Did Sheridan Cavitt Visit The Same Crash Site? or "Cavitt Emptor!"
by Bruce Maccabee
INTRODUCTION, January, 2001AS virtually everyone knows, there has been an immense controversy over the so-called Roswell Incident ever since the book by the same name was issued in 1980 (written by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, with investigative work by Stanton Friedman and Bill Moore). The controversy heated up in the latter 1980s as Kevin Randle and Donald Schmidt mounted their own investigation which resulted in two books, the first about the crash at Roswell and the second about "The Truth" of the crash at Roswell. Stanton Friedman and Don Berliner also contributed the story of the crash at Corona (book so named beause the crash site on the Foster Ranch was actually closer to Conona, NM than to Roswell). In the early 1990s there was a General Accounting Office investigation and also an Air Force investigation. It is the Air Force investigation which is of interest because for the first time the only living (in the early 1990's) witness, who was with Jesse Marcel when he retrieved the strange material from the dessert, allowed himself to be interviewed. This witness was Sheridan Cavitt, former counterintelligence officer at Roswell Army Air Force Base. Cavitt was identified as a witness in the early 1980's by Loren Gross who discovered Cavitt's name on a UFO document. Marcel could only recall referring to the man as "Cav" so, until Gross found Cavitt's complete name, it was not possible to search the records to find out who Marcel had taken with him to the crash site. Several months after Gross found Cavitt's name, Moore succeeded in locating him and visiting his house for an interview. However, Cavitt refused to talk about the incident. Years later he also refused to talk to Randle and Schmidt. However, he did talk to the Air Force invesigator and the story below is what he claimed actually happened. The astute reader will realize that Cavitt's testimony is about as solid as a Swiss cheese (full of holes). It is for this reason that Cavitt's testimony is valuable evidence FOR the conclusion that the Roswell debris was truly unusual, as stated by Jesse Marcel.
COLONEL WEAVER'S INVESTIGATION(The following was written in 1994.) In September, 1994. the Air Force released a 23 page summary of its six month investigation into the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico UFO crash event (the "Roswell Incident"). The summary was written by Col. Richard Weaver. According to Col. Weaver what crashed was not a single weather balloon and radar target, as had been claimed by the Air Force (General Roger Ramey) in July, 1947, but rather a very complex arrangement of many such balloons and radar targets which was flown from Alamogordo Army Airfield on June 4, 1947 and not recovered. The flight was part of a formerly Top Secret project called Mogul. Mogul was intended to detect nuclear explosions by listening for them at high altitudes. Of particular importance is the fact that the balloon and radar reflector structure which the Col. Weaver claims was "the" Roswell crash debris was not constructed with exotic materials. According to Weaver the only difference between it and a normal weather balloon with a radar reflector would have been in the quantity of balloon debris, radar reflector materials and connecting cords, coming from perhaps over two dozen neoprene balloons and several radar reflectors. (The instrument package may have appeared slightly different from the instrument package on a normal weather balloon.) It is not my intent here to discuss the Mogul hypothesis in any depth....since I think it is quite shallow. Instead, I wish to examine the testimony of Sheridan W. Cavitt, who was at the time the chief Counter- Intelligence Corps (CIC) officer at the Roswell Army Air Base and who is "universally acknowledged to have been involved" in the Roswell recovery. Sheridan Cavitt was interviewed by Col. Weaver during the Air Force investigation. As I read Cavitt's sworn statement (attachment 17 of the AF report) and the transcript of his interview (attachment 18) I was astonished...
very astonished!There are so many inconsistencies with the testimony of other witnesses that began to ask myself whether or not Cavitt actually visited the site that we think of as "the" crash site.
Let me show you what I mean.
