Tag Archives: Colonel William Blanchard

The Roswell [Flying Saucer] Press Release and Colonel Blanchard (Pt II)

RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region

By Kevin Randle
A Different Perspective

      I often assume a level of knowledge on the parts of those who visit here and shouldn’t do that. I thought the last posting was clear but there are questions that seem to transcend the point of that post. With that in mind, here is some clarification for everyone.

There were some variables that I have ignored. First was the timing of the story told by Brigadier General Thomas DuBose. We all believed that the flight made by Colonel Al Clark was on Sunday afternoon, but that might not be right. At the moment, this isn’t important to understanding the last post and I mention it only so that everyone is aware that DuBose had said that Clark made his flight to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, July 6, 1947 or on the same day that Mack Brazel went into Roswell. This is something that is the subject of another post.

The accepted timeline is that Brazel drove into Roswell on Sunday and eventually made his way to Sheriff George Wilcox, who in turn, called the base. That call eventually made its way to Major Jesse Marcel, though thinking about it, Wilcox would have been more familiar with Major Edwin Easley, the provost marshal, or the “chief of police” out at the base. Thinking about it further, and given the circumstances, it would be more logical for Wilcox to call Easley… Marcel might have been brought in if Easley was not immediately available. Remember, this is speculation on my part and something that I mention with trepidation. (And let’s not forget that we do have photographs in Brigadier General Roger Ramey’s office on July 8.)

Marcel said that he had been eating lunch in the Officer’s Club when he got the telephone call from Wilcox. Marcel would say that he met with the sheriff, saw the material that Brazel had brought in with him and returned to the base. He spoke with the commanding officer, Colonel William Blanchard, who mentioned that they now had the counterintelligence guys there and he, Marcel, should take one of them with him.

Marcel and Sheridan Cavitt met at the sheriff’s office, Marcel in his POV (privately owned vehicle, which is the military term for your car) and Cavitt, apparently in a military vehicle. They then followed Brazel to the ranch. Given all the moving around, it would seem that they probably left (note the qualification) around five in the afternoon, but Marcel would say later that it was early afternoon. They got out to the ranch about dusk, according to Marcel, which was too late for them to explore the debris field.

The next morning Brazel saddled a couple of horses and he and Cavitt rode out to the site. Marcel drove in his car and given the terrain, that wouldn’t have been all that difficult. I have driven cars cross country in that area, so Marcel could have easily done it.

They spent the morning out there, and given the descriptions of the debris field, I can’t see what they would have been doing for more than an hour or so. Marcel told Cavitt to head back in, so it would seem that Brazel and Cavitt rode back to their cars and Cavitt would have returned to Roswell. Marcel loaded his car with debris, or according to what he told Linda Corley in 1981, “I loaded my ’42 Buick to the hilt with it and I came on home cause I was late getting home.”

At this point we have the sheriff who had apparently seen some of the debris on Sunday, Marcel and Cavitt following Brazel to the ranch on Sunday afternoon, and then all of them out on the debris field on Monday, July 7. They spent time out there and eventually all leave, with Marcel getting home late on Monday.

Marcel, in the interview with Corley said, “…I brought some of the stuff and put it in the kitchen… So I put a lot of stuff on the floor in the kitchen. One thing I don’t remember is whether I picked up or you [Marcel’s wife] and Jesse picked it up and put it back in my car. Cause I didn’t get back to the base that night [emphasis added].”

Jesse Marcel holding a mock-up of the I-beam he saw in 1947.
Jesse Marcel holding a mock-up of the I-beam he saw in 1947.
This suggests that at the time Marcel didn’t see anything that suggested to him that it was alien in nature. Unusual yes, but metallic debris is basically metallic debris and if you don’t have something more than that, it is impossible to make the leap to the extraterrestrial. Marcel would tell Corley about a beam that was small and squared, not like the tiny I-beam described by his son. They agreed that it was small and that there were pinkish/purplish figures on it. He mentioned the foil that he said couldn’t be winkled and had said that it was about the thinness of the foil in a pack of cigarettes. He had found a piece that was about two feet long.
Marcel told Corley, “He [a fellow who worked for Marcel] said, ‘You see this piece of metal? … I tried to bend it, tried to mark on it. You can’t mark it.’ … He took a sixteen pound sledgehammer and put the piece of metal on the ground and he hit it like that and it bounced off.” Marcel pointed the cigarette pack again and said that the foil was as thin as that.

Anyway, according to Marcel, he got home late, but that could easily mean that rather than arriving at five or six in the evening, he got there are seven or eight. He had nothing that caused him to believe he needed to go to the base that evening. Instead, according to this testimony given to Corley, he waited until the next morning. He might have alerted Blanchard that he was back and Blanchard told him to wait until morning.

Given my experience, realizing that it began some twenty years later, I would think that Marcel would have driven out to the base no later than seven-thirty the next morning. It was certainly fairly early and he would have reported to Blanchard, taking him samples of the material. Remember, this is 1947, and people aren’t thinking in terms of an alien spacecraft. Reading the newspapers of late June and early July, 1947, there are hints, but most of the speculation revolves around terrestrial-based technology. It might be Soviet, it might be the Navy, it might be something from White Sands, or it might be some kind of other experiment but no one really thought it was from outer space.

