The testimony of the late Jesse Marcel, Sr., is probably the most
important, as well as the most controversial, of the whole Roswell
story. In essence, it forms the foundation around which the rest of the
case is built. However, because the debris he recovered was not
extraterrestrial, it could not have been what he said it was. That does
not mean, however, that he did not believe it was extraterrestrial. In
my opinion, it is very possible, if not highly probable, that he
sincerely believed until the day he died that the material was
something, as he once put it, not of this earth. A less-than-perfect
memory of events so long ago, in combination with the suspicion on his
part of a cover-up above his level of security or outside his need to
know, makes such a scenario entirely plausible.
Unfortunately, because of minor, almost trivial, inconsistencies in
some of the things Jesse Marcel, Sr., said, or is believed to have said,
some have made caustic personal attacks against a man no longer around
to defend himself -- and who was, in all probability, telling the truth
as he recalled it. I have now spoken with a number of men from the 509th
Bomb Group who knew Major Marcel. All had nothing but the highest regard
and respect for him.
Some of these attacks have been extended to Jesse Marcel, Jr., which I
find astounding. As I have already mentioned, he is as sincere and
honest as anyone I have ever known. Like his father before him, he
served his country during time of war. Few people know it, but he was
seriously injured during the Vietnam War when his helicopter was shot
down, killing everyone else on board. Like all of us, Jesse might not
have 100 percent perfect recall of every past event, but I would never
question his word.
In a way, because the debris recovered outside of Roswell in 1947 was
not extraterrestrial, none of the other witness testimony really
matters. If the story of a highly unusual and totally unprecedented
event is killed at the source, subsequent corroborating testimony goes
out the window. For example, in the summer of 1993, a man from Seattle,
Washington, made the unprecedented claim that he had found a hypodermic
syringe inside a sealed can of Pepsi Cola. The story was picked up by
the media, and within days there were copycat claims against the Pepsi
Cola Corporation all over the country. Unfortunately for those who
jumped on the bandwagon, the original claim turned out to be false.
Where did that leave the subsequent claimants? Out on a limb that had
been cut off, and, in this particular case, facing up to $250,000 in
fines and five years in jail.
The testimony of some of the other Roswell witnesses has been all but
validated in the public eye because of repeated media coverage. For this
reason I will address a couple of cases.
Former mortician Glenn Dennis and the elusive nurse, Naomi Self, who
supposedly witnessed alien autopsies at the base hospital is one of the
best-known elements of the 1947 Roswell event. Although I know and like
Glenn Dennis on a personal level, I have to say that his story has lost
all credibility. Glenn, incidentally, has been fully aware of the fact
that researchers have been spending time and resources in an effort to
locate a Naomi Self.
There was already significant circumstantial evidence to indicate that
no such nurse ever existed, when a diligent young researcher from
Arizona, Vic Golubic, all but confirmed the fact. He located the records
of the Cadet Nurse Corps, where all nurses for the military were trained
during the mid-1940s. When Golubic checked with Dennis about the correct
spelling of Self and informed him about the Cadet Nurse Corps records,
Dennis changed his story, telling Golubic that Self was not really the
correct last name after all. Dennis, without giving a good reason for
not doing so, also refused to tell Golubic the real last name. Sorry,
Glenn, end of story.
Both my father and I got to know Frank Kaufman very well and consider
him a friend. However, as with Dennis, I have to say that in view of
what we now know, there is no way that Kaufman's fantastic tale of a
crashed spaceship with alien bodies could have any basis in reality.
According to Kaufman's story, he was one of nine military men at the
top-secret recovery operation 35 miles north of town. Other than
Kaufman, the only other living member of the original nine was a General
The last time my father and I were in Roswell, Kaufman showed us some
of his pictures, including one with him standing next to a brigadier
general. My father asked Kaufman if that was Thomas, to which Kaufman
replied in the affirmative. Unfortunately, my father, who spent 30 years
in the Air Force, was unable to recognize the general. I later checked
at the Air Force records center and learned that not only was there no
living General Robert Thomas, but there never was a General Robert
Thomas. On being confronted with this, Kaufman informed me that Thomas
was really just a code name.
The final witness testimony that I will address is that concerning
Oliver W. (Pappy) Henderson. Millions have seen the Unsolved Mystery
broadcast about Roswell with the scene of Pappy Henderson in his flight
suit, leaning over and inspecting one of several alien bodies laid out
on a hangar floor just prior to their being flown to Wright Patterson.
