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Editorials: Roswell Witnesses
By Dennis Balthaser
Threats to Roswell Witnesses---Why?
I’ve always been curious why some military, and particularly some civilian witnesses to the 1947 Roswell Incident were threatened about talking about their experiences. After all, if it was just a weather balloon, or a Mogul balloon, or anthropomorphic crash test dummies that were involved in the Roswell Incident, why would it be necessary to threaten individuals about discussing it? Discussions about threats from witnesses goes back to the 1970’s when the research on Roswell began. I’m continuing to get statements today from children of individuals that were at the Roswell Army Airfield in 1947 as civilian employees, about threats their parents received, and how they handled those threats. As a researcher of the Roswell Incident, the threats are one of the things that have kept me interested in the Incident, and have convinced me there was more to the Roswell Incident than what we’ve been told.
I have found that the threats varied from individual to individual too, with some of them being direct and to the point, while others were less personal, but still threats. It appears that the more you knew the more intense were the threats.
Some of threats that we know about include:
Maj. Jesse Marcel, the 509th Bomb Wing Intelligence Officer, who after returning from General Ramey’s office told his wife and son, Jesse Jr., “They were not to speak about what they had seen, when he stopped at the house on the way back to the base from the debris field a few nights earlier.”
Sheriff George Wilcox’s granddaughter in an interview done in 1991 stated that, “When the incident happened, the military police came to the jailhouse and told her grandparents (George and his wife Inez), that if they ever talked about it, not only would they be killed, but the entire family would be killed.” Sheriff Wilcox never ran for Sheriff again, although his wife did and was defeated.
After Frank Joyce of the KGFL radio station in Roswell, send Public Information Officer Walter Hauts’ press release to the United Press bureau, he received a call from a gentleman that identified himself as an officer at the Pentagon. Joyce stated that, “This man said some very bad things about what would happen to me…he was really pretty nasty.” KGFL radio was notified that if they ever broadcast an interview that they had done with “Mack” Brazel, their FCC (Federal Communication Commission) license would be in jeopardy.
Ranch foreman, “Mack” Brazel, who discovered the debris on the Foster ranch where he was the foreman, was taken into custody at the Roswell Army Airfield base for several days after coming to the Sheriff’s office with pieces of the debris. According to Mack Brazel’s son Bill Jr., “the military had asked his Dad to take an oath never to talk about it, and he went to his grave never telling anyone anything after being interrogated.” Changing his story at the radio station after being interrogated and being able to open a meat locker in Alamogordo, New Mexico a short time later on a ranch foreman’s salary in 1947, also raises speculation as to what all was involved in his interrogation along with the threats.
Frankie Rowe has been interviewed and written about in books about her Dad, Dan Dwyer’s involvement as a city of Roswell Firefighter in 1947. Miss Rowe recalled that military personnel came by their house and she was told, “If she talked about this again, they could be taken out in the desert, and no one would ever find them again.”
Joseph Montoya was the Lt. Governor of New Mexico in 1947 and apparently viewed both the crashed craft debris and bodies in the hangar at the base. When Ruben Anaya asked Montoya about the events he had just experienced at the hangar, he was told to forget it. “It’s too dangerous”, Montoya said. “The FBI will do away with you.”
Some of the military personnel involved that were sworn to secrecy according to interviews they have done over the years included “Pappy” Henderson, one of the top pilots with the 509th Bomb Wing; Edwin Easley, provost marshal for the 509th; Sheridan Cavitt and Bill Ricket, Counter Intelligence Officers.
Probably one of the most publicized threats made against a civilian were those made to Glenn Dennis, the mortician at Ballard Funeral Home. Glenn told Stanton Friedman in an interview in 1989 that, “Upon arriving at the base medical facility with an injured airman, he was met inside the infirmary by an MP (Military Policeman), who wanted to know who Glenn was, where he was from and what business he had there?” Glenn then met a nurse he knew, who asked him, “how did you get in here” and she told him, “My God, you’re going to get killed.” Shortly after that a big red-headed Captain asked the MPs what Glenn was doing there and ordered them to remove him from the building which they did, following him back to the funeral home. Glenn told researchers, Schmitt and Randle that when the Captain threatened him; he replied to the Captain “he could go to hell because he was a civilian”. The Captain responded by saying,”Don’t kid yourself young man, somebody will be picking your bones out of the sand.”
Most of the above accounts of being threatened most likely are accurate accounts, as the witnesses making the statements had no reason to embellish their experience. As for the military and certain civilians, there is no doubt that many were sworn to secrecy at the time of the incident, and many kept that oath until they went to the grave. In a few cases, because individuals have not been found to substantiate the experiences as told by the witnesses, we must continue to search for information on those individuals. The threats however speak for themselves, that something of extreme importance took place in Roswell in 1947 that apparently had nothing to do with balloons or crash test dummies.
Recently I’ve been fortunate enough to receive information about other civilian personnel that were at Roswell Army Airfield in 1947, and I have questioned the siblings of those individuals, about the threats they received and how they handled them.
One such case involved a woman who worked at the base in 1947, as the only civilian in the communication department, in conjunction with Mountain States Bell Telephone Company. I located her son in Albuquerque, New Mexico in December 2004, and asked him if she had told the family anything before passing away in 1997, here in Roswell. His reply was, “As a matter of fact no---I don’t know what pressure they used, but they told her not to talk about it to anyone---and she DID NOT, until the day she died.” I responded, “so she was told not to talk about it”, and he said, “She was definitely.” She told us, “she couldn’t tell us about anything---she was instructed not to.”
Another situation involved a man who was the city manager of Roswell from 1946-1964, a WW II veteran with a high security clearance, who retired from the National Guard as a Major General. His son still lives here in Roswell and recently told me, “His Dad and then base commander Col. Blanchard were friends.” He had told the son’s mother and grandmother, “he had seen something he could not talk about” and as in other cases did not, until his death in 1982.
There were many more threats that I don’t have room to list here, but this list that I’ve shared with you provides a wide diversity of the type threats both military and civilians received, due to their involvement in the 1947 Roswell Incident, and my question remains --- Why?
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