Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saucer Smear, Jim Moseley and Me

Jim Moseley of Saucer Smear (the second oldest continuously published UFO "zine" if you count its various incarnations and seen below with a drawing of Moseley) and I have been in a bit of a dust-up about Jesse Marcel, Sr. and the champion of the Mogul theory, Charles Moore.

The latest started when I suggested that Moore, based on the documentation available, had been told Mogul’s name long before Robert Todd arrived in 1992 to tell him. The point had been that Mogul was so secret that even those who worked on it had not known the name until more than forty years had passed. Documentation, from the Air Force showed Dr. Albert Crary, the project leader had known the name in 1946 and had mentioned it in his unclassified diary a couple of times... a clear security violation unless, of course, the name wasn’t classified as we had been told.

In a letter dated in 1949, Moore was introduced to James A. van Allen as one of the Project Mogul engineers. This letter, too, was unclassified and another security violation if the name had been classified. And, importantly, it came from Moore’s files, proving that he had known the name before Todd told him.

Now before we go farther, let me point out that I believe that Moore had forgotten the name when he told researchers he hadn’t known it until Todd told him, and there was nothing more nefarious in his claim than that. However, we can no longer say that Mogul was so secret that even those working on it didn’t know the name. Clearly, based on the documentation, they did.

I pointed all this out to Jim Moseley and asked him if we didn’t label Moore a liar for his mistake, shouldn’t we grant the same courtesy to Marcel? Rather than answer that question, Moseley sent me copies of articles that were more than a decade old and in which these same mistakes about the secrecy of Mogul were repeated. He also sent articles, more than a decade old in which Marcel is characterized as a liar and far worse, though his offenses seem to be no worse than those committed by Moore. Clearly all this information was outdated.

So, let’s look at some of these criticisms. Marcel told Bob Pratt, then of the National Enquirer that he had flown as a pilot, bombardier and waist gunner while in the service. Todd, and by extension Moseley, suggests that this proves that Marcel was less than candid when he was interviewed based on what Todd found when reviewing Marcel’s service record. There was nothing there to indicate that Marcel had flown in those positions.

But I believe the wording in Marcel’s statement is crucial and has been overlooked. Marcel said he had flown AS a pilot, bombardier and waist gunner, not that he served in any of those positions in any official capacity. For those who have never been in an aviation unit, Marcel’s claim isn’t that farfetched.

Those who have no rating, meaning they are not on flight status, are often provided with an opportunity to fly in aviation positions. I have flown as a helicopter door gunner, but you’ll find nothing in my record to support that. And, I have given "stick time" to door gunners and crew chiefs but you’ll find nothing in their records to reflect that. The point is that all of us can say, truthfully, that we flew in those positions.

Todd, and by extension Moseley, also make a big deal out of Marcel’s claim to have been a private pilot because there was no record of a license with the FAA. This is true because I asked the FAA about it and although their records do go back into the 1920s, when Marcel would have started flying and the government began to attempt to license pilots, this really isn’t the whole story.

If you check out the FAA site and take a look at the licensing history, you’ll learn, as did I, that in the 1920s the forerunner to the FAA tried to induce private pilots to voluntarily get licenses without much success. It wasn’t until the mid-1930s that most pilots were finally licensed and it wasn’t until after the Second World War that there was a real requirement for a license. Even with that many who had started flying in biplanes didn’t bother with the licenses. It could be argued here that Marcel, having no need to fly any more, simply didn’t bother. Before the war he had been a cartographer with Shell Oil but after the war and after he left the Army his interest shifted to electronics and any interest he had in aviation ended.

What this suggests to me is that much of what Todd claimed about Marcel simply is unimportant. It proves nothing about Marcel’s veracity. Everything Marcel said could be true and the lack of documentation in the military files is simply irrelevant given the many circumstances surrounding the creation of military records. Just ask about any veteran if his or her records are accurate and you’ll learn that few are.

We can conclude then that the discrepancies between what Marcel told Pratt and what is found in the military are not necessarily the result of LIES told by Marcel. It is clear from the record that Marcel did fly on military missions and was awarded the Air Medal twice, and for those of you keeping score at home, the only way to be awarded an Air Medal is to participate in aerial flight (which is what the regulation says... aerial flight, as if there is another kind, but I digress...)

