by Jerome Clark
The following article appeared in the March 1988 edition of FATE Magazine.
It rates a mere three paragraphs in Ted Bloecher’s comprehensive Report on the UFO Wave of 1947 (1967), where it is listed under the heading “Hoaxes and Mistakes.”
The incident, which Bloecher characterizes as an “embarrassingly obvious mistake,” occurred in early July of that year. As Bloecher tells it, “a farmer named Brazell [sic] discovered a ‘disc’ on his ranch at Corona. After hearing news broadcasts of flying saucer reports, Brazell, who had stored the ‘disc’ in a barn, notified the Sheriff’s Office in Roswell, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel, of the Roswell Army Air Field intelligence office. The ‘disc’ was taken to Roswell Field for examination. Through a series of clumsy blunders in public relations, and a desire by the press to manufacture a crashed disc if none would obligingly crash of itself, the story got blown up out of all proportion in headlines that read ‘Crashed Disc Found in New Mexico.’”
In reality, Bloecher writes, the “disc” was composed of tinfoil and was the wreckage of a “high altitude weather device.” The matter was cleared up when the material was flown to Eighth Air Force headquarters in Fort Worth, Tex., and Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey announced the mundane truth to assembled reporters.
Bloecher’s account of what happened is based entirely on newspaper stories from the period.
An Insider’s Perspective
On September 15, 1950, members of the Canadian embassy staff were participating in a routine meeting in the Washington office of American physicist Robert Sarbacher. Dr. Sarbacher, a member of the Defense Department’s Research and Development Board, was an impressively credentialed professional: a graduate of the University of Florida (1933), Princeton (1934) and Harvard (Sc.D., 1939), a Harvard instructor in physics and communications engineering (1936-40), a professor of electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology (1940-42), a visiting professor at Harvard (1941), a wartime scientific consultant to the navy (1942-45), a dean of the graduate school of the Georgia Institute of Technology (1945-49), an inventor, an author of technical works such as Hyper and Ultra-High Frequency Engineering (1944), head of his own business and member of a number of corporate boards. In 1950 he was one of a number of accomplished businessmen and scientists serving as “dollar-a-year men” — volunteers providing their time and expertise to the Defense Department.
There was nothing unusual about the meeting. Sarbacher and the embassy personnel got together periodically to discuss matters of concern to the national security of their countries. Typically these related to Sarbacher’s specialty, the technical problems associated with guided-missile control. But the conversations often dealt with other matters as well.
On this late-summer day the Canadians were curious about claims made in a best-selling book, Behind the Flying Saucers, by entertainment columnist Frank Scully (see Part II). Was it true, they asked, that the U.S. government possessed the remains of crashed flying discs and their dead occupants?
Yes, it was, Sarbacher said. A November 21, 1950, memo prepared by W. B. Smith, a senior radio engineer with the Canadian government’s Department of Transport, summarized Sarbarcher’s reply:
a. The matter is the most highly classified subject in the United States Government, rating higher even than the H-bomb.
b. Flying saucers exist.
c. Their modus operandi is unknown but concentrated effort is being made by a small group headed by Doctor Vannevar Bush.
d. The entire matter is considered by the United States authorities to be of tremendous significance.
In 1950, as now, the public position of the U.S. government was that UFOs were all explainable, or potentially explainable, as misinterpreted conventional phenomena and hoaxes. Smith was sufficiently impressed by what he heard to urge the Canadian government to set up a UFO project, which it did soon afterwards, under the code name Magnet, under Smith’s direction.
The Smith Memo
The Smith memo was classified Top Secret until 1969, when it was downgraded to Confidential. In 1978, when Canadian ufologist Arthur Bray secured a copy from his government, he began an investigation, hoping to learn just who Smith’s source had been (Sarbacher’s name is not mentioned in the memo, nor is the date of the meeting). Bray eventually gained access to the late W. B. Smith’s notes and got the information he was looking for.
The notes purport to recount the conversation word for word. At one point Smith asks, “Do they come from another planet?” Sarbacher replies, “All we know is, we didn’t make them, and it’s pretty certain they didn’t originate on the earth.”
“Is there any way in which I can get more information?” Smith says.
“I suppose you could be cleared through your own Defense Department,” Sarbacher says, “and I am pretty sure arrangements could be made to exchange information. If you have anything to contribute, we would be glad to talk it over, but I can’t give you any more at the present time.”
