Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Size of the Debris Field

Since I posted the article that suggested that Bessie Brazel’s testimony might be in error and that it was contradicted by that given by so many others, we have been all over the board. Nearly everyone was selecting that data which tended to support their position and ignore everything else. So, I thought I would take some of those points and provide the data available about them. I realize that some of you are so far to one side or the other that any sort of compromise is impossible, but for those who are interested in all the information, I will try to publish a series of articles that look at some aspect of this case.

First, I’ll tackle the size of the debris field because it seems to range from a square mile down to an area about 200 feet in diameter. That’s quite a big difference, and I know that we’ll never reach a consensus, but heck; we might have a little fun and learn something by accident.

The testimonies given after 1978 which is when Jesse Marcel, Sr. was identified as having recovered pieces of a flying saucer provide some of the data. Marcel himself told Bill Moore (The Roswell Incident, p. 63) that it was “about three quarters of a mile long and a couple of hundred feet wide.”

Stan Friedman, in his book, Crash at Corona (p.10) wrote of Marcel’s description, “The area covered with wreckage was roughly three quarters of a mile long and several hundred yards wide.”

Moore also quotes Walt Whitmore, Jr. as giving a description. Whitmore hadn’t seen the field before the Army cleaned it up, according to his testimony at that time. Moore wrote (p. 89), “Several days later Whitmore, Jr., ventured out to the site and found a stretch of about 175 – 200 yards of pastureland uprooted in a sort of fan-like pattern with most of the damage at the narrowest part of the fan.”

Whitmore told Karl Pflock (p. 154), “The debris covered a fan- or roughly triangle-shaped area, which was about 10 or 12 feet wide at what I thought was the top end. From there it extended about 100 to 150 feet, widening out to about 150 feet at the base. This area was covered with many, many bits of material.”

Bill Brazel, who hadn’t seen the debris in the field except for the small pieces he said he had found, also talked of a gouge that ran through the pasture. He said that it was narrow at one end spread out toward the center and then narrowed again. Although he didn’t give us a length of the gouge, he eventually took us to what he thought of as the top of the gouge. Later, during the CUFOS archaeological dig there, we measured down from that point, about three quarters of a mile, placing little flags along the way.

Flags placed to show the gouge during the CUFOS
archaeological dig in the early 1990s.
Bud Payne, who was a judge in New Mexico, said that he had been out to the debris field but had been turned back by the military cordon. He did get close to it and this would be irrelevant, except he took me out to the location he thought was the debris field. When he stopped his vehicle and we got out, I nearly stepped on one of those little flags we had placed there. We have attempted to gather them all but had missed the last one. Payne took me to the same three quarter of a mile stretch of New Mexico desert and through this provided, to a degree, the size of the field.

And, of course, there is the testimony in the affidavit signed by Bessie Brazel. She said, “There was a lot of debris scattered sparsely over an area that seems to me now to have about the size of a football field [or about an acre].”

The most widely quoted size of the field is that given by Marcel. It can be found in a number of books but as noted here, it is traceable to that interview supplied to Bill Moore.

We are told, of course, that these memories are decades old and might be unreliable. Studies of memory and how it works suggest that confabulation (as opposed to lying) can often fill in gaps in memory, that each time a memory is accessed it is subject to alteration, and sometimes the memories simply no longer exist, yet the witness (I can think of no other word that fits here because they were involved in 1947) as he or she concentrates begins to put together a story that seems plausible.

We do have quite a few newspaper stories that were written in 1947, literally within hours of some of the men walking the fields, so that their memories should be clear and accurate. I say this knowing full well that some of the information given to the reporters was less than accurate and some of it that was published had been misunderstood.

The Roswell Daily Record, for example, reported, “The rubber [from the debris] was smoky gray in color and scattered over an area about 200 yards in diameter.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in a later edition of their “Disc-overy Near Roswell Identified as Weather Balloon by FWAAF Officer,” reported, “Brazell [sic], whose ranch is 30 miles from the nearest telephone and has no radio, knew nothing about flying discs when he found the broken remains of the weather device scattered over a square mile of his land.”

The Albuquerque Tribune, in a story attributed to Jason Kellahin on July 9 reported, “Scattered with the materials over an area about 200 yards across were pieces of gray rubber.”

What does this tell us about the size of the debris field? Not much, actually. Those who wish to believe it was small, have several sources they can quote. Cavitt, in his interview with Colonel Richard Weaver didn’t provide a very vivid account of the size. He said that it was about twenty feet, but the statements were somewhat confusing. He might have been describing what he suspected was the size of the object or he might have been describing the distribution of the debris. He told Weaver, “Some here, some here, some here. No concentration of it. No marks on the ground, dug up, anything hidden or anything like that, just out on the territory around the bottom of New Mexico…” 

I don’t believe Whitmore’s testimony on this is reliable but suspect there was some collusion between Max Littell of the Roswell museum and Whitmore to come up with some debris, no matter what it was. They talked about creating a display in Roswell, but I don’t believe that Littell had thought that through. If Whitmore’s debris were pieces of a balloon, as he suggested to Pflock, then the mystique of the Roswell case eroded at that point and not many people would drive out of the way to look at a museum dedicated to a weather balloon.

Whitmore had told Moore that the site had been cleaned before he got there but contradicted that when he told Pflock that he saw the debris and even claimed to have some of it. The debris had been locked in his safe deposit box, but when the box grew too full, he moved the debris to his “junk room.” Although searches were made, nothing was ever found. It was just one more bit of debris that vanished.

