Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chiles and Whitted Revisited

Although I was working on another project, this Chiles-Whitted thing is beginning to get out of hand, so I thought I’d just run through it again based on the Project Blue Book files, various newspaper reports from the time, and what has been said
Chiles' Drawing
about the case in the years since by a number of UFO writers. There has been some evolution in the sighting details over the years but I’m not completely sure the blame can be laid at the feet of Chiles or Whitted. Their statements, for the most part, have remained consistent.

According to the documentation, gathered in the hours after the sighting, Captain Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted were flying an Eastern Airlines DC-3 at
Whitted's Drawing
about 5,000 feet, heading toward Atlanta. The night was clear and the moon was bright. They were twenty miles from Montgomery, Alabama, when Chiles saw a bright object in front of them. He tapped Whitted on the shoulder and told him that “Here comes a new Army jet job.” (It would seem that the glow of the jet engine would be what Chiles thought he saw and that would mean the aircraft was flying away from him but I digress.)

It appeared to them to be slightly above them and coming directly at them. It flashed by them on the right. Both Chiles and Whitted said that it was cylindrical in shape and that there was a double row of windows along the side. They thought it was about double the size of a B-29 fuselage in circumference and there was a long flame from the rear. As it passed them, one of the passengers, Clarence L. McKelvic, said that he saw a steak of light but no object. It seemed to climb into the clouds and disappear. The object was in sight for something like five or ten seconds.

Chiles called the company on the radio and asked if there was any other traffic in the area, meaning were there any aircraft near him. After they landed in Atlanta at 0349, they learned that the encounter had already been reported to the media. They were taken to radio station WCON and later were interviewed by William Key for the Atlanta newspaper. This provides a record of their descriptions within hours of the sighting.

The Air Force was impressed with the sighting. It might have been because both Chiles and Whitted had been military pilots during World War II. Chiles had been a lieutenant colonel and Whitted had been a first lieutenant. The report in the Project Blue Book files suggest that both were qualified observers, meaning that they were familiar with aircraft and had seen most of the natural phenomena that would be observed in the night sky.

At first the Air Force suggested a weather balloon but then switched to meteor. Chiles and Whitted both rejected the idea, explaining the object was much closer and much slower than a meteor. They also mentioned that they had to maneuver to avoid a collision. Although that information does not appear in the first official accounts, it was reported by Key in his first article. Chiles said, “We veered off to the left and the object veered off to the left.”

He also said, “There was no prop wash or rough air felt as it passed.”

In 1960, in a description of the sighting in a letter to ATIC dated February 17, an unidentified civilian wrote, “The UFO was now almost on top of them. Chiles rocked the DC-3 into a tight left turn. Just as the UFO flashed by about 700 feet to the right, the DC-3 hit turbulent air.”

In 1968, James McDonald interviewed Chiles. One of the points to come out of that was the idea that the object came out of a squall line. The weather that night was described as broken clouds in 4/10s of the sky. We are told that there was a bright moon and there is no mention of a squall line anywhere.

There was another sighting that took place about fifteen minutes earlier near Blackstone, VA. Captain Perry R. Mansfield and co-pilot Louis Feldvary on another flight saw only a streak of light that seemed to be heading west. It was in sight for only three seconds. The Air Force concluded, in 1948, after their investigation that this object was most probably a meteor, given the lack of detail and the brief length of time the object was in sight.

Donald Menzel, the Harvard astronomer and rabid debunker, reported that on the night of July 24, an amateur astronomer in Alabama counted fifteen meteors in a one-hour period. That was part of an annual meteor shower so the rate of meteors hitting the atmosphere was higher than non-shower times.

In the Blue Book files there is a note suggesting that this might be a meteor, though if it had maneuvered to avoid the aircraft, then it was not a meteor and it was under intelligent control. There was a suggestion that a passing of a meteor might produce a perceptual artifact such as the double row of windows, but that it was something to be left to the psychologists.

