"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 for more than fifty 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-50s 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.