New Book Details a Montanan’s Connection to Roswell UFO Crash
BY J. CAREY & DONALD R. SCHMITT
Wake up, Jesse. Wake up, son. Your dad wants to show you something.” Coming out of a sound sleep, 11-year-old Jesse Marcel, Jr., tried hard to adjust his eyes to the darkness. He tried even harder to force himself from his bed and follow the silhouette of what he naturally assumed was his father. “Dad, it’s after midnight,” exclaimed the weary boy. “Just come to the kitchen,” instructed the dark figure.
Major Jesse Marcel was the head of intelligence of the most famous unit within the U.S. military in 1947: the 509th Bomb Group, the first nuclear squadron in the world. Just a couple of years before, his young son asked him what an atomic bomb looked like and his father privately sketched for him a picture of “Fat Man.” A moment later he quickly shredded the drawing and burned the remains with his lighter. “Promise me you won’t ever say a word or you’ll get your father in a lot of trouble.” Such mutual trust and respect extended their entire lives. And this night was no different with the officer just returning home after he was away on assignment over the previous two days. What new secrets was he about to share this time with his only child, Jesse, who would never have imagined what was waiting for him in their dining room?
Jesse and Viaud had raised their child well; he was destined for a stellar career. After college, he would complete his pre-med undergraduate work at Louisi-ana State University. Next, he would graduate with his medical degree from the Louisiana School of Medicine in New Orleans in July 1961. Within the year, he joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the battleship USS Renville as a flight surgeon. He retired in July 1971.
Back home, Dr. Marcel would enter private practice in Helena, Montana, and opened his ear, nose, and throat clinic, but he was still drawn to the military. In 1973 he joined the Montana Army National Guard and devoted weekends as a helicopter pilot instructor and flight surgeon at Fort Rucker in Alabama. He would serve as the State Surgeon for Montana and retired from the military for a second time in August 1996 with the rank of full colonel.
As a final testimony to his loyalty and dedication to his country, he was called back to active duty in October 2004—at the age of 68. He served as a flight surgeon, once again, with the 187th Attack Helicopter Battalion flying 225 hours of combat in the War in Iraq. But the harsh conditions and human carnage had a devastating effect on Jesse both physically and mentally, and he was discharged in December 2005 to the Ready Reserve.
Through all the years since 1947, Jesse always supported his father’s account of what actually crashed outside Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. After all, when the boy Jesse arrived in the family kitchen after he was roused from his sleep on that warm July night, he saw what few others on this earth have seen, a sight that remained vivid in his memory until the day he died.
After appearing in 1980 on the popular ABC TV series In Search Of, hosted by Leonard Nimoy, Jesse, Sr., called his son on his return home to Louisiana. The former intelligence officer was excited that after 33 years he was able to return to the desert site where it had all started—where what should have begun the adventure of a lifetime, became an embarrassment and blemish on the family reputation. With some trepidation, the elder Marcel walked the baron graze land describing the unusual debris he had gathered there back in 1947, and the TV show provided him with that rare opportunity to relive part of history. “It [the metal] was nothing made on this earth” was a statement he stood by until his death. He was already suffering from emphysema. Heavy smoking had taken its toll, his breathing became more labored, but still the thinner, dry air of the high desert provided some relief. Time was running out for the senior officer, and what was there to lose by finally speaking out? Now, with the passage of more than 30 years of broken promises from the government to someday reveal the truth, sadly, it was quite evident that the truth was not forthcoming. What could they do to a dying old man for finally stepping forward with the facts?
As a doctor, there was no hiding his condition, and his son preserved all the opportunities he still had with his fading father. Jesse tape-recorded the father-son phone conversation and what shined through just beyond the warmth and love for one another, was the shared experience that skeptics have often tried to shake. But, together, their resolve and conviction was one and the same. They would talk every week until the end, especially as his father opened up more and more publicly about Roswell.
It was early in 1990 that the Fund for UFO Research asked us to put together a selection of Roswell witnesses to participate in a special conference sponsored by Hans Adam II, the royal prince of Liechtenstein. Jesse was immediately notified and happily accepted. Little did we realize that someone else would also start calling the doctor and one of the other invited military witnesses.
This was not the first time uninvited callers gave Roswell witnesses cause to remain silent. The Public Information Officer from the old Roswell Army Air Field, First Lieutenant Walter Haut, along with his wife, “Pete,” described to us 30 years of threatening phone calls. “There were so many calls, I lost track of them,” a disgusted Haut complained.
