Aliens Changed Roswell, Even Without Proof

ByABC News
February 24, 2005, 4:02 PM

Feb. 24, 2005 — -- For those who believe that Earth has been visited by extraterrestrial spacecraft, a remote New Mexico ranch is hallowed ground.

The believers say that in the summer of 1947, 75 miles outside Roswell, the holy grail of UFO-ology was found -- concrete evidence proving the existence of alien life.

The story begins when rancher Mack Brazel found some strange debris on his land. Maj. Jesse Marcel, the intelligence officer at the Army air base in Roswell, went to investigate and was convinced that the debris was "not of this Earth."

Marcel put the strange wreckage in his car and drove it back to the base. But on the way, he stopped home and showed his wife and 11-year-old son, Jesse Jr., what he had found.

Marcel died in 1986, but his son told ABC News in a recent interview that the memory of that day is still fresh in his mind. He said there were I-beams in the debris, "structural members with pinkish violet writing along the inside surface," he said. "It was more like geometric symbols. It was very impressive."

The debris arrived at the base early on July 8. By noon, the base commander, Col. William Blanchard, authorized a press release proclaiming that what Marcel found was the remains of a flying saucer.

"There was a tremendous public excitement," says UFO researcher Karl Pflock. "It was national news. It was a big deal. And people were very excited and very, you know, frightened, and everything else."

But the excitement was short-lived. The next day, Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, commanding officer of the 8th Air Force, held a news conference in Ft. Worth, Texas, and said a flying saucer was not recovered. The debris that was found was nothing more than "a harmless, high-altitude weather balloon."

The public accepted the explanation. World War II had just passed, and "I think most people, basically, trusted the government," said Pflock. "There was very little skepticism about it, and it just kind of went away."

For 30 years, almost no one paid any attention to the events at Roswell. Marcel's story might still be forgotten were it not for a UFO-ologist named Stanton Friedman.