We can speculate that there was a lot of classified message traffic going into the Roswell base; most of it would have been routinely destroyed when it was no longer valid. A purging of the files of classified would be accomplished on a regular basis, eliminating that material that was not relevant to the operation of the 509th Bomb Group. Nothing nefarious there. All military facilities that receive classified material routinely destroy it as it is superseded and no longer useful. There might have been messages about the flying disks, but they would have been informational rather than offering much in the way of explanation. Some of that might not have been classified but those messages are long gone. There is no way to verify what was being transmitted.

There would have been nothing going into Roswell to suggest there was anything classified about these flying saucers at that point. The newspapers were filled with stories about them including explanations for them. The case out of Circleville, Ohio, is important to our discussion, because it suggests some sort of metallic material having been recovered, but again, it was nothing of a classified nature.

The Circleville story struck me as important, not only because everyone there seemed able to identify the balloon for what it was while those in Roswell could not but also because it suggested that what they had wasn’t all that extraordinary. Blanchard, maybe having seen that story, but certainly having seen many of the others printed in the newspapers of the time, issued his press release about capturing a flying saucer.

Given all that, Blanchard called Haut (Marcel certainly wouldn’t have thought to call the public relations guy) and either read to him a press release or gave him the information to write it himself according to what Haut would tell me later. Haut then passed it around Roswell where both George Walsh and Frank Joyce put it on their respective news wires.

At this point nothing was classified. It was just some rubble recovered in a rancher’s pasture seventy or so miles northwest of Roswell. It was unusual material, but no one was talking about anything classified, and even if you wish to bring in Mogul, that material, if it was what had been found, was not classified. Nobody was violating regulations at this point.

For those who believe Roswell was alien, it would be clear that the second site where there was a craft and bodies was found sometime after the press release had been delivered. It seems, based on the documentation, that about fifteen minutes or so after Walsh received the press release, he put it on the wire. It was then too late to recall it, if that had been in their minds.

The answer to the question about Marcel and Blanchard compromising classified information seems to be that they didn’t. At the time they acted, nothing was classified and they did what they thought to be the best thing to do. Blanchard thought they had a partial though mundane answer to the flying saucer mystery and ordered the press release. It was later that they received other, better information, but by that time the high headquarters had taken over. I think this covers the questions that are being asked. It does address some of the concerns and makes sense. Blanchard just wanted people to know that the Army was on top of things and had pieces of one. The press release was designed to make the Army look good to the public and he couldn’t have envisioned the explosion of interest in the topic or the direction some research would take. He just thought he was doing something important for the community.

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The Roswell [Flying Saucer] Press Release and Colonel Blanchard

RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region

By Kevin Randle
A Different Perspective

      I’ve been thinking about this press release issued by Colonel Blanchard that has the skeptics in such turmoil and I must confess worries me a bit as well. There just doesn’t seem to be any logic in it if we start with the premise that they thought they were finding parts of an alien spacecraft on the debris field.

But as I was driving across Nebraska, which is fairly boring, I got to thinking about this and what the press release actually said. The terminology is important and the lack of any real detail is also important. If we look at what was said about what was found on the ranch managed by Mack Brazel and what was seen by Jesse Marcel, Sr. and Sheridan Cavitt, we might be able to figure some of this out.

For those unfamiliar with what the press release said, this is the Associated Press version based on the information supplied by Walter Haut:

Roswell, N.M. – The army air forces here today announced a flying disc had been found on a ranch near Roswell and is in army possession.

The Intelligence office reports that it gained possession of the ‘Dis:’ [sic] through the cooperation of a Roswell rancher and Sheriff George Wilson [sic] of Roswell.

The disc landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher, whose name has not yet been obtained, stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the Roswell sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office notified a major of the 509th Intelligence Office.

Action was taken immediately and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home and taken to the Roswell Air Base. Following examination, the disc was flown by intelligence officers in a superfortress (B-29) to an undisclosed “Higher Headquarters.”

The air base has refused to give details of construction of the disc or its appearance.

Residents near the ranch on which the disc was found reported seeing a strange blue light several days ago about three o’clock in the morning.

According to the best evidence available today, Brazel found a field that was covered in metallic debris a few days before heading into Roswell. He provided almost no descriptions of it but did want to know who was going to clean up the mess. Tommy Tyree, a sometimes ranch hand working for Brazel, explained that the material was so tightly packed that the sheep refused to cross it but that doesn’t tell us much about the density. All we know is that the material, and I’ll guess some of it stirring in the wind, frightened the sheep. There was enough of it to make it a chore to collect. Jesse Marcel, Sr., would later suggest that it was an area that was about three quarters of a mile long and a couple of hundred feet wide. Bill Brazel would talk about a gouge through the center of the area that was a half mile or so long which tells us nothing about the amount of debris but does suggest something about the length of the debris field.