Long before caller ID both he and his wife received menacing calls from the “Norseman,” as he was dubbed, who repeatedly would shout into the phone, and next demand that 1947 “be forgotten.” The other frequent caller actually identified himself as the “Shadow” and, on occasion, Walter’s wife would pick up the phone from their bedside at 3 a.m. “Each and every time he called, he told me that my life was in jeopardy if I talked about the incident,” complained Haut.
Sergeant Lloyd Thomson, of the 393rd Bomb Wing, was a B-29 crewman on the second “body” flight out of Roswell, which flew directly to Carswell Field in Fort Worth, Texas. Just as the Haut family had experienced many years of harassment, soon Thomson received a threatening phone call about attending the meeting in Washington. He had just moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico, he had an unlisted number, and the caller even addressed him by his old army nickname. After two such warnings, he quickly cancelled his trip. The death threat was abundantly clear. The FBI was contacted and officially listed the complaint as a “death threat.”
Next, Jesse and his wife Linda received calls that clearly suggested he was being watched, and his family became more and more concerned about his safety. Still, Jesse was not about to be intimidated and continued to make plans for the trip out east—but not with his family. It wouldn’t be safe.
One particular call did stand out. It, too, was anonymous, but it wasn’t a warning. Rather, it was an invitation to meet with a high-ranking official while in Washington. It was an offer to help. Odd though, that the call was also prompted by an unpublicized, confidential meeting yet to take place.
Jesse’s family became even more concerned about the trip—but a good soldier doesn’t retreat. Jesse arrived in Washington, as did 11 other witnesses.
Following the adjournment of this unprecedented meeting, Jesse followed the instructions from the unknown political official. He took a cab, alone, to the Capitol Building. Each waiting second raised the specter of a setup. Even all of Jesse’s military training left him with concern of a trap. Finally, a suited man stepped out from a room and introduced himself as a staff member and senior senatorial counsel to Senator Robert C. Byrd. “Dr. Marcel, so pleased to meet you. My name is Dick D’Amato. Will you please follow me?” They would take an elevator to a deep underground conference room to talk in private.
“Roswell is true, but then you already know that,” stated the official. “The problem: It’s buried deep within the black budget and government funds have been spent since 1947 to keep the truth from coming out,” explained D’Amato. “Whenever someone gets too close to the truth, they are immediately discredited. All of the main witnesses remain on their radar scopes,” he warned Jesse.
“Have you or your family ever been threatened? Because I want to give you a private number to reach me directly if anyone ever does,” offered D’Amato. They next returned to the ground level and each wished the other good luck as they shook hands. For Jesse, a devout Catholic, the flight back to Montana provided a heightened sense of anxiety. “Dear God, please, just get me home.”
Neither Jesse’s father nor he had discussed the Roswell Incident publicly for almost 30 years. As Dr. Marcel observed, “doing so would pose a very real danger to our careers, if not our very lives.” So when his dad finally broke his own silence in 1978 and spoke out as to the true nature of the UFO crash, Jesse, Jr., was also sought out by researchers—and those responsible for the cover-up.
Jesse later commented, “While some members of our elected government such as the official [D’Amato] with whom I met, know about the ‘black government,’ they discuss the existence very discreetly, if at all, knowing that all evidence of an extraterrestrial visitation can be made to disappear…the elimination of an overly talkative government employee would be child’s play.” He added, “To this day I have kept that piece of paper [D’Amato’s phone number] and have stored a copy of the info in a safe place, should the need for it ever arise.”
After the Washington conference, we became all the more committed to solving the mystery of what truly crashed outside of Roswell in 1947. Sworn affidavits were taken from a growing list of witnesses, and Congressman Steven Schiff of New Mexico was enlisted to represent constituents. With growing curiosity of specific events inspired by the crash of the unknown object back in 1947, we suggested the notion of hypnotic regression to Dr. Marcel, with the plan of taking him back to that night when he was awakened from his sleep and taken with his mother into the kitchen. Though hesitant, Jesse finally agreed, still arguing that he was a poor candidate, as he had never been hypnotized before. We next sought out one of the best in his field and secured Dr. John Watkins, professor emeritus in psychology from the University of Montana at Missoula. Dr. Watkins was famous for getting one of the accused “Hillside Stranglers,” Kenneth Bianchi, to confess under hypnosis. (During 60 hours of interviews and hypnosis, Bianchi also implicated his cousin, Angelo Buono.)
