By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Now 80 and co-founder of the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, Haut says, "After meeting with Colonel Blanchard in his office and getting the information for the press release, I wrote it and went to town around five that afternoon to deliver it to the radio and newspaper people.
"That done, I went on home and was having dinner when people from all over the world started calling. Finally, about midnight, my wife, who was getting a little unhappy with the flood of calls, just took the phone off the hook and told me we were going to bed."
Then, just as quickly as the excitement had developed, it came to a crashing end with a Fort Worth news conference called by General Ramey the following day. Despite claims by Marcel to investigators years later that the amount of debris loaded onto the B-29 that was flown from Roswell to Fort Worth "was enormous," half filling the huge plane, reporters and photographers who gathered in the general's office were shown only tattered remnants of a weather balloon and given a smiling apology for all the unwarranted excitement. In attendance was Major Marcel, admitting he had been mistaken.
The official version of the Roswell incident thus became that a military weather balloon launched to detect wind velocity and direction at high altitudes had come crashing down on Foster Ranch. End of story. The headline in the next day's Roswell paper was as definitive but not nearly as exciting as the one published the day before: "Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer." In a more innocent and patriotic time, with World War II still fresh in the public's mind and trust in the government blindly indisputable, the explanation was good enough. For most. For a time.
Seated in a meeting room at the newly opened Odessa Meteor Crater Museum, the 84-year-old Robbins clearly recalls a July night when her husband received a call to report to the base. She would not see or hear from him for 18 hours. And when she did, he told her bits and pieces of a bizarre story that has puzzled her for a lifetime.
"We had been to a dinner party at the NCO [non-commissioned officers] club on the base," she says, "and didn't get home until 10:30 or 11. We'd already gone to bed but weren't yet asleep when everything outside lit up like it was daylight. It was like that for what seemed like several minutes, and we both assumed that it was probably helicopters from the base with searchlights on."
Soon thereafter, the phone call came to their home and her husband told her he had to report to the base.
"I just assumed that there had been a plane crash somewhere nearby," she says. "But I couldn't figure why my husband, a sheet-metal man who repaired planes, was called in."
She was even more puzzled when he returned home the following evening, his uniform wrinkled and damp. "I asked him what had happened to him, why he was so wet, and he told me he'd had to go through the decontamination tank at the base. I asked, 'In your clothes?' and he said, 'They were what I was wearing when I was out there.'"
Still assuming that he'd been called to the site of a plane crash, she quizzed him further. "He told me, 'Well, I guess you might as well know; it's going to be in the papers. A UFO crashed outside of Roswell.'"
Her response? "I told him he was crazy."
"No," Sergeant Robbins replied, "I'm not." Then he showered and went to bed.
"I don't remember him being particularly shocked or very emotional about it," she says. "In fact, he seemed cool as a cucumber. He just made it clear to me that he wasn't going to talk about it."
The following morning she continued to press for details. "I asked him again if it was really true and he said, yes, it was." When she asked what the UFO looked like, he explained that "if you took two saucers and put them together, that's what it looked like." On the top layer, he told her, there were oblong-shaped windows all the way around the craft. And, no, he said, he had not looked inside the crashed ship.
"I asked him if there was anybody on it. He said, 'I can tell you this much: There were three people. One was dead and two were still alive. I can't tell you anything more.'"
It was not until several days later that Sergeant Robbins finally agreed to drive his wife out to the crash site. By then, all debris had been cleared away and neither a spaceship nor signs of military personnel was evident. "He didn't say much of anything until we got to a place where there was this big burned spot, a perfect circle so black that it was shiny. No normal fire could have made something like that." It was, she says, as if the sand had been melted and turned into a sheet of black glass.