Jesse Marcel presents his flying disc debris to the press (HQ USAF)
Chapter 6: A Deflating Experience
By Timothy Printy Ó 1999 Updated July 2005
Jesses plane set down at Fort Worth sometime in the early evening. Waiting for the plane is General Ramey and his chief of staff, Colonel Thomas Dubose. Dubose recalls meeting the plane and taking the debris to General Rameys office. In an interview with Jamie Shandera (this interview has its own controversy), Dubose stated, "Well, as best I can recall, I met the airplane that came in from Roswell and I took a canvas mail pouch with this debris in it over to General Rameys office..." (Korff 130). Robert Porter did not see the material transferred at all but he did hear the material was transferred from their airplane. In his affidavit, he said, "When we came back from lunch, they told us they had transferred the material to a B-25" (Pflock 165). However, not all of the debris made it onto this B-25.
Some of the debris actually made it into General Rameys office and Jesse followed along. At this point the story takes an interesting twist. According to all the authors, General Ramey switches the debris from the actual crashed saucer with debris from an ordinary weather balloon and radar reflector. This is all based on a claim made by Marcel himself. However, Jesses recollections are not very clear and one must wonder where the truth ends and fabrication begins. Jesse stated in his interview with Bob Pratt:
but when I got to Carswell, General Ramey wasnt there, but they had a lot of news reporters and a slew of microphones that wanted to talk to me, but I couldnt say anything. I couldnt say anything until I talked to the general. I had to go under his orders. And he said [Marcel Chuckles], "Well, just dont say anything." So I said, "General, Colonel Blanchard told me to get this stuff to Wright Patterson." And he said, "You leave it right here. Well take care of it from here." And that was the end of it that was the end of my part of it. I still dont know what I picked up. (Pflock 121-122)
In The Roswell Incident, Marcel is quoted as saying,
Just after we got to Carswell, Fort Worth, we were told to bring some of this stuff up to the generals office - that he wanted to take a look at it. We did this and spread it out on the floor on some brown paper. What we had was only a very small portion of the debris there was a whole lot more. There was half a B-29-ful outside. General Ramey allowed some members of the press in to take a picture of this stuff. They took one picture of me on the floor holding up some of the less-interesting metallic debris. The press was allowed to photograph this, but were not allowed far enough into the room to touch it. The stuff in that one photo was pieces of the actual stuff we had found. It was not a staged photo. (Berlitz and Moore 75).
Finally, Jesse stated in the Movie, UFOs are Real, "The newsman saw VERY LITTLE OF THE MATERIAL, VERY SMALL PORTION OF IT (My Emphasis). And none of the important things, like these members that had these hieroglyphics or markings on them" (Klass 26).
In all these interviews, Jesse indicates that some of the debris was placed on display for the media. He then hints at a switch in material but one can not place exactly how this was done. According to UFO Crash at Roswell,
Marcel said that he had brought it to Ramey's office, where the general examined it and then decided that he wanted to see exactly where the object crashed. Marcel and Ramey left for the map room and while they were gone, someone carried the wreckage out, replacing it with the weather balloon long before any reporters were allowed into the office. (Randle and Schmitt UFO 75-76)
This piece of information comes from Walter Haut, who was not there. This version is based on what Haut heard Jesse tell him after the book, The Roswell Incident, was published. It is in contradiction with much of what Jesse stated in his interviews. Amazingly, none of the interviewers asked Jesse who actually switched the debris and how it was done. This is why Randle and Schmitt use a second hand source to provide us with these important details.
What is clear is that Jesse stated the media saw some of the actual debris. One of these was recorded for all to hear. However, the authors attempt to confuse the situation. According to Kevin Randle, Johnny Mann and Linda Corley interviewed Marcel in the early 80s. When confronted with the photographs showing him and the debris, he denied that this was the debris he had picked up. This despite the fact that he states the media saw at least some of the material. Clearly, in all of the photographs taken, the debris is the same. There is no substitution visible between the photographs with Marcel and without Marcel.
The person who would have to have engineered the switch for General Ramey would have to have been his chief of staff, Thomas Dubose. However, when asked point blank by Jamie Shandera, Dubose denied a switch occurred:
Q. There are two researchers who are presently saying that the debris in General Ramey's office had been switched and that you men had a weather balloon there.