Next, to our pleasant surprise, NBC’s TODAY show assigned a film crew to visually record the sessions with the full intent of broadcasting it later. Producers assured us that they considered Jesse Jr., an unimpeachable witness with credentials that rivaled anyone they had interviewed before. They were just as fascinated as we were with the technique of hypnosis. In fact, it was one of the first times they had requested filming a time-regression interview.
It took the better part of the day for Dr. Watkins to finally succeed placing Dr. Marcel in a hypnotic state. Ultimately, that evening, he was back in the early morning of July 8, 1947, describing the events as they unfolded in the Marcel kitchen. Jesse described how the metal-like debris was scattered over the floor with a sampling on the dining room table. He painted the picture of each of them handling the material and, in his trance, sketched the symbology that ran the lengths of I-beam members scattered within the other pieces. A most important element through the entire regression was that Jesse relived the entire situation in the first person. He was describing the entire scenario as though it was unfolding right before our eyes. And here’s what was most critical: His father at no time mentioned that this was possibly any type of conventional device. Jesse recited over and over again how his dad called it a “flying saucer.”
When Jesse opened his eyes he began to look from one side of the room to the other calling out, “Dad! Dad!” Tears began to stream down his face as it finally struck us: So intense, so real was the experience he had just relived with his father back in 1947 that he had just lost him all over again.
What became of all the film footage shot by the NBC crew? Co-host Bryant Gumbel at TODAY decided that it was “too controversial” and opted not to “ever” show this most convincing hypnotic interview of Dr. Jesse Marcel.
In September 1994, the Pentagon called a press conference where Colonel Richard Weaver announced to the room full of reporters that they had a new theory to explain what had crashed in 1947. He explained that it was the same type of balloon comprised of Neoprene rubber, reflective foil, wooden sticks, string, and masking tape. But this time, it was part of a Top Secret project called Mogul, which in theory would monitor Soviet testing of atomic weapons.
The hieroglyphic-like symbols that Jesse and other witnesses described were merely flowers painted on the tape. Major James McAndrew was the principal researcher of the special report and, for some reason, was especially annoyed that Dr. Marcel would not back down from their new theory.
Skeptics such as the late Robert Todd and Karl Pflock targeted both Jesse’s father and Jesse himself, and made efforts to smear their credibility—standard procedure within the U.S. government’s “damage control” phase of containment. Young Jesse had to stand by and watch his father serve as the fall guy when the weather balloon explanation replaced what all involved knew to be the truth. Following his orders, the older Marcel had to convey to his son the same restrictions on the matter just placed on him. The occurrence was not to be discussed again. After an official report is issued, should any dissension remain, it is to be ridiculed and discredited—immediately. Such has been “official” policy since the incident in 1947, a form of “scorched witnesses” procedure.
When the late Congressman Steven Schiff commissioned the General Accounting Office to conduct a document search for all records pertaining to the Roswell Incident, they discovered in 1995 that all the records from the Roswell Army Air Field at the time of the event were destroyed or missing.
Upon his return from his first tour of active duty in Baghdad, Jesse was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. The slightest loud noise caused him to jump from his chair or dive to the floor. This is often experienced by military combatants exposed to the loud noise of explosives. The nightmares and flashbacks of dead Iraqi babies were devastating to him. War poet Wilfred Owen once wrote, “Men whose minds the dead have ravished.” Still, he made a second tour, which sadly ruined his physical health. The deployment would cost him his medical practice, and forced his retirement.
After Iraq, Jesse remarked that he finally understood his father’s disillusionment and bitterness with the military following Roswell. His dad was ordered to be the “fall guy” in 1947 with the promise that the truth would all come out within a few years.
In May 2013, Jesse was once again called back to Washington, DC, to testify with us as part of the Roswell panel at the Citizen’s Hearing on UFOs. For five full days, UFO researchers and witnesses from all over the world presented their best evidence to a panel of six former U.S. congresspeople. Jesse was one of the most moving of the participants and also offered a closing statement on behalf of all the deceased Roswell witnesses.
Within days after the hearings, his daughter Denise would inform us that her dad felt the need to go back to Roswell—one last time. He went out to the debris site where his father had gathered all the unusual wreckage back in 1947. He went back to his childhood home and stood in the kitchen where it all began for him. Dr. Jesse Marcel had come full circle and now was at peace. No government was able to take that away from him.
Jesse’s apprehensions were entirely correct. A little more than a month later, he quietly passed away at his home [in Helena, Montana] while reading a book—about UFOs.
©2016 Thomas J. Carey and Donald R. Schmitt. The Children of Roswell published by New Page Books a division of Career Press. All rights reserved.