On July 5, 1947, nearly everyone is in agreement on one undeniable fact: something crashed to Earth near rural Roswell, NM. From here, skeptics and true believers part ways. Although America had just put WW2 behind itself, it was an uncertain time. The Cold War was getting started; the Atomic Age was already here. And on this summer day, when sheep rancher W. (“Mac”) Brazel gathered up silver colored remnants of what appeared to resemble an unfamiliar light metal, many believe that the first substantive account of a UFO was collected–and summarily hidden–by the US government. UFO evidence found new drawers in the file cabinets of American intelligence. No less importantly, UFOs became an enduring presence in the national imagination.
Brazel grew interested in doing a little reconnaissance of his own after reading in the press of a $3000 dollar award for evidence of unusual wreckage debris; he brought his collection to the local sheriff who in turn delivered it to Army intelligence officer Maj. Jesse Marcel. Marcel was perplexed by the light density of the haul. Three days later, a press release was put on the wire by the public relations officer attached to the local military base. Marcel was flown to Forth Worth, Texas. After official investigation, a conclusion was found: a “downed weather balloon.”
After the 1959 cover story of Gary Powers’ espionage flight over the Russian Urals was demolished by the pilot arriving on terra firma intact via parachute, skepticism grew amongst careful readers of the press. The U2’s flight was allegedly an off-course plane intended to take high-altitude weather samples. Everything was now—literally and figuratively—“up in the air.”
Amazingly, the Roswell report lay dormant until the 1980s, when declassified documents emerged that stated that the original weather balloon was indeed part of a secret program entitled “Project Mogul” intended to survey the seismic after-effect of Soviet atmospheric atomic weapon tests. Nonetheless, intrepid reporters, perhaps fascinated by the shifting discrepancies between the official account and what was discovered by those on the ground pressed on, interviewing any and all who were present or followed the events of the early July day. Reports emerged of “anthropomorphic test dummies,” or conversely, an unusual—and alleged— request by the U.S army for child-sized coffins, apropos of no easily discernible reason.
Slowly, this reporting made its way into the press and numerous books. A Google search will reveal the good, bad, and the ugly. Those present at the time and those researching the events via primary and secondary interviews seem to hit the same troughs that stymie, say, that one whitehat detective seeking to piece together—once and for all—the events of November 22, 1963. Yet, here, the story shifts between accounts of those nearby at the time and the official record. The closest thing to a Warren Commission report in regards to Roswell is the 1994 GAO conducted by the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. This report reaffirms the “Project Mogul” timeline in over 1,000 pages. Some take issue with the official account. Gaps and delays in reporting make no immediate sense. Much like the Warren report, some would argue.
The accounts continue. The late Nineties jumpstarted interest in this unexplained phenomena via the hit television show The X-files which offered in best detective style the idea that there is some greater truth out there, present and yet hidden for reasons nefarious and mundane. Much like workaday life: investigate for yourself.