by Captain Kevin D. Randle (Ret.)
(Technical Advisor, Roswell, Showtime Movie)
It was the pseudonymous Steve MacKenzie who provided the first link between the events in Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947 and alien creatures. We had been interviewing him over a two year period, in which he kept bringing us closer to that link but always skating around it. finally, late one afternoon, as the room darkened and we were preparing to leave, I asked once again, "Did you see the bodies?"
MacKenzie looked at me, then the floor and said, "Yes."
Before that admission, he had told us the story about the crash of the alien craft, as if he had been an observer to the events rather than a participant in them. Listening to him carefully, it was always obvious that he knew more about the crash than he was willing to tell, but was reluctant to report everything.
It was not a question of him fearing reprisals from the government but a feeling of obligation. During those critical days in July 1947, he had been one of the few to be involved in many important aspects of the recovery. At the time, he had been sworn to secrecy and felt honor bound to keep that secret. Now, after so much time had passed, he wanted to share the story, but only what he felt he could say without violating his honor. And, he was in communication with others who had been as deeply involved. They were deciding what to release and what to withhold in consultation with one another.
According to MacKenzie, the object was first seen on radar about the beginning of July, 1947. Radar sites in Alamogordo, Albuquerque, and Roswell tracked an object as it "flitted through the sky." In Alamogordo, radar operators thought the image might be some kind of malfunction. They checked the scope and coordinated with other sites, realizing that the object was real.
MacKenzie said that he was ordered from Roswell to Alamogordo to monitor the situation. There, he met two others, sent in from other locations with similar orders. They were to watch the screen and report any significant changes to Brigadier General Martian F. Scanlon. They established their watch and even arranged a mirror so that they could see the warning lights on the radar if they were activated. Scanlon had told them that he did not want the radar left without one of them close at hand.
They maintained the watch for twenty-four hours straight, but the situation didn't change significantly. The object would disappear for periods, only to return. Scanlon ordered the watch suspended and MacKenzie returned to Roswell some time late July 3.
At the same time, he was in communication with Robert Thomas in Washington, D.C. Thomas was interested in the object over New Mexico, having asked a number of times if he should travel to Roswell. MacKenzie didn't think it necessary, but Thomas had other ideas. He arrived in Roswell on the afternoon of July 4.
In my earliest interviews with MacKenzie, he suggested that Thomas had arrived sometime after the crash. He said that Thomas told him that they hadn't found the flight crew, but they were looking. Now, at a later interview, MacKenzie was suggesting that Thomas had arrived before the crash, and that there had not been a search for the missing flight crew. The military was on the scene within hours, and the bodies were found with the main part of the craft early on. The skeptics seized on this discrepancy, suggesting that it showed MacKenzie to be less than honest.
Of course, the real reason for the apparent discrepancy was that MacKenzie was only slowly revealing the whole story in those interviews. In one of the earliest interviews, let down his guard momentarily, saying, "You go forty miles outside of town and you'll see the most amazing thing." He was suggesting that the impact site was much closer to Roswell than anyone had previously thought. But the slip provided a clue that wasn't fully understood by me until two years later. It also indicated that MacKenzie was playing cagey, trying to alert me to the real story without violating his oath or honor.
Now we know that Thomas was there on July 4, and a radar watch was underway after July 1. Late on the evening of July 4, the object was back, flitting through the sky. According to MacKenzie, there was a blossoming on the scope, a pulsating, as if the object was growing in size and then shrinking. Radar experts have suggested that the object itself was not pulsating, but it was bursts of electromagnetic energy at the right wavelength to be received by the radar and displayed as if it was a solid object increasing in size.
Those watching reported there was a sudden sunburst on the screen and then the image slowly faded. MacKenzie said that they believed the object was down, but didn't know if it had crashed or merely landed somewhere to the north. They suspected a crash, but they weren't sure.
Nor were they positive about the exact location. Given the data they had, they believed it was close to Roswell, north of town, but they didn't have a precise location. MacKenzie suggested they head out that night, in a small convoy, to search the high desert outside Roswell.
There were others who witnessed the crash in person. William Woody, a long-time area resident, reported that he and his father, completing chores in the relative cool of the late evening, saw the side of the house light up. Turning, Woody said that he saw a bright light, like a welding torch, flash through the night sky. He said that it was white with red streaks trailing it.
