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The Roswell Legacy

An interview with Dr Jesse Marcel Jnr

By Philip Mantle

In early July 1947, something crashed in the high desert outside of Roswell, New Mexico. Sheep rancher Mac Brazel discovered some strange metallic debris on his land. Not knowing what it was he eventually took some of this debris into Roswell and reported it to the Sheriff's Office. They in turn contacted Roswell Army Air Force who housed the 509th Bomb Wing, the only atomic bomb wing in the world at that time. RAAF despatched two men to Roswell to look at his strange debris. One of these was base intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel. Major Marcel drove out to the ranch in question and recovered some of this material. On his way back to base he stopped at his home in the early hours of the morning. He awake his wife and his son, 11 year-old Jesse Marcel jnr.

Major Marcel spread some of the recovered material on the kitchen floor of his house and Jesse jnr was most intrigued by it. Little did either of them know then that they were to become involved in what has become known as the Roswell Incident. Major Marcel passed away in the l980's, but not before he had told his story. Over the weekend of October 20th and 21st 2007, UFO DATA magazine held it's annual conference. This years theme was the 60th anniversary of the Roswell Incident. In the UK for the first time was the now Dr Jesse Marcel jnr, the son of Major Jesse Marcel. He was the keynote speaker at the event and I had the pleasure of his company for the day on October 24th. During this beautiful autumn day I took the opportunity to show Dr Marcel some of the unique countryside of North Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and one of its many historic attractions at Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale. After a day in the autumn sun I took the time to interview Dr Marcel about his recollections of that morning back in l947.

Philip Mantle (PM).
Dr Jesse Marcel jnr (JM).

PM: Just tell me a little bit about yourself. Who is Dr Jesse Marcel jnr.

JM: Well, my dad was the air base intelligence officer in Roswell, New Mexico. I went to grade school in Roswell. When my dad left the military we moved to Louisiana where I graduated high school. I went to under graduate school and then to Louisiana state school of medicine and graduated in l961.

PM: I believe you also served in the armed forces yourself.

JM: Yes I did. I joined the US Navy and toured the Western Pacific, was involved in the Cuban missile crisis at one time. I was in Japan, China and Vietnam. I went through specialist training the naval hospital where I became a specialist in ear, nose and throat. I stayed ten tears in the navy. After that I moved to Helena, Montana.

PM: I believe you continued in the reserves after that.

JM: The National Guard. I joined then in 1972 I believe. I went to flight school for helicopters and became flight surgeon. I finally retired in l996.

PM: I believe you did retire but I understand you were still on active duty just recently.

JM: Yes, I retired on my 60th birthday. However with the conflict in Iraq I was called up again for active duty as a flight surgeon and I saw 13 months in Iraq in a helicopter squadron. I saw much of Iraq from a Black Hawk helicopter.

PM: As a young Jesse Marcel, how old were you when the incident in Roswell took place.

JM: I was 11 years old at that time.

PM: What date was this.

JM: It was early July 1947, I'm not sure of the exact date. It was early July, l947.

PM: Could you just recount the events again of that morning of early July, l947.

JM: As I said, my dad was the base intelligence officer. It was his job to investigate certain events. He was called out to a ranch northwest of Roswell to pick up some debris from something that had crashed on the ranch land. And it just so happened that our house was on the way back to the base, when he was bringing the material in. He realised the unusual nature of this (material). So he came in the house, woke up my mother and myself to look at this debris he had found in the desert just outside of Roswell. He had already pre-positioned this material on the kitchen floor. He said, "look at this", he said, "I think this is the remains of a flying saucer".

PM: So what did this debris look like.

JM: Actually there were three kinds of debris. There was a lot of foil-like debris, looked almost like today's aluminium kitchen foil. Some beams that had some very strange writing or symbols on it. And some black plastic like material. The beams were the most intriguing part of the whole thing with the symbols.

PM: So was it you who first identified these symbols on the beams or did your father point them out to you.

JM: Well I like to think I did but I'm not sure. My mother said that she pointed them out but I like to think I did.

PM: What did the beams look like, what were these symbols.

JM: These were like small I-beams, 12 to 18 inches long. They were about three eights of an inch across. The symbols were just like geometric forms printed on the inside of the I-beam. They had a very distinctive colour of purple or violet. They were solid and not line drawings, they were solid.

PM: Did your father comment on them at all.

JM: He said something about maybe seeing writing from another civilisation.

PM: So how long did you view this material for.

JM: For probably about 15 to 20 minutes in total. And then I helped him box it back up and put it into a l942 Buick. Then I'm not sure if he took off back to base that night or waited until the next morning. But he did take it back to the base at that time.

PM: So were you aware of the excitement in the town at that time when the RAAF issued its press release stating they had material from a crashed disk.

JM: Well you know, I was busy riding my bicycle and did not pay any attention to what the town folk were saying and I did not see the newspaper.

PM: So your father was away for a few days.

