THE ROSWELL INCIDENT
Roswell’s Growing Tourism Industry began with an in-depth investigation, which included interviewing hundreds of people, by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt. Together they wrote the first book that publicized the incident: UFO CRASH AT ROSWELL, published in 1991 by Avon Books. Soon others conducted their own investigations, wrote about it, and produced movies and made-for-television specials. Publicity caused this, and related incidents at nearby New Mexico sites during that summer of 1947, to broadcast the phenomenon world-wide.
The 1947 Roswell Incident, silenced for decades and called a governmental cover-up by many, was finally out in the open for the world to see and analyze for themselves.
Almost 50 years after the incident, three local, well-known and respected Roswellites — Walter G. Haut, W. Glenn Dennis and J. Max Littell, two of whom were directly involved in the 1947 Roswell Incident — joined together to establish the International UFO Museum and Research Center at Roswell. Other “city fathers,” including the mayor, saw a good thing for Roswell when they saw it, and the first UFO Festival was held in Roswell in early July 1997, 50 years after the alleged incident. Roswell’s UFO Tourism Industry was born, landing on its feet running.
July 3, 1947, Mac Brazel, a ranch hand at the Foster ranch near Corona in Lincoln County, 75 miles northwest of Roswell, found a large area of strange debris in his pasture after hearing what sounded like a crash the previous night. With him on horseback that day of discovery was a young neighbor boy, Timothy D. Proctor. There were no bodies, only a wide-spread area of unusual material, and at first, Brazel and his neighbors assumed a government experimental craft had crashed.
Sunday, July 6, Brazel made the long journey — long for those days of post World War II when gas and other aspects of transportation were scarce and costly — into Roswell to report his find. He first stopped at the Sheriff’s office, and showed a sample of the debris to Sheriff George A. Wilcox. The sheriff suggested he report it to the nearby Army Air Base south of Roswell.
While Brazel was there, a local radio announcer, Frank Joyce, happened to call the sheriff’s office looking for news items to broadcast. Wilcox put Brazel on the phone and Joyce interviewed him. Wilcox called the Air Base to report a rancher was in his office with parts of a flying saucer. Soon, military officers, including air intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel and USA Colonel William Blanchard, arrived to examine the unique debris and question Brazel.
Col Blanchard ordered Marcel and other military men to accompany Brazel to his ranch and the crash site. Additional military personnel soon arrived to guard the large site, and to remove all traces of the debris.
Marcel contacted 8th Air Force commander, USA Brigadier General Roger Ramey. On July 8, Blanchard, acting on orders from Washington DC, ordered the public information officer, Walter Haut, to issue a press release announcing the discovery of a “flying disc.” This official news release, published in 30 newspapers and broadcast on numerous radio stations on July 8, said the finding of the 509th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was debris from the crash of a flying disc.
Later, Brazel was allegedly held by the military for up to a week at the RAAF, and he then changed the story he told to the media. Others, including the military, also changed their stories. Military spokesmen and the government claimed the debris was from a weather balloon, and they showed the public some weather balloon material as proof. Cover-up, said witnesses then, and later also said UFO historians.
UFO historians learned that another debris field had been discovered a day earlier than the one near Roswell. That one was found near Magdalena, New Mexico, on the Plains of St. Agustin. It supposedly had a more intact wrecked disc-shaped craft and also alien bodies.
Glenn Dennis, then a Roswell mortician, was contacted by the Roswell AAF asking about child-size coffins and for advice on how to preserve bodies. When he went to the base hospital to deliver the small coffins, he encountered a tense and strange atmosphere. While he was there, a nurse he knew told him about an amazing but frightening autopsy on an alien she had just observed there, and told him it was a dangerous, closely guarded secret. According to Dennis, she seemed to have disappeared soon after her mystifying encounter with him. People later interviewed by authors Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt and others said alien bodies were secretly flown out of the Roswell Army Air Field sometime during those early days of July 1947.
The Roswell Incident ultimately became the best known and most widely believed of any UFO incident, reported any time and anywhere in the world, because of the quantity of reported evidence, and the large number of living witnesses who corroborated, that indeed something unusual happened in and near Roswell in early July, 1947.
Which was it? Weather balloon, or a flying disc or similar type of UFO containing aliens? Will we ever know for sure? There are many credible people who believe they do know, without any doubt, which of the two it was. Regardless, the 1947 Roswell Incident has grown into an important tourist industry for this community. The International UFO Museum and Research Center was incorporated in 1991; by the summer of 2001, one million people had passed through its doors.