Woody reports that it was the next day or the day after, meaning Saturday, July 5 or Sunday, July 6, though he believes it was Sunday, that they drove out to see if they could find what crashed. On Highway 285, north of town, they ran into a military cordon. These men were blocking traffic to the west, letting no one turn onto the side roads. when queried the soldier said that maneuvers were being conducted.
Knowing that the object was down north of town, the military prepared to go in search of it. Testimony from others, including Dr. W. Curry Holden, suggests that military officials did not find the impact site until after sunrise the next morning, Saturday, July 5.
MacKenzie was one of those who went out with the military searchers. They found a heel-shaped object that slammed into a cliff, about 35 miles north of Roswell. According to MacKenzie, two of the flight crew were easily visible to the men on the field. One of them was sitting next to the cliff with a "serene look on his face." It appeared as if the creature had walked over to sit down for a nap, but there was no real indication that it had survived the crash.
They remained back, away from the craft, while a man in a radiation suit carefully checked the area. Once he had established that no radiation was present, the others moved forward. Trucks and jeeps were parked in a semicircle around the craft in an effort to screen it from many of those on the scene. Major Edwin Easley, provost marshal of the 509th Bomb Group spread his MPs along the ridge-line around the site to watch for intruders.
MacKenzie talks of nine men who were responsible for the operation. Some of them had come in from Washington with Thomas and the others were men assigned to the 509th. A few men, with special positions or knowledge were allowed in close. Easley was one of these, because he was the provost marshal.
Easley, when first interviewed in 1989, clearly stated that he could not talk about the events outside of Roswell. He repeatedly said, "I can't talk about it." He had been sworn to secrecy.
Under careful questioning over the next two years, Easley provided clues, telling me in February, 1991, that the crash involved an extraterrestrial ship. Later, he mentioned its strange shape, that there had been "creatures," and that the location was just north of town, not far to the northwest as had been reported in the newspaper. This testimony, from Easley, and from family members who heard parts of it before his recent death, became important in establishing the reliability of the MacKenzie testimony.
MacKenzie described the bodies as very human looking, much more so than the aliens being reported by abductees. The eyes of the aliens were slightly larger than human eyes, but not the big, black orbs mentioned by abductees. The heads were slightly larger than human heads, lacked hair, but had two eyes, a small nose and a lipless mouth. There were ears low in the head.
Skeptics and detractors have pointed out that I mentioned a description of the bodies, comparing then to the character Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It must be noted, that MacKenzie, in using that description, was referring only to the skin, an ashen white. It was not meant to deliberately misinterpret what had been said.
The bodies, according to MacKenzie, were loaded into lead-lined body bags fro transport to the base. There were five of them, two outside the craft and three found on the inside.
MacKenzie said the retrieval took a matter of hours. The bodies were removed quickly, and then the men worked to pick up the debris scattered in the crash. The craft, apparently in two parts, was lifted onto a flatbed truck and taken to the base at Roswell.
All this happened, according to MacKenzie, before Mac Brazel arrived at the Chaves County Sheriff's Office with a box of metallic debris, before Major Jesse A. Marcel and a counterintelligence officer, identified by some as Captain Sheridan Cavitt, made their way to the Foster ranch, and before first Lieutenant Walter Hunt issued a press release about the crash. In other words, the craft and bodies were located first. Later, as the men sat around congratulating themselves for burying the story, Mac Brazel showed up to cause trouble.
MacKenzie's story has been challenged by skeptics, UFOlogist, believers, and colleagues alike. They point out that he has changed it during the interviews, that his tale flies in the face of the conventional wisdom, and the timing is wrong. Without corroboration, his story shouldn't be accepted, and in fact, probably should be rejected.
But MacKenzie's story does not stand alone. What everyone seems willing to overlook is that there is corroboration from a number of sources. Some are very strong, while others are very subtle.
For example, Leo Spear was an MP with the 139th MP Company assigned to Roswell in 1947, and when interviewed in May 1994, said that he had no first-hand knowledge. He hadn't been out to guard the crash site, but he had been in the barracks when those who had been guards returned. He heard them talking about the crashed flying saucer.
