Sep 22, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Man Who Really Did Know the Truth of Roswell: But What Was the Truth?

Over the last couple of days I've written on two intriguing characters: one was the Indiana Jones-type, Tom Slick. And, the other one was Albert Bender, the guy who began the Men in Black mystery in the early 1950s. So, I thought I would turn this into a trilogy and finalize it with a man named Sheridan Cavitt. You may not know about him, but, if you're into the UFO phenomenon, you really should. Let's see what we know about the man (who is now deceased). He proved to be one of the trickiest players in the entire Roswell story. He revealed very little of substance. On occasion, he even denied having ever been at Roswell or at the crash site. Cavitt may even have withheld what he knew of the incident when, in 1994, the Air Force came knocking on his front-door, wanting answers. But, let's go back a bit. The story of Roswell was quickly picked up not just across the United States, but across the planet, too. In barely no time at all, however, the flying disc angle was blown out of the sky: the whole thing was nothing but a huge, embarrassing mistake. The materials found on the massive ranch – by rancher William Ware “Mack” Brazel – were not the remains of a disc, after all. What had really been found, and subsequently collected and brought to the Roswell Army Air Field, was weather-balloon debris. Or, so the military was careful to try and assure everyone. The truth was much more. And much more disturbing.

(Nick Redfern) At the site of what really came down at Roswell

With Brazel at the time of the discovery – which had actually occurred days earlier – was a young boy named Dee Proctor. He would go on to be one of the most important people in the Roswell story. We also know for sure that three, key military men, all of whom were destined to become part and parcel of the Roswell affair, were also present at the ranch – and specifically before a veritable battalion was on-site and ordered to recover the massive amount of whatever-it-was. They were Major Jesse Marcel, the intelligence-office of the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell; Captain Sheridan Cavitt, of the Counter-Intelligence Corps; and CIC Master Sergeant Lewis S. “Bill” Rickett. All three were at ground-zero. They all saw the wreckage. Years later Marcel would open up wide on the matter of the debris he saw and collected. Cavitt and Rickett may have seen more than debris. Way more. Possibly bodies, strange bodies. Brazel and little Dee may have seen one or more of those bodies, too. One of the primary reasons why the Air Force felt that the Mogul balloon scenario worked so well was because of the sheer scale of the arrays. They were gigantic clusters of balloons. In that sense, the Project Mogul balloons could, theoretically, have explained the presence of the huge debris field on the Foster Ranch – a field of debris that clearly could not have been caused by anything as insignificant as a small, solitary weather-balloon. 

It’s ironic, however, that one of the primary Roswell players – and who the U.S. Air Force spoke with, hoping he would add weight to their Project Mogul argument – completely failed to take the bait. On the matter of the nature of the debris, he would have nothing at all to do with the Mogul program. That man was one of the very few people that just about everyone who has studied the Roswell controversy agrees was definitely on-site when the materials were found and recovered: Sheridan Cavitt, formerly of the Counter-Intelligence Corps.   On May 24, 1994, Colonel Richard L. Weaver, USAF – who, at the time, was the Air Force’s Director of Security and Special Program Oversight – interviewed Cavitt at his, Cavitt’s, home. Mary, Cavitt’s wife, was also present throughout the interview. In its published report, the Air Force had some intriguing things to say about Cavitt and his comments on the Roswell event. There is an important reason why I have reproduced, below, a specific section of the Cavitt interview. That reason will become apparent imminently. The USAF said, in its 1994 report and prefacing the interview:

“Cavitt is credited in all claims of having accompanied Major Marcel to the ranch to recover the debris, sometimes along with his Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) subordinate, William Rickett, who, like Marcel, is deceased. Although there does not appear to be much dispute that Cavitt was involved in the material recovery, other claims about him prevail in the popular literature. He is sometimes portrayed as a closed-mouth (or sometimes even sinister) conspirator who was one of the early individuals who kept the ‘secret of Roswell’ from getting out. Other things about him have been alleged, including the claim that he wrote a report of the incident at the time that has never surfaced.” In view of the above, it’s not at all surprising that the Air Force wanted to speak with Cavitt. The USAF report continues: “Since Lt. Col. Cavitt, who had first-hand knowledge, was still alive, a decision was made to interview him and get a signed sworn statement from him about his version of the events. Prior to the interview, the Secretary of the Air Force provided him with a written authorization and waiver to discuss classified information with the interviewer and release him from any security oath he may have taken. Subsequently, Cavitt was interviewed on May 24, 1994, at his home. Cavitt provided a signed, sworn statement of his recollections in this matter. He also consented to having the interview tape-recorded. 

