Jesse Marcel Sr. recounts his claim to fame(Frame grab from the show In Search of...)


By Timothy Printy 1999

Updated August 2006

Mac Brazel now had two military officers in tow with him as he departed Roswell to get to the Foster Ranch before nightfall. The distance is 75-100 miles and half of this is across a major highway. The time required to reach the Brazel ranch was about three hours depending on the route taken. The time it took may have been less if they drove fast over the paved roads, which may have been likely if they wanted to get there before sunset. This is important in discussing what happened over the next two days. The contemporary record states that Marcel and Cavitt made it to the Foster Ranch, picked up the debris, and then returned to RAAF. However, Jesse Marcel Sr. stated in interviews that he and Cavitt spent the night with Brazel at the ranch. This appears confusing but it is possible to piece together what had happened.

Jesse stated that he was eating lunch at the officer’s club when he picked up the phone call from the Sheriff’s office. Lunch in the military ran between 11AM and noon while I was in the Navy, I am not sure what it ran for the Army in 1947 but I would guess that it was comparable. Assuming it took a certain amount of time for him to go into town, one can place the meeting between him and Brazel between a noon and 2 PM. Marcel says in his interview for The Roswell Incident that he had to wait an hour or so for Brazel to finish up his errands in town. In his interview with Bob Pratt, Marcel states he left around 3:30 or 4 PM. In the Teletype transcript of Frank Joyce (3:42 PM Mountain Time), it states, SHERIFF WILCOX SAID THAT MAJOR MARCEL LEFT SHORTLY AFTER RECEIVING THE REPORT FOR THE AREA WHERE THE DISC WAS FOUND (Pflock 142). This indicates that Marcel must have left no later than 4 PM and maybe even sooner. One must recall that the passage of time makes the time sequence hard to determine.

Given that Marcel, Cavitt, and Brazel left no later than 4 PM, it is very likely that they arrived at the Foster Ranch before sunset, which occurred at roughly 7:30 PM (assuming no DST). Marcel confirms this and stated that he arrived "…very late in the afternoon and had to spend the night with this fellow" (Berlitz and Moore 71). In another interview with Bob Pratt, Marcel recollected, "So we got to his place at dusk" (Pflock 121). More information is found in the article from the July 9th late edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where Marcel is quoted as saying, "...We spent a couple of hours Monday afternoon looking for any more parts of the weather device" (Klass What 5). Therefore, it is probable that Marcel may have left earlier than 4PM, placing him at the ranch well before sunset. If they arrived at the debris field by 7PM, they could have about an hour or so of daylight and twilight to look about and see if they could have found any more material. The fact that Marcel spent the night on the Foster Ranch is what is in question at this point. The Sunday arrival time line depends upon this. When interviewed by the US Air Force, Sheridan Cavitt denied that he spent the night with Mac Brazel and felt that Marcel was mistaken on this point. Additionally, the Roswell Daily Record interviews with Mac Brazel mentions they picked up the debris and came back to Roswell. Did they spend the night at Brazel's ranch? Jesse says they did and as a meal, they ate "...cold pork and beans and some crackers" (Berlitz and Moore 71). Recall that the Brazels had already picked up the debris. A likely scenario is that Marcel, Cavitt, and Brazel went out to the site just after they had arrived at the Ranch. Here Brazel described how the debris was littered on the landscape and there were still a few fragments/pieces still lying about over a wide area, which they helped pick up. Jesse’s description of how he recalls the debris field is similar throughout all of his interviews. In The Roswell Incident, we hear:

Whatever it was had to have exploded in the air above ground level. It had disintegrated before it hit the ground. The wreckage was scattered over an area of about three quarters of a mile long and several hundred feet wide. (Berlitz and Moore 69)

When Bob Pratt interviewed him, Jesse stated:

...nothing actually hit the ground, bounced on the ground. It was something that must have exploded above ground and fell...scattered all over. Just like you'd explode something above the ground and just fall to the ground... It was traveling from north-east to south-west, it was in that pattern, you could tell where it started and where it ended by how it thinned out. (Pflock 124)

We also have the notes of Leonard Stringfield, where Marcel said, "...NO FRESH IMPACT DEPRESSIONS WERE FOUND IN THE SAND (emphasis added)…" (Klass Real 25) and " was thinning out as we went southwest" (Randle History 13).

Despite these statements concerning the condition of the ground and direction of travel, we discover that the authors ignore this information and decide to shift direction by 90 degrees and add a tear into the earth. In UFO Crash at Roswell, we read, "The debris field was oriented northwest to southeast. Marcel said it was about three-quarters of a mile long and two to three hundred feet across with a gouge at the top end of it that was about five hundred feet long and ten feet wide" (Randle and Schmitt UFO 50). We also find, "LIKE MARCEL (Emphasis added), he (Bill Brazel) talked about a gouge with the northwest - southeast orientation" (Randle and Schmitt UFO 52). How do the authors decide that Marcel made statements such as these? In the statements above, he says no such thing and it is Bill Brazel, who apparently described the events as such.

