(This article was first published in Ufologist, Vol. 11, No. 2, July-August 2007)
July 2007 is the 60th anniversary of the “UFO” crash at Roswell, New Mexico. The Roswell case started when on July 8, 1947, it was reported that Major Jesse Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office, based at Roswell Army Air Field, had recovered a crashed flying saucer from the Foster ranch operated by William “Mac” Brazel at Corona about 85 miles from Roswell. Major Marcel accompanied the wreckage to Fort Worth, Texas, where the wreckage was displayed and photographed by journalists in the office of General Roger Ramey. The journalists were told that the crashed flying saucer was, in fact, a weather balloon. The Roswell incident was largely forgotten for the next 30 years.
The Roswell Incident
This changed in 1980 with the publication of The Roswell Incident by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, with a lot of the research carried out by Stanton Friedman. Berlitz and Moore wrote that on July 2, 1947, a flying saucer was struck by lightning north of Roswell. Part of it broke off and crashed where it was discovered by William Brazel. In 1979 Moore interviewed Marcel who still maintained it was not a crashed weather balloon. Marcel also said that they found “pink and purple” hieroglyphics which were presumably alien writing on small beams like balsa wood “except that they were not wood at all”. (1) Berlitz and Moore further claimed that the main part of the flying saucer crashed on the Plains of San Agustin about 150 miles away. At this second site the military recovered the wreckage and alien bodies, which Marcel knew nothing about.
Berlitz and Moore did not present any eyewitnesses to this second crash. However, they did produce second hand accounts from Vern and Ruth Maltais and J. F. Danley who said that Barney Barnett, a civil engineer working in Socorro, had told them he had come across the crashed saucer and dead alien bodies. Some archaeologists also found the wreckage. Then the military arrived, cordoned off the area and put the saucer in a truck (2). However, we shall see it now appears that Barnett was not on the Plains of San Agustin at the time of the supposed crash.
Other books, which claimed a UFO crashed at Roswell, include The UFO Crash at Roswell (1991) and The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell (1994) by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt, and Crash at Corona (1992) by Stanton Friedman and Don Berliner. There have also been numerous documentaries, science fiction movies and television shows saying a UFO crashed there. According to a CNN/Time poll, published in June 1997, 65% of Americans believe a UFO crashed in Roswell in 1947. (3)
A fundamental problem with reports of UFO crashes and retrievals is that there are so many of them. In 1978 UFO researcher Leon Springfield listed 19 reports of UFO crashes and retrievals by the military. About a third of them crashed in the south west United States for some reason (4). In A History of UFO Crashes, published in 1995, Kevin Randle listed 85 reports of UFO crashes, although he believed most of them were hoaxes (5). On their webpage the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence lists 272 reports of possible UFO crashes (6)
It might be remotely plausible that in a case of very bad luck one technologically advanced alien spaceship might crash, but there are so many reports of UFO crashes that they are not believable. We are supposed to believe that on the one hand, UFOs are alien spaceships, which are so advanced they can get around relativity and travel across the galaxy to Earth with apparent ease, but on the other hand, once they get here, they keep crashing, which sounds like they are not built very well.
Charles Berlitz and William Moore claimed that the UFO crashed at Roswell in 1947 because it was struck by lightning (7). A relatively primitive Earth plane could survive a lightning strike, but an advanced alien spaceship, capable of surviving cosmic radiation, the comet clouds and hitting space dust at light speed or faster, supposedly exploded and crashed when struck by mere lightning. If a class of plane crashed as often as flying saucers supposedly do, the air safety authorities would assume they had some kind of design flaw and ground them all.
Furthermore, one has to wonder why the supposed aliens never rescued any of their crashed UFOs. In The Roswell Incident Berlitz and Moore list 15 UFO sightings in the week before the Roswell crash in July 1947 (8). Yet not one of the UFOs in the area made any attempt to rescue the crew of the crashed UFO. Abduction researchers claim that UFO occupants have the ability to “turn people off”, erase their memories, camouflage themselves and turn invisible. They could have gone in undetected, rescued the spacecraft and its crew and erased the memories of all the witnesses so nobody would know that anything happened. Instead, they left them to die among the primitives.
There is no doubt that something crashed on the Foster ranch – the only question is what it was – however it seems unlikely that there ever was a second crash site, that is, the main crash site where a largely intact spaceship and alien bodies were supposedly recovered. The evidence is unreliable, the witnesses are either lying, have been misquoted or are very confused, and the Roswell researchers cannot even agree when and where this crash is supposed to have happened.