It turned out, based on other evidence, that such is the case. March 3, 1968, provided a textbook example. The Zond IV spacecraft reentered the atmosphere and broke up in a spectacular flaming display. Most people recognized it for what it was, but a few thought they had seen a cigar-shaped craft with windows along the side.
Zond IV Drawings

Taking this a step further are the videos that appear on YouTube. There are dozens that show meteors as they break up, often looking like a glowing cockpit with a stream of fragments behind it looking just like the lighted windows along a fuselage.

There are those who say that Chiles and Whitted could not have seen a meteor because it was traveling too slowly and it was much too low. They said that it disappeared into the clouds and though McDonald reported they had seen it come out of a squall line, that doesn’t seem to be accurate based on the weather data available.

An object seen against the night sky, through a broken cloud cover, can be quite deceptive. It can appear closer than it is, traveling at a slower speed then it was. Chiles thought the object passed within 700 feet of his aircraft but Whitted thought it was about 2500 feet away.

Their drawings of the object, other than the general shape, don’t match very well, given that they had about an hour to discuss this before the aircraft landed. Whitted said that he saw a double row of six windows and his illustration shows that arrangement. Chiles drawing has a different front end and no real windows like that of Whitted. Of course some of this is nitpicking, but then, the differences do suggest they weren’t actually seeing the thing the same way.

There is one other aspect that needs to be discussed and that is Walter Massey who was a ground maintenance crewman at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. I mention this so that there will be no accusations of hiding information. I’m not sure it is relevant given the timing and the distance but the Air Force as well as other civilian investigators have suggested a connection.

At about 0140 or 0145, or about an hour before Chiles and Whitted had their sighting, Massey said that he had seen a stream of fire that he said, “…was a fairly clear outline and appeared to be cylindrical-shaped object, with a long stream of fire coming out of the tail end… I noticed a faint glow on the belly of the wingless object.” He said that he was sure it wasn’t a meteor.

Massey said that the trajectory of the object was more or less straight and level. He said that it was about the size of a B-29 and that the fuselage might have had a slightly larger circumference. It was too large for a jet.

But this was an hour before Chiles and Whitted and might not be related. By separating the sightings, the explanation becomes simpler. Two separate events. Linked, then you must ask what sort of meteor stays airborne for an hour.

Given all the information, given the description of the object and given the misidentification by some of the Zond IV reentry, I believe that a meteor, or rather a fireball (bolide), is the most likely answer. Or, as some others have pointed out, there is nothing to disqualify that as an answer. All the information suggests meteor (which I say at the risk of sounding like Philip Klass who invoked the
Meteors in Flight
meteor explanation frequently).

And yes, as far as I know, Chiles and Whitted never deviated from their original story and their original descriptions. They rejected the meteor theory from the moment they heard it. They were convinced they had seen some sort of craft that was not part of any countries aviation inventory and was therefore extraterrestrial in origin. For me, the answer seems to be a bolide, but then, you can argue that the experienced aviators wouldn’t have been easily fooled. You just have to pick the side where the evidence seems to be the strongest.

Curse of Oak Island - Finally Some Success

I have been complaining about the Curse of Oak Island for a long time now because it doesn’t seem they are making any progress. They keep getting diverted on other tasks that might interest some but they do little to prove there is anything extraordinary about Oak Island. There are those who suggest that what has been found has a natural explanation (though I don’t know how you explain the coconut fiber laid under the sand or the network of tunnels that fill with water which are considered a booby trap). I think that the treasure, if it was ever there, was retrieved a long time ago, before the boys began digging in 1795.

This week we were treated to a Skype conversation and to another diver who could get to the bottom of 10 X. This guy seemed to be confident that he could do it, and said that he would give it a try. But, before we got to that, there was another tour of the island and the like.

To keep this short, I’ll cut to the last few minutes. The diver talked about his plan, we saw an array of equipment and the safety measures. He was lowered into 10 X, and we can hear the progress as he goes deeper. We can’t see much because the water is cloudy but then, he’s in a tube that isn’t very wide so there really isn’t much to see anyway. He got down to the drill bar that was blocking the hole… and that is quite impressive because they keep mentioning that this part of 10 X is only two feet in diameter. I just don’t understand how an adult to get into that hole, not to mention diving in it upside down.