According to Spear, "I can't remember if it was the evening shift...or if it was the next morning...but they saw the truck come in and they said, 'You know what? They brought in some stuff from a UFO.' [Clearly, in 1947, they wouldn't have used the term UFO, but undoubtedly did say flying saucer or flying disk.]..that crashed north of Roswell...we thought they were BS-ing until we read the article about it. (emphasis added.) I think it was the next day or the next day after that."
What this does is establish military involvement in a retrieval operation prior to July 8 when the conventional wisdom suggests that the only military personnel involved to that point had been Marcel and Cavitt. Here was some corroboration for the story as told by MacKenzie. Spear was suggesting that the MPs were guarding the site as early as July 5, just as MacKenzie said.
If I had been unable t corroborate anything MacKenzie said prior to the revelations by Spear, I would have ignored the story. However, they were many others telling tales similar to that of MacKenzie, if we listened carefully.
Lewis Rickett was the NCOIC of the counterintelligence office at Roswell in July 1947. During the critical days of the weekend, he had been down in Carlsbad, about a hundred miles away. However, he returned before the retrieval operation was completed. According to him, his boss, Cavitt, took him out to the site, because he wanted another set of eyes on it. In an interview conducted by Don Schmitt just days before Rickett's death, Rickett confirmed much of the story he had told over the years. But most importantly, as they discussed the craft, Rickett said that it was "Heel shaped." Those are his words, which unknown to him, mirrored what MacKenzie had said.
In July 1947, Johnny McBoyle was a reporter at radio station KSWS, and in an interview conducted prior to his death, confirmed that the object had looked "like a crushed dishpan," adding that it was not circular as suggested by others but more flattened at one end. In other words, he was talking about something that was more heel-shaped than anything else.
One of the archaeologist who had been on the site reported to me that he had seen something that looked like "a crashed airplane without wings." He said that it looked like a fat fuselage that was badly damaged. Although that doesn't match precisely, the heel-shaped descriptions of others, it is close enough. Besides, what is most important is that he didn't say it was circular or that it was disc-shaped.
Criticism has been leveled for the use of this testimony, the suggestion being that I didn't know who it was on the phone. Anyone could have called me, said he was an archaeologist and told me anything that he wanted. Of course, the facts given by the man were consistent with what Don Schmitt and I had learned during our investigation, and, at that time, were unpublished. He had the facts right, though had he been reading the published literature about Roswell, he would have had them wrong. He deviated from the conventional wisdom, but when the facts were checked, they were right. That convinced me that the archaeologist had been there and was reporting what he had seen. Besides, we have since learned who he was.
Other areas of MacKenzie's story were also corroborated. Remember, prior to MacKenzie, the conventional wisdom was that the crash was 75 miles northwest of Roswell. When the impact site was discussed, it was suggested that it was only a few miles, two or three, from the debris field. MacKenzie was suggesting that it was more than forty miles away, just north of Roswell.
Now there were others suggesting the same thing. The first person to wonder about the site so far from Roswell was Frankie Rowe. She said that her father, a fire fighter with the Roswell Fire Department in 1947, had been on the scene, but she couldn't understand why he would be in Lincoln County. She believed that he had been much closer to Roswell, just north of town.
Barbara Dugger, granddaughter of Sheriff George Wilcox, also believed the site was closer to Roswell, suggesting in a video tape interview conducted by Don Schmitt and me on March 3, 1992, it was no more than 30 miles north of town. She had received the information from her grandmother in the early 1970s.
Of course, Rowe's information in second hand, and Dugger's is third hand. Rowe's had been challenged by others, when they suggested that the Roswell Fire Department didn't make runs outside of town. That criticism was eliminated, when the fire logs were reviewed. On June 21, 1947, for example, the log lists a run "outside city limits."
But there was first-hand corroboration for the location north of town, not far northwest. Curry Holden, in the only interview ever conducted with him, said that he had seen it all. It was clear from the conversation with him that he was referring the crash of he craft, and that he had been at the site just north of Roswell, off Highway 285.
