We have seen Jesse Marcel, Sr. beat up over the interview that he gave to Bob Pratt of the National Enquirer. We have seen every remark he made scrutinized for every nuance, every misstatement that can be turned into a lie, and every flaw in his record turned into a reason not to believe him.
On the other side of the aisle, we see Sheridan Cavitt as the poster boy for the balloon theory. Cavitt, who made many statements about his involvement, or lack of involvement, seems to have received a pass on this. So, let’s look at the record.
My first interview with Cavitt was held on January 29,1990 while Cavitt and his wife Mary stayed in Sierra Vista, Arizona. They had rented a small apartment there to get away from the weather in Sequim, Washington where they lived the rest of the year. Cavitt was cordial but careful in what he said. He made it clear that he had not been involved in any balloon retrievals, that he had no time for that sort of nonsense, and in fact, hinted that he hadn’t even been in Roswell at the time, so it couldn’t have been him.
He did say that if he had written a report, it would have gone to Washington and not to the 8th Air Force, parent organization of the 509th Bomb Group. This makes sense to me because Cavitt was with the Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) and his chain of command ran through them and not the 509th.
He said that witnesses who put him on the crash site were wrong and asked me why I thought they would say that. I thought at the time because he was there, but I didn’t say that. I would later learn that I was right.
During that interview, he was only nervous once and that was when we began talking about the bodies. He looked at me, leaned forward and picked up a magazine, sat back, tossed the magazine to the table and asked "Bill Rickett tell you that?"
Lewis "Bill" Rickett (seen at the left) was the non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the CIC office in Roswell in July 1947. Cavitt worked closely with him.
When I said, "No," Cavitt visibly relaxed.
I saw him again in 1993, when Don Schmitt and I visited him at his home in Washington. He told us that he had been sent to Roswell on Special Order No. 121, dated 11 June 1947. He was given a five day delay in route. He claimed not to have been physically present at Roswell in early July, 1947, so he could not have been involved in the retrieval. That, we would learn later was not accurate.
During the interview held on March 27, 1993, Cavitt again said that he had not gone out to the Brazel ranch. We talked about that for a while and then Cavitt asked, "Are you guys convinced that I wasn’t there."
Mary Cavitt said, "If he had been way overnight, at that time... I would for sure remember it."
I mentioned that there were some problems with the Marcel testimony, meaning the things that Pratt had reported.
Cavitt said, "You better believe that. He [Marcel] says I was out there is his biggest problem."
But then, as we continued to talk with Cavitt, he made it clear that he was, in fact, in Roswell at the right time. He had just arrived, or was about to arrive, depending on the date of the crash and his mood at the moment. His wife had arrived on July 2, after a wedding in Oregon and Cavitt was supposed to have arrived a day or so after that.
The last personal interview with Cavitt took place on June 25, 1994, just weeks after Colonel Richard Weaver had been there for the Air Force investigation of Roswell. We covered much of the same ground. I mention that Marcel had identified him as the one who went out to the site. That Marcel had described him as "a good west Texas boy from San Angelo."
Cavitt said, "Sort of nails me, doesn’t it?" But he would go no further, and even though Weaver had identified him as the man who had gone out with Marcel, and that interview would be published, Cavitt still tried to make us believe that he had not participated in the event. This despite what Marcel said and what Rickett said.
What all this boils down to is that Cavitt said he wasn’t in Roswell at the time of the recovery, that he was there but that he didn’t go out, he didn’t go out with Marcel, that he was involved in no recoveries of balloon debris, he wasn’t gone overnight, and he doesn’t know why he was cast into this role.
It is, you might say, Cavitt’s word against Marcel, and if you are in the debunker camp, you naturally fall on the side of Cavitt. He was just a good officer, doing his duty, at that time the only living witness according to the story, of what happened at the Brazel (Foster) ranch. So, who do you believe?
To answer that, let’s take a look at Cavitt’s testimony to Colonel Weaver, who visited him in 1995. That interview was published in Air Force produced, The Roswell Report: Fact vs Fiction in the New Mexico Desert (and we’ll see who wrote the fiction as we try to sort through all of this).
Remember that Cavitt told me, on tape and in other conversations that he had not participated in any balloon recoveries (Storm clouds over a portion of the debris field in 1989). Remember also, he was quite clear that he had not gone out with Marcel. That he wished Marcel hadn’t named him. He said, "You better believe that. He says I was out there is his biggest problem."