So far as anyone knows, that was the last Smith ever heard about the Ultimate Secret, at least from a U.S. government source.
In 1982 Bray reported all this to the annual conference of the Mutual UFO Network. In due course — specifically, when investigator William Steinman found Sarbacher’s name and three-inch, tiny-print entry in Who’s Who in America — it was learned that he was still alive and living in Florida. Steinman wrote him and on November 29, 1983, Sarbacher responded.
Sarbacher said he remembered the meeting at which UFOs were discussed and confirmed that he had said what the memo indicated he had said. He wrote, “My association with the Research and Development Board… was rather limited so that although I had been invited to participate in several discussions associated with the reported recoveries, I could not personally attend the meetings. . . . Naturally, I was more familiar with the subject matter under discussion, at that time. Actually, I would have been able to give more specific answers had I attended the meetings concerning the subject. You must understand that I took this assignment as a private contribution. . . . My first responsibility was the maintenance of my own business activity so that my participation was limited.
“About the only thing I remember at this time is that certain materials reported to have come from flying saucer crashes were extremely light and very tough. I am sure our laboratories analyzed them very carefully.
“There were reports that instruments or people operating these machines were also of very light weight, sufficient to withstand the tremendous deceleration and acceleration associated with their machinery. I remember in talking with some of the people at the office that I got the impression these ‘aliens’ were constructed like certain insects we have observed on earth, wherein because of the low mass the inertial forces involved in operation of these instruments would be quite low.
“I still do not know why the high order of classification has been given and why the denial of the existence of these devices.”
Privy to the Ultimate Secret
On January 17, 1985, unsure of what to make of all this, I called Sarbacher and talked with him for about an hour. During my long association with UFO study I had heard a lot of wild, unverifiable stories about crashed discs and I had long been skeptical. Many tellers of such tales had proven to be pathological liars, nobodies trying to make themselves seem like somebodies by pretending to be privy to the Ultimate Secret. But Sarbacher certainly didn’t seem to be one of these. Before I called, I’d spent time in the library finding out what I could about him. It was not clear to me what the author of a book such as the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Electronics and Nuclear Engineering had to gain by telling falsehoods about crashed UFOs, especially in the official position he occupied in 1950.
Sarbacher turned out to be friendly but apologetic, saying that all this had happened so long ago that he just couldn’t remember much of it. Yes, colleagues and friends such as Vannevar Bush (President Truman’s chief science advisor) and mathematician John von Neumann were involved and they had told him about the recovered vehicles, which were believed to be from another solar system. He said that on one occasion he was invited to attend a conference at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where air force personnel were to discuss what they had concluded to date from their analysis of the recovered material. Unfortunately, owing to pressing other business, Sarbacher did not go but did talk with those who did.
Mostly, however, Sarbacher could not recall important details such as where the UFOs had come down. He said he had not been personally involved in the UFO project and his own attention had been focused on matters of more pressing concern to him, such as guided-missile control. Aside from hearing about the recoveries, seeing some of the official documents and being invited to attend a conference, his own involvement was confined to being taken to sites where ground had been scorched following a UFO landing. He said that he and his colleagues were asked to examine the traces from the perspectives of their various areas of expertise and to see what they could learn. Sarbacher could not recall where these sites were.
I remarked that he seemed awfully blase for a man who knew something that many people would regard as extraordinary. Sarbacher allowed as how this was probably so but said his life had been a busy one, with many responsibilities and interests, and essentially the UFO aspect was something he really had not been able to pursue or even give a great deal of thought to. He told me he had never read a book on the subject and I determined that he didn’t even know the name of the air force’s UFO project, Blue Book.
Sarbacher, unlike others who had told me about the Ultimate Secret, seemed entirely straightforward and honest. When he didn’t remember something, which was often, he answered my questions by saying, “I don’t know.” He treated the entire matter simply as a curiosity, not as some big truth to which he as someone important was privy. In fact, he was disarmingly modest. “I wish I could refer you to someone who was more directly involved than I was,” he said. “Unfortunately they’re all long gone.”
Secret Not Unraveled Yet
Sarbacher was reluctant to speculate even when I encouraged him to do so. “I don’t know why this is still a secret,” he said. “Maybe it was the [Orson] Welles [‘Invasion from Mars’] broadcast — people get excited and their imagination runs away. [The government] didn’t seem to want anyone to believe vehicles from interstellar space were here. I don’t think the whole thing’s unraveled yet.”