Now, if we want to be completely fair in this brief analysis, we have to look at one other aspect of the Pratt interview. According to what Pratt wrote in his transcript, Marcel, Sr. said, "I was working for Shell Oil Co [note, I’m going to reproduce this as closely to the transcript as I can rather than use Karl Pflock’s cleaned up interpretation] as a photographer when the war began. all my map making for the engineers and Shell oil co was derived from aerial photographs... no degree then. got one later, 6 diff schools..."

Later in that same Pratt interview, Marcel said, " in nuclear physics (bachelors) at completed work at GW Univ inWash. attended (LSU, Houston, U of Wis, NY Univ, Ohio State , Docotr pool? [In Pflock’s cleaned up version, that last part is marked as unintelligible and while it doesn’t make sense, it certainly is relevant to our discussion] and GW..."

So, what do we know. Well, Todd and others make a big deal that Marcel’s military record showed only a year and a half at LSU. There seems to be no dispute with that. Could it be that Marcel received his degree after his military service? Could it also mean that while in the service he took extension courses offered to members of the service by various universities, often with the classes taught on the bases?

Here’s all we really know about this. GW has no record of a degree being issued to Jesse Marcel but then Marcel didn’t really say that in the interview. Marcel was assigned to the Washington, D.C. area after his service in Roswell so it’s not impossible for him to have attended extension courses, which we might now call distance learning, while there and I have been unable to learn if GW offered any such classes and who would have kept the records of them. I suspect that the wrong questions were asked, so I’m now trying to find these answers which I’ll report on when I get them.

The fact that Marcel’s military record contains nothing about this could be irrelevant. If the schooling was taken after his military service, then it wouldn’t be in there. My Army records show that I have a high school diploma and little else. The Air Force required me, after several years of service, to prove I had a bachelor’s degree even though the source of my commission was ROTC and the only way to receive a commission that way was to have graduated from an accredited college or university. Just one more example of how fragmented these records sometimes are.

After all these years, it seems to me that a new set of questions needs to be asked about Marcel’s college career. I don’t believe the right questions were asked originally so now we have to go back and do it again. Those claiming that Marcel lied about his college education might have been so caught up in proving Marcel a liar that they ran with the first negative results they received. Maybe a little digging will resolve this.

I’m going mention one other thing here. Todd, in his publication The KowPflop Quarterly, suggested that he had asked Jesse Marcel, Jr. about some of the discrepancies with what his father had said. In a quite reasonable conclusion, Todd wrote, "Marcel hasn’t even acknowledged my letter, much less furnished an explanation for this rather significant discrepancy."

But Todd’s letters to Marcel, Jr. were certainly not reasonable. Todd, as was his habit, turned nasty in his communications with those who didn’t agree with him. In a letter to another researcher, Todd wrote, "I have already been told that he [Friedman] and Randle both have been slandering me at every opportunity. Apparently these two shameless liars..." and this is one of his less inflammatory statements.

About Jesse Marcel, Jr., he wrote, "It should be noted that Jesse Marcel, Jr., now conveniently claims his father told him he had some ‘bootleg’ flying time which presumably wasn’t documented [which, of course, is the definition of bootleg time]... Given Major Marcel’s numerous other lies, and the younger Marcel’s obvious and understandable desire to salvage his father’s credibility, there is no reason to take the younger Marcel’s claim seriously."

You might say this is still fairly tame, though he does manage to call Jesse Marcel, Sr. a liar and suggest that Jesse Jr. is lying as well.

But then we have a May 10, 1996 letter from Todd that begins, "Dear Junior," meaning Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr. Not exactly the kind of salutation you put on a reasonable letter to a physician.

Todd then wrote, "The spelling, punctuation, and capitalization errors in your ‘960420' letter didn’t surprise me, given the level of ‘intelligence’ you’ve demonstrated in the past. The disgraceful obscenities didn’t surprise me either, given the scum with whom you’re known to associate. Likewise, the fact that you actually bothered to send me a letter, telling me that your letters are a waste to me, is a clear demonstration of the cutting edge ‘logic’ I’ve come to expect from the hysterical little girl who has come to be know as ‘the alien spaceship doctor.’"

