Tag Archives: Bessie Brazel Schreiber

The Size of the ‘Roswell Debris Field’

Rowell Debris Field - Circa Early 1990's
The Debris Field as identified by Bill Brazel as it appeared in the early 1990s. (© Kevin Randle)

By Kevin Randle
A Different Perspective

      Since I posted the article that suggested that Bessie Brazel’s testimony might be in error and that it was contradicted by that given by so many others, we have been all over the board. Nearly everyone was selecting that data which tended to support their position and ignore everything else. So, I thought I would take some of those points and provide the data available about them. I realize that some of you are so far to one side or the other that any sort of compromise is impossible, but for those who are interested in all the information, I will try to publish a series of articles that look at some aspect of this case.

First, I’ll tackle the size of the debris field because it seems to range from a square mile down to an area about 200 feet in diameter. That’s quite a big difference, and I know that we’ll never reach a consensus, but heck; we might have a little fun and learn something by accident.

The testimonies given after 1978 which is when Jesse Marcel, Sr. was identified as having recovered pieces of a flying saucer provide some of the data. Marcel himself told Bill Moore (The Roswell Incident, p. 63) that it was “about three quarters of a mile long and a couple of hundred feet wide.”

Stan Friedman, in his book, Crash at Corona (p.10) wrote of Marcel’s description, “The area covered with wreckage was roughly three quarters of a mile long and several hundred yards wide.”

Moore also quotes Walt Whitmore, Jr. as giving a description. Whitmore hadn’t seen the field before the Army cleaned it up, according to his testimony at that time. Moore wrote (p. 89), “Several days later Whitmore, Jr., ventured out to the site and found a stretch of about 175 – 200 yards of pastureland uprooted in a sort of fan-like pattern with most of the damage at the narrowest part of the fan.”

Whitmore told Karl Pflock (p. 154), “The debris covered a fan- or roughly triangle-shaped area, which was about 10 or 12 feet wide at what I thought was the top end. From there it extended about 100 to 150 feet, widening out to about 150 feet at the base. This area was covered with many, many bits of material.”

Bill Brazel, who hadn’t seen the debris in the field except for the small pieces he said he had found, also talked of a gouge that ran through the pasture. He said that it was narrow at one end spread out toward the center and then narrowed again. Although he didn’t give us a length of the gouge, he eventually took us to what he thought of as the top of the gouge. Later, during the CUFOS archaeological dig there, we measured down from that point, about three quarters of a mile, placing little flags along the way.

Bud Payne, who was a judge in New Mexico, said that he had been out to the debris field but had been turned back by the military cordon. He did get close to it and this would be irrelevant, except he took me out to the location he thought was the debris field. When he stopped his vehicle and we got out, I nearly stepped on one of those little flags we had placed there. We have attempted to gather them all but had missed the last one. Payne took me to the same three quarter of a mile stretch of New Mexico desert and through this provided, to a degree, the size of the field.

And, of course, there is the testimony in the affidavit signed by Bessie Brazel. She said, “There was a lot of debris scattered sparsely over an area that seems to me now to have about the size of a football field [or about an acre].”

The most widely quoted size of the field is that given by Marcel. It can be found in a number of books but as noted here, it is traceable to that interview supplied to Bill Moore.

We are told, of course, that these memories are decades old and might be unreliable. Studies of memory and how it works suggest that confabulation (as opposed to lying) can often fill in gaps in memory, that each time a memory is accessed it is subject to alteration, and sometimes the memories simply no longer exist, yet the witness (I can think of no other word that fits here because they were involved in 1947) as he or she concentrates begins to put together a story that seems plausible.

We do have quite a few newspaper stories that were written in 1947, literally within hours of some of the men walking the fields, so that their memories should be clear and accurate. I say this knowing full well that some of the information given to the reporters was less than accurate and some of it that was published had been misunderstood.

The Roswell Daily Record, for example, reported, “The rubber [from the debris] was smoky gray in color and scattered over an area about 200 yards in diameter.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in a later edition of their “Disc-overy Near Roswell Identified as Weather Balloon by FWAAF Officer,” reported, “Brazell [sic], whose ranch is 30 miles from the nearest telephone and has no radio, knew nothing about flying discs when he found the broken remains of the weather device scattered over a square mile of his land.”

The Albuquerque Tribune, in a story attributed to Jason Kellahin on July 9 reported, “Scattered with the materials over an area about 200 yards across were pieces of gray rubber.”

