Roswell Flying Disc Press Release

What this study is about

It is not about what the Roswell disc was or was not. This is a study of the events of the afternoon of July 8, 1947 in Roswell, NM and at the Roswell Army Air Field. Fortunately, the events were documented by the press, both national and local, and especially by the Associated Press and United Press wire services, both of which published chronologies of their stories. Because Frank Joyce, a newsman at Roswell radio station KGFL at the time, kept his copies of some of the United Press telexes, we have an excellent collection of facts — in this instance, the timestamps on the telexes. Because of that, this article is weighted towards the UP news stories. I will include AP accounts if they contain significant differences to the UP stories, or if there is unique information in them. We also have the Roswell Daily Record accounts, published in the midst of the events. What we lack are recordings of the KSWS and KGFL news bulletins and stories about the events as they happened.

References to statements from the Roswell witness era is limited to those of the 1947 players -- the local news reporters, editors, and publishers.

Facts are facts, and the narratives created, in order to appear plausible, must conform to them. However, with Roswell, the facts are incomplete because the most significant player in the story, the Air Force, presented no facts. From the RAAF press release to the Ramey Ft Worth conclusion, no AF documents are in evidence. Therefore, the AF motives and behaviors cannot be interpreted as assuredly as one can those of the civilian players. This forces the creation of ‘scenarios’ for the AF that conform to the facts known from civilian sources. These ‘scenarios’ are employed to test them against the facts, to see how far they are true to the facts. I am not asserting they are true to reality. I am attempting to find a consistent narrative which is true to the facts we have. Therefore, if I write about two press releases, the CIC as the source of information obtained by the press from the RAAF, the 12 noon announcement being a ‘leak’, and so on, they are ‘scenarios’ to test against the facts. Eventually, I expect to produce a plausible narrative, at least.

When Rumor Became Reality

- by Don Ecsedy, February 2013

Phase I: The Noon Announcement

At noon, MST, on July 8, 1947, George Walsh, a newsman with Roswell radio station KSWS, broadcast a news bulletin that the intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced that the field has captured a flying saucer. At the same time, or a short while later, Frank Joyce, a newsman at the other radio station in Roswell, KGFL, also broadcast the story. This moment occurs about two and a half hours before the RAAF press release was published by the wire services. It would have been heard by anyone listening to their radios in Roswell and the Field.

Local reporters followed up on the story. It appears they did not get through to the sheriffs department. In the 1990s, George Walsh mentions he could not get through to the sheriffs. In 1947, I doubt the sheriffs or the radio stations and newspapers had many phone lines, and might only have one outside line. The Roswell Army Air Field would likely have more phone lines. Someone answering for the intelligence office provided the first details. Both the Roswell Daily Record, and the earliest existing United Press telex have the identical language about what was revealed by the intelligence office. Whoever was answering the phone may have had a script or talking points of allowed responses to inquiries. The information reported by the press is extremely limited, and we ought to expect that in a sudden and big story, such as a collision of aircraft with deaths. But in those stories the information is eventually reported, after a few hours or a day’s delay. So, the Roswell story, early on, unfolds in a routine way, even though the subject, a flying saucer in the hands of the army, is not ‘routine’.

According to George Walsh, around noon he received a phone call from Haut about the flying disk story. So did Frank Joyce at KGFL. Both say they broadcast a news bulletin about it. There are some aspects, both in the news stories and in later accounts, of phone calls that do not seem a good fit for having occurred following the actual press release at 2:26pm MST. These would be the news stories of Haut or officers at the RAAF being “rebuked”, and, in later accounts, Haut “rebuking” Walsh for publishing the story. Frank Joyce saying he was “rebuked” by a Colonel Johnson from the Pentagon (if I recall the story correctly). These rebukings make no sense as a response to the actual press release, the internal evidence of which indicates its issuance was known to senior command. Even if that were not the case, what reason would Haut have to complain that Walsh actually published a statement from the Field’s Public Information Officer? Why on earth would someone from the Pentagon call a guy at a tiny radio station in New Mexico? Did KGFL have a clear channel to Washington, DC? What senior officer outside the 509th would scathingly rebuke Haut directly, rather than through the chain of command? Why would he be rebuked for doing his job? It seems likely the noon announcement took the authors of the press release by surprise, as if there had been an intention for the publication of the press release to have occurred later in the afternoon.

***

Here is the Roswell Daily Record story under the headline:

RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region

and subhead:

No Details of Flying Disk Are Revealed

The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.

According to information released by the department, over the authority of Maj. J. A. Marcel, the intelligence officer, the disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had notified Geo. Wilcox, here, that he had found the instrument on his premises.

Major Marcel and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk, it was stated.

After the intelligence office here had inspected the instrument it was flown to “higher headquarters”.

The intelligence office stated that no details of the saucer’s construction or its appearance had been revealed.

