This guy probably helped pick up debris and escort the alien bodies as well. (Alamogordo Army Air Base public relations office)

Chapter 22: What did you do in the great Roswell incident daddy?

By Timothy Printy © 1999

Updated November 2008

The problem with peacetime military service is that it is often mundane and lacks any real excitement. Most of the day is routine and each day blends into the next. It is rare that anything truly exciting occurs and to be part of such excitement is fun to recount in later years.  It is also not unusual for people who did not really accomplish much or participate in anything earth shattering to exaggerate a bit on what they did do.  This appears to have occurred with the Roswell incident.  All sorts of individuals started telling people that they were directly involved, saw the aliens or handled the debris in some way. These stories have to be looked  at skeptically without any real proof to back them up. With this in mind, one needs to examine some stories made by airmen and soldiers that appeared in the first few Roswell books

Robert Smith

There is one person, who claims to be one of those who personally loaded Pappy’s plane.Supposedly, one of the crewmembers for the Pappy Henderson flight was a Sergeant Robert Smith. His story is well told in Crash at Corona:

...One night, when we were coming back to Roswell, a convoy of trucks covered with canvas passed us. When they got to the [airfield] gate, they headed over to this hanger on the east end, which was rather unusual. The truck convoy had red lights and sirens.

My involvement in the...incident was to help load crates of debris into the aircraft. We all became aware of the event when we went to the hanger on the east side of the ramp. There were a lot of people in plain clothes all over the place. They were "inspectors" but they were strangers on the base. When challenged, they replied they were here on project so-and-so, and flashed a card, which was different from a military ID card.

We were taken to the hanger to load crates. There was a lot of farm dirt on the hangar floor. We loaded [the crates] on flatbeds and dollies; each crate had to be checked as to width and height. We had to know which crates went on which plane. We loaded crates on three [or] four C-54’s. We weren't supposed to know their destination, but we were told they were headed north.

All I saw was a little piece of material. You could crumple it up, let it come out; you couldn't crease it. One of our people put it in his pocket. The piece of debris I saw was two to three inches square. It was jagged. When you crumpled it up, it then laid back out. And when it did, it kind of crackled, making a sound like crackled when it was let out. There were no creases...

The largest [crate] was roughly twenty feet long, four to five feet high, and four to five feet wide. It took up an entire plane; it wasn't that heavy but it was a large volume. The rest of the crates were two or three feet long and two feet square or smaller. The sergeant who had the piece of material said [it was like] the material in the crates. The entire loading took at least six, perhaps eight hours. Lunch was brought to us, which was unusual. The crates were brought to us on flatbed dollies, which was also unusual... (Friedman and Berlinner 124-125)

This is a really interesting story. I like the idea of a top-secret convoy of trucks with flashing lights/sirens though. There is nothing like drawing attention to a top-secret convoy. He adds that security personnel were setup to prevent interference from outside. Smith rattles off the names of the crew for the aircraft, including Henderson, but for some reason does not mention the name of the mysterious sergeant, who showed him the materials from the spaceship. One must wonder, who this person is. Certainly, his picture would have been in the RAAF yearbook and Smith could identify him. Instead that part of the story is left hanging with no resolution.

The destination to the north could be Wright field but then we discover that the planes went instead to Kirtland and then to Los Alamos. Smith told Randle and Schmitt:

The pilot would leave the aircraft and go to base ops (operations) and receive a sealed envelope. He would be escorted into base ops and escorted back by MPs. We would get airborne and he would have to open the envelope for the passage code. There were three codes in there. We had three positions that we had to answer. At one time we had a green (inexperienced) pilot and he stumbled on one of the passage codes and they fired some warning shots at us and we had to go back to Kirtland. Security was extremely tight... (Randle and Schmitt UFO 84)

The Los Alamos location contradicts the Pappy Henderson story of going to Wright field in Ohio and also contradicts the Kaufmann story which says Henderson’s plane went to Andrews AFB in Washington DC before going to Wright field. What we discover is that Henderson made numerous flights around the country to ship the material. RAAF was fortunate to have such a skilled pilot, who flew numerous aircraft non-stop and to many locations.

Smith describes what the mysterious sergeant told him about the retrieval operation:

I know there was a pretty good gathering of them and they went across the field, about a couple of feet apart, and they just kept going across picking up the pieces. They were loading them into wheelbarrows and things like that and carrying them to the sentry point. (Randle and Schmitt UFO 85)

However, Smith was not actually at the crash site. This is also contradicting Frank Kaufmann’s statements that they used a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner to suck up all the little parts and pieces. Whatever Smith adds to the tale is more confusing that confirming. His story contradicts that provided by others and the lack of a name for the mystery sergeant makes it even more unbelievable. Smith may have flown to Kirtland but not Los Alamos in 1947. A C-54 could not land at Los Alamos during this time period because, according to Karl Pflock, the runway was too small!