There is Jesse Marcel’s testimony about the size of the field which he gave after 1978, but there is one story that provides some corroboration which was published in 1947. In Linda Corley’s book, Marcel said, “It was about a mile long and several hundred feet wide of debris.”

Brazel, according to one newspaper account agreed with that size, saying it was scattered over a square mile of the land. This was in a story other than the one written by J. Bond Johnson.

Returning to the Roswell Daily Record, Brazel, it seems, was saying that the debris field was about 200 yards in diameter and the Albuquerque Tribune changed the wording to 200 yards across which is not quite the same thing but is close. The by-line on the Albuquerque Tribune story, as noted, was by Kellahin, so he was apparently working from his notes made in Roswell.

All this means is that if you are a skeptic, you have some evidence that the size of the debris field was relatively small. If you are a believer, you have some evidence that the debris field is relatively large. You have the majority of the testimonies suggesting a large field from the record after 1978 but Bessie Brazel suggests it was about 100 yards by 50 yards, or about the size of a football field.

Or, in other words, this is a wash. Whatever side you come down on, there is testimony to support it. Not exactly a profound finding but just an observation that suggests there are facts for everyone to cherry pick.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ramey Memo Update

The best case of provenance that I have ever seen is the Ramey Memo. We have a picture of Ramey holding the document, we have been able to interview the photographer, and we know the date on which it was taken because we have not only a dated document that was transmitted with the picture, but it appeared in newspapers around the country the next day. The only point of dispute is what the memo actually says. Parts of it are easily read and others are obscured to the point where it is sometimes just a best guess. If the memo could be completely deciphered it might provide a clue about what fell near Roswell and would be some of the best documentation available.
This might be the first time that the entire negative'
has been printed in decades. Photo copyright
University of Texas at Arlington, Special Collections.

The answer always seemed tantalizing close but just out of reach. The ability of equipment and software to pull information off the photograph just wasn’t good enough to do it in the 1990s. Scans had been made years ago from the original negatives but newer equipment and better software might have changed all that. Martin Dreyer, a researcher living in New Zealand, was interested in the memo and believed that modern equipment might be able to pull something new from the negative. He began to work toward that aim.

For almost two years, he talked to various experts in photography, software and those who had great experience in recovering information hidden in photographic negatives. The consensus seemed to be that it would be possible to extract more and better information from the memo using a variety of these new and modern techniques.

The next step was to learn if the University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections would allow the negative to be subjected to another round of scrutiny. Although interested in learning what might be found, they were also concerned with the process. They didn’t want to damage negative any further. The handling of it as well as subjecting it to scans in the past caused it to acquire some scratches and a little dirt but they were assured that this new analysis would be nondestructive.

Brenda S. McClurkin was the contact at UTA and provided a great deal of assistance in getting the permissions to have the negative scanned using a variety of techniques and equipment. She arranged for the use of photographic microscope at UTA that could read the negative.

At the end of April 2015 David Rudiak traveled to the Dallas – Fort Worth area and to the University of Texas at Arlington. Working with those at UTA, as well as some independent experts in photography and forensic analysis, they made dozens of new scans under a variety of conditions hoping to clarify the memo enough that a consensus of the wording could be formed. Some of the letters were lost in the debris on the negative and in the fact that the memo was slightly folded and parts of it were not directly facing the camera. Had J. Bond Johnson, the original photographer, been a foot closer the image might have been easily resolved.

It had been hoped that the new techniques would produce immediate results but that didn’t happen. The photographic process used only cleaned up the memo marginally. There was no new and great revelation. That suggested that the application of software was needed, which, unfortunately could lead to claims that the image had been manipulated to produce specific results.

After the disappointment with the results, and after seeing the results of the Roswell Slides Research Group’s success in reading the placard in front of the image on those slides, it was decided to open the analysis to a wider audience. The original idea had been to release the best results with all the information about the resolution of the image but now that moved into a new arena. With the cooperation of those at UTA, and at their suggestion, the best of the scans will be posted to various locations on the Internet, and as soon as possible to this blog along with the links to those other images.

Again, the work has been less than spectacular. It seems that the image has been cleaned up to a small degree but not to the point where what are considered the critical areas could be read.  Work is continuing, but it is painstakingly slow and as mentioned, disappointing. The hope now is that if the images are put up in open source that the same thing that happened with the (Not) Roswell Slides can be accomplished with the Ramey memo. Maybe someone will have the right software or have a new idea about the way to attack this that will allow the memo to be read. At the moment we are not much closer to a solution than we were. It is still just beyond our grasp. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New UFO Documentary including Commentary on the Roswell Slides

This last summer I participated in a UFO documentary via Skype that dealt with some of the latest issues in the field, including what had happened with the Roswell Slides. We discussed the fallout from that and how it will affect UFO research in the future.  The film will premiere at London’s West End on September 24 and I mention this in case some of our colleagues in England wish to see it. For those who wish additional information, here are some of the links:

For the record, because some people believe that there is no motivation in the UFO but money, I was not paid for my participation, I didn’t get a free trip to London, and had to use my own electricity to power my computer so that I could be interviewed via Skype.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bessie Brazel Schreiber and the Roswell Crash

The skeptics believe they have a slam dunk on the Roswell, coming at us with information that simply is not proven as we look at it. Much of it is single witness that we are accused of not mentioning and often contradicts that given by many others. One of the best examples of this is the testimony provided by Bessie Brazel, who seems to have been a very nice woman but who stood nearly alone in her testimony for many years.