JM: When he took the material to the base he was gone for a period of time, I'm not sure how long it was. My understanding is he was ordered by Colonel Blanchard, the base commander, to fly the debris to Fort Worth Army Air Field, where General Ramey the 8th Air Force commander could view the wreckage. I'm not sure exactly how long he was gone but I do know that he sat my mother and myself down and told us never to talk about this again. To treat it as a non-event, it did not happen, period.

PM: So when was it that you learned that the official explanation had been put out that it wasn't a flying saucer but it was instead a weather balloon.

JM: You know I'm not exactly sure when I learned that, it might have been years later, because I just put it out of my mind, I did not think about it.

PM: Did you talk to your friends about it.

JM: No. It was a taboo subject.

PM: So in the intervening years, it wasn't until l978 that your father was contacted by UFO researcher Stanton Friedman. Did your father talk about it in those intervening years at all.

JM: You know, we would briefly mention it to each other. Like at the grocery checkout stand, you see these sensation newspapers with headlines like 'I was captured by a Venusian', and we'd kind of look at each other as if to say 'we know the real story'.

PM: And of course there is another witness, it's your mother. What did she make of all of this.

JM: Well you know, she was a housewife of the 1940's. She did not say a whole lot, her place was in the kitchen so-to-speak. So she never really talked much about it. Of course I was out of the house by the time Stanton Friedman started interviewing my dad. I was practicing medicine in Helena, Montana at that time.

PM: So you were out of the way.

JM: Yes, out of the way. Out of the loop.

PM: Now it's quite some time since your father passed away. Did he add anything further to the story in those last few years when his story became known.

JM: Well I called him weekly on Sundays I guess it was. We would briefly talk about this to confirm our memories of this, what did it look like, and he confirmed what I recollected it looked like. And I remember one of the last conversations I had with him was he had just gone out to Roswell at the behest of one the TV stations in New Orleans. And they went out to the debris field and when I talked to him and I jokingly said to him " was any of it left out there" and his words were "no, the vacuumed that place up a long time ago".

PM: Tell us a little bit more about your father. He was a career military man. For example, what did he do during World War 2.

JM: Well he was with the 509th bomb group, which was the unit that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. He did a lot of training with them; he was the intelligence officer for that unit. They were a handpicked group. They were not fly-by-night people at all, so was qualified for that. He was out in the Western Pacific during the war, and then later in preparation for the dropping of the atomic bomb drops on Japan he was at Tinian where the B29's took off from to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

PM: Prior to this incident at Roswell happening in l947, the official explanation is that your father and others, misidentified a weather balloon with a radar reflector attached to it. Was your father qualified to comment on what balloon and radar target would look like.

JM: He was very qualified as he had gone through radar school a short time before that and was well acquainted with what radar targets and weather balloons looked like. And the equipment that went with them so he knew that what he was looking at was not a weather balloon or radar target and I can confirm that also.

PM: So if we are to believe the official explanation, for the sake of argument. It was a weather balloon and your father misidentified it. On his military record was he ever he reprimanded, was a demoted, was he promoted sideways so-to-speak.

JM: No, I've seen his military record and his officer evaluation reports and they were always of the highest quality. He was well respected, well respected as a highly trained individual and he was never reprimanded or suffered any kind of any degradation because of his so-called misidentification, period.

PM: And later in his carer, what was his final rank.

JM: He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

PM: So in actual fact he was promoted.

JM: Yes he was promoted over and above from where he was in Roswell.

PM: So where did your father finish his military career.

JM: He was in Washington, not at the Pentagon at an office in town, and I never knew where that was, so he finished his career in Washington DC. He resigned from the Air Force as wanted to return to Louisiana. I think he had had enough of the military life and was maybe a little disheartened with what was going on at that time with the Korean War and he wanted to go home.

PM: So you have just lectured at the UFO DATA magazine's annual conference. Now one of the tings you talked about was the fact that you were invited to the Capitol Building some time afterwards, now could you tell us a little bit more about that.

JM: I was busy at my office at home in Helena and my secretary came and said there's a gentleman on the line that wants to talk to you. I said I couldn't right now as I'm seeing a patient could you please take a number. And she came back and said that he insisted on talking to you right now. So I got on the phone and yes what can I do for you. He said well I understand that you'll be going to Washington DC to a meeting and I replied that was right. He said that when I got there he wanted to talk to me about the Roswell thing. So he said when you get there I want you to call me. So when I got to Washington and I'd checked in to my motel, there was a message from him already on the phone, so he knew where I was staying. He wanted to meet the next day in the Capitol Building, room number 228. So I walked up to the Capitol Building and introduced myself to him, he was a very nice individual. He says we need to talk about Roswell. So I said okay. But at any rate he asked me if I wanted to talk in a secure room. I said no, I'm not going to say anything I haven't already said many times before. He said well I might tell you something so we are going to talk in a secure room. Okay. So we got in the elevator and went down many levels below the capitol Building to where there's a group of very nicely furnished meeting rooms for very high-ranking people. He had a book on Roswell pre-positioned on the desk there, and he pointed to the book and he said, "This is not fiction". I said well I know it's not fiction and when are you guys going to tell everybody about that. He said if it was up to him he'd have told everyone years ago but it was not up to him.