Henderson, who died in 1986, on seeing a tabloid headline and story
about Roswell, apparently told his wife that the story was true and that
he had flown the wreckage and bodies to Wright Patterson. My best guess
is that the testimony of Henderson' family years later was a case of
memories of things read, or possibly seen in tabloid pictures, being
blended or confused with memories of what Henderson may have actually
During my extensive conversations with pilots from the 509th, I spoke
with several who knew Henderson and remembered his having discussed the
incident. Apparently Henderson, a C-54 transport pilot at the time, did
fly some of the debris out of Roswell, possibly to Wright Patterson.
Jesse Mitchell, one of the 509th pilots at the time and a retired
lieutenant colonel, told me that Henderson told him that he never saw
the debris and he had no idea what it was. Mitchell was a good friend of
Henderson's and almost decided to go into the roofing business with him
in Roswell after Henderson left the service. Another former member of
the 509th, Sam McIlhaney, also a retired lieutenant colonel who knew
Henderson well, told me that they used to talk about the incident
occasionally while sitting around in the hangar. According to McIlhaney,
Henderson considered the whole matter a big joke and used to kid about
The Guardians of the Hangar
Researching Roswell is somewhat akin to prospecting, in that most of
the time you spend countless hours and come up with nothing.
Occasionally, however, you might hit pay dirt and come up with a real
find. That happened with me during my polling of the pilots and
navigators of the 509th, when I contacted Walter Klinikowski.
Klinikowski is one of the most interesting individuals with whom I have
spoken during this entire Roswell endeavor. After my first conversation
with Klinikowski, I soon learned from other members of the 509th Bomb
Group that his piano playing was almost legendary. He told me that while
in high school at age 15, unbeknown to his parents, he took his first
professional job. The musician's union set him up in the pit band of a
local burlesque theater, where he soon became acquainted with none other
than the famous Gypsy Rose Lee.
As if his piano talent was not enough, Klinikowski later was sponsored
by the Philadelphia Athletic Club as a potential member of the 1940 U.S.
Olympic team. The war came along, however, and the games were never
held. During World War II, he was a navigator on a B-17 -- one of
highest risk jobs in he war. Following the war, after a couple of years
of civilian life, Klinikowski was recalled to the service, where he
joined the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell in May 1947. He stayed with the
509th until February 1953.
What makes Walter Klinikowski so important to the investigation of the
Roswell case is not his time with the 509th, but what he did afterward.
For 14 years, from 1960 until 1974, when he retired from the Air Force
as a colonel, Walter Klinikowski was with the Foreign Technology
Division (FTD) of the Air Materiel Command (AMC), based out of Wright
Patterson Air Force Base. (The FTD is now called the National Aerospace
Intelligence Center.); From 1960 to 1964, he was Deputy Director of
Intelligence Collections, and then later, after spending some time
abroad as a liaison officer for the FTD, he returned to Wright Patterson
as Director of Foreign Activities from 1970 until 1974.
The fact that wreckage of a crashed UFO would have been taken to the
Foreign Technology Division of AMC at Wright Patterson Air Force Base
for analysis is disputed by no one, to my knowledge. If that had been
the case, Klinikowski would have known about it, but he didn't. Walter
unequivocally assured me that there was no wreckage of a crashed flying
saucer from Roswell or anywhere else at Wright Patterson. The rumors of
the secret hangar and alien bodies are just that -- rumors.
Klinikowski was kind enough to put me in touch with his former boss at
the Foreign Technology Division, Walter Vatunac. Vatunac, who had
actually been stationed at Roswell in the late 1940s, was the Director
of Intelligence Collections at the Foreign Technology Division from 1957
until 1962. (The FTD was called the Air Technical Intelligence Center
prior to 1961.) Like Klinikowsky, Vatunac found the matter of alien
bodies and a crashed spaceship very humorous and was incredulous that so
many people actually believe it.
After my conversations with Klinikowsky and Vatunac, Harry Cordes, a
former 509th pilot and a retired brigadier general, suggested I call a
former acquaintance of his, George Weinbrenner, who had also been at the
FTD. I contacted Weinbrenner, who was more than accommodating,
especially when he found out that I knew Walter Klinikowsky. Weinbrenner
told me pretty much what I had already learned from Klinikowsky and
Vatunac, but it was interesting talking to him, nonetheless. With
respect to the crashed UFO subject, he also found it humorous and stated
that if something like that had happened, I would have known about it.
He certainly would have. George Weinbrenner was the commander of the
Foreign Technology Division for six years (1968 until 1974).
I cannot state strongly enough that I have absolutely no doubt that
these three men were telling me the truth. I repeat, no doubt. Those who
want to rationalize away the facts by suggesting that these men are
still participating in some super-long-term, massive cover-up might give
some thought to the following.