In the early 1990s, the Fund for UFO Research, FUFOR, initiated a program to gather testimony and affidavits from Roswell witnesses. Naturally, one of those was Bessie Brazel Schreiber. In her affidavit, she said:

William W. “Mack” Brazel was my father. In 1947, when I was 14, he was the manager of the Foster Ranch in Lincoln County, New Mexico, near Corona. Our family had a home in Tularosa, when my mother, my younger brother Vernon, and I lived during the school year. The three of us spent the summers on the Foster place with dad.

In July 1947, right around the Fourth, dad found a lot of debris scattered over a pasture some distance from the house we lived in on the ranch. None of us was riding with him when he found the material, and I do not remember anyone else being with him. He told us about it when he came in at the end of the day.

Dad was concerned because the debris was near a surface-water stock tank. He thought having it blowing around would scare the sheep and they would not water. So, a day or two later, he, Vernon and I went to the site to pick up the material. We went on horseback and took several feed sacks to collect the debris. I do not recall just how far the site was from the house, but the ride out there took some time.

There as a lot of debris scattered sparsely over an area that seems to me now to have about the size of a football field [or about an acre]. There may have been additional material spread out more widely by the wind, which was blowing quite strongly.

The debris looked like pieces of a large balloon which had burst [When balloons burst do they shatter into dozens or hundreds of tiny bits?]. The pieces were small, the largest were small, the largest I remember measuring about the same as the diameter of a basketball. Most of it was a kind of double-sided material, foil-like on one side and rubber-like on the other. Both sides were grayish silver in color, the foil more silvery than the rubber. Sticks, like kite sticks, were three inches wide and had flower-like designs on it. The “flowers” were faint, a variety of pastel colors, and reminded me of Japanese paintings in which the flowers are not all connected. I do not recall any other types of material or markings, nor do I remember seeing gouges in the ground or any other signs that anything may have hit the ground hard.

The foil-rubber material could not be torn like ordinary aluminum foil can be torn [A small bit of information that the debunkers tend to overlook]. I do not recall anything else about the strength or other properties of what we picked up.

We spent several hours collecting the debris and putting it in sacks. I believe we filled about three sacks, and we took them back to the ranch house. We speculated a bit about what the material could be. I remember dad saying “Oh, it’s just a bunch of garbage.”

Soon after, dad went to Roswell to order winter feed [which is not what the newspaper articles claimed]. It was on this trip that he told the sheriff what he had found. I think we all went into town with him, but I am not certain about this [which is another fact often overlooked], as he made two or three trips to Roswell about that time, and we did not go on all of them. (In those days, it was an all-day trip, leaving very early in the morning and returning after dark. [Please note the travel time given by someone who made the trips.]) I am quite sure that it was no more than a day trip, and I do not remember dad taking any overnight or longer trips away from the ranch around that time.

Within a day or two, several military people came to the ranch. There may have been as many as 15 of them. One or two officers spoke with dad and mom, while the rest of us waited. No one spoke with Vernon and me. Since I seem to recall that the military were on the ranch most of a day, they may have gone out to where we picked up the material. I am not sure about this, one way or the other, but I do remember they took the sacks of debris with them.

Although it is certainly possible, I do not recall anyone finding any more of the material later. Dad’s comment on the whole business was, “They made one hell of a hullabaloo out of nothing.”

Since she gave that affidavit, she has been interviewed by others. The story told to them is substantially the same as that in the affidavit, though, when interviewed by John Kirby and Don Newman on March 8, 1995, she told them, “I wasn’t terribly excited or interested in it [the debris recovery] when it happened and I haven’t really gotten any more interested in it.”

She did say that her father had found the debris sometime before July 4 and that she, her father and her brother Vernon, collected it. She said, “We had three or four sacks... we stuffed the sacks and tied [them] to the saddle... Dad just stuck it [the sacks of debris] under the steps.”

It was the following week that her father took the debris into Roswell. She confirmed to Kirby and Newman that she, her mother and brother had gone with him. While he was in the sheriff’s office, they were in a nearby park. She said, “He was there quite a while because it was late afternoon or early evening when we started back to the ranch.”

According to her, when they returned, they were not followed by any civilian or military vehicles. That means that the testimony of Jesse Marcel was in error if we accept this. It also means that Sheridan Cavitt and his testimony is in error, if we accept this.

The Debris Field as identified by Bill Brazel as it appeared in the early 1990s.
She said, “They didn’t go with us. They came up, I don’t know, if it was the next day or a couple of days later.”

She also said that they had cleaned the field and picked up all the debris. She said that they had it all. There was nothing for Marcel or Cavitt to see when they went to the field. In fact, in talking with ranchers in the area about this debris, whether from a Mogul balloon array or an alien spacecraft, I learned that they would not allow this sort of thing to remain out there. The animals had a habit of eating things like that as part of their grazing and if the animals ate it, it would make them sick. Brazel would clean it up as quickly as possible.

If we believe Bessie, then her father did not clean it up right away, but did within a couple of days. She said that it took several hours and that she and her brother Vernon had helped. Yet, we know that when Marcel arrived, there was a large field filled with debris. And, if we want to reject the testimony of Marcel, there is Cavitt. While his description of the debris field suggests it was smaller than that suggested by Marcel, he still said there was debris out there for them to find and for him to identify as the remains of a balloon.