He got hung up by that drill bar but was able to get around it and entered the chamber, the dome, the void that was just beyond it. We learn that he has made it to the bottom. He is now over 200 feet below ground and standing in this chamber that has been sort of the focus for this whole season. After so many attempts, a diver has reached the bottom.

And that’s where it ends, and frankly, I don’t blame them. What a great “cliffhanger” to suck us to the season finale (I think) next week. But then we get a clue for what is to come in the previews for that show. The diver has found a box and it’s heavy. They also seemed to have put a camera down another hole they had drilled in what they think is the original money pit earlier in the episode and claim to see something metallic down there as well.

I’ve been fooled by clever editing of previews on other shows so that when you finally see the whole scene it isn’t what we had been led to believe. (I think of the Snake Island nonsense where they showed the lid of a chest buried in the ground that could contain great wealth only to learn, once they dig it out, that it is only the lid.) This is probably more of the same, but we do have the diver standing on the solid ground at the bottom of 10 X and we do have hints that they found something else as well. Given that, and given I have followed this thing since the beginning, I’ll tune in. Oh, I expect to be disappointed, but the potential is finally there for a big payoff because the diver is standing on solid ground at the bottom of 10 X.

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Interest in Oak Island is Flagging

I was asked over the weekend how the two guys, the Lagina brothers, could afford this on-going semi-investigation into the Oak Island Treasure. I think part of the answer is History (they used to be the History Channel). I think History is footing quite a bit of the bill, paying the guys for hanging around Oak Island, renting the equipment, and bringing in the distractions to keep the Laginas from getting to the bottom of either the Money Pit or the Bore Hole.

Let me explain.

Over the years I have heard about the astronomical payments made to some of the people participating on these alleged reality shows. The people on Jersey Shore seemed to have become millionaires because of their association with that show. I’ve heard that those on Storage Wars made something like thirty to sixty thousand an episode for that program. Dakota Fred from Gold Rush complained that he wasn’t paid the same rate as Todd Hoffman and some of his crew and that Discovery forked out something like twelve million to fund the bungle in the jungle. Hoffman and crew managed to rake in something like two ounces of gold and a couple of thousand in tiny diamonds during that fiasco.

I could go on in that vein, but all you have to do is take a stroll around the Internet and find some of this information. Given how some of this came out… through court documents, arrests, and lawsuits, if the numbers aren’t accurate then they’re pretty close. The people on these shows are getting paid big bucks to appear on them, and the guys on Gold Rush not only get paid for being there, there is the added bonus of all that gold they mine (and for those who think they’re wrecking the environment, well they showed just what they do to reclaim the land… which, on the show looked very impressive).

As for the diversions on The Curse of Oak Island, that is to keep the show going because if it wasn’t for all that running around the world, the show might have ended in the first season. Clearly History is responsible for the diversions which is not to say that they are planting things to be found such as the Spanish coin that was centuries old but that you could buy  on eBay for a few bucks… and they weren’t responsible for the sword that was apparently found in the water off Oak Island whatever that meant. Still, screwing around with the sword that was, what, maybe a hundred years old, took up a great deal of time as did flying to Miami to have the coin evaluated. Too bad there were no coin dealers in Canada or the Northeast who could have told them about it.

We’re again treated to a suggestion that another diving team was going to attempt to get down through the Bore Hole. It just seems to me that this avenue could have been explored long ago and it makes you wonder if they know that there is nothing down there. If there isn’t, then interest falls way off… but if there is, then some of these other activities make sense.