I will note two things about the above. It explains why Todd didn’t get responses to some of his letters, and on this one, Jesse Marcel, Jr. wrote, "I did not send a letter with this date [960420 which I suppose it Todd’s convoluted dating system for April 4, 1996] to him."

Todd was often nasty, didn’t believe anyone had the analytically ability that he did and believed all his conclusions to always be right. There was no room for disagreement in his world.

I mention all this, because it was Todd who worked so hard to destroy the reputation of Jesse Marcel, Sr. believing, I guess, that if Marcel crumbled, then the whole of the Roswell case crumbled. Had Marcel been the lone voice, that would have been true, but Marcel was backed up by every officer on Colonel Blanchard’s 509th Bomb Group staff with a single exception. Marcel had lots of company.

Moseley, who knows most of this about Todd, still believes the Mogul balloon story despite mounting evidence to the contrary and Moseley still believes that Todd contributed something to the case with his release of Marcel’s entire military file. But Todd drew conclusions from the slightest information and proved time and again that he had no knowledge of how the military worked. Moseley has almost none himself, despite the fact that his father had been a major general and one time the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (when major generals held that post).

Moseley clings to the ridiculous Project Mogul answer for the Roswell case while many others admit now that Mogul is not the answer. But the real point here is that Moseley still believes that Marcel lied to Pratt when the evidence isn’t as cut and dried as he thinks it is. He relies on what Karl Pflock wrote about Marcel and Pflock relied on Todd and Todd simply didn’t understand how the military works. Todd believed that everything in the record was totally accurate and when it disagreed with what a witness said, then the witness must have been lying.

I have sent Moseley another letter asking him the same question again. If we grant Charles Moore the benefit of the doubt when the records clearly show them in conflict with his testimony, then don’t we owe the same courtesy to Jesse Marcel, Sr.? All of these discrepancies are over relatively minor points and can be explained by the fog of time and the frailty of memory.

I still await his answer.


RRRGroup said...


This is really ufological minutiae.

Your obsession with persons like Todd (or Cottle -- see prevous post here) gives us pause as to where you're going with your pursuit of the UFO (or Roswell) truth.

Did Marcel Sr. prevaricate? Perhaps.

But does that have anything to do with the crux of the Roswell incident -- the total Roswell episode?

And who gives a sh*t about Todd? His credentials as a researcher are suspect, and your obsession with him (and other Roswell goofs) taints your high credentials.

(Lie down with dogs and you'll get fleas.)

Mogul doesn't explain Roswell, in toto. (Everyone knows that, or should.)

Marcel Sr. is part of the Roswell puzzle -- and maybe not a credible part -- and his testimony is beside the point, in the total context of's a footnote -- a major footnote perhaps, but a footnote after all is said and done.

You have got to move on....truly.


cda said...

I agree with you regarding Marcel & Moore. If one is guilty of faulty memory, so can the other be, and neither should be called a liar. (Todd calls Marcel a liar; David Rudiak calls Moore one over the trajectory figures). But isn't this the whole problem with Roswell?
People 'remember' things but get them confused, and in the wrong order, in the event timescales. People inflate or exaggerate certain things like their careers (look how many CVs get 'puffed up' when applying for a job). Marcel is an important witness, probably the most important of them all. But if his testimony falls, this would not destroy the Roswell story, although it would knock quite a dent in it.

One matter I am interested in is this: exactly when did Marcel begin to suspect that what he saw and handled was an alien ET craft? When did Marcel jr do likewise? Have you any answer to this? I refuse to believe it was in 1947, nor do I accept that any Roswell witness, for one moment, thought this way in 1947. Therefore when was it? One thing seems certain: both Marcel sr & jr became converted to ETH when Friedman first met them 32 years later (surprise!).

Neither bothered to keep the relevant newspaper reports or the photos, neither made any diary notes or shared their fantastic news with anyone during the intervening years. And neither of them recalled even the approximate date of this momentous event. They never even thought to contact their congressional reps or get in touch with any of the numerous UFO research groups in the 50s & 60s about perhaps the greatest scientific discovery of all time. My conclusion is that neither considered the event had any significance. The same could be said about the other witnesses. And please, do not pretend that they were all sworn to secrecy.

Alfred Lehmberg said...


Admitting I'm no prophet, or that brilliance isn't mine, I have few facts, and I'm re-miss in knowledge I should find.

