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Roswell 1947 - ufologists investigations in the 1990's

Debris testimonies, by R. J. Durant, 1998:

Source for this article:

Part Three

The Roswell debris testimony

By R.J. Durant

Editor's Note: This is the final segment of Mr. Durant's analysis of the testimony of Dr. Jesse Marcell, Jr., regarding the debris recovered by his father, Maj. Jesse Marcell, near Roswell, NM, in 1947. This series is, in part, a response to the lengthy article by Kent Jeffrey in the July, 1997, Journal entitled "Roswell-Anatomy of a Myth."

There are reasons to suppose that Dr. Marcel was unusually well equipped to judge the anomalous nature of the material he handled: for example, the "rod" that the skeptics insist was only a stick of balsa wood. Elsewhere Dr. Marcel has spoken of his childhood hobby of building model airplanes from balsa wood, and apparently he had built dozens.

During the interrogation he speaks of a model airplane hanging from the ceiling of his bedroom. As a hobbyist accustomed to working on a regular basis with balsa wood in many forms, Marcel's opinion about whether a certain rod that he had studied with rapt attention was or was not balsa wood should be given great respect.

For the same reason, when Dr. Marcel says that the rod was metal, we should listen with care. Major Marcel was a radio hobbyist, which in those days meant building from scratch short wave receivers and transmitters and all the associated appurtenances. Obtaining a license to operate this equipment was not an easy matter either, for it required passing a difficult written examination and proficiency in sending and receiving Morse Code.

Several times during the interrogation he mentions his father's ham radio call sign, W5CYI. The son soaked all this up. That's why, during the interrogation, he speaks in awe, as if it were yesterday, about the aluminum tube construction of his friend's bicycle, and about his father's egg-shell blue '42 Buick convertible, and about the smell produced by sawing bakelite.

Both were technicians

Both father and son were technicians, tinkers and hands-on practitioners to the core. Dr. Marcel has carried on this tradition. Thus he is a skier, bicyclist, helicopter pilot, Army Reserve officer, aircraft accident investigator, and so on, in addition to his demanding professional work as a surgeon. Neither Jesse Marcel, Sr. nor Jesse Marcel, Jr. were even "average" witnesses or reporters. Instead, they were exceptionally well equipped to sort the anomalous from the mundane.

The character and probity of the father have been attacked. Todd concludes that he was a chronic spinner of tall tales, and if one is to credit Newton's story, Maj. Marcel was delusional.

For various reasons, the testimony of the son has never been given much attention. Now that it has been demonstrated that Dr. Marcel's testimony is crucial, it can be expected that he will be attacked, probably as a person suffering from a cognitive disorder or serious neurological disease, and we will be told that it runs in the family.

The Ramey Hoax

Gen. Ramey's press conference was a deliberate deception. The material he presented to the press, and thus to the American public, was neither the material collected by Maj. Marcel at the Foster Ranch, nor was it representative of that material. Moreover, it is not the remains of a Mogul array. The debris in Ramey's office matches the testimony of no witness on record. While the General was lying to the public, he was also deceiving the intelligence branch of the Army. Writing about Newton's identification of the debris as that of a balloon and weather target, C. B. Moore says, "In fact, it now appears that Gen. Ramey wanted a second opinion after Warrant Officer Newton's identification of the radar target debris."

Moore goes on to say that the material in the General's office was flown at once to Wright Field. It was not sent to the Foreign Technology Division or a similar office, but directly to Col. Marcellus Duffy, the highest ranking officer at Wright Field, who would have known at once that the balloon was a balloon, and that the reflector was an off-the-shelf reflector. These reflectors were developed under Duffy's personal command during the war.

Quick and efficient deception In order to insure the quick and efficient deception of Army Intelligence, it was necessary that Duffy be the one to receive this "debris." Here are Duffy's words as quoted by Moore: "While stationed at Wright Air Force Base in 1947, 1 received a call at home one evening saying that what was currently being described by the press as a 'flying saucer' was being flown to Wright Field and would be brought to my home that evening for identification." (Emphasis added).

In other words, the General did indeed want a second opinion, but not in the usual sense. He knew beforehand exactly what Duffy's opinion would be, as he had known in advance what would be said by the hapless Newton. And now he wanted that opinion spread throughout the Wright Field intelligence network.

[Photo caption:] Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, commanding general of the Eighth Army Air Force (kneeling) and his chief of staff, Col. Thomas DuBose, with what Gen. Ramey claimed was the debris recovered from the site.

The FBI made inquiries, and was similarly disinformed. An FBI teletype message sent on the evening of July 8, 1947, stated: "(deleted name) at headquarters Eighth Air Force, telephonically advised this office that an object purporting to be a flying disc was recovered near Roswell, New Mexico, this date. The disc is hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a balloon by cable, which balloon was approximately twenty feet in diameter, (deleted name) further advised that the object found resembles a high altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector..."

Ambiguities Resolved

Gen. DuBose is the man in the above photograph posing with Gen. Ramey. Both are holding the deformed radar reflector. DuBose, then a colonel, was Ramey's chief of staff, and would have known if the reflector in the photograph was what Maj. Marcel had brought from the Foster Ranch.

According to all but one of those who interviewed DuBose, he said that the material had been switched. Mr. Jeffrey has chosen the testimony of that single odd-man-out, Jaime Shandera. This ambiguity, if it ever really existed, is now resolved in favor of those who claim that DuBose said the material was switched.

