Sprouse said that upon their return, five of his crew were sent out to the Foster Ranch or Brazel debris field to assist in the cleanup, which involved 500 men lined shoulder to shoulder scouring the ground for debris. However, he was ordered to remain with "Dave's Dream" in case it was needed. (Note: Dave's Dream flew intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel to Fort Worth with debris on the afternoon of July 8. Sprouse, however, wasn't part of the crew.)
When his men returned they described debris that was "out of this world," including the often-reported "memory foil"that returned to its original shape when crumpled up.
However, the most remarkable part of Sprouse's story was hearing of the alien bodies and an autopsy quickly conducted at the base hospital from a medic friend, a fellow staff sergeant who shared the barracks. The medic worked in the emergency room and had been called out to the hospital. He had seen the "humanoid" bodies and said two doctors and two nurses were involved with the autopsy. Immediately afterwards, the medic disappeared and Sprouse said they couldn't discover what had become of him. Similarly he heard that the doctors and nurses involved also were immediately transferred out and nothing could be discovered of their fate either.
(Sprouse added a detail that is generally not known. He said the medic also told him, 'We don't think the humanoid ate food.' I don't know why he said that. The digestive system wasn't designed for food or something." This was also reported to UFO researcher Leonard Stringfield around 1979 by two doctors who said they had also conducted an autopsy on an alien body in the early 1950s. The alien lacked teeth and a digestive system.)
This story is almost exactly the same told by Glenn Dennis, the Roswell mortician, who said a nurse friend told him of being involved in the autopsy and then disappeared, fate unknown. Although Dennis' credibility has come under severe fire for providing a false name for the nurse, Sprouse seems to be corroborating the story.
Sprouse said he also knew Dennis from a funeral that Dennis arranged for a friend several years later. He said Dennis told him at that time of receiving calls from the base for child-size coffins (Sprouse recalled Dennis said five, but Dennis reported being told only of only three or four bodies.)
Another witness who said Dennis told him of the call from the base for small coffins early on was L. M. Hall, the former police chief of Roswell. (affidavit) Hall said this occurred only a few days after July 8, 1947.
Sprouse said he also knew Jesse Marcel, the intelligence officer involved in the initial investigation of the Brazel debris field. After the incident he could never ask him a question because he couldn't get close to him. (It wasn't totally clear what Sprouse meant by that.)
Finally Sprouse said he continued to hear stories at the base about the crashed flying saucer and alien bodies for years afterwards until he left in 1956. He believes there is a far-level cover-up of the event that extends clear to the White House.
Another part of Sprouse's story, not reported in the newspaper articles below but in Witness to Roswell (p. 233), was being told a week later by some buddies of a debris flight. A C-54 pulled up in front of Hangar 84/P-3 (central site of many debris/body stories). The cargo plane was loaded with pieces of wreckage, including one large piece. They couldn't get a close look because of guards posted around the hangar. "The rumor was that General [Roger] Ramey was on the plane." In the morning, the plane was gone and the hangar was empty.
Base public information officer Walter Haut in his 2002 affidavit claimed Gen. Ramey was at the staff morning meeting on July 8, 1947, plotting how to cover things up. Another witness placing Ramey at the base was Ed Zimmerman (affidavit). Sprouse's account would be weak corroboration of Ramey's presence at the base.
Witness to Roswell flying saucer incident tells his story
By Pat Sherman
ESCONDIDO – Retired Air Force veteran Milton Sprouse clearly remembers the summer day in 1947 when he returned to Roswell Army Air Field aboard the B-29 bomber Dave's Dream from a three-day maneuver in Florida.
The Escondido resident, then a corporal and engine mechanic in the Army Air Forces could not believe what his ground crew was telling him: a UFO had crashed in the New Mexico desert, on a ranch 70 miles away.
The story made the front page of the Roswell Daily Record: “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer,” read the headline.
According to the July 8 story, “the intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced ... that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.”
The craft supposedly had been recovered after the ranch owner notified the sheriff's department, who sent Maj. Jesse Marcel and a team to investigate.
“Marcel and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk,” the story stated. “After the intelligence officer here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquarters.”
The next day, the paper retracted the story, claiming that the recovered object was a weather balloon – an account the government stuck with until 1995. It was then announced that the weather balloon story had been fabricated to cover up Project Mogul, a top-secret project involving two-dozen high-altitude neoprene balloons designed to detect Russian nuclear explosions.