Recently, Kevin Randle stated in his Online web site that there is an interview that reveals the gouge in Marcel’s story:

And now there is a newly discovered taped interview with Jesse Marcel, Sr. It was made in 1980 and contains a number of interesting statements by Marcel. Among them, reportedly, is mention of a gouge. If true, it means that Marcel had mentioned the gouge nearly twenty years ago. Allegations of contamination simply won’t wash. And it answers the question that if there had been a gouge, why hadn't Marcel mentioned it. Now it seems that he had. (Randle Online)

If Marcel said several times that there was no gouge, why does he suddenly mention it? Randle says that the contamination issue would not be considered. However, the first Roswell book was already out by 1980 and Marcel had already been contaminated by the interviews by Friedmann and others. Certainly, they would have asked him about a gouge since it was surmised that there was a gouge of some sort. Once again it calls into question, Marcel’s ability to recall what happened accurately or in the ability of Randle/Schmitt to deliberately mislead the reader. Randle does not state where this "exciting new evidence" comes from. Was it just some interview he found on the shelf somewhere? Randle, again, is being disingenuous with the reader and, in order to prop his crashed saucer theory, tries to make everyone believe that Marcel did not mention the gouge in any of his interviews. The statements he did make were clearly in the negative concerning the gouge! Also, there is no confirmation by Marcel that the direction was towards the southeast. On the contrary, he states it was towards the southwest, which Bill Brazel said was the direction in his original interviews in The Roswell Incident.

What is clear from the interviews is that there was no gouge in the earth and the debris was just scattered over a wide area of ground. The amount of debris found and type is a bit different than Mac Brazel’s version of events in The Roswell Daily Record. In The Roswell Incident, he states:

There was all kinds of stuff - small beams about three eighths or a half inch square with some sort of hieroglyphics on them that nobody could decipher. These looked something like balsa wood, and were about the same weight, except that they were not wood at all. They were very hard, although flexible, and would not burn. There was a great deal of on unusual parchment-like substance which was brown in color and extremely strong, and a great number of small pieces of a metal like tinfoil, except that it wasn’t tinfoil. (Berlitz and Moore 72)

Jesse mentions seeing the colored figures on the debris as well,

One thing that impressed me about the debris was the fact that a lot of it looked like parchment. It had little numbers with symbols that we had to call hieroglyphics because I could not understand them. They could not be read, they were just like symbols, something that meant something, and they were not all the same, but the same general pattern, I would say. They were pink and purple. They looked like they were painted on. These little numbers could not be broken, could not be burned. I even took my cigarette lighter and tried to burn the material we found that resembled parchment and balsa, but it would not burn - wouldn't even smoke. But something that is even more astonishing is that the pieces of metal that we brought back were so thin, just like tinfoil in a pack of cigarettes. I didn't pay too much attention to that at first, until one of the boys came to me and said: "You know that metal that was in there? I tried to bend the stuff and it won't bend. I even tried it with a sledgehammer. You can't make a dent on it. (Berlitz and Moore 73)

When asked if he actually saw the "sledgehammer test", Jesse responded, "I didn’t go back to look at it myself because we were busy in the office and I had quite a bit of work to do" (Klass Real 31). As for the bending of the material, he clarified what he meant by saying, "Now by bend, I mean crease. It was possible to flex this stuff back and forth, even to wrinkle it, but you could not put a crease in it that would stay, nor could you dent it at all" (Berlitz and Moore 74).

Sheridan Cavitt - Roswell's sinister witness who contradicted Marcel (Randle and Schmitt Truth)

The other member of this group, Sheridan Cavitt has always been a dark figure in Roswell and the authors have considered him a significant figure involved in the cover-up. However, we hear his story when the USAF interviewed him in 1994. Cavitt explains that he does not recall many specifics about the events. This is probably because he felt they were not that extraordinary at the time. As for the debris site, he gave a very simple description to Colonel Richard Weaver in 1994:

It was a small amount of, as I recall, bamboo sticks, reflective sort of material that would, at first glance, you would probably think it was aluminum foil, something of that type and we gathered up some of it. I don't know whether we even tried to get all of it. It wasn’t scattered; well, what I call, you know, extensively. (HQ USAF Attachment 18)