We know, based on the records, that Brazel did drive into Roswell to talk with the sheriff and that the sheriff contacted the Roswell Army Air Field. Jesse Marcel, along with Sheridan Cavitt accompanied Brazel back to the ranch, arriving late in the day. It was too late that night to go out to the field, so they made that trip the next morning according to Marcel. Cavitt, according to what he told Colonel Richard Weaver, went out with Bill Rickett, his NCOIC, and thought that Marcel might have gone out with them (and it is here we see some of the trouble with memories that are decades old).

Marcel said that he, Cavitt and Brazel went out the next morning and gathered some of the debris. Marcel said that he told Cavitt to head back to the base and he would stay, though I don’t know why he would have done that. Marcel said that he filled his car with the debris and that he then drove back to Roswell.

And here we encounter the beginnings of the real problems. Even if Marcel moved slowly, it shouldn’t have taken no more than an hour to fill his car, and even if he drove slowly back to Roswell, it shouldn’t have taken no more than four or five hours, which would seem to put him in town in the early evening at the latest. Which, of course, suggests that he didn’t have to wake up his wife and son to show them the debris, which, according to Jesse Marcel, Jr., his father called a “flying saucer.” He might have stopped at the house to show them what he had found because it was parts of what he thought of as a flying saucer and for that reason it was mildly interesting. Flying saucer didn’t necessarily mean alien spacecraft at the time, though that was certainly one of the interpretations, one of the least likely of the interpretations, given the tone of most newspaper and radio reports.

The Circleville Flying Saucer
The Circleville Flying Saucer
Now, here is what I’m thinking about this. On July 6, 1947, newspapers around the country carried the story of a flying disk recovered in the Circleville, Ohio area by a farmer, Sherman Campbell. Pictures of it were published in the newspapers, including one with Campbell’s daughter holding up what are clearly parts of a rawin radar reflector. Campbell identified it as did the local sheriff and newspaper reporters. Campbell though if it was high aloft with the wind causing the reflective surface to spin, it might look like a disk from the ground.
I don’t know if they saw or heard this story in the Roswell area, but it was national news and it certainly offered a plausible answer for some of the flying saucer/flying disk reports. Some sort of strange metallic debris with a nearly intact radar target had been found in Ohio. This might have suggested something to Blanchard.

So Marcel shows up early the next morning (which in the military wouldn’t have been all that early when you remember that flight operations as well as other tasks might start at four or five in the morning) and I would guess somewhere around seven or seven-thirty. According to what he would later say, and given the descriptions of the material recovered provided by Bill Brazel, Loretta Proctor, Bud Payne and Tommy Tyree, there wasn’t much in the way of diversity. They had some light weight wood that had the density of balsa, some wires that Bill Brazel suggested were like monofilament fishing line but that would transmit light, some foil and some parchment. Nothing to suggest an alien spacecraft, only some materials that were sort of familiar but a little bit different and nothing that would suggest any sort of identification. Besides all that, we have Cavitt telling Weaver that it was all a balloon (though Cavitt told me personally in 1991 that he had been too busy in July 1947 to go chasing balloons).

Blanchard probably (and note the qualification) looked at the debris, thought it nothing all that extraordinary but would be something that might be associated with the flying saucer stories. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing classified about the material. They hadn’t found a craft. They hadn’t found bodies. There was nothing to suggest that it was a project from White Sands or an experimental aircraft that had crashed. It was just a field filled with metallic debris… strange debris to be sure but nothing that would lead to the conclusion that it was extraterrestrial.

If Blanchard was aware of the report from Circleville, that might have inspired him to order Haut to issue the press release. Even if he hadn’t seen that story, he had certainly seen many others. Given the time, that is July 1947, few of the explanations suggested interplanetary craft as opposed to interstellar. Scientists, military officers and government officials were offering their take on the sightings but there was certainly nothing that was classified about it. Blanchard’s message center would have been receiving directions and intelligence about a wide variety of subjects on a daily if not hourly basis but I doubt that much space was wasted on flying saucers in those early days.

What this means is that on the morning of July 8, when Blanchard ordered Walter Haut to issue the press release, they weren’t dealing with classified material. They were dealing with some strange debris found by a rancher. They might not have known exactly what it was, but they weren’t thinking in terms of classified material. This explains the press release because it demonstrates that Blanchard was telling the local community they had found elements that might have been part of a flying saucer, whatever that might have meant at that time.

And it explains Marcel taking the material home to show his wife and son. In fact, given the nature of the debris, Marcel might not have felt it necessary to report it to Blanchard until the next morning. He stopped at his house, not necessarily to show them the debris, but because it was on his way to the base, the duty day was over, and there was nothing classified or critical in his possession. He could wait until the morning.

This would, of course, alter the various timelines created about these events, but it doesn’t change anything radically. All it does is provide an answer for why the press release was issued and why Marcel took the material home to show his wife and son. At that point nothing was classified. That would come later, when additional wreckage was found, but at that precise moment, they were dealing with the mundane and not the extraordinary.

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