I was surfing the net the other night and found a posting that suggested Jesse Marcel, Sr., had violated regulations with his response to the report of debris by Mack Brazel. The premise seemed to be that this was an aircraft accident and military regulations provide for a precise, and classified, response to such an event. Because of this breach of military procedure, we can ignore the testimony provided by Jesse Marcel.The first note at this site was that Marcel had been so unimpressed with the information that he finished his lunch and then made his way to the sheriff’s office to find out what was going on. Marcel told Bill Moore, as reported in The Roswell Incident, “I was eating lunch at the officers’ club when the call came through saying that I should go out and talk to Brazel. The sheriff said that Brazel had told him that something had exploded over Brazel’s ranch and that there was a lot of debris scattered around… I finished my lunch and went into town to talk to this fellow.”
This certainly demonstrates no sense of urgency on Marcel’s part but we must remember that Marcel had seen nothing, apparently not talked to Brazel, and probably knew that whatever had happened, it had nothing to do with the 509th Bomb Group… which means that had they lost an aircraft, Marcel would have known. Besides it is clear from other interviews that the sheriff did not initially believe Brazel’s story. With that, Marcel’s sense of urgency would have been aroused.
Phyllis (Wilcox) McGuire, in July 1947, lived at the jail with her father George Wilcox and she heard some of the exchanges that took place between the sheriff, the rancher and the military. In an interview that Don Schmitt and I conducted on January 27, 1990, McGuire said that the military arrived quickly, almost as if they had been waiting for the call (and please don’t read anymore into that… McGuire just said they got there to what she thought of as quickly). I mention this only to point out that whoever wrote that other piece, saying that Marcel didn’t seem to care, had not reviewed all the literature on the subject.
Now if we wish to plow the field of speculation, as did that other writer, let me say this. If I had been Marcel, and had the sheriff called me to tell me that a rancher had found something that seemed to have exploded in the sky, I probably would have checked with Operations to find out if any of our aircraft were missing. Or, it could be that Marcel asked the sheriff when the debris was found, and learning it wasn’t within the last twenty-four hours, knew that it didn’t belong to the 509th, but it might have been something launched from White Sands (if Marcel didn’t know that there was a moratorium on launches after a rocket had fallen in Mexico that May… and yes, I know the moratorium had been lifted, but the July 3 launch, the first in several weeks, didn’t get off the pad).
So, knowing that it is not one of the 509th’s airplanes, and suspecting it was not an Air Force (Army Air Forces if you wish to get technical) aircraft, and possibly knowing that it wasn’t something lost in the last twenty-four hours, Marcel finished his lunch and drove to the sheriff’s office. There he talked to Brazel, thought that something interesting had been found (after looking at the debris Brazel had brought in), drove back to the base to consult with his commander, and then, with Sheridan Cavitt, followed Brazel back to the ranch. At no time was there speculation that this was an aircraft accident and therefore, the analysis, based on this assumption, is now null and void.
Once Marcel arrived on the debris field, and once he saw the wreckage there, he would have known that it was neither aircraft nor rocket. It was not something that required any special handling, if we are guided simply by regulations. If it was a balloon, then there was nothing special about it and the regulations do not come into play. If it was an alien spacecraft, and the skeptics are fond of telling us that he wouldn’t have recognized it as such at the time… and if the debris was of the few varieties mentioned by Bill Brazel and what Marcel told Bill Moore, then the regulations didn’t come into play. There was nothing on the field, at that precise moment, that would suggest to Marcel that this required special handling.The point here is not to argue about what Brazel found or what Marcel saw, but to refute the idea that Marcel violated regulations by his actions. This was not an aircraft accident and those regulations simply did not apply. We can argue about what Marcel should have done but we do know what he did. With Cavitt, he picked up some of the debris. Cavitt headed back and Marcel stayed out there a little longer. He then returned to Roswell… and never said a word about seeing bodies or anything other than the strange metallic debris.
He was then caught up in the whirlwind of the press release, and others, at a higher rank (or pay grade if you wish to use today’s vernacular), made the decisions. At no time, according to the available records or documentation, was Marcel criticized about his response to the sheriff’s phone call or his reactions to it. Given that, I think we can ignore the idea that Marcel violated regulations. We can ignore that whole, ridiculous posting (and no, I’m not publishing a link to it simply because I have no desire to drive traffic to it).