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A half century later, witnesses insist little green—or maybe brown—men crashed in New Mexico

According to the story now told by researchers, ranging from the serious to those writing for the supermarket tabloids, things far more bizarre had already occurred before Mac Brazel discovered the debris field. Those who have written about the event in the years since suggest a fascinating sequence of events that occurred in the early days of that July:

For several nights, Roswell residents had reportedly seen a strange flying object in the night sky. Though no one would know about it for 30 years, two Franciscan Catholic nuns, working at the local St. Mary's Hospital, even made notations in their diaries that at some time after 11 p.m. on July 4, 1947, they had seen a large flash in the night sky, assuming that it was a plane in distress.

What Roswell AAF radar operator Frank Kaufmann said he saw was even more remarkable. On that same evening he was tracking the strange movement of a mysterious object flying at an incredible rate of speed. Suddenly it began losing altitude and the blip on the radar screen enlarged into a large starburst pattern that suggested an explosion had occurred. It was estimated that the event had occurred somewhere within a 100-mile range northwest of the base and a search team was immediately dispatched.

The headline in the Roswell Daily Record announcing the saucer crash couldnÂ’t bump a movie photo off page 1. People were much harder to impress in those days.
The headline in the Roswell Daily Record announcing the saucer crash couldnÂ’t bump a movie photo off page 1. People were much harder to impress in those days.
Anne Robbins, 84, says her late husband, Ernest Robert Robbins, saw a UFO that crashed near Roswell, and he never fibbed. Well, weÂ’re not going to argue with her.
Carlton Stowers
Anne Robbins, 84, says her late husband, Ernest Robert Robbins, saw a UFO that crashed near Roswell, and he never fibbed. Well, weÂ’re not going to argue with her.

Jim Ragsdale would later tell of seeing what occurred at much closer range. He and his girlfriend, on a rock-hunting trip, were parked at a secluded campsite on what was known as Boy Scout Mountain, when they saw a flash, then heard a thundering explosion. Within seconds, Ragsdale would later tell researchers, the UFO skipped along the desert not far away, then came to rest at the base of a nearby bluff. Grabbing flashlights, he and his girlfriend made their way to the crash site where he says a saucer-shaped vehicle had come to rest. Not only did he eventually tell of seeing the crashed UFO but the bodies of several "childlike" passengers. After picking up a few pieces of debris from the wreckage, the young couple decided to return to their pickup and wait until daylight for a better look.

When they did return, Ragsdale later wrote in a sworn affidavit, they saw a military convoy arriving and briefly hid to watch before deciding to leave (taking with them pieces of the debris he says they later showed to numerous people in a nearby bar). Had they remained, the story goes, they would have eventually seen the UFO hoisted by crane onto the bed of a flatbed truck and the bodies placed in another military vehicle that was ordered to quickly return to the Roswell base hospital.

The actual crash site, then, had been swept clear by military personnel hours before Mac Brazel rode up on the debris field several miles away. Later, researchers would assume that the craft had apparently first hit on the Foster Ranch, sliding along for a distance, then had briefly managed to become airborne again before crashing.

If the material found in such books as The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell, Crash at Corona, Beyond Roswell, and Alien Contact: Top Secret UFO Files Revealed is to be believed, the interplanetary visit was, in many respects, a pretty poorly kept secret from the get-go. The only problem is, it was years before folks would talk about it.

Yet, before their deaths, numerous people or their descendants recounted anecdotes of involvement in and observations made during the strange event.

For instance, long after his father's death in 1986, Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr., 66, still tells of Major Marcel stopping by the house on an early July morning in 1947 to show him and his mother pieces of the crash debris that he had collected. Eleven years old at the time, Dr. Marcel recalled his father bringing pieces of the downed "flying disc" from his car and spreading them on the kitchen floor. He recalled handling the aluminum foil-like material and seeing the unusual symbols on what he said looked like pieces of black plastic.

Now living in Helena, Montana, Dr. Marcel says the most remarkable memory he has of the pieces his father showed him was of the geometric-like symbols on some of them. "I've always referred to them as I-beams," he says, "though I have no idea what they really were.

"My father was very excited about what they had found," Dr. Marcel says, "and since our house was on the way to the base, he just decided to stop by and show it to us. Then he took it on out to the base."

Major Marcel's excitement, however, was quickly muted. "The next day," his son remembers, "he sat down with my mother and me and told us we were never to talk about what he'd shown us. He said, 'Don't think about it. It didn't happen.'"

Today, Dr. Marcel remains convinced that the material his father showed him came from another world.

Then there is the story that the late Sergeant Melvin Brown waited until 1970 to tell his daughters. Retired and living in England, he said that he had been at the crash site in '47 and was assigned to guard the alien bodies as they were being transported back to the base. Though sworn to secrecy, he finally told of being ordered to ride in an "ice-filled truck" that was to take the bodies to a hangar. On the trip, Brown told his daughter Beverly Bean, he had lifted a tarp and seen "two, possibly three bodies."

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