Marcel Arrives in Fort Worth
According to Robert Shirkey, assistant operations officer at Roswell, he recalls Marcel's plane left at 2:00 pm (CST--Fort Worth). If this was the case and the plane flew at normal cruising speeds, then Marcel probably would have arrived in Fort Worth sometime between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m. (CST).
However, if Marcel left Roswell immediately after the Roswell base press release (as some other evidence suggests), then his arrival time in Fort Worth would have been approximately 5:00 - 5:30 pm.
The important point here is that in either scenario, Marcel and the debris would still have been airborne or just arriving at the base while Gen. Ramey was claiming on the phone that the debris was in his office and giving descriptions of it (some of them obviously completely bogus).
When Marcel arrived, he took packages of wrapped debris samples with him to Ramey's office, but the bulk of the material remained on the plane. Robert Porter said that Col. Jennings (pilot and Roswell Deputy base commander) ordered them to remain with the plane until a guard had been posted. Then they were allowed to go eat a meal. When they got back, they were told that the material had been transferred to a B-25 for transport to Wright Field. Furthermore, they were told that they had transported a weather balloon, but Porter didn't believe it. (Porter's affidavit)
Marcel said that when he arrived at Gen. Ramey's office, Ramey wasn't there, but came in soon afterwards. A possible time stamp on the Ramey telegram may read "17:13 CST", or 5:13 pm CST (6:13 CDT). Therefore, one possibility is that Ramey was busy sending the telegram to Gen. Vandenberg when Marcel first arrived at his office (Vandenberg's daily log shows him back in his office a few minutes later). Soon afterwards, Ramey was to be photographed clutching a copy of the telegram with handwriting at the bottom. Possibly Ramey and/or some staff members were plotting their next moves and writing notes on the just-sent telegram.
In any event, when Ramey returned, Marcel showed him the debris samples. Possibly a photo of Marcel was taken at this time by a military PIO for historical documentation, because Marcel reportedly remembered in one interview having a photo taken of himself with the real debris, whereas later photos were of a weather balloon/radar target brought in for press consumption. (This scenario of the unknown PIO photo is highly speculative, however.)
However, in another interview, Marcel said Ramey had him cover up the real debris before the weather balloon photos were being taken. If this were the case, then the "real debris" could have been in the Marcel photos, but was concealed. There is, in fact, a hat-box size wrapped package of some kind visible in the various photos. Various details in the photos themselves indicate that the two known Marcel pictures were taken after those of Ramey and his Chief of Staff, Col. Thomas Dubose.
According to Marcel, Ramey then asked Marcel to go to the map room to brief him on where the debris field was located. When they came back, Marcel said that the weather balloon had been substituted for the debris he had actually brought from Roswell.
Brig. Gen. (retired) Thomas Dubose later corroborated this part of Marcel's story. As Dubose said in his affidavit, "The material shown in the photographs taken in Maj. Gen. Ramey's office was a weather balloon. The weather balloon explanation for the material was a cover story to divert the attention of the press." In one interview Dubose also stated "[It] was a cover story. The whole balloon part of it. That was the part of the story we were told to give to the public and news and that was it." Dubose also repeatedly said in various interviews that he was never allowed to see the real debris.
The Photo Shoot -- Ramey's telegram is accidentally photographed
J. Bond Johnson of the Star-Telegram was then ushered into Ramey's office to speak to Ramey and take pictures. Johnson does not recall Ramey being there when he first arrived, so possibly this occurred while Ramey and Marcel were in the map room, the switch having taken place after Marcel went to the map room but before Johnson was admitted.
Johnson recalled the strong odor being given off by the material (probably the neoprene balloon material). This was the first time anybody mentioned anything about an odor associated with the debris, and is another indication that this wasn't the same material handled by others prior to Fort Worth, such as Porter, Marcel, or Marcel Jr. Johnson also wondered why Ramey would have such a pile of smelly junk in his office rather than in some hangar where crash material was usually salvaged.
When Ramey returned, six photos of the radar target/balloon were taken by Johnson: 2 with Ramey and Dubose, 2 with Ramey alone, and finally 2 with Marcel. In all 4 photos of Ramey, the telegram can be clearly seen clutched in his hand, but in 3 of the photos, the printed side was turned away from the camera. However, in one of the Ramey/Dubose photos, the incriminating printed side was facing the camera and was inadvertently photographed.
