What happened near Roswell, New Mexico, on a June day in 1947 remains a hotly debated piece of American history. Although the fanciful illustration seen here suggests that ranch foreman Mac Brazel discovered the remains of a craft of American origin, such a "Tact" is far from a certainty.
Even the date of the onset of the Roswell mystery is a topic of debate.
June 14, 1947, is the earliest among many. It was on that day—or /A perhaps three weeks later, on July 7—that ranch foreman William "Mac" Brawl, with his young son Vernon in tow, stumbled upon a debris field some thirty miles north of Roswell, New Mexico. Brazel worked for the J. B. Foster ranch, and was driving sheep on the day of his discovery. According to some accounts, the debris field was just a smidgen of a thing, hardly bigger than the footprint of an automobile. Other accounts say that debris lay strewn across a section of rough earth about two hundred feet in diameter. And still other versions describe the debris field as an impressive three-quarters of a mile long and about two hundred yards across. (The "big debris" theory is supported by claims that Brazel grew angry because his sheep refused to walk over the oversized area, forcing him to march the animals all the way around the debris to reach water.)
During the course of a newspaper interview Mac Brawl granted on July 8, he recalled the mess as "bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper, and sticks."
A Possible Chronology
Despite the remoteness of the area, debris and other junk—at least in small to moderate amounts—was not uncommon. And anyway, no one paid Brazel to linger and speculate; the sheep and many other chores demanded his time. Whatever the extent of the debris, Brazel couldn't spare more than a few minutes to stare. When he finally went back for a second look nearly three weeks later, on the Fourth ofJuly'(according to the timeline that begins on June 14), he and his wife and young daughter gathered about five pounds of various pieces and left. The following day, July 5, Brazel went to nearby Corona, New Mexico, where chitchat informed him that some locals had seen "flying discs" in the sky. Brazel knew about the Japanese "balloon bombs" that had landed here and there on the Pacific coast in 1945, and he was aware (like everyone else in the area) that Roswell Army Air Field conducted secret flight experiments. Although the flying-disc reports caught Brazel's attention, he felt no particular urgency to find someone to talk to at the airfield, partly because Roswell was seventy-five miles from Corona. So Brazel waited until Monday, July 7, when he had business that was going to take him into Roswell anyway.
Roswell's sheriff, George Wilcox, took a look at what Brazel had brought into town, and sent a pair of deputies to locate the site. Wilcox also contacted the air-field. A pair of base personnel, Maj. Jesse Marcel and counterintelligence officer Capt. Sheridan Cavitt, came out to retrieve what Brazel had salvaged.
Nobody at Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) could identify the stuff Marcel and Cavitt presented (members of the base's Balloon Group were at Alamogordo, unavailable to take a look). Although the pieces seemed earthly enough, even the small portion retrieved by Brazel included more rubber than would be found in a typical experimental weather-observation balloon.
A day later, July 8, the front-page headline of the Roswell Daily Record read, "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region." In its bid to attract readers, the paper obviously played on the two-week-old "flying saucer" phenom-enon begun by the Kenneth Arnold story, but to this day, accounts of Mac Brazel's role in the headline and accompanying story differ. In some tellings, Brazel simply assumed he had found pieces of typical RAAF work—pieces that the Army would like to have back. But other accounts suggest that Braze! described to reporters the wreckage of a flying disc—not from another planet (that sort of speculation came from others, and much later) but from a foreign power. Although the USSR was still two years away from an atomic bomb, the postwar Cold War was already growing warm, making the U.S. military uneasy. Many secret tests occurred above the New Mexico desert. What if the Soviets had been monitoring that work?
Just hours after that day's Roswell Daily Record made its way to Roswell Army Air Field, RAAF public information officer, Lt. Walter Haut, issued a press release. Career-minded PI officers never act on their own; when Lieutenant Haut.
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