Crash at Corona
In their 1992 book Crash at Corona, Stanton Friedman and Don Berliner, agreed with Berlitz and Moore’s The Roswell Incident, which Friedman had helped research, that the main UFO crash occurred on the Plains of San Agustin 150 miles west of the Foster ranch crash site. The only person claiming to have been a witness to this crash is Gerald Anderson who came forward after an Unsolved Mysteries television show on Roswell in 1990. Anderson claimed that he and his family had been looking for the rock moss agate on the Plains when they found a crashed saucer and two of the four crew members were still alive. Other people, including a man, who was presumably Barney Barnett, an archaeologist, Dr. Buskirk, and his students, also saw it. Then the army arrived and a Captain Armstrong with red hair threatened them not to tell anyone (1).
An obvious problem with Gerald Anderson’s credibility is that he would have been five years old in 1947. Even if it were true, it is hard to believe that forty years later someone could accurately remember so much detail about an event which happened when they were five yeas old without embellishing it.
Moreover, Anderson’s account is clearly not true. For a start, his family was supposed to have been looking for moss agate but the rock cannot be found in that area (2). In 1990 he originally claimed that the aliens had “milky blue” eyes, but then in a 1991 interview he claimed they had big black eyes (3). He appears to have altered his testimony so that the aliens sounded more like the Greys which were showing up in UFO abduction reports.
Anderson’s story contradicts Barney Barnett’s (as others have recounted it), in that Barnett never mentioned seeing the Anderson family and he said all the aliens were dead. Nevertheless, Anderson appears to have taken some of his ideas from the Unsolved Mysteries program on Roswell which featured Barney Barnett. He only came forward with his story after watching it. The red haired captain, who Anderson claims threatened them, appears to have been based on the red haired officer who featured in the documentary threatening Glenn Dennis in the Roswell base hospital and, as we shall see, apparently did not exist. (4)
The archaeologist, Dr. Buskirk, who Anderson claimed saw the crash, sounded identical to Winfred Buskirk, one of Anderson’s teachers at Albuquerque High School. Anderson was in his anthropology class in 1957. When Anderson was confronted with this, he said he could not remember what high school he went to (5). If Anderson supposedly cannot remember what high school he went to, then what he claims to remember from when he was five years old cannot be taken seriously.
Anderson also claimed that his uncle, Ted Anderson, had kept a diary which described the crash. However, when a forensic examination of the diary was carried out, they learned that the ink used was not available until 1974 several years after Ted Anderson died (6). Anderson has also been caught faking a phone bill involving UFO researcher Kevin Randle, altering his high school record and claiming to have been a Navy SEAL (7) His story cannot be believed.
Furthermore, it now appears that Barney Barnett, the foundation of the Plains of San Agustin story, could not have been there, but was in Socorro at the time. Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt write,
“Sometime early in 1947 someone gave Ruth Barnett a daily reminder book, which she turned into a diary. All that year she recorded everything in her and her husband’s lives. Later, when the diary surfaced in 1990, investigators were able to trace Barnett’s movements for the year. Nothing in the diary gave any hint of a crashed-saucer encounter. In fact, on the day the bodies were recovered outside Roswell, July 5, Barnett was at home in Socorro.” (8)
It looks like there is no credible evidence that any UFO crashed on the Plains of San Agustin.
Crash at Corona also contains the account of Glenn Dennis, a mortician in Roswell. He did not claim to have seen the crash or the bodies, but heard about the alien bodies secondhand. Dennis claims that on July 9 or 10, 1947, he received a phone call from the Roswell Army Air Field, wanting to know about obtaining the smallest hermetically sealed caskets they could get.
That evening he drove out to the base and went to see (in Friedman and Berliner’s words) “a pretty young Army Air Force nurse he had recently gotten to know.” The hospital was busy and something was going on. His nurse friend saw him and said, “How did you get in here? My God, you are going to get killed!”
Then a red haired colonel said, “What that’s son of a bitch doing here?” MPs dragged him out, followed him, and later rang him up, threatening to kill him if he talked.
The next day Dennis met his nurse friend for lunch. She described the alien corpses they had been examining in the hospital and drew Dennis a sketch of them. Then she left and Denis never saw her again. She was transferred to England. When Dennis tried to write to her, the letter was returned, stamped “Deceased”. She is supposed to have been killed in a plane crash (9).