A. Oh Bull! That material was never switched!
Q. So, what you're saying is that the material in General Ramey's office was the actual debris brought in from Roswell?
A. That's right. (Korff 129)
When given the photographs of the debris, Dubose is quoted by Shandera as saying, "Thats the material that Marcel brought into Ft. Worth from Roswell" (Korff 130). Again, this indicates that no switch occurred. When one examines his affidavit, we find Dubose stating, "The material shown in the photograph taken in Maj. Gen. Ramey's office was a weather balloon. The Weather Balloon explanation for the material was a cover story to divert the attention of the press" (Pflock 153). Dubose also discussed security and orders from McMullen not to talk to anyone about the event. Clearly, Dubose seems to indicate that something was not right about Rameys press conference. However, there is no mention of switching debris in his affidavit. Remember that Dubose was the chief of staff. He would have to know about such an event and, more than likely, would have been the individual who had supervised the actual switching of the debris.
Kevin Randle stands by the fact that a substitution took place and he states Dubose confirms this. On February 16, 1998 he posted a response on the UFO Updates mailing lists saying, "Colonel DuBose, on video tape, and in interviews with disinterested third parties said there was a substitution. DuBose, in fact, signed a letter saying that the debris had been switched" (Randle Online). In my reading of all of what Randle has published, I have never read Dubose flatly stating there was a substitution of material. Randle claims to have a letter from Dubose stating that the debris was switched. He has yet to publish it and demonstrate that it was an actual letter from Dubose. It his interpretations of what Dubose said that allows him to make such statements. As I had stated before, the affidavit mentions no switch of material and I can find no interviews or letters, that are published, where Dubose stated that a switch definitely occurred. Randle even implies that Shanderas interview was a lie and that Dubose never stated these things. What is more likely is that Dubose, already at an advanced age, was taken advantage of by all parties. Randle, like a skilled lawyer, never would ask the questions Shandera asked. If he did, he might not get the answer he desired. Therefore, all of his interviews allowed Dubose room to maneuver and give ambiguous answers. One final point on this is that if Dubose supposedly never saw the "real" debris, as Randle claims, how could he know the material was switched and that the debris in the photographs was not the same debris Marcel brought from RAAF?
If this wasnt enough, we have another person who was witness to the events that night. Photographer/Report James Bond Johnson is the only known person from the press to have been at Fort Worth that night. Jesse claims that there were lots of reporters but the facts indicate otherwise. The only press reporter to have written a story based on being there was James Bond Johnson. His article appeared the next day in the Ft-Worth Morning Star Telegram and his photographs are part of Roswell folklore. Also part of Roswell folklore is Johnsons personal feud with Randle. In early interviews, Johnson had given indications that he felt that a switch had duped him. However, Johnson began to recant and state that he felt that the debris was never switched. Every time Johnson makes a statement, Randle pulls out his earliest recordings, where Randle was able to convince him into agreeing with his theory. In the book, UFO Crash at Roswell, we learn that Johnson was lead into Rameys office, where he was allowed to photograph the debris. According to Johnson, "It wasnt an impressive sight, just some aluminum-like foil, balsa wood sticks, and some burnt rubber that was stinking up the office" (Randle and Schmitt UFO 72). This is exactly what he had photographed. Johnson has also claimed that he actually removed some of the debris from the wrapping paper and staged the photographs. In an email exchange with me on 2 November 1998, he stated:
The debris was all present on the floor when I entered Ramey's office. At least one package -- probably the largest one containing the long "sticks" -- already had been opened and the debris piled on the meat paper wrapper on Ramey's carpet! I recall opening at least one other package in an effort to "pose" a good picture. (Johnson)
His hat is in the background of one of the photographs demonstrating that he did enter the room contrary to the claims of Jesse Marcel. If he actually unwrapped the materials from the package and staged the photographs is in question, we will never know but it does bear merit that he did have something to do with the positioning of the debris since his hat is in one photograph. As for what exactly happened, only Johnson knows for sure. In an E-mail exchange with Joshua Shapiro, Johnson stated the following:
At the time of the photo session in Gen. Ramey's office, it was clear that the smelly debris spread out on the General's carpet was something considered special. At that time and until the present, air crashes are usually set up in the aircraft hangers for examination - no in Commanding Generals Offices...I still believe the General thought at the time of the photo session that he was living an important day in history It must have been only after I departed his office that he (Gen. Ramey) ordered by AAF HQ (headquarters) in Washington (D.C.) to issue the Raywin Kite/Weather Balloon Cover-up Story. I know of no evidence that there was a switch of wreckage in gen. Rameys office to support the cover-up story I am convinced that there was not enough time or expertise (Hollywood set decorators!) at FWAAF to provide a "dummy double" of a "weather balloon" as Kevin Randle has somehow decided (Shapiro Online)
Johnsons involvement is questioned by Randle simply because Johnsons recollections are not what Randle wants to hear. When discussing things with the passage of time, I can understand that Johnson may have forgotten certain events or had a change of heart upon further reflection. However, he never stated in any interviews that he saw debris switched in any way and it is a fact that he was there. Johnson told me that there was never an indication that the debris was switched while he was present. However, Johnson still believes that the debris came from a crashed flying saucer but one has to wonder what type of crashed saucer looks like a radar reflector for a tracking balloon?
