Possibly the best-known UFO related tale is that of the recovery of debris (and, in many versions, bodies) from a crashed object from two (or more) regions to the North and West of Roswell, New Mexico. Testimony from eyewitnesses who have since died, third parties and relatives all point to the fact that something out of the ordinary happened in that area, at that time, but there is much disagreement over details. The following timeline is distilled from a large number of sources, some mutually contradictory, and is not intended to reflect any one single version of the "true" events.
9:50pm: Report filed by Mr. And Mrs. Dan Wilmot of an oval-shaped object in the sky, moving North-West in the direction of site 2 (the "Crash Site"). William Woody, driving with his father North-West of Roswell, observed a bright light with a red trail. Several reports filed of a loud explosion.
mid-morning: The "Debris Field" ("site 1") discovered by Mac Brazel and D. Proctor - a remote pasture of Brazel's ranch was strewn with lightweight, metallic debris. Brazel collected some of the material and showed it to D. Proctor's parents.
Brazel visits friends in Corona, New Mexico, and tells them about the find.
Morning: Brazel visits Sheriff Wilcox in Roswell to report the find, and enquire about possible reward
Afternoon: Brazel and Wilcox report the find to Roswell AF base. Col. Blanchard, Maj. Marcel and Capt. Cavitt arrive and interview Brazel at the Sheriff's office. Col. Blanchard returns to the base with debris samples, and informs Brigadier Gen. Roger Ramey at Fort Worth of the find.
late afternoon: Marcell and Cavitt return to Brazel's ranch to examine debris he had stored there. The debris that Brazel took to the sheriff's office is flown to Fort Worth. Marcell and Cavitt stay over at the ranch.
early morning: Brazel takes the two officers to site 1
late evening: The two officers return to Roswell AAF, having loaded their cars with debris
2am: Maj. Marcel stops off at his home on the way to the AF base, and shows some of the debris to his wife and son
early morning: Col. Blanchard orders guards posted on the access roads to site 1.
9am: Capt. Cavitt and M/Sgt. Rickett drive to Brazel's ranch to take him to site 1. They are joined by troops who begin gathering up the debris.
11am: Col. Blanchard, following a staff meeting, dictates a press release to Press Information Officer Walter Haut.
Late morning: (time uncertain) Civil engineer Grady L. "Barney" Barnett, out surveying for an irrigation project, discovered what he later described as a large "split saucer" in a hole in the ground, surrounded by the bodies of four "beings". ("Site 2" - the "Impact Site") Each was between 3 and 4 feet high, with hairless "pear shaped" heads, wearing snug-fitting silvery suits. A group of archaeologists/and students looking for indigenous Indian artifacts also arrived at the site. (In 1975, a woman dying from cancer at St. Petersburg Community Hospital, Florida claimed to have been one of these students - she correlated the "bodies" story, but said the bodies were already covered with "blankets" by the time they arrived.)
mid-day: PIO Haut goes in to Roswell to deliver the press release. The story goes out on the Associated Press wire service. W/O Robert Thomas and a team of photographers fly into Roswell AAF from Washington DC.
early afternoon: Sheriff Wilcox dispatches two deputies to site 1: They are turned back by the military police.
mid-afternoon: Site 2 is spotted from the air, and ground troops are directed towards it. The first troops to arrive escort Barnett and the archaeologists away from the area. They were warned that if they were to talk to anyone about this event, "the Government will know where to find them..."
late afternoon: J. Bond Johnson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is called to Fort Worth Army Air Field to cover the breaking story. Maj. Marcel arrives at Fort Worth AAF with debris samples - he later claimed that while he was in conference with Gen. Ramey, that the debris was removed and parts of a conventional weather balloon substituted. A press conference in Gen. Ramey's office culminated in Marcel being photographed with the balloon parts, while W/O Irving Newton was called in to identify them as being from a common weather balloon. Brazel slips away from the AFB and is interviewed by Walt Whitmore Sr., of KGFL radio about his find. A sealed box containing debris is flown out to Washington. The Roswell Daily Record hits the streets with the headline "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer". A memo is sent to the Strategic Air Command from the FBI Dallas office, regarding the balloon story.
Early evening: Sgt. Melvin Brown lifted a truck tarpaulin at site 2, and witnessed what appeared to be several "alien-looking" bodies. Roswell Mortician, Glen Dennis receives a number of enquiries from the Roswell AAF about tissue preservation, and the dimensions of the smallest "child-sized" caskets he stocked. "Clardie's Dairy and Creamery" received an order from the base for large quantities of dry ice. The truck carrying the bodies arrived at the AFB, and a preliminary autopsy is attempted at the base hospital by military pathologist Dr. Jesse Johnson Jr. Later in the evening, Glen Dennis drove an airman who had been injured in a minor automobile accident to the base hospital. A friend at the hospital warned him to leave before he got into "serious trouble", but before he could leave he was stopped in a corridor, questioned and threatened.
night: A crate containing bodies was placed under guard by Capt. John Martin, Sgt. Melvin Brown and other MPs in an empty hangar.