I don’t know about you, but they’re drawn this out to the point where I just don’t care anymore. Oh, sure, if they could up with a huge treasure that would rekindle my interest, but at this point it is flagging rapidly. There had better be some kind of a payoff soon, or I’ll be one of the many tuning out.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chiles/Whitted and Skepticism

Since some people have gone nuts over the article about pseudoskepticism, I thought I might demonstrate what I think along those lines. There is a claim that Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted, two airline pilots saw a cigar-shaped craft that flashed by their aircraft buffeting it with the turbulence of its passage. A passenger on the aircraft didn’t actually see the object, but did see the light from it. The other passengers were on the wrong side of the aircraft or they were asleep given the late hour.

Chiles/Whitted illustrations. Photo courtesy of USAF.
Proponents of the alien visitation explanation suggest that you have two reliable observers who both saw virtually the same thing at the same time and within hours of the event provided military investigators and radio reporters with their eyewitness testimony. They believe this is a solid case and point to the evidence of alien visitation.

Skeptics say that they were fooled by a bolide, a very bright meteor, and although both had seen many meteors during their nighttime flights, this was something different. It was bigger and brighter and was only visible for a few seconds. The case is solved by this explanation.

Proponents ask, “How do you explain that both pilots saw a cigar-shaped craft with a double row of square windows?”

I say, “That question is fair enough. How do we explain it?’

And the answer was given to us on March 3,1968 when the Zond IV, a spacecraft that had been made on Earth reentered the atmosphere. While the majority of those seeing the craft as it broke up in a shower of glowing pieces, there were some who thought they saw a cigar-shaped craft with square windows. Clearly this description was in error and it calls the Chiles-Whitted case into question. It shows that witnesses, provided with a glimpse of a glowing object at night can image they have seen something that was not there. They were fooled by an optical illusion and the way the brain functions.

Zond IV reentry illustrations.
In fact, in today’s world, with the Internet hosting all sorts of video clips we can take this a step further. Meteor falls have been recorded many times and in them we can often see an object breaking up with glowing pieces stringing out behind it. The illusion, for those who happen to glimpse something like that is a glowing cockpit and a row of windows along the fuselage of the craft. Meteors can fool us when seen briefly and in those conditions.

Yes, you say, but what about the turbulence felt as the craft passed Chiles and Whitted. Surely a meteor wouldn’t create that turbulence.

And skeptics say, look at the statements they made right after the event. Written statements signed by both men within hours of the sighting. They don’t mention the turbulence at all. That fact was introduced later.

What about the passenger? He only glimpsed a bright light flash by which serves to prove something was in the sky, but he didn’t see a cigar shape or rows of windows. His role in this sighting does nothing to validate the object or the windows. He didn’t see them.

What do we see here? Proponents offered a case that seemed to suggest alien visitation. Two airline pilots reported a cigar-shaped craft with square windows. Clearly this was not something manufactured on Earth. Skeptics said, “No, it was a meteor.”

Who is right?

Well, the skeptics seem to have the weight of the evidence on their side. They acknowledge that Chiles and Whitted saw something extraterrestrial, but it was not an alien spacecraft. They believed that they saw square windows, but we now know that can be an artifact created in the mind when something is glimpsed that is unusual. We can say, based on evidence from other reported events, that this illusion of a cigar-shaped craft with square windows is a perception problem and not a glimpse of reality.

The added fact, which might have disconfirmed the explanation, that is the buffeting of the aircraft, is not something that was reported by either pilot at the time. This “fact” was added sometime later.

It seems to me, that proponents offered what they thought of as a solid case, but skeptics, as they researched the events, using the testimony of the witnesses and their written statements, plus the observations of the Zond IV reentry, have proved their case. They didn’t just dismiss it by claiming hoax without evidence, or by suggesting other wild ideas, but provided solid evidence that the object observed was a meteor. I believe this to be a good explanation.

