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(originally published Feb 2010)



Skeptics who say that the Roswell UFO crash was never discussed before 1980 with the publication of the seminal book The Roswell Incident are wrong. In fact, the 1947 UFO event in New Mexico was brought up in many ways – and at many times – throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.


These naysayers maintain that witnesses came forward only when the Roswell story became "popularized" by the numerous books, movies, TV shows, documentaries and articles done in the 1980s and 1990s – many years after the crash event itself. They would like us to believe that after the original press release and newspaper articles in July of 1947 reporting the crash, that nothing more was said until much later. The implication by these disbelievers and cynics is that Roswell was a virtual "non-event" until the release of the first book on Roswell in 1980 and the subsequent publicity in following decades. But an examination of the literature – and confirmation of stories told privately – reveals that the alien episode was known and discussed well before all of the "hoopla".



Wilhelm Reich
Dr. Wilhelm Reich

Dr. Wilhelm Reich was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who worked closely with Sigmund Freud. Known for his development of radical theories that related to a "life energy" that he referred to as "orgone energy," Reich was also very interested in the subject of extraterrestrial life and UFOs. Reich died in 1957, but his last book, published in the last year of his life, refers to Roswell and UFOs.


In 1957's Contact With Space, Reich recounts a 1955 trip to Tucson, Arizona to conduct "weather and energy experimentation" using a device that he designed, which he called a "cloudbuster", along with other devices made to attract UFOs. On his way to Tucson, he relates that he "felt compelled" to stop at a small town called Roswell, in New Mexico. Reich decided to make "field observations" there at Roswell. In his 1957 book, Reich makes specific (albeit brief) mention of what he called the Roswell area's "strange imbalance" of what he believed were "UFO energies" related to forces he called "DOR/OR."


Reich was known to conduct these unusual experiments in geographic areas that he felt held special meaning and that were relevant to his UFO study. Though Reich was controversial – and his mention of Roswell oblique, without speaking to the actual crash there – others were far more direct:

Dr. Kevin Randle in 1977
(Photo Credit: Robert Sheaffer)

Noted Ufologist and author Kevin Randle relates an intriguing story about a pre-1980 mention of Roswell. Randle explains that he did not understand the significance of the story until much later, as at that time, he hadn't heard of the Roswell UFO crash.


In 1976 he and researcher Robert Cornett were investigating trace landing cases in the Midwest. They both had an opportunity to interview a former Air Force sergeant who told them that he was tasked to "stage a solution" to a UFO sighting. The sergeant explained to the investigators that he had trucked the debris of a weather balloon into a town, and, according to Randle, "told all who would listen that this is what they had seen, or what their neighbors had seen. The wreckage contained the silvery elements of the rawin radar reflectors, the neoprene balloon envelope, and the balsa sticks that had formed the frame of the reflector." Randle asked him, "How often have you done this?" The sergeant replied, "Only once." When Randle asked him where this had taken place, the sergeant replied, "At Roswell, New Mexico." This remarkable story was told in 1976, years before the publication of the first book on the Roswell crash.


In 1973, author Peter Gutilla was a correspondent with the now-defunct publication "Saga", which was a long-running men's adventure magazine which competed with magazines with titles such as "Argosy" and "True". Gutilla relates that he had a conversation with a Park Ranger who he identified as "G. Sleppy." The Park Ranger gave Gutilla an account of a UFO sighting that he had experienced in the woods while on duty sometime prior. He then mentioned to Gutilla that his mother Lydia had a far more interesting and unusual UFO story that she had been telling for a very long time.


The now-famous Lydia Sleppy story (published only in part, and without using her name) appeared on page 60 of the Winter 1974 issue of Saga magazine in a special "UFO Report" edition. It read:

"In New Mexico a woman with a responsible position at a radio station [KOAT, in Albuquerque, New Mexico] received a call from a station manager. He had been out checking reports of a UFO

which had crashed in a field and was trying to track down the rumor that pieces of the object were supposedly stored in a local barn. In his excited call to the newsroom, the station manager verified the UFO crash report, and also claimed he had seen metallic pieces of the UFO being carried into a waiting Air Force plane which was destined for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. As the woman began typing out the fantastic news over the teletype to their other two stations, a line appeared in the middle of her text, tapped in from somewhere, with the official order: 'Do not continue this transmission!'"

Today the story of Lydia Sleppy is well known to Roswell followers. She has since expanded on this story in the book The Roswell Incident by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, and to other researchers, and agreed to allow her name to be divulged. But with my re-discovery of this early "Saga" article we learn that she first told her Roswell story publicly in 1973 and – according to her son – for many years before to her close friends and family.



