Major Jesse A. Marcel


An Ultra-mini biography (derived solely from Marcel’s Military Records file)

Jesse Antoine Marcel was born May 27, 1907 to Theodule and Adelaide Marcel in Terrebonne Parrish, Louisiana. He apparently spent his whole youth there, as he graduated from Terrebonne High School.

The story of Jesse Marcel's role in the Roswell Incident has taken many interesting turns over the years.

As the original Prime Witness, Jesse's status with many Roswell Crash Advocates sometimes borders on sacred. But... as it so often happens in the Saga, a few problems with Jesse's story have emerged.

- The Myths of Jesse Marcel

- Comment and Analysis: "The Evolution of a Roswell Witness"

After high school, he worked as a draftsman for the Louisiana Dept of Transportation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, then for the Shell Oil Company as a cartographer, specializing in making maps from aerial photography. Along the way, he served two three-year enlistments in the National Guard—In Louisiana from 1925 through 1928 then in Texas from 1936 through 1939.

He and his family (wife and one son, Jesse A. Marcel Jr.) were living in Houston TX when WWII broke out, and in March 1942 at the age of 35, he applied for and was given a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force. Based on his experience in mapping and analyzing aerial photography, the Army sent him off to Harrisburg, PA for training as an Combat Photo Interpreter/ Intelligence Officer.

Jesse A. Marcel
Major Jesse A Marcel

Jesse did well in intelligence school—well enough that his next assignment was to be an instructor at this school. Eventually the Army granted his request for combat, and in October of 1943, 1st Lieutenant Marcel found himself assigned to the 5th Bomber Command in the southwest Pacific Theater. For the next two years, Marcel fought the war first as a Squadron Intelligence Officer then Group Intelligence Officer, participating in several campaigns that resulted in the retaking of the Philippines Islands.

During his combat tour, Jesse performed his duties well.   His commanders rewarded his work and abilities with two Air Medals, the Bronze Star, a promotion to Captain, and then to Major in May, 1945.

Just before the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, Major Marcel was sent back to the States to get training in the use of Airborne Terrain Mapping Radar systems.

With the war over, Marcel was reassigned in January, 1946 to the 509th Composite Group at the Roswell Army Air Force Base (The 509th later became the 509th Bombing Group and then, with the separation of the Army Air Corp as the U.S. Air Force, the 509th Bombing Wing.)  In July 1947, Marcel briefly found himself the center of attention when he brought in the debris of a “Flying Disk” that Mac Brazel had found on Foster’s Ranch.

In August 1948, he was transferred to the Strategic Air Command, where he was eventually put in charge of a Pentagon briefing room for the Air Force Office of Atomic Energy (AFOAT-1). There his responsibilities were to make sure that materials (charts, illustrations, etc) were produced and ready on schedule, and to maintain the organization of the briefing room staff. 

In January 1949, he signed a statement that he fully intended to continue his career in the Air Force, but in the following year he received word that his elderly mother required assistance that his sister could not provide.  His request for a hardship release from active duty was granted, so in July 1950 he returned to Houma, Louisiana  There, he drew on his long time hobby in Ham Radio to become an Electronic Repairman, specializing in Televisions, Transmitters and Receivers. When he was released from active duty, his commission (as a Lieutenant Colonel) was transferred to the Air Force Reserves, and he eventually received his full discharge in 1958.  Jesse Marcel died in 1986 at the age of 79.


Jesse, in spite of his claim that he was under orders to never, ever talk about his role in the alien disk recovery, occasionally did let on to others that that he had been once involved in a UFO recovery.  In 1978, one of his Ham Radio correspondents mentioned Jesse’s story to Stanton Friedman, a UFO researcher, and this led to telling his story of the Flying Disk to the world.