According to Sprouse, five of his crew were called to the site to collect the remaining debris and load it onto a flatbed truck. Sprouse was ordered to stay with Dave's Dream in case the military should suddenly need the craft.
“I had reservations of what all they were telling me, because each one of them told something different,” he said. “I thought, 'I don't know.' ... Later on, when it all started coming out in piecemeal, you could put it together and tell what they said was true.”
As years passed, Sprouse grew more comfortable talking about the Roswell Incident.
Author and ufologist Thomas J. Carey interviewed Sprouse three times with co-author Donald Schmitt. Sprouse is mentioned on page 233 of their new book, “Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60-Year Cover-Up.”
During his first interview, videotaped at the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, Sprouse was reluctant to talk about the incident, Carey said.
“He was a career Air Force guy, and they're the least likely to speak because of their pensions,” Carey said. “When I interviewed him over the phone in 2001, I got a little more information, and then I interviewed him again last year and got even more. It was an evolution of coming forward.”
Today, as Sprouse recounts the incident, he leans forward in earnest, a conspiratorial gleam in his eyes.
About 500 soldiers sent to the crash site were lined shoulder to shoulder and ordered to scour the property for debris, he said.
“They lined them up and then said, 'We want you to go through this ranch the way you're facing until we tell you to stop, and we want you to pick up everything unnatural,'” Sprouse said.
“When my crew got back (from the crash site), we talked for weeks,” he said. “They told me everything and I believe them.... They told me, 'Milt, it's true.' ”
Among the material discovered was a malleable, foil-like material that could be laid flat with no creases after being squashed into a ball.
Whether fact or lore, one of the most intriguing pieces of the puzzle are reports of five diminutive green bodies allegedly recovered with the UFO. Sprouse believes it.
A staff sergeant in his barracks was called to the hospital shortly after the crash, he said.
“He and two doctors and two nurses were in the emergency room, and they brought in one of those five humanoid bodies that they had recovered,” he said. “They said, 'We want this dissected and we want a complete history of how it functions and the parts and everything.' ”
The next day, the man from his barracks was transferred from the base, Sprouse said.
“We never heard from him again,” he said. “We asked and (they said), 'Oh, we don't know nothing about it.' ... I heard later that both nurses and both doctors were shipped different directions and nobody ever knew where they went.”
Sprouse recalled an interesting conversation with the owner of a funeral home in Roswell several years later.
“We had some friend of ours that died, and he said, 'Hey Milt, I want to talk to you,' ” he said. “He says, 'You know the base come to me and wanted five children's caskets.' That was two or three days after the crash. I said, 'No kidding.' He says, 'I only had one, and I told them that.' They said, 'One won't do us very good,' and they went somewhere else and got them.”
The day the UFO story ran, the debris was allegedly loaded onto two B-29 bombers, one of them Dave's Dream, and sent to a base in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sprouse and Carey believe the material was then shipped to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where they say it remains today.
“We believe some of the stuff was loaned around, but the main repository was the foreign technology division at Wright-Patterson,” said Carey, who holds a master's degree in anthropology and served briefly in the Air Force. “We've heard stories over the years of people who say that they're still trying to figure out what that stuff is.”
Various rumors suggest that pieces of the ship and the bodies were stored in a mysterious Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson.
Derek Kaufman, who works in Wright-Patterson's public affairs office, was tentative when broaching the subject of Roswell and Hangar 18. He said the base tracks all such phone inquiries.
“We might get a couple of queries a month related to strange phenomena. ... Someone who believes that they've seen something very unusual – low-flying, strange aircraft or something along those lines,” Kaufman said. “Folks who are UFO enthusiasts are typically the people that inquire about Hangar 18 or about Roswell, but a lot of them don't seem to be credible queries. They seem to be folks bordering on the fanatic. ... I'm hard-pressed to describe where Hangar 18 even is located.”
Asked if there was any material from Roswell transferred to the base in 1947, Kaufman said, “I'll just defer to what reports have been exhaustively investigated and are now available to the general public.”
Wright-Patterson's Web site includes a section titled “UFOs and other strange phenomena” that includes links to the Air Force Freedom of Information Act Web site and a 993-page document titled, “The Roswell Report: Fact Versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert.” In the report, the government meticulously makes its case debunking the Roswell Incident.
According to the report, the bodies recovered at the site were not alien beings, but crash-test dummies used to test high-altitude parachutes.
UFO enthusiasts say they couldn't have been dummies because the parachute tests weren't conducted until nearly a decade later.