Friedman and Berliner do not mention the nurse’s name, nor do Randle and Schmitt when they also quote Dennis in their book The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell (10). However, in a 1989 interview, Dennis told Friedman that the nurse’s name was Naomi Self. He even spelt it for him “S-E-L-F”. (11) Roswell researchers avoid mentioning her name because there were five nurses stationed at Roswell AAF in 1947, but none of them was called Naomi Self. In 1992 Dennis told Karl Pflock that her name was actually Naomi Selff, even though he had spelt it to Friedman three years earlier. However, another search of the records revealed that there was no army nurse called Naomi Selff at Roswell or anywhere else in the American army in 1947. Dennis then claimed that her real name was Naomi Sipes, but there is no record of her either. Although this nurse, whoever she was, was supposed to have been killed in a plane crash in England, there are no records of any US A.A.F. personnel being killed in a plane crash in England in 1947. Dennis then claimed that she had not been killed in a plane crash but became a nun instead. (12)
Some UFO researchers have claimed that the records of the nurse and the plane crash were destroyed as part of the Roswell cover up (13). This is the problem with conspiracy theories. If you say there is a conspiracy to rule the world or cover up the truth about UFOs or both, you can get away with saying anything because if someone asks for evidence to support your claims, you can say the conspiracy destroyed the evidence. A much more likely explanation why there is no record of this nurse and the plane crash, in which she died, is that she simply never existed.
It appears that other people, which Dennis mentioned being at the hospital, also did not exist. There was no red haired colonel stationed at the base hospital in 1947 (14). In Randle and Schmitt’s book The Truth
about the UFO Crash at Roswell, Dennis claimed that he was also threatened at the hospital by a black sergeant not to talk or he would “make good dog food.” (15) There were no black sergeants stationed at Roswell in 1947 (16).
Randle and Schmitt’s two versions of the Roswell crash
In 1991 UFO Crash at Roswell by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt was published. Instead of the Plains of San Agustin, Randle and Schmitt claimed that the main crash, with the alien bodies, occurred only 2 to 3 miles south east of the debris field found by Mac Brazel on the Foster ranch.
However, three years later, Randle and Schmitt published a second book The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, which told a very different story. They now claimed that the main crash occurred 35 miles north of Roswell, that is, about 50 miles from where they had claimed it happened in their earlier book. Moreover, it was supposed to have happened on July 4, not July 2, as they had previously written. They even moved the date of the thunderstorm during which Mac Brazel was supposed to have heard the crash;
“During a thunderstorm in the Corona New Mexico area, W.W. (Mac) Brazel heard a tremendous thunderclap that sounded like an explosion but that was somehow different then the rest of the thunder. Others in the area reported the same phenomena.”
In the timeline in their 1991 book (1) this passage appears for July 2, but in their 1994 book’s timeline the same passage appears under July 4 (2).
They now claimed that the military retrieved the wreckage and bodies on July 5, that is, two days before Jesse Marcel saw the debris on the Foster ranch on July 7. Thus, all the events which supposedly happened at the base, the bodies being taken to the hospital and Glenn Dennis being threatened now took place on July 5, not July 8.
Barney Barnett supposedly said that a group of archaeologists had come across the crash site with alien bodies on the Plains of San Agustin. In their 1991 book Randle and Schmitt said that Barnett and the archaeologists had found the main crash site two to three miles south east of the original debris field on July 8, about 150 miles from where they were originally supposed to have found it (3). This is not what Barnett is supposed to have said. They moved him and the archaeologists because that is where they now believed the crash happened.
In their 1994 book The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, they admitted that his wife’s diary says Barnett was in Socorro and does not mention any UFO crash on any date (4). However, they still claimed that archaeologists found the crash, but now this happened at their new main crash site 35 miles north of Roswell (5). They said they had found the leader of the archaeologists, W. Curry Holden;
“Holden, at one time the chairman of the Department of History and Anthropology at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, was ninety-six years old when he was discovered. Holden, when interviewed in 1992, said that he had been there. He could remember no specific detail about the event, other than he had been there and seen it all. Each time the question was asked during the short meeting, he confirmed that he had seen it all.
Later, both his wife and daughter said that he was easily confused. Memories from his life were jumbled and reordered, and he had never mentioned, to either one, that he had been involved in a flying saucer crash.” (6)
An “easily confused” 96 year old man, who would answer that he “had seen it all” to their questions without going into detail about what “it all” was, is not very convincing. I wonder what he would have said if they asked him who shot JFK.
