In July of 1947, a strange craft crashed 65 miles northwest of Roswell, New Mexico. Witnesses say it was a craft of extraterrestrial origin. This single event has come to be known as the most famous UFO incident in the world.
July 2nd, 1947 - Wednesday
On July 2nd, 1947, at approximately 11 pm, the New Mexico desert was experiencing heavy rain and a severe thunderstorm. This is when most researchers agree that a strange craft crashed and scattered debris over a vast area.
July 3rd, 1947 - Thursday
On July 3rd, 1947, rancher W.W. "Mack" Brazel discovered unusual debris strewn over a large area at the J.B. Foster ranch, where he worked. Debris was spread over an area approximately 3/4 of a mile long and several hundred feet wide. The debris was metallic and unlike anything he had ever seen. He collected some of it and showed it to his son Bill Brazel, who also could not identify it.
July 4th, 1947 - Friday
On Independence Day 1947, Mack Brazel took some of the debris to Wade's Bar in Corona, New Mexico. The material was passed around by people at the bar as they heard Brazel's story.
July 6th, 1947 - Sunday
On July 6th, 1947, Brazel headed to Roswell, New Mexico, with scraps of the metallic wreckage he recovered from the J.B. Foster ranch. After a few days of showing off the debris at his local bar, Brazel felt it was his civic duty to report his unusual findings, so he made the 65-mile trip to Chaves County Sheriff's Office in Roswell.
Brazel met with Sheriff George Wilcox in hopes of finding an explanation for the unusual wreckage. The men talked as they handled and observed the material. Ultimately, they were baffled by its strange properties and were unsure as to what exactly it was.
Puzzled by what he was observing, Sheriff Wilcox called the local military base to report Brazel's findings. He called the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF). Wilcox spoke with the Head of Intelligence, Major Jesse Marcel, and explained that the debris was worth examining. Marcel was an aviation expert and was in the position to know about any objects in the air. With the news of a crash, Marcel arrived at the Sheriff's office to collect the debris and learn more.
Soon after that, Marcel arrived back at Roswell Army Air Field with the material in his possession. He then met with the Base Commander, Colonel William Blanchard, to express that the crash and material required further investigation. Marcel had a small amount of debris, but a lot more was still spread over a large area at Brazel's ranch. Naturally, Marcel's investigation efforts were approved as he was ordered to travel to the crash site and conduct further analysis.
Many researchers suggest that the events which unfolded next propelled mankind and fueled the most infamous cover-up in the world.
July 7th, 1947 - Monday
On July 7th, 1947, Jesse Marcel and Sheridan Cavitt arrived at the first debris field of a strange crash near Roswell, New Mexico. They were the first military officials to arrive at the site. They quickly realized that what they were seeing was unlike anything known to man. The debris was strewn over a vast area and unrecognizable, even to the highly trained eye of Jesse Marcel.
In the late 1970s, Marcel described the incident by stating, "there were just fragments strewn all over the area. An area 3 quarters of a mile long and several hundred feet wide. So, we proceed to pick up the parts. A lot of it had a lot of little members with symbols that, to me, I call them hieroglyphics because I could not interpret them. They could not be read. They were just symbols of something that meant something."
In addition to featuring unusual writing from a foreign language, the material itself was described as metallic, weightless, and essentially indestructible. According to Marcel, Army officials put the material through several tests to assess its properties. Among those tests were strength and durability tests. Officials could not bend, cut, crease, dent, or burn the material.
Other witnesses describe the material as returning to its original shape when bent or crumbled. This is what has been called "memory material," something unheard of in 1947.
The entire area was eventually cordoned off as a 2nd crash site was discovered about 40 miles from where Marcel was. All roads in and out of Roswell were closed, and the military began its crash retrieval operation.
July 8th, 1947 - Tuesday
On July 8th, 1947, public information officer Walter Haut was ordered by Colonel William Blanchard to send a press release to the local media in Roswell. Colonel William Blanchard authorized the release, and Haut did as he was told. He personally delivered the release to radio stations and newspapers in Roswell. Haut received the information from Blanchard and delivered it to the Roswell Daily Record newspaper. In a recollection of his actions while delivering the memo, Haut expressed that he most likely just dropped off the press release and pointed to it to highlight its importance. On July 8th, 1947, The Roswell Daily Record published a front-page headline that read, "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region." Within hours, this single headline sparked attention from all over the world.
By noon, the news of the recovery was put on the A.P. wire, where it spread to the rest of the world. As a result, the original announcement was carried by newspapers in the evening news that very day.
Jesse Marcel was immediately ordered to transport the debris to higher headquarters in Wright Field, Ohio. Marcel and the debris were loaded onto a B-29, and while on route, the flight was diverted to Fort Worth Army Air Field in Texas. In the afternoon, he arrived at Brigadier General Roger Ramey's office in Fort Worth for a small press conference. The press was awaiting his arrival. This is where Marcel posed for what have become the most iconic images in Ufology.
July 9th, 1947 - Wednesday
On July 9th, 1947, the news of the flying saucer was corrected by Roger Ramey to being merely a weather balloon. This adjustment was highly effective at the time to combat the massive undesired attention and public interest. Ramey issued the correction just in time for major news outlets such as The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post to report it in their morning papers. These outlets did not receive the flying saucer story in time.
