Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dr. Hynek's Record of UFO Encounters


There's a strange relationship between fact and fiction in the UFO business. J. Allen Hynek consulted for the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, had a cameo role, and he also wrote the epilogue for the novelization. The publisher, Dell, also issued the non-fiction The Hynek UFO Report, which is regarded as a classic. Without Hynek, there might not have been a CE3K, and if not for the film, the Hynek book might not exist. Or some other commercial products.


Panama City News, March 28, 1966 

Dr. Hynek began working for a consultant for the Air Force in 1948, providing them with explanations for UFO sightings based on his knowledge of astronomy, but did so in relative obscurity. At the Detroit Press Club, on March 26, 1966 Hynek was propelled into the public spotlight, initially unfavorably, due to his remarks about “swamp gas.” Nevertheless, he became the top authority on the UFO topic, and in demand, and in a heel/face turn, he went from being the Air Force’s senior debunker to bring the most famous UFO advocate. Jacques Vallee, from Forbidden Science Vol. I, his entry for 11 April 1967:

"I miss the days when he was not such a celebrity... The topic has become fashionable entertainment, not serious science. Media men hire Allen as they would hire a guitar player. He rushes wherever he sees a spotlight, and if the spotlight moves he moves with it."


Jacques Vallee described Hynek’s gig as a consultant for Stephen Spielberg’s UFO movie in Forbidden Science Vol. II, in his entry for Friday 27 August 1976:

“Allen called me last night, cheerful... Dell is sending two writers to help him with a hurriedly-compiled paperback about Project Blue Book. As for the Spielberg movie, he will indeed have a silent role in it, making his way to the front of a crowd of technical people who surround the first landed saucer. I'd love to see the out-takes: They shot a sequence where Aliens surrounded him, pulled on his beard, took his pipe and poked it into their nose.”


Hynek took an active role in helping promote the film and appeared in the theatrical trailer for it.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind theatrical trailer

The book he and the ghost writers cranked out was The Hynek UFO Report, which hit the market in late 1977 to cash in on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and his epilogue for the movie novelization closed with a plug for his Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and their magazine, International UFO Reporter.  

UFO Encounters: The Record Album


Dr. J. Allen Hynek and his Center for UFOs Studies were partners in the production of a double LP audio documentary, Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters. A news story in The Chicago Tribune, Jan. 14, 1979, told how the project began when Investigative Research Associates approached Hynek at a UFO convention in 1977. Hynek was initially reluctant, fearing it would be “schlocky,” but IRA convinced him of their sincerity, so together they set out to cover the most significant cases and record first-hand testimony about them.

The Chicago Tribune, Jan. 14, 1979

Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters was a two-disc LP, also released on cassette and 8-track tape. It was released in 1978 on the IRA label.


It was reviewed in UFO publications such as the A.P.R.O. Bulletin, but the most comprehensive review was in the MUFON UFO Journal, Feb. 1980,“In Others' Words” by Lucius Farish:


“A new 2-album record set, "UFO Encounters," presents an interesting selection of testimonies and opinions by UFO witnesses and researchers. Contributors to the album include Kenneth Arnold, Colonel Robert Friend (former Project Blue Book Director), Bill Pecha, Ted Phillips, Travis Walton, Father William Gill, Herbert Schirmer, former Air Force Major Paul A. Duich,

Louise Smith, Leonard Stringfield, Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle, Betty Hill, Marjorie Fish, Stanton Friedman, former astronaut Gordon Cooper, Jacques Vallee, David Saunders, and others. An additional bonus is President Carter's personal recounting of his 1969 UFO sighting. A special section inside the album cover contains 6 pages of UFO photographs, plus photos of most of the persons heard in the records. Some of the material relating to "crashed saucer" stories seem questionable, but all in all, this is a good selection of recorded UFO material. Available from: Investigative Research Associates, Inc., Suite W, 430 West Diversey Parkway, Chicago, Illinois 60614; the price is $8.95.”


