By Tumbleweed SmithWe've passed through Roswell, N.M., dozens of times, always in a hurry to get somewhere else. The other day on a trip to Ruidoso we had a little more time and stopped in at Roswell's UFO Museum and Research Center and visited with director Julie Shuster.
She says the museum opened in 1992 to present both sides of the story about an extra-terrestrial craft that crashed north of Roswell in 1947 and the efforts by the military to cover up the story. "We're also here to present information on other UFO phenomena, since Roswell has become a household word in the UFO world."
The museum keeps expanding. It's now in its third location and a new building is being planned north of the present site. The museum averages 187,000 visitors a year from all over the world.
"We have affidavits and signatures of people who were directly involved with the UFO crash and documentation of the incident obtained by various researchers. We also have details about the military's side of the story."
The story was dormant until the late 1970s when a researcher ran across the story and started following up on it.
Mac Brazel, who ranched 75 miles north of Roswell, heard a loud noise about 11:50 p.m. on July 4, 1947. The next day he found some debris he couldn't identify, so he took it to town and gave it to the sheriff.
The sheriff didn't know what it was, thought it might be military, so he called Maj. Jeff Marcel, the base intelligence officer at Roswell Army Air Field. Marcel went to the site and had military trucks haul off the debris. Lt. Walter Haut, the public information officer, issued a press release on July 7 saying the military had a flying saucer, which was flown to higher headquarters in Fort Worth. From Fort Worth, the military issued another press release saying it was a weather balloon. Military personnel and civilians involved were told not to talk about the incident.
There is speculation that bodies were aboard the craft. Local undertaker Glenn Dennis was contacted by the military about the number of child-size caskets he had in stock and when could he get more.
Dennis went into the base hospital but was escorted out of there with threats to his life. A nurse later drew a picture of what she saw on the examining table: a big-eyed alien.
Both a movie and a television series have been made about the Roswell incident. The city of Roswell has gone all out to keep the UFO motif alive. There are businesses with alien themes and city streetlights have alien eyes on them. The McDonald's in Roswell is shaped like a UFO. A big UFO festival, held annually around July 4, draws huge crowds and leading UFO researchers. This year the four-day festival starts on June 30 and will include an alien invasion and costume contest.
Julie believes the story is true. Her father was the PIO, Walter Haut. "My father doesn't lie," she says.
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