Friday, September 04, 2015

Colonel Blanchard and the Roswell Press Release

I’ve been thinking about this press release issued by Colonel Blanchard that has the skeptics in such turmoil and I must confess worries me a bit as well. There just doesn’t seem to be any logic in it if we start with the premise that they thought they were finding parts of an alien spacecraft on the debris field.

But as I was driving across Nebraska, which is fairly boring, I got to thinking about this and what the press release actually said. The terminology is important and the lack of any real detail is also important. If we look at what was said about what was found on the ranch managed by Mack Brazel and what was seen by Jesse Marcel, Sr. and Sheridan Cavitt, we might be able to figure some of this out.

For those unfamiliar with what the press release said, this is the Associated Press version based on the information supplied by Walter Haut:

Roswell, N.M. – The army air forces here today announced a flying disc had been found on a ranch near Roswell and is in army possession.
The Intelligence office reports that it gained possession of the ‘Dis:’ [sic] through the cooperation of a Roswell rancher and Sheriff George Wilson [sic] of Roswell.
The disc landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher, whose name has not yet been obtained, stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the Roswell sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office notified a major of the 509th Intelligence Office.
Action was taken immediately and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home and taken to the Roswell Air Base. Following examination, the disc was flown by intelligence officers in a superfortress (B-29) to an undisclosed “Higher Headquarters.”
The air base has refused to give details of construction of the disc or its appearance.
Residents near the ranch on which the disc was found reported seeing a strange blue light several days ago about three o’clock in the morning.

According to the best evidence available today, Brazel found a field that was covered in metallic debris a few days before heading into Roswell. He provided almost no descriptions of it but did want to know who was going to clean up the mess. Tommy Tyree, a sometimes ranch hand working for Brazel, explained that the material was so tightly packed that the sheep refused to cross it but that doesn’t tell us much about the density. All we know is that the material, and I’ll guess some of it stirring in the wind, frightened the sheep. There was enough of it to make it a chore to collect. Jesse Marcel, Sr., would later suggest that it was an area that was about three quarters of a mile long and a couple of hundred feet wide. Bill Brazel would talk about a gouge through the center of the area that was a half mile or so long which tells us nothing about the amount of debris but does suggest something about the length of the debris field.

We know, based on the records, that Brazel did drive into Roswell to talk with the sheriff and that the sheriff contacted the Roswell Army Air Field. Jesse Marcel, along with Sheridan Cavitt accompanied Brazel back to the ranch, arriving late in the day. It was too late that night to go out to the field, so they made that trip the next morning according to Marcel. Cavitt, according to what he told Colonel Richard Weaver, went out with Bill Rickett, his NCOIC, and thought that Marcel might have gone out with them (and it is here we see some of the trouble with memories that are decades old).

Marcel said that he, Cavitt and Brazel went out the next morning and gathered some of the debris. Marcel said that he told Cavitt to head back to the base and he would stay, though I don’t know why he would have done that. Marcel said that he filled his car with the debris and that he then drove back to Roswell.

And here we encounter the beginnings of the real problems. Even if Marcel moved slowly, it shouldn’t have taken no more than an hour to fill his car, and even if he drove slowly back to Roswell, it shouldn’t have taken no more than four or five hours, which would seem to put him in town in the early evening at the latest. Which, of course, suggests that he didn’t have to wake up his wife and son to show them the debris, which, according to Jesse Marcel, Jr., his father called a “flying saucer.” He might have stopped at the house to show them what he had found because it was parts of what he thought of as a flying saucer and for that reason it was mildly interesting. Flying saucer didn’t necessarily mean alien spacecraft at the time, though that was certainly one of the interpretations, one of the least likely of the interpretations, given the tone of most newspaper and radio reports.

The Circleville Flying Saucer
Now, here is what I’m thinking about this. On July 6, 1947, newspapers around the country carried the story of a flying disk recovered in the Circleville, Ohio area by a farmer, Sherman Campbell. Pictures of it were published in the newspapers, including one with Campbell’s daughter holding up what are clearly parts of a rawin radar reflector. Campbell identified it as did the local sheriff and newspaper reporters. Campbell though if it was high aloft with the wind causing the reflective surface to spin, it might look like a disk from the ground.

