Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Doctor Jesse Marcel and the Roswell UFO

There has been something that has bothered me for a long time. I have been trying to figure out the hatred directed at Jesse Marcel, Jr. by many in the skeptical and the non-believers arenas. Marcel, for the few of you who might not know, was the eleven-year-old son of Major Jesse Marcel who recovered some of the debris found on the Brazel (Foster) ranch. Both Marcels, in interviews conducted some thirty and forty years after the fact, suggested that the material they saw was extraordinary and extraterrestrial. Marcel, Sr. sort of started the whole Roswell craze with his statements to Stan Friedman, Len Stringfield and several others.

Okay, we can argue all day about what Marcel really saw back in 1947 and we can argue about how trustworthy the memories of an eleven-year-old boy might be after so much time. We can suggest that he was influenced by his father who told him it was a flying saucer and we can say that all this hoopla around Roswell in the last twenty-five or thirty years has certainly colored his opinions.

On the other hand, no one can deny that something was found and the remnants, whatever they might have been, were not easily identifiable to Marcel, Sr., and he certainly communicated that confusion to his son. But there was something found and none of the mundane explanations offered so far provide much of an answer.

But that’s not the point here. The point is that Jesse Marcel, Jr. (seen here), a retired colonel from the Montana National Guard, who spent a year in Iraq, and who was a successful physician, said that he had seen the debris, he had handled it, had seen the strange markings on it, and believes it to be of extraterrestrial origin. Is that a reason for dragging his name through the mud, or an excuse for some of the truly vicious letters, calls, emails, and Internet postings about him?

And here is one other point. In late May I was at a UFO symposium put on by Illinois MUFON. During one of the morning sessions a man who was about seventy began to feel poorly. He was dizzy, pale, and on the verge of collapse. He staggered into the hall and when I first saw him, he was lying on the carpet with a couple of people around him, trying to help.

As I moved toward the man, I saw Jesse Marcel, Jr., a real live doctor, crouched near this man, holding his hand, checking his pulse and vitals, and talking to him, gathering information. Marcel was doing all that he could for the man, calming him down, learning his medical history and treating him as best he could.

Others, at Marcel’s direction, made the telephone calls to 9-1-1, arranged for the medics to arrive, and as soon as they got there, they asked Jesse about the man. By that time the man’s color had returned, he was no longer dizzy, and his heartbeat had returned to normal. The medics asked Jesse about all this and then went about their business because they had their machines and medicines. But it was Jesse who took charge in that situation and helped the man until the medics arrived.

So, you’re thinking, "What’s the point?" Just this, many of those attacking Jesse Marcel would have been standing around wondering what to do to help the stricken man. They have nothing going for them except their attack columns and their meanspirited commentary. They have no training, they have no other skills and they do little but take up space in an already crowded world.

And many of them seem to hate Jesse Marcel, Jr. (seen here with me at the Illinois MUFON Symposium) because he said, as a boy, he’d held pieces of an alien spaceship. This seems to be something they just can’t forgive or forget, but in the great cosmos, does it really matter? It’s not as if Jesse is making this up. It’s not as if he came forward with this story in search of the spotlight and the fame this little tale would provide for him.

No, he just happened to be there, in Roswell, in July, 1947, when his father brought home some strange debris. Would his life be somehow diminished if that had never happened? No. He still would have gone to medical school and he still would have risen to colonel in a real military organization. He still would have saved lives in Iraq.

Can we say that Jesse is lying about this? Not really. There is evidence for his tale. Hell, the newspapers of the time talked about it. He did see something. All we can do is disagree with his interpretation of what it was. Is that any reason to attack him as a person, attack his integrity, or suggest that he is somehow less than human?

If Jesse was some kind of huckster, out there pedaling a product that hurt people, if he was swindling them out of their life savings, if he was endangering them, then yes, let’s stop him. But all he has done is tell those interested what he saw as a boy. His livelihood does not depend on this story, yet he is gracious enough to tell all who ask what he saw.

That is no reason for some of the viciousness that I have seen directed toward him. If some of those who seem so incensed had contributed a tenth of what Jesse has given to the human race, then we might want to listen to them. But most of them just seem to be unable to separate a memory Jesse has of a night encounter with debris that might well have come from an alien ship from everything good he has done as a man. Those detractors have done nothing but snipe from the woods, often because they are too chicken to come out into the light of day.

If nothing else, we all should be able to agree that Jesse saw something that to him was strange. We might disagree with the interpretation, but then, can’t we do that as civilized humans and leave all the other nonsense to those who have no class? Can’t we leave the name calling to others? Can’t we elevate the debate to a civilized level, remembering that Jesse has made an important contribution to society, and leave it at that?


Unknown said...

Well said, Kevin. The attacks against Jesse Jr are totally unwarranted and beyond the pale.

