WHAT THE RANCHER SAW
William Ware Brazel, or ‘Mack’, as he was affectionately known, was a no-nonsense 48-year-old foreman for the J. B. Foster sheep ranch, 30 miles southeast of the small cattle town of Corona, New Mexico, when he discovered strange debris in a pasture with ‘out of this world’ properties. What he discovered set in motion a chain of events that led to the US Government, for the first and only time in its history, to state that UFOs not only existed, but that they had one in their possession. Thus, in July of 1947, the seeds of the now legendary Roswell Incident were planted.
But was there more to Brazel’s role in the affair than has previously been attributed to him i.e. that he found some strange metal, reported it to the sheriff, the media, and the army, the latter detaining him for a week before he was finally released, having now changed his original story of finding ‘only’ strange metallic-like debris to that of a weather balloon, and went home refusing to talk about it again.
Certainly, ranchers in those parts were familiar with weather balloons and had no trouble identifying them. That Brazel suddenly changed his story after being detained by the military is somewhat telling. It further strains credulity when hand-picked officers of the 509th Bomb Group, the top US military unit at the time, admitted that they too had been initially mistaken over the nature and provenance of the debris and that what they had in their possession was indeed a weather balloon.
Skyhook Balloon and Payload
It was on the 8th July 1947 that Mack Brazel gave the only interview that is directly attributed to him. It took place in the offices of the Roswell Daily Record and was given whilst he was still in the ‘custody’ of the Army Air Force (AAF). It appeared in the following day’s edition of that paper. He was to give three other known direct interviews concerning the incident.
The first had taken place two days earlier, July 6th and was conducted over the phone to KGFL announcer Frank Joyce from the Chavez County Sheriff’s Office.
The second was in the home of the radio station’s owner, Walt Whitmore, on Monday, July 7th, just before he was taken into custody by the military the next day and the balloon cover story went into effect.
The final interview was conducted by El Paso radio station after the AAF had held Brazel for a few days whilst the ranch was being cleared and ‘sanitised’ of the debris. Again, the prepared weather balloon cover story was undoubtedly repeated.
Researchers and ufologists alike have been bothered ever since regarding Brazel who – among all other Roswell participants – was singled out and effectively arrested for an extended period of time. And what did he mean when he made the cryptic remark to a radio station announcer that the so-called ‘little green men’ were not green. What else had he seen which caused him to make such a remark?
Further, two articles appeared in print on July 9th 1947. The first in the Roswell Daily Record, under the title Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer, the second in the Albuquerque Journal in the Harassed Rancher … article. Both now retracted the previous day’s proclamation that a ‘flying saucer’ had been found and asserted the military line that it was the remnants of a weather balloon with attached radar reflector.
In the latter, however, Brazel’s final comments went apparently unnoticed. The article concluded that on at least two occasions Brazel had found weather balloons on his land. What he found on that fateful day, however, did not resemble any of those previous finds.
Mack died in 1963, aged 64 and took what he knew to the grave with him. Even close family members were not made privy to what he knew. What we know of him comes from his surviving family members. He was a throwback to the ‘old-time cowboys’ a no-nonsense sort of guy whose word and handshake were his bond. He was also a man of few words.
His son, Bill Brazel Jr., nevertheless, was able to put together a basic scenario of what happened to his father and obtained from him the fact that he was upset at being ‘put in jail’ for what he thought was a ‘good deed’. Although embittered and outraged by his treatment at the hands of the military he remained silent as to what he really knew, lest his family should suffer the consequences of his saying too much.
We have the testimonies of other parties involved in the incident who claimed they were threatened by military and Government officials to keep quiet about what they knew or pay the ultimate price.
Whether Mak’s youngest son, who was seven years old at the time, knew something the others did not we will never know as in 1960 he disappeared under mysterious circumstance and has never been seen since.