So, Bessie’s story is contradicted by Marcel and Cavitt, one who later thought it was a spacecraft and one who said it was a balloon after saying he had never been involved in a balloon recovery. It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you come down on, there is testimony to contradict what Bessie remembers about the cleaning of the debris field. She is stand alone on this.

Bessie also said that her father didn’t return to Roswell a day or so after his initial trip and there is nothing in her affidavit to suggest otherwise. She added, telling Kirby and Newman that if he had gone to Roswell and didn’t return for three or four days, there would have been hell to pay. There was no reason for him to return to Roswell after they all had gone there earlier in the week especially if the Army had arrived to take charge of the debris stored under the steps.

But once again, there is evidence that such is not the case. First, and probably best, is the article that appeared in the Roswell Daily Record on July 9. Mack Brazel was photographed while there. He gave an interview to two AP reporters at the newspaper office in Roswell. Clearly, he returned to Roswell at some point. Bessie’s memory of the events is wrong about his not returning as documented in the newspapers.

Major Edwin Easley was the provost marshal in Roswell in 1947. He told me that Mack Brazel had been held in the guest house for several days. Brazel said he was in jail and I suppose that if you’re not allowed to leave without escort and that the doors are locked, then being in the guest house is about the same thing. This information was corroborated by a number of Brazel’s neighbors.

Bill Brazel, Bessie’s older brother told me that he saw an article about his father in one of
Brazel on the front page of the newspaper.
the Albuquerque newspapers [Kal Korff incorrectly claims that there were no pictures of Mack or articles about him on the front pages of any of the newspapers at the time] and realized that his father needed help. When Bill arrived at the ranch, his father was not there and didn’t return for three or four days. In fact, according to Bill, there was no one at the ranch at that time.

Neighbors like Marian Strickland told me that Mack had complained to her about being held in jail. Although she didn’t see Mack until after the events, she did say that he sat in her kitchen complaining about being held in Roswell. While there is some second-hand aspect in this, Strickland was telling me that Mack complained to her and her husband that he had been held in Roswell.

Walt Whitmore, Jr., son of the KGFL radio’s majority owner, told me that he had run into Brazel early in the morning after Brazel spent the night at his father’s house. This was before Brazel was taken out to the base. Whitmore claims that Brazel told him about the debris and Whitmore said that he then drove out there to see the field. He claimed to have picked up some of the debris, which he said was part of a balloon. He kept it for years, he said, but when the time came to produce it, he could not. This information was in conflict with what he told to Bill Moore and published in The Roswell Incident. I will note here that I do not find this testimony to be reliable but mention it because it puts Brazel overnight in Roswell.

Here’s another important point. Bessie said that she recognized the material as a balloon. So, we have a 14-year-old girl who knows a balloon when she sees one, but the air intelligence officer, not to mention several others, are incapable of this. If the material was so readily identifiable to some, especially civilians, why were so many in the military fooled? And why the high powered effort to recover it and get samples of it to Fort Worth if it was only a balloon?

But she told Bill Moore when he asked her if it was some sort of a weather balloon, she said:

No, it was definitely not a balloon. We had seen weather balloons quite a lot – both on the ground and in the air. We had even found a couple of the Japanese-style balloons that come down in the area once. [This might be a reference to the Japanese balloon bombs of World War II but there is no evidence that one ever landed in New Mexico, which is strange since they had landed in the states all around New Mexico.] We also picked up a couple of those thin rubber balloons with instrument packages. This was nothing like that. I have never seen anything resembling this sort of thing before – or since… We never found any pieces of it –afterwards – after the military was there…

Karl Pflock suggested that Bill Brazel had corroborated that the family was at the ranch at the time, implying that they participated in the cleanup. He wrote:

In a 1979 interview, Bessie Schreiber’s older brother Bill recalled other members of his family being on the ranch with his father at the time the debris fell there. “Dad,” he said, “was in the ranch house with two of the younger kids [presumably Bessie and Vernon [insertion made by Pflock]] late on evening when a terrible lightning stormy came up… [T]he next morning while riding out over the pasture to check on some sheep, he came across this collection of wreckage.” Bill mentioned specifically that, on the way to Roswell with some of the debris, his father dropped off the children with their mother in Tularosa.

This means, simply, that while Bessie and Vernon might have been on the ranch for the thunderstorm, they did not accompany him into Roswell, weren’t there when the military came back with Mack and wasn’t there for the cleanup that took place later. Bill Brazel certainly does nothing to corroborate that Bessie or Vernon were there for the events in the following days.

There are a number of witnesses and newspaper articles that shows that Mack was in Roswell overnight. It means that Bessie’s memories of July 1947 agree with nothing else. It means that when all the evidence is aligned against a specific claim, we must reject the claim even if some of the evidence is from the decades old memories.

This takes another turn sometime later, and I’m sure the allegation will be hurled that the UFO researchers pressed her into recanting her story at that time. She told Don Schmitt and Tom Carey, “It was another occurrence altogether. I had helped my dad gather up weather balloons on a number of occasions. I have come to the conclusion that what my dad found back at that time was something else altogether.” They added, “It is accepted that she and her brother Vernon were at the ranch at the time of the incident, but the ranch house was almost 10 miles from the debris field …” Her brother, Bill, referring to the debris field said, “She wasn’t even there.”

