The Roswell Case: Meeting Jesse Marcel, Jr.
No matter how you feel about UFOs, the Roswell case is a part of American history. The man in the picture is Jesse Marcel, Sr. He was the Intelligence Officer at Roswell Army Air Field, who went out to the ranch owned by Mac Brazel to check out the debris.
Last night I talked with Jesse Marcel, Jr. at my producer-friend Paul David’s Roswell screening at the Kennedy School. Incidentally, Paul made a brief appearance in the movie as the autopsy photographer, and a picture of him in the role made it to the pages of Time Magazine in July of 1997. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe and it was excellent with a great cast including Martin Sheen. The film was one thing but to have a real-life participant in the incident there was tremendous. Jesse Marcel, Jr. spoke briefly to the crowd. He maintains that his father brought some of the material home and showed it to him and his mother. He says his father believed it was a crash of a space ship, and that the military ordered him to cover it up. The weather balloon story has never really made sense, as that would have been readily determined by someone like the intelligence officer. To me this has the feel of a local event that was reported before the powers that be could shut it down. Jesse’s father became the fall guy forced to take the ridicule for the original UFO story that went out on the radio and newspaper wires, only to be retracted a little later. Imagine this on a family level. You’re going along and all of a sudden you are in the middle of this great mystery. I shook hands with Jesse Marcel, Jr. and felt a thrill thinking about him handling this debris, whatever it was. Jesse Marcel, Jr. went on to be a doctor in Montana where he still lives. I found him to be completely credible – just another case of a seemingly rational, stable, normal American telling a story that is very hard to get your mind around. I also got a real rush when I asked him, “When was the last time you went back to Roswell?” He said he was a few years ago, but when I first said the word “Roswell”, a serious looked passed over him. There was a flicker of pain. This was a gigantic, life-changing event for his immediate family back in 1947 and he has continued to deal with it ever since.