Roswell, New Mexico would scarcely have been a dot on the map, were it not for one fact that won't go away: people, Jesse Marcel, Jr. among them, are willing to swear that the area was visited by aliens from outer space in 1947. It is a legend or a true event, depending on your viewpoint. Marcel, an otolaryngologist for the Veteran's Administration, seems a plausible reporter, and in this modest book he attempts to write only what he knows, what he can precisely recall. The book is subtitled "the untold story of the first military officer at the 1947 crash site."
Marcel was 11 in June, 1947. His father was a
major in the US military, a member of the intelligence group and a decorated soldier with a fine record. One night he came home, excited and animated, with a box of debris he'd taken from a crash site. The
major had been on the scene of what has been heralded as the first evidence of extraterrestrial visitations to our planet. Something had gone down in the desert near Roswell, some sort of craft, and Marcel Sr. was convinced it came from outer space. That's why he insisted that his wife and son poke through the debris with him.
The rubble they examined that night in Marcel's kitchen was certainly unusual. There were pieces of a foil fabric which was resistant to tearing and, when crumpled, reverted to its original shape. There were shards of some sort of plastic "beams" with strange symbols written on them. But not much more. No electric parts or wires, nothing to suggest that the item that had crashed was an earthly device such as a sonobuoy or weather balloon, as would later be claimed by official government sources. Major Marcel was fascinated. His fellow intelligence officers were sufficiently convinced that something odd had happened to issue a statement that a "flying disc" had been recovered near Roswell.
Very quickly, however, military protocol clicked into gear, and Major Marcel, being the first witness and a credible one, was asked to speak to a newspaper reporter who photographed him displaying large pieces of the recovered foil that would go down in the annals of official fact as fragments of a weather balloon. The "flying disc" story was thus refuted, by the testimony of the very man, Jesse's father, who was sure there had been something unearthly about what had landed in the desert.
The revelation about looking at debris is not in itself terribly compelling, since it is after all the memory of a child, but it is accompanied by other data that Dr. Marcel has collected, including a chronicle of odd events, none of them susceptible to proof, that have happened to him and his family over the years. Sadly, his father became an alcoholic, possibly as a result of seeing his own clear memories of events covered up so completely by the U.S. military for which he had worked so faithfully and which he had admired so totally.
This book may contribute some fuel to the position that Roswell did have an incursion from somewhere outside our solar system, some place where materials of almost indestructible strength, strong enough to withstand interplanetary travel, were manufactured. Marcel does not address the issue of the "little men" whose corpses are said to have been discovered at the crash site. His small piece of the Roswell puzzle is limited to precisely what he experienced. However, some of his experiences subsequent to helping his dad sift through a box of space junk have a certain paranoid aspect
- mysterious phone calls whenever anyone in the family was discussing the Roswell events and a meeting with an unnamed operative in the bowels of a building in Washington only add to the impression that the Roswell phenomenon is hokum. That is unfortunate, since in most ways Jesse Marcel, Jr. would appear to be one of the few people still living who could provide eyewitness evidence for those who believe in extraterrestrial life.