The story appears rushed. ‘George’ is abbreviated “Geo.”, and ‘Major Jesse A. Marcel’ is given as “Maj. J. A. Marcel”. The intelligence office is twice referred to as the “department”. Both the banner headline and the story refer to a “saucer”, not “disc”. The army preferred “disc” and eschewed “saucer” and in fact any kind of ‘slang’, or in the language of the era, an army officer talked like a square at the faire. Another example of such language is an officer who didn’t want to use the low slang expression “out of this world” (for what someone might say today: “amazing”, “awesome” or “extreme” or “radical”), and produced, instead, “out of this planet”.

We can be certain any use of “flying disc” outside of an army document is a nerdification of “flying saucer”, although academics, scientists, and the press attempted to use “disc”, the struggle against the trashy and low class, which is to say memetically powerful, “saucer” was useless. I sometimes think the resistance to dealing honestly with the ufo phenomenon can be reduced down to this elitist attitude towards language. Everyone was rescued from embarrassment by the adoption of UFO.

The first sentence is contrary to the actual press release which reads the field announced the intelligence office had a disk. Here, it is the intelligence office announcing the field had a disk.

“Over the authority of, Maj. J. A. Marcel, the intelligence officer” is a confusing way of stating the intelligence office is under the authority of Marcel, or simply Marcel is the intelligence officer at the RAAF.

Another confusing sentence is “The intelligence office stated that no details of the saucer’s construction or its appearance had been revealed.” Since we are told the intelligence office inspected the disk, we would expect the sentence to read more like: “The air base has refused to give details of the construction of the disk or its appearance” — which is how the United Press telex DXR54 reads. Both share “construction” and “appearance” on the same theme, which indicates this is in the intelligence office’s script.

The evidence is strong the story was rushed due to the publication deadline.

The source of the information is always the “intelligence office/department”, not Major Marcel. According to the press release, at this time of day, Major Marcel would not be at his desk, but preparing the flight for “higher headquarters”. Also, Lt Haut would be on his way to town to deliver the press release to the two radio stations and two newspapers in Roswell. The documents in the Foreshadower study of the Rhodes case demonstrate the involvement of the Army Counter Intelligence Corps in the investigation of the Wave for the Air Force, including the investigation of civilians unrelated to an army base. As in the army’s countersubversive program, the CIC acted as the investigative arm of A-2 intelligence regarding the flying saucer wave. It is likely that, as soon as the subject of a flying saucer was broached by the authors of the press release, the CIC was involved.

Who is answering the phone in the RAAF’s intelligence office? I suspect it is the one of the three Army Counter Intelligence Corps special agents at the RAAF. If the noon announcement was a leak occurring several hours before the story was intended to be publicized, the CIC unit would be very interested in what had happened.

It is not clear where the dividing line is between what the Roswell Daily Record got from the intelligence department and what was in the noon announcement. Both being from the same source, the Field would have confirmed the information in the noon announcement:

The second bullet item is not found in the press release, nor is the information that the intelligence office inspected or examined the disk. The Daily Record does not have Major Marcel on the flight to higher headquarters as does the press release.

Items found in the press release, but not in the Roswell Daily Record story are:

Items not found in either the press release or the Roswell Daily Record story:

If we alter the Roswell Daily Record story on the issue of the slang and the bad grammar, this is what we get:

The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today that the field has come into possession of a flying disc. [or, the field announced/intelligence office possessed]

The disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after a local rancher had notified Sheriff Wilcox [or, the Sheriffs office] that he had found the instrument on his premises.

Major Marcel, the RAAF’s intelligence officer, and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk. After the intelligence office here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquarters.

It does read like a press release, moreso than does the actual one. In fact, it reads like what people think was in the actual press release. I think it may be the press release as originally written. The press release that was published at 2:26pm MST is radically different. The canonical press release may have been rewritten in response to the local press and public reaction to the noon announcement.

Neither the Roswell Daily Record story, the reconstruction of the noon announcement, nor the canonical press release actually manage to inform us of just how the Roswell Army Air Field found out about the rancher and what he had found.

The last piece of evidence for the Roswell Daily Record’s noon announcement story not being based on either a copy of the press release handed to the paper by Lt Haut, or the AP 2:26pm MST press release (grabbed off the wire) is the Daily Record never mentions Lt Haut or any statement by him or the Roswell Army Air Field, in its stories on July 8 or 9. In the Brazel interview story on the 9th, unlike Kellahin’s nationally published story, the Daily Record neither mentions the RAAF (except to note Wilcox “got in touch” with it), Haut, Ramey, or Ft Worth. All it has is ““what the army at first described as a flying disk”.

Of all the people in the “vicinity” of the crash, who would have been most likely to investigate it if not the local news reporters? Yet, except for Frank Joyce, none have been intensively interviewed or researched.