Ufologists and fellow physicists Bruce Maccabee and Stanton Friedman (Friedman spent part of a day with Sarbacher on the latter’s yacht) heard precisely the same story. He neither elaborated on it nor contradicted himself. He related the story only when asked to do so and he did not act in any way like a man who was trying to draw attention to himself — not that someone of his considerable professional accomplishments had any need to do so. Invariably modest about his limited role in the matter, he declined invitations to speak publicly at UFO conferences or other forums. In short, if Sarbacher had been talking about anything but the Ultimate Secret, it would not have occurred to anybody to think he was lying.
It was my impression — and the impression of all others who spoke with him — that Sarbacher (who died in the summer of 1986) was telling the truth as he understood it. No other explanation makes sense. In any case, by now there is a great deal of independent evidence to suggest that, beneath all the lies and fantasies about crashed discs, there is an Ultimate Secret and it is very much like the one Sarbacher described.
The Most Crucial Case of All Time
In January 1978 the most important investigation in the history of civilian UFO research began. William L. Moore, a schoolteacher and aspiring writer from Herman, Minn., and Stanton T. Friedman, a nuclear physicist with a long professional resume and a longtime interest in the UFO phenomenon, were eating pizza in a Morris, Minn., restaurant and discussing some odd rumors they’d been hearing — rumors that, if true, would turn an obscure incident from three decades earlier into the most crucial case of all time. If what they were hearing had any foundation, all of UFO history would have to be rewritten. And although they had no inkling of it then, the investigation on which they were about to embark would change their own lives forever.
The first hint that what would be called the “Roswell incident” was more than a silly misunderstanding about a weather balloon had come two or three years earlier, when a California forest ranger told the late Bobbi Ann Gironda, a writer interested in UFOs, that his mother had had an interesting UFO experience in New Mexico. When Gironda and Friedman interviewed her, the woman, Lydia Sleppy, told a strange story.
She said that at four o’clock in the afternoon of July 7, 1947, as she was operating the teletype at radio station KOAT in Albuquerque, she got a phone call from Johnny McBoyle, reporter and part owner of sister station KSWS in Roswell. KSWS had no teletype of its own but used KOAT’s when it had something it wanted to go out.
McBoyle was excited. He reported that one of those flying saucers everyone had been talking about had crashed near Roswell. He’d been out there and seen it. It looked like a “big crumpled dishpan.” The army was there and was going to pick it up. “And get this,” he added. “They’re saying something about little men being on board. . . . Start getting this on the teletype right away while I’m on the phone.”
Sleppy began typing as McBoyle dictated the story to her. A few sentences later the teletype stopped. Assuming there was a mechanical problem, Sleppy told McBoyle what had happened. McBoyle suddenly seemed distracted. From what she could overhear, it sounded as if he were talking with someone else. Then he said to her in a strained voice, “Wait a minute, I’ll get back to you.” At that moment the teletype resumed working. Now it was spelling out a message apparently directed to Sleppy: “ATTENTION ALBUQUERQUE: DO NOT TRANSMIT. REPEAT DO NOT TRANSMIT THIS MESSAGE. STOP COMMUNICATION IMMEDIATELY.”
“It Never Happened”
Astonished, Sleppy informed McBoyle of what she was seeing. McBoyle replied tersely, “Forget about it. You never heard it. Look, you’re not supposed to know. Don’t talk about it to anyone.”
When Friedman located McBoyle and asked him about the episode, McBoyle said, “Forget about it…. It never happened.”
On January 20, 1978, Friedman lectured on UFOs at the University of Louisiana. While promoting the lecture at a local television station, he was introduced to the manager who casually suggested he talk with Maj. Jesse Marcel. Marcel, he said, had actually handled a UFO “way back.” He’d known Marcel a long time because of their mutual interest in ham radio.
Friedman called Marcel who claimed that while in the army air force he picked up a great quantity of material from a crashed UFO near Roswell. He couldn’t recall exactly when it happened but it had been a long time ago.
Marcel sounded sincere but Friedman, having heard his share of unsubstantiated tales of the Ultimate Secret, wasn’t entirely convinced.
Still, he was intrigued and as he and Moore discussed these two stories, putting them into the context of the curiously persistent rumors of the Ultimate Secret, they decided that an investigation was worthwhile. After all, this time they had some real names. Typically Ultimate Secret stories were second or thirdhand or the informants were anonymous and untraceable.