Dr. C. Bertrand Schultz was in the Roswell area the summer of 1947. Although he didn't see the craft or the bodies, he did run into the military cordon. According to him, interviewed in his home in May 1993, he had been driving north from Roswell and had seen soldiers along the side roads to the west. Since he didn't have to drive that direction, it made no difference to him. Later, from Holden, he heard about the crash. Both his daughters confirmed that he had been telling the story of a crashed saucer since the 1950s.
There is one other source. A man who wishes to remain anonymous, but who has an intimate knowledge of the crash. When he was asked to pinpoint the crash site on a map for me, he spent twenty minutes studying it and finally pointed to an area that matched the location provided by others.
The MacKenzie story then, as told to me over a period of years, is corroborated by multiple sources. The shape of the craft, the location, the date, and the number of bodies, have all been confirmed by others. Had it not been for that, I would have rejected the story. after all, other single witness aspects of the case have blown up when scrutinized. But along with MacKenzie, others from all over the country, have corroborated what he had to say.
The major criticism of his story was how it changed from the first interviews to the later ones. That is explained, I believe, by MacKenzie's desire to help in the investigation. He wanted to provide data, but he felt honor bound by the oath that he had taken in 1947. It was only after he discussed the case with a few of the others who were on the site, that he provided additional information, filling in details.
What we have then is a story told by a number of people. MacKenzie provided a quick path to the truth. There are others, however, who gave us the same information over a period of several months. Without them, I would have been inclined to file MacKenzie's story until later, but with those other sources, it is clear that MacKenzie is telling the truth.
Now we understand what happened. No longer must we rely on the second-hand testimonies of family members who heard the stories from fathers, husbands, and uncles who have since died. We can hear the story from the men who were there and who can tell us what they saw. If we were in court, these witnesses could testify about what they had seen. And, most importantly, that testimony is corroborated by other witnesses and some documentation.
Steve MacKenzie provided us with the first breaks in the story. Following his lead, we were able to corroborate and verify. Finally, we know what was seen on the impact site just outside of Roswell in July 1947. It was the remains of a ship built on another planet and piloted by a crew that had been born on another world.
By William Claiborne
Washington Post Staff Writer
Where television's Unsolved Mysteries" has tired and failed, the General Accounting Office is unafraid to venture.
At the request of Rep. Steven Schiff (R-N.M.), Congress's investigative branch has launched a study to determine whether the government covered up a story alleging that the bodies of alien space voyagers were removed from a crashed flying saucer found near Roswell, N.M., in 1947.
After the purported cash of the spacecraft, the bodies of the extraterrestrial visitors were said by a local undertaker and other conspiracy theorists to have been autopsied and secretly flown to an Air Force base in Ohio.
Even though the "Roswell Incident" has been repeatedly dismissed by the Defense Department as nothing more than UFO fantasizing triggered by the discovery of a downed weather balloon, the GAO has begun searching for documents to prove allegations that the Air Force "suppressed' information sought by Schiff.
Schiff is a member of the House Government Operations Committee, which oversees the GAO.
GAO spokeswoman Laura A. Kopelson said the office's investigation, first reported in the Albuquerque Journal yesterday, stemmed from a meeting in October between Schiff and GAO Controller General Charles A. Bowsher. Schiff complained then that the Defense Department had been "unresponsive' to his inquiries about the 1947 incident. Kopelson said "as far as I know only one investigator had been assigned" to the case, and that not enough work had been done to report any results to Schiff. At another point, Kopelson said 'the people doing it are either on sick leave or are unavailable."
She said there was no way of estimating how much the investigation would cost, and that the GAO does not release such information anyway.
GAO conducted 1,380 inquiries into government operations in 1992. Its budget has risen from $46.9 million in 1965 to $490 million last year. The agency has been criticized, especially by Republicans, as the "lap dog of the requesters,' producing reports that tend to support whatever conclusion the requesting member of Congress suggests.
Kopelson said Schiff had asked the GAO 'to see if there is any evidence that information regarding UFOs had been suppressed" following the Roswell incident.
Schiff, however, said that at a routine October meeting he had merely complained about the Defense Department's lack of responsiveness but a GAO official said, We're willing to take a stab at it."