The point here is that the proponents had some very good testimony gathered within hours of the event. They had the drawings of the object with its square windows. Skeptics didn’t have the best evidence until 1968, but then we all could see how people might mistake a bright meteor glimpsed as it broke up as a craft with windows. Video tape confirms that impression. The evidence gathered in the years following the sighting proved that explanation is the most likely of the solutions offered… and to me that is how skepticism should work… I was skeptical of the meteor explanation until the evidence was laid out.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Skepticism vs. Pseudoskepticism

We have had arguments about the purpose of skepticism and what it means to be a skeptic. I have often thought it odd that the skeptics seem to embrace the explanations for UFO sightings with little or no skepticism but continue to demand boatloads of proof from those who believe UFOs might be alien. Sure, I get that the bar for the believers is higher because of what that belief is, but that doesn’t absolve the skeptics from presenting rational thought. The best example that pops into my mind is Project Mogul. They seem to embrace it even though the documentation suggests that there was no Flight No. 4. They point to the cluster of balloons as a real, full array, but the documentation doesn’t support that. It would seem to me that the skeptics would be as skeptical of this “official” answer as they are of the alien answer (okay, not quite as skeptical given that the believers must create interstellar flight but the documentation does argue against Mogul).

Although I really don’t want this to devolve into another endless and somewhat mindless discussion of all the minutia about Mogul (though I’m sure there will be those that just have to say something about it), the real point is what skepticism should really be and how it should really work. If I came up will all that follows, I’m sure it would be rejected simply because I was the one who came up with it. To prevent that, I suggest that everyone take a look at:

Now you all can argue about what is skepticism and what is pseudoskepticism, but the point is that many of the arguments made here are outlined in the article. I could say more about it, but the arguments made in the article are more elegant than anything I could do here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oak Island and the Roman Sword

After most of a season of just screwing around and doing nothing more than digging up more areas on Oak Island that yielded bits of wood, stumps and a hunk of cable, they finally moved back to Borehole Number Ten and set up a dive. This was to get them to the bottom of the hole where it is alleged that there is a box of some kind, the remnants of a hammer or ax and the possibility of human remains.

We did see them attempt to make the dive. They got in the water and disappeared into what looked like a thick, yellow soup. The lights they carried disappeared in seconds. As did the communications. The dive master called off the dive at that point for safety reasons. One of the divers reappeared quickly, but the second didn’t. We see some tense minutes, knowing that if there had been some sort of tragedy we would never see it and, of course, one of the alleged news magazines on television would have reported it. The second diver appeared after about thirty minutes.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m all for calling off the dive under those circumstances. Diving into that narrow tube that goes down a couple of hundred feet is an incredible thing to do and obviously neither man had issues with claustrophobia. I wouldn’t do it and from their discussions in the “War Room” there are plenty of other divers who refused the opportunity as well.

The next day, the divers were back, having fixed the communications issue but there was some trouble with the masks. They didn’t want to make another dive without fixing that problem as well. Everyone was disappointed but all agreed was that safety had to be the paramount issue. That seemed to be a sane decision to me.

Before the hour was over, the divers were back to make another attempt. This surprised me because the episodes rarely return to a point made earlier in the program. The divers had their equipment with them with the dive mask issues resolved and the communications working. They made the dive and according to them, one of the divers got to the end of the borehole but was stopped by a huge drill bit that broken off some forty years earlier. It was lodged in the borehole, blocking access to the underground cave or room or whatever that supposedly holds the treasures.

There seems to be no plan to remove the drill bit (this isn’t something small like in your handheld drill but a huge auger used to professionally to drill deep holes that are several feet in diameter). It is wedged at the bottom of the narrowest part of the bore hole which is something like 140 feet (or deeper) so the challenge to remove it might be overwhelming.

Rather than attempt to solve this problem, they retreat to the War Room to meet with a couple of guys that have something concealed in a towel. This turns out to be a Roman sword, which might be about 1500 years old… or it might be a replica that is only a few decades old. It was apparently discovered somewhere close to Oak Island in the 1940s and everyone seems to believe this has some relevance. Maybe the Romans had sailed to Oak Island centuries before Columbus.

Now, they’re off on another tangent, trying to find out how old the sword is and how it might relate to Oak Island. I would think, with the amount of money they have spent in their attempt to learn what is hidden (or not hidden) there, they would not be interested in a Roman sword that probably has no relevance to Oak Island and what might be hidden there.