When the Los Alamos airport began operations on September 1, 1947, it was nothing more than an unlighted 4950-foot dirt airstrip with a  tar paper shack for a terminal; at its elevation of 7150 feet, the strip was far too short for a C-54 (Pflock 100)

Some have suggested that a "good pilot" could land and take off a C-54 on such a short runway that was at high altitude. Unfortunately, the physics involved makes it unlikely no matter how good the pilot was.  Nobody would risk flying such a precious cargo with a chance it would be smashed up on landing.  It seems more likely that the cargo would be shipped overland by truck in that instance. This in itself makes Smith’s story extremely questionable and, more than likely, memories from some other event. Perhaps Smith is recalling shipment of some atomic weapons to Los Alamos in later years when the strip was lengthened. The security would be warranted and could explain the descriptions of "investigators".

Smith is not the only person who claims to have loaded strange crates on an aircraft out of Roswell that week. Others imply that they shipped the crate, which contained the alien bodies.

Robert Slusher

On the 9th of July, Sergeant Robert Slusher flew in a strange flight from RAAF to Fort Worth. In the bomb bay of his B-29 was a mysterious crate being closely guarded by Military Police. According to Slusher:

There were MPs on board, Slusher said, and they were armed, suggesting the crate contained something more exciting than canned hams or office supplies. Moreover, the four hundred-mile flight from Roswell AAF to Fort Worth AAF was at low level, four to five thousand feet. Usually, a B-29 on such a trip flies at twenty-five thousand feet, as its cabin is pressurized and a B-29 flies better at high altitude. But the bomb bay, where the mysterious crate was carried, cannot be pressurized, as it is designed to be opened in light at high altitude so bombs can be dropped. Whatever was in the crate, which was too large to be carried in any other part of the airplane, had to be protected from a major drop in air pressure. Adding to the surreal atmosphere was the presence of the four MPs in the bomb bay. (Friedman and Berlinner 122-123)

According to Slusher, upon their arrival at Ft. Worth, 1st LT Felix Martucci (393rd bomb squadron) stated they had "made history" but he did not say what he meant by this (Friedman and Berlinner 123). On the return flight, the plane flew at 20,000 feet and the cabin was pressurized. Again, we get a long list of names of personnel who were on the flight. However, he did not know the names of the MPs (of course).

In UFO Crash at Roswell, we are treated to a mysterious witness, who seems to confirm Slushers story. It appears that this mysterious witness turns out to be the infamous Lt Matucci. He also gives a crew manifest for the B-29, which includes Slusher's name and only one other individual that Slusher named CPL Thaddeus Love. Unfortunately, the names of the crew are now quite different, as is the armed escort. There are now six MPs, two sergeants, three enlisted men, and an officer. If one puts all the people that were supposed to be on this flight, we now have a total of about two dozen individuals on the plane! With so many people on board, you got to wonder if that had anything to do with the low altitude. Since the crew compartment was not designed for such a large group of people, then you would have to place them in the bomb bay. According to Randle and Schmitt, a man identified as Curt Platt of the 509th confirmed that when using the B-29 to transport personnel, it was common to use the bomb bay. If the bomb bay was not pressurized this would explain why the aircraft could not fly higher than 10,000-15,000 feet since they would require oxygen.

Martucci continues to explain that the plane had to move over to the bomb pit in order to load the huge crate, which was underneath a tarp. This is contradicted by Slusher’s recollections. Martucci states they flew to Ft Worth at EIGHT THOUSAND feet (not the four or five Slusher states). On the return flight, they picked up a passenger, Jesse Marcel, and Slusher confirms this. Upon arrival at Fort Worth, Martucci has the great fortune to run into an old buddy of his at the airfield. The man, who has no name, is a mortician and is with a group of officers waiting for the plane to land. This group of officers was made up of all the "top brass" of the Eighth Air Force (Randle and Schmitt Truth 46). This contradicts General Dubose, who stated that there weren’t any more flights coming to Ft. Worth with material/packages after the Marcel flight. Interesting to note is Martucci never is quoted as to why he felt they "made history".

With all these flights going in and out of Roswell, you would think people would notice. According to Smith, it took the better part of a day to load these crates. However, when asked by Kent Jeffrey, none of the pilots and navigators of the 509th could even recall any unusual activity,

Since last September, I have spoken with a total of 15 B-29 pilots and 2 B-29 navigators, all of whom were stationed at Roswell Army Air Field in July 1947. Most of them heard nothing about the supposed crashed-saucer incident until years later, after all the publicity started... Not one single man had any direct knowledge of a crashed saucer or of any kind of unusual material. Even more significantly, in all of their collective years with the 509th Bomb Group, not one of these men had ever encountered any other individual who had such knowledge...

…there was no way an event as spectacular as the recovery of a crashed-alien spaceship from another world could have happened at their base without their having known about it. Despite the fact that they, individually, may not have been directly involved with the recovery operation, and despite the pervasiveness of the "need to know" philosophy in the military, these men maintained that there was absolutely no way that something of such magnitude and so earthshaking would not have been communicated among the members of the group -- especially within the inner circle of the upper echelon of B-29 pilots and navigators -- all of whom had top-secret security clearances....Military regulations notwithstanding, human nature and common sense have to be factored into the equation. Such an occurrence -- the most significant and dramatic event in recorded history -- would surely have been discussed by these men, at least among themselves. (Jeffrey Anatomy 3/6)

It goes without saying that this activity would have been verifiable by some form of documentation or further investigation. The contradictions in the story indicate that some form of shipment may have been made but it may have been some shipment of material that was unrelated to Roswell. The date of July 9th could be possible but Jesse Marcel does not claim to have stayed overnight in Fort Worth. However, according to Martucci and Slusher, he returned to RAAF on this plane. It could very well have been that this flight occurred at some other time and not on the date in question.