Schiff, in a telephone interview from Albuquerque, said that last March, after receiving inquiries from 'UFO believers" and some Roswell residents who were in the military in 1947, he wrote Defense Secretary Les Aspin asking for more information about the reported spacecraft crash and the alleged disappearance of the aliens' bodies.
The crash of a mysterious object 75 miles northwest of Roswell, which the Air Force later claimed was a weather balloon equipped with a radarreflecting device, was the subject of several books and remains many UFO buffs' greatest riddle.
A privately owned museum in Roswell contains a number of documents and photographs purporting to prove existence of the aliens. It also displays a recreation of the spacecraft surrounded by figures portraying the dead extraterrestrials.
UFO buffs contend the incident marked the beginning of a government conspiracy to suppress evidence of alien life.
Much of the speculation stems from claims by William Haut, a former Air Force public affairs officer, who said that on July 2, 1947 he was told to prepare a news release reporting the Air Force had recovered parts of a flying saucer and then was told to change the story to report a weather balloon.
Also, a nurse reportedly told a local funeral home director that she witnessed the autopsies of the spacemen, whom she described as having oversized heads and beetle-like features. The nurse subsequently died in a plane crash.
After the autopsies, conspiracy theorist said the bodies were flown to Fort Worth then to what is now Wright-Patterson Force Base in Ohio.
In 1989, NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries" investigated the controversy, which the program's host, Robert Stack, concluded remained unsolved.
Schiff said after calling Aspin last March to request a Defense Department briefing on the Roswell incident, he received a call from an Air Force lieutenant colonel, who brusquely told him the documents had been turned over to the National Archives.
However, Schiff said, Archives officials told him they did not have the records on Roswell, even though they did have records of "Project Blue Book,' a 1969 Air Force study of reported UFO sightings. That study, Schiff said, did not deal with the Roswell case.
"I was getting pretty upset at all the running around," Schiff said, adding that at his meeting with GAO officials, "they made an offer to help."
"Generally, I'm a skeptic on UFOs and alien beings, but there are indications from the runaround that I got that whatever it was, it wasn't a balloon. Apparently, it's another government cover-up," Schiff said.
He called the Defense Department's lack of response "astounding," and said government accountability was an issue "even larger than UFOs."
Asked if the GAO might not be extending itself. Schiff acknowledged that the agency "usually does fiscal investigations and at present I can't find a fiscal impact" in the Roswell incident.
Had the agency said, " 'This is beyond our realm of expertise,' " Schiff said, "I wouldn't insist on it." He added, "If the Defense Department had been responsive, it wouldn't have come to this.
"WIRE: USER: PRINTED: 01/14/94 19:09
SEQ SLUG WIRE CATALOG PRIORTY WORDS DATE TIME ===========================================================================
18972 AMIUFOInquiry Ol AP GENERAL NEWS RUSH 298 01/ 14/94 00:02:25
AM-UFO Inquiry , O3OO (0410a-------ar014NY)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) The investigative arm of Congress is looking into a well-known UFO case to determine whether a government cover-up followed the 1947 crash of a mysterious object in New Mexico, a congressman said.
U.S. Rep. Steve Schiff said he asked the General Accounting Office to investigate after receiving letters from people who claimed to have witnessed the wreckage at the crash site.
The New Mexico Republican said Wednesday he had been told a few days earlier that a GAO investigator had nothing yet to report and was "getting stonewalled" by the Department of Defense.
"That made them that much more interested in the investigation," Schiff said.
The July 2, 1947, crash near the ranching community of Corona is known as the "Roswell Incident" because it happened about 75 miles northwest of Roswell.
The Air Force said the wreckage came from a weather balloon equipped with a radar-reflecting gadget. But others claim it was a flying saucer that crashed, and that government teams whisked away the wreckage and perhaps the bodies of aliens.
They allege the remains of the crash were ta)cen first to Fort Worth, Texas, then to what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. They say the incident was the beginninq of a government secrecy program that has hidden proof of the existence of extraterrestrial visitors for more than four decades, Michael Lindemann, a UFO researcher from Santa Barbara, Calif said the elements of the Roswell case "go a very, very long way to proving we have had alien visitation."
But UFO debunker philip J. Klass of Washington, D.C. , said there "isn't a shred of evidence" that a flying saucer was recovered at Roswell.