The little Mack did tell his family consisted mainly of his finding the ‘stuff’ which he said had come from an explosion not a crash – because it was all in pieces, and the surrounding vegetation was singed. The curious metal was different from anything he had ever seen as it could not be burned, cut, scratched, or whittled with his knife. He also recalled seeing strange writing on some of the debris that looked like ‘figures’ to him. However, Lorrene Ferguson and Floyd Proctor, neighbours of Mack, recalled his description of the pieces to them as being more like ‘wiggles’, similar to the figures found on Chinese or Japanese firecracker wrappers.
According to Bill Jr., the army had told Mack that they had established the debris had certainly not come from anything made by them.
Descriptions of what each witness saw and handled, regarding the debris, have appeared in numerous books and articles and can be concisely described as:
: Hand-sized pieces of very thin, very light, though extremely strong metal-like strips, the colour of dull aluminium or lead foil which were impervious to being cut, bent, burned or scratched. Some of them appeared to have a very slight curvature suggesting they had come from the rounded surface of a larger structure, their conditions suggesting they had been blasted from it.
: Small hand-sized pieces of an unknown quantity of very thin and light ‘metal’ possessing the dual qualities of being both solid and fluidic. When wadded up in the hand and then placed on a level surface it would revert to its original, seamless state without showing a mark on it. This, too, could not be cut, scratched or burned. When held in the hand it seemed weightless.
: A large amount of small, to hand-sized, thin, brown, parchment-like material which was also impervious to cuts, scratches or burns.
: An undisclosed amount of very light, thin, brownish ‘I-beams’, reminiscent of balsa wood. Though they could not be broken, these three eighths of an inch square (approximation) and up to 2-3 ft long ‘beams’ could be flexed slightly. They had ‘writing’ or strange, purple pastel symbols along their inner edge, imitating hieroglyphic or geometric formats.
: An unknown amount of pencil-sized or smaller ‘beam shards’, light, and brownish in colour, and devoid of any ‘writing‘. As with the larger ‘I-beams’ they were slightly flexible and impervious to being burned, scratched, whittled, or broken.
: Small pieces of a very strong and black, Bakelite-type substance (quantity unknown).
: An undisclosed quantity of very thin, and very light thread-like ‘wires’ which also could not be broken or permanently distorted.
: A 2-3 inch square, palm-sized, black box, seamless and small, which could not be opened.
: A smooth and seamless, 3-4 inch diameter by 4-6 inches long, dull aluminium ‘collar’, comprising a ‘flange’, also described as a ‘pipe sleeve’ or ‘strut‘.
At the behest of his friends, Brazel stuffed some of the above items into a cardboard box and headed off to Roswell, little suspecting what was about to befall him at the hands of the military. The nature of the material he carried was sufficiently exotic enough to warrant the despatch of two of the army’s senior intelligence officers to investigate.
By all accounts Brazel was a patriotic, law-abiding civilian. Why then did the military feel compelled to put him through an ordeal ordinarily reserved for suspected espionage agents and ‘enemies of the state’? If all Mack Brazel found was ‘funny metal’ then surely it would not have taken the military all that time to explain it away or necessitate his incarceration for a week – if that was all he found.
It wasn’t until May 1982 that investigator William Moore, following a lead from a friend, located and interviewed Frank Joyce.
Joyce had been a 24 year-old announcer for Roswell radio station KGFL in 1947, and a stringer for the United Press wire service. He got into trouble with the Air Force for placing their press release of having ‘captured’ a flying saucer, on the UP ‘wire’, via Western Union, thereby, turning what was meant to be a localised story into a national and international phenomenon.
In 1982, Joyce was still a media personality, and was clearly wary of speaking of his involvement in the Roswell affair lest it should jeopardise his career. He was, therefore, not wholly forthcoming with Moore in his interview.
According to Joyce he phoned the Chavez County Sheriff’s Office during his Sunday afternoon radio show to see if there were any worthy news items he could report on air. Sheriff George Wilcox put Mack Brazel on the phone. Joyce then interviewed him off-air. Following his conversation Joyce suggested to Sheriff Wilcox that they should call the Roswell Air Base for assistance, thus launching the military’s involvement in the affair.