The rest of the world would learn about the Roswell flying disk story at 2:26pm MST. The people in the range of KSWS and KGFL had heard about it 2 1/2 hours earlier, but it was only the first act of the hat trick. After the noon announcement, KSWS’s, and apparently the Sheriffs Office’s, phone lines were jammed (George Walsh’s statement). Probably KGFL’s were, too. The intelligence office of the RAAF appears to have had calls come in. When the canonical press release comes over the wire, KGFL’s Frank Joyce said he broadcast the telex; we can assume KSWS did so, as well. This would jam up the phone lines again. Then, as early as 3pm, the Roswell Daily Record was on the street, and immediately, according to a July 9 Daily Record editorial, its phone lines were jammed with callers. It was a one, two, three punch and it created a pool of 30,000 people who might recall something about Roswell, 1947, and a flying saucer.

Local reporters were having problems getting more details, and the press and others calling in to Roswell and the RAAF spent a lot of time, I think, listening to a busy signal.

Phase II: The Press Release

A comparison table of the three versions of the press release can be found here.

It is fortunate that, although we do not have a copy of the written press release, we do have two independent lineages of it, one from the AP and the other from the UP. That they are nearly identical is remarkable (If the reader is unfamiliar with the experiment called ‘Whisper’, or ‘Gossip’, or ‘Telephone’, look up ‘chinese whispers’ in Wikipedia).

At some point in the transactions getting the text to the wire services, the telephone was employed, beginning perhaps as the phone call between Colonel Blanchard and General Ramey (as reported in the press); or, perhaps when Colonel Blachard dictated the press release to Lt. Haut (if that is what happened). George Walsh said Haut dictated it over the phone to him, and that he dictated over the phone to Jason Kellahin at the Albuquerque, NM Associated Press office (who then might have dictated it over the phone to someone else who then typed it into a teletype). A similar process occured for the United Press. Frank Joyce said he had the press release sent by Western Union, and we can assume several phone transactions of the text happened at the UP.

I don’t know what the odds are for both stories to come out the other end nearly identical — which is not to say they replicated the original exactly. That is very unlikely, at least in this instance, if the originating text was written language, rather than spoken.

The wire versions are constructed differently. The AP originally reported the press release as a quotation set off from any added comment, while the UP version integrates additional comments and some editing into the text of the press release. The earliest UP version that survives, telex DXR54, is also not the first of the “disc” telexes. DXR54 lacks the opening theme of the rumors, and it does not have the full citation to the RAAF, which must have been reported. We don’t know, but it is more than just possible an earlier telex had the rumors and RAAF citation.

The San Francisco Chronicle refers to the AP version as “The Roswell Statement. Here is the unqualified statement issued by the Roswell Army Base public relations officer”. More commonly, it was called “Haughts Statement”. The “statement” is set off in quotation marks. Because of these reasons, I refer to the AP statement as the “canonical press release”.

A news story within which the statement appears informs us the story was reported by George Walsh of KSWS, Roswell, NM, the story being given to him by “Lieut. Warren Haught”.

***

Associated Press, 2:26pm

“The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the Sheriff’s Office of Chaves County.

The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the Sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence office.

Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.”

***

United Press, 2:41pm

DXR 54

MORE FLYING DISC (DXR53)

-0-

THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE REPORTS THAT IT GAINED POSSESSION OF THE “DIS:” THROUGH THE COOPERATION OF A ROSWELL RANCHER AND SHERIFF GEORGE WILSON OF ROSWELL.

THE DISC LANDED ON A RANCH NEAR ROSWELL SOMETIME LAST WEEK. NOT HAVING PHONE FACILITIES, THE RANCHER, WHOSE NAME HAS NOT YET BEEN OBTAINED, STORED THE DISC UNTIL SUCH TIME AS HE WAS ABLE TO CONTACT THE ROSWELL SHERIFF’S OFFICE.

THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE IN TURN NOTIFIED A MAJOR OF THE 509TH INTELLIGENCE OFFICE.

ACTION WAS TAKEN IMMEDIATELY AND THE DISC WAS PICKED UP AT THE RANCHER’S HOME AND TAKEN TO THE ROSWELL AIR BASE. FOLLOWING EXAMINATION, THE DISC WAS FLOWN BY INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS IN A SUPER- FORTRESS TO AN UNDISCLOSED “HIGHER HEADQUARTERS.”

THE AIR BASE HAS REFUSED TO GIVE DETAILS OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE DISC OR OF ITS APPEARANCE.

RESIDENTS NEAR THE RANCH ON WHICH THE DISC WAS FOUND REPORTED SEEING A STRANGE BLUE LIGHT SEVERAL DAYS AGO ABOUT THREE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING.

J241P 7/8

***

The opening of the AP canonical press release:

“The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc…”

Written language’s ‘gestures’ are punctuation, often not standardized like spelling is. Spoken language’s ‘gestures’ are vocal, like pitch, and body gestures: facial expression, talking with one’s hands, and general body-language. Language gestures enhance nuance and meaning.