After the photographs were taken, General Ramey makes an announcement that what was being presented as a "crashed disc" was actually the remains of a radar reflector and weather balloon. To confirm this, Ramey ordered that the duty weather officer come in and verify his theory. Enter Irving Newton, who states in his affidavit:
I was the only weather forecaster on duty I received a call from some one in General Rameys office by a Lt Col or Col who told me that some one had found a flying saucer in New Mexico and they had it in the Generals office the General suspicioned that it might be meteorological equipment or something of that nature and wanted it examined by qualified meteorological personnel as soon as I saw it, I giggled and asked if that was the flying saucer. I was told it was... I was convinced at the time that this was a balloon with a RAWIN target and remain convinced (HQ USAF Attachment 30)
The radar reflectors in the photographs were themselves unique. According to Newton, they were only used on "special projects and overseas" and that "We did not use them in Ft Worth" (HQ USAF Attachment 30). If this is true, where did this type of reflector come from? In order to create a weather balloon swap, why didnt Ramey just use material from that which was on the base. Adding to this is Sgt. Porter, who stated one package was triangular in shape. The reflector sections shown in the photographs are triangular in shape and are of the same approximate dimensions Porter recalls. Also in the photographs is a brown wrapping paper that looks like the material Porter described as containing the debris. One could make the argument that the debris in the packages loaded by Porter were the substitute debris being shipped from Roswell. However, Roswell did not have any of these reflectors either. Therefore, the reflectors came from someplace other than RAAF or Fort Worth. Newton also noted the odor in the room and made the following comments concerning other pieces of debris:
...the neoprene, the remnants of the balloon. The best thing I can think of, it looked like little cow pies, because this rubber material it had been laying in the desert, in the sun and it had all shriveled up and got black. (Kolarik Online)
Marcel with the debris. Note the blackened balloon material to the left of Marcel. (HQ USAF )
Clearly, the balloons had been left out in the sun for several days. How could Ramey had the foresight to get debris from a tracking balloon that had been in the sun for several days? As with the reflectors, the likely source is from the Foster Ranch.
When Newton had confirmed the debris came from a radar reflector, Jesse (assuming no switch had taken place) must have been horrified. Up to this point, he was sure what he had found was actually one of the "crashed discs" he had read about. Newton clearly states in his affidavit:
While I was examining the debris, MAJOR MARCEL (My emphasis) was picking up pieces of the target sticks and trying to convince me that some notations on the sticks were alien writings. There were figures on the sticks lavender or pink in color, appeared to be weather faded markings with no rhyme or reason. He did not convince me these were alien writings. (HQ USAF Attachment 30)
Newtons mentioning of the pink figures is also important. It indicates that the military was so thorough in finding bogus debris, it painted pink figures on the balsa wood! Also, the behavior of Marcel sounds like a man desperate to retrieve his reputation. He now appears to have wasted a lot of people's time over a simple misidentification on his part. An hour before, he was a hero. Now, he was the goat. To answer this disturbing testimony, Randle and Schmitt counter that Newton was confusing Major Marcel with Major Cashon, the base PIO. It seems clear to me that Newton has no doubts over the identity of the person, who talked to him. Randle counters that Marcel was not allowed to talk to the press and would not talk to Newton. However, Newton was not a member of the press but a member of Army Air Force! Newton, who had been interviewed several times before, but never quoted concerning the behavior of Marcel adds in his affidavit, "During the ensuing years I have been interviewed by many authors, I have been quoted and misquoted" (HQ USAF Attachment 30). Newton, apparently angry that his contradictory testimony had been deleted out by the authors in their books, wanted to set the record straight on this matter.
