Kent Jeffrey- Anatomy of a Myth, Part Three  


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A Trip to Washington

The central focus of the Roswell story has been the recovery of the unusual debris from the Foster Ranch in July 1947. This is where it all started. The most important living witness to that debris is Jesse Marcel, Jr., MD, the son of Major Jesse Marcel, Sr., the intelligence officer of the 509th bomb Group. After being out at the site, Major Marcel stopped by his house on the way back to the base and laid the debris out on his kitchen floor to show his wife and son. As a result, Jesse Marcel, Jr., got a good look at the unusual material. Potentially, the key to the whole Roswell UFO case lies in Jesse Marcel, Jr.'s memory. He saw the debris. Either it was extraterrestrial or it was not.

Despite the recent overwhelmingly negative developments in the Roswell case, I did not want to leave any stone unturned. I therefore arranged to have Jesse Marcel, Jr. fly to Washington, D.C., for a thorough debriefing session to see if we could get a better picture of the exact nature of the unusual debris that precipitated the Roswell story.

Being fully aware of the pitfalls in the use of hypnosis for memory retrieval, I decided that it still might be an avenue worth pursuing. In addition to its (controversial) use in retrieving repressed subconscious memories, hypnosis can be an effective tool in enhancing conscious memory. Law enforcement agencies sometimes use hypnosis in this manner to help a witness better remember a face or a license plate number, for example.

Because I considered our effort such an important endeavor, I wanted to find the best in the field. I also wanted someone who had maximum credibility and who was not associated with the UFO community. There was a reason for this. In the event that anything significantly positive came out of the hypnotic session, there would be a greater chance of it being taken seriously by the mainstream public.

My search led me to Neil Hibler, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with an office in the Washington, D.C., area. Dr. Hibler is one of the world's leading experts in the use of hypnotic regression for forensic purposes. Law enforcement agencies all over the world have retained him for important cases. Among the agencies that have called on him are the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the intelligence agencies of all three armed services. Dr. Hibler has worked with subjects from all walks of life, including diplomats and generals.

On the evening of January 10, 1997, four of us met in Dr. Hibler's office for the first of three sessions. The other two sessions took place over the next two days. Jesse Marcel, Jr., who is one of the most honest and sincere persons I have ever met, cooperated completely, despite the potential controversy of any significant outcome. Dr. Hibler had suggested that everything be recorded on videotape. This was done by Denise Marcel, Jesse, Jr.'s 33-year-old daughter, who flew in from Los Angeles. Denise was especially interested in our endeavor because she has studied hypnosis formally and is a licensed hypno-therapist in California. A professional illustrator from the Washington, D.C., area, Kimberly Moeller, was also present during the second and third sessions.

Dr. Hibler's approach was to have Jesse go through the entire story twice, without the aid of hypnosis. Hypnosis was then administered for each subsequent recounting of the story. According to Denise, her father is not an easy hypnotic subject, but was definitely in a mild to medium trance by the end of the last session. The hypnosis did not, however, bring out anything new that was of significance. For that reason, confabulation (false memory syndrome) was definitely not a concern. In Jesse's words, the hypnosis simply helped fine tune his conscious memory. For example, by the end of the last session, he was able to recall several details about which he had previously been uncertain -- the debris' already having been laid out on the floor when he first saw it, the fact that his father was in uniform, and his accompanying his father out to the car, where he saw additional debris in the trunk.

The most significant thing about the sessions in Washington is not so much what came out of them, but what didn't come out of them. There were no descriptions or memories of any kind of exotic debris or wreckage. There is a very good reason for that -- there simply was no such exotic debris or wreckage for Jesse to remember. If there had been, in all probability, he would have remembered it consciously. Nonetheless, because of the extreme importance of the debris to the Roswell case, the effort was worth a try -- just in case. There was no risk of a negative effect on what Jesse remembered. Hypnosis can elicit memories of things that didn't happen, but it can't take away memories of things that did happen.

Unfortunately, instead of providing any renewed hope or encouragement, the outcome of the hypnosis sessions in Washington, D.C., was, for me, the final nail in the coffin of the Roswell crashed-saucer scenario. The sessions made it absolutely clear that the material recovered from the Foster ranch northwest of Roswell in 1947 was anything but unique or exotic. As it turned out, it was extremely mundane.

According to Jesse's best recollection, the material laid out on his kitchen floor, which was representative of that at the site, consisted primarily of pieces of metallic foil, a short beam or stick, and a few pieces of a plastic or Bakelite-like substance. Certainly, such mundane debris would not constitute the wreckage from any kind of sophisticated vehicle or craft, much less one capable of interstellar travel.

There was nothing to indicate form or structure. There was nothing to indicate some kind of ultra-advanced technology. There were no technological artifacts of any type -- no remnants of anything resembling motors, servos, electronic components, instruments, a guidance system, a control system, a propulsion system, etc. -- nothing. The crash of a Sopwith Camel would have left more complex and sophisticated debris. Even the debris from a two-thousand-year-old Roman chariot would have been more interesting and varied than the debris that was laid out on the Marcel kitchen floor. At least with the chariot there would have been some technological remnants such as parts of the axles and wheels.