If there had been a crashed UFO, and for some reason it was still being
kept secret, why on earth would these men waste inordinate amounts of
their own time playing a ridiculous game of charades with me? They
wouldn't. There would be absolutely no reason for doing so. All they
would have had to do, would have been to politely tell me they didn't
know anything, and leave it at that.
Klinikowsky, Vatunac, and Weinbrenner are all retired colonels. They
all held important positions at the Foreign Technology Division at
Wright Patterson. As such, they represent the ultimate source of
information with regard to the crashed UFO question. This is the word
right from the horse's mouth, the incontrovertible, irrefutable truth,
the final confirmation -- no alien bodies, no secret hangar, and no UFO
crash at Roswell. Case closed.
A Red Herring
In essence, the 1947 Roswell case has turned out to be a red herring,
diverting time and resources away from research into the real UFO
phenomenon. Despite overwhelming facts to the contrary, there are those,
however, who will fight to keep the myth alive at all cost. Roswell is a
sacred cow for some, and a cash cow for others. Inevitably, there will
be fierce opposition to much of what has been said in this article. I
would be the last, however, to discourage rational and thoughtful
response, for healthy debate and a free exchange of ideas are part of
what makes our democratic system work.
Any complete and reasonable response by those who still contend that a
UFO crashed at Roswell in 1947 will need to directly address the points
below, each of which would have to be a true statement if such a crash
- *A machine with unimaginable technological sophistication and
consequent incredible reliability would have simply broken down and
- *The only known wreckage from this sophisticated vehicle, capable of
interstellar travel, would have consisted solely of a few short beams,
pieces of foil-like material, and small pieces of thin plastic-like
- * By incredible coincidence, the material from the crashed spaceship
would have very closely resembled the material left by the radar
reflectors from a balloon array that went down in the same general area
a few weeks earlier.
- * Despite the fact that this would have been the most spectacular
event in recorded history, and despite the fact that word was already
out that something had happened (because of Lt. Haut's press release),
there was absolutely no contemporary discussion or talk about such an
earthshaking event among the pilots and navigators of the close-knit
509th Bomb Group.
- * West Point graduate and retired general Thomas Dubose, would have
to have lied nine times in an interview when he stated that the debris
(definitely that from an ML-307 radar reflector) shown in the pictures
in Ramey's office was not substituted material and was the real debris
recovered from t e ranch northwest of Roswell.
- * Major General C. P. Cabell, Director of Intelligence for the Air
Force at the Pentagon, who prepared a report on the unidentified flying
object situation for the Secretary of Defense, astoundingly, would have
been preparing the report totally ignorant of the fact that the Air
Force was in possess on of a crashed flying saucer.
- * Three retired Air Force colonels, all former top officials at the
Foreign Technology Division at Wright Patterson Air Force base would
have been lying to me -- unnecessarily wasting inordinate amounts of
their own personal time in a protracted game of charades.
We have now gotten to the heart of the story and established that the
debris recovered from the Foster ranch and laid out on the Marcel
kitchen floor was, except for some unusual symbols, of a very mundane
nature. The following should then be asked of those still arguing the
issue: How do you get a crashed alien spaceship out of such ordinary
debris? What basis is there now for postulating the existence of a
At the beginning of this article, I included a letter from a 6th-grade
student, Lauren M., asking about Roswell and about information to help
her prove that there are UFOs and aliens. My response to Lauren with
respect to Roswell has already been made patently clear throughout this
article. With respect to aliens, I would tell Lauren that probably only
the most narrow-minded of people consider the earth as being the only
place where there is intelligent life in the universe. The earth is but
a small speck in a vast universe that is, according to current
scientific thinking, most likely teaming with life -- some of it
probably far more intelligent we are.
Incredibly, New York Sun editorial writer and former civil war
correspondent Francis Pharcellus Church seemed to have a grasp on all of
this a hundred years ago. In his timeless editorial to Virginia O'Hanlon
he wrote In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in
his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as
measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and
UFOs or alien spacecraft, however, are another matter. While we don't
yet have tangible evidence that alien spacecraft exist, there have been
many intriguing sightings by credible people that seem to defy
conventional explanation. Like the few brief tantalizing signals that
have been picked up by the SETI program, the evidence for UFOs has not
yet qualified as solid proof in the eyes of the scientific community.
Perhaps that might come in Lauren's lifetime.
If such confirmation does come, it would represent one of the most
remarkable events in human history. The long-contemplated philosophical
and scientific question of whether we are alone in the universe would be
answered once and for all with absolute finality. Perhaps most important
of all, the knowledge that it is possible for a civilization to survive
the growing pains of becoming technologically advanced, without
completely destroying itself and its environment in the process, would
provide a renewed hope for the future of life here on earth.
[End of Article]