At about the same time Newton was setting Marcel straight on what he had found, the FBI office in Cincinnati received a strange TELEX from their office in Ft. Worth concerning the "flying saucer" debris. It said:
MAJOR CURTAN, 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 BALLON BY CABLE, WHICH BALLON WAS APPROXIMATELY TWENTY FEET IN DIAMETER. MAJOR CURTAN FURTHER ADVISED THAT THE OBJECT FOUND RESEMBLES A HIGH ALTITUDE WEATHER BALLOON WITH A RADAR REFLECTOR, BUT THAT TELEPHONIC CONVERSATION BETWEEN THEIR OFFICE AND WRIGHT FIELD HAD NOT (UNINTELLIGIBLE) BORNE OUT THIS BELIEF. DISC AND BALLOON BEING TRANSPORTED TO WRIGHT FIELD BY SPECIAL PLANE FOR EXAMINATION. INFORMATION PROVIDED THIS OFFICE BECAUSE OF NATIONAL INTEREST IN CASE AND FACT THAT NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY, ASSOCIATED PRESS, AND OTHERS ATTEMPTING TO BREAK STORY OF LOCATION OF DISC TODAY. MAJOR CURTAN ADVISED WOULD REQUEST WRIGHT FIELD TO ADVISE CINCINNATI OFFICE RESULTS OF EXAMINATION. NO FURTHER INVESTIGATION BEING CONDUCTED. (Brookesmith 163)
A copy of the actual teletype with Major Curtan's name blacked out. (Project 1947 Roswell)
Note that the disc is suspended by a balloon (misspelled ballon in the TELEX). First the flying saucer is made out of tape and now is suspended by a balloon. The "aliens" seem to resort to rather archaic technology to get around. Skeptics have noted that whole matter was of national INTEREST and not national SECURITY. Obviously, it was big news and of national interest. However, the military was only concerned about the press and not the security involved. The time of the TELEX was 6:17 PM. This happens to be about the same time as the Ramey press conference which according to Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell occurred around 5:30 PM. However, Neil Morris states the time was much earlier and could have been as early as 3:15PM. This is the FBI office in Ft Worth relaying a message they had heard from Major Curtan (who happened to be part of the 8th AF staff and was actually named Kirtan). When they actually spoke to Kirtan is hard to say but it seems reasonable that they must have talked to him before the press conference. It is very probable that this information was old when it was sent and Newton had not positively identified the debris as of yet.
The news reports the next day showed some of the photos and General Ramey was quoted. The Roswell authors want everyone to believe that Ramey described the object as a weather balloon. This is only partially correct. The ROSWELL DAILY RECORD (July 9) states, "But the General said the objects were the crushed remains of ray wind target used to determine the direction and velocity of winds at high altitudes" (Brookesmith 149). It is obvious that the balloon fragments at Jesse's feet in the photographs was not what was considered a crashed disc. It was the radar reflectors that appeared to get everyone's attention. The event had been explained and Jesse returned back to Roswell.
What happened to the debris at the press conference? According to the story, the special flight to Wright-Patterson was canceled. However, we have a comment made to Shandera by General Dubose that seems to suggest otherwise, "I put the debris in a heavy mail pouch, sealed it and locked it. I then sealed it to the wrist of Al Clark and escorted him out to a B-25 out on a runway and sent him to General McMullen in Washington" (Klass 93). This sounds exactly like the story we heard concerning the debris supposedly brought to Ft. Worth a few days before. As evidenced in his affidavit, where he stated that he did not hear about the debris until after the press release, Dubose had confused the events and dates. The supposed transport of materials days before the conference did not happen. His statement of the plane going to Washington indicates the special flight to Wright-Patterson was canceled as stated by Ramey. However, it appears the materials were sent to Washington.