While we are aware of the testimony, and while I’m sure that she was sincere in what she said, it is clear that she was mistaken. When we compare the written record with her testimony, we can see the errors. If the conflict in the testimony was just between Bessie and her brother, Bill, we would have a “he said/she said” argument, but others who were there corroborate what her brother said. Then, we have her recanting the testimony, which by itself, should eliminate it from the record. But the real point here is that we did investigate her claims, did make sure she was interviewed, and have provided information about it. She wasn’t ignored, just found to be in conflict with too much other information that was corroborated.

Photographs copyright by Kevin Randle.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The RAN Hobart UFO Incident

So, I’m making a search of the various cable channels looking for something interesting and stumble onto another of those UFO mockumentaries. This was one had a segment about a UFO attack on the Royal Australian Navy destroyer, Hobart, during the Vietnam War. The ship was hit by three missiles killing two, wounding several and scattering debris throughout the ship. The cleanup uncovered bits of an American made missile that was traced to a couple of Air Force units flying F-4 Phantoms that for some unknown reason were referred to as Phantoms, F-4, in the program.

Investigation of the incident conducted by various levels of command in Vietnam, the United States and Australia, concluded that this was an incident of “friendly fire,” and was a horrible mistake made by the American pilots. I mean, they had fragments of the missiles with serial numbers and markings that led to the specific Air Force units that were flying that night. No UFOs were involved and nothing to suggest any hostile intent by the alien beings riding in those flying saucers, at least on June 17, 1968.

But wait, there’s more…

Seems that in the nights preceding the incident, lights of an unknown origin were seen in the vicinity of Tiger Island that was at the extreme end of northern South Vietnam. It was suggested in various intelligence documents that these lights were helicopters operating near the UMZ (ultra-militarized zone), I mean the DMZ, attempting to resupply elements of the North Vietnamese Army in the area.

But unidentified lights in the skies over Vietnam could have been dozens of things from high flying bombers whose lights could be seen but whose engines were lost in the altitude, helicopters of unknown origin flying at nearly treetop level to avoid enemy ground fire, parachute flares, star-clusters, tracers of red, white or green (almost nothing looks bigger than a tracer coming, more or less, at you) misidentifications of various natural phenomena, deception by the enemy, mistakes by the observers, or just flat out delusions. Or, in other words, there were a lot of lights bouncing around the night skies in Vietnam, many of which aren’t normally seen in a more peaceful environment.

UFO proponents including the late Bill Cooper decided that these lights were alien spacecraft and they were the cause of the missiles that hit the Hobart. Oh, the UFOs didn’t fire them, they caused the missiles to bend around or interfered with the targeting of the missiles that forced them to change course. The US missiles then struck the Hobart, and other ships in the area. Cooper said that he knew the lights were not enemy helicopters because the enemy would have never. They didn’t fly helicopters into that area.

Except, of course, the enemy sometimes did fly helicopters into South Vietnam. One of our gun teams (meaning one of the gun teams assigned to the company I served with) chased a French made helicopter into Cambodia that was operating on the South Vietnamese border near an area known as the Angel Wing. At the time that invisible line of the ground was stronger than any wall ever built and our guys broke off the chase. The point is that sometimes you saw some strange stuff that had nothing to do with UFOs.

There is documentation available on this event, and the Project 1947 web site has a pdf file containing some of it that can be found here:

For an Australian Naval Officer’s take on the incident (as well as some fairly nasty remarks about Americans which given the circumstances is understandable) see:

For a look at this from the other side of the coin, see:

It seems to me that the data suggesting any UFO activity in this event is extremely thin to nonexistent and not worthy of further research. But, I always find that someone will disagree with any assessment and go off on irrelevant tangents to prove some obscure point. Given that the units to which the Phantoms belonged were identified, given that debris from the missiles was recovered and allowed them to be identified, and given that the reports of the lights in the night sky were not deemed relevant to the discussion, this “sighting” can be removed from our lists. It won’t be, of course, but then once something is linked to UFOs it remains there forever regardless of the evidence

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ask a Question

For those interested, tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 16, I will be available to answer all questions at:

which is not to say that I'll have an answer for everything.

The page is still up so although the specific time has expired, I do check it periodically in case new questions have been added.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Treasure Quest - Snake Island

Yes, it’s happened again. I got sucked into another treasure hunting show that was big on promises but weak on payoff. In this case a group of treasure hunters, who, using a map published in a newspaper in the 1930s and who believe that it shows an island off the coast of Brazil where a huge treasure might be hidden, have gone in search of it. This was Incan gold that had been moved across the continent to the coast of Brazil to keep it from the Spanish invaders but then had to be moved again to avoid pirates. There had been a map made back in 1524 or thereabouts that had disappeared until it was printed in a newspaper centuries later. Using modern satellite technology because where would a treasure hunting show be without modern satellite technology, they were able to find an island that matched that old map…

Well, sort of. There is a general shape that matches and it is off the coast of Brazil and that’s about it. I thought that if you looked hard enough you might find some other place, but these treasure hunters have decided that Snake Island is the right place.

This is the Treasure of the Trinity, which is supposed to be worth four hundred million dollars, or thereabouts, but I don’t know if that was sixteenth century money or modern money, which makes little real difference. Four hundred million is a pile of cash, or in this case gold and probably some silver and a few precious gems thrown in for good measure.

