The events of Roswell began on either July 2 or July 4 (there is some disagreement here). A throwback to western days, William W. "Mac" Brazel, a sheep rancher, would etch his name forever into UFO history, a designation that he neither desired, nor appreciated. A common working man, Brazel was foreman of the Foster Ranch in Lincoln County, near Corona, New Mexico.
Brazel was a family man, but his wife and children lived in Tularosa, near Alamogordo. The reason for this arrangement was so his children could attend better schools than they would at Corona. Brazel stayed in an older house on the ranch, where he tended sheep, and the general chores of the ranch. He was a simple man, content with his job, family, and his life. Mac would be thrust into the limelight for a brief period of time, and ultimately regret ever reporting what he was about to discover on the range of the Foster Ranch.
An evening thunderstorm was raging at the close of another workday, The storm was highlighted by numerous bolts of lightning. These summer storms were not uncommon for these parts, but this evening Mac noticed something different.. a sound, like an explosion mingled with the typical sounds of a storm. Two of Mac's children were staying with him that night at his farm house. Mac retired with his two children, and temporarily forgot about the sounds of that night.
The next day's sun brought Mac out again to ride the fences, and check on his sheep. He was accompanied that day with a seven-year-old neighbor boy, William D. "Dee" Proctor, who often rode with Mac. As they rode into the open field, ahead of 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."
The first hint that the debris could be "not 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, Mac left Marcel and Cavitt, returning to his chores.