NCP-20: Roswell Debris
Updated December 16, 2010
New Mexico was the home of the 509th Bomb Group which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Of all the things written about Roswell, this short paper by Kevin Randle pretty well spells out what the debris was like and what it wasn't like. If anyone has any doubt about the many other witnesses' testimony concerning the nature of the debris, this should make it obvious: These elite men, from the 509th could not identify the Roswell material. In fact, it is testimony that would pass in a court of law that the material appeared to be, in 1947, "not of this earth". Over half a century later nothing like this material has appeared in our technology. - Fran Ridge
First discovered the debris
July 8, 1947: The Morning Briefing
It was after three in the morning when Major Jesse Marcel arrived at the base. He headed for his office, a small wooden building. Across the hall from his office was the counter-intelligence office where the agent who had accompanied him to the field waited. They discussed what to do then.
Maj. Jesse Marcel Sheridan Cavett
Base Intelligence Officer CIC Agent
The Base Commander, William "Butch" Blanchard, was an early riser and there was nothing critical in what either Marcel or the CIC man knew. Nothing that couldn't wait a couple of hours until Blanchard was awake. The area of the crash was isolated and to that point not many people knew where it was or that it had happened. If it hadn't been compromised yet, the odds were that it would not be compromised by waiting a couple of hours.
Col. William "Butch" Blanchard
While sitting there, drinking coffee, both men knew that they had stumbled onto something extraordinary. Neither man had been able to recognize any of the material scattered over the desert. The properties of it, the foil that could be rolled into a ball and then unfold itself without a crease, the sheets of metal that were paper-thin but that couldn't be dented or bent suggested that it hadn't been made on the Earth.If the object, whatever it was, had been terrestrial in origin, but from a secret project, it might have been something that neither Marcel nor the CIC agent knew about. There has been discussion that it was the aluminum foil parachute assembly from a V-2, for example. Since neither man, nor anyone at the base, would need to know about the V-2 testing at White Sands, they might not have known what it was.
Marcel, with a top secret clearance, and the CIC agent with a need to know anything he deemed necessary for the completion of his work, could have learned about the V-2 testing. Both would have known who to call at the various bases and installations around Roswell. They could have gotten an answer. Had it been anything from any of those facilities, they would have been told either to mind their own business because there was nothing to worry about, or they would have gotten a classified briefing on the matter. Marcel, for example, knew all about the atomic bombing of Japan before it happened. Years later when President Truman read a speech about the Soviet development of atomic weapons, it was Marcel who had provided the text.
But that does not address the real point. Even if Marcel and the CIC man had not known about the V-2 testing, or any of the other secret projects, they would have recognized the material as something terrestrial. Aluminum foil used as a parachute on a V-2 nose cone is still aluminum foil. Copper wiring and vacuum tubes used in radios and avionics are still copper wiring and vacuum tubes. What they found on the desert did not resemble those things except in the grossest sense.
So, knowing that they had something extraordinary, but also knowing that the time between three and six in the morning wouldn't compromise the crash site, they waited for Blanchard to get up.
Blanchard lived on the base. He had the big house that was just inside the gate. As soon as they thought he would be awake, they drove over to the house and then, sitting in the kitchen, told Blanchard what they had. Marcel had brought a couple of the smaller pieces of the wreckage, including one of the I-beams with the markings on it
They then planned their strategy. They knew how desolate the area was, but there were people living in it.
Marcel and the CIC man had picked up as much of the material as they could, but they hadn't come close to cleaning the field. Debris was still scattered out there for all to see.
Blanchard's first act was to get on the phone to call the Provost Marshal. Although it was next to impossible to direct someone to the debris field, it was possible to get them into the general area. Blanchard ordered the Provost Marshal to block all the roads that led into the crash site. That would keep the curious from stumbling over it.
He also called the Base Adjutant and told him to bump the normal 9:00 staff meeting to 7:30. It would be limited to the primary staff including, of course, Marcel and the CIC man. They had to decide on a course of action.
With the commander alerted, Marcel and the CIC man left, Marcel heading home to take a shower and get cleaned up. He had enough tune for a quick breakfast and then drove back out to the base.
At the staff meeting, Marcel showed some of the material that they had found. In discussions later, it was pointed out that some of the wreckage was in Blanchard's office. He, along with members of the staff, handled the material.
The major concern then was that someone else, someone outside the military, would get their hands on some of the wreckage. Blanchard decided that the fastest way to keep people out of the general area was to tell them that it had been picked up. Blanchard acting on orders issued in Washington, D.C., ordered Walter Haul, the PIO, to issue a press release saying they had recovered a "flying disc."Haut later said that Blanchard worried about the relationship between the base and the town. He knew the value of maintaining good relations. He also knew, from the newspapers and the phone calls that were coming into the base, that the public was concerned about the flying disc reports. In fact, the unit history of the Eighth Air Force, of which the 509th was a part, mentioned all the phone calls that had been fielded dealing with reports of flying saucers and questions about them in late June, 1947.