And the place isn’t called Snake Island for no reason. It seems this is the home of the Golden Lancehead Viper (Bothrops insularis), a highly venomous snake that has apparently wiped all mammalian life from the island so that the snakes now rely on migratory birds for dinner. One report claimed that the snakes were responsible for 90% of the snake bites in North and South America which struck me as odd since it is only found on that one island… other information suggests that other lancehead snakes (which include the Fer-de-Lance) in other areas do bite people but there isn’t a documented case of the Golden Lancehead ever biting a human (and here I qualify this by noting “documented” because it seems that a family that had been tending to a lighthouse built on the island were wiped out by these snakes sometime about a hundred years ago…)

Anyway, we are treated to the treasure hunters’ attempts to locate the treasure. Sometimes they are diving off the coast searching for clues and other times they are traipsing around the island while saying, “There’s a snake… there’s a snake” and there are a lot of them on the island.

This was beginning to remind me of Oak Island where we have lots of time spent with little payoff but in the last episode here it seems that they might have discovered the cave where the treasure was hidden. They had found old stone carvings that suggested where to look on Snake Island, but then Oak Island had those carvings and in two seasons they found what, two old Spanish pennies worth a few bucks each?

Exploring the cave indicated by their interpretation of the carvings and dodging the snakes (and a couple of ugly spiders) they find a partially buried box that looked as if it could have been used to haul treasure around a long time ago. After the obligatory commercial break, we come back to find that it’s not a box, but the lid to the box. Someone has been there first and the quest is now over…

Well, not really because they find a series of dots carved into the stone that look like a constellation and this might be a clue. Back on the boat, they decide that the dots refer to a Brazilian river and the treasure might have been moved there… I would think that having the snakes around to guard the treasure would be a real deterrent to anyone thinking of taking it (though no one on the expedition was bitten) but then, if that was true there is no treasure to find in the next season, or any reason to return to Brazil.

So, once again we have a big search that turns up little other than some clues carved in stone on an island that is out of the way and very dangerous. We have hints of something big, but in the end, we have nothing at all, other than those stone carvings and what looks like the top of a treasure box. But never fear, if the ratings were high enough, why next season, we’ll have them all mucking about on the mainland, with all kinds of new dangers as they search for the new location of this lost treasure. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Who Told Walter Haut about the Debris Field?

Since this debate about the press release has gained a little traction here, I thought I’d add a few facts and perspective to see if we can’t reach some sort of a reasonable conclusion. We do have a great deal of information and while some of it is in dispute, there are aspects of it on which we all seem to agree.

Given the testimony we have and the articles that appeared in the newspapers of
Jesse Marcel, Sr.
the time, it seems that Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. and Captain Sheridan Cavitt followed Mack Brazel out to the ranch sometime on Sunday July 6. Marcel, in his interview with Linda Corley suggested they had left in the early afternoon, but I think it was more likely they headed out later in the day. In today’s world, it takes about three hours to drive from Roswell to the ranch. In 1947 the roads wouldn’t have been quite so good and the route might not have been quite so direct. It might have taken four or five hours. With sunset coming sometime around 9:00 p.m., and Marcel’s suggestion they arrived about dusk, it seems they might not have left Roswell much before four in the afternoon.

There is also a question of where they stayed the night. We had heard that it was the “Hinds” house which in the 1990s was a one-room shack that was used to store hay. It was some five or six miles from the actual debris field. If, on the other had they stayed at the ranch house (which, I believe had been, at the very least, remodeled in the 1980s or so) then they were some fifteen or twenty miles from the debris field.
The Hinds house near the Debris Field.

Marcel said that they had cold beans and crackers for dinner. He said nothing about the time they might have gotten up the next morning which is July 7. We know, ironically, based on the Mogul records that sunrise was about five and in similar circumstances, meaning outside my comfort zone, that I would have awakened about dawn. Marcel said nothing about breakfast, what time they got up, or what they did before they went out to look at the debris field.

Given all this, I would suspect that they arrived at the field no earlier than eight, but hell, that’s a wild ass guess. If I was Marcel or Cavitt, I’d want to get home as quickly as possible, so the earlier, the better. As I said in another post, Brazel saddled two horses and he and Cavitt rode out while Marcel drove his car. If they were at the Hines house, the travel time might have been thirty to sixty minutes. If they were farther north, at the location of the ranch house, travel time could have been longer. No one asked about that and there is no one to ask in the world today. All we can do is guess based on other timing.

Bill Brazel showing us the Debris Field
Marcel said that the debris field was three-quarters to a mile long and a couple of hundred feet wide. Bill Brazel, when he took us out to the field showed us basically where it started and where it ended. We later measured that at about a mile long. This was based on what Brazel said was the length of the gouge, which is a detail that Marcel never mentioned.

We have no idea how long they spent on the field. Cavitt told Colonel Richard Weaver that he recognized the debris as the remains of a weather balloon
An older Sheridan Cavitt.
immediately, but no one asked Cavitt why he hadn’t mentioned that to either Marcel or to Blanchard. (I will note here that according to what Cavitt told me, he hadn’t been there… this was after he had given his interview to Weaver.) Anyway, Marcel eventually told Cavitt to head on back to the base. He stayed, and according to what Marcel told Corley, stuffed his car with the debris, which, of course, suggests something more than a weather balloon.