What does this tell us about the size of the debris field? Not much, actually. Those who wish to believe it was small, have several sources they can quote. Cavitt, in his interview with Colonel Richard Weaver didn’t provide a very vivid account of the size. He said that it was about twenty feet, but the statements were somewhat confusing. He might have been describing what he suspected was the size of the object or he might have been describing the distribution of the debris. He told Weaver, “Some here, some here, some here. No concentration of it. No marks on the ground, dug up, anything hidden or anything like that, just out on the territory around the bottom of New Mexico…”

I don’t believe Whitmore’s testimony on this is reliable but suspect there was some collusion between Max Littell of the Roswell museum and Whitmore to come up with some debris, no matter what it was. They talked about creating a display in Roswell, but I don’t believe that Littell had thought that through. If Whitmore’s debris were pieces of a balloon, as he suggested to Pflock, then the mystique of the Roswell case eroded at that point and not many people would drive out of the way to look at a museum dedicated to a weather balloon.

Whitmore had told Moore that the site had been cleaned before he got there but contradicted that when he told Pflock that he saw the debris and even claimed to have some of it. The debris had been locked in his safe deposit box, but when the box grew too full, he moved the debris to his “junk room.” Although searches were made, nothing was ever found. It was just one more bit of debris that vanished.

There is Jesse Marcel’s testimony about the size of the field which he gave after 1978, but there is one story that provides some corroboration which was published in 1947. In Linda Corley’s book, Marcel said, “It was about a mile long and several hundred feet wide of debris.”

Brazel, according to one newspaper account agreed with that size, saying it was scattered over a square mile of the land. This was in a story other than the one written by J. Bond Johnson.

Returning to the Roswell Daily Record, Brazel, it seems, was saying that the debris field was about 200 yards in diameter and the Albuquerque Tribune changed the wording to 200 yards across which is not quite the same thing but is close. The by-line on the Albuquerque Tribune story, as noted, was by Kellahin, so he was apparently working from his notes made in Roswell.

All this means is that if you are a skeptic, you have some evidence that the size of the debris field was relatively small. If you are a believer, you have some evidence that the debris field is relatively large. You have the majority of the testimonies suggesting a large field from the record after 1978 but Bessie Brazel suggests it was about 100 yards by 50 yards, or about the size of a football field.

Or, in other words, this is a wash. Whatever side you come down on, there is testimony to support it. Not exactly a profound finding but just an observation that suggests there are facts for everyone to cherry pick.

Read more »

Read More

The Roswell UFO Crash & Bessie Brazel Schreiber

The Roswell Debris Field Circa Early 1990's
The Debris Field as identified by Bill Brazel as it appeared in the early 1990s. (© Kevin Randle)

By Kevin Randle
A Different Perspective

     The skeptics believe they have a slam dunk on the Roswell, coming at us with information that simply is not proven as we look at it. Much of it is single witness that we are accused of not mentioning and often contradicts that given by many others. One of the best examples of this is the testimony provided by Bessie Brazel, who seems to have been a very nice woman but who stood nearly alone in her testimony for many years.

In the early 1990s, the Fund for UFO Research, FUFOR, initiated a program to gather testimony and affidavits from Roswell witnesses. Naturally, one of those was Bessie Brazel Schreiber. In her affidavit, she said:

William W. “Mack” Brazel was my father. In 1947, when I was 14, he was the manager of the Foster Ranch in Lincoln County, New Mexico, near Corona. Our family had a home in Tularosa, when my mother, my younger brother Vernon, and I lived during the school year. The three of us spent the summers on the Foster place with dad.

In July 1947, right around the Fourth, dad found a lot of debris scattered over a pasture some distance from the house we lived in on the ranch. None of us was riding with him when he found the material, and I do not remember anyone else being with him. He told us about it when he came in at the end of the day.

Dad was concerned because the debris was near a surface-water stock tank. He thought having it blowing around would scare the sheep and they would not water. So, a day or two later, he, Vernon and I went to the site to pick up the material. We went on horseback and took several feed sacks to collect the debris. I do not recall just how far the site was from the house, but the ride out there took some time.

There as a lot of debris scattered sparsely over an area that seems to me now to have about the size of a football field [or about an acre]. There may have been additional material spread out more widely by the wind, which was blowing quite strongly.

The debris looked like pieces of a large balloon which had burst [When balloons burst do they shatter into dozens or hundreds of tiny bits?]. The pieces were small, the largest were small, the largest I remember measuring about the same as the diameter of a basketball. Most of it was a kind of double-sided material, foil-like on one side and rubber-like on the other. Both sides were grayish silver in color, the foil more silvery than the rubber. Sticks, like kite sticks, were three inches wide and had flower-like designs on it. The “flowers” were faint, a variety of pastel colors, and reminded me of Japanese paintings in which the flowers are not all connected. I do not recall any other types of material or markings, nor do I remember seeing gouges in the ground or any other signs that anything may have hit the ground hard.