Or, in other words, they’ve dragged this out long enough. For crying out loud, stop screwing around draining swamps, following dowsers, using esoteric maps based on all sorts of strange theories, and stop running sonar off the coast of the island so they can look at triangular-shaped rocks that might or might not be natural. Just figure out a way to get the drill bit out of the borehole or put a camera down there that has some sort of high definition capability to provide some revelation because I won’t wait forever and I don’t think many others will either. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Jesse Marcel Conundrum

I knew the “This and That” post would draw some interesting responses, but I didn’t see it moving into the arena it has. Some of the questions being asked are quite insightful and I have some of the answers. For those answers I don’t have, David Rudiak will probably provide some additional commentary to help us understand the situation.

According to Stan Friedman, he was in Baton Rouge on February 20, 1978, when one of the directors of a television station told Friedman he should talk to Jesse Marcel. Marcel said that he had handled pieces of a flying saucer, and though Friedman said he was dubious, he took down Marcel’s name and using directory assistance (does that still exist?) was given Marcel’s telephone number. At the airport with some time to spare, he called Marcel. According to Friedman, Marcel related to him, during that telephone conversation, the details of the crash, though Marcel couldn’t remember the date. He knew it was Roswell where it happened.

According to Friedman’s book, Crash at Corona, it seems Marcel had already
Jesse Marcel
formed the idea that the debris was left by something alien. Friedman quotes indirectly from Marcel (which means it is Friedman telling us what Marcel said), but I don’t know if the quotes came from that first conversation or if in writing the book and knowing the full story in the 1990s that he recreated the quotes from other, later interviews. Since this was a telephone interview using an airport telephone, I suspect there is no tape.

On April 7, 1978, according to Len Stringfield, he linked a Chicago reporter, Steve Tom (I use the term reporter though Stringfield actually identified him as an NBC radio newsman) to Jesse Marcel at his home in Houma, LA. Marcel again talked about the event, the strange material. According to Stringfield, Marcel said that when the press learned about the retrieval operation and “To get them off my back, I told them we were recovering a downed weather balloon.”

In his Status Report Number II, Stringfield wrote, “Since the Major’s story got publicity, it has been said by some researchers that the retrieved fragments were possibly part of the Skyhook balloon, at that time classified as Secret. On October 5, 1979, I called him and got this comment:

The material I gathered did not resemble anything off a balloon. A balloon, of any kind could not have exploded and spread its debris over a broad area… I was later told that a military team from my base was sent to rake the entire area.
I don’t know if Stringfield recorded any of these conversations with Marcel. After Stringfield died, his files were donated to MUFON which restricts access to them (and most of their other material). Those in the Chicago area might try to find a recording of Marcel on the NBC affiliate there in 1978, though I suspect Mark Rodeghier, who found the “Headline Edition” from ABC probably already checked on that.

Bob Pratt interviewed Marcel on December 8, 1979. I have posted the exact transcript of that interview to this blog at:

Karl Pflock published a cleaned up version of this in his book, Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe. As I have noted, in his cleaned up version, some of the problems with the Pratt interview were, well, cleaned up. In one place the insertion of a comma changes the meaning of the sentence.

There is another point that raises questions and it surfaces in both the transcript and the article that Pratt wrote. According to that article:

Wreckage from the UFO “was scattered as far as you could see,” revealed Marcel who was awarded five air medals for shooting down five enemy aircraft on bombers in World War 2. [What a bizarre sentence from a professional writer.]
As we all know, Marcel was awarded two Air Medals for combat missions during that war. There are no indications that he shot down any enemy aircraft and I don’t know if the error was one of Pratt’s misunderstanding what Marcel said, or if it was a claim made by Marcel. I did ask Pratt if he had retained the tape recording but he told me that once the story had been published, they reused the tapes… It just shows that you never know what is going to become important.