While we have no idea what the debris from a crashed spaceship would look like, it is reasonable to assume that it would reflect a level of complexity and technological advancement beyond imagination. Postulating that a few pieces of foil, plastic-like material, and short beams constitute the remains of a machine of such capability and complexity is more than just a quantum leap, it is completely baseless and totally illogical.


An Amazing Coincidence

In addition to being mundane, the material recovered from the Foster ranch is definitely reconcilable with the debris from an ML-307 radar reflector -- the length and cross-sectional size of the beams or sticks, the pieces of foil, and the plastic-like material (now thought to be part of one of the plastic ballast cases that contained sand). Even the color of the symbols that Jesse, Jr., remembers is almost identical to the color of the flower patterns on the balsa stick that Irving Newton remembers seeing in Ramey's office.

The crashed saucer scenario requires an implausible occurrence. A flying saucer crashes northwest of Roswell, New Mexico, and leaves debris in the form of small pieces of foil, short beams that have a maximum length of about three feet, and pieces of Bakelite-like material. Amazingly, by incredible coincidence, a balloon array that disappeared in the same general area four weeks earlier carried three radar reflectors constructed from reflective foil, short beams that have a maximum length of about three feet, and pieces of Bakelite-like material.

Obviously, the idea of any such coincidence ever happening is absurd. The debris recovered from the Foster ranch was that of an ML-307 radar reflector.

It is not hard to imagine how the apparent misidentification probably came about. During the previous two weeks, there had been a wave of sightings of flying saucers or disks throughout the United States and Canada. The sightings were something that were in the news daily and were on almost everyone's mind -- an unknown in the sky. At the same time, balloon arrays under a secret project known as Mogul were being launched from the Alamogordo area, just under 100 miles to the west of Roswell. These balloon arrays carried ML-307 radar reflectors, which would have been totally unfamiliar to Butch Blanchard, Jesse Marcel, and the other men at Roswell AAF. The debris from one of these reflectors scattered over the desert would likewise have been something unfamiliar to them -- an unknown on the ground.

It is understandable that the unknown debris found northwest of Roswell would have been assumed to be related to the unknown objects that had been so frequently reported flying around in the sky, the flying disks. Such a connection, although with the benefit of hindsight, incorrect, would have be n very logical and understandable for the men at Roswell to make. This is almost certainly how the Roswell story began.


The Missing Tape

In the last few months, as part of my effort to reconstruct what happened at Roswell, I have had a number of conversations with Irving Newton, the weather officer at Fort Worth Army Air Field who was called in by General Ramey to identify the unusual debris. The debris was already suspected to be part of some type of balloon device. Newton told me that he immediately recognized it as being from an ML-307 radar reflector. An ML-307 was a box kite-like device covered with a tough, paper-backed foil that was suspended below balloons or balloon arrays to facilitate radar tracking. According to Newton, most weather officers, much less the men at Roswell or Fort Worth, would not have been familiar with such a device. Newton had worked with the reflectors a couple of years earlier during the invasion of Okinawa in the Pacific. The devices were suspended below balloons, released to gather wind data for use in helping direct heavy naval artillery fire.

In one of my conversations with Newton, quite by chance, a new and important revelation came to light. He was describing the color of the symbols on one of the balsa sticks and mentioned how it was faint and had somewhat of a mottled appearance because of the way that the dye had bled through onto the surface of the stick. This was a very important piece of information. The symbols that Newton saw on the debris in Ramey's office were on the surface of the stick, not on tape! The tape had apparently peeled away, probably because of several weeks' exposure to sunlight while it lay out in the desert. This serendipitous revelation immediately cleared up one of the biggest questions in my mind about the Roswell case -- how could Jesse Marcel, Sr., or Jesse Marcel, Jr., for that matter, not have recognized flower patterns on tape? The answer is now crystal clear. The symbols they saw were not on tape. What they saw were images of the original symbols from the dye that had bled through before the tape had peeled away. Jesse, Jr.'s testimony about the symbols definitely not being on tape was absolutely correct.


A Remarkable Resemblance

During the sessions in Washington, D.C., the professional illustrator who was present drew a very accurate depiction of what Jesse, Jr., remembered -- the I-beam-like member with the symbols on it. After learning what a good recollection of the symbols Newton had, I arranged for him to work with he same illustrator so that we might have side-by-side sketches from the same perspective for comparison.

As it turned out, the resemblance between the two sketches was remarkable. Even the artist commented that "it sure seemed like these two men were describing the same thing". Probably most amazing was the closeness of the color that the two men remembered. Other than Newton's color being more faded, the colors are nearly identical.