During his conversation with Moore, Joyce never once mentioned what it was that Brazel had found during his first telephone conversation with him, but was emphatic that there was no mention of ‘balloon’ or ‘balsa parts’. He did remark, however, on Brazel’s terrified state of mind at the time, but did not elucidate further on why the rancher felt that way.
Then Brazel suddenly turned up at the radio station a few days later with a different story to the one he had told Joyce in their telephone conversation Joyce confronted him over his new story, whereupon Brazel told him. “Look son, you keep this to yourself. They told me to come in here and tell you this story or it would go awfully hard on me and you.”
When Moore asked Joyce if Brazel ever mentioned bodies to him on the phone, he replied, cryptically, “I can’t go into that. I don’t want to say.”
When Moore squeezed him for more information, Joyce relied that he had said all he was going to, and that he had made up his mind a long time ago that he would only go so far with that part of the story … “whatever that thing was,” he concluded, “the rancher saw it all, and it didn’t originate on this planet. What I heard later about the Air Force having bodies of little men from space … was totally consistent with what I heard at the time.”
On March 31st 1989, Joyce was interviewed again, this time by Donald Schmitt and Kevin Randle. He refused for the interview to be taped. He reiterated the same story he had told Moore, but added a few minor details. Apparently, as Brazel was leaving he turned back to Joyce and said, “You know how they talk about little green men? Well, they weren’t green.”
Schmitt and Randle interviewed Joyce on five other occasions, between 1990 and 1992. His story did not change significantly. Nevertheless, when Joyce got to the part where he claimed to have confronted Brazel about the discrepancy he said, “The story is different, especially the part about the ‘little green men’”, to which Brazel apparently replied this time, ‘Only they weren’t green.’
Joyce’s story was clearly evolving with the passage of time. Was he feeling more secure with the passing of the years? Had the fears he had harboured if he revealed too much now ebbed? Or was he simply embellishing his story? The latter is unlikely, as there was no apparent motive or gain to do so.
If Joyce’s story is true then Brazel also came across bodies sometime during his discovery of the debris field and reported this fact to Joyce. This is possibly closer to the truth than the speculation that Brazel was shown the non-terrestrial bodies by the military in order to maintain his silence and complete cooperation on national security grounds. We can safely assume that the former scenario is true as it was borne out by Joyce in a 1998 interview with Randle and Schmitt in which Joyce was more forthcoming.
His initial telephone conversation with the distraught rancher, who was complaining about the stuff scattered around his ranch and the effect it was having on his sheep went something like this:
[angrily]: “Whose gonna clean all that stuff up? That’s what I wanna know. I need someone out there to clean it up.”
“What stuff? What are you talking about?”
[sombrely]: “Don’t know. Don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s from one of them flying saucer things.”
“Oh, really? Then you should call the Army Air Base. They are responsible for everything that flies in the air. They should be able to help you or tell you what it is.”
[At this juncture Brazel apparently really started losing his composure].
“Oh God. Oh my God. What am I gonna do? It’s horrible, horrible, just horrible.”
“What is? What’s horrible? What are you talking about?
“The stench. Just awful.”
“Stench? From what? What are you talking about?
“What? Whose dead?”
[Joyce was sceptical but decided to play the role of Devil’s Advocate with Brazel].
“What the …? Where are they? Where did you find them?”
“Well, you know, the military is always firing rockets and experimenting with monkeys and things. So, maybe … “
[shouting] “God dammit! They’re not monkeys, and they’re not human!”
[Brazel then slammed the phone down on him].
Joyce then told Schmitt and Randle that when Brazel came into the radio station sometime later to retract his statements in favour of the balloon cover-story, he was accompanied by the military and was under a great deal of stress.
Joyce challenged him about the ‘little green men’ comment he made in their original telephone conversation, to which he replied that they weren’t green. Then he left with his escort.
But this was not the last that Joyce was to see of Brazel. One or two days later Joyce’s boss, and owner of KGFL, Mr. Whitmore, turned up to see him and took him for a ride. They were accompanied by an ‘odd looking fellow in a uniform’ that Joyce didn’t recognise. They drove north out of Roswell into Lincoln County, stopping at a one-room shack just off the road.