“That's a non-starter because that project didn't get under way until the mid-'50s,” Carey said. “These mannequins were a good 6 feet tall, they looked human and they were in regular flight suits. There's no way you confuse those for little aliens with big heads.”
Asked if there are any remnants of the mysterious event stored at Roswell, Rob Young, a historian with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson, answered, “I would not know. I've never seen anything like that. ... To my knowledge there is not.”
Sprouse believes the Roswell Incident is a far-reaching cover-up that leads as far as the White House.
“The presidents are briefed on everything ... classified, unclassified, whether they'll acknowledge it or not,” Sprouse said. “Clinton, says, 'I don't know nothing.' Carter says, 'I don't know nothing about that.' Bush won't even talk about it.”
Sprouse's wife, Peggy, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, is skeptical about the UFO story. She's been to Roswell with her husband and said once was enough.
“Been there, done that,” she said. “I never did believe it and still don't believe it.”
Sprouse, who will speak at the Nov. 18 meeting of the San Diego Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, seems to be enjoying his part in keeping the story alive.
Has the government ever asked him not to speak about Roswell?
“No, but I worry about it,” he said. “I'm getting all these telephone calls on that report, and I often wonder if it's somebody looking into this.”
The truth is out there: Roswell incident recalled by local vet who was there 60 years ago
By: GARY WARTH - Staff Writer
Something happened in Roswell, New Mexico, 60 years ago this summer.
In June or early July 1947, a farmer found strange debris while working on a ranch about 70 miles north of Roswell. He put some of it in a box and drove to the local sheriff. Neither man knew what to make of it, so the sheriff called Roswell Army Air Field, which sent two men to investigate.
On July 9, 1947, the Roswell Daily Record, a newspaper, printed a story with the alarming headline: "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region."
Other than those facts, there appear to be few things people agree on regarding what has become known as "the Roswell incident."
Six decades later, competing UFO enthusiasts promote their own theories, skeptics dismiss the spaceship claims as outrageous, and the military, which originally claimed all the fuss was over a weather balloon, now sticks to its story that it was an experimental spy craft.
Escondido resident Milton Sprouse, 85, said he knows what happened in Roswell ---- not because he favors one theory over another, but because he was there.
As for the outrageous stories of mysterious metal, alien corpses and a military coverup?
It's all true, he said.
From atom bombs to flying saucers
Before arriving at Roswell Army Air Field in 1945 as a corporal and engine mechanic, Sprouse already had participated in an undisputable historic event.
As a member of the 393rd Bomb Squadron assigned to the 509th Composite Group, Sprouse worked on the ground crew of Big Stink, one of the B-29 bombers stationed on the Pacific island of Tinian, where the two atomic bomb missions on Japan were launched to end World War II.
After the war, the 509th Composite Group was reassigned to Roswell, where they were renamed the 509th Bomb Wing. Sprouse continued to lead the ground crew of Big Stink, which had been renamed Dave's Dream after the pilot.
"There was nothing there but tumbleweeds blowing for miles," he said about arriving at Roswell in November 1945.
Sprouse first learned that something odd was going on at Roswell after returning from a three-day trip to Florida aboard Dave's Dream.
"I was there the day they announced a UFO had crashed," he said. "The next day, it was published in the Roswell Daily Record, and that night, all the generals said the story was untrue."
Farmer William "Mac" Brazel had found debris on the J.B. Foster Ranch, where he was a foreman, sometime in June or early July. Brazel took some of the material, which reportedly included sticks, rubber strips, metallic foil and sturdy paper, to Sheriff George Wilcox, who called the air base.
Intelligence Officer Jesse Marcel was sent to the sheriff's station. Marcel reported what he saw to Air Force commanding officer Col. William Blanchard, who told him to go with Brazel to the ranch and examine the crash site.
After spending the night at the ranch, Marcel and another officer loaded their vehicles with debris, some of which reportedly was marked with mysterious symbols, and drove back to the base. Blanchard then ordered a press release stating that the base had captured a flying saucer.
The original story ran in the local paper July 8. That same day, the debris was loaded onto a B-29 and sent with Marcel to an Air Force base in Texas. Marcel was photographed with what was said to be the debris, and the military issued a statement saying that it was in fact a weather balloon.
Search for the truth
Meanwhile, Sprouse said, all copies of the Roswell newspaper were collected by officers, and hundreds of men from the 509th were taken to the crash site and told to walk shoulder-to-shoulder through the field, looking for debris pieces.
Sprouse himself did not go because he was told he was needed for Dave's Dream, but five men from his ground crew went to the ranch.