Blanchard's orders to Haut had three purposes. First, it was to alert the townspeople that the military at the base was now in possession of a flying saucer. Answers about it would be forthcoming. Second, the press release was worded so that it sounded as if the recovery operation was over. And third, it was damage control to suppress the remarks flying around Roswell. There was no longer anything to see out there. The first release, in fact, did not mention Brazel's name, did not mention the Foster ranch where he worked or the town of Corona. It said that the object had been recovered seventy-five miles northwest of Roswell.
Marcel, it was decided, would take some samples of the material to Forth Worth to show Brigadier General Ramey. In the meantime, the CIC man would head back to the crash site with some MPs, showing them exactly where the debris field was if they hadn't found it, and to round up the rancher. There were now additional questions for him
Arrangements would be made to collect all the debris and transport it back to Roswell. Based on what Marcel and the CIC agent said, Blanchard knew there was a great deal of debris out there. He planned to use as many men as could be spared from their other duties.
It's important to remember that they knew they had something unusual and that almost everyone who has described the material has used the same words. They believed that what they had found was nothing from Earth. Wreckage that was strange just did not have a radical impact on them.
Blanchard detailed who would take what action. The military police would be used in the cordon. The area was large enough that it nearly depleted the staff. Photographs of the crash site would be taken.
Sometime during the meeting someone mentioned the possibility of a flight crew. Marcel said that the thing had been so torn up that anyone inside it would have been shredded. They all knew of aircraft accidents where the crew had been "collected in a bucket." The sudden destruction of an aircraft tended to destroy the humans inside and there was no reason to believe that the object that had disintegrated on the desert would have been kinder to anyone or anything inside it.
While talking about aircraft accidents, someone asked why they assumed they had found all the wreckage. There were cases where parts of an airplane were scattered over miles. More of it might have come down elsewhere.
Blanchard agreed and decided that they would also make an aerial search. They had the aviation assets to do it, from the B-29s stationed there down to a few small, twin-engine aircraft used by the staff to maintain their flight time and their flight pay. They could easily make an aerial search. Marcel pointed out that there were only a few yucca plants and almost no trees in the area of the crash. The searchers would be able to see, easily, any wreckage on the ground.
With no landmarks out there, it might be hard to direct the ground forces into a second site, if they located one. The rancher could be helpful. He was in charge of the ranch, he worked on it, lived on it, and probably knew every arroyo, sinkhole, and rattlesnake.
They also discussed what should be reported to the higher headquarters. Blanchard knew Ramey was going to want to see the material and he was going to want to know exactly what had been done. The only person who could answer the questions about the location, what the site looked like, and what the rancher had said was Marcel. He had been in on it from the moment that Sheriff Wilcox had alerted them. Marcel would go to Fort Worth and the CIC man would stay behind to lead the cleanup detail to the site.Another reason to send Marcel was that the CIC had their own chain of command. They reported to Kirtland in Albuquerque rather than Fort Worth. Although Blanchard outranked the CIC agent, a phone call to Kirtland could have gotten his orders overturned. In the end, Blanchard's only choice was to send Marcel.
Note: After Walter Haut's death the following was released:
8) On Tuesday morning, July 8, I would attend the regularly scheduled staff meeting at 7:30 a.m. Besides Blanchard, Marcel; CIC [Counterintelligence Corp] Capt. Sheridan Cavitt; Col. James I. Hopkins, the operations officer; Lt. Col. Ulysses S. Nero, the supply officer; and from Carswell AAF in Fort Worth, Texas, Blanchard's boss, Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey and his chief of staff, Col. Thomas J. Dubose were also in attendance. The main topic of discussion was reported by Marcel and Cavitt regarding an extensive debris field in Lincoln County approx. 75 miles NW of Roswell. A preliminary briefing was provided by Blanchard about the second site approx. 40 miles north of town. Samples of wreckage were passed around the table. It was unlike any material I had or have ever seen in my life. Pieces which resembled metal foil, paper thin yet extremely strong, and pieces with unusual markings along their length were handled from man to man, each voicing their opinion. No one was able to identify the crash debris.
(9) One of the main concerns discussed at the meeting was whether we should go public or not with the discovery. Gen. Ramey proposed a plan, which I believe originated from his bosses at the Pentagon. Attention needed to be diverted from the more important site north of town by acknowledging the other location. Too many civilians were already involved and the press already was informed. I was not completely informed how this would be accomplished.) ("Witness To Roswell", Thomas Carey & Don Schmitt).
Master Sergeant Lewis "Bill" Rickett
September, 1947: Rickett and LaPaz
By September, it had quieted down in Roswell. The activity that had followed the discovery and recovery of the wreckage and the bodies had been forgotten by almost everyone. The job of flying took precedence. But, there were things that had to be accomplished.
During World War II, Doctor Lincoln LaPaz, an expert in meteroritics, had worked for the government. He worked on the Manhattan Project, was trained in mathematics and astronomy. Because of the work on the Manhattan Project, he held various security clearances up to and including top secret.