 Crashed Saucer Investigation

 The red banner across the cover of the album touted “Crashed Saucer Investigation,” and the interior, a described the track:

“Since the 1940s, rumors have circulated indicating the possibility that extraterrestrial spacecraft have crashed on Earth and have been recovered by the American military. Investigative Research Associates decided to pursue these reports…”

The segment is interesting in that it documents the marketability of crashed UFO stories even before the revival of the Roswell incident. I had begun when Robert Spencer Carr rekindled interest in a discredited aspect of ufology in 1974 by reviving the story of little men found in a saucer in Aztec, New Mexico. Leonard Stringfield was the chief crashed UFO researcher, but for the album, even Dr. Hynek got in on the act.

The “Crashed Saucer Investigation” was the next to last track on the album. It opened with former astronaut Col. Gordon Cooper vaguely discussing second-hand rumors he’d heard about saucer crashes:

“There were some accident involving a UFO, and from there it varies greatly. There were occupants and in each of the rumors that I've heard, but from there on, it varies greatly as to whether they were all alive, or some alive, or what the extent of damage was to them, and then as to what happened to them is quite variable. The particular rumors aren't necessarily from people who've been involved, but they come from so many different sources, that it would lead you to believe that it certainly is worth investigating a little further.”

Dr. Hynek shared his view:

“Over the years, these rumors have persisted. Hardly a week goes by without my being asked about the ‘crashed saucer’ stories. My response to these rumors has always been complete skepticism. Recently however, some of my colleagues, Investigative Research Associates, have probed into these stories and some intriguing information has surfaced. I believe it is quite worthwhile to let listeners to this record have the benefit of some preliminary findings.”

Hynek went on to introduce the (now-discredited) story of Robert B. Willingham and his recovery of a piece of a crashed UFO at Del Rio, NM, in 1948.

Next, Herbert Coyer told about a story he heard from an aide to an Army general about a 1951 saucer crash at White Sands where alien bodies were recovered and an autopsy was performed. Both Willingham and Coyer’s stories featured metal from the UFO that was incredibly tough and could not be burned or cut, a detail we’d see hear again when the Roswell crash was resurrected.

The Final Track: Summaries and Theories 

The final segment was “Summaries and Theories,” which featured comments from Stanton Friedman, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Dr.  Jacques Vallee, and Dr. David Saunders. Hynek suggested that UFOs might be from another dimension or a parallel reality rather than being something from another faraway planet. He was the researcher given the last word on the album and drifted a bit into mystic concepts:

“The idea of other intelligences in space is not so radical or new. It's in both the ancient Eastern religions and the more modern faiths. The prophets in the Bible and many philosophers have been telling us for centuries that there are other planes of existence. So why do we find it so difficult to acknowledge that there might be other highly developed life forms or forms of consciousness that might surpass our own? In fact, it is now widely accepted that the universe may well be teeming with life.”

Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters is worth a listen, for the chance to hear rare recordings with witness and researchers, and for a look at the state of serious ufology at the time it was recorded. The full album is available via YouTube. 

 Another version features each track individually. Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters

UFOs and science fiction have a complicated history together, and there’s no doubt there has been a mutual exploitative relationship. That’s show business, and it makes for some strange bedfellows. 

Dr. Hynek with characters from Star Wars, and with Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame. 

Track Listing and Credits

Below are the track titles and lengths to Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters, followed by the album’s credits.

Introduction 4:24

Foo Fighters 2:08

Kenneth Arnold Sighting 3:40

Government Involvement 2:04

Simi Valley Sighting (CE-I) 5:08

Pecha Case (CE-I) 5:44

James Richard Case (CE-II) 6:59

Travis Walton Abduction (CE-III) 15:44

Father William Gill Sighting (CE-III) 4:51

Officer Herbert Schirmer Abduction (CE-III) 8:29

Louise Smith / Kentucky Women Abduction (CE-III) 7:20

Charles R McQuiston PSE Evaluation Summary 1:14

Betty and Barney Hill Abduction (CE-III) 7:42

Crashed Saucer Investigation 10:09

Summaries and Theories 4:46

 Credits, as listed on the back cover:

Produced by: Investigative Research Associates, Inc., Chicago, Illinois. 
Producer: Steve Cronen. Exec. Prod.: Ben Christ.
Scientific Consultants: Center for UFO Studies, Evanston Illinois, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Sherman
J. Larsen.
Investigation, Research, Writing: Peter Bordwell, Steve [Thom].
Narration: Walt Peters.
Music: DeWolfe Music, Inc. 
Music Coordination: Walt Peters. 
Musical Effects: Ron Figura.
Recorded at: Starbeat Recording Studios, Deerfield, Illinois. 
Engineering, Editing & Mix: Steve Cronen.
Album Design: Steve Schaul.
Album Cover Trifid Nebula Photo: Copyright by the California Institute of Technology and the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Reproduced by permission from the Hale Observatories UFO Photos & Documents: Center For UFO Studies.