Smarter motes then me abound, as thick as fleas or flies, and battles with their *phacts* could leave me hammered in ones eyes.

...But these then make assumptions so their facile tripe makes sense. Their arguments get heavy, much encumbered and entrenched.

Too, loath to leave the prominence that precludes their "reputation," these make prevarication or a senseless refutation!

...Then we have them where one finds them, and we see their posits smell. These stumble in their pitch black room — refuse that they're unwell.

Professing what they cannot know, these needle whine and prod; these stand at last, complete... revealed... as undisputed knobs.

Given weasel status and a relevance all gone? It seems this errant triple "R" perform the same... Move on.

KRandle said...

Let's see if I understand this. I post one article that mentions Todd and I'm obsessed with him? How do you figure that?

As for the other information, why allow it to stand when it is clearly untrue? Why allow the skeptics to repeat information that is untrue without challenging it? If we allow them to continue without criticism, then haven't we conceded part of the fight to them?

The only real question left is why Marcel said what he did about his college education. The wording there is ambiguous and no one has ever actually checked it out properly. Had Moseley not raised the issue in Saucer Smear, again, then I wouldn't have said anything.

Right now we don't know if Marcel lied about his education. We do know that the interpretations of other things he said are not qite as black and white as some would make them. Since Jesse Marcel, Sr. (and Jesse Marcel, Jr.) served the country honorably, I believe that we should get the truth here. We owe him that much. And when I have the answers, I will publish them.


RRRGroup said...


It's not so much that you are "obsessed" with the Roswell quirks as it is short-sighted to spend so much time tamping out the mini-fires of lies and venal distortions of Roswell "witnesses."

You're losing the UFO forest for the trees.

Whether Marcel Sr (or Jr) lied or embellished their credentials and story is beside the point.

One has to cut throught the clutter and fog of disinformation, whether from witnesses or the government and get to the truth of Roswell, the basic truth -- not the mini-truths that are peripheral to what transpired in July 1947.


Alfred Lehmberg said...


What facile faux-intellectual mopery, as dimensionless as it is obfuscating and as mis-factual as it is ill considered, was this?

Verily,Not content to distract and confuse you prove at the last you're the one sans his juice!

You're a ham-handed shill for an eroding status quo, a lingering if fading stench of sociopathic cognitive flatulence, and a voice deserving the back of a critical hand every time it raises it's pointy little head somewhere, in my opinion.

Consider your own works and despair.

cda said...

Let us pause, briefly, to welcome King Alfred to the symposium. Then, with luck, we can continue the discussion. Welcome, your Highness!

KRandle said...


To answer some of your questions with what we know...

Jesse Jr. asked what it was and his father said it was a flying saucer... the inaccurate criticism of a couple of people notwithstanding.

Was a flying saucer then considered a spaceship? Well, it was one of the elements on the table in 1947... along with experimental aircraft, rockets, and Soviet spy systems.

Was Jesse Sr. talking about a spacecraft prior to Friedman's interview of him. Well, we know that Friedman was turned on to Marcel by the station manager of a TV station in New Orleans and that Marcel was talking about picking up pieces of a flying saucer. By 1978, flying saucer was pretty well defined as an alien spacecraft. So, I submit that Marcel thought it was alien prior to Friedman's interview.


RRRGroup said...

Kevin and CDA...

You might find Anthony Bragalia's post -- The Roswell Liars -- interesting.

It's at The UFO Iconoclast(s) blog:


Alfred Lehmberg said...

...Trifling and presumptive distraction on your part serving to further blur the credulity line, only.

Randle does a reasoned piece and you fly in to cack on it like an unwanted bird!

Male bovine excrement perambulates, peaches.

p said...

Mr. Randle: understanding that you did extensive research on and about Arthur Exon over the years, I wanted to pass this on for what it is worth (which may not be much): Whitley Strieber (whom I have taken with a grain of salt over the years) stated flat out on Noury's SciFi TV program recently that after he published Communion, his uncle (whom he said was career Air Force) invited him down to his home in Texas...upon arrival, his uncle later introduced Strieber to Arthur Exon personally...this would have had to have been sometime in the late 80's (?)given the publication date of the book?...according to Strieber, Exon said to his face that Roswell was about extraterrestrial recovery and said he could confirm that the Roswell incident was real and that they have known about all of this for years...for what it is worth...thanks

Jerry Clark said...