Now, here is what he told Weaver. "Well, there again I couldn’t swear to the dates, but in that time, which must have been July, we heard that someone had found some debris out not to far from Roswell and it looked suspicious; it was unidentified. So, I went out and I do not recall whether Marcel went with Rickett and me; I had Rickett with me. We went out to his site. There were no, as I understand, checkpoints or anything like that (going through guards and that sort of garbage) we went out there and we found it. It was a small amount of, as I recall, bamboo sticks, reflective sort of material that would, well 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 where we even tried to get all of it. It wasn’t scattered, well, what I would call, you know, extensively. Like it didn’t go along the ground and splatter off some here and some there. We gathered up some of it and took it back to the base and I remember I had turned it over to Marcel. As I say, I do not remember whether Marcel was there or not on the site. He could have been. We took it back to the intelligence room... in the CIC office."
So, here we now have Cavitt saying that he had gone out on a balloon recovery, that he might have gone out with Marcel, but he wasn’t sure, that he was involved in the recovery in early July, and that he might have turned over some of the recovered material to Marcel.
Weaver’s next question was, "What do you think it was when you recovered it?"
"I thought it was a weather balloon."
So Cavitt was able to identify it immediately. To me, Weaver’s next question, given the history of the case, should have been, "Did you communicate this rather important piece of information to Marcel?"
Instead, he asked, "Were you familiar with weather balloons at the time?"
And Cavitt said, "I had seen them."
It has always been an article of faith that the Mogul balloon array was unusual enough that it could stump the people who found it (One of the arrays seen at the left). Because it wasn’t a single balloon, but many, with many radar reflectors and long strings connecting everything, people who were familiar with weather balloons might not recognize them as such. But Cavitt claimed that he did. More importantly, he didn’t bother to tell Marcel what it was.
What we now know is that Marcel said that Cavitt had gone out there with him, but Cavitt had made it clear that he had not. We know that Marcel was right on that point, given Cavitt’s new information that Marcel might have been with him. It isn’t Marcel vs Cavitt here, but Cavitt vs Cavitt.
We can go further. Remember Cavitt said, "There were no, as I understand, checkpoints or anything like that (going through guards and that sort of garbage) we went out there and we found it."
Cavitt said he was with Rickett. Here is what Rickett said about that in a taped interview conducted by Don Schmitt, "I [meaning Rickett], Marcel went back out there that same afternoon. This time they had some security people from the Provost Marshal’s office out there."
Just so we have this straight, because it could be argued that Cavitt had not seen the security out there because it was put there after he had been in the field, Rickett said, "Cavitt and I came back together and I’m not sure if Marcel came with us... it was being protected..." So, Rickett was out there more than once, he was with Cavitt on, at least one of those trips, and Rickett saw the guards.
Later, to confirm this, Rickett said, "On the road we drove on, [there were] MP s standing there..."
The argument here is between Rickett and Cavitt. Cavitt said no guards and Rickett said guards. Others, such as Judd Roberts, William Woody and even C. Bertram Schultz said there were checkpoints along the dirt roads leading off the main highways to the north and west. This means that Cavitt was wrong on that point as well.
If we look at his description of the debris that he claimed he picked up, we find that it doesn’t match Project Mogul. There weren’t bamboo sticks in it. Balsa wood, yes. His description of the crash site matches no one else, including that supplied by Bessie Brazel, daughter of Mack, and who told investigators what she, her father and her brother Vernon, had seen. She also said that they picked up the debris so there was nothing in the field for Cavitt to see. But that is something to examine in another post.
What this means is that the testimony given by Cavitt is not very reliable. Clearly he was saying to Weaver what Weaver wanted him to say. Clearly, he was telling me things that were not consistent and that have since been proven false. He even proved to me that his statement that he wasn’t in Roswell was wrong because he showed me copies of his orders assigning him there.
This means that we must look at the statements provided by Cavitt and compare them with the statements of others. Do they fit into the picture, or it is Cavitt standing alone, making statements that are not corroborated by others. With Cavitt, even the man who worked directly under him, is contradicting him and as I noted, Cavitt doesn’t even agree with Cavitt.
While this doesn’t prove that Roswell involved extraterrestrial contact, it does show the extraordinary effort the Air Force went to in 1947 and later in 1994 to prove that it was just a weather balloon (yes, but Mogul was made up of weather balloons). And it shows that the testimony of Sheridan Cavitt, like so many others, isn’t completely reliable.