 . . .

Close Encounters: The Slide Show

Dr. Hynek had been involved in some other commercial enterprises before the Spielberg movie. In 1976 he had produced a set of UFO slides and audiotapes for Edmund Scientific, but with release of CE3K, it was a hotter item.

It was advertised in Popular Science and was featured in an article in the April 1978 debut issue of Future magazine (the companion to Starlog). Below is a YouTube video of the Hynek audio, sadly without the accompanying slides shown.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Saucer Pin-up Girls of 1947


There have always been objects in the sky that could not be identified; therefore, UFOs are real. But what’s said and printed about UFOs is often far from reality. From the start, there was a lot of sensationalism and exploitation.

Flying saucers made a splash in late June 1947, but newspapers need photographs to go with the stories, and those were in short supply. An early example of a semi-legitimate saucer picture was produced by the Central Press, which distributed news photos for International Soundphoto, a photowire service. Farmer Sherman Campbell found a rawin target on his farm, but his daughter Jane was photographed holding the “flying disc” for the camera. (The next day, another rawin target was in the news from Roswell, New Mexico.)

Jane Campbell, 17, of Chillicothe, Ohio, exhibits an unidentified mechanism which fell from a balloon and landed on her father's farm. The father, Sherman Campbell, said the vaned object, may have caused some of the reports of “'flying discs.”

The same day, and in the weeks that followed, there were many less legitimate photographs, some of them more in the way of pin-ups. Newspapers staged their own photos, often printing pictures of pretty young women allegedly searching for saucers, or posing with bogus UFOs, or sometimes no saucer at all, just mentioned in the caption. A few novelty pieces featured flying saucer hats or other out-of-this-world fashions.

The Decatur Herald, July 7, 1947

The Dispatch, July 7, 1947

The Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1947

The Miami News, July 7, 1947

The Dayton Journal, July 8, 1947


WHO SAYS THOSE FLYING SAUCERS are just high-powered hallucinations? If you do, check this, son. ...Journal Reporter Mary Ellen Lynch makes a stab for her first saucer. Reaction: "Whatta jar!" 

The Daily Times, July 9, 1947

The News-Herald, July 10, 1947

Syracuse Herald Journal, July 12, 1947

The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 13, 1947

The Madera Tribune, July 16, 1947

Vilnis, July 25, 1947

The Victoria Advocate, June 15, 1950

Vilnis, July 25, 1947

Science fiction pulps had long featured buxom damsels in distress. 

Amazing Stories, Feb. 1942, Dec. 1945

Once saucers were proven to be an enduring product, publishers borrowed the concept, and even some of the same artists.

When Behind The Flying Saucers by Frank Scully was issued in paperback in 1951, it featured a painting on the cover by Earle Bergey.

Startling Stories, March 1951 and Frank Scully's book.

When the first full-length motion picture about an extraterrestrial flying saucer was released in April 1951, the ads and poster for The Thing from Another World prominently featured actress Margaret Sheridan.

Later that year, the second ET saucer film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, also featured a damsel in distress in the promotional art.

 Many subsequent posters followed the example, regardless of the films’ content.

Invaders from Mars, 1953, The 27th Day, 1957

It wasn't just Hollywood. Life magazine published perhaps the second most important article in UFO history. Their issue dated April 7, 1952, featuring the bold declaration, "There Is A Case For Interplanetary Saucers." H. B. Darrach Jr. and Robert Ginna's article, "Have We Visitors from Space?" provided millions of readers with a non-threatening introduction to the hypothesis of an extraterrestrial origin for flying saucers. 

However, the image used for the magazine's cover, was not of UFOs, but a photograph of Marilyn Monroe.

For good or bad, UFOs have been routinely marketed with a sexual tease from 1947 up to today. We’ll close this entry on exploitation with two more examples on the less serious side.

Actress Penny Edwards in a 1950s publicity still from Republic Pictures.