The question often asked is how did Major Marcel and Colonel Blanchard mistake such a target as a flying disc? One must examine the contemporary paper headlines to determine what was a flying disc to get a feel for this. Today, flying saucer/disc or UFO means an extraterrestrial spacecraft (although UFO means unidentified, it is often inferred that it must be a spaceship in popular lexicon). However, in July 1947, nobody knew exactly what a flying disc/saucer was. A perfect example of what people were calling flying discs at that time appeared in the Roswell Daily Dispatch on the day of the press release. This is the morning paper and appeared before the press release. This gives an idea of what Blanchard, Haut, and Marcel were probably thinking at the time of their press release:
Two flying disks were reported found in Texas and at least one is being investigated by military officials as the total number of Texans claiming to have seen the mysterious objects passed the 50 mark yesterday. The disks were reported found on a beach near Trinity Bay, near Houston, and near Hillsboro. The Houston Chronicle said a great deal of mystery surrounded the one found near there by Norman Hargrave, a jeweler, Sunday. He first reported that he had found the aluminum disk floating near the beach while he and his wife were walking. He described it minutely, even giving an inscription he said it carried. Today he said it was all a joke, but the Chronicle, after extensive checking, said "there are some mysterious facts contained in his (Hargrave's) first report that lend credence to the tale."
Hargrave first said the disk bore this wording: "Military secret of the United States of America. Army Air Forces M4339658. Anyone damaging or revealing description or whereabouts of this missile subject to prosecution by the U.S. government. Call collect at once, LD446, Army Air Forces Denot, Spokane, Wash." He said the words "non-explosive" also were carried.
It was recalled that the initial reports of flying saucers or disks originated in the Spokane area. The Chronicle, meanwhile, telephoned Spokane, and said it "brought interest" on the part of the commanding officer, but he would not confirm or deny that the missile may have carried the message. Later he referred Houston to Wright Field, Ohio, but the commanding officer there was out of town. In Houston, Col. R. W. Warren, commanding officer of Ellington Field, said he had been instructed by Washington to investigate.
Houston police would not say if they had the missile.
The second flying disks (sic) was reported found by Bob Scott, a farmer living two and a half miles east of Hillsboro. He said the disk fell on his place Friday, and that it resembled a saucer. He said it was so bright he could not look at it very long. He said he was afraid people might believe he was "going to extremes in imagining things" and he told no one but his family until yesterday.
Then he notified O.F. Kissick and Joe Gerick, Hillsboro, who went to the field and investigated. Most of it had melted, they said. Gerick said one piece looked like tin foil, but when he picked it up, it appeared to be celluloid (Project 1947 UFO)
The reference to inscriptions and the tin foil/aluminum like materials in both of these "discs" may have given this group of officers the idea that they may indeed have in their possession a "flying disc". Certainly, the reflector debris looked strangely shaped and could have given Marcel and Brazel the idea that they found one. It goes without saying that nobody at the time of Brazels discovery had a clue what a "Flying disc" was. The possibility that they were from outer space was not given too much consideration at the time and much of the news media focused on the idea that they were either Top Secret military projects or possibly of Russian design. Even more interesting to note is that had it been a spaceship, why didn't the press release say it was an alien spaceship instead of something as obscure as a "flying disc"?