With all the military police and soldiers picking up alien debris and bodies, it is amazing that none have stepped forward to claim that they were involved in this part of the effort or were part of the "goon squad" that was used to terrorize civilians. Of course, if you were going to insert yourself into a modern day legend, you would not want to be part of that group.  Instead you would tell everyone that you helped with the cleanup and saw....a dead alien!

Melvin Brown

There was one individual, who claimed to have been at the recovery site, stood guard, and helped pick up the debris from the crashed saucer. This man was never interviewed by any of the authors and his daughter is the source of the details. In UFO Crash at Roswell, Beverley Bean, the daughter of Sergeant Melvin Brown, tells us the story of the collection. According to Bean, he talked about the event extensively while lying on his deathbed in 1986. Out of fear of retribution from the military, Brown’s daughter and wife did not talk about it until the investigators arrived. Beverley recalls that Melvin was directed to help with the recovery and was in the truck that was transporting the materials away. In the truck was a tarp that was covering something and there was ice to keep whatever was underneath cool. Curiosity got the better of Brown, so he and one other soldier snuck a peak under the tarp. Underneath the tarp were (surprise) alien bodies! According to Bean, Brown said that they were, "...smaller than human. He said the skin was yellowish-orange, but that may have been an effect of the lighting or decomposition. He said the skin was similar to that of the lizard, meaning it was leathery and beaded, but not scaly" (Randle and Schmitt UFO 90-91).

The bodies were transported to RAAF and then stored in the hanger to await shipment. Fortunately, Melvin was allowed to guard the bodies. Bean relates that Captain John Martin, who was the commanding officer of squadron K of the 509th came up to Brown and stated, "Come on Brownie. Let's have a look inside"(Randle and Schmitt UFO 95). Unfortunately, all that was inside was a big crate because it was all packed up for shipment. Beverley later explains that her father told her that the crate was flown to Texas. This is different than Ohio (Henderson), Washington DC (Kaufmann), or Los Alamos (Smith). It does agree with the Slusher/Martucci story though. One has to wonder where the "special group" from Kirtland talked about by Kaufmann was in this scenario.

Other serious problems with the Brown story are that his job at RAAF was not with the military police or security. He was not even part of the flight crews. Melvin Brown was a cook! Apparently, Kaufmann had to recruit the cooks to guard the area that weekend. No wonder it is so difficult to trace down who was at the site. Kaufmann and his group chose people from ratings that were not associated with security. I am sure that if we checked up on the auto mechanics, military band, and latrine patrol we would find a whole group of individuals who claimed they were there! This refutes the myth projected by Frank Kaufmann, which stated that the MPs were from a special group. We also have a commissioned officer calling a sergeant "Brownie". Such behavior is unheard of and would not be considered appropriate, especially in an elite group such as the 509th.

Bean’s version of how the story was told varies from interview to interview. At one point she states, "When we were young, he used to tell us stories about things that had happened to him when he was young... Sometimes, but not too often, he used to say that he saw a man from outer space..." (Friedman and Berlinner 128). This is in disagreement with the story she told to other interviewers where her father mentioned it when the moon landings occurred. Clearly, Beverley does not recall exactly when her father started talking about it. However, there is no indication that Brown even discussed it with his children. There are no documents or diaries to vouch for Bean’s account. Even the bodies do not match the descriptions of others that saw the crash. Brown’s account is strictly hearsay and without any sort of evidence to back it up, is useless. Anyone can make up a story like this if they read about it or lived in the Roswell area.


The rest of the gang

Since I wrote this on-line book, much has transpired and Donald Schmitt was very busy.  He found all sorts of new soldiers and airmen, who admitted to being part of the Roswell incident. I will not recount their stories here but you can find them in my critique of Schmitt and Carey's book:

Vultures in the desert: A review of Schmitt and Carey's book "Witness to Roswell"

With the cooks picking up and guarding the bodies, the next job was to preserve them and fly them to a location so they could be studied. However, there was nobody on base with the expertise to handle the bodies. They would have to ask for outside help. Instead of calling in an expert from Wright field or Fort Worth, or secretive group at RAAF instead chose to call the local mortuary! There they found a young mortician named Glenn Dennis.


Works Cited

Friedman, Stanton and Don Berlinner. Crash at Corona. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1997

Jeffrey, Kent. "Anatomy of a Modern Myth Part 3/6" Online. Internet. Available WWW:

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

Randle, Kevin and Donald Schmitt. UFO Crash at Roswell. New York: Avon, 1991

-. The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell. New York: Avon, 1994


Chapter 23 - Alien Autopsies

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