Original Air Date: Feb. 27, 1999
It is the mother of all UFO: The July 7, 1947 crash of something near Roswell, New Mexico. Key evidence in the famous case was first taken to Fort Worth and photographed there – images that are still yielding answers and fueling the mystery, decades later.
The Roswell Carswell pictures were taken some time after the crash, when the Army Air Corps issued a press release that it had "captured" a flying disc on a ranch near Roswell.
In the hours that followed there was much scrambling behind the scenes, and then officials issued a retraction. Higher-ups said the saucer was actually a weather balloon.
The day after the initial press release, Brigadier Gen. Roger Ramey ordered the crash debris flown to Fort Worth to what was then Carswell Air Force Base. Shortly after, a portion of it arrived in Gen. Ramey's office. So did 21-year-old Fort Worth Star Telegram reporter James Bond Johnson.
"They were just starting to unpack it when I got there," Johnson said.
Johnson remembers taking six photographs. Four survive. The first two show Maj. Jesse Marcel, a man who went to his grave insisting what he'd found was not from this world. Two more show a posed Gen. Ramey and later the general, and his aide.
"When I went in that office Gen. Ramey did not know what they had," he said.
If the military has said all it's going to say on Roswell, at least Johnson's pictures continue to yield fascinating clues.
Sophisticated digital scans of super-enlargements show the hieroglyphic-like characters Roswell witnesses have described on I-beams from the debris. Even more interesting: The message Gen. Ramey holds in his hand. It was apparently handed to him as he walked in the office.
A team of analysts from across the globe has deciphered some of what it says, leaving blank the words it can't agree upon.
Roger Reghr said the note seems to contain these words and phrases: four, hours, victims of the, you forwarded to the, at Fort Worth, Texas.
In addition to the word "victims," analysts believe the message also refers to "site two, southwest Magdalena, NM."
UFOlogists have long claimed the alien bodies were uncovered at a second crash site near Magdalena, New Mexico.
The words "weather balloon" also appear -- at least to the analysts' eyes.
"But don't take our word for it. Anybody can order these prints, do their own look. Look yourself," Reghr said.
A 1994 Air Force report admitted the weather balloon explanation Ramey issued later that day was a lie -- a cover story designed to throw reporters off the trail.
The '94 report said what crashed was really a top-secret spying device designed to detect Soviet atomic bomb explosions.
But if so, why are James Bond Johnson's photographs still all we've ever seen of the Roswell wreckage?
"Why keep hiding it?" he asked.
KDFW FOX 4
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