Your observations on Roswell-related controversies are always informative and refreshingly sane. For various reasons (principally, not entirely, the alleged event's disappearance from subsequent history, and I don't mean UFO history) I have a hard time with the ET explanation of the incident. Nonetheless, you have impressively documented the abject failure of the leading counter-interpretation. Of course, the more you do that, the more your opponents cling to it, which ought to tell independent observers what they need to know about who is taking a clear-eyed look at the available evidence and who isn't.

Your observations about Robert Todd are important, and thank you for making them. It's telling that the Roswell critics depend so much on the claims (sometimes synonymous with slurs) of this unhinged individual. The words you quote from his letters are almost mild next to some I've seen and some I received from the guy myself. It may well be, as one often hears, that he was gifted at working the FOIA system. But beyond that contribution, he had little -- at least that I ever detected -- beyond childish vitriol to offer. It was left to his legion of apologists to pretend he was something more noble than that.

What you've expressed here really needs to be said, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Louis J Sheehan Esquire said...

Hi. I stumbled across this blog and look forward to reading it and past postings over time as well. A very lucky find!

My regular e-mail address is

-- Lou

KRandle said...

For those interested, I checked with George Washington University, asking them about extension classes for the military. One of the registrars provided the information I wanted. Yes, they had extension classes and yes, those records were housed in the university archives. Sadly, there are no indications that Jesse Marcel attended any classes there.

We know he did attend LSU and I'll continue the search. I don't know why he would have said this and I don't believe that Pratt could have misunderstood anything that badly.


KRandle said...

P -

Sometime after I first interviewed Brig Gen Exon, I learned that Whitley Strieber's father knew him, or knew J. Bond Johnson who did know Exon and through this connection Strieber had the opportunity to interview Exon. Exon didn't tell Strieber anything that he hadn't said to either me or Don Schmitt in his interviews.

Exon told me that it was the opinion of those he knew, and it was his opinion that the object that fell was of alien origin. The skeptics have never dealt with the Exon testimony and the Air Force, in their Roswell investigation ignored it completely. I don't think they wanted to call an Air Force general a liar when all he did was tell the truth.


KRandle said...

Jim Moseley has been heard from and he is not happy with me. He points out that I know he's not connected to the Web, and I didn't send him a copy of this column. However, he has friends who are and I knew that one of them would send him a copy.

His thinking, I believe, is that he sends copies to the people he mentions in Saucer Smear. The difference is, Saucer Smear is a printed document with little web presence, but this blog is available to him in his home. All he needs to do it join the rest of us in the 21st Century.

He also tells me his father was not Vice Chief of Staff, but was Deputy Chief of Staff. He wrote, "As to my father: He was never Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. There is no such title, as you, as a military expert, should know.

Well, there is a Vice Chief of Staff as well. He suggests then I should learn more about military history.

He provides a long rant about his father and suggests I should understand why his "admiration for the military elite of this country is somewhat muted."

Well, yes, I see it, but wonder how fair it is to tar everyone with the same brush. Butthat really wasn't the point here.

I now understand why he will not grant Marcel the same courtesy he grants Moore. Not exactly fair, but I do understand it.

David Rudiak said...

I have also attempted to check into Marcel's educational claims. First of all, registrar's are generally reluctant to conduct extensive searches of decades of records. If you don't know the approximate dates of courses or degrees granted, you can be out of luck. That was the case with Marcel, in which I had to guess what years he might have had coursework at LSU and GWU. The registrar's were only willing to check a few years.

Marcel Jr. in "Roswell Legacy" says his dad's parents couldn't afford to send him to college, but he still attended courses in graphics and design school at LSU after high school. That makes sense, since he did drafting and graphics work afterwards for the Army Corp of Engineers, Shell Oil, and then the AF, and he had to be trained somewhere. But LSU doesn't have any coursework for him in the early 1930s--interesting. He had to be trained but there is no record.

It could be he attended a school affiliated with LSU or simply audited classses, in which case there would be no records. The same could be true with the 1-1/2 years of physics courses he claimed for LSU in his service application, which he said were "noncredit" and that he attended as a special student. That again suggests auditing to me, particularly if he couldn't afford to enroll. I have audited university courses, but there would be no official record anywhere that I was ever there.