Before they were through eight years later, Friedman and Moore had located and interviewed 92 persons who knew something about the Roswell incident. Thirty of these were individuals directly involved with the discovery, recovery or cover-up of the object. Thirty-three were family members, friends or neighbors of the direct witnesses; Friedman and Moore interviewed them as a way of checking the reliability of the firsthand informants. The other 29 informants provided useful background information.
The names of most of these informants are on the public record. Some have been interviewed by newspaper reporters and network-television journalists (most prominently on ABC-TV’s popular Nightline). Their stories are consistent and the accuracy of their testimony has never been seriously challenged. The Roswell incident, for all its mindboggling implications, is one of the best-documented cases in UFO history. If the informants are not radically mistaken about what they observed and experienced, these conclusions seem inevitable: UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft and the U.S. government has known that, and covered it up, for more than four decades.
A full account of the Roswell incident, complete with voluminous documentation, is impossible here because of space limitations. What follows is a summary of the story that emerges from the testimony of the 92 informants:
A Summary of the Roswell Incident
A glowing object which looked, in the witnesses’ words, “like two inverted saucers faced mouth to mouth” flew over Roswell, N. Mex., at 9:50 P.M. on July 2, 1947, and was observed by Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot. The disc, which came from the southeast, was moving in a northwestern direction — where, 75 miles later, near the small town of Corona, lay a sheep ranch managed by one W. W. (“Mac”) Brazel.
That evening an electrical storm erupted in the Corona area. Sometime late in the evening Brazel and two of his younger children, Paul and Bessie (his wife lived in Tularosa and an older son, Bill, was married and living in Lincoln County, New Mexico), heard something that sounded like a loud explosion. The explosion was peculiar; it was, Bill Brazel would recall his father had told him, “different from ordinary thunder. “Still, the Brazels assumed it was just part of the storm. It was not until the next morning that another interpretation occurred to them.
The “Strangest Stuff I’ve Ever Seen”
That morning, when he went out to check on the sheep, Brazel found the wreckage of some kind of aircraft scattered over a band a quarter mile long and several hundred feet wide. The vehicle seemed to have exploded. Brazel thought immediately of the sound he had heard late the previous evening.
The next day Brazel picked up some of the material and brought it to the house. In the evening he visited his nearest neighbor, Floyd Proctor, and invited him to come over and look at the material, which he described as the “strangest stuff I’ve ever seen.” Proctor wasn’t interested but Brazel, intensely curious, decided to ask around and see if anyone knew where it came from. The following night Brazel, who had no phone, drove to Corona and spoke with his brother-in-law Hollis Wilson and another man. There for the first time he heard of the “flying saucers” that people in New Mexico and elsewhere had been reporting for the past two weeks. Wilson and the other man thought that maybe one had crashed on the Brazel ranch.
Brazel had his doubts about the flying-saucer explanation but he had to admit he’d never seen anything like this material before. He had already planned to go to Roswell to buy a new jeep, so he decided that while he was doing that, he would take some of the material to the sheriff’s office.
In the morning he drove down to Tularosa, where he left the two children with their mother, and continued on to Roswell.
When the sheriff’s office phoned Roswell Field to report Brazel’s discovery, Maj. Jesse Marcel, ranking staff officer in charge of intelligence, was eating lunch at the officers’ club. He was instructed to interview Brazel. After talking with the rancher, he became convinced that something important had happened and so informed the base commanding officer, Col. William H. Blanchard. The two officers agreed the material was probably from a downed aircraft.
An hour later Marcel, Brazel and a Counter-intelligence Corps (CIC) agent named “Cav” Cavitt drove in separate vehicles to the crash site. In a 1979 interview Marcel described what they found:
There was all kinds of stuff — small beams about 3/8ths or a half-inch square with some sort of hieroglyphics on them that nobody could decipher. These looked something like balsa wood and were of about the same weight, although flexible, and would not burn. There was a great deal of an unusual parchment-like substance which was brown in color and extremely strong, and a great number of small pieces of a metal like tinfoil, except that it wasn’t tinfoil. I was interested in electronics and kept looking for something that resembled instruments or electronic equipment, but I didn’t find anything. One of the other fellows, Cavitt, I think, found a black, metallic-looking box several inches square. . .. [The parchment material] had little numbers and symbols that we had to call hieroglyphics because I could not understand them. They could not be read, they were just like symbols, something that meant something, and they were not all the same, but the same general pattern, I would say. They were pink and purple. They looked like they were painted on. These little numbers could not be broken, could not be burned. I even took my cigarette lighter and tried to burn the material we found that resembled parchment and balsa, but it would not burn — wouldn’t even smoke.