What appears to have been lost via “Telephone” isn’t the words, but punctuation, specifically those used to distinguish between ‘use’ and ‘mention’. The original written version of this sentence likely was:

“The many rumors regarding the “flying disc” became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field was fortunate enough to gain possession of a ‘disc’…”

This reading is supported by the UP version:

THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE REPORTS THAT IT GAINED POSSESSION OF THE “DIS:”[sic]

Related to this is that, except for ‘Walsh’ and “Blanchard’, and ‘Ramey’, every name in the stories is misspelled on first appearance. Along the line of ‘Telephone’ someone did not say “Haut, hotel, alpha, uniform, tango”

The press release attempted to correct the noon announcement’s statement that the RAAF had a flying disc. Instead, we learn the RAAF had a ‘disc’ or “disc” (mention) which was the reality (of? behind?) the “flying disc” rumors. The disc in the possession of the RAAF is not the flying disc of the rumors, but a ‘disc’.

We do not know what rumors the statement referred to. Perhaps they were rumors that came into being during the time between the rancher finding the disc and reporting it to the sheriffs office. Or, the rumors may refer to the public reaction to the noon announcement. Following this clarification, the statement goes on to note this was accomplished “through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the Sheriff’s Office of Chaves County”. Since the noon announcement had nothing to say about how or why the Army was involved in a civilian matter, and because it was a very hot political and operational issue, the canonical press release makes it clear the army was cooperating with the civilian rancher, the civilian sheriff, and, in fact, the civilian authority (the sheriff) had requested the RAAF’s involvement. For the record, on July 2, the press reported General Twining had asked that anyone with information about the saucers to report the matter to Wright Field. Thus, the sheriffs office was complying with that request.

Compare to the noon announcement:

“The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.”

Like the editor of the Roswell Daily Record, both Frank Joyce and George Walsh, the originators of the wire service stories, knew George Wilcox was the sheriff, but the noon announcement did not identify who had notified the RAAF. The local reporters had not by 2:26 gotten the confirmation that Wilcox had informed the RAAF. The statement “…through the cooperation of…the sheriff’s office…”, meant Wilcox. Joyce (UP) may have named Wilcox, but it was either misspelled or mistyped during the game of ‘Telephone’ (the name was corrected to ‘Wilcox’ at 3:16pm). Walsh (AP) may have dictated ‘Sheriff Wilcox, who…”, but changed it to ‘sheriff’s office’ because Wilcox’s notification hadn’t been confirmed — as Walsh said in his affidavit, he couldn’t get through to the Sheriffs office.

There is another possibility, that during the composition of the press release, something occurred that resulted in the press release being rushed into circulation. We will look at that in the next Phase.

The final issue in the canonical press release is the matter of “loaned”. The term as used in the statement is not an unusual turn of phrase in military documents. At least I’ve seen it elsewhere. What Walter Haut had to say about it is that originally, he had written “…and subsequently flown by Major Marcel…”, but that it caused confusion, as if the flying disc had been piloted by Major Marcel. So, he changed it to “loaned”. He might be referring to the noon announcement, though, which reads “…the instrument was flown to higher headquarters”. I have to wonder, then about the author of the canonical press release, who, up to the point of “sheriffs office”, had shown a nice turn of phrase, and bit of literary skill, who having begun with a display of writing chops, descends into the passive voice of army bureaucratese, not bothering to correct a glaring error in grammar, and unable or unwilling to work his way out of the “flown” dilemma, as did the author of the UP version, by simply mentioning that the officers and disc were flown in an aircraft.

“…THE DISC WAS FLOWN BY INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS IN A SUPER-FORTRESS…”

We may have to consider whether there were two authors, or whether the press release was written in two stages, or whether it was only one author who had a distinct change in mood during the composition.

The canonical press release reads “loaned by Major Marcel”, but the UP has “flown by intelligence officers”. The noon announcement does not mention anyone accompanying the “instrument” to higher headquarters. Instead “Major Marcel…and a detail from his department” recover the disk. The canonical AP statement has Major Marcel being notified, but not picking up, inspecting, or even flying, but loaning the disk.

Both Art McQuiddy of the Roswell Morning Dispatch and George Walsh revisited the competitive culture of the Roswell news media in their affidavits. Although we do not have a statement from anyone from the Roswell Daily Record about the press release, Haut was video interviewed in 1991 and mentioned the reception he was given by a Daily Record editor when he delivered the press release: the editor didn’t react, and why should he, if Haut was handing him a press release too late for him to publish? His situation was no different than Art McQuiddy’s. They’d both been scooped by Walsh, and there should be little doubt they blamed Haut for it. As late as an interview in 2000, Walsh still savored the moment.

The UP version originated with Frank Joyce. His reaction to the press release was to question whether Haut really wanted the statement published. Haut assured him it was ok. There is no hint of the competition issue in Joyce’s account. But not only is Marcel’s name missing, but Haut is absent, too, whereas he figures significantly in the AP stories. The UP may have had to get Haut’s name from the AP stories since when Haut does appear in their stories, they use the AP spelling, “Haught”. If Frank Joyce was concerned about the wisdom of publishing the press release, he may have decided to not name anyone in the army. Consider, the Roswell Daily Record never names Haut, Blanchard, or Ramey, only Marcel, whose name was already known either through the noon announcement or from a phone call to the intelligence office.