The foil-rubber material could not be torn like ordinary aluminum foil can be torn [A small bit of information that the debunkers tend to overlook]. I do not recall anything else about the strength or other properties of what we picked up.

We spent several hours collecting the debris and putting it in sacks. I believe we filled about three sacks, and we took them back to the ranch house. We speculated a bit about what the material could be. I remember dad saying “Oh, it’s just a bunch of garbage.”

Soon after, dad went to Roswell to order winter feed [which is not what the newspaper articles claimed]. It was on this trip that he told the sheriff what he had found. I think we all went into town with him, but I am not certain about this [which is another fact often overlooked], as he made two or three trips to Roswell about that time, and we did not go on all of them. (In those days, it was an all-day trip, leaving very early in the morning and returning after dark. [Please note the travel time given by someone who made the trips.]) I am quite sure that it was no more than a day trip, and I do not remember dad taking any overnight or longer trips away from the ranch around that time.

Within a day or two, several military people came to the ranch. There may have been as many as 15 of them. One or two officers spoke with dad and mom, while the rest of us waited. No one spoke with Vernon and me. Since I seem to recall that the military were on the ranch most of a day, they may have gone out to where we picked up the material. I am not sure about this, one way or the other, but I do remember they took the sacks of debris with them.

Although it is certainly possible, I do not recall anyone finding any more of the material later. Dad’s comment on the whole business was, “They made one hell of a hullabaloo out of nothing.”

Since she gave that affidavit, she has been interviewed by others. The story told to them is substantially the same as that in the affidavit, though, when interviewed by John Kirby and Don Mitchell on March 8, 1995, she told them, “I wasn’t terribly excited or interested in it [the debris recovery] when it happened and I haven’t really gotten any more interested in it.”

She did say that her father had found the debris sometime before July 4 and that she, her father and her brother Vernon, collected it. She said, “We had three or four sacks… we stuffed the sacks and tied [them] to the saddle… Dad just stuck it [the sacks of debris] under the steps.”

It was the following week that her father took the debris into Roswell. She confirmed to Kirby and Newman that she, her mother and brother had gone with him. While he was in the sheriff’s office, they were in a nearby park. She said, “He was there quite a while because it was late afternoon or early evening when we started back to the ranch.”

According to her, when they returned, they were not followed by any civilian or military vehicles. That means that the testimony of Jesse Marcel was in error if we accept this. It also means that Sheridan Cavitt and his testimony is in error, if we accept this.

She said, “They didn’t go with us. They came up, I don’t know, if it was the next day or a couple of days later.”

She also said that they had cleaned the field and picked up all the debris. She said that they had it all. There was nothing for Marcel or Cavitt to see when they went to the field. In fact, in talking with ranchers in the area about this debris, whether from a Mogul balloon array or an alien spacecraft, I learned that they would not allow this sort of thing to remain out there. The animals had a habit of eating things like that as part of their grazing and if the animals ate it, it would make them sick. Brazel would clean it up as quickly as possible.

If we believe Bessie, then her father did not clean it up right away, but did within a couple of days. She said that it took several hours and that she and her brother Vernon had helped. Yet, we know that when Marcel arrived, there was a large field filled with debris. And, if we want to reject the testimony of Marcel, there is Cavitt. While his description of the debris field suggests it was smaller than that suggested by Marcel, he still said there was debris out there for them to find and for him to identify as the remains of a balloon.

So, Bessie’s story is contradicted by Marcel and Cavitt, one who later thought it was a spacecraft and one who said it was a balloon after saying he had never been involved in a balloon recovery. It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you come down on, there is testimony to contradict what Bessie remembers about the cleaning of the debris field. She is stand alone on this.

Bessie also said that her father didn’t return to Roswell a day or so after his initial trip and there is nothing in her affidavit to suggest otherwise. She added, telling Kirby and Newman that if he had gone to Roswell and didn’t return for three or four days, there would have been hell to pay. There was no reason for him to return to Roswell after they all had gone there earlier in the week especially if the Army had arrived to take charge of the debris stored under the steps.

But once again, there is evidence that such is not the case. First, and probably best, is the article that appeared in the Roswell Daily Record on July 9. Mack Brazel was photographed while there. He gave an interview to two AP reporters at the newspaper office in Roswell. Clearly, he returned to Roswell at some point. Bessie’s memory of the events is wrong about his not returning as documented in the newspapers.

Major Edwin Easley was the provost marshal in Roswell in 1947. He told me that Mack Brazel had been held in the guest house for several days. Brazel said he was in jail and I suppose that if you’re not allowed to leave without escort and that the doors are locked, then being in the guest house is about the same thing. This information was corroborated by a number of Brazel’s neighbors.