He had been hired as a consultant during the Japanese Balloon Bomb raids on the United States. His job was to help the military discover a way to quickly find the balloon bombs and destroy them before they could cause damage on the ground. LaPaz had been involved in several top secret projects during the war and there was no indication that any of his various clearances had lapsed in the two years since the war ended. When the military needed someone to make a followup investigation of the event at Roswell, LaPaz was the perfect selection. He was already in New Mexico and he already had the clearances<>LaPaz had been successful finding meteorites that hit the ground. He could move into an area, interview the witnesses, and by using maps of the region, chart the apparent path of the object. If it hadn't burned up, he could locate the point where it struck the ground. With the Roswell event, he could work backward. He knew where it had touched down, now he had to figure out the trajectory and the speed.
Rickett wasn't sure where the idea had come from but LaPaz had the various permissions and clearances to search the area. The CIC Headquarters ordered them to send someone and the senior man volunteered Rickett. He was told to pack his clothes and to take as long as was necessary. If he needed money, he was told to call. He was ordered to take care of LaPaz by driving him to the ranches, finding accommodations, and paying for the trip.
According to Rickett, he drew a staff car and they drove off, looking for the ranchers and the ranch hands who might have information to share. LaPaz had a topographical map and they used it to mark their progress, sometimes backtracking, talking to the old ranchers and cowboys who had never heard of flying saucers or flying discs and who rarely got into a town of more than two or three hundred people.
According to Rickett, LaPaz could speak fluent Spanish. Many of the ranchers in the more desolate parts of New Mexico were Mexicans who spoke very little or no English. LaPaz could talk to them like a native.
Rickett said they would hit the bars and ask the men if they had seen anything strange, any lights or any objects, in the last six months or so. More often than not they found someone who had seen something strange but who had never mentioned it to any of his friends.<>According to one of the ranchers, he'd seen a light that looked as if it landed on top of a hill momentarily. LaPaz plotted the information, combined it with sightings from other sources, and headed out, searching. They found a touch down point, in the woods on top of a hill, just as the old rancher had told them. They didn't know if it had anything to do with the crash site or the debris field. Rickett and LaPaz could see where the object, or the light, or whatever, had come in and cut the tops off the trees.
According to Rickett, a pattern started to develop. As they continued the investigation, they located a few people who talked about two or three lights moving together. Some of them said the lights were in formation, flying rapidly. Others, closer to Corona, said they had seen one of the lights peel off. The other two lights circled it.
Rickett said, "The best we could figure out, this one was in trouble. Maybe the guidance system on it happened to fail, but it was touching the top of a hill, losing altitude. Maybe fifteen, twenty miles from there (the debris field).
They had found a touch down point, this one closer to the debris field. Rickett said that there was an area where it looked as if something had been dragged along the ground. They asked the rancher what might have marked the ground that way. The rancher didn't know what had caused it.
Rickett and LaPaz tracked the light as far as they could. Rickett thought that the lone object had stayed aloft as long as possible and then it had landed or crashed on the debris field. He thought that it had self-destructed. Rather than exploding, the object had just come apart, scattering the small pieces of material.
Rickett, however, never took LaPaz out to where it had finally hit the ground. They circled the area, and when they found a place where the ground had been crystallized, a little bit of the foil-like debris was discovered<>According to Rickett, LaPaz believed that the stricken craft, which might have been followed by one or two others, had landed once. The crew had tried to repair it. When it seemed that the craft would fly again, it took off, but as it did, it was destroyed. Maybe it exploded, as some thought, or maybe it just disintegrated, as Rickett believed. It hit about five miles away, skipped across the ground leaving the debris that Mac Brazel found. Later the majority of the craft, or some kind of an ejection pod, crashed onto the ranch two to three miles from the debris field. <>Rickett wrote an informal report about what he and LaPaz had seen and done. LaPaz, on the other hand, was required to submit an official report. Everything went to Kirtland and then to Washington.
Rickett did, however, see LaPaz again. During that discussion, a year later in Albuquerque, LaPaz said that he thought the craft contained no occupants. It was remotely controlled. It had touched down briefly as those controlling it tried to make some long distance repairs. Maybe they failed or maybe they thought they had succeeded. Either way, they wanted to get it up, out of that field, and as it took off, it was destroyed. LaPaz believed the object was unmanned but that it was some kind of extraterrestrial probe. LaPaz had seen nothing that would change his mind during the year. (Interestingly, LaPaz would later become a secret consultant and a honorary member of APRO.)
According to Rickett, they barely discussed the possibility that the probe might have contained a flight crew. LaPaz was sure that it was remotely controlled and he was satisfied with that theory.
LaPaz never told Rickett if he had determined anything about the trajectory or the speed. They spent three or four weeks driving through New Mexico searching for the answers but once LaPaz went back to Albuquerque and then on to Washington, that was the end of it. Except for the one brief conversation, Rickett heard nothing more from LaPaz on the subject.
This final note from "Witness to Roswell":
"As for the strange wreckage, it was very similar to that found on the Foster ranch - thin, light, and strong. Rickett picked up a piece of it, about 4 inches by 10 inches, placed it over his knee, and tried to bend it. He couldn't. Cavitt and Easley laughed at him because they had tried and failed at it too. Rickett had never seen a piece of metal that thin that could not be bent. 'The more I looked at it, I couldn't imagine what it was,' he said." ("Witness To Roswell", Thomas Carey & Don Schmitt).