The metal, Marcel recalled, was as thin as the foil in a pack of cigarettes and weighed practically nothing. But it could not be bent, or even dented, with a 16-pound sledgehammer. Nor could it be torn or cut. “It was possible to flex this stuff back and forth, even to wrinkle it, but you could not put a crease in it that would stay…. I would almost have to describe it as a metal with plastic properties,” he said.
Readers will recall Sarbacher’s remark that “certain materials reported to have come from flying saucer crashes were extremely light and very tough.”
Others who saw the material remembered it much the same way. Mac Brazel’s daughter Bessie recalled it looks like “a sort of aluminum-like foil . . . very light in weight.” William Brazel said it was “something on the order of tinfoil except that [it] wouldn’t tear. . . . You could wrinkle it and lay it back down and it immediately resumed its original shape . . . quite pliable . . . Almost like a plastic, but definitely metallic in nature. Dad once said that the army [air force] had once told him it was not anything made by us.” Bill Rickett, a CIC agent based in Roswell, remembered the material was “very strong and very light. . . . As far as I know, no one ever figured out what it was made of.” Walt Whitmore, Jr., who saw some of the material when his father, owner of Roswell radio station KGFL, brought Brazel to his home, stated it was “very much like lead foil in appearance but could not be torn or cut at all. . . . extremely light in weight.”
Bessie Brazel added, “Some of these pieces had something like numbers and lettering on them, but there were no words we were able to make out. [When these] were held up to the light they showed what looked like pastel flowers or designs. . .. The figures were written out like you would write numbers in Columns . . . but they didn’t look like the numbers we use at all. What gave me the idea they were numbers… was the way they were all ranged out in colors.” According to Walt Whitmore, Jr., “Some of the material had a sort of writing on it which looked like numbers which had either been added or multiplied (i.e. in columns).”
By now the story was a national sensation. When Marcel and Cavitt returned from the Brazel ranch, with their cars full of the material, reporters knew of the alleged flying-disc crash. Lt. Walter Haut, public-information officer at Roswell Field, had already alerted Associated Press.
The First Press Release
The next day, the eighth, Lieutenant Haut issued a press release:
The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County.
The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office.
Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.
Soon afterwards Colonel Blanchard found himself at the receiving end of what the Washington Post described as a “blistering rebuke” from his superiors, Eighth Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey and Deputy Air Force Chief Lt. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, who were furious about the press release. They told him they wanted the material shipped immediately to Eighth Air Force Headquarters (now Cars-well AFB) in Fort Worth, Tex. So Blanchard ordered Marcel to load the material aboard a B-29 and deliver it to General Ramey. From there it was to be flown, with Marcel again watching over it, to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where it would be analyzed.
A Revised Press Announcement
When Marcel got to Fort Worth, General Ramey ordered him not to talk with reporters. Then Ramey called in the press and announced that the “disc” was really just a weather balloon. As proof he displayed a weather balloon and brought in the base weather officer, Irving Newton, to identify it as such. Newton would recall that the balloon material was “very flimsy — you would have to be careful not to tear it” — unlike the material at Roswell. Nonetheless reporters were asked to believe that the balloon and the “flying saucer” were one and the same. Since the object was known to be nothing out of the ordinary, there was no reason to do anything further with it.
In fact, the real material was, in the words of a Dallas FBI teletype message sent that evening to J. Edgar Hoover in Washington, “being transported to Wright Field by special plane for examination.” Marcel was not aboard. He was sent back to Roswell and warned to say nothing more. As he would tell Moore many years later, “The cover story about the balloon [was] just to get the press off [Ramey’s] back. The press was told it was just a balloon and that the flight to Wright was canceled; but all that really happened was that I was removed from the flight and someone else took it to Wright.”
According to retired air force Brig. Gen. Thomas J. DuBose, who in July 1947 served as adjutant to General Ramey’s staff in Fort Worth, the order to effect a cover-up using a phony balloon identification came directly from the Pentagon, specifically from Gen. Clements McMullen. There were, DuBose said, “orders from on high to ship the material . . . directly to Wright Field by plane.”
