Blog: A Tribute to Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr.

by Michael Lauck

imagesDr. Jesse Marcel Jr., the son of Army intelligence officer and Roswell witness Major Jesse Marcel, passed away on Saturday, August 24 of an apparent heart attack. He was 76 years old. Although he was a doctor and not a UFO researcher, Marcel was an advocate for his father’s story of the UFO crash at Roswell and claimed to have seen some of the wreckage himself. In 2008 he co-wrote The Roswell Legacy with his wife Linda.

As a child, Jesse Marcel Jr. was an avid model builder and radio hobbyist. His father was a HAM radio operator and in interviews years later the younger Marcel could still recite his father’s call letters. On July 7, 1947 both men’s live when change drastically when Major Marcel was ordered to investigate a debris field reported by Mac Brazel to Sheriff George Wilcox. Major Marcel and another army officer collected debris that they felt did not come from any conventional aircraft or weather balloon. On his way back to the Roswell Army Air Field from the crash site, which was several miles away, the major made a fateful decision. Excited by the discovery, he decided to stop by his home despite the late hour.

Jesse_Marcel-symbolsMajor Marcel arrived home sometime early in the morning and woke his wife and son. He showed them several small pieces of the wreckage that represented a sample of the strange materials. Most notable were a an I-beam and strange piece of metal foil. The I-beam, according to Dr. Marcel, was metallic but very light, much like balsa wood. It was a purplish color with strange markings on it. Despite many attempts to do so, Dr. Marcel was never able to identify the symbols. Many skeptics have maintained that this was simply balsa wood with a strip of tape, emblazoned with flowerlike designs, which was used in weather balloons of the period. As a model builder, though, even as a child the younger Marcel would be quite familiar with balsa wood and yet he maintained throughout his life that the I-beam was metallic. The foil was described as being much like the foil from a cigarette pack, but it would always return to its original shape after being folded. Debunkers have maintained that this was merely mylar. It is likely that young Jesse Marcel Jr. would not have been familiar with mylar as a ten year old, but he certainly had the opportunity to examine mylar later in life. Despite this he felt that the foil was an exotic metal and not mylar.images-1

headlines 1947On July 8th, officers from the Roswell Army Air Field issue a statement to the press claiming that they have recovered a flying disc. Although the story is distributed on the Associated Press newswire, it is released late enough in the day that it only appears, with few exceptions, in the late editions of newspapers west of the Mississippi River. It was also covered in radio broadcasts. By the next day the Army released a second statement claiming that the flying disc was, in fact, merely a weather balloon. This story is released nationally, effectively killing the story of the Roswell UFO crash even though one would think that the experienced soldiers and pilots of the air field, the base of the only nuclear equipped bomber wing in the world, would be familiar with weather balloon debris.

Jesse Marcel Jr. grew up to become a medical doctor. He completed his pre-med work at Louisiana State University, received his medical degree from the LSU Medical School at New Orleans in 1961 and performed his internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Dr. Marcel joined the Navy in 1962 and was stationed aboard the USS Renville. After a few voyages with the Renville he was stationed at the Naval Hospital in San Diego where he completed specialty training in the field of otolaryngology (“ears nose and throat”). In July of 1971 Dr. Marcel retired from the United States Navy and began a private practice in Helena, Montana. In 1973 Dr. Marcel joined the Montana Army National Guard, where he received helicopter training and became a flight surgeon. Although he retired from the Guard in 1996 at the age of 60, he was recalled to service in 2004 because his skills were needed in Iraq. Before being discharged in December of 2005 he would log 225 combat flight hours. According to his website,, he was on staff at the Ft. Harrison, Montana VA Hospital as of 2008.

Marcel2theroswelllegacybookcoverAfter the alleged UFO crash at Roswell was “re-discovered” in the 1970s, Stanton Friedman was introduced to Major Jesse Marcel through a ham operator who spoke with the now retired Army officer. Major Marcel agreed to speak with Friedman and helped bring Roswell into national prominence. Despite the fact that he had a medical and military career to protect, Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr. supported his father’s claim and continued to tell their story even after Major Marcel’s death in 1986. Instead of running from his legacy, Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr. stood by the story and continued to maintain that what his father showed him was not part of any weather balloon or radar reflector. In 2008 he even wrote a book with his wife Linda, The Roswell Legacy, to tell his father’s story.