Finally, “Miss Flying Saucer” by legendary pin-up artist Bill Randall.

From the 1959 Date Book Calendar published by the Osborne Kemper Thomas Calendar Company.

. . .

Thanks to UFOPOP: Flying Saucers in Popular Culture for a few of these entries. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Roswell: The Major’s Testimony

Decades after the report of a flying saucer crash in the New Mexico desert, Roswell became the king of UFO cases - and also the king of UFO hoaxes as well. Before the Alien Autopsy, the MJ-12 documents, the Roswell Slides and all the other phonies, there was some kind of genuine event, and it was backed up by the word of a credible witness. His name was Jesse A. Marcel, a retired Air Force. Lieutenant Colonel.

Around 1980 there were three articles in the Roswell Daily Record that document the rebirth of the flying saucer crash story. These rare items feature quotes by Jesse Marcel and Walter Haut with their first published thoughts on the possibility that the debris recovered in New Mexico was of extraterrestrial origin. Before getting to  those, we'll briefly recap the events from 1947 that led up to it all.

1947: New Mexico

Most people know the Roswell UFO crash story came and went virtually overnight in July of 1947. In New Mexico, near the town of Corona, William Ware “Mack” Brazel found some debris on the Foster ranch; tinfoil, paper, tape, sticks, and rubber from a kite-like object that was reported to have “at least one paper fin had been glued onto some of the tinfoil.” 

William Ware “Mack” Brazel

Mack was one of the last of the real cowboys, known for crushing the heads of rattlesnakes under his boot heels, and to him, the debris was as much a nuisance as a mystery. He showed some of the material to the local sheriff, who suggested it might be one of those flying discs in the news, and that it could be something the Army guys at Roswell might be interested in. Jesse Marcel was the intelligence officer at the Roswell Army Air Force Base in July 1947, and he caught the job of going out to see what was on the ranch. 

The Rapid City Journal (SD), July 8, 1947

A premature announcement characterized the object as a “flying disc,” but after being recovered and taken to Fort Worth, the scraps were identified by Warrant Irving Newton as pieces of a balloon and rawin target, and the press was told it was the remains of a weather balloon. Typical newspaper headlines said, “Army’s Disc Identified as Balloon.” 

Associated Press story and photos from Gen. Ramey's office.

There were plenty of other saucers stories in the news, and many of them went on to become classics, but the Roswell incident was closed and forgotten.

Skipping to the 1970s… 

Since the exposure of UFO hoax that was the basis for Frank Scully’s 1950 bestseller, Behind the Flying Saucers, crashed saucer tales were figuratively speaking, fit only for the junkyard. In 1974, Robert Spencer Carr resurrected the story, and it made headlines, making UFO crashes a marketable product once again. Stories about captured or crashed UFOs were a dime a dozen, but what was lacking was credible evidence or a witness. When the real thing surfaced, no one really cared at first.

Jesse A. Marcel, left active Air Force service in 1950 and moved back home to Houma, Louisiana, where he worked as a repairman of electronics. After the Pascagoula Abduction story, UFOs were big in the news in the 1970s, which may have prompted Marcell to share his saucer story with his ham radio friends. In 1978, over 30 years after the saucer headlines, two UFO researchers made contact Marcel and resurrected the story.

On Feb. 20, 1978, Stanton T. Friedman was on his UFO lecture tour in Louisiana, when he was told about a man in the area who said he’d once found pieces of a flying saucer. Friedman called Jesse Marcel the next day, to hear the story most of us have come to know. Unfortunately, Marcel couldn’t remember the date or some of the people’s names, and provided no documentation. Friedman listened with interest, but in his line of work, you hear a lot of stories.

Stringfield's presentation was reprinted in Flying Saucer Review Vol. 25, no. 6 

Next, Leonard H. Stringfield interviewed Marcel on April 7, 1978, and subsequently included the Roswell anecdote in his lecture (but not accompanying paper) “Retrievals of the Third Kind,” at the Mutual UFO Network Symposium at Dayton, Ohio, in July 1978. In it, Marcel was referred to only as “Major J. M.” The MUFON UFO Journal, August 1978 printed the revised and paper from Stringfield’s Symposium presentation, and the portion on Marcel was called “Abstract XVIII.” Marcel’s story was regarded as nothing special at the time, just one of Springfield’s many tales of anonymously sourced UFO crash recoveries. None of this reached the general public, at the time it was just titillation for well-connected UFO buffs.