Regarding GWU, he was stationed in Washington from 1948-1950 at the Special Weapons Project, officer in charge of the war room, with a job description including briefing officer for the brass. He was also listed as an "assistant for atomic energy". Hmmm, doesn't that suggest knowing something about the subject?

Prior to that, he was primary briefing officer for the 509th atomic bomb group and 8th AAF at Operation Crossroads, the A-bomb tests at Bikini in 1946. (He received 3 commendations for that, from THE Gen. Ramey, from Adm. Blandy, who was in charge of the whole operation, and from Gen. Kepner, who later ended up at the SWP in Washington. They obviously didn't think Marcel was a dummy.)

Marcel Jr. in "Roswell Legacy" said his dad's affiliation with the 509th went back to 1945, when he assisted in planning the A-bomb drops on Japan and briefing bomb crews at Tinian. (However Marcel himself never mentioned this, and his reconstructed record doesn't mention it either. Either Marcel Jr. is mistaken about this, or the A-bomb planning was so secret it was classified out of his record.)

The Special Weapons Project Marcel was attached to involved long-range detection of a Soviet A-bomb test (which included data of Project Mogul). The key detection system was air-sniffing by planes for fallout, which eventually was detected in 1949. You had to know something about atomic physics to interpret this data. As briefing officer, Marcel would have to be able to summarize the incoming intelligence and write reports and give briefings for higher ups, which he said he did. (Todd accused Marcel of lying about this too, though it is clearly indicated in one of his service evaluations that he did indeed collate intelligence, write reports, and brief the brass about all changes in intelligence.)

The point is, Marcel already had some background in physics and atomic physics before transferring to Washington to the SWP, was an "assistant for atomic energy" at SWP, and needed to know such physics to properly do his job. (Incidentally, the Pentagon--maybe Gen. Kepner--specifically sought him out for the job a year after Roswell. Didn't they know he was a dummy who couldn't ID balsa wood and rubber balloons?)

Another thing I learned was that the SWP was located only four city blocks from the physics building at GWU. Teaching nuclear physics at GWU was George Gamow (well-known author of popular books on physics, but also a well-known pioneer atomic and nuclear physicist). The course was a night course, taught at 6:00. Marcel could have gotten off work and walked there in 10 minutes to audit. Maybe relevant, Gamow was at Operation Crossroads and he and Marcel may have previously known each other from there.

Altenatively, I found out from a physics professor at GWU, who was doing a biography on Gamow and had gone through his papers, that Gamow taught servicemen physics classes _off-campus_, since many couldn't attend regular classes there. Some later got degrees in physics at GWU as a result. Marcel and others at SWP might have been among them, since they needed to know some atomic/nuclear physics to do their jobs. Furthermore, the SWP was highly classified, another good reason for classes being off-campus, to maintain security.

Thus Marcel could have "attended" GWU without really attending physically or officially on the record. GWU says they have no degree for him, but maybe it was some sort of honorary degree in nuclear physics for his work at SWP and previous work at Operation Crossroads. Maybe it was an exaggeration, but not much of one, or maybe we just haven't looked in the right place yet, as Kevin notes.

Regarding the possibility of extension courses, there is at least one instance in Marcel's service record of him applying for extension courses, in 1958, when he was in the AF Reserve. Thus it is conceivable he took extension coursework well after his active duty service and received a degree much later. Nobody has checked this out yet either.

The final point is that it is not a straightforward case that Marcel lied about his education. He probably audited his physics courses at LSU pre-war (hence listing them as noncredit) and may very well have taken extension courses elsewhere and off-campus courses when stationed near GWU. In addition, we know Marcel attended intelligence school at university campuses, such as the Univ. of Maryland and the Univ. of Pennsylvania, maybe receiving course credit there as well.

My uncle, a retired AF colonel, eventually received two PhDs over 25 years as he moved around from assignment to assignment, squeezing in courses whereever he went. Marcel's SWP reviewer (who gave him superior marks) made special note of Marcel's personal intelligence and unusually broad technical/intelligence background, and stated that he was self-motivated, reading and studying regularly in his fields of interest. Marcel's documented record shows he was no dummy, contrary to debunker attempts to portray him otherwise.