CIC officer Rickett stated flatly, “The air force’s explanation that it was a balloon was totally untrue. It was not a balloon. I never did know for sure exactly what its purpose was but it wasn’t ours.”
Only those who had not seen the material were fooled. The late Colonel Blanchard’s former wife Emily Simms recalled, “At first he thought it might be Russian because of the strange symbols on it. Later on, he realized it wasn’t Russian either.”
Meanwhile, in Roswell, radio station owner W. E. Whitmore, who had interviewed Brazel and recorded his account, tried to get the story on the Mutual Network wire but couldn’t get through. When he began broadcasting preliminary accounts on KFGL, he received a long-distance person-to-person call from a man who identified himself as the head of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. The caller warned Whitmore that the matter he was discussing involved national security and that if he wanted to keep his license he would drop the story and forget all about it. No sooner had the caller hung up than the phone rang again. This time it was U.S. Senator Chavez of New Mexico, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, telling Whitmore he had better do as the FCC director said. He did.
That morning Counter-intelligence Corps officers Cavitt and Rickett and one other man had driven to the Brazel ranch and enlisted Brazel in an effort to recover more pieces of the wreckage. The crash site was being guarded by armed military policemen who were sending reporters and curiosity-seekers away. The four returned to Roswell in two vehicles (Brazel drove his own pickup) and in due course Brazel went his own way, with the understanding that he was to meet Cavitt the next morning. At the base the officers were informed that because of the press release all hell had broken loose and they had better get Brazel before matters got even further out of hand. A frantic search found the rancher at Whitmore’s home.
Brazel was taken and held incommunicado for a week. He surfaced only on two occasions, both of them on the eighth, when Brazel, accompanied by agent Cavitt, appeared at the office of the Roswell Daily Record and at the KGFL studio. In each case he told (under what all surviving members of his family, Cavitt’s assistant Rickett and two local reporters all have described as duress) the story that the army air force was now circulating: that the object was only a balloon.
The next day the Daily Record, taking the account at face value, headlined its story “Harassed Rancher Who Located ‘Saucer’ Sorry he Told About it.”
But at KGFL newsman Frank Joyce had his doubts. He had been the first reporter to hear the story. On the sixth he had called the sheriffs office on other business just when Brazel was reporting his discovery. Sheriff Wilcox suggested Joyce might want to talk with him and he did, but the reporter, not knowing what to make of the story, did nothing about it. Only when he got Haut’s press release two days later did he realize he had missed a scoop. And when he heard Brazel’s new version, he recognized it as significantly different from the first one.
Members of the Brazel family long remembered their father’s bitterness (he died in 1965) about how he had been treated. The entire family was warned not to discuss the incident. “Back in those days,” Bessie Brazel recalled, “when the military told you not to talk about something, it wasn’t discussed.”
Secret Taken to Grave
The elder Brazel went to his grave without ever telling all he knew, even to family members. During his detention the air force sent soldiers to the site to collect every scrap of the material they could find. Aerial reconnaissance was conducted and both air and surface photographs were taken. One of those who participated, C. E. Zerbe, recalled in 1983 that the films were not processed at Roswell Field. “Everything was sent out by special plane for processing elsewhere, possibly at Fort Worth. I never knew for sure.”
The only evidence that remained was in the hands of Brazel’s son Bill. As he would relate years later, “The air force had a whole platoon of men out there picking up every piece and shred they could find. Still, every time I rode through that particular pasture I would make a point to look. Seems like every time after a good rain I would manage to find a piece or two that they had overlooked. After about a year and a half or two years I had managed to accumulate quite a small collection —about enough that if you were to lay it out on this tabletop it would take up about as much area as [a] briefcase.”
Then one night in 1949 Bill Brazel visited a watering hole in Corona.
As the evening progressed his tongue got looser and in due course he was talking about his collection of flying-saucer artifacts. The next morning a staff car from Roswell Field showed up and four soldiers, a captain and three enlisted men, came to his door. They wanted to see his collection.
After he had shown it to the military men, the captain said the material related to national security and Bill Brazel would have to surrender it.
“I didn’t know what else to do,”
Bill Brazel related, “so I agreed. Next he wanted me to take them out to the pasture where I had found this stuff… . After they had poked around a bit and satisfied themselves that there didn’t appear to be any more of the material out there… the captain . . . said that if I ever found any more it was most important that I call him at Roswell right away. Naturally I said I would but I never did because after that I never found any more.”