Here’s what I do know at this point. The first Friedman interview was by telephone while Friedman was at the airport. Marcel didn’t say anything about the photographs and while in today’s world, if Friedman had photographs, he could have shown them to Marcel using the Internet, in 1978, that capability just didn’t exist. Besides, Marcel wasn’t sure of the date and it was Bill Moore who finally found the newspaper articles that included pictures of Marcel so Friedman didn’t have the pictures then and didn’t know they existed.

The subsequent Moore/Friedman interviews were apparently also conducted over the telephone, according to a quote attributed to him in Linda Corley’s book about Marcel and Roswell. According to her taped interview, Marcel said, “Now those guys, Charles Berlitz and William Moore, I bet I have spent as much as ten hours along these telephones with these two guys. I’ve never met either one of them.”

Corley questioned him on this point and Marcel said, “I never met them. They interviewed me on the phone.”

At that point, I’m sure that they have copies of the newspaper clippings some of which contained a picture of Marcel and the balloon wreckage and might have even gotten prints of the pictures from the Fort Worth Star - Telegram, but they couldn’t show these pictures to Marcel over the telephone. According to Berlitz and Moore, Marcel told them, over the telephone:

General Ramey allowed some members of the press in to take a picture of this stuff. They took one picture of me on the floor holding up some of the less-interesting metallic debris. The press was allowed to photograph this, but were not allowed far enough into the room to touch it. The stuff in that one photo was pieces of the actual stuff we found. It was not a staged photo. Then they allowed photos. Those photos were taken while the actual wreckage was already on its way to Wright Field. I believe these were taken with the general and one of his aides…
If we look at that, and the captions about where Berlitz and Moore got the pictures, we see that there was some manipulation going on there. They got a quote from Marcel that endorsed the picture of him with some of the real debris, but we don’t know if it was the whole picture or the cropped version they printed. What is clear is that when Johnny Mann showed him the pictures in The Roswell Incident, Marcel said they didn’t show the real debris.

Yes, I know some of the skeptics just can’t imagine Marcel not keeping copies of the newspaper articles that mentioned his name but then suggest the whole flying saucer brouhaha was such an embarrassment to him that he would, decades later, attempt to spin the story. But I know that things get lost as the years pass and I know that my picture appeared in the Denver Post in the early 1970s receiving a military award for service in Vietnam but I do not have a copy of that article.

I suggest that it is possible that Marcel, not having seen the heavily cropped pictures that would be published in The Roswell Incident because the interviews were conducted over the telephone, would remember pictures being taken at the time but might have not remembered the sequence. His statement about him being with the real debris when the pictures were taken could easily refer to another event and not what had transpired in Ramey’s office. So, when shown copies of the pictures from Ramey’s office, he rightly said, “That’s not the stuff I picked up.”

This seems to be a plausible explanation for this dilemma. He was photographed with some of the real debris, but those pictures were not taken in Ramey’s office. It wasn’t Marcel getting coached into what to say about it, but how he actually remembered the events. Though there is another problem with this analysis and that is Marcel told Corley that on orders for Ramey, he had covered the real debris with the brown paper that is seen in the uncropped versions of all the pictures taken in Ramey’s office. This suggests that Marcel’s memories of those events might not be completely accurate.

Jesse Marcel, standing and pointing, briefing flight crews during the Second  World War.
Photo copyright by Kevin Randle
There are other problems that arise from these transcripts of earlier interviews. Pratt said that Marcel was awarded five Air Medals for shooting down five enemy aircraft, but given Pratt’s transcript and other information, this mistake might be Pratt’s rather than Marcel’s. In the transcripts of the raw footage of UFOs Are Real, it said, “10 April 1942 volunteered for active service… 1st assignment Washington five Air Medals, the Bronze Star and several comendations [exactly as written out in the transcript].”

Since there is no mention of the five enemy aircraft, it would seem that the mistake was Pratt’s. The other problem is that there is only documentation for two Air Medals. As I have said before, my records did not contain the correct number of Air Medals, so we might have a similar situation. This just might not be sufficient reason to reject, out of hand, all that Marcel said.

