Roswell Case Overview -- Part 3

The Military Enters the Case 

An equally dubious Sheriff Wilcox called Roswell Army Air Field and reached head intelligence officer, Major Jesse Marcel.  Marcel said he was eating lunch at the time and was intrigued by Brazel's story.  He drove to Wilcox's office and interviewed Brazel.  Brazel agreed to take Marcel to the ranch after he has first done some errands.  

Marcel said he returned to the base and conferred with his commanding officer, Col. William "Butch" Blanchard.  They both agreed it sounded like the crash of an advanced aircraft of some sort.  Blanchard instructed Marcel to investigate, and since Brazel had described large quantities of debris, also told him to take the head CIC (Army Counter- Intelligence Corp) officer, Sheridan Cavitt, with him to help.  They returned with Brazel, arriving at the ranch late in the day, and spent the night at Brazel's place, according to Marcel.

(Brazel mentioned the presence of Cavitt when interviewed two days later, referring to him as the "man in plain clothes" who was with Marcel. Cavitt for many years flatly denied any involvement, even denying he was at the base at the time.  This all changed in 1994 when the Air Force interviewed him.  Now he said he was involved, but denied every meeting rancher Brazel or going out with Marcel.  The Air Force never asked him the obvious question of how he ever located the alleged tiny quantity of balloon debris he said he found without Brazel leading them there.)

Secret Shipment of Debris

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, Col. Thomas Dubose, Gen. Ramey's Chief of Staff, said he was notified of the find by Gen. Clemence McMullen in Washington, acting head of the Strategic Air Command.  Dubose said McMullen ordered him to fly some debris samples immediately to Washington by "colonel courier." (This debris was possibly samples that Brazel had brought with him to Roswell when he reported his discovery.)   McMullen instructed Dubose that everything was to be carried out in the strictest secrecy.  (Dubose affidavit

(Dubose also added that he was handling the situation because Ramey was away from the base at the time.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Ramey's home-town newspaper, the Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, documents that he was at an airshow in Denton all day on Sunday, July 6.)

Dubose said he met the flight from Roswell early that night.  The debris was in a sealed, opaque bag attached to the courier's wrist.  The bag of debris was transferred to another plane and to the Fort Worth AAF acting commanding officer, Col. Alvin Clark, who was the new courier.  This flight then headed to Washington. (The regular base C/O, Col. Hewitt T. Wheless was also away from the base, attending the same air show as Ramey, which is seemingly why Clark was the courier.)

Dubose added that McMullen later told him that the debris was then forwarded to Wright Field, Ohio, on McMullen's personal plane.  Wright Field was the home of the AAF's aeronautical labs, which would have been a suitable place to have the debris analyzed.  Dubose said he was also told the matter went straight to the White House.

This earlier shipment of wreckage to Fort Worth spoken of by Dubose may be alluded to in the Ramey memo when it mentions "...THE WRECK YOU FORWARDED TO ... FORT WORTH, TEX."

The Debris Field

On Monday, July 7, Marcel and Cavitt spent the entire day examining the debris field and collecting debris.  Marcel said it was much bigger than what he expected and was about 200 to 300 feet wide and three-quarters of a mile long.  Brazel Jr. independently recalled his father telling him the debris field was 200 to 300 feet wide and about one-quarter mile long, similar to what Marcel described.  Associated Press stories of the day described the debris as being scattered over a square mile, the remark perhaps being attributed to Marcel.  Marcel 30 years later also stated that debris was scattered over a square mile.  A later-hired ranch-hand named Tommy Tyree said Brazel complained how he was forced to detour his sheep a mile to water because they refused to cross the debris field.  Thus the debris field seems to have been very large in extent. (Debris field size testimony)

Marcel added the shape of the debris field and distribution of debris led him to the conclusion that this was an object flying at high speed that had come apart in the air.

Anomalous Debris

Besides the apparent large area of debris, multiple witnesses also reported the material having highly anomalous properties.  Like Loretta Proctor, Marcel reported the wood-like beams that couldn't be cut or burned.  Bill Brazel also stated he later found a piece of this material which he tried to mark or whittle with his knife, but couldn't.