Randle and Schmitt also looked through Holden’s papers;
“The weekend when the ship crashed had been a three-day holiday. Holden’s records revealed that he had written a check in Lubbock on July 3, that he had been invited to a wedding on July 8, and that he had made a bank deposit on July 9. There was no way to prove that he had been in Lubbock on the critical Sunday when the archaeologists had been on the impact site. With Roswell only two to three hours away, and given the history of the region, there was no reason not to believe that he had been there.” (7)
This is an example of the logical fallacy of the argument from silence. When they write that “there is no reason not to believe that he had been there”, they also mean that there is no evidence that he was there and there is nothing in his papers about any archaeological study in the area at the time of the crash. In their 1991 book, Randle and Schmitt wrote that the archaeologists found the crashed saucer on July 8, which would have been when Holden was at a wedding (8).
As we have seen, Barney Barnett, or the people, who quoted him, originally made up the story about archaeologists finding the crashed saucer on the Plains of San Agustin. Barnett could not have seen this. He was not there. However, Randle and Schmitt now said that archaeologists still found the crashed saucer, but close to Roswell, and in different times and places in different books. They do no question how it is possible for someone to have made up a story about archaeologists finding a crashed UFO and alien bodies, and then it turns out that some archaeologists supposedly really did find a crashed UFO at the same time a little over 100 miles away and he could not have known about it. Quite frankly, the story of archaeologists finding a crashed UFO in the desert sounds too “Indiana Jones” to be believable.
Out of Randle and Schmitt’s two contradictory versions of the Roswell crash, their earlier one is, at least, a more plausible story, particularly when it comes to Major Jesse Marcel who was sent to examine the debris Mac Brazel found on the Foster ranch on July 6, arriving there on July 7. According to their second version, Randle and Schmitt would now have us believe that the military retrieved the crashed saucer and took the alien bodies to the base hospital on July 5 before Marcel was sent out to investigate the debris field. Marcel apparently knew nothing about the retrieval of the crashed spaceship. What was he doing while all this was going on? It does not say much for his competence as an intelligence officer if he did not know an alien spaceship had been recovered and there were alien bodies in the base hospital right under his nose. Although Marcel was supposedly kept out of the loop about the main crash, when the “second” report of a crash on the Foster ranch was made on July 6, Marcel was put in charge of investigating it. It does not seem believable that someone, who was not told of one UFO crash, could be put in charge of investigating another crash the next day. At least in Randle and Schmitt’s 1991 scenario Marcel’s ignorance of the other crash site can possibly be explained in that he was not in Roswell, but was accompanying the debris he had found to Fort Worth when the main crash site was found.
Randle and Schmitt’s decision to shift the date and location of the crash appears to be largely due to the testimony of Frank Kaufmann. In their 1991 book Kaufman (with one “n”) said he “had been on the outside for most of it”, but had heard about the crash from a friend, warrant officer Robert Thomas. He also claimed to have seen a crate guarded by soldiers in a hangar and that he and others present had been sworn to secrecy even though he had not seen much (9).
However, their book also mentions an interview with “one of the intelligence operatives who had been assigned to the Roswell Army Air Field in 1947”. He said he had seen the crashed disc and drew them a sketch (10). This “intelligence officer” was also Frank Kaufmann, but Randle and Schmitt give no indication of this and do not explain the contradiction between his two accounts (11).
In their 1994 book The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell. Kaufmann was given the pseudonym “Steve MacKenzie” and was the book’s star witness. MacKenzie/Kaufmann now claimed to have been a radar operator watching the UFO. Randle and Schmitt wrote,
“MacKenzie could not leave the radar room unattended. In fact, once he had his watch established, he set up a system of mirrors so that he could see a warning light even when he needed to use the latrine.” (12)
It turns out that MacKenzie/Kaufmann never made this bizarre claim. Randle has admitted that he confused a scene from a science fiction movie with his testimony! (13)
MacKenzie/Kaufmann said he had seen the UFO grow brighter and larger, then shrink and disappear when it was apparently struck by lightning on July 4 (14). Therefore, Randle and Schmitt now claimed the crash occurred on July 4. However, this would have been impossible to observe using 1947 radar technology (15).
MacKenzie/Kaufmann also said that, “Because there were three [radar] sites tracking the object, the army technicians were able to plot, within vague parameters, the location of the crash or landing.” (16) A real radar operator would have known that one does not need three radar units to determine an object’s position. One would have been enough (17).
He also claimed that radar-invisible stealth technology was back-engineered from the recovered spaceship. He did not explain how, if the craft had stealth capabilities, they were able to detect it on radar in the first place. (18)
MacKenzie/Kaufmann said that he was also one of the team which went out to investigate the crash site, 35 miles north of Roswell AAF, and saw the alien bodies. Those archaeologists were already there. (19)
When Randle and Schmitt describe how the bodies were taken back to Roswell AAF and stored in a hangar, they refer to Frank Kaufmann (now with two “n”s) and Steve MacKenzie as though they were two different people;
“The bodies were taken into Roswell and kept in a hangar overnight. “Everything in the hangar was cleared out,” according to Frank Kaufmann, a man assigned to the 509th Bombing Group Staff, “and a single box was placed in the middle of the hangar, which had a great big double door. Guards were placed all over the place. [They] were armed with carbines. You couldn’t get near the place.”