Brazel on the front page of the newspaper
Brazel on the front page of the newspaper
Bill Brazel, Bessie’s older brother told me that he saw an article about his father in one of the Albuquerque newspapers [Kal Korff incorrectly claims that there were no pictures of Mack or articles about him on the front pages of any of the newspapers at the time] and realized that his father needed help. When Bill arrived at the ranch, his father was not there and didn’t return for three or four days. In fact, according to Bill, there was no one at the ranch at that time.
Neighbors like Marian Strickland told me that Mack had complained to her about being held in jail. Although she didn’t see Mack until after the events, she did say that he sat in her kitchen complaining about being held in Roswell. While there is some second-hand aspect in this, Strickland was telling me that Mack complained to her and her husband that he had been held in Roswell.

Walt Whitmore, Jr., son of the KGFL radio’s majority owner, told me that he had run into Brazel early in the morning after Brazel spent the night at his father’s house. This was before Brazel was taken out to the base. Whitmore claims that Brazel told him about the debris and Whitmore said that he then drove out there to see the field. He claimed to have picked up some of the debris, which he said was part of a balloon. He kept it for years, he said, but when the time came to produce it, he could not. This information was in conflict with what he told to Bill Moore and published in The Roswell Incident. I will note here that I do not find this testimony to be reliable but mention it because it puts Brazel overnight in Roswell.

Here’s another important point. Bessie said that she recognized the material as a balloon. So, we have a 14-year-old girl who knows a balloon when she sees one, but the air intelligence officer, not to mention several others, are incapable of this. If the material was so readily identifiable to some, especially civilians, why were so many in the military fooled? And why the high powered effort to recover it and get samples of it to Fort Worth if it was only a balloon?

But she told Bill Moore when he asked her if it was some sort of a weather balloon, she said:

No, it was definitely not a balloon. We had seen weather balloons quite a lot – both on the ground and in the air. We had even found a couple of the Japanese-style balloons that come down in the area once. [This might be a reference to the Japanese balloon bombs of World War II but there is no evidence that one ever landed in New Mexico, which is strange since they had landed in the states all around New Mexico.] We also picked up a couple of those thin rubber balloons with instrument packages. This was nothing like that. I have never seen anything resembling this sort of thing before – or since… We never found any pieces of it –afterwards – after the military was there…

Karl Pflock suggested that Bill Brazel had corroborated that the family was at the ranch at the time, implying that they participated in the cleanup. He wrote:

In a 1979 interview, Bessie Schreiber’s older brother Bill recalled other members of his family being on the ranch with his father at the time the debris fell there. “Dad,” he said, “was in the ranch house with two of the younger kids [presumably Bessie and Vernon [insertion made by Pflock]] late on evening when a terrible lightning stormy came up… [T]he next morning while riding out over the pasture to check on some sheep, he came across this collection of wreckage.” Bill mentioned specifically that, on the way to Roswell with some of the debris, his father dropped off the children with their mother in Tularosa.

This means, simply, that while Bessie and Vernon might have been on the ranch for the thunderstorm, they did not accompany him into Roswell, weren’t there when the military came back with Mack and wasn’t there for the cleanup that took place later. Bill Brazel certainly does nothing to corroborate that Bessie or Vernon were there for the events in the following days.

There are a number of witnesses and newspaper articles that shows that Mack was in Roswell overnight. It means that Bessie’s memories of July 1947 agree with nothing else. It means that when all the evidence is aligned against a specific claim, we must reject the claim even if some of the evidence is from the decades old memories.

This takes another turn sometime later, and I’m sure the allegation will be hurled that the UFO researchers pressed her into recanting her story at that time. She told Don Schmitt and Tom Carey, “It was another occurrence altogether. I had helped my dad gather up weather balloons on a number of occasions. I have come to the conclusion that what my dad found back at that time was something else altogether.” They added, “It is accepted that she and her brother Vernon were at the ranch at the time of the incident, but the ranch house was almost 10 miles from the debris field …” Her brother, Bill, referring to the debris field said, “She wasn’t even there.”

While we are aware of the testimony, and while I’m sure that she was sincere in what she said, it is clear that she was mistaken. When we compare the written record with her testimony, we can see the errors. If the conflict in the testimony was just between Bessie and her brother, Bill, we would have a “he said/she said” argument, but others who were there corroborate what her brother said. Then, we have her recanting the testimony, which by itself, should eliminate it from the record. But the real point here is that we did investigate her claims, did make sure she was interviewed, and have provided information about it. She wasn’t ignored, just found to be in conflict with too much other information that was corroborated.

Read more »

Read More