I don’t know if they saw or heard this story in the Roswell area, but it was national news and it certainly offered a plausible answer for some of the flying saucer/flying disk reports. Some sort of strange metallic debris with a nearly intact radar target had been found in Ohio. This might have suggested something to Blanchard.

So Marcel shows up early the next morning (which in the military wouldn’t have been all that early when you remember that flight operations as well as other tasks might start at four or five in the morning) and I would guess somewhere around seven or seven-thirty. According to what he would later say, and given the descriptions of the material recovered provided by Bill Brazel, Loretta Proctor, Bud Payne and Tommy Tyree, there wasn’t much in the way of diversity. They had some light weight wood that had the density of balsa, some wires that Bill Brazel suggested were like monofilament fishing line but that would transmit light, some foil and some parchment. Nothing to suggest an alien spacecraft, only some materials that were sort of familiar but a little bit different and nothing that would suggest any sort of identification. Besides all that, we have Cavitt telling Weaver that it was all a balloon (though Cavitt told me personally in 1991 that he had been too busy in July 1947 to go chasing balloons).

Blanchard probably (and note the qualification) looked at the debris, thought it nothing all that extraordinary but would be something that might be associated with the flying saucer stories. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing classified about the material. They hadn’t found a craft. They hadn’t found bodies. There was nothing to suggest that it was a project from White Sands or an experimental aircraft that had crashed. It was just a field filled with metallic debris… strange debris to be sure but nothing that would lead to the conclusion that it was extraterrestrial.

If Blanchard was aware of the report from Circleville, that might have inspired him to order Haut to issue the press release. Even if he hadn’t seen that story, he had certainly seen many others. Given the time, that is July 1947, few of the explanations suggested interplanetary craft as opposed to interstellar. Scientists, military officers and government officials were offering their take on the sightings but there was certainly nothing that was classified about it. Blanchard’s message center would have been receiving directions and intelligence about a wide variety of subjects on a daily if not hourly basis but I doubt that much space was wasted on flying saucers in those early days.

What this means is that on the morning of July 8, when Blanchard ordered Walter Haut to issue the press release, they weren’t dealing with classified material. They were dealing with some strange debris found by a rancher. They might not have known exactly what it was, but they weren’t thinking in terms of classified material. This explains the press release because it demonstrates that Blanchard was telling the local community they had found elements that might have been part of a flying saucer, whatever that might have meant at that time.

And it explains Marcel taking the material home to show his wife and son. In fact, given the nature of the debris, Marcel might not have felt it necessary to report it to Blanchard until the next morning. He stopped at his house, not necessarily to show them the debris, but because it was on his way to the base, the duty day was over, and there was nothing classified or critical in his possession. He could wait until the morning.

This would, of course, alter the various timelines created about these events, but it doesn’t change anything radically. All it does is provide an answer for why the press release was issued and why Marcel took the material home to show his wife and son. At that point nothing was classified. That would come later, when additional wreckage was found, but at that precise moment, they were dealing with the mundane and not the extraordinary.


Terry the Censor said...

> The Circleville Flaying Saucer

Flaying? Now THAT is terrifying.

starman said...

Didn't the extraordinary nature of the debris, which couldn't be cut, reverted to its original shape, and had unusual writing noted by Marcel jr, suggest something highly unusual?

KRandle said...

Starman -

Yes, but metallic debris is metallic debris... it was unusual but it simply didn't translate into the extraterrestrial. Lewis Rickett talked of the material being cold rolled steel but much lighter. So, as time passed, they noticed the unusual nature of the material, but I'm just suggesting that on the morning of July 8, this was not classified because all they had, at that moment, was the debris.

starman said...

I was under the impression they knew of the impact site prior to inspection of the debris field. If the former was a real occurrence, its ET nature was obvious. The debris field would've been interpreted as more of the same essentially. In any event usual writing was suggestive of something unearthly.