As I’ve said, I don’t understand how they could have spent more than an hour or so at the field, but if they were walking the whole thing to make sure they saw everything around there, it might have taken longer. I have no idea how long it might have taken Marcel to load his car, and we have no information if they had eaten breakfast. I mention this simply because if Marcel, on his way home, stopped for lunch, then that adds time to the trip. Again, according to what Marcel told Corley, he got home late, but we don’t know exactly what that means either. All we really know is that Marcel did not go out to the base that night. He went in the next morning, that is, July 8.

So now we come to the point of this long recap. How did Walter Haut learn about the debris recovery? Haut said that Blanchard had called him and either dictated the press release to him or gave him the major points and Haut wrote it. Marcel
Walter Haut
said that they had an “eager beaver” press officer which tells us nothing about how Haut learned about the recovery or if he made a habit of issuing press releases on his own.

Here are a few facts that are new. Based on information in the Roswell airfield telephone directory, I know that Blanchard’s office was in building 810. Marcel had his office in building 31 and Haut’s office was in building 82. What this means is that Haut wouldn’t have run into Marcel in the hallway or near a coffeepot as they came to work or went about their duties. There is no evidence that they would have mingled in a professional sense other than both would have been in attendance at the staff meetings but Marcel would have been considered a member of the primary staff and Haut on the secondary. That means Haut’s job was not essential to the main operation of the bomb group but that Marcel’s was.

So again the question that must be asked is, “How did Haut learn about the recovery?”

And the only answer that works is that Blanchard told him. Cavitt, as the counterintelligence guy would not have wanted to talk to the PIO, nor would he want to be associated with any sort of investigation that would call attention to him, his subordinates or his duties. In fact, in 1947, even his rank was classified so that no one knew what rank any of the counterintelligence guys held or as Cavitt said to me, “You didn’t really want anyone to know that a sergeant was investigating a colonel so our ranks were classified. No one knew what rank we were.” The exception to that would have been Blanchard and some of the senior officers but not many.

Although Marcel lived on the same street as Haut, their houses were a few blocks apart and it seems they didn’t socialize that much. Since they worked in separate buildings, there is very little chance that they ran into each other on the morning of July 8 so that Marcel could tell Haut that he had picked up the debris. Even if they had met, it is unlikely that the topic would have come up. Marcel would have been reluctant to talk about it given the nature of his job. If you had no need to know, then you were outside the loop.

That leaves us with Blanchard. Haut told us that Blanchard called him and told him to issue the press release. Blanchard was the one to make that decision and Blanchard was the only one who had the information and the contact with Haut. There were only three people who knew about the recovery (and I exclude Brazel here because on that morning he was still at the ranch) and two of them wouldn’t have said a word about it to Haut if for no other reason than they wouldn’t have seen him that morning.

I think that we can now end the discussion of who authorized the press release. Without Blanchard telling Haut about the recovery and providing details, Haut wouldn’t have had the information. If Blanchard gave him the information, then it was a tacit approval of the press release. If Blanchard had not dictated it to him but only gave him the basic information, Haut could easily have called back to read him the final draft but, no matter how you slice it, Blanchard is the common denominator here.

I can see no other way, given the facts, which Haut would have learned about the recovery. He could not decide on his own to write the story because he didn’t know about it. He was given the information by Blanchard and told to issue the press release. This should stop the endless speculation about Haut issuing the release on his own.

(Note: All pictures copyright by Randle except those of Marcel and Haut.)

Monday, September 07, 2015

Colonel Blanchard and the Press Release Part II

I often assume a level of knowledge on the parts of those who visit here and shouldn’t do that. I thought the last posting was clear but there are questions that seem to transcend the point of that post. With that in mind, here is some clarification for everyone.

There were some variables that I have ignored. First was the timing of the story told by Brigadier General Thomas DuBose. We all believed that the flight made by Colonel Al Clark was on Sunday afternoon, but that might not be right. At the moment, this isn’t important to understanding the last post and I mention it only so that everyone is aware that DuBose had said that Clark made his flight to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, July 6, 1947 or on the same day that Mack Brazel went into Roswell. This is something that is the subject of another post.

The accepted timeline is that Brazel drove into Roswell on Sunday and eventually made his way to Sheriff George Wilcox, who in turn, called the base. That call eventually made its way to Major Jesse Marcel, though thinking about it, Wilcox would have been more familiar with Major Edwin Easley, the provost marshal, or the “chief of police” out at the base. Thinking about it further, and given the circumstances, it would be more logical for Wilcox to call Easley… Marcel might have been brought in if Easley was not immediately available. Remember, this is speculation on my part and something that I mention with trepidation. (And let’s not forget that we do have photographs in Brigadier General Roger Ramey’s office on July 8.)

Marcel said that he had been eating lunch in the Officer’s Club when he got the telephone call from Wilcox. Marcel would say that he met with the sheriff, saw the material that Brazel had brought in with him and returned to the base. He spoke with the commanding officer, Colonel William Blanchard, who mentioned that they now had the counterintelligence guys there and he, Marcel, should take one of them with him.

Marcel and Sheridan Cavitt met at the sheriff’s office, Marcel in his POV (privately owned vehicle, which is the military term for your car) and Cavitt, apparently in a military vehicle. They then followed Brazel to the ranch. Given all the moving around, it would seem that they probably left (note the qualification) around five in the afternoon, but Marcel would say later that it was early afternoon. They got out to the ranch about dusk, according to Marcel, which was too late for them to explore the debris field.

The next morning Brazel saddled a couple of horses and he and Cavitt rode out to the site. Marcel drove in his car and given the terrain, that wouldn’t have been all that difficult. I have driven cars cross country in that area, so Marcel could have easily done it.