One thing that has always impressed me about him is that his story has remained essentially the same from when it was first reported in Moore/Berlitz book back in 1980. It hasn't "grown" over the last 29 years to become more and more elaborate. We have seen this unfortunate phenomenon with other "old-school" Roswell witnesses, and it's a disturbing trend.

He saw a bunch of junk in his parent's kitchen in the middle of the night. An I-beam with some purple hieroglyphics. Dad said it was from a flying saucer. End of story. Make what of it what you will.

In fact, I believe he's never even claimed to have seen the so-called "memory foil" that many other witnesses have reported (including his dad). If he wanted to make stuff up, he certainly could have "gotten away" with talking about the memory metal. But, he never has-- because he didnt see it personally. No embellishment there.

I find him to be a credible witness.

As you correctly pointed out, the man does not need to be validated by UFO buffs to give his life meaning. He has accomplished a great deal in his life, and he has no need to subject himself to the crosshairs of debunkers.

cda said...

Certainly nobody should resort to character assassination or personal attacks on Marcel jr. Not in any shape or form. Some people have tried to discredit Marcel Sr re his records in the AF, but I have not heard of anything similar against Marcel Jr. One exception was Robert Todd, I believe. But then Todd had plenty of detractors & attackers as well.

Such is ufology .

starman said...

I understand Marcel jr is religious. I don't equate that with intellectual brilliance but some might equate it with a reluctance to lie. A devout outlook seems simple minded to me but AFAIK there's no basis for questioning his veracity.

KRandle said...


There are others out there and think nothing about attacking the integrity of witnesses, researchers and anyone else who happens to disagree. It doesn't matter if that criticism is inaccurate. Only their opinions count and if they have to smear the good name of someone, then they'll do it.

But, I see you agree with what I have said and I don't remember ever seeing anything where you attacked a witness rather than offer an alternative explanation. Such is reasoned discourse, something that seems to be too rare in our world.


Lance said...

As a hard core skeptic, I have not seen any hatred directed as Dr. Marcel. If it has happened, it is regrettable.

He is perhaps the most consistent witness in the whole story. I don't' think I have ever heard him add details, etc as so many of the other witnesses have done over the years. And his career, family and life seem to be admirable, courageous and exemplary.

Hopefully, you are not saying Kevin, that if someone discounts the 50 year old memories of an 11 year old boy or doubts those memories, that they are showing hatred.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to discount his memories. I think it is perfectly reasonable to discount my own memories!

Indeed honest reflection would suggest that the fact that the debris looked so much like balsa wood sticks, mylar and foil, gives any reasonable person GOOD reason to doubt the near-magical properties that were dredged up later and now form the only leg left for the Roswell story (since all 1st hand "witnesses" have been proven as craven liars).


KRandle said...

Lance -

Nope... I'm saying that calling Dr. Marcel a liar and worse is not the same as suggesting that his memories might not be accurate. I think I pointed that out. We all agree that he saw something. We disagree with his intepretation of what he saw. That, I believe is proper discourse.

And I will object to your suggestion that all first-hand witnesses have been proven to be liars. Such is not the case. True, some... Frank Kaufmann, Gerald Anderson among them... have been proven to be liars but others have not.

Frankie Rowe, I believe is telling the truth. Yes, much of her testimony comes from what her father said but we now have one of the Roswell firefights, one Pflock had interviewed, saying that he too, knew that her father had gone out to the crash site.

We have new (well, rediscovered) evidence that Lydia Sleppy was talking about the teletype transmissions before the Roswell case exploded everywhere.

My point is simply that not all of the first-hand witnesses have been proven liars. Such sweeping generalization should be left out of the discussions.


Bob Koford said...

Good article!

I am most thankful to Dr. Marcel for his integrity, and for providing the much needed insight into his father's personality.

For so long I had wanted to get the feeling for what he had gone through in the years following the incident, and Dr. Marcel's book did just that. It made me feel great empathy for him, and his family.

Thanks Dr. Marcel!

Jack Teufel said...
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Jack Teufel said...

very sensible, Kevin, very straightforward. In organized religion, too. I think that the force field of distortion that happens there, eclipsing common sense and what people see with their own eyes, happens in this domain too, and for some of the same reasons. The unthinkable triggers projections based on fear, wish, hope, and they fuel inject the discussion.

I come from another country, and listening to these discussions is very much like listening to peope at a barbeque pit I think it is called saying astonishing things to one another.


Frank Stalter said...

"Okay, we can argue all day about what Marcel really saw back in 1947 and we can argue about how trustworthy the memories of an eleven-year-old boy might be after so much time."

I wouldn't discount Marcel's memory so much. I saw something unusual in the sky when I was about that age and can recount the details pretty vividly to this day.

I had no idea what is was then and it left quite an impression on me. Knowing what I know now, I'm quite certain it was just a Chinese lantern but I still remember it well. ;O)

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