Wind Swords said...


I was wondering if you could fill in some blanks I have about the timeline of this event. I understand that Marcel went out to the ranch but didn't see the debris until the next day. Later that day he went home. So when did he report what he had found? That evening or next day by telephone? Or the next day in person at the base? And who did he report to? Blanchard or did he speak to Haut first? If he spoke to Blanchard, did he speak to Haut afterwards, or did Haut learn about what he found from Blanchard? And finally did he show the material he collected to either?

I ask these questions because the press release doesn't make sense to me from this standpoint: If all Marcel found was strips of metal, sticks etc, why does the press release say "Disc" as if it was all in one piece? Why doesn't it say "remains of a disc" or "parts of a disc". Also it doesn't say "suspected disc". If I found a field filled with metal bits and I thought it might have been the remains of a crashed disc or saucer, I wouldn't say I "recovered a disc" and had possession of it. I would say it I had the remains of a suspected disc. How could Blanchard/Haut have been so emphatic they had a (whole) disc based on what Marcel testified he found that day? It just doesn't add up for me.

starman said...

Of course Marcel showed the material to Blanchard who then told Haut to write the press release. If the impact site was real they had a whole "disc" but they might've sought to portray ranch material as the "disc" to draw attention from the impact site as the dying Haut is said to have stated. Btw I meant UNusual writing in the comment above.

Wind Swords said...

Starman, it sounds like you're assuming ("of course Marcel..."), that's why I directed my questions at Kevin. I want to know what did Marcel say when interviewed. What was his testimony? Friedman interviewed him, and I would think that Berlitz and Moore would have for "The Roswell Incident".

Bob Koford said...

quotes from Press issuance:

"...the rancher, whose name has not yet been obtained, stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the Roswell sheriff’s office."

According your published information they went out to collect a large amount of debris. So why this quote about storing "it"?

"Following examination, the disc was flown by intelligence officers in a superfortress (B-29) to an undisclosed “Higher Headquarters.”

Again, as @Wind Swords mentions, a single disc is flown in the B-29...weird.

"The air base has refused to give details of construction of the disc or its appearance."

Very odd, right out of the gate.

Kevin said:

"There was enough of it to make it a chore to collect."

An obvious difference between this case and several others, including the Ohio case mentioned. It certainly WASN'T a chore for these other people. Also, for instance, in other types of recovery operations, when V-2s impacted, people would flock to the site to gather up trophies, when they could. They would even gladly return classified items to the military threats involved. I know this article is about the original press release, but how do you feel about this particular part of the story these days?

"Jesse Marcel, Sr., would later suggest that it was an area that was about three quarters of a mile long and a couple of hundred feet wide."

Quite a large RAWIN target.

"Bill Brazel would talk about a gouge through the center of the area that was a half mile or so long which tells us nothing about the amount of debris but does suggest something about the length of the debris field."

A very heavy RAWIN, indeed. :)

Thank you for the interesting article to read, and have a great day.


Wind Swords said...

None of the press release makes any sense to me for either balloon debris or a crashed disc when you compare what Brazel, Marcel and Cavit said they saw and what the release says. How do you screw something up like that?

Kevin, please address my questions above as soon as you are able.


Steve Sawyer said...

Adding further confusion into the mix of what the press release actually said versus what the specific types and nature of physical materials that Brazel initially said he found on the Foster ranch (light-weight sticks, scraps of foil, backed by "parchment paper," etc., etc.), when Brazel was interviewed July 9th for the Roswell Daily Record, were Brazel's additional statements that he thought what he found was not a weather balloon, and his claims about the size and "density" of the debris field.

These conflicting statements also seem to contradict what Brazel much later said he'd found. Isn't it also the case that Brazel's statements about what he described as seemingly "mundane" materials only occurred after he'd been held for some time by the military beforehand?