Stanton Friedman let the Marcel story sit on the shelf until he partnered with Bill Moore, a ufologist whose star was on the rise. Moore had been working with Charles Berlitz, the author of bestselling books on paranormal topics as The Bermuda Triangle and The Philadelphia Experiment. A year after Friedman had spoken to Marcel, Moore came across 1947 newspaper articles about the Army's capture of a flying disc that confirmed that Marcel's story. That’s when Friedman realized they had something. Marcel had made no mention of the debris being from a manned craft or anything at all about alien bodies. To fix that, Friedman and Moore combined Marcel’s story with the fanciful secondhand account of Barney Barnett discovering a saucer and alien bodies to flesh out their narrative.


The Public Debut of Marcel’s Testimony on Roswell

As Moore’s Roswell book was being prepared, Jesse Marcel was interviewed by Bob Pratt on Dec. 8, 1979, later published in the National Enquirer, Feb. 26, 1980, as "Former Intelligence Officer Reveals... I Picked Up Wreckage of UFO That Exploded Over U.S." It was the public’s first taste of what became known as the Roswell Incident. Marcel described collecting the debris on the ranch, "I didn't know what we were picking up and I still don't know.”

National Enquirer, Feb. 26, 1980

Stanton Friedman was more certain. “William Moore and I have talked with at least 40 other people who have knowledge of this incident, and I am convinced that a flying saucer exploded…” He closed by saying, “It is certainly part and parcel of a long-term cover-up."

Bob Pratt’s article included a couple of UFO product plugs:

“Marcel’s story is told in the new movie, UFOs Are Real.”

“[William] Moore and Charles Berlitz are coauthors of a book on the crash, The Roswell Incident to be published in the spring”


The first product to market was the movie, UFOs Are Real, released Nov. 1979, sent to theaters as “Alien Encounter.” Edward Hunt directed it, and he co-wrote the film with Stanton Friedman who was also listed as technical consultant. It featured the first filmed interview with Jesse Marcel, and he was even pictured on the movie poster.

The UFOs are Real segment on Jesse Marcel and Roswell starts at 2:15.

UFOs Are Real, 1979

Marcel: One thing I was certain of being familiar with all air activities, that it was not a weather balloon, nor an aircraft nor a missile It was something else which, we didn't know what it was, it was just fragments strewn all over the area, an area about three-quarters of a mile long and several hundred feet wide, so we proceeded to pick up the parts. A lot of it had a lot of little members with symbols, that to me, I call them hieroglyphics, because I could not interpret them, it could not be read they were just like symbols from something that meant something. These little members could not be broken, could not be burned, I even tried to burn that, would not burn. See that stuff weighs nothing, it's not any thicker than tin foil in a pack of cigarettes. [Repeating what “one of the boys” told him.] Says, “I tried to bend the stuff.” Says, “It will not bend,” says, “we did all we could to bend it,” it would not bend.” Says, “We even tried making a dent in it with a 16-pound sledge hammer,” he says, “still no dent in it.”

Narrator: [After discussing another story] …Marcel escorted the wreckage on a B-29 to Carswell Air Force Base. The press was waiting for him, but he was told not to say anything by his commander, General Ramey.

Marcel: The newsmen saw very little of the material, a very small portion of it, and none of the important things like these members that have these members that had these hieroglyphics or markings on. They wanted me to tell them about it and I couldn't say anything. And when the general came in, he told me not to say anything, that he would handle it.

The film had a limited US theatrical release in early 1980, but UFOs are Real was more widely seen when syndicated for broadcast later in the year by local television stations.


In Search of the UFO Coverup

Jesse Marcel came back to Roswell in June of 1980 to be filmed for a television episode about UFOs. It made the local news in the Roswell Daily Record, June 11, 1980. Below is a clipping of the article, and  since the type is a bit unclear, the complete text.

‘UFO’ revisits city, via television show

By Lynne Vans, Record Staff Writer

The story of purported wreckage of a UFO found on a ranch near Corona in 1947 has returned to haunt Roswell.