Another more commonly reported type of debris was typically described as a dull grey metal resembling lead foil, but exceptionally light.  It also had memory properties.  It could be wadded up, but would immediately unfold without leaving creases or wrinkles.  Marcel also reported this too was undamaged by flames.  Besides Marcel, there were first-hand reports of the "memory foil" from Bill Brazel,  Sgt. Robert Smith at Roswell base, Sgt. Lewis Rickett of the Army CIC,  Frankie Dwyer Rowe, a Roswell resident, and others.

Marcel also described a metallic-like material with memory properties that he said was porous because he could blow through it, therefore it couldn't have been part of a balloon envelope.  He said it resembled a metallic cloth.  Another witness who spoke of a metallic-like fabric with memory properties was Sally Strickland Tadolini (a young neighbor of the Brazel's who said Bill Brazel showed what he had found to her family).

Another type of thin metal material was reported to be extraordinarily rigid and couldn't be bent or creased.  Rickett, e.g., related how he used all his strength to try to bend a large piece and couldn't believe that a thin metal like this couldn't be bent.

Marcel and a few others also reported unknown "hieroglyphics" on some of the material. All the material was reported as being exceptionally light in weight.

Marcel stated that the debris "was not of this Earth."  Brig. Gen. Arthur Exon, former C/O of Wright-Patterson AFB, also described similar anomalous debris properties based on testing at Wright Field.  But Exon was initially even blunter than Marcel.  "Roswell was the recovery of a craft from space."

Major Jesse Marcel, Roswell Chief of Intelligence
Col. Thomas J. Dubose,
Chief of Staff, 8th AAF

Other Related Events on Monday, July 7

Back at Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram carried a front page photo of a weather balloon radar target recovery up in Circleville, Ohio, near Columbus.  This Associated Press photo got prominent play in many mid-western newspapers.  The photo was generally accompanied by the caption musing whether this might be one of the "flying saucers" people were sighting.

On the same day, Gen. Ramey's Operations Officer, Col. John D. Ryan, was interviewed by the Associated Press.  In a story presenting various theories of the flying disks' origins, he suggested that maybe people were seeing the weather radar targets.  This story appeared in some Texas newspapers and the Roswell Morning Dispatch the following morning.  (Ryan succeeded Col. Blanchard as Roswell commanding officer and eventually became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Ryan also wrote a short evaluation of Marcel a year after Roswell, calling his career "most outstanding" and "most exemplary".)

The important point is that the seeds of the weather balloon/radar target debunking story seem to have been present in Ramey's inner command the day before the story broke and while Marcel and Cavitt were still in the field examining the debris field.

The Star-Telegram was to continue to play an important role.  The following day a young reporter from the Star-Telegram, J. Bond Johnson, was dispatched to Gen. Ramey's office to cover the Roswell story.  He took six photos, including the now infamous one of Gen. Ramey clutching his message while kneeled over a radar target which Ramey was claiming explained the Roswell "flying disk."

In succeeding days, the military staged various radar target demonstrations to further debunk Roswell and the saucers.  One of these took place at Fort Worth AAF on July 10, and was again covered by the Star-Telegram.  The United Press story on Roswell July 9 explicitly stated in the opening sentence that the military was running a debunkery campaign to stop all the rumors about flying saucers.  Adding these demonstrations was the last thing mentioned in the Ramey message, which may read that the "next PR (Press Release) of weather balloons would work" better if they had such demonstrations.  Handwriting underneath may further say "stage" and "photos yes."

Fifty years later, the same J. Bond Johnson reopened the investigation into these photos.  People began examining blow-ups of Ramey's message, which is now ironically proving the undoing of Ramey's weather balloon cover story.
Col. William H. Blanchard,
Roswell Commanding Officer
Sgt. Lewis Rickett, Roswell Army CIC (counterintelligence)
The widely reported Circleville, Ohio 
radar target recovery, pre-Roswell, used as an explanation for the flying saucers.
Military weather balloon/radar target demo at Fort Worth AAF 2 days after Gen. Ramey debunked Roswell as being caused by one of these.