Witness to Roswell

Thomas J. Carey and Donald R. Schmitt. Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60-year cover-up. New Page Books, Franklin Lakes, NJ, 2007. -- Reviewed by John Harney

This is yet another Roswell book written to strengthen the faith of the believers. The testimony looks impressive to the casual and rather credulous reader, and, apparently, to a number of reviewers who really ought to know better.

It is, of course, the usual story of witnesses, or alleged witnesses, being repeatedly asked leading questions by ETH believers and constantly embellishing their stories. The authors have many stories and witness statements which they use to build a reasonably coherent account of the alleged saucer crash, by the simple process of discarding those tales which don’t fit their preferred version.

In an attempt to give some credibility to their findings, they reject the stories of a few witnesses because they have been discredited even by firm believers in the crashed alien spacecraft. For example, the authors admit that Glenn Dennis, who in 1947 was an embalmer at the Ballard Funeral Home in Roswell, ” …was found to have knowingly provided false information to investigators …”. Dennis’s story was mainly concerned with alleged attempts to carry out autopsies on the decomposing bodies of aliens at the Roswell RAAF base hospital.

However, it seems that the story of aliens being seen at the base was too good to pass up so, having reluctantly disposed of Dennis as a credible witness, the intrepid duo triumphantly produce another witness. “Another man who did see the bodies was Elias ‘Eli’ Benjamin.” They tell us how they eventually got a detailed account from him. Readers who are inclined to be convinced by this story of the reality of the Roswell aliens, should be warned that, since this book was published, Roswell expert Kevin Randle has discovered that Carey and Schmitt somehow “forgot” to mention that the name Eli Benjamin is a pseudonym, which perhaps makes it rather difficult for more objective investigators to attempt to establish the truth or falsity of this story.

There are problems with the witnesses, because they are now very old. Also, a few of them are dishonest and have been proven to be, whereas others are merely confused, or have developed false memories, caused by their constant exposure to tales about the Roswell incident.

There is also the problem of the credibility of the authors. Schmitt used to work with Kevin Randle, until questions started to be asked about Schmitt’s background. There was nothing wrong with his background, though, except that he persisted in lying about it. He falsely claimed to have impressive academic qualifications and he strenuously denied the fact that he worked as a postman at Hartford, Wisconsin. Also his UFO research was shown to be seriously flawed. This caused the breakup of the Randle-Schmitt team, and Schmitt now works with Carey, who is referred to by Pflock, and others, as Schmitt’s “sidekick”.

If you are interested in the Roswell case, it is no use reading this book on its own or you will be seriously misled. It should be read in conjunction with the late Karl Pflock’s Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe (Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 2001).

The authors are very eager to believe witnesses who tell them what they want to hear, or even to believe those who claim to have been told about the crashed UFO and aliens by others. But those who claim to have seen nothing unusual, or who do not want to be constantly interviewed by an apparently endless succession of credulous – or venal – ufologists, are said to have been “silenced” or “traumatised”.

In common with the authors of most other Roswell books, Carey and Schmitt tell us that the “UFO” wreckage could not have been a Mogul balloon rig because of its amazing physical properties, particularly its great strength which resisted all efforts to break, burn or melt it. How strange, then, that it had obviously broken into many small pieces when it hit the ground!

There is also the problem that no witnesses have been able to provide samples of the material, even though many people travelled up to 75 miles (according to the authors) to collect bits of wreckage, which some of them then passed on to others. Nevertheless, the US Army Air Force, apparently having god-like powers, managed to retrieve every last scrap of the material. In their efforts to persuade readers that this is so, Smith and Carey descend from implausibility into farce.

However, in order to preserve the myth, nothing must be regarded as impossible when it comes to providing explanations for the absence of compelling physical evidence of alien visitations. Much is at stake: lecture tours, TV appearances, books, the applause of the credulous at those crazy UFO conferences …

We are told: “Now the military was fully aware of all the civilian curiosity. They had to account for each piece, and they suspected everyone–including children! Ranchers were forced to inform on one another. Ranch houses were also ransacked. The wooden floors of livestock sheds were pried loose plank by plank and underground cold storage fruit cellars were emptied of all their contents. Glass jars were scattered, broken on the ground.”

This information was obtained from a witness between 2005 and 2006, yet the alleged events happened in 1947! Also, we are not told if the person was an actual witness or had been told the story by someone else. There is also the question of the practicality of treating in this way large numbers of people, many of whom were no doubt aware of their constitutional rights. That some people would have been too timid to complain is quite likely, but that all of them would have kept quiet for over 30 years until Stanton Friedman and other ufologists started grilling them seems most unlikely.

The discerning reader will also note the authors’ vivid reconstructions of various incidents and conversations, mostly based on little more than vague and fragmentary recollections of witnesses, or persons claiming to have been witnesses.

This is not a book for those seriously interested in what might or might not have crashed in New Mexico in 1947. Karl Pflock’s book is probably the best starting point for such readers.


cda said...

I believe that in the second edition of this book a chapter has been added by Anthony Bragalia to the effect that the metal Nitinol was discovered in the aftermath of the alleged 'memory metal' recovered from the Roswell crash.

He claims that research papers from the late 40s and early 50s prove this, although he concedes that there is no mention of Roswell, or indeed of UFOs at all, in these papers.

Anonymous said...

While there does seem to be a dearth of issues with some of the witnesses, to claim that all are lying or just to old to remember the actual facts is just nonsense. The people who actually lied over and over were the government and military. Who you going to believe?