Seth Hill, writer-producer for the television series "In Search Of," hosted by Leonard Nimoy, has been in the area working on a program titled "The UFO Coverup."

"The UFO Coverup." investigates charges that the U.S. Air Force has systematically covered up evidence of UFOs and alien visitors. In the program, Hill investigates two separate findings of what are presumed to be wrecked UFOs - the 1947 incident near Roswell and one in Arizona, which Hill declined to discuss.

Hill himself does not believe UFOs are alien visitors "surveying us to see how we're doing." His theory is that, many of the sightings are actually top secret test vehicles of the U.S. government.  Although a non-believer, Hill pointed to a remarkable similarity in UFO sightings. He also noted that many of the sightings came in areas where the U.S government conducted atomic bomb tests during the 1940s. And, despite widespread media exposure. Hill still feels that the uniformity of . descriptions submitted by people who make the sightings is too strong to dismiss as weather balloons, St. Elmo's Fire, reflections or high flying aircraft. All valid UFO sightings, he said, report a disc-shaped object with one or two modes of travel either very fast in a horizontal direction or a rocking motion like that of a leaf drifting to earth as the vehicle lands.

While in Roswell, Hill interviewed Paul Wilmot, son of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot The Wilmots had reported seeing a strange object that hovered briefly over Roswell, then headed for the northwest the night before the wreckage was found on a ranch near Corona.

Hill also had retired Air Force Maj. Jesse Marcel flown to Roswell from his home in Louisiana. Maj. Marcel was the security intelligence officer at Walker Air Force Base when the UFO wreckage was reported by ranch manager W.W. Brazel, now deceased. Marcel contradicted accounts of the incident released to the press by Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey at the time, which stated, that the wreckage was merely a weather balloon or a radar target. Actually Marcel said, there was far more wreckage found than the press reported, simply because most of it had been picked up by the time they got to the scene.

Marcel remembers collecting a small truckload of some kind of metal and other materials resembling parchment and wood. After the material was at Walker Air Force Base, Marcel was ordered to send it to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. However, Gen. Ramey overruled him, he said, and had the wreckage loaded onto a plane and flown directly to his headquarters in Fort Worth Texas. After loading the wreckage on the plane Marcel heard nothing further about it, but that’s the way the military works, he explained.

"The UFO Coverup" is being filmed for the fall schedule Hill says it will be aired some time in October, possibly on CBS Television.

The article was edited, shortened by the United Press, but the only published version we could locate was in the Longview News-Journal (Texas), June 12, 1980, “Legend returns to haunt Roswell.” 

A follow-up article on the filming of the In Search of episode from The Roswell Daily Record, June 13, 1980, included the questions Jesse Marcel was asked, and some answers that didn’t make it into the show, like his description of a parchment-like porous material he found. Vans’ article is an interesting account of how a witness testimony is produced for the typical television show.

The Roswell Daily Record, June 13, 1980

On September 20, 1980, Season 5 of In Search of…  opened with the episode, “UFO Cover-Ups.” It was produced and directed by Seth Hill, and hosted by Leonard Nimoy.

In Search of…  “UFO Cover-Ups

Jesse Marcel’s interview was edited down to a few clips to fit the short segment. Below is a transcript of Marcel’s comments used in the episode:

Narrator: The next day reporters heard that the Air Force had found fragments of a mystery object crashed on a remote ranch northwest of Roswell. Excitement ran high until officials announced it was only a weather balloon. Major Jesse Marcel in charge of the operation now tells a far different story.

Marcel: [Describing the press event.] They took pictures of course. They had a whole flock of microphones there. They wanted to me - they wanted some comments from me, but I wasn't at liberty to do that. So, all I could do is keep my mouth shut. And General Ramey is the one who discussed - told the newspapers, I mean the newsman, what it was, and to forget about it. It is nothing more than a weather observation balloon. Of course, we both knew differently.

Narrator:  Major Marcel had to keep silent because of his strategic position at that time. He was in charge of all security and intelligence on atomic tests in the United States and the Pacific. Marcel retraced his secret recovery operation across the hot New Mexico desert.

Marcel:  We left Roswell perhaps around 3:30 or 4 o'clock that afternoon... You can see it's flat. It is very difficult, in fact, with just verbal directions, we never would have found it. We had to follow the rancher out there.