The local newsmen, in their affidavits and statements, share the same confusion over the events that occurred between 12 noon and 2:26pm MST. They describe the events accurately, I believe, but confuse when events occurred. Art McQuiddy recently said (according to Dennis Balthesar) he was not in his office at 12 noon when, he said, Haut dropped off the press release. This contradicts his affidavit. McQuiddy said Haut returned later in the afternoon to collect the copy of the press release and that he did that with the other three, too. He said Haut said “It was the wrong story”. McQuiddy didn’t say whether he was in the office then.

From the RAAF’s perspective, I think the only “wrong story” was the noon announcement. It’s true, though, that the canonical press release didn’t resolve the issue for the RAAF. The game of “Telephone” made sure of that.

Two events occurred close together, within an hour or less of each other, among the local news media involving the same subject, the flying disc story, the same locations, and the same people: Lt Haut, and whichever newsman is telling his story. That there is confusion is evident in their accounts which require the press release to have been distributed to the wire services before 2:26pm. The confusion only exists in the local news media, and perhaps in Lydia Sleppy’s affidavit, which is related to the local Roswell newsmen because of the presence of John McBoyle of KSWS. Sorting it out is for another article, but one should appreciate the accounts of the press release cannot be taken at face value.

We know there were a combination of phone calls and documents distributed to the radio stations and newspapers in town, and then a story on the AP and UP wires, about the flying saucer story. We know local callers from town and, one assumes, the RAAF, tied up the phone lines after the noon announcement and the local broadcast of the canonical press release and the story in the Roswell Daily Record, which became more challenged after 2:26 when national and international callers were trying to reach the local media, the RAAF, and the sheriffs office.

Except for the startling revelation that an army air field had a flying disc in its possession, the noon announcement seems a normal press release, while the canonical one appears to be a response to queries about the noon announcement, which was interrupted and finished quickly for distribution. It informs us the RAAF had got a disc, not the rumored disc — the flying disc — but a “disc” which would explain the rumored one. For some reason, the RAAF would not reveal anything about its construction or appearance. All we know it was called a “disc”, an “object”, and an “instrument”. We are left with vague verbs that barely imply action: landed, stored, notified, then: was taken, was picked up, was inspected, subsequently loaned.

We now know the army’s involvement in the disc story was requested by the Sheriff’s Office, and that means George Wilcox. So, he probably told the RAAF. We’re pretty sure a Major Marcel is involved, and an unidentified local rancher who reported it to the Chaves county sheriffs in the first place. We also know the disc is no longer in the vicinity, but has been flown to a higher headquarters.

We don’t know why the army issued a flying saucer announcement, statement, or press release, at all, but we do know that before the noon announcement a “higher headquarters” ordered the disc be sent to it, and that is at least equally interesting.

In the next phase we learn about a rancher and his find.

Phase III: The Wilcox Statement

Before we look at the next developments, some consideration should be given to what I call “glossing”. This is the practice of reading (or hearing) something through the filter of what one knows (or thinks one knows). For example, the story in the press release. The United Press, in its summary writes:

The excitement ran through this cycle:

1. Lt. Warren Haught, public relations officer at the Roswell base, released a statement in the name of Col. William Blanchard, base commander. It said that an object described as a “flying disc” was found on the nearby Foster ranch 3 weeks ago by W. W. Brazel and been sent to “higher officials” for examination.

The statement said no such thing. It does not mention Blanchard, Brazel, Foster, three weeks ago, or any “higher officials”, or being sent for any purpose, such as “examination”. That is a ‘gloss’. This is also the rhetoric of the news story genre, which is ‘sculpted’ by the way stories are commonly released to reporters. At first, there is the bare outline, devoid of much ‘who, what, when, where’ the press is supoosed to report. Then the story “develops” as reporters gather or are given details. Eventually, the story is complete. By the time the UP published its account of the “cycle”, it had the details to fill in the vagaries of the original account, therefore, as far as the press is concerned, that is what the original account was about, and the press has done its job.

But it is not true. That information wasn’t in the press release.

At 3:16pm, 50 minutes after the press release wire, this UP telex:

FRR8

(SUB)

ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO—THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE OF THE 509TH BOMB GROUP OF THE ROSWELL ARMY AIR BASE REPORTS THAT IT HAS RECEOVERED A “FLYING DISC” AND THAT IT IS BEING FLOWN IN A SUPERFORTRESS TO “HIGHER HEADQUARTERS” FOR STUDY.

ARMY OFFICIALS AT THE ROSWELL BASE WILL NOT DISCLOSE THE LOCATION OF THE “HIGHER HEADQUARTERS.”