Roswell Army Air Field
The Roswell Army Air Field is perhaps best remembered for dropping atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. At the time of the Roswell Incident, the base was home to the only atomic bomb wing in the world, the 509th Bombardment Wing. The base itself is located just 3 miles from the business district in Roswell. It was originally established in 1941 as an Army Air Corps flying school. In 1948, the installation was renamed to Walker Air Force Base and eventually closed in 1967.
Among the wreckage that Marcel collected from Brazel's ranch were small pieces of metal that resembled "I-beams." These beams had strange, indecipherable symbols etched on the inside. When discussing the material, Jesse Marcel Jr. said, "The most unusual part of this whole thing is what was on this I-beam on the inner surface of the I-beam. As you look at it head-on, there appeared to be a type of writing in the mainframe itself. This writing was definitely a purplish/violet hue. It did have an embossed appearance. As I can recall, you can rub your finger on it. It had texture. I don't recall seeing any lines or letters of any kind, but it was more like geometric shapes." This testimony is of the most significant as Jesse Jr. is one of the few people to handle the material in 1947. His dad brought it home at around 2 am on July 8th before delivering it to the base as ordered.
(Computer-aided depiction of The Roswell Material, based on first-hand witness accounts)
Based on the testimony of Gerald Anderson, there was a 2nd crash site located 40 miles from the Brazel ranch. This site was discovered by Anderson's father and uncle as they were on a rock-collecting expedition. At the time, Anderson was just five years old, but he says he remembers seeing three badly injured bodies and one being attempting to communicate. According to a 1991 interview conducted by Stanton T. Friedman, Anderson relayed that the beings were not human. Anderson's testimony is backed by another eyewitness named Barney Barnett. His story was first told second-hand by his friend Vern Maltais. As a surveyor for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, Barnett stumbled upon the site during the daytime. According to Maltais, Barney says he saw the crashed craft and the alien bodies. He was analyzing for some time with another group in the area when military police arrived and escorted them away from the site.
The story of alien bodies at Roswell was also told by Roswell mortician Glenn Dennis. He was called by an Army official who asked him about child-sized caskets and how to preserve a body overnight. Dennis also said that he spoke with a friend, who was one of the nurses at the base who handled the bodies. She told him her chilling account of bodies with enlarged heads, oversized eyes, and suction cups for fingertips.
The Press Conference
In June of 1980, when discussing Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey's Fort Worth press conference, Jesse Marcel said, "They took pictures, of course. They had a whole flock of microphones there; they wanted some comments from me, but I was not ready to do that, so all I could is keep my mouth shut. General Ramey is that one who discussed, told the newspapers, I mean the newsmen, what it is and to forget about. It was nothing more than a weather observation balloon. Of course, we both knew differently."
(Left to right: Jesse Marcel Sr., Roger Ramey, Thomas DuBose)
The photos were taken on July 8th, 1947, by J. Bond Johnson in General Roger Ramey's office at Fort Worth Army Air Field in Texas. These were the photos provided to the media to go along with the weather balloon explanation. Seen in General Ramey's hand is a telegram that has been heavily analyzed for decades. Researchers suggest that the document, fittingly named "The Ramey Memo," contains compelling phrases such as "victims of the wreck" and mentions a 2nd crash site. In 1991, Colonel Thomas DuBose, seen grinning alongside Ramey, admitted that the weather balloon explanation was a cover story for something else.
The story of what happened at Roswell was silenced for decades. It wasn't until the late 1970s when nuclear physicist Stanton T. Friedman began looking for answers and curiously contacted Major Jesse Marcel. He encouraged Major Marcel to come forward with his first-hand account of what actually happened. In the years that followed, several more witnesses came forward to provide their testimony and relay the notion that there was a cover-up by the highest-ranking officials at the time.
Groundbreaking research was conducted by Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt as they spoke with and interviewed over 600 witnesses to uncover the truth. Approximately 150 of these witnesses were directly involved with the incident. One of the most compelling aspects of their testimony is that there was nothing to gain for them other than sharing their perspectives with whoever cared to listen.
In the 1990s, the U.S. Air Force officially published two reports on the Roswell Incident and determined that the case was closed. The reports, however, were not taken too seriously as they stated that all of the witnesses were simply confused. The Air Force offered two other stories before saying it was all part of a top-secret weather balloon operation titled Project Mogul. Furthermore, the report stated that the bodies were just test dummies used by the U.S. Army for flight-altitude experiments. Researchers and enthusiasts were quick to point out that such tests were not conducted until the 1950s, after the Roswell incident.
In 2021, testimony made by several of the key witnesses, such as Major Jesse Marcel, Glenn Dennis, Gerald Anderson, and Jesse Marcel Jr., was detected to be true by the most advanced lie detection software ever designed. The A.I. software, developed by researchers at Dartmouth College, analyzed facial expressions and voice intonations to determine if a recorded statement could be true.
This fascinating incident has been written about in numerous books, featured in various films, and remains a significant event in popular culture. As a result, Roswell has become a household name akin to Area 51 and Flying Saucers. Several U.S. presidents have mentioned and even joked about it. There are perhaps millions of people who genuinely believe that an alien craft piloted by extraterrestrial beings crashed in the New Mexico desert and that the U.S. Army covered it up. Beyond any doubt, the events that occurred over just a few days in July of 1947 have had a lasting impact on the rest of the world.