CAVITT'S TESTIMONYAccording to Cavitt's sworn statement, he and Jesse Marcel, the base intelligence officer and Louis Rickett, another CIC officer, all went to the crash site at the same time. He goes on to say,
"To the best of my knowledge the three of us traveled to the aforementioned ranch land area by ourselves (that is, no other persons, civilian or military, were with us)"(my emphasis). In the interview transcript he is quoted as saying,
"To the best of my recollection, I never met the rancher, Brazel."This directly contradicts Jesse Marcel who said he took "Cav" Cavitt along, but not Rickett, and they both went with rancher "Mac" Brazel who was, after all, the only person who knew where to find the debris. (Note: based on reconstruction from Marcel's story, he and Cavitt went with Brazel to the ranch late on Sunday, July 6, 1947. Marcel said they stayed overnight at the ranch, visited the debris field on July 7 and returned to Roswell at night on July 7.) Therefore, Cavitt's statement, exclusive of the Rickett portion, is, by itself, hard to believe because neither Cavitt nor Marcel could have found the site without Brazel's help. Furthermore, Rickett, when interviewed by UFO investigators, said that Cavitt informed him of the crash material after Cavitt and Marcel had returned from their visit to the crash site. This would have been when they returned to the Roswell base early in the morning of Tuesday, July 8. Then, according to Rickett, he went with Cavitt and another man when Cavitt went there for a second time later the same morning. Rickett could not remember the name of he third man (it was presumably not Marcel, since Marcel had been ordered to fly some of the material to Carswell Air Force Base in Texas). In contradiction to this statement by Rickett, Cavitt told Col. Weaver that he didn't go to the site a second time. Cavitt also contradicted Marcel's claim that they (Marcel and Cavitt) spent the night with Brazel at the ranch (without any running water). According to Cavitt's interview statement, this was
"Totally made up, fabricated or whatever. I didn't have any experiences like that of spending the night out on the ranch."Cavitt's sworn statement goes on to say,
"When we got to this location we subsequently located some debris which appeared to me to resemble bamboo type square sticks one quarter to one half inch square, that were very light, as well as some sort of metallic reflecting material that was also very light. I also vaguely recall some sort of black box (like a weather instrument). The area of this debris was very small, about 20 feet square, and the material was spread on the ground, but there was no gouge or crater or other obvious sign of impact."This description of the crash site is contradicted by Marcel who said the area was very large, comparable to a football field in size. Marcel said the arrangement of the debris made it look as if an explosion had taken place in the air while the object was moving rapidly and the explosion caused the material to seem to spread or radiate outward from a small area at one end of the debris field. Cavitt's sworn statment continues with the most amazing revelation of all:
"I recognized the this material as being consistent with a weather balloon.(my double emphasis). It is truly amazing that Cavitt would claim that he recognized it as balloon debris because there is no indication that he told Marcel of his opinion. Why didn't Cavitt point this out to Marcel? Why did he let Marcel think it was something special, something "ET?" And, why didn't he tell Rickett it was debris from a weather balloon? Further on in the interview we find the statement,
"We gathered up some of this material, which would easily fit into one vehicle. There certainly wasn't a lot of this material or enough to make up crates of it for multiple airplane flights."Marcel was explicit in indicating that there was a lot of material, some of which filled up the two vehicles which he and Cavitt used to drive to the Brazel ranch on Sunday (Cavitt drove a Jeep carry-all and Marcel a '42 Buick, according to Marcel). According to Bill Brazel, "Mac" Brazel's son, a large number of Army personel appeared at the crash site to pick up the material which was left behind by Cavitt and Marcel. (NOTE: Cavitt's claim that there was not much debris also contradicts the official Air Force story that it was debris from a crashed Mogul balloon device. This would, indeed, have created a considerable amount of balloon and string debris and perhaps wooden structural members. This debris could have been spread over a large area since a Mogul balloon "train" consisted of many balloons tied in groups and extending over a length of several tens of feet, at least. I suppose the cynic with a conspiratorial bent would, at this point, suggest that perhaps Cavitt had not been very well briefed on what he should tell Colonel Weaver! Keep in mind that Cavitt had refused to be interviewed by people before Weaver, and he also refused after Weaver's visit. Yet, he testified that he had been cooperative with other researchers.) Cavitt's testimony continues as follows:
"What Marcel did with this material was unknown to me, although I know now from reading about this incident in numerous books that it was taken to the Eighth Air Force Headquarters in Fort Worth where it was subsequently identified as a weather balloon, which I thought it was all along."Later in the statement he says,
"I only went to this area once and recovered debris once and to the best of my knowledge there were no other efforts to go back here. If there were they did not involve me There was no secretive effort or heightened security regarding this incident or any unusual expenditure of manpower at the base to deal with it."This claim that there was no particular effort expended to deal with this material contradicts numerous witnesses who said that there seemed to be a lot of activity surrounding the material. Still further in the statement he says,
"With regard to claims that we tested this material by hitting it with hammers without damaging it, I do not recall any of us doing so. I also did not test this material for radioactivity with a Geiger counter (or anything else)."Here he is in conflict with Marcel's statement that some of the men picking up material did "test" it by hammering on it in order to permanently dent it, by attempting to crease it and by attempting to burn it. Marcel said they were not able to dent it, burn it or crease it. Bill Brazel, who collected small amounts of the material during a two year period after the crash, said that he, too, was unable to crease or dent it. (He didn't try to burn it.) Then Cavitt makes a very provocative statement:
"I do not recall attempting to burn any of this debris but my wife tells me she recalled that Jesse Marcel, his wife and son did have a small piece that they held over the fire when we had a cookout."If true, what happened to that piece? Cavitt ended his sworn statement by reiterating his opinion that it was a balloon as "I thought so at the time and think so now," and by emphasizing that he had not been sworn to secrecy and was not withholding any information.
So! There you have it. Marcel and Rickett and all the others (Brazel, Brazel's neighbors, Sheriff Wilcox, Col. Blanchard, etc.) were all wrong, victims of insufficient education or self-delusion. They couldn't recognize a weather balloon, or a collection of weather balloons. Instead believed that the material was exotic. Then they went further and concluded it was from a "flying saucer." But they were all wrong. Cavitt, alone, realized what it was. At least that is what he and Col. Weaver would have you believe. Does this make any sense? Is is possible to explain how Cavitt's story could be so different without assuming that it is a "tall tale" intended to perpetuate the cover-up? Perhaps so, if we make a hitherto unthought of assumption (lots of people have theorized about what happened at Roswell in order to fill in the blanks in the history of the events; now it's my turn). Here I am making the (charitable?) assumption that Cavitt was telling the truth as he knew it. (I am aware of the alternative...that he had been "advised" how to answer by people presumably unknown to Col. Weaver and the AF investigations team.) The reason that there is a glimmer of "hope' that perhaps "Cav" and Marcel might both be correct is to be found in the transcript of the interview as opposed to the signed statement. Therein we learn that Cavitt and his wife had arrived at the base only shortly before the Roswell event. Weaver asked Cavitt when he was transferred to Roswell and he couldn't remember, guessing at first the fall of 1946, just after graduating from the Fort Holabird (Maryland) Counter Intelligence Corps school. Fortunately his wife was present for the interview and she recalled that it was June, 1947, which, according to Col. Weaver, agreed with the Cavitt's AF records. Cavitt's response to this was
"OK.. I told you my dates are slipping my mind.... It's hard to remember July 1947. I hadn't been there very long."(my emphasis) Weaver asked Cavitt if he recalled the incident in early July when "you were asked to accompany Major Marcel to go recover the wreckage of anything?" Cavitt answered,
"Well, there again I couldn't swear to the dates, but in that time, which must have been July, we heard that someone had found some debris out not too far from Roswell and it looked suspicious. It was unidentified. So, I went out and I do not recall whether Marcel went with Rickett and me; I had Rickett with me. We went out to this site. There were no, as I understand, check points or anything like that (going through guards and that sort of garbage) we went out there and we found it. It was a small amount of, as I recall, bamboo sticks, reflective sort of material that would, well at first glance, you would probably think it was aluminum foil, something of that type. And we gathered up some of it. I don't know whether we even tried to get all of it. It wasn't scattered; well, what I call, you know, extensively. Like, it didn't go along the ground and splatter off some here and some there. We gathered up some of it and took it back to the base and I remember I had turned it over to Marcel. As I