It was in the summer of 1947 that something crashed on the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, New Mexico. Whatever it was, it left huge amounts of strange debris across the ranch. There was talk of strange, small bodies also having been found in the area, thrown out of the craft that exploded on impact. Within no time at all, personnel from the Roswell Army Air Field were on the scene, preventing anyone outside of the military from getting anywhere near the crash site. Cordons were created and people were warned never to talk about what they had seen. The problem (in fact, a very big problem) for the military, though, is that the rancher who found the materials, William Brazel, had told fellow ranchers in the area, and friends, about his find before the military was informed – which meant that at least parts of the story were out there before the military’s cover-up began. That was not a good thing. There was even confusion at the Roswell Army Air Field: before orders were put into place to prevent anyone talking, the press-office at the base issued a statement saying that a flying disc (as UFOs were known back then) had been recovered and was due to be inspected. One such statement, from Associated Press, read as follows:
"The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chavez County. The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters."
The military quickly knocked that statement down, claiming that what had been recovered was nothing stranger than a weather-balloon. As for the bodies, the Air Force would not even address that matter until 1997, when they claimed that the bodies were, in fact, crash-test dummies used in high-altitude parachute experiments. It was also in the nineties that the Air Force changed its mind again on what came down on William Braazel’s ranch. It was no longer a weather-balloon, but a Mogul balloon, designed to monitor for Soviet atomic bomb tests. In 1993, all of this chopping and changing caught the attention of the late Steven Schiff, at the time the Congressman of New Mexico – the state in which the Roswell event occurred. Far from happy by what he saw as some kind of cover-up, Schiff approached the Government Accountability Office (at the time, it was known as the General Accounting Office) and asked them to look into the Roswell affair and see what might be found. The GAO was enthused about the idea of looking into Roswell. It was, however, not so much what the GAO found that intrigued them, but what they couldn’t find.
As the GAO dug deeper and deeper, they learned to their amazement and concern that every single outgoing message from the old Roswell Army Air Field, from 1945 to 1951, could not be located. The files were gone. All of them. The GAO approached the Air Force and the National Archives for answers. There were no answers. Only puzzles. The National Archives checked their files: no luck. The Air Force came up blank, too. Rumors began to surface that when Steven Schiff approached the GAO in 1993, someone who was sitting on the Roswell story quickly realized that the truth of the 1947 incident was now in danger of being compromised, so a decision was quickly taken to have the original papers – wherever they were stored – destroyed. There is a very good reason for that: the GAO is an extremely powerful office of the U.S. Government and certainly had the power and ability to demand access to just about anything it wanted access to. Shredding the old Roswell Army Air Field papers may have been the only way to have ensured that the GAO didn’t get what it and Congressman Schiff wanted. It was just another layer of conspiracy in the quest to understand what really happened at Roswell. The outcome: the GAO concluded the files had been destroyed. Congressman Schiff was irate. The cover-up remained in place. It still does.