His boss then told him to go into the shack, which he did, alone. Shortly after, Brazel entered. “You’re not going to say any more about what I told you the other day, are you?” he asked Joyce. Joyce assured him he would not.
“You know, our lives will never be the same again.” Brazel said. With that, he left. So, too, Joyce and his companions. From that day on Joyce never saw Brazel again, nor the strange uniformed passenger who accompanied both him and his boss.
In order for single-witness claims to be deemed credible, they require the corroborative testimonies of others. Over the intervening years such testimonies have been given.
Dee Proctor, who claims he was with Brazel on the day he found the debris, took his seriously ill mother, Loretta, to a remote site 2.5 miles east-southeast of the debris field in 1995 to show her where Brazel had found ‘something else.’ Why, one has to ask oneself, was he compelled to risk the life of his mother in order to do so? What other information did he share with his mother?
William Moore (1985), claimed that via a governmental ‘confidential informant’ he was told a year earlier that several badly mangled bodies had been recovered in a state of decay southeast of the debris field, and it was suspected they had ejected from the craft shortly before it exploded.
The controversial MJ-12 documents appear to contain and confirm this account of the Roswell incident.
Hope Bakla (1998) and a friend were having lunch in a Corona restaurant one day when and elderly man came in and sat next to them. He engaged them in conversation, later telling them his name was Jack Wright, and told them he was returning from an Albuquerque hospital where he had just been told he would not require open-heart surgery for a heart condition. He spoke of Roswell and asked of they were going out to the crash site. They appeared ignorant of the now famous incident. He filled them in on the details, stating that his father had been a ranch foreman for the Proctors at the time of the incident and he sometimes helped him out (he was in his early teens then).
One day, he said, Brazel had come over to the ranch in a state of excitement, and wanted someone to return with him to the Foster ranch to see something. He and a few other kids decided to follow Brazel back to the ranch. The first indication that something was wrong came when they saw a number of hawks and buzzards circling something in the distance. Eventually they came across a small body on the ground, then another. The ‘little people’, as he described them, had very long, thin fingers, and that the image was indelibly imprinted on his brain to that very day.
That a man, given a new lease on life, would make up such an unbelievable story seems unlikely.
Meyers Wahnee related a story about the Roswell incident, and his involvement in it to his family during the last year of his life in December 1981. He had been a pilot and Air Crew Commander of the 714th Bomb Squadron, 448th Bomb group in 1947.
He said there were three separate sites and that bodies were found and flown first to Texas, and that many of the men involved showed fear. He also mentioned ‘decomposing body parts’ found among the Foster ranch debris field. In what amounts to a death-bed confession, he told them, “It really happened.”
If we accept these testimonies then it means that it affects what we know of the Roswell incident, inasmuch as Maj. Jesse Marcel and CIC Capt. Sheridan Cavitt, who accompanied Brazel back to the Foster ranch on the 6th and 7th of July to investigate, must have known about the bodies. Brazel had to have told them about them, as he wanted the mess cleaned up.
Whether Marcell actually saw the bodies is a matter of conjecture. On July 8th, the time when the bodies would have been taken to Roswell, he had been despatched to Fort Worth, returning on the 9th. Interestingly Cavitt refused Marcel access to his report upon his arrival back in Roswell.
Because of what we now know there are a lot more questions that require answers. Investigations are still on going to find them.
Given the amount of evidence isn’t it about time we laid to rest, once and for all, the weather balloon hypothesis, so favoured by the hard-nosed, bloody minded, and uninformed obstructionists and sceptics.
UFO Magazine (2000): Sept/Oct. issue, pp. 56-63; Nov/Dec issue, pp. 28-33; 66-9. Quest Publications International Ltd.
The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters (2002): Constable and Robinson Ltd.
Wood, Dr. Robert M, and Wood, Ryan S (1998): The Majestic Documents. Wood and Wood Enterprises.
© David Calvert 2011
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