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It’s What’s Missing About the Case That We Need to Look For

When it comes to the issue of what really happened on what was once known as the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, New Mexico in early July 1947, there are things we know, things we suspect, and things we will probably never know. But, that something happened – something which caused the U.S. Air Force to offer multiple explanations for the event – is not a matter of any doubt at all. It was an incident that clearly concerned elements of not just the military, but the government, too, and to a highly significant degree. Eye-witnesses – both military and civilian – were warned not to talk about what they had seen and / or heard. More than a few of those warnings crossed the line and can only accurately be described as death threats. People were plunged into states of fear. Lives were changed forever; even scarred. Some lives may have ended; as in terminated. It was on July 8, 1947 that the strange event surfaced publicly. Associated Press (among many other news outlets) reported on the startling, then-breaking news:

(Nick Redfern) The Roswell “UFO crash” site of July 1947.

“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 Chavez 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.” The story was quickly picked up not just across the United States, but across the planet, too. In barely no time at all, however, the flying disc angle was blown out of the sky: the whole thing was nothing but a huge, embarrassing mistake. The materials found on the massive ranch – by rancher William Ware “Mack” Brazel – were not the remains of a disc, after all. What had really been found, and subsequently collected and brought to the Roswell Army Air Field, was weather-balloon debris. Or, so the military was careful to try and assure everyone.

With Brazel at the time of the discovery – which had actually occurred days earlier – was a young boy named Dee Proctor. He would go on to be one of the most important people in the Roswell story. We also know for sure that three, key military men, all of whom were destined to become part and parcel of the Roswell affair, were also present at the ranch – and specifically before a veritable battalion was on-site and ordered to recover the massive amount of whatever-it-was. They were Major Jesse Marcel, the intelligence-office of the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell; Captain Sheridan Cavitt, of the Counter-Intelligence Corps; and CIC Master Sergeant Lewis S. “Bill” Rickett. All three were at ground-zero. They all saw the wreckage. Years later Marcel would open up wide on the matter of the debris he saw and collected. Cavitt and Rickett may have seen more than debris. Way more. Possibly bodies, strange bodies. Brazel and little Dee may have seen one or more of those bodies, too. That’s a summary of the first days of the Roswell affair.

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(Nick Redfern) Welcome to one of the most famous cities. And mysterious, too.

There is, however, another aspect to Roswell: it’s the fact that certain information (files and records) on the case can no longer be found. Lost? Stolen? Who knows? But, take a look at this “missing” angle of the story and see what you think about this part of Roswell. Or, rather, the non-part of Roswell. On July 28, 1995, the Government Accountability Office’s report on the Roswell affair surfaced from its National Security and International Affairs Division. The GAO’s report did not provide any smoking-guns – such as old B&W photos of dead bodies and wreckage at the crash-site on the Foster Ranch, New Mexico. The report did, however, provide something interesting and controversial. And it’s something that has been misinterpreted for years. During the course of their search for records to try and better understand what had taken place at Roswell in early July 1947, the GAO learned that the entire outgoing messages from the Roswell Army Air Field generated during the period that the event occurred were missing. Vanished. Gone. And under circumstances that could not be fully determined and proved. Nor could the year in which the files went missing be confirmed. Maybe the late-forties. Maybe the fifties. The seventies? Twenty-four hours before Colonel Weaver went looking? Who knows?

This, inevitably and very understandably, led certain Roswell researchers to proclaim that this was evidence of a significant event of UFO proportions having occurred. An event which certain elements of officialdom were determined to keep forever hidden from the populace, the media, and the UFO research community – and possibly, even, from anyone else in government who might dare to come looking, such as investigators of the GAO. Maybe, that’s precisely what happened. But, the story is not quite as straightforward as that. Matters are seldom straightforward when it comes to Roswell. Now, to the problem of disappearance. Time and again, I have heard UFO researchers say, words to the effect of: “Because the 1947 files are missing, this must mean the government or the Air Force pulled them years ago, so no-one could get the files on the aliens.” Sure, that’s not impossible. But, there is another issue. The files in question that are unavailable to us do not cover just the key period of the Roswell affair. Rather, they extend as far back as March 1945 and as late as 1950. 