The most significant discrepancy was the way the slight ridges on the upper and lower edges gave Jesse's beam the appearance of an I-beam-like cross section. This was probably due to a slight error in Jesse's recollection. His father, for example, remembered the small members as having a rectangular cross section. In a 1979 interview with journalist Bob Pratt, Jesse Marcel, Sr., stated, was a solid member, rectangular members, just like you get with a square stick. It is entirely possible, however, that the particular member that Jesse, Jr., held, could have had a ridge on its edges for some unknown reason.

The only other really significant discrepancy was in the color of the member. Jesse remembered it being about the same color as that of the foil-like material, while Irving Newton remembered it being almost white. Judging from the pictures taken in Ramey's office, however, the white that Newton recalled was probably accurate. According to Charles Moore, the project engineer for Project Mogul, the sticks were covered with glue or glue-like substance. This would probably have given them a different color than that of raw wood, as well as a different feel or texture -- probably to the degree that someone who didn't know what they were, might not recognize them as wood. The only other discrepancies were minor, such as differences in the size and spacing of the symbols.

For anyone who suspects that Irving Newton is participating in a 50-year cover-up and making up the story about the symbols or flower patterns, all he needs to do is check out the July 9, 1947, Roswell Daily Record. Rancher Mac Brazel is quoted as talking about sticks, foil, and tape with flower patterns on it.


The Alleged Substitution

Most of us have seen the now-famous pictures of the debris from Roswell taken in General Roger Ramey's office at Fort Worth Army Air Field. General Ramey, Colonel Thomas Dubose, Major Jesse Marcel, and Warrant Officer Irving Newton appear in the pictures, posing with the debris. The debris is clearly visible in all seven existing pictures. There is absolutely no question that this is the debris from an ML-307 radar reflector. If this is the same debris that was recovered from the Foster ranch, then the Roswell case is closed, period. It's over, end of subject.

In the January 1991 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal, there is an article by Jaime Shandera titled New Revelations About the Roswell Wreckage: a General Speaks Up. The article included an extensive two-part interview with General Thomas Dubose, who was a colonel and General Ramey's chief of staff in 1947. Dubose met the plane carrying the material picked up outside of Roswell and personally took it to Ramey's office. During the first of the two interviews, Shandera realized that General Dubose was not familiar with and had not seen the pictures taken of the debris in Ramey's office. Shandera then sent Dubose a set of the pictures, prior to conducting the second interview.

Throughout the two interviews, Shandera questioned Dubose with the doggedness of a district attorney, asking him nine times in nine different ways whether the debris had been switched. Nine times, General Dubose made it emphatically clear that the debris had not been switched. Among Dubose's responses were "We never switched anything...We were West Pointers -- we would never have done that...I have damn good eyesight...I had charge of that material, and it was never switched". When shown the pictures from Ramey's office and asked if he recognized the material, he replied, "Oh yes. That's the material that Marcel brought in to Ft. Worth from Roswell".

In William Moore's book The Roswell Incident, Jesse Marcel, Sr. was interviewed about the debris. His responses were somewhat puzzling in that he indicated that the photos of him were of the actual debris, but that the later photos (without him) contained substituted material. Later photos with substituted debris (even if they existed) wouldn't really matter. If the debris in the photo with Major Marcel was the actual material, it was from a ML- 307 radar reflector. Again, end of story.

Among Marcel's responses were They took one picture of me on the floor holding up some of the less-interesting metallic debris.... The stuff in that one photo was pieces of the actual stuff we had found. It was not a staged photo.

During one of my interviews with Irving Newton, he mentioned how in Ramey's office, Marcel had pointed out the symbols and indicated that he (Marcel) thought they might be some form of alien writing. When I asked him if he was sure that it was Marcel who did that, Newton was emphatic that it was the man who had collected the debris from the ranch. This is, of course, one further indication that the debris in Ramey's office was the debris from the Foster ranch. There was no substitution. The debris in the pictures was the same debris collected by Major Marcel at the Foster Ranch. It was the debris from a ML-307 radar reflector.

There is also an interesting quote in Moore's book from Marcel about the so-called indestructibility of the material. It sounds like this now-legendary indestructibility was actually more the kind of indestructibility that you would find in material from something like a tough, paper-backed foil. Marcel stated "It was possible to flex this stuff back and forth, even wrinkle it, but you could not put a crease in it that would stay, nor could you dent it at all". I would almost have to describe it as metal with plastic properties.

One could also lay tough, paper-backed foil on the ground and pound away with a sledge hammer and quite possibly not dent it. Interestingly, the sledgehammer test was only hearsay, anyway. One of the airmen allegedly performed the test and told Marcel about it afterwards. This is possibly a good example of how rumors and myth begin. Besides, if this material was so indestructible, why did it break up into hundreds or thousands of little pieces? The real answer is, of course, that it was not so indestructible because it was from a ML-307 radar reflector that was apparently dragged across the ground as the balloon array descended.

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