The "McCoy letters" are adequately described by Mr. Jeffrey. He correctly points out that these letters make no mention of the existence of crashed "discs" or debris. Nor do they deny the existence of such material, but the strong implication is that McCoy believed there was no such material. This ambiguity is at least partially resolved, in that the hoax perpetrated on Col. Duffy would have been the basis for what McCoy and the rest of his colleagues at the Foreign Technology Division knew, or thought they knew, about the existence of physical materials connected with the "flying discs."

When the General Accounting Office discovered that the outgoing message traffic and the records of the military police unit at Roswell were missing and apparently destroyed, contrary to regulations, some thought this was a cover-up, and others thought it was merely an administrative error.

A cover-up is likely

This ambiguity is resolved in favor of "coverup," for reasons of consistency with the basic Ramey hoax. The removal of these records must have been done well after 1947, but recall that it was several years after 1947 that Army officers visited Bill Brazel, Mac's son, and confiscated the cigar box he had filled with tiny pieces of the "radar target" that still littered the Foster Ranch.

Where did Ramey get the debris shown to the reporters and then sent to Wright Field? Almost certainly from White Sands, where Capt. John R. Smith had routinely been using single balloons with single radar reflectors in connection with the V-2 rocket tests. Smith's recollection is that his targets were reinforced by "plain" instead of "flowered" tape.

Ambiguities Unresolved

What was the origin and nature of the material Maj. Marcel showed his son? It is important to note that Dr. Marcel's testimony elicited under hypnosis is not unique. A number of others who handled the material have left their recollections of this strange debris for posterity. The following fragments of testimony are transcriptions of tape recorded interviews with four such witnesses.

Bill Brazel, the son of rancher Mac Brazel, who apparently was the first to find the debris, speaking of his father and of his own experience with some of the material: "The next day he was up on the ranch, and he found this debris. He picked it all up, in his pickup, and was talking to people, and of course there was some talk about UFOs."

Sheriff calls Air Force

"He was going to Roswell, and as far as I know, he got in touch with the Sheriffs department. They in turn called the Air Force. Then the Air Force got with dad and swore him to secrecy and they came out to the ranch and picked up this debris. Wood, I call it wood, I don't know what it was; it was something like balsa wood, but it wouldn't burn, and'I couldn't cut it with my knife."

Maj. Jesse Marcel, Sr., who was sent to the site by Col. Blanchard, describing the material and what was reported to him about it by one of his subordinates: ".. one piece of metal, it looked like metal, anyway. It was not flexible, and it was as thin as the foil on a pack of cigarettes. It was that thin. One of my boys told me, There's something unusual here,' he said, 'I tried to make a dent in this metal, 'but,' he says, 'you can't bend it, you can't make a mark on it.' He says, 'I took a sledgehammer, and whammed it, I put it on the ground and whammed it. And the sledgehammer bounced off of it!'"

Dr. John Kromschroeder, a dentist and intimate friend of Capt. Oliver "Pappy" Henderson, recounting an instance when Henderson showed him a strange piece of "metal": "He said, what do I think of that? I said, well, it's different. And I felt it, and it did feel different. And I studied it some. And I was able to determine that its metal structure was different than alloys like we have in our aircraft, for instance. And of course he did preface this question by stating this was from this craft. Apparently, I think it was a case of 'appropriation,' that he acquired this, you know, for future study, perhaps."

A member of CIC

MSgt. Lewis Rickett was stationed at Roswell as a member of the Counter Intelligence Corps under Capt. Sheridan Cavitt. He accompanied Cavitt to the debris field after Cavitt and Marcel had made at least one previous visit. Approximately 30 armed military policemen were stationed in a ring several hundred yards in diameter to protect the debris field from intruders. Picking up a piece of the debris, Rickett asked if he could try to break it. Cavitt told him to try: "He says, do what we couldn't do. Go ahead, touch it! I said, for God's sake! ... what in the hell is that stuff made out of; it can't be plastic. I said, it don't feel like plastic. It just flat feels like metal, but I never saw a piece of metal that thin, that you can't bend... the more I looked at it, I couldn't imagine what it was."

An expert

Prior to his recruitment into the CIC, Rickett was attached to the Army Air Inspector's Office. His military occupational specialty was Line Chief and Air Inspection. This meant that he was an expert in the repair of aircraft systems and components. Immediately after the end of the war, Rickett was assigned to an air disarmament team inspecting German aircraft in Europe in order to gather data requested by the foreign technology specialists at Wright Field. These are the professional qualifications of the man who said of the debris, "...the more I looked at it, I couldn't imagine what it was."

Sheridan Cavitt retired as a lieutenant colonel after a career in counterintelligence. When researchers attempted to question him about the events that took place in the summer of 1947, Cavitt insisted thai he did not know what they were talking about, and vigorously denied that he had ever been stationed at Roswell.

Secrecy restrictions lifted?

In 1994, pursuant to the Air Force investigation of the Roswell Incident, Col. Weaver visited Cavitt, armed with a letter from the Secretary of the Air Force relieving Cavitt of any secrecy restrictions in order that he could speak freely. Cavitt told Weaver that he and Marcel had found a single rubber weather balloon and a radar reflector, and that these were in an area no more than 25 feet in diameter. Then he signed an affidavit to that effect, formally swearing that it was the truth.

None of this answers the question about the nature and origin of the debris handled by Dr. Marcel. All that can be said with confidence is that the material and the circumstances of its appearance were such that it triggered a massive deception, and that neither the passage of five decades nor the intervention of officials of such exalted rank as the Secretary of the Air Force have proven sufficient to unmask the deception.

End Note:

Dr. Marcel was furnished with a pre-publication copy of this article. In a letter to the author, he stated: "I read your essay with utmost interest and I heartily endorse what you have to say about the interview conducted in Washington by Dr. Neil Hibler."

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