To me, this suggests either Blanchard, via Haut, put out an intentionally misleading initial press release (for whatever reasons) and/or that, as has also been alleged, there was a "second site" where actually unusual debris and "something" partially intact may have been recovered, but it was not the same location where Brazel made his initial find.

Kevin, what are your thoughts and opinion about the "second site" crash scenario, or the idea of a second site having been found with a more substantial amount of debris, and being in a different location than that found by Brazel on the Foster ranch?

If you do think there was such a "second site," where was it located in relation to the "debris field" at Foster ranch and the town of Roswell? What circumstantial or other evidence or statements of a second site existing do you think may be valid?

Although the "Roswell slides" fiasco has definitely set "Roswell incident" investigation back to some unknown degree, it would seem there is still a need for some kind of "meta-review" and "re-vetting" of all the known evidence, allegations, and other aspects of the Roswell incident, whatever it was, to try and better determine what may have actually happened near Roswell in early July of 1947.

Unknown said...

If Brazel stored it and it was identified as a disc, he must have retrieved it quite intact to identify its shape. For him to retrieve it himself and be transported in a plane, it must not have been that large.

Lance said...


You have essentially outlined the skeptical position (as I know it).

To hold onto the flying saucer position you have to then assume that the supposed saucer debris JUST HAPPENED to look like balsa wood and aluminum foil.

While I know there are still faithful for whom this absurdity presents no problem, perhaps you are coming around to a more critical way of looking at this?


William Strathmann said...

Kevin, you wrote:

If Blanchard was aware of the report from Circleville, that might have inspired him to order Haut to issue the press release.

But surely Blanchard was aware of Kenneth Arnold's "sensational" sighting just two weeks earlier, which was still generating newspaper articles, and in which Arnold reported distinct flying objects flying in formation and making about 1,200 mph. Whatever Arnold did or did not see, I have a hard time believing Blanchard would be so nonchalant about this issue the he ordered immediate publicity of (essentially) non-descript trash, immediately on the heels of Arnold's sighting.

starman said...

Steve Sawyer: Brazel died in 1963, long before researchers could reopen the case so he never got a chance to publicly describe what was really found-- while not under the gun of the military. His son, however, did describe the debris as did Marcel sr and jr of course, and others like Proctor.
Unfortunately testimony pertaining to the second site is nowhere near as good as that concerning the debris field. Kaufmann and Ragsdale have been discredited for example. Some questions may remain unanswerable until the government finally discloses. Don't hold your breath. :)

Brian B said...

Important to note that over the years the "debris field" has gotten bigger and bigger as story tellers would have it. Miles and miles of debris.

As for the suggestion it couldn't have been just a single Rawin target - you are both right and wrong. If it was a survelliance type balloon of any kind, it would have had many Rawin targets hanging from it - not just one. The anatomy of such balloons was and is that the entire apparatus was frequently as tall as the Effiel Tower. Not just a single target hitting the ground.

There are so many post event distortions of the story by so called eye witnesses it boggles the mind. Second impact site?

Not one credible "witness" has ever described in detail such a thing as though having been there first hand to see it. No one. Kaufmann was the genesis of the fake second impact site and he lied. Others simply embellished the story as years go by.

Wind Swords said...

"Second impact site?"

Some have said there were three. And all this debris from a craft that was claimed to be no bigger than about 12x15 feet at the most. Of course some have said it was circular, not oval or egg shaped. But even a disc 30 feet across would not have enough material for 1 or 2 debris fields and a mostly intact spacecraft with occupants.

Some have speculated that what was found was an escape pod from a much larger craft, from which the majority of the debris came. That would be the only way in my mind to account for the large amount of debris.

Brian, you are correct about the size of a Mogul array, but if the origin of what Brazel found was the infamous flight 4 it was not a full Mogul array. So what did it contain? A cluster of balloons certainly but how many is that? Did they have a radar target? How many?

I still think the key to this whole thing is what transpired between Marcel, Blanchard and Haut. I have a hunch that what Marcel saw and reported and what Haut released to the newspapers and radio stations were not the same.

Brian B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KRandle said...