We are led to believe that if aliens crashed a couple of hours’ drive from Roswell, then it was an event that occurred out of the blue, with little or no advance notice, and certainly not something that had been anticipated for a significant period of time. So, that being the case, why the need to pull files from as early as March 1945 to hide something that is said to have occurred, without much warning (if any at all), in the summer of 1947? Proponents of the notion that aliens crashed not too far from the city of Roswell might say that the government was just being overly careful, and wanted to make sure that (a) nothing was left behind, and (b) nothing had been misplaced in an earlier collection of material, or indeed, within a later collection of material, possibly held in secure safes at the base. So, they chose the best and quickest option available to them and scooped up pretty much everything that covered approximately two years or so before, and up to two-and-a-half years after the crash. And, maybe, that is exactly what happened. On the other hand, one can make a valid argument that the vanished files issue has no bearing on Roswell from an extraterrestrial perspective, because the documents that are missing include papers dating from two years before the event even took place. This also offers a theory (and, granted, that’s all it is) that there was another reason for the large-scale loss of material that the GAO sought to uncover. Let’s see what the GAO had to say about this matter of missing messages in its 1995 report:

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(U.S. Government) The Roswell Report: Fact Vs Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. Because the report is a U.S. government production, it is in the public domain.

“In addition to unit history reports, we also searched for other government records on the Roswell crash. In this regard, the Chief Archivist for the National Personnel Records Center provided us with documentation indicating that (1) RAAF records such as finance and accounting, supplies, buildings and grounds, and other general administrative matters from March 1945 through December 1949 and (2) RAAF outgoing messages from October 1946 through December 1949 were destroyed.” When the GAO demanded to know the reasons behind this development, they got an answer, as GAO files note: “According to this official [the Chief Archivist for the National Personnel Records Center], the document disposition form did not properly indicate the authority under which the disposal action was taken. The Center’s Chief Archivist stated that from his personal experience, many of the Air Force organizational records covering this time period were destroyed without entering a citation for the governing disposition authority. Our review of records control forms showing the destruction of other records – including outgoing RAAF messages for 1950 – supports the Chief Archivist’s viewpoint.”

So, in other words, we have yet another explanation that does not include high-level conspiracy to explain the loss and destruction of files, but which says far more about bureaucracy. So, what’s my point in all this? Well, this is my point: Yes, it certainly is intriguing that half-a-decade of certain files are missing from the old Roswell Army Air Field, and it may even be an issue of deep conspiracy to hide the remains of dead aliens and their craft. Or, it may not be. If UFO / Roswell researchers wish to maintain that the missing files from 1947 point to a specific cover-up of the Roswell event – and Roswell occurred out of the blue in July of that year – then they have to provide a viable reason as to why documentation dating back as far as March 1945 was pulled too, and why additional documentation remains missing from as late as 1950. Saying that “the outgoing Roswell messages from July 1947 are missing” is absolutely true, and it opens eyes and it catches the attention of ufologists and Roswell disciples everywhere. Noting that, in reality, the files actually cover 1945 to 1950, and also cover general administrative issues at the base, is far less attention-grabbing.

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(Nick Redfern) No test-dummies at Roswell. But, an intriguing theory.

Ironically, the fact that the files which have vanished (files which still cannot be found) span 1945 to 1950, actually adds weight to the idea that Roswell was a military experiment. Just about everyone I spoke with while writing Body Snatchers in the Desert told me that the human experimentation began in 1945 and ended in the late 1940s – with a few additional tests having occurred in the early fifties. Pulling 1945-era files for a one-off event that didn’t occur until the summer of 1947 makes zero sense. Pulling certain 1945-era files that might have compromised the handful of pre-Roswell experiments – had they reached the public domain, of course – makes perfect sense. The same goes for the decision to make the 1948-1950 files vanish, too. The fact is that six years of files are missing, not just files from the time of the Roswell crash. This is indicative of a fairly lengthy series of ongoing tests that had to be hidden – not the out-of-the-blue crash of one solitary alien spacecraft midway through 1947.

It should also be recalled that President Clinton’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (from the same era) revealed that “…a number of potentially important collections could not be located and were evidently lost or destroyed [italics mine]. Similarly, the Committee reveals, a number of those same document collections related to experiments undertaken in the fields of biomedicine, defense and space exploration; and in the great majority of these cases only fragmentary data remained. Where programs were legitimately kept secret for national security reasons, states the Committee, the government often did not create or maintain adequate records [italics mine], thereby preventing the public, and those most at risk, from learning the facts in a timely and complete fashion.” All of this is highly suggestive of an agenda to make Roswell go away – permanently. 

Finally: when it comes to this matter of the missing files of Roswell, there is a possibility that, one day, we might find them. On the other hand, however, it may be the case that all the files were totally destroyed after the incident occurred. In that case, let’s hope it’s the second scenario.

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