Recently, articles have been written trying to dismiss the Ramey telegram as inconsequential. The reasoning is that Ramey would never have allowed something of great importance to be photographed. Statements to this effect have come from arch Roswell debunkers Philip Klass and Karl Pflock, but, surprisingly, also from strong Roswell advocate Kevin Randle.
However, this would hardly be a unique case. Other historical examples are known where classified documents held by people well-acquainted with security measures allowed them to be photographed. A recent example from 2009 involved UK's head of counter-terrorism, who was photographed holding a SECRET plan to raid a terrorist cell as he went to a meeting with the Prime Minister. The document was tucked under his arm in plain view, flat and face out, with no cover sheet, though skeptics also insist that documents like this would necessarily always have a cover sheet. Well, apparently not.
Another example occurred in 1965 when the NY Times interviewed McGeorge Bundy, Johnson’s National Security Advisor, for their Sunday magazine. The shiny cover of the Sunday magazine had Bundy holding under his arm--face out, no cover sheet--a top secret briefing document on Viet Nam, with the equally top secret code name UMBRA in plain sight. (Bundy also allowed his desktop covered with other probably sensitive documents to be photographed, though what they contained wasn’t obvious in newsprint, just like Ramey’s memo.) Either the CIA or FBI saw the Sunday magazine and the security slip, went down to the NY Times, who surrendered the negative (in which the smaller print of this document could be read for further details that couldn’t be made out on the mag cover.)
The simple fact is the telegram WAS photographed, whether Ramey should have allowed it or not. No allowance seems to be made for a very brief and simple human slip-up by a man under a lot of pressure handling an unprecedented situation. (As an example of how the pressure got to Ramey, his jagged thumbnail appears to have been chewed on in blow-ups of the photograph.) To claim that the message would never have been photographed if it really was important is a classic example of circular reasoning.
Another problem with this argument is that Ramey's message is clearly about Roswell with key words like "DISC" and "WEATHER BALLOONS" and even "ROSWELL" in it. At the time, Ramey and Pentagon and Roswell spokespeople were quoted telling the news media that Washington had "clamped a security lid on" since it was "high level stuff." Thus the message necessarily would have been classified at the time. You can't have it both ways, that it was about Roswell, which was classified at the time, but must have been unimportant since it was photographed.
Another nonsensical skeptical argument often made is that it couldn't have been about Roswell since it was photographed, even when it clearly IS about Roswell.
When Johnson was originally interviewed by Randle, he stated that Ramey told him he thought it was a weather balloon. This is also reflected in various Star-Telegram editions the next day which state the following. "As soon as the 'disk' was brought into General Ramey's office, he and Colonel Dubose tabbed it as a weather device. The weather officer on duty at the time, Warrant Officer Newton, merely made identification positive." And, "After his first look, Ramey declared all it was was a weather balloon. The weather officer verified his view."
Unfortunately, since then Johnson has changed this part of his story and now claims that Ramey had no idea what he was dealing with. However, the Star-Telegram and other newspapers previously cited, such as the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco News, Los Angeles Herald-Express, N.Y. PM, and Clovis New Mexico Press document that Ramey was putting out a weather balloon explanation before Johnson ever arrived, thus supporting Johnson's original story.
The Dallas Morning News similarly reported that they spoke to one of Ramey's intelligence officers, Major Edwin Kirton, at 5:30 pm, at about the same time that the photos were taken by Johnson. (Assuming the Morning News was using Standard rather than Daylight Savings time.) Kirton told the reporter that "there is nothing to it... It is a rawin high altitude sounding device." About forty-five minutes later, the FBI telegram from Dallas went out (6:17 CST), again with Major Kirton as the contact person. Kirton told the FBI that the object resembled "a high altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector." Reuters News also quoted Kirton at some unspecified time with Kirton being less definite about identity: "it looks like a hexagonal object covered with tinfoil or other shining material suspended from a balloon of about twenty feet in diameter. It is possibly a weather balloon flown at the highest altitude but none of the army men at this base recognize it as an army type balloon." (Since Kirton was explicitly identifying the debris as a weather balloon and radar target by 5:30 pm, it's likely that the Reuter's quote was made at an earlier time when the weather balloon story was just taking shape.)
Finally, we have Ramey's telegram itself, obviously sent out before Johnson photographed it, with the phrase: "....the next sent out PR [press release] of weather balloons." followed by the suggestion to add RAWIN balloon demonstrations to firm up the story.
Clearly, the weather balloon/radar target story was already firmly in place by the time the photos were taken.