8am: As work continued on clearing both sites, three C-54 transport planes were loaded with crates of debris. Walt Whitmore Jr. received a call from Senator Dennis Chavez, warning him that if he was to broadcast any part of his interview with Brazel his station would lose their broadcast license.
mid-morning: Officers from Roswell AAF picked up Brazel and took him back to the base for "questioning".
late morning: Brazel is driven by the AFB officers to the office of the Roswell Daily Record, where he gives a "revised" version of his original story.
noon: The crate with the bodies was moved from the hangar to Bomb Pit Number One.
early afternoon: Officers from the base visit newspaper and radio offices around Roswell, confiscating copies of the original press release. Brazel is taken to KGFL Radio, where he gives the "revised" version of his story.
late afternoon: Three fully loaded C-54 cargo planes fly debris to Kirtland Field, and thereafter to Loa Alamos, NM. The crate with the bodies is placed on a B-29 and flown to Fort Worth. The Roswell Daily Record carries the revised version of Brazel's story.
6pm: Officers and a mortician meet the B-29 at Fort Worth. The crew fly back to Roswell with Capt. Marcel, arriving at 8pm.
Clean-up of the crash sites continued. Brazel was held at a "guest house" on the Roswell AAF, pending further interrogation. A large metallic container and a selection of debris were flown from Fort Worth to Wright Field. MPs confiscated the remaining debris from Sheriff Wilcox's office.
MPs and others who helped in the retrieval were debriefed, and ordered to forget the incident.
Brazel's son visited his father's ranch, and found all evidence of debris and military involvement gone.
Mac Brazel was released, and returned home.
(Some documentaries say that just after this, Brazel, who was not a wealthy man, was seen driving around Roswell in a brand new pick-up truck... They suggest this as evidence that Brazel was paid well to change his story)
In 1994, the US Government released the results of their investigation into the incident :-
Extracts from "Report of Air Force research regarding the Roswell Incident" - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY by RICHARD L. WEAVER, COL, USAF, DIRECTOR, SECURITY AND SPECIAL PROGRAM OVERSIGHT
(Full summary can be found at http://www.expressnews.com/roswell/afreport.html, report in full at http://www.cais.com/npacheco/ute.html)
...The "Roswell Incident" refers to an event that supposedly happened in July, 1947, wherein the Army Air Forces (AAF) allegedly recovered remains of a crashed "flying disc" near Roswell, New Mexico.
...in late January, 1994, SAF/AAZ(*) directed its research/declassification team, SAF/AAZD, to attempt to locate any official records relative to this matter. These initial research efforts focused on records at the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the Air Force Safety Agency (AFSA) at Kirtland AFB, NM, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
...This search for records was purposely limited to Air Force records and systems since:
(a) The Air Force had no authority to compel other agencies to review their records;
(b) The Air Force would have no way to monitor the completeness of their efforts if they did; and
(c) the overall effort was the task and responsibility of the GAO--not the Air Force.
...Records were located and thoroughly explored concerning a then-TOP SECRET balloon project, designed to attempt to monitor Soviet nuclear tests, known as Project Mogul. Additionally, several surviving project personnel were located and interviewed, as was the only surviving person who recovered debris from the original Roswell site in 1947, and the former officer who initially identified the wreckage as a balloon. Comparison of all information developed or obtained indicated that the material recovered near Roswell was consistent with a balloon device and most likely from one of the Mogul balloons that had not been previously recovered.(**)
(* SAF/AAZ refers to "The Director, Security and Special Program Oversight, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force")
(** A "Discovery Channel" documentary team was present when ex-W/O Irving Newton was shown surviving materials from project Mogul Balloons at the offices of Prof. Moore (the original Project Mogul leader) for comparison purposes - I have a copy of the resulting documentary, and believe me, he seemed convinced! According to Prof. Moore, the Brazel debris probably were the remains of Mogul "flight 4", which was lost from radar some twenty miles from the debris field, a couple of days before Brazel's discovery, and never logged as recovered. - Peet)
As the US government report points out, the terms "flying disc" and "flying saucer" were buzzwords at the time for a phenomena which had very few theories or explainations. Nowadays, the terms are often assumed to be synonymous with "alien spacecraft", but in those days they were more likely to conjure images of Soviet secret weapons, spying devices etc.. The term "Flying Saucer" had only been coined eight days before the "Roswell Incident", and newspapers were looking for excuses to use it as often as possible. Many of the (up to 800?) sightings of so-called "flying discs" between May 17th and July 12th 1947 were undoubtedly the trains of balloons with large circular radar deflectors launched as part of Project Mogul. The newly developed synthetic silvered neoprene rubber used in the balloons would have been unfamiliar to anyone who was not working in the balloon industry. All in all, the "Project Mogul" theory seems to explain away all the materials found at Brazel's ranch.
However, it does not even attempt to explain what went on at "site 2" - the "split saucer" seen by Barnett and the archaeologists has always been reported as "solid-looking", apparently completely different to Brazel's debris. When Marcel complained that the debris had been "replaced" before his press conference, could "site 1" debris have been exchanged for debris from "site 2"? Perhaps the large army presence at "site 1", collecting up what was, in essence, a weather balloon, was a deliberate distraction?
And what of the "bodies"? The USAF came out with a suggestion at a press conference in 1997, that they were in fact dummies dropped from balloons in a series of experiments in the 1950s, and that investigators had just got their decades mixed up... - "If you find that people talk about things over a period of time, they begin to lose exactly when the date was,'' said Col. John Haynes, an Air Force declassification officer who presented the report at a Pentagon news conference. "I have no other explanation.''
Finally, one important fact to remember in terms of credibility, when following up any stories of the Roswell incident, is that at the time it was not considered of huge significance. Interest was stirred up in 1978, when an American tabloid re-printed the "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer" headline out of context, and offered to pay witnesses for their stories. That tabloid was "the National Enquirer"... You may have heard of it...
Peet, September 7th, 1999