When Weaver asked about the size of the debris field, Cavitt responded " long as this room is wide" (HQ USAF Attachment 18). This size equated to about 20 feet and Cavitt continued to explain, "Some here, some here, some here. No concentration of it. No marks in the ground, dug up, anything hidden, or anything like that, just out on the territory around the bottom of New Mexico..." (HQ USAF Attachment 18). In the interview and his affidavit, he mentions Lewis Rickett, his sergeant, being with him. By the time of the interview, Rickett had stated several times that he went out with Cavitt to the crash site. Cavitt continues to mention that his memory of this event was not so great and felt Rickett was there but was not sure if Marcel was with him. Based on the interview, it is apparent that Cavitt felt the whole trip was a "boondoggle" (i.e. a waste of time) (HQ USAF Attachment 18). He was quite clear that the debris came from a balloon, "It was someone else's balloon as far as I was concerned. I didn't want to fool around with it...It looked to me, somebody lost a balloon. I couldn’t care less...tough luck" (HQ USAF Attachment 18). Cavitt goes on to state that Jesse’s story about spending the night at the Foster Ranch and eating pork and beans was "Totally fabricated" (HQ USAF Attachment 18).

There appears to be some disagreement between Cavitt’s version and Marcel’s version of the debris area. As I pointed out before, this may be because Jesse explained how the field looked as described to him by Mac Brazel when they were on the ranch. By the time Jesse arrived, most or all of the debris had been picked up by the Brazel family. Cavitt stating that what remained seemed to be lying down in spots indicate that most of the debris had been picked as described in The Roswell Daily Record. When one looks at the time lag in these memories, one must realize that there will be inconsistencies and inaccurate recollections of the events. The July 9th late edition of the Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram appears to clear the problem up since it does quote Marcel:

He (Brazel) bundled together the large pile of tinfoil and broken wooden beams about one-fourth of an inch thick and a half-inch wide and torn mass of synthetic rubber that had been the balloon and rolled it under some brush, according to Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of Houma, La., 509th Bomb Group intelligence officer at Roswell, who brought the device to FWAAF...‘The ranch is out in the middle of nowhere,’ Marcel declared, ‘and we spent a couple of hours Monday afternoon looking for any more parts of the weather device. We found a few more patches of tinfoil and rubber.’ (Klass What 5)

According to Marcel, "That AFTERNOON (My Emphasis - July 7) we headed back to Roswell and arrived there in the early evening" (Berlitz and Moore 74). In the Bob Pratt interview, Jesse stated, "we got through kind of late" (Pflock 122). Now Jesse makes a detour on the way back to the base. Ignoring any security regulations that may be in force at this moment, he stops by his house show his son and wife the materials! The popular time quoted by all the authors is 2AM on the 8th of July. When one looks at the time it takes to get back to Roswell from the Foster Ranch, one realizes Jesse must have left the ranch somewhere around 10 to 11 PM. Again, this fits The Roswell Daily Record version of events more than the one told by Marcel.

The sequence of events surrounding this trip to the ranch and back will always be in doubt because of Jesse Marcel Sr.’s version of what happened. However, one must recall the old Chinese proverb, "The palest ink is better than the best memory." The contemporary documents are quite clear that Brazel showed up in Roswell on Monday and therefore, Jesse could not have spent the night and next day at the ranch as he described. However, if they all had arrived at 7 PM before sunset (or even earlier by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram account), it would not take much to go out to the area and hear Mac tell the story of finding the debris and picking up any remaining material scattered about. By 8:30 or so, they would have been inside the house looking at the debris and trying to determine what it actually was. There may have been something to eat as well and Jesse, fearful to drive back unrested, may have taken a nap while Cavitt drove back to the base. This could explain why Jesse felt that he had spent the night and Cavitt stated he had not. By 10 or 11 PM, Jesse realized he needed to get back to the base. Since it was very late and he would not be able to show the debris to Colonel Blanchard until morning, he felt it would be okay to stop by his home. Maybe he needed to get cleaned up and tell the wife he was okay. While he was home, he felt it was fine to show the family his prize. After all, Colonel Blanchard gave him no orders to keep the event a secret. Jesse, riding a wave of euphoria for finding an actual "crashed disc", was ecstatic and bubbling with enthusiasm. He could not wait to show the material to Colonel Blanchard.

Works Cited

Berlitz, Charles and William Moore. The Roswell Incident. New York: Berkley,1988.

HQ USAF. The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. Washington: US Government, 1995.

Klass, Philip, "What Maj. Marcel Really said in Gen. Ramey’s Office On July 8, 1947." Skeptic’s UFO Newsletter, May 1999.

---. The REAL Roswell Crashed Saucer Cover-up. Amherst: Prometheus, 1997

Pflock, Karl. Roswell in Perspective. Mt. Rainier: Fund for UFO Research, 1995.

Randle, Kevin. A History of UFO Crashes. New York: Avon Books, 1995.

---. "The Gouge Eliminates the Balloon". Randle Report. Online. Internet. Available WWW: (This is now a dead link)

Randle, Kevin and Donald Schmitt. The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell. New York: Avon, 1994.

---. UFO Crash at Roswell. New York: Avon, 1991.


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