After the Press Conference -- Ramey Goes on the Radio
Shortly after Ramey's little press conference ended, at 6:30 (CST) an Associated Press bulletin announced that the Roswell "disk" had been positively identified as a weather balloon by a weather officer. Ramey's "weather balloons" press release, spoken of in his teltype, was now official.
As far as the nation's press was concerned, that was the end of the story, which had begun so
sensationally only 3 hours before. Ramey's weather balloon explanation was accepted almost
without question (although there was occasional wonderment how such a foul-up could occur in the first place). Some editorials were written ridiculing the entire affair. The blame was generally directed at Roswell PIO Walter Haut, who distributed Col. Blanchard's press release. One editorial accused him of being an "eager beaver" public information officer trying to put Roswell on the map.
After the small press conference in his office, Ramey spoke over a local Fort Worth radio station, WBAP.. He reiterated the weather balloon/radar target story and used it to deny that the object found in New Mexico was a "flying disc." United Press reported that Ramey described the object as the "remnants of a tinfoil covered box kite and a rubber balloon." According to UP, he added that "the kite originally carried instruments, but that none were found with the wreckage."
Another widely published quote of his in AP stories was, "I don't say these devices are what people have called disks. There is no such gadget (as the disks) known to the Army -- at least this far down the line." However, he later added that the weather device could be mistaken for almost anything when seen in the air, implying that they did explain the flying disks.
Ramey also denied knowing anything about the saucers. He said that like a purple cow, he had never seen one. However, he advised that if anybody thought they had found one, they should report it to their local sheriff or nearest Army office. (INS story)
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch
At approximately 7:00 - 8:00 pm in Roswell (or 8:00 - 9:00 in Fort Worth), rancher Mack Brazel held a small press conference of his own at the office of the Roswell Daily Record. According to the Daily Record story, he was brought there and accompanied by KGFL radio owner Walt Whitmore. However multiple witnesses have stated that they remember that Brazel was accompanied by military people as well, not only then, but in succeeding days. According to Associated Press reporter Jason Kellahin, the military men waited outside on the sidewalk while he and a Daily Record reporter named Skeritt interviewed Brazel. After the interview, Kellahin said he remembered talking to the military people outside, but didn't indicate what was discussed. (For Kellahin's affidavit and an overall discussion of his testimony, click here.)
During the interview, Brazel's picture was taken by AP photographer Robin Adair and wired out early the next morning (the Daily Record reported it wired at 6:00 a.m.). Kellahin said he phoned his story into the AP office in Albuquerque that night. (However, the AP account was datelined as July 9, and the story erroneously reported the interview took place early that morning.)
For Kellahin's AP account and the complete Roswell Daily Record version of the press conference, click here.
Why Was Brazel Back in Roswell?
Before getting into Brazel's reported statements, it's important to consider why Brazel was back in Roswell to begin with. Barely two days before, on July 6, he had made the lengthy trip to Roswell to report his find, and then returned to his ranch that night with Roswell intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel and Sheridan Cavitt of the Army Counter-Intelligence Corp (CIC). CIC men generally worked in plain clothes, and it is noteworthy that Brazel in his interview mentions going back to his ranch with Marcel and "a man in plain clothes." Cavitt when interviewed by the Air Force in 1994 denied ever meeting Brazel, and initially denied even going out with Marcel.
Marcel and Cavitt spent July 7 examining the debris field and returned separately that evening. But Brazel presumably remained at his ranch to tend to his stock. Why was he back in Roswell the next evening giving an interview and how did he get there?
The Daily Record story said that after Major Marcel returned to Roswell with the recovered debris "that was the last he [Brazel] heard of it until the story broke that he had found a flying disk." This statement makes no sense, because Brazel lived in isolation. He had no electricity, phone, or radio, so it was impossible for him to know that "the story broke," if he was at his ranch.
There are two basic scenarios of how Brazel got back to Roswell. In one, the military went out to the ranch on July 8 for further recovery operations and then brought Brazel back to make a statement. E.g., AP reporter Kellahin claimed to first go to the ranch on his way to Roswell from Albuquerque, talking to Brazel and the military there, and then all of them going into Roswell. The main problem with Kellahin's story is that it is impossible given the time frame he was operating in. He left Albuquerque after 4:00 pm MDT and could not have detoured to the isolated ranch and gotten to Roswell in time to interview Brazel that evening.
The second scenario is based primarily on accounts of Jud Roberts, co-owner of KGFL radio in Roswell with Walt Whitmore Sr., and Whitmore's son (Walt Whitmore Jr.). According to Roberts and Whitmore Jr., Whitmore Sr. was intrigued by KGFL reporter Frank Joyce's story of speaking to Brazel when he first went to the Sheriff's office. Whitmore Sr., or somebody else from KGFL, subsequently drove out to Brazel's place, perhaps sometime on July 7, and brought Brazel back for an exclusive interview. The interview may have been wire-recorded that night but too late for broadcast. In the meantime, Brazel stayed over at the Whitmore house. Whitmore Jr., returning home from law school, remembers him sleeping like Goldilocks in his bed.