"They said it was out of this world," Sprouse said about what the crew reported finding. Among the objects it reported seeing was a metallic foil that, when crumpled, unfolded without a crease.
But what was the debris? Was it really something from another world, or just the product of overactive imaginations fueled by the monotony of a desolate 1950s desert town?
One thing that is agreed upon now: It was not from a weather balloon.
In 1995, after years of questions about the incident, the U.S. Air Force admitted the weather-balloon story was fabricated to cover up a top-secret project called Project Mogul designed to detect atomic activity over the Soviet Union with high-altitude balloons.
Some of the launches in the project contained more than two dozen neoprene balloons strung across more than 600 feet.
Charles Moore, a Project Mogul scientist interviewed in the Air Force report, has spoken in public about the project and described striking similarities to what was found at the ranch outside of Roswell and the Project Mogul material, which used sticks, metallic paper and strangely marked tape.
The strange markings that had seemed like cosmic hieroglyphics may have had a much more mundane explanation: Moore said the project used tape made at a toy factory.
The balloons were launched in June and July 1947 from Alamogordo Army Air Field in New Mexico. One flight was launched June 4 and tracked to Arabela, N.M., about 17 miles from the Foster ranch, before its batteries ran down and contact was lost.
But if the debris did come from a Project Mogul craft, how could a string of balloons create the types of gouges on the ground some witnesses have reported?
Then again, maybe there were no gouges; skeptics of the UFO theory have noted that some witnesses changed their stories about what they saw on the crash site.
The Project Mogul explanation also does not address why some people reported seeing alien bodies at the site. Those were explained in another report in 1997 that concluded the bodies actually were anthropomorphic dummies used to test high-altitude parachutes.
UFO believers found the explanation a little too convenient. There also was a timing problem, as the parachute tests were not conducted until the 1950s. The timing discrepancy has been explained as the result of people who over the years confused the two incidents and compressed memories of them into one event.
Sprouse, however, said he recalls people speaking about "alien bodies" immediately after the debris discovery.
"They took the bodies to a hangar, and there were two guards at each door with machine guns," he said.
Sprouse said one witness, a barracksmate, was an emergency-room medic who reported seeing what he called "humanoid" bodies in the hospital.
"They went to the ER room and two doctors and two nurses were called in, and they dissected two of those humanoid bodies," he said. "Then the doctors and nurses were transferred.
"My friend said he saw the bodies, and I believed him," Sprouse said. "He said, 'We don't think the humanoid ate food.' I don't know why he said that. The digestive system wasn't designed for food or something."
Like the other doctors and nurses, Sprouse said, his friend suddenly was transferred, and he never heard from him again. Others on the base, however, kept the story alive.
"I heard it so many times, it had to be true," he said.
Sprouse said he knew Marcel, but he never spoke to him after the incident.
"From that day on, I could never get close to him," he said.
The story lives on
After the story about the UFO crash was retracted, the rest of the world largely forgot about Roswell and accepted that what had been discovered was just a misidentified weather balloon.
The men stationed at the base, however, did not easily forget.
"They were still talking about it when I left, and I left in '56," Sprouse said.
In 1978, Marcel was interviewed by a researcher and appeared in a documentary, "UFOs Are Real," the following year. The National Enquirer interviewed Marcel in 1980 for an article in which he said the woodlike debris could not be burned and the thin metal could not be bent. "The Roswell Incident" was released in 1980 as the first of a string of books on the subject.
As interest grew in the Roswell UFO incident, so did the number of detractors. Some have questioned Marcel's credibility, saying he got caught up in UFO hysteria and was known to exaggerate his own military past.
Jesse Marcel, Jr. published his own book this year, "The Roswell Legacy," defending his father, who died in 1986.
Sprouse has not kept up with all the books and documentaries on Roswell and did not go to Roswell in July for the 60th anniversary of the discovery.
He does, however, attend annual reunions with the 509th, which attracts 25 to 30 veterans.
"The Roswell incident comes up every year, but there's nothing really new," he said.
Sprouse also speaks about his experience at Tinian to about five high schools a year, and he often is invited to speak to other groups. He usually ends his talk with his memories of Roswell, often to the surprise of his audience.
At a talk in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this year, Sprouse said a man came up to him afterwards and said, "I don't believe a damn thing you said."
"I told him, 'You can believe what you want, but I know it's true,'" Sprouse said.
Contact staff writer Gary Warth at (760) 740-5410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.