Kaufmann said, “There was nothing unusual about the crate itself …. it was maybe twenty by six … a large crate.” Kaufmann said that he knew what was in the crate: the bodies recovered at the impact site.
MacKenzie mentioned a photographer from Roswell, Woodrow Jack Rodden, was also deeply involved. According to him, Rodden was brought into the hangar to photograph some of the strange debris inside.” (20)
Their readers would have no idea that Kaufmann and MacKenzie here are the same person.
In a 1993 interview with Karl Pflock, Kaufmann said that the largely intact spacecraft had been loaded onto a truck, taken back to Roswell AAF where it was loaded onto a plane and flown away. This cannot be true since he also described the craft as 22 to 25 feet long, 15 feet wide and 5 feet high. In 1947 there was no plane anywhere in the world which could accommodate an object that size (21). Furthermore, Kaufmann is contradicting the description he gave in UFO Crash at Roswell, in that what he is describing here is not disc-shaped.
Kaufmann has claimed that he was in the army when this happened and he was discharged in December 1947. He was, in fact, discharged in 1945 and was employed on the base as a clerk (22). We are supposed to believe that the military would send a civilian clerk on a top secret mission to help retrieve a crashed alien spaceship. He has also claimed to have been a master sergeant, a colonel and an intelligence officer and falsified his discharge papers to give that impression, but again, it is not true (23). He is yet another inconsistent and untrustworthy witness. Since Randle and Schmitt’s new version of the main crash site is largely based on Kaufmann’s apparently false testimony, their whole scenario falls apart.
The Roswell Incident
(1) Charles Berlitz and William Moore, The Roswell Incident, Granada, London, 1980, p. 67
(2) Ibid., p 57-63
(3) “Poll: US hiding knowledge of aliens”, http://www.cnn.com/US/9706/15/ufo.poll/
(4) Don Berliner and Stanton Friedman, Crash at Corona, Marlowe, New York, 1992, p 42-43
(5) Kevin Randle, A History of UFO Crashes, Avon Books, New York,1995, p 170-213
(6) “List of Possible UFO/ET Craft Crashes and Retrievals”, http://www.cseti.org/crashes/crash.htm
(7) The Roswell Incident, op cit., p 100
(8) Ibid., p 19-21
Crash at Corona
(1) Crash at Corona, op cit., p 89-97, 105-108
(2) Karl Pflock, Roswell, Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, Prometheus Books, New York, 2001, p 119
(3) Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt, The Truth about the UFO Crash at
Roswell, Avon Books, New York, 1994, p 187
(4) Roswell, Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, op cit., p 119
(5) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 188-189
(6) Ibid., p 189
(7) Ibid., p 189-190
(8) Ibid., p 190
(9) Crash at Corona, op cit., p 115-119
(10) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 19, 26-28
(11) Roswell, Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, op cit., p 128-131
(12) Ibid., p 127-134
(13) Ibid., p 131, Crash at Corona, op cit., p 119
(14) James McAndrew, The Roswell Report, Case Closed, Headquarters United States Air Force, Washington Dc, 1997, p 87
(15) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 20
(16) Kal Korff, The Roswell UFO Crash, Dell Publishing, New York, 2000, p 49, 91
Randle and Schmitt’s two versions of the Roswell crash
(1) Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt, UFO Crash at Roswell, Avon Books, New York, 1991, p 199
(2) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 196
(3) UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 206
(4) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 190
(5) Ibid., p 123-133, 197
(6) Ibid., p 131
(8) Ibid., p 206
(9) UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 166
(10) Ibid., p 181
(11) Roswell, Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, op cit., p 68
(12) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 5
(13) The Roswell UFO Crash, op cit., p 102
(14) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 6
(15) The Roswell UFO Crash, op cit., p 100
(16) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 6
(17) Roswell, Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, op cit., p 80
(18) Ibid., p 75, 81
(19) The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, op cit., p 9-12
(20) Ibid., p 14-15
(21) Roswell, Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, op cit., p 75, 81
(22) Ibid., p 70, 79
(23) “Frank Kaufmann Exposed”, http://www.roswellfiles.com/Witnesses/Kaufmann.htm