Rancher Loretta Proctor

Richard Glaze was a Professor of Agriculture at New Mexico State University (NMSU), and honored by the Las Cruces-based University with a Distinguished Service Award in recognition for his long service over and above normal routine duties. He was also known for his contributions to the university in the field of Experimental Statistics and Quantitative Analysis. In addition to his scholarly achievements, Glaze was an avid amateur archaeologist and arrowhead hunter. He relates that in 1960 he took his family to the Proctor ranch near Roswell on the recommendation of one of his students. It was suggested that the ranch was a particularly appropriate spot to find Native American arrowheads.


He maintained that during the summer of 1960 he introduced himself to Loretta Proctor (still alive today at 96) and sought permission from her to search for arrowheads on her property. Loretta was a close friend of rancher Mack Brazel, who was custodian of the Foster Ranch and who had reported the crash to Roswell Sheriff George Wilcox, who then reported it to the RAAF base. Loretta's son Dee was with Mack when the discovery was made. Loretta was herself shown a piece of the strange debris by Brazel. Her story is well-known to those who follow the Roswell crash story.

Glaze stated that Loretta granted him permission to explore her property, but also told him what he thought to be a "wild story" at the time. Loretta told Glaze, "If you find anything unusual, let me know." Loretta then related to Professor Glaze that about a dozen years prior a "crashed UFO" from another world had fallen to Earth on a nearby ranch – the Foster Ranch. Glaze stated that Loretta "talked a lot" about this event but that he did not hold much credence in it until he was reminded of his encounter with her when he read the book The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell (by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt) many years later. Glaze then remembered the long conversation that he had decades earlier with the ranch woman – and that what was told in the book was the precise story she had told him so many years prior.


So here we have an example of a Roswell witness, Loretta Proctor, telling her story privately as early as 1960 – and well before her public confession on the subject over three decades later in an affidavit signed in 1991!



Now-deceased UFO author Frank Edwards may have been one of the very first researchers to relate details on the UFO crash at Roswell. Though incomplete on the details, he spoke of the crash at a New York City meeting of the early UFO research group Civilian Saucer Intelligence. On April 28, 1956, Edwards told the assembled group that "at Roswell a farmer reported that he saw something strike a mountainside and crash."


Though sparse on information in his 1956 lecture, Edwards later expanded on the story. In his 1966 book Flying Saucers: Serious Business, on page 76 he writes: "There are such difficult cases as the rancher near Roswell, New Mexico, who phoned the Sheriff that a blazing disc-shaped object had passed over his house at low altitude and had crashed and burned on a hillside within view of his house. We were not told, however, why the military cordoned off the area while they inspected the wreckage."


A review of the literature reveals other (brief) mentions of the Roswell crash event:


  •  "Flying Saucers on the Attack" (Harold Wilkins, 1954)

  •  "Flying Saucer Review" (Volume 1, No. 1, Spring 1955)

  •  "The Flying Saucer Story" (Brinsley LePour Trench, 1966)



Of course, it is difficult for many of us today to relate to or identify with just what it was like to live during the 1940s in impoverished rural New Mexico. Most did not have telephones, there was no TV, and much of that part of the country did not even have electrification. As rancher Loretta Proctor said to me, "In those days, travel was a 'big deal' and you watched the amount of gas you used and even how much wear you put on your tires." To say that those at Roswell at that time were in many ways isolated would be a very true statement.


The UFO crash at Roswell could not have happened at a better place or time to ensure secrecy – and to ensure little talk of the event, by those involved, to the outside world. But to be sure, there was talk amongst themselves about the incident. I have several other accounts of this in my research records.


Though many of those involved left Roswell in the intervening years, over time the "secret of Roswell" was no longer secret. It must have been a relief when, beginning in the 1980s, researchers began re-examining the event and started to ask the involved what had happened. As more and more people came forward, they were likely more inclined to tell what they knew. You would speak about what you knew when you realized that others were doing the same. Because others were now saying what you knew to be true, you would feel that people would not think of you as "crazy." A "strength in numbers" dynamic had come into play.

Captain Oliver "Pappy" Henderson makes this point very well in a confession to his family. Henderson was stationed at RAAF in 1947. In 1981, he indicated to his wife Sappho and to his daughters – after reading a newspaper article on the crash event: "I want you to read this article because it is a true story. I am the pilot who flew the wreckage of the UFO to Dayton. I guess now that they're putting it in the papers I can tell you about this. I wanted to tell you for years." Publicity about the event – and the knowledge that others were talking – was Pappy's motivator to tell all.

Indeed, the "hoopla" about Roswell in later years had finally freed those who knew the truth to speak the truth: extraterrestrials had fallen to the desert floor, forever changing the lives of those involved. It was a memory never forgotten – and a memory now to be shared with the world.

Captain Oliver "Pappy" Henderson
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