What is more disturbing is his claim to have received a commendation for performing an appendectomy while in the service. This is something that should be recorded in his military record but I find nothing about it. I did find mention of another commendation for Marcel, but it was for service during Operation Crossroads. Maybe the commendation for the emergency surgery slipped through the cracks, but there comes a point when you can no longer blame Army inefficiency for the errors in the record (though I have said that if you do something wrong, that note has the permanence of the Pyramids and if you do something right it has the half-life of a mayfly).

There are two things I found in these transcripts that are interesting. First, Marcel said that after loading his car with the debris, “I stopped by the house had left the day before and son and wife were waiting for me.”

This is curious because the story had always seemed to be that he had awakened them to show them the strange debris. This suggests that he had stopped by so they wouldn’t worry and that it wasn’t very early in the morning but late evening. A minor problem at best.

In the transcript (which, by the way, is strange) it is noted that on “Tape 2” at the 24:16 minute mark, Marcel apparently told them that Haut had issued the press release before he had even returned from the field. The exact quote on this transcript is, “He (Walt Haut had released statement to press before Jesse had even returned home that night.” (Yes, this is how it was written out, so it is not exactly Marcel’s words.)

Apparently Marcel said that his wife had been “pestered by the news media.”

In Linda Corley’s book, Marcel makes a similar statement. He said, “She [wife] didn’t even know where I was. By the time I got home, she had already faced the press that was out there.”

What this does is screw up every time line created for this because we have the press release going out before Marcel got home… which had to be late afternoon at best given the distance from the debris field to Roswell even making the best time possible. Then we need to get Marcel on an aircraft early enough to get to Fort Worth in time to have his picture taken with the balloon debris.

It is possible, of course, that Marcel had confused coming home from the debris field with his coming home from Fort Worth after his quick trip there. He seems to have mixed up elements of the two events, confusing the timing, but then, that is just my speculation.

Then it gets worse, if possible. Marcel is quoted in the transcript, apparently paraphrasing General Ramey, “You can go ahead and scatter some of those pieces on the floor for the photographers and press but make sure they don’t get any details about anything.”

There was a question, “Was that the actual material you had found?”

“I prepared that for the press. (That big piece was not part of it). [parens in original document.]”

And then it gets better. Marcel said, “Let me show you something. There’s a picture of the same room [Ramey’s office, I will assume here] It’s not the material I brought there.”

Then on “Tape 3” comes more information. The director or the interviewer or the one asking questions said, “I talk about book I’m showing him [Which has to be something with the various pictures from Ramey’s office.] Book in Jesse’s lap showing warrant officer [has to be Irving Newton and that rules out The Roswell Incident]. The director asked, “This is not the material you found?” Marcel said, “Definitely not.”

The trouble here is that Marcel in the same film said that if he was in the photographs it was the real stuff and if it was anyone else, it was the fake. But now we learn that he was shown those photographs during that filming and before anyone could teach him the right answer, said that it wasn’t the material he had brought from Roswell.

The questions then, have been answered, sort of. We learn that the first interview was probably not recorded and are treated to Friedman’s recollections of what was said. We learn that the interviews of Marcel by Berlitz and Moore were conducted over the telephone. We do find quotes from Marcel that seem to contradict the story as it has been told for all these years which is quite troubling. And we find other quotes that seem to support that story, which suggests some manipulation by the various UFO researchers. Is it enough to reject now what Marcel said? Depends on your point of view, but we do have more information that suggests Marcel’s memories are not completely reliable on many of these points and at this time, that might be the best we can do.

(Note: For those interested, this has grown much larger than I anticipated. I looked through Marcel’s service record again, I reviewed the other material in that file, rereading after decades some of the partial transcripts that I have which provide some disturbing information, looked again a Linda Corley’s book to see what she said about the early interviews with Marcel, and reviewed what Friedman had published. There is more to this story, which I’ll get into some form for publication.)