Narrator:  The crash site was so remote it took an entire day to drive there.

Marcel:  The following morning we went out to this site where the crash was, and what I saw, I couldn't believe. There was so much of it. It was scattered - it was such a vast area. So, we proceeded to pick up as much of the debris as we could and loaded in the wagon. We filled that up. It took us a good part of the day to do that, ‘cause there were such small fragments and we had to do a lot of picking. We found a piece of metal about a foot and a half to 2 feet wide, and about but 2 or 3 feet long, it felt like you have nothing in your hands, it wasn't any thicker than the foil out of a pack of cigarettes. But the thing about it that got me is that you couldn't even bend it, you couldn't imbed - dent it, even with a sledgehammer would bounce off of it. So, I knew that I had never seen anything like that before, and as of right now, I don't know what it was.

Narrator: There is new evidence that the FBI then got into the case… [shows Peter Gersten discussing a FBI document on Roswell identifying the object as kite] What did crash in this desert, a UFO a weather balloon, a radar reflecting kite?

Marcel:  It was not anything from this earth, that I'm quite sure of. Because I, being in intelligence, I was familiar with just about every - all materials used in aircraft, and our air travel. This is nothing like that. It could not been. It could not have been.

Jesse Marcel’s segment closed by reminding viewers of his role as intelligence officer at the Roswell Army Air Force Base, which was the basis of his credibility. He went as far as suggesting the material was extraterrestrial, but again there was no mention by him of seeing - or even hearing about the recovery of bodies from the crash debris. If there were any, he would have been the man to know about it.


Bill Moore’s Book

Shortly after the episode aired, The Roswell Incident by Charles Berlitz and William Moore was published in Oct. 1980. 

Bill Moore was the primary author, but Berlitz got top billing due to his fame and franchise. Stanton Friedman’s research was mentioned in the book, however, he not credited as a contributor. According to the text, the Jesse Marcel quotes used in the book were from interviews with him conducted by “Moore and Stanton Friedman, February, May, and December 1979.” 

The National Enquirer provided another boost for the book in their Sept. 16, 1980, issue which published an excerpt. While it did not reach the bestseller status like some of Berlitz’s earlier works, the UFO book sold respectably, and reached a wider audience when reprinted in paperback. It was definitely a moneymaker. The Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 1980 reported that, "Columbia has picked up Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore's The Roswell Incident (Grosset & Dunlap: $10), about UFOs, for $250,000 plus. If a TV series should materialize, the studio has agreed to the ‘highest royalties they have ever paid,’ says the Swanson Agency, which did the negotiating." 

During the promotion for the book, Bill Moore came to the city of Roswell in late 1980.

A third article on the UFO involving Jesse Marcel appeared in the Roswell Daily Record, Jan. 2, 1981, but it was really focused on Bill Moore being in town to promote the book, The Roswell Incident. Marcel was just mentioned in passing by Walter Haut, the RAAF Base information officer who had given the flying saucer story to the press back in 1947. Haut had an art gallery (before opening the Roswell UFO tourist attraction) and was hosting an autograph party for Moore’s book. Haut didn’t give any indication of seeing anything unusual back then, joked about it and said, “I didn’t think much of it and the whole thing died on the base.”  

The recrafted Roswell story took a while to catch on, even in ufology. It received a big boost by being featured at the 1981 MUFON Symposium in the joint lecture by Stanton T. Friedman and William L. Moore, “The Roswell Incident: Beginning of the Cosmic Watergate.” After that, the story gradually became embedded in the the lore, but Roswell was still far from a household name.

Jesse Marcel was interviewed on film again for the HBO documentary America Undercover episode: “UFOs: What's Going On?” August 1985. His story remained unchanged. In none of the filmed interviews did he mention anything about the debris being switched for the press conference. Rather, he states it’s the same thing he picked up, just that, “The newsmen saw very little of the material, a very small portion of it…”

UFOs: What's Going On?