(Contradicting this, Frank Joyce told me that he kept the story to himself fearing he wouldn't be believed, and never told his boss Whitmore Sr. about Brazel's first conversation.)
Early the next morning, Whitmore Jr. said he remembered Brazel cooking breakfast and leaving the house. Whitmore Jr. said he didn't know what happened to Brazel after he left, but assumed the military caught up with him and put him out of circulation.
In a parallel story told by teletype operator Lydia Sleppy, Brazel met KSWS radio manager/owner Johnny McBoyle in a coffee shop, perhaps after leaving the Whitmore house, and also told him about his find. McBoyle headed out to Brazel's place, though it is unclear whether Brazel was with him or not. (That afternoon, McBoyle phoned in his story to Sleppy in Albuquerque, but the story was cut off on the teletype by the FBI as Sleppy was transmitting it.) Almost simultaneously, Roswell base was gearing up its recovery operation. If Brazel returned to his place with McBoyle, the military would eventually have found him there. If he stayed in Roswell, the military at some point located him in town. One account has Whitmore Sr. driving him out to the base when he was done with Brazel at the radio station. According to Roberts, he then got a call from someone in the office of N.M. Senator Dennis Chavez or former-Senator Clinton Anderson (now Truman's Secretary of Agriculture) warning them not to broadcast the interview. If they did, they would lose their license. (Interestingly, N.M.'s other Senator, Carl Hatch, requested a special meeting with Truman on July 7 and got it the morning of July 9.)
In either scenario, Brazel eventually ended up in the hands of the military. It was decided that Brazel should also make some sort of statement that paralleled the story that Ramey was putting out in Fort Worth. Somebody probably put Brazel up to it because the normally taciturn rancher would not likely make a statement on his own. There would have been several hours after Ramey first started the weather balloon cover story to coach Brazel in what to say. Perhaps to make Brazel's appearance at the Roswell Daily Record for an interview look more benign, Whitmore Sr. was "encouraged" to accompany the party. Why else would Whitmore take Brazel to a news rival so that they could scoop him on his own story?
(However, in yet another theory of events, Whitmore Sr. spirited away Brazel from the military after the press conference, hid him at his house, and recorded the interview that night instead of the previous one. While this is conceivable, it does not account for how newsman McBoyle learned of Brazel's story on the morning of July 8. Nor does it explain how Brazel learned of the story "breaking" in the mid-afternoon and being back in Roswell within a few hours.)
Probably immediately after Brazel's interview at the Daily Record, reporter Frank Joyce said he got a call from Brazel saying he was coming over. Joyce remembered Brazel arriving shortly after sunset (sunset was at 8:10 pm). Brazel was noticeably stressed. According to Joyce, Brazel at first recanted his original story, saying he had really found a weather balloon. Joyce says he then challenged Brazel, saying the new story didn't remotely resemble his original one. At that point, according to Joyce, Brazel admitted that the military had forced him to change it. He suggested Joyce change his story too or the military would go hard on him as will.
An old part of Joyce's story regarding this meeting with Brazel concerned what happened as Brazel was about to leave. Joyce reiterated that Brazel's original story had changed substantially, particularly the part about the little green men. Brazel then responded that they weren't green. This part of the story was always very cryptic until recently when Joyce claimed that Brazel originally told him about finding small, nonhuman bodies when he first came to Roswell.
Besides Joyce's testimony that the military forced Brazel to change his story, reporter Kellahin remembered Brazel being accompanied by military that evening as did Paul McEvoy, Editor of the Daily Record. Brazel's neighbors Floyd Proctor, Lyman Strickland, Leonard Porter, and Bill Jenkins also saw Brazel surrounded by military in downtown Roswell. The base provost marshal Edwin Easley acknowledged shortly before his death that they held Brazel at the base. Brazel's adult son Bill said he went to the ranch as soon as he heard his father was involved. His father wasn't returned until the 15th. After his release, Bill Brazel, the Proctors, and the Stricklands said Mack Brazel complained bitterly about what the Army had done. Brazel said he was trying to do his patriotic duty and instead they threw him in jail.
The eyewitness testimony to Brazel's detention by the military is overwhelming. This is very strong evidence that he was coerced and anything he said in his press conference should be viewed in that context.
Similarly, Sheriff Wilcox family members have stated that Wilcox was coerced. This is supported by an AP story in which Wilcox declined to comment further because he was "working with those fellows at the base." Similarly, AP reporter Kellahin said when he tried to talk to Wilcox, whom he knew well, Wilcox was unusually cautious. "Wilcox said the military indicated to him it would be best if he did not say anything." (Kellahin's affidavit) Clearly something had gone on between Wilcox and the military.
Because such extreme behavior by the military cannot be explained by any sort of balloon crash, Roswell debunkers have either tried to ignore this aspect of the story or belittle it. E.g., the modern Air Force counterintelligence debunkers in their report made no mention of the multi-witness testimony to Brazel's detention or Wilcox's coercion.