By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"This," Sergeant Robbins said, "is where I was for 18 hours."
"On the drive home," she says, "I asked him what happened to the spaceship, what happened to the people who were on it. Her husband's reply: "I can't tell you that; don't ask me any more."
It was the last time her husband spoke of "the Roswell incident" until long after he'd retired from the service. Until his death of a heart attack two years ago, he never told his wife who was with him that night or what role he had played.
Following his retirement from the Air Force in 1961, they moved to Saginaw, near Fort Worth, and he worked first for General Dynamics, then LTV, as an aircraft repairman.
"It was years later, when our kids were in high school, that our son Ronald was working on some kind of report on unidentified flying objects and asked his father to tell him about what happened back in Roswell. He didn't say much, basically just what he'd told me years earlier," she says.
"But you know how kids are. Ronald kept asking questions, like what the men found at the crash looked like. Finally, Papa [as she referred to her husband throughout their 57-year marriage] got a pencil and drew this pear-shaped head with large black eyes. Their skin, he said, was brown and they had no nose, no mouth.
"When Ronald asked him what their bodies looked like, all he would say was, 'Son, you don't want to know about that.'"
The Robbins' son, now living in Arizona, could not be reached by the Dallas Observer. "He wouldn't talk to you about it, anyway," his mother insists. Neither of her children, in fact, has ever spoken publicly of their father's alleged involvement in the Roswell incident. "Barbara, my daughter, tells me, 'Daddy's dead, don't bring it up.'"
"All I remember," says Barbara Wattlington, "was Dad saying he was stationed in Roswell and that a UFO crashed there."
The last time Anne Robbins remembers any conversation about the matter was a few years before her husband's death in January 2000, when they sat in their Saginaw living room one evening, watching television. A show whose title she can't recall was on, re-creating the Roswell event and posing the question of whether it was an ageless hoax or the well-hidden truth. "I asked him, 'Was it a hoax?' and all he said was, 'It's the truth. It did land.'
"I asked him, 'Well, if it did, where is it?' He again said he couldn't tell me that."
Her husband, she says, was never one to embellish or lie; neither prankster nor teller of tall tales. "He was a good, Christian man. He loved the military and his country and never spoke bad about either." No, she says, he would never have made up such a story. Nor, if ordered not to, would he have ever talked of matters he was told to keep secret. "That's just the way he was," she says. "On the day he died, the last thing he told me was that he wanted me to promise to fly the flag in front of our house until I drew my last breath."
Though she insists she has never researched the numerous theories of the Roswell crash presented in the countless books or documentaries, she does admit that she has lingering questions she hopes will one day be answered. "That UFO they found didn't just fly away," she says. "So where is it? And what happened to the people on it? I still say the Air Force knows what happened. Someday, I hope, we might find out the truth."
Two years ago she did get an answer to one question that had long bothered her. "I could never figure out why an airplane repairman would be called out in the middle of the night to participate in the investigation of a crashed UFO," she says. Only after filing her husband's death certificate with military officials in Washington, D.C., did she learn that he had intelligence clearance during his Roswell tenure.
Still, if Anne Robbins had embarked on a thorough study of the massive collection of research done on the fabled Roswell crash, she would not find her husband's name among any of the "witnesses" who have come forward over the years. Yet the sketchy details he gave her generally mesh with most of the reconstructed stories found in the ever-growing volume of literature devoted to the crash investigation.
The material flown from Roswell to Fort Worth was never actually shown to the media, he confided to nuclear physicist-turned-UFO investigator Stanton Friedman. It was, instead, quietly delivered to a research laboratory at Wright-Patterson Army Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Marcel's revised recollections of the 1947 event, along with those of others who had finally chosen to speak out, ultimately appeared in the 1980 book The Roswell Incident co-authored by William Moore and Charles Berlitz, setting off a renewed appetite for information. Soon it came in a virtual flood of eyewitness reports and recollections of family members who, like Anne Robbins, began revealing secrets they had long been told to keep. The Roswell story exploded into the best-known alleged UFO encounter in history.