Jesse Marcel did not indicate that he thought the debris was from anything other than an unmanned craft. Kevin Randle addressed stories that surfaced after Marcel’s death in his 2016 book, Roswell in the 21st Century. In the section, “Marcell and the Bodies,” he shows how the documented statements contradict the rumors, and Randle notes that, “Jesse Marcel, Jr. made it clear that he and his father never discussed alien bodies with him.” Randle addressed how Marcel exaggerated his credentials, saying, “There are clear areas of resume inflation but none that is particularly egregious by itself. It is only in the aggregate that it suggests that Marcel had a habit of stretching the truth.” Jesse Marcel told a consistent story about what he found on the Foster ranch, but maybe he exaggerated how unusual the material was. But he certainly didn't invent a story out of thin air, even after being hounded by ufologists.

Jesse A. Marcel died on June 24, 1986. The Roswell story went on without him, and in time, grew bigger than life.

The Legend Takes Hold

Up until the late 80s, the renovation of Roswell was just another UFO story, told in part as a cautionary tale about the UFO cover-up. That status changed after it was featured on a top-rated network television show.

Unsolved Mysteries, September 20, 1989,  “Legend: Roswell Crash"

NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries, September 20, 1989, featured “Legend: Roswell Crash” as one of the stories in their season 2 opener. It featured ufologists Kevin Randle, and Stanton Friedman, and the show repeated the premise from the Berlitz-Moore book. The now-discredited Barney Barnett story was presented as if as genuine as Marcel’s testimony, which was shown via his 1979 interview clip from UFOs are Real. 

With the broadcast of the show, the Roswell story finally took hold in the public’s imagination and has since become an entertainment franchise. The popularity of the tale has overshadowed genuine UFO history, and many people today think of Roswell rather than the Kenneth Arnold sighting as the event that started it all. 

Had it not been for Jesse Marcel reminiscing to his radio buddies about a couple of strange days back when he was stationed in New Mexico, the story of an alien crash near Roswell would have never been written.

. . .

A Few Notes

Jesse A. Marcel's original unedited interview with Bob Pratt for the National Enquirer: Transcript of taped interview with Jesse Marcel Sr., Dec.8, 1979.

UFOs Are Real. Some trivia on the documentary. The MUFON UFO Journal, May 1980 had a short discussion by Walt Andrus of the movie :

Many of our Journal readers have inquired about the Group I motion picture titled "UFOs Are Real" and when it will be released after having had four "sneak" previews last November. Stanton Friedman, the scientific consultant for the film, has not been able to determine why it was not released to the motion picture theaters. In March, the Academy of Science and Horror Motion Pictures awarded the film "the Best Scientific Motion Picture for 1979." It is available on a cassette video tape in either Beta or VHS from your Fotomat store for a rental fee of $9.95 or may be purchased for $49.95. Many MUFON people appear in this 110 minute color video tape documentary such as Stanton Friedman, Ted Phillips, Marjorie Fish, Dr. Bruce Maccabee, etc. plus numerous dignitaries in the military and government. This film is a bargain for people who own or have access to video tape equipment.

Linda Corley interviewed Jesse Marcel in 1981, and published a book on it many years later in 2007, For The Sake of My Country: An Intimate Conversation With Lt. Col. Jesse A. Marcel, Sr., May 5, 1981. Corley discussed the events and the later reports of alien bodies, and even autopsies. Marcel said he'd been asked about that before and said, "Well, I don't know anything about that." She asked Marcel, "I wonder how you would have felt if you would have seen dead bodies." Marcel replied, "I would have picked them up and brought them in."  

1947 Roswell FBI Document. There were a few stray mentions of Roswell in before 1978, such as the article by Dr. Bruce Maccabee in the APRO Bulletin, Nov. 1977, based on his review of FBI files on UFOs. Maccabee found a document dated July 8, 1947. All he had to say about the incident, was that:

On July 8 a "disc" was found near Roswell, N.M. This "disc" was hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a balloon. This "disc" was sent to Wright Field by a special plane for analysis.

Crashed flying saucer stories became a marketable commodity in the mid-1970s chiefly due to Robert Spencer Carr resurrecting the hoax from the book, Behind the Flying Saucers, bFrank Scully.

Interest was high enough that at the same time Bill Moore and Stanton Friedman were finishing the Roswell story, an unconnected movie was being made, originally planned as a UFO documentary. The finished project, however, was an embarrassing work of fiction inspired by the Scully book. The movie Hangar 18 was released in mid-1980. For more the story of how it all happened, see: UFO and Alien Movies: It Came from Hangar 18.


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