Another item that may have played a role in the decision to call the material a "flying disc" is Jesse Marcel himself. Recently, I was able to obtain images of his fitness reports. For the lay reader, with no military experience, it seems like Jesse was a pretty good performer. However, a military man can read between the lines on these reports. Having written numerous evaluations, I can give an individual a good mark but in reality, the report can actually lack "substance" to the marks. Often, I include hidden remarks such as "this individual has potential to become a good leader" instead of writing, "He is a good leader". Looking at Jesse's evaluations, I see an individual who did his job but was not a top performer. He went through the wickets and rose to the highest rank he probably could ever reach. Several remarks were very telling but the most telling was the one written just a few weeks before the Roswell Incident. Payne Jennings wrote in his 30 June 1947 efficiency report that Jesse was "rather lacking in imagination and initiative" (Rudiak Online). Perhaps Jesse wanted to prove something that July and needed something "big" to improve his lackluster performance. Throughout Jesses tenure at Roswell, he was often ranked low compared to his peers (being ranked 3/4 and 8/8 in the reports after the incident). He also was never described as being a top-notch performer that was indispensable. Despite his many defenders, Jesses performance as a military man was unspectacular. He was not a bad officer but he was not the superb military officer that many wish him to be portrayed. The one thing his efficiency reports do show is that Jesse may have had a reason to react the way he did to something that may have been a "crashed disc". Jesse may have wanted to demonstrate that he had plenty of initiative with this event and only had it backfire in his face at Fort Worth.
In conclusion, it appears very likely that the debris did make it into General Rameys office. Even Marcel indicates it got that far. The concept of a switch happening to hide the actual debris seems extremely unlikely based on the fact that nobody can positively describe how it happened and nobody seems to take credit for actually performing the switch. Also, if it were substitute debris, it could not have come from Fort Worth or RAAF because these types of reflectors were not used at either place. Therefore, the material in the photographs could only have come from the Foster Ranch and brought there by Marcel himself. General Ramey after looking at it, called in Newton to confirm his suspicion of the actual identity of the debris. Newton told everyone that this was a RAWIN target and that Marcel was wrong. Marcel was probably a bit embarrassed at this point and could only stand by as the press took the photographs. Dubose, who was told by McMullen not to talk about what he had found, thought it was something very secret. McMullen may have felt the debris had come from a classified project but it is uncertain as to what he actually knew. Dubose or Ramey, probably told Marcel that this was some form of secret project and to just state it was a normal weather balloon and target. Marcel gave no hint that he felt it was anything else in the interview with Johnson. Afterwards, Dubose sent the debris to Washington as directed by McMullen. It appears the debris eventually made it to Wright field, where it was eventually disposed of after positive identification based on statements made by Colonel Duffy.
The Roswell Daily Record of July 9th. (Brookesmith 149)
Back in Roswell, events were coming to a rapid conclusion as well. Recall that Walt Whitmore Sr. had gone out to fetch Mac Brazel the morning of the 8th. What Mac was about to say would stun everyone and put an end to the story for thirty years.
Berlitz, Charles and William Moore. The Roswell Incident. New York: Berkley, 1988.
Brookesmith, Peter. UFO: The Government Files. New York: Barnes & Nobles, 1996.
Friedman, Stanton and Don Berlinner. Crash at Corona. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1997.
HQ USAF. The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. Washington: US Government, 1995.
Johnson, James Bond. E-mail to the author. 2 November 1998.
Klass, Philip. The REAL Roswell Crashed Saucer Cover-up. Amherst: Prometheus, 1997
Kolarik, Robert. "The Roswell Incident: 50 Years of Controversy". San Antonio Express. Online. Internet. Available WWW: http://www.expressnews.com/roswell/roshistory.html (now a dead link)
Korff, Kal. The Roswell UFO Crash: What They Don't Want You to Know. Amherst: Prometheus, 1997.
Pflock, Karl. Roswell in Perspective. Mt. Rainier: Fund for UFO Research, 1995.
Project 1947. UFO REPORTS 1947. Online. Internet. Available WWW: http://www.project1947.com/fig/1947f.htm
-. Roswell Page. Online. Internet. Available WWW: http://www.project1947.com/roswell/appii.htm
Randle, Kevin. 16 February 1998. Online posting. UFOMIND mailing list archive. 17 February 1998 Online. Internet. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/1998/feb/m17-010.shtml
Randle, Kevin and Donald Schmitt. UFO Crash at Roswell. New York: Avon, 1991.
Rudiak,Dave. "Roswell and Major Jesse Marcel's Postwar Service Evaluations". http://roswellproof.homestead.com/Marcel_evaluations.html
Shapiro, Joshua. Roswell Crash Photographer. Online. Internet. Available WWW: http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/jbond.html
Chapter 7 - Brazel's Final Curtain Call
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