Brian -

As usual, you are far off base. The debris field hasn't gotten larger over the years but has remained fairly consistent in size from the time that Jesse Marcel, Sr., first described it in 1978. Bud Payne and Bill Brazel provided fairly consistent sizes in the early in the 1990s.

Second, there were no Surveillance balloons launched in New Mexico, but there were attempts to float constant level balloons. According to the documentation available, none of these balloons in New Mexico contained rawin targets. The illustration for the New Mexican flights show no rawins, and by flight seven the size of the array has been reduced considerable. Charles Moore attempted to explain that because there was poor reception on the the airplane, that the rawins were removed, but it is clear that referred to radio and not radar. The first full flight in New Mexico contained no rawins.

The illustration used to show these long arrays with rawins was flight two, which was flown on the east coast and not in New Mexico. The photographs used in the Air Force report do not identify the location of those launches, nor are they dated. This is misdirection to convince us that Mogul answers the question of what fell.

Finally, your last statement about no credible witnesses to a second site is inaccurate. Brigadier General Arthur Exon talked of two separate sites before we ever found Kaufmann.

None of this is relevant to the discussion at hand, however. As usual, you are attempting to move the conversation in a false direction.

KRandle said...

Looking at Linda Corley's interview with Marcel in 1981, he mentioned to her that there was another site some 80 miles southwest of the debris field... again, long before Kaufmann appeared on the scene.

Pictures appeared in the July 10 edition of the Alamogordo News that showed weather balloons and rawin targets being launched, but it is clear from the caption, and from what Charles Moore said, that these were staged for the camera and were not part of the New York University work being down at the time.

TheDimov said...

There is just too much in the Roswell case in my opinion that suggests it was something very unusual - from Blanchard's immediate hailing of a UFO find, to the strange properties of the debris, to the incredibly condescending and pointless Case Closed book which waffles on and on and arrogantly goes on to omit the most important words of all in the FBI telex. Then the small matter of the witnesses and then there is the fact that none utter the words mogul balloon - not a small matter in my opinion. The Ramey memo is tantalisingly close to being the genuine "smoking gun", and Mack Brazel being kept by the army for a week and Marcel sr, and jr's testimonies in particular impress me.

I think there is undoubtedly something to this case, and there is a lot of evidence going for it. What bugs me is that not a single scrap of the supposed craft has turned up; one single piece of "memory metal" for example would set the whole thing alight. Most people I know cant keep a secret for the life of them, so this to me is a bit bothersome. But there's still enough evidence though, Case Closed alone is a hilarious case of over OVER lying.

Wind Swords said...


Do you know when, what, and to whom Marcel reported when he got back from the ranch? Did he describe it as bits of metal, paper, sticks, I-beams, rubber and so forth or did he say it was a "disc". Still can't figure out why the word disc was used in the press release. Also correct me if I'm wrong, but up till this time Marcel did not know about any potential second crash site, let alone seeing it. So where did this "disc" come from?

CommanderCronus said...

Aluminum foil, I-beams, string, this kind of material described in any of the other alleged crash retrieval cases? The others seem more substantial: Kingman had a saucer, Aztec had a BIG saucer, Kecksburg had a capsule acorn thing.

Based on the stories about Barney Barnett and Mary Ann Gardner, I think it's possible something was retrieved in New Mexico in the late 40's or early 50's, but it had absolutely nothing to do with Mac Brazel, Jessie Marcel or the Roswell news story.

KRandle said...

Commander -

Kingman is a hoax and Aztec is a BIG hoax. You only mention MacK Brazel and Jesse
Marcel, but forget about some of the others who suggested some more such as Johnny
McBoyle, to name a single individual.

William Strathmann said...

Kevin, the proposed scenario just does not make sense to me:

Two weeks after Arnold’s widely publicized report of a formation of large aerial vehicles making 1,200 mph, 509th atomic bomb group CO, Col. Blanchard immediately publicized discovery of Circleville-like debris found on a remote ranch 70 miles from Roswell ? ? ?