PM: So who was this man. Was he a government official.

JM: His name was Dick D'Amato. He described himself as being with the NSA or the NSC. So I told him what I know about the Roswell affair. And he said that's right. He asked me if I'd ever been threatened by anyone. I told him no I had not. He said he knew people that had been threatened. So he wrote his name down on a piece of paper and his telephone number. So he said if I was ever threatened to just give him a call. But I've never had to do that.

PM: In recent years there's been attempts to slur your fathers good name. If you can't destroy the message then shoot the messenger. What do you have to say about that.

JM: Well you know, I just take it as part of the territory, you know I know there's going to be people, for their own agenda, want to destroy any notion of UFOs or flying saucers or Roswell. I just take it as part of the territory.

PM; Now down the years I dare say you've spoken to others involved in the incident at the time. Is there anyone that stands out among the crowd whose testimony you find most compelling.

JM: I guess there would be Bill Brazel, the rancher's son, who picked up a piece of the wreckage up before it was vacuumed up. He put it in his saddlebag and some time later in a bar in Corona he got drunk and talked about having a pie of it. Then a couple of days later he had a knock on his door and they wanted the piece back.

PM: Did Bill Brazel describe this material to you. Did it have any unusual properties.

JM: It was described as a foil (material), just like I'd seen.

PM: People have said it was some kind of memory metal. Did Bill Brazel mention this.

JM: He did not but my dad did. He mentioned that if you folded it up it would unfold. I myself did not witness that.

PM: Did your father also tell you about the unbreakability of the material.

JM: He related one event where one of the men in his office took a larger piece that I did not see, and tried to dent it with a sledgehammer and could not make any permanent marking on it with a 12-pound sledgehammer.

PM: Now we've just gone past the 60th anniversary of the Roswell event and you have published your own book 'The Roswell Legacy'. Tell me a little bit about the book and why you have decided to publish it now.

JM: Well I am getting on a little in years and there's not many people like me left that had direct knowledge of this event. So I just wanted to get into print, my story, my thoughts and why I think that the events at Roswell were a real UFO from some place else. I just wanted to get that down while I still could.

PM: Right, especially if you get called back into active service in Iraq.

JM: Well I started writing the book while in Iraq. Reminders of your mortality are everywhere there. One night a mortar hit nearby. So you didn't sleep with your flak jacket on but after that I started putting my laptop in my flak jacket to protect it. If we got hit at least the book would survive.

PM: Now you've called the book 'THE ROSWELL LEGACY'. Now in your opinion what is the legacy of Roswell Incident.

JM: The legacy is to acknowledge the fact that we are not alone in this universe. That there are other civilisations out there and more importantly is that they know how to get here from there, so they are more advanced. And I think one of the messages is that they are more advanced than we are so they have probably survived their own nuclear adolescence. So the message is if that others can survive this and warfare then maybe we can too.

PM: So one last thing. The United States Air Force official position still remains that the crash at Roswell was a balloon, or even Project Mogul, which is still just a balloon. What do you say to that.

JM: Well a balloon is a balloon is a balloon. Project Mogul's mission was top secret but the material they used was just off-the-shelf material, radar targets and balloons. There was no difference just the mission that was different.

PM: Now you've seen you father's photographs taken at Fort Worth just after the incident. He is holding this wreckage on the floor.

JM: No, it definitely was not. You know that's what is funny about this whole thing. If you look at my dad's face when he's holding up this obvious radar target. He face is like 'you've got to be kidding me, this is not the real stuff, they switched it'.

PM: So what would you say to anyone who doubts the extraterrestrial idea of the crash at Roswell.

JM: Stay tuned and look to the skies because they are out there.

PM: Dr Jesse Marcel, thank you very much.

I must say that it was a real pleasure to spend the day with Dr Jesse Marcel jnr and to be able to take time for an interview with him. Irrespective of your thoughts on what happened at Roswell you cannot doubt the honesty and sincerity of this man. I would heartily recommend you add The Roswell Legacy to your book collection and you can order a copy online at:

Philip Mantle is an international author, lecturer and broadcaster on the subject of UFOs. He can be contacted at:

Dr Jesse Marcel jnr with his book 'The Roswell Legacy. Copyright Philip Mantle

r Jesse Marcel jnr at Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales. Copyright Philip Mantle.

Debris and I-beam reconstruction. Courtesy Paul Davids.

FBI Memo on the Roswell UFO crash. Click image for full size.
Click image for full size.

Excerpt from the London Times of July 9th, l947, mentioning the 'flying disk'.

Mac Brazel, the rancher who first discovered the wreckage near Roswell.

Major Jesse Marcel, RAAF Intelligence Officer holding the 'switched' balloon debris.

Stanton Friedman, the first civilian UFO researcher to interview Major Jesse Marcel and to put the Roswell case into the public domain. Copyright Philip Mantle.