Industry Issue 19-1

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One of Roswell New Mexico’s Now-Major Industries:


by Jan Girand


The incident referred to–the alleged UFO crash–did not occur in or near Roswell; facts tend to get skewered.

The old news of this happening became new news in the 1990s.

It began with a bang in early July 1997, with great fanfare and publicity, on the 50th anniversary of the alleged incident celebrated in Roswell. Ever since, word of the incident has continued to reach larger international audiences. The plot–like crowds visiting Roswell–thicken.

People love intrigue and unsolved mysteries. And many Americans and foreigners love to hate the U.S. government. A governmental cover-up they said? That fueled the curiosity of the multitude.

The first well-known book on this subject, UFO CRASH AT ROSWELL, written by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt, was published by Avon Books in 1991. The title of that book may have been where the confusion began, since the crash was not at Roswell, but was, instead, 75 miles away. Also, little green men weren’t found at that crash site. The story says those unique guys were found at a site even further away, in southwest New Mexico. However, the alleged cover-up did occur near Roswell, at the RAAF (Roswell Army Air Force) base a few miles south of the community. With Randle’s and Schmitt’s book in 1991, and the subsequent internationally publicized UFO Festival in 1997, a legend and an industry were born.

Randle and Schmitt interviewed hundreds of people; from facts gathered, they wrote their book. Soon others conducted their own investigations, also wrote about it and produced movies and made-for-TV specials. This phenomenon and related incidents at other New Mexico sites in the summer of 1947 began to be broadcast world-wide in the 1990s.

The 1947 Roswell Incident, silenced for decades and called a governmental cover-up by many, was finally brought out into the open for the world to see and analyze for themselves.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Roswell’s economy ebbed. Main Street businesses closed, residential properties languished on the market, the area’s oil and gas industry barely flowed.

Three local, well-known 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, knew a good thing for the community when they saw it. The first annual UFO Festival landed in Roswell July 5, 1997, launching Roswell’s soaring UFO Tourism Industry.

Here’s the real deal (allegedly):

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. At first, Brazel and his neighbors assumed a governmental experimental craft had crashed.

Sunday, July 6, Brazel made the trip into Roswell to report his find. It was a long journey for those days of post- World War II when gas and other aspects of transportation were scarce and costly. He first stopped at the Chaves County 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 town.

While Brazel was still at the station, 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 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 Marcell and other military men to accompany Brazel to the ranch and 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 PIO (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 held by the military for up to a week at the RAAF base. He 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. It was a cover-up, privately said witnesses then, and later publicly proclaimed UFO historians.

UFO historians learned that another debris field had been discovered a day earlier than the one near Corona. That one was found near Magdalena, New Mexico, on the Plains of St. Agustin. It had a more intact wrecked disc-shaped craft and also alien bodies.

Glenn Dennis, then a Roswell mortician, much later claimed he was contacted by the RAAF asking about child-size coffins and wanting advice on how to preserve bodies. He said that 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 observed, 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. However, records later never proved this woman existed..

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 July 1947 days and nights. Some say those bodies were flown, for closer scrutiny, to a top-secret military installation in Nevada called Area 51. There is no Area 51 in New Mexico, much less around Roswell, except in imaginatively named stores and on merchandise for the public that loves mysteries and government cover-ups.

Which was it? Weather balloon, or a flying disc or similar type UFO containing aliens that crashed on the Plains of St. Agustin, a portion of which came to earth in a cow pasture near Corona? Will we ever know for sure? There are credible people who believe they do know. Regardless, the 1947 Roswell Incident has grown into an important tourism industry for this community. The International UFO Museum and Research Center was incorporated in 1991; since then, several million people have passed through its doors.

Entrance of the UFO International Museum and Research Center–the horseback figure greeting visitors is Mac Brazel, the cowboy who found debris in his pasture July 5, 1947.