Over near Roswell
On April 28, 1899, a future cattle and sheep rancher named William Ware Brazel III was born. The infant's family nicknamed him "Mack" because they thought he looked like President McKinley.
On July 4, 1947, while checking on his herds after a severe thunderstorm, 48-year old Mack Brazel found some curious metal debris strewn in a 300-foot by 3/4-mile area in a field on the Foster Ranch near the town of Corona. The debris consisted mostly of I-beams and small parchment-like, paper-thin pieces of metal which purportedly could not be broken in half, cut or burned. Collecting some samples, Brazel reported his find to the local sheriff, who in turn called the local Air Force base.
In the meantime, local radio station KGFL called Brazel and interviewed him about what he had found. The next day, Brazel was visited by military personnel, who sealed off the crash area and took Brazel into custody. The next day they took Brazel back to the radio station, where he explained that he had found a weather balloon. Released from military custody a week later, when he was asked about the incident, Brazel said only that he had taken an oath not to talk about it, and would not comment further thereafter.
Decades later a legend of gargantuan proportions grew up around Brazel's discovery: according to the tale, military personnel found a UFO crash site where Brazel had picked up his metal samples, complete with 4 small alien bodies (bearing large, pear-shaped heads and skinny arms and legs) which they took back to secret laboratories at the Roswell base for autopsy and analysis.
UFOlogists would later claim that the government covered up the incident, and that some important advances in modern technology (including fiber optic communications, much to the amusement of inventors Narinder Kapany and Charles Kao, I'm sure) were copied from the UFO debris found at Roswell. Roswell has turned into a mecca for UFO enthusiasts, and the town milks the phenomenon for all it is worth, while Fox and A&E television run "documentaries" about the mystery of Roswell -- even going so far as to show, in 1995, a faked alien autopsy film, verified as authentic-looking by now-embattled Pittsburgh coroner Cyril Wecht.
While the level-headed experts surmise that what Brazel found in Corona was the crash site of a giant, high-flying balloon used by the military to detect Soviet nuclear tests as part of the top-secret "Project Mogul," conspiracy theorists prefer to see Roswell as yet another malevolent government machination, to be grouped with the Kennedy assassinations, the faked death of Elvis, the black boxes of the Federal Reserve and the Council on Foreign Relations and the Order of the Skull and Bones, among other modern mysteries about which it is obvious that we (wink, wink) know the real truth.
Admittedly, it is quite appealing to the spirit to believe that we are not alone in the cold darkness of space. What is probably true about lightning rod-tales such as the one about Roswell is that kernels of fact here and there probably add up to innumerable mundane truths which we will never fully understand.
Brazel died on October 1, 1963 in Catron County, New Mexico.
Categories: UFOs, Pop-Culture