Everyone knew the Circleville debris was a rawin reflector, as you point out. It simply makes no sense for the 509th CO to publicize recovery of rawin trash from a remote NM ranch. The short-lived publicity stirred up the press corps to a frenzy.

So perhaps Blanchard’s order for publicity actually was by design, but for other purposes. In other words, Blanchard ordered publicity of what was actually “planted debris” in conjunction with a counter-intel operation intended to shake up Soviet intelligence . . . perhaps.

This idea occurred to me before I’d even heard of Carrion or his Rosetta theory (and I think he overplays evidence for his theory on ghost rockets). But Carrion did come up with the idea a few years ago.

If this idea has fatal flaws I’d be glad to read them.

Best wishes

KRandle said...

William -

You have to look at this not from your 2015 perspective but from that of July 1947. In 1947, Arnold's sighting was interesting but not the only thing that was being reported. We have national headlines of a "yo-yo" shaped object knocked out of the sky in Montana. We have headlines that flying disks were reported in 28 states but not in Kansas which was dry. A scientist said that the reports came from people walking out of a dark movie theater into the bright afternoon causing spots in front of her eyes. While there is interest, there aren't any real answers so that when you get to July 8, Blanchard isn't dealing with something that is classified because if it was classified, the press release makes no sense.

And remember the day after, July 9, the stories appear that the Army and the Navy are moving to suppress stories of flying saucers. So, from the point that Blanchard ordered the press release and the next morning something changed radically... and it had nothing to do with Arnold, whose sighting in 1947 wasn't that important given all the other press reports including the Rhodes photographs on July 7...

All I have done is to change the timeline slightly to explain why Blanchard would issue the press release and why Marcel thought nothing of taking the stuff home. By his own words, he said that he kept it at his house overnight. Later in the day something changed but it wasn't until after Blanchard ordered the press release.

Dan B. said...

How does any of this explain the Walter Haut affidavit? That document sealed my belief in the extraterrestrial explanation. Plus why 3 different cover stories?

KRandle said...

Dan B -

None of it was meant to explain the Haut interview. It was created after decades of
Haut saying that he had seen nothing and hadn't done anything other than write the press release. About 2000 he began to change his tale telling Wendy Connors that he had been more heavily involved. If you listen to that interview, you hear Haut contradict himself from one paragraph to the next and sometimes from one sentence to the next. Don Schmitt put together the affidavit and it was read to him. His daughter Julie was there during the process. So, the affidavit, while interesting has some problems, not the least of which is Haut's decades of saying that he had seen nothing.

John's Space said...


You have laid out an interesting scenario to answer one of the mysteries of Roswell. If evidence of a second crash site wasn't known to the 509th command until after the press release was out then it is possible that they didn't realize the real significance of the debris.

What is unanswered is the question above as to why they thought it was a "flying disc" because that site hadn't been found at the time of the press release. Also, isn't it a bit strange that they would rush to go public with the discovery of this strange material while a the same time sending it to an undisclosed higher headquarters for evaluation. Also if it was just material from a car trunk why use a large aircraft like a B-29 for that job.

Another issue is why were there debris at two distinct crash sites 80 miles apart? One seems to that an largely intact craft and the other total debris no notable structure.

William Strathmann said...


Kevin, just for the record . . . You said,

You have to look at this not from your 2015 perspective but from that of July 1947.

The 1952 film Above and Beyond dramatized Tibbets' WWII experience, including his testing of the B-29, which then lead to his being selected to command the 509th Composite Group, and then the Hiroshima strike. While the film is a dramatization, is has surely got a substantial factual basis to it. Blanchard is not mentioned, but he actually was with Tibbets in the upper echelon command structure of the group. The film powerfully drives home the fact that 509th personnel were heavily drilled into a secure, compartmentalized standard of service behavior. So it is this dramatization, and my own six year enlistment as a radar technician with TS clearance from '75-'81, that leads me to question why West Pointer, Col. Blanchard, would ever order publicity of unidentified debris, exotic or mundane, from a remote ranch.