(Nick Redfern) New Mexico: Where so much classified military experimentation was undertaken in 1947

“In this interview, Cavitt related that he had been contacted on numerous occasions by UFO researchers and had willingly talked with many of them; however, he felt that he had oftentimes been misrepresented or had his comments taken out of context so that their true meaning was changed. He stated unequivocally, however, that the material he recovered consisted of a reflective sort of material like aluminum foil, and some thin, bamboo-like sticks. He thought at the time, and continued to do so today, that what he found was a weather balloon and has told other private researchers that. “He also remembered finding a small ‘black box’ type of instrument, which he thought at the time was probably a radiosonde. Lt. Col. Cavitt also reviewed the famous Ramey/Marcel photographs of the wreckage taken to Ft. Worth and he identified the materials depicted in those photos as consistent with the materials that he recovered from the ranch. Lt. Col. Cavitt also stated that he had never taken any oath or signed any agreement not to talk about this incident and had never been threatened by anyone in the government because of it. He did not even know the incident was claimed to be anything unusual until he was interviewed in the early 1980’s.”

Cavitt told Colonel Weaver:  “…I couldn’t swear to the dates, but in that time, which must have been July, we heard that someone had found some debris out not to far from Roswell and it looked suspicious; it was unidentified. So, I went out and I do not recall whether Marcel went with Rickett and me; I had Rickett with me. We went out to his site. There were no, as I understand, checkpoints or anything like that (going through guards and that sort of garbage) we went out there and we found it. It was a small amount of, as I recall, bamboo sticks, reflective sort of material that would, well at first glance, you would probably think it was aluminum foil, something of that type. And we gathered up some of it.” Cavitt had more to say: “I don’t know where we even tried to get all of it. It wasn’t scattered, well, what I would call, you know, extensively. Like it didn’t go along the ground and splatter off some here and some there. We gathered up some of it and took it back to the base and I remember I had turned it over to Marcel. As I say, I do not remember whether Marcel was there or not on the site. He could have been. We took it back to the intelligence room in the CIC office.”

The Air Force’s statement is notable for not just what it says, but also for what it specifically does not say. The USAF report makes it clear that in Cavitt’s opinion, what he saw and picked up was weather-balloon debris. From one, single balloon. Not more than one balloon. And definitely not an array of balloons. Given that the materials used in both weather-balloons and Mogul balloons were essentially one and the same, that meant the ball was still just about in the Air Force’s court: the Mogul theory still held water, and one of the last-surviving people who were at the crash-site was endorsing it. Well, no, he wasn’t. The exact opposite, actually. The most important document in this aspect of the Roswell puzzle is not the Air Force’s 1994 report, but its massive 1995 publication / behemoth, The Roswell Report: Fact Vs Fiction in the New Mexico Desert, a copy of which was mailed to me by Colonel Weaver when it was published, and which runs to more than 1,000 pages. Unlike the far slimmer 1994 report, the huge 1995 USAF document contains a full transcript of the interview between Colonel Weaver and Cavitt. 

The report shows that Colonel Weaver asked Cavitt: “…when you went out and saw this material, there was no doubt in your mind that it was some sort of man-made material? And, you thought at the time was a weather balloon, some sort of balloon?” Cavitt replied: “When I first saw it,” implying to the colonel that he knew immediately it was balloon debris. Now we get to the important part. Colonel Weaver continued with his questioning and asked Cavitt how big the debris field was. Cavitt’s response: “Maybe as long as this room is wide.” The colonel asked for clarification on Cavitt