say, I do not remember whether Marcel was there or not on the site. He could have been. We took it back to the intelligence room... in the CIC office."Then Weaver asked him what he thought it was and Cavitt responded that he thought it was a weather balloon. Later in the interview Cavitt said he made just one trip out to the site and he was sure it was with Rickett, but wasn't sure about Marcel. Weaver asked if he recalled reading about the "flying disc" in the newspaper and Cavitt said he didn't. He only took the paper for some weather reports. At this point his wife made a statement which leads directly to my "solution" to understanding Cavitt's story. She said, "We were so new there. In fact, I think I had just been there just maybe just (sic) a few days because I had been up to my sister's wedding and I don't think at that time we might not even have been taking the paper.... we heard nothing. Of course, we didn't associate with people on the base, either." In the following months and years the Cavitt's got to know the Marcels quite well and become good friends. One may imagine that they worked together quite often in the months and years after "the Roswell crash." These mutually contradictory stories could possibly be reconciled if we assume that Jesse Marcel made one important error of recollection: assume that Marcel was correct in claiming that he was accompanied by a CIC agent, but incorrect in recalling him as being "Cav" Cavitt. Perhaps Cavitt had only been on the base for a week or so based on his wife's testimony so Marcel would not have known him very well at that time. It is a historical fact that when recalling the story in 1979, when he was first extensively interviewed about this, Marcel couldn't remember Cavitt's first name, only that he was called "Cav." Perhaps Marcel was also confused about who actually accompanied him to "the" crash site. Suppose that he thought it was Cavitt, whereas in (my hypothesis) it actually was someone else, perhaps Cavitt's predecessor or some other CIC agent at the base. If this were true, then Cavitt was not involved with "the" Roswell crash. But, if he were not at "the" crash site, then what about his recollections? He clearly (assuming truthful!) recalls finding balloon wreckage with Rickett and, possibly, Marcel. My suggested explanation of Cavitt's story is based on the logical assumption that after the Roswell event was over, and assuming it really was "unconventional," the base would have been hypersensitized to the possibility of other crashes. Perhaps that would also hold true for ranchers in the area. Suppose, then, in the days or weeks following "the" incident, some other crash reports were made and suppose that Cavitt and Rickett and perhaps Marcel, actually went out on one of these and did, indeed, find a balloon. That could, possibly, explain the inconsistency between Cavitt's story and Marcel's. Years later Marcel would remember "the" crash and assume that Cavitt had accompanied him to the site and might forget about or ignore the crashed weather balloon because that was unimportant, whereas Cavitt would remember the weather balloon, but not "the" crash because he wasn't at "the" crash site. What about Rickett's story? Perhaps he didn't go to "the" crash site after all, but only to a balloon site. Or, perhaps, he, too, incorrectly recalled Cavitt as the CIC officer who took him to "the" site. Naturally I cannot say that this hypothesis is correct, only that it might explain the conflicting testimony of three old men trying to recall the day by day, even hour by hour, events of thirty to forty years before. However, if this hypothesis is correct, then it leads to a mystery of its own: who was the CIC agent with Marcel? Could it have been Rickett, in which case Rickett would have visited the site twice? Or was it someone else? If this hypothesis is not correct and we can't find another which allows for all the witnesses to be telling the truth as they recall it, then it would appear that the blame for the inconsistency must be placed on Sheridan Cavitt. Is Cavitt' story a total fabrication for reasons related to the perpetuation of the cover-up? There is, after all, one undisputable fact in this whole story: Col. Blanchard, the Roswell (Army) Air Force commander, did order the release of the story which said a crashed flying saucer had been found on a ranch near Roswell and had been retrieved by Major Jesse Marcel. Col. Blanchard was not reprimanded for this information release (later on he was promoted to General). Furthermore, the stories told by numerous other witnesses tend to support the officially released story of the crash. The story told by Sheridan Cavitt, assuming that it applies to the same crash, is the only one that clearly contradicts this fact.
NOTE ADDED IN JAN. 2001 After this paper was circulated in 1994 I was told that a search of the information on base personnel at the time of the incident had failed to turn up any CIC officer who could have been at the crash site other than Sheridan Cavitt. Hence we must point the accusatory finger at Cavitt: it would appear that he lied during his tesimony to Col. Weaver.