They spent the morning out there, and given the descriptions of the debris field, I can’t see what they would have been doing for more than an hour or so. Marcel told Cavitt to head back in, so it would seem that Brazel and Cavitt rode back to their cars and Cavitt would have returned to Roswell. Marcel loaded his car with debris, or according to what he told Linda Corley in 1981, “I loaded my ’42 Buick to the hilt with it and I came on home cause I was late getting home.”

At this point we have the sheriff who had apparently seen some of the debris on Sunday, Marcel and Cavitt following Brazel to the ranch on Sunday afternoon, and then all of them out on the debris field on Monday, July 7. They spent time out there and eventually all leave, with Marcel getting home late on Monday.

Marcel, in the interview with Corley said, “…I brought some of the stuff and put it in the kitchen… So I put a lot of stuff on the floor in the kitchen. One thing I don’t remember is whether I picked up or you [Marcel’s wife] and Jesse picked it up and put it back in my car. Cause I didn’t get back to the base that night [emphasis added].”

Jesse Marcel holding a mock-up of the
I-beam he saw in 1947.
This suggests that at the time Marcel didn’t see anything that suggested to him that it was alien in nature. Unusual yes, but metallic debris is basically metallic debris and if you don’t have something more than that, it is impossible to make the leap to the extraterrestrial. Marcel would tell Corley about a beam that was small and squared, not like the tiny I-beam described by his son. They agreed that it was small and that there were pinkish/purplish figures on it. He mentioned the foil that he said couldn’t be winkled and had said that it was about the thinness of the foil in a pack of cigarettes. He had found a piece that was about two feet long.

Marcel told Corley, “He [a fellow who worked for Marcel] said, ‘You see this piece of metal? ... I tried to bend it, tried to mark on it. You can’t mark it.’ … He took a sixteen pound sledgehammer and put the piece of metal on the ground and he hit it like that and it bounced off.” Marcel pointed the cigarette pack again and said that the foil was as thin as that.

Anyway, according to Marcel, he got home late, but that could easily mean that rather than arriving at five or six in the evening, he got there are seven or eight. He had nothing that caused him to believe he needed to go to the base that evening. Instead, according to this testimony given to Corley, he waited until the next morning. He might have alerted Blanchard that he was back and Blanchard told him to wait until morning.

Given my experience, realizing that it began some twenty years later, I would think that Marcel would have driven out to the base no later than seven-thirty the next morning. It was certainly fairly early and he would have reported to Blanchard, taking him samples of the material. Remember, this is 1947, and people aren’t thinking in terms of an alien spacecraft. Reading the newspapers of late June and early July, 1947, there are hints, but most of the speculation revolves around terrestrial-based technology. It might be Soviet, it might be the Navy, it might be something from White Sands, or it might be some kind of other experiment but no one really thought it was from outer space.

We can speculate that there was a lot of classified message traffic going into the Roswell base; most of it would have been routinely destroyed when it was no longer valid. A purging of the files of classified would be accomplished on a regular basis, eliminating that material that was not relevant to the operation of the 509th Bomb Group. Nothing nefarious there. All military facilities that receive classified material routinely destroy it as it is superseded and no longer useful. There might have been messages about the flying disks, but they would have been informational rather than offering much in the way of explanation. Some of that might not have been classified but those messages are long gone. There is no way to verify what was being transmitted.

There would have been nothing going into Roswell to suggest there was anything classified about these flying saucers at that point. The newspapers were filled with stories about them including explanations for them. The case out of Circleville, Ohio, is important to our discussion, because it suggests some sort of metallic material having been recovered, but again, it was nothing of a classified nature.

The Circleville story struck me as important, not only because everyone there seemed able to identify the balloon for what it was while those in Roswell could not but also because it suggested that what they had wasn’t all that extraordinary. Blanchard, maybe having seen that story, but certainly having seen many of the others printed in the newspapers of the time, issued his press release about capturing a flying saucer.

Given all that, Blanchard called Haut (Marcel certainly wouldn’t have thought to call the public relations guy) and either read to him a press release or gave him the information to write it himself according to what Haut would tell me later. Haut then passed it around Roswell where both George Walsh and Frank Joyce put it on their respective news wires.

At this point nothing was classified. It was just some rubble recovered in a rancher’s pasture seventy or so miles northwest of Roswell. It was unusual material, but no one was talking about anything classified, and even if you wish to bring in Mogul, that material, if it was what had been found, was not classified. Nobody was violating regulations at this point.

For those who believe Roswell was alien, it would be clear that the second site where there was a craft and bodies was found sometime after the press release had been delivered. It seems, based on the documentation, that about fifteen minutes or so after Walsh received the press release, he put it on the wire. It was then too late to recall it, if that had been in their minds.

The answer to the question about Marcel and Blanchard compromising classified information seems to be that they didn’t. At the time they acted, nothing was classified and they did what they thought to be the best thing to do. Blanchard thought they had a partial though mundane answer to the flying saucer mystery and ordered the press release. It was later that they received other, better information, but by that time the high headquarters had taken over. I think this covers the questions that are being asked. It does address some of the concerns and makes sense. Blanchard just wanted people to know that the Army was on top of things and had pieces of one. The press release was designed to make the Army look good to the public and he couldn’t have envisioned the explosion of interest in the topic or the direction some research would take. He just thought he was doing something important for the community.