Southeastern New Mexico Feature

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UFO Over Roswell

Of all the sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects in the world, it's the one that took place more than 50 years ago outside Roswell, New Mexico, that remains most credible in people's minds. Rumors of alien bodies and silenced witnesses are the real-life happenings that inspired fantastical entertainment like the TV series The X-Files and Roswell. The most likely reason so many people refuse to dismiss the Roswell Incident is the undisputed fact that in July 1947 something fell from the sky.

On July 8, 1947, officers at Roswell Army Airfield announced to the Roswell Daily Record that the military had retrieved wreckage of a UFO nearby. The next day U.S. Army Air Force officials retracted the story, saying it was in fact a weather balloon that had crashed. Over the years, theories of a cover-up and suspicions that the military had also recovered alien bodies linked the town of Roswell with aliens as strongly as Loch Ness is with its monster. Backing up the alien-bodies theory is the testimony of people like mortician Glen Dennis, who today works with Roswell's International UFO Museum and Research Center. He maintains that a nurse at the military hospital passed him sketches of aliens and that the military called him in 1947 to ask odd questions about embalming bodies.

In the 1990s a flood of information, including books like UFO Crash at Roswell and accounts from eyewitnesses who claim they were silenced, rekindled the conspiracy theories. The air force responded in 1994 with a report revealing that fragments mistaken for a flying saucer came not from a weather balloon but from an air force balloon used in the top-secret Project Mogul. The true nature of the balloon had to be concealed in 1947 because its purpose was to monitor evidence of Soviet nuclear tests. As this new explanation didn't address the alien-bodies issue, the air force issued a 231-page report, "The Roswell Report, Case Closed," in 1997. This document explains that from 1954 to 1959, life-size dummies were used in parachute drop experiments. That this time frame postdates the 1947 Roswell Incident is immaterial to the air force, which claims people have simply confused dates in their memories.

The holes in every story, whether from the military or eyewitnesses, have allowed the Roswell UFO legend to mushroom extravagantly. It now incorporates tales of captured aliens (alive and dead) that further feed our imaginations, thanks in part to the capitalizing media. You can see depictions of slender, doe-eyed aliens, known as the "Grays," all over storefronts and souvenir shops in Roswell. These spooky, diminutive creatures might even be called the New Mexico version of leprechauns, with only the rare treasure seeker getting to encounter one.

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