SHERIFF GEORGE WILCOX (CORRECT) OF ROSWELL WAYS THAT THE DISC WAS FOUND ABOUT THREE WEEKS AGO BY A RANCHER BY THE NAME OF W. W. BRIZELL ON THE FOSTER RANCH NEAR CORONA, ABOUT 75 MILES NORTHWEST OF ROSWELL NEAR THE CENTER OF NEW MEXICO.

SHERIFF WILCOX SAYS THE RANCHER DOES NOT HAVE A TELEPHONE, AND THAT HE DID NOT REPORT FINDING THE DISC UNTIL DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY. SHERIFF WILCOX SAYS THAT BRIZELL SAID HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS, BUT THAT AT FIRST IT APPEARED TO BE A WEATHER METER.

HOWEVER, OFFICIALS AT THE ROSWELL ARMY AIR BASE WERE NOTIFIED, AND AN OFFICER AND AN ENLISTED MAN CAME TO THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE TO CLAIM THE OBJECT.

SHERIFF WILCOX QUOTES BRIZELL AS SAYING THAT “IT MORE OR LESS SEEMED LIKE TINFOIL.” WILCOX SAYS THAT BRIZELL SAID THAT THE DIXC WAS BROKEN SOME, APPARENTLY FROM THE FALL. THE SHERIFF SAYS THAT BRIZELL DESCRIBED THE OBJECT ABOUT AS LARGE AS A SAFE IN THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE. HE ADDED THAT THE SAFE WAS ABOUT THREE AND ONE-HALF BY FOUR FEE.

-0-

(DXR WILL HV ANOTHER ADD IN ABT 5 OR 10 MINWS.)

V7/8

According to the UP, and supported by the AP, Sheriff George Wilcox, and not the RAAF, is the source of the following information:

The AP has it that Brazel found it two or three days ago, with no reference to “three weeks ago”. The AP also has the first clear statement that Sheriff Wilcox informed the RAAF.

About a half hour later, more information comes on the wires, again from Sheriff Wilcox:

FRR8

EDITORS; PLEASE SUB FOR 5TH PGH AND REMAINDER OF FRRE8

-0-

HOWEVER, OFFICIALS AT THE ROSWELL ARMY AIR BASE WERE NOTIFIED IMMEDIATELY BY THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE. MAJOR JESSE A. MARCEL— INTELLIGENCE OFFICER OF THE ROSWELL BASE—AND AN ENLISTED MAN THEN CHECKED WITH THE SHERIFF.

SHERIFF WILCOX QUOTED BRIZELL AS SAYING THAT “IT MORE OR LESS SEEMED LIKE TINFOIL.” WILCOX SAID THAT BRIZELL RELATED THAT THE DISC WAS BROKEN SOMEWHAT—APPARENTLY FROM THE FALL. THE SHERIFF SAID THAT BRIZELL DESCRIBED THE OBJECT ABOUT AS LARGE AS A SAFE IN THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE. HE ADDED THAT THE SAFE WAS ABOUT THREE AND ONE-HALF BY FOUR FEET.

BRIZELL DID NOT BRING THE OBJECT TO THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE, BUT MERELY DROVE THE 75 MILES FORM THE RANCH TO ROSWELL TO REPORT HIS FINDING. SHERIFF WILCOX SAID THAT MAJOR MARCEL LEFT SHORTLY AFTER RECEIVING THE REPORT FOR THE AREA WHERE THE DISC WAS FOUND.

MEANWHILE, A REPORT FROM CARRIZOZO, NEW MEXICO, SAID THAT A DISC WAS FOUND 35 MILES SOUTHEAST OF CORONA. THE REPORT—WHICH WAS NOT SUBSTANTIATED—MERELY SAID THAT IT WAS “A RUBBER SUBSTANCE AND TINFOIL ENCASE.” HOWEVER, IT WAS PRESUMED TO BE THE SAME AS THE ONE REPORTED TO ROSWELL.

REPORTS FROM THE ROSWELL BASE SAID THAT MAJOR MARCEL WAS AT EIGHTH ARMY HEADQUARTERS IN FORT WORTH, TEXT, BUT THAT “HE MIGHT BE ON HIS WAY BACK TO ROSWELL BY PLANE NOW.” HOWEVER, OFFICIALS AT THE ROSWELL BASE SAY THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE DISC OR ITS DESCRIPTIONG, OR WHERE THE “HIGHER HEADQUARTERS” WHERE IT REPORTEDLY WAS TAKEN ARE LOCATED.

V342P7/8

The UP has the sheriffs office notifying “officials” at the base. Wilcox adds that Marcel and an enlisted man checked with the sheriff, and that Major Marcel (and perhaps the enlisted man?) then left for the area where the disc was found. There are reports from the RAAF that Major Marcel is in Ft Worth (4:42pm, CTZ). However, no more information has been gotten from the RAAF about the appearance or construction of the disc or where the higher headquarters is. “Officials” at the RAAF were not talking to the press, thus the press’ recourse to the sheriff’s office.

According to the July 9 San Francisco Examiner, by Dick Pearce, the paper figured out “higher headquarters” meant General Ramey at the Ft Worth Army Air Field. Pearce, who knew Ramey, called him there.

(The Examiner did not call Sheriff Wilcox. Surmising that the find had been flown to Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commanding general of the Eighth Air force at Fort Worth, Tex., The Examiner telephone him.)

(First to reach him, The Examiner got a complete description of the “disc” from him, together with his expressed suspicion that it was just part of a weather balloon. His description tallied with that of radar reflectors sent up with weather balloons every day at Oakland.)

(As a result the Examiner was able to give a prosaic name to the Army’s saucer long before the Army itself corrected the boner of its public relations officer at Roswell.)

The appearance and construction of the disc, object, or instrument is being revealed. We know from Brazel via Wilcox its size was approximately 3 1/2 x 4 feet, and its appearance was like tinfoil , and we also learn it is not whole but “broken some”. At nearly the same time, from General Ramey, according to the SF Examiner, it was his suspicion it was a weather balloon and radar reflector. At the same time as these descriptions, the telex above notes an unconfirmed report out of Carrizozo describing the disc as made of “A RUBBER SUBSTANCE AND TINFOIL ENCASE.”

So, within an hour of the canonical press release, the Brazel and radar target story is on the wires, provided by General Ramey, and Sheriff George Wilcox. The “officials” at the RAAF would only confirm what was in the press release and would say nothing more. At the time of the first wire story, Colonel Blanchard was on leave, Major Marcel was on his way to Ft Worth, and Lt. Walter Haut…we don’t know. Depending on which interview is read, he was either taking the rest of the day off at home, or answering phones at the RAAF until around 8pm. No one had gotten through to Sheriff Wilcox until the above telexes when he told the story of W. W. Brazel, then he refused to say more: “The sheriff declined to elaborate. “I’m working with those fellows at the base,” he said.” We don’t know if the Wilcox and Ramey stories were broadcast in Roswell. They probably were. We don’t know who was reporting from Carrizozo (south of Corona and the Lincoln County seat).

Who were the “fellows at the base”? Not Blanchard, he’s on leave. Not Marcel, he’s on his way to Ft Worth. Who’s running the flying disc show at the RAAF?

One curious note was struck by Dick Pearce. He wrote:

“The first sober announcement of the discovery was made by the Roswell, N. Mex., Army Air Field. It said definitely that “the many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday”, and went on to declare that the disc had been found on a ranch near Roswell.”

“The first sober announcement”? Was there a non-sober announcement prior to the canonical press release?

Phase IV: Fort Worth

Coming Soon

Phase V: The Brazel Statement

A comparison table of the two versions of the Brazel interview can be found here.

The Associated Press or Jason Kellahin version was the story that went out over the wires, while the Roswell Daily Record version was only published in Roswell. Kellahin was a Roswell native who got his start in the news media at the Roswell Morning Dispatch. He had moved to Albuquerque and joined the AP office there.

We don’t know where Brazel had been since he visited Sheriff Wilcox several days ago with the information about the disc, or how or why he was in Roswell again. “Brazel was brought here late yesterday by W. E. Whitmore, of radio station KGFL…”, the Daily Record Brazel interview story reports. Why the owner of KGFL would deliver Brazel to the Daily Record, or how the meeting at the Roswell Daily Record office was arranged between KGFL, Brazel, Kellahin and Adair from the AP, and the Daily Record, is unknown.

The “interview” has several quotations from Brazel, all but one from the AP story:

“When I went to Roswell I told Sheriff George Wilcox about it, I was a little bit ashamed to mention it, because I didn’t know what it was. “Asked the sheriff to keep it kinda quiet” “whispered kinda confidential like” “I thought folks would kid me about it.

“I didn’t hear any more about it until things started popping” “Lord, how that story has traveled!”

”“At first I thought it was a kite, but we couldn’t put it together like any kite I ever saw”. “It wasn’t a kite.”

”I am sure that what I found was not any weather observation balloon.” “But if I find anything else besides a bomb they are going to have a hard time getting me to say anything about it.”

”If I find anything else short of a bomb it’s going to be hard to get me to talk,”

Quotation is used in news stories as one might expect, for a transcription of spoken language. Brazel is quoted on his opinions and feelings about the presenting situation. He is surprised the story has attracted so much attention. He did not want that to happen because he was concerned about his reputation — that he would be ridiculed — because he couldn’t recognize what he had found, but thought others might. He was afraid that, among his peers, the joke was on him. He thought he ought to have recognized what it was. The Daily Record story tells us Brazel “did remark on it” and we are told he had spoken about it to his brother-in-law. Apparently, he got no satisfaction from his queries in Lincoln County, and so made the trip into Roswell, in Chaves County, to speak to the sheriff there, quietly and confidentially.

One must wonder what Brazel felt about being the center of attention, internationally, and what he might be thinking about the press, the sheriffs, and the RAAF.

What were the circumstances under which Brazel found the disc? Both Kellahin of the AP, and the Roswell Daily Record tell this part of the story by direct attribution, rather than quotation.

KELLAHIN

But Brazel wasn’t making any claims. He said he didn’t know what it was.

He described his find as consisting of large numbers of pieces of paper covered with a foil-like substance, and pieced together with small sticks much like a kite. Scattered with the materials over an area about 200 yards across were pieces of gray rubber. All the pieces were small.

Brazel related this story: While riding the range on his ranch 30 miles southeast of Corona, on June 14 he sighted some shiny objects. He picked up a piece of the stuff and took it to the ranch house seven miles away.

On July 4, he returned to the site with his wife and two of his children, Vernon, 8, and Bessie, 14. They gathered all the pieces they could find. The largest was about three feet across.

Brazel said he hadn’t heard of the “flying discs” at the time, but several days later his brother-in-law, Hollis Wilson, told him of the disc reports, and suggested it might be one.

Major Jesse A. Marcel and a man in civilian clothes whom Brazel was unable to identify went to the ranch and brought the pieces of material to the air field.

Brazel said he did not see the thing before it fell, and it was badly torn up when he found it

ROSWELL DAILY RECORD

According to Brazel they simply could not reconstruct it at all. They tried to make a kite out of it, but could not do that and could not find any way to put it back together so that it could fit.

Brazel related that on June 14 he and an 8-year old son, Vernon, were about 7 or 8 miles from the ranch house of the J. B. Foster ranch, which he operates, when they came upon a large area of bright wreckage made up on rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.

At the time Brazel was in a hurry to get his round made and he did not pay much attention to it. But he did remark about what he had seen and on July 4 he, his wife, Vernon and a daughter, Betty, age 14, went back to the spot and gathered up quite a bit of the debris.

Brazel said that he did not see it fall from the sky and did not see it before it was torn up, so he did not know the size or shape it might have been, but he thought it might have been about as large as a table top.

The balloon which held it up, if that was how it worked, must have been about 12 feet long, he felt, measuring the distance by the size of the room in which he sat.

In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe five pounds.

Brazel said that he had previously found two weather observation balloons on the ranch, but that what he found this time did not in any way resemble either of these.

There is a second type of attribution, which I call ‘implied’ attribution. This is often found in a paragraph which begins, and sometimes also ends, with a direct attribution, but there is no assurance in the body of the text how the rest of the paragraph should be attributed: it is simply implied by its location among direct attributions and quotes.

The AP version is a very well writen news story, summarizing both the RAAF press release and General Ramey’s reveal at Ft Worth, with the focus on the kite or rawin target, and no mention of a balloon. The Roswell Daily Record has nothing to say about the RAAF press release or Ft Worth, but otherwise it is essentially the same story as the AP. However, it has a ‘balloon supplement’, not found in the AP story, appended to it. It is an example of ‘implied attribution’.

The ‘balloon supplement’ begins with a direct attribution:

Brazel said that he did not see it fall from the sky and did not see it before it was torn up, so he did not know the size or shape it might have been, but he thought it might have been about as large as a table top. The balloon which held it up, if that was how it worked, must have been about 12 feet long, he felt, measuring the distance by the size of the room in which he sat.

There follows an ‘implied attribution’:

The rubber was smoky gray in color and scattered over an area about 200 yards in diameter.When the debris was gathered up the tinfoil, paper, tape, and sticks made a bundle about three feet long and 7 or 8 inches thick, while the rubber made a bundle about 18 or 20 inches long and about 8 inches thick [possibly, direct]. In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe five pounds [direct attribution]. There was no sign of any metal in the area which might have been used for an engine and no sign of any propellers of any kind, although at least one paper fin had been glued onto some of the tinfoil.There were no words to be found anywhere on the instrument, although there were letters on some of the parts. Considerable scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in the construction.No strings or wire were to be found but there were some eyelets in the paper to indicate that some sort of attachment may have been used.

The paragraph ends with a direct attribution and a quotation:

Brazel said that he had previously found two weather observation balloons on the ranch, but that what he found this time did not in any way resemble either of these.”I am sure that what I found was not any weather observation balloon,” he said. “But if I find anything else besides a bomb they are going to have a hard time getting me to say anything about it.”

The Brazel quotations concern his opinion and feelings. The direct attributions concern the chronology and details of finding the disc. The implied attributions concern the “appearance” and “construction” of his find. Since that was the main question being asked by the press, it is remarkable that Jason Kellahin and the AP did not include the information as the Daily Record had done. Brazel appears shy or laconic, and at least a bit “harassed” by the publicity given to him when he had attempted to be discreet. I have to wonder how much time and questioning it would take to get Brazel to provide so much detail, and finally to wonder whether he actually had done so, especially since he denied what he had found was a weather balloon and a “kite”.

It was the worst possible outcome for Brazel. He ought to have been “ashamed”. Folks would “kid” him about it. What he found was commonplace stuff that anyone could recognize. You see, the joke was on him, after all, for all the world to see.

The key to understanding the Brazel interview is to see it from his point of view.