In the meantime, keep an open mind, scan the skies and say after me with as much conviction as you can muster “Klaatu barada nikto.”

[1] According to Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr., who was 11 at the time, his father brought some of the material home saying he thought it was the remains of a flying saucer.

[2] The International UFO Museum and Research Center was a joint venture founded in 1991 by Max Littell, Glenn Dennis and Walter Haut (the latter was president until 1996). Almost 3 million people have visited the complex, arguably the town's major attraction, since its opening in 1992.

[3] Inconsistencies in Dennis' narrative have raised red flags with some researchers, the ex-mortician accused of embellishing and twisting the truth, his story a mishmash of elements (strange debris, hieroglyphs, odorous mutilated bodies and heightened security etc.) drawn from individual incidents that actually took place over a number of years.

[4] Many conspiracy theorists believe it was a UFO crash near Roswell, that finally compelled U.S. President Harry Truman into (allegedly) issuing an executive order to assemble a mysterious committee of military leaders, government officials and scientists code named Majestic 12.

*UFOs in general are a mainstay of the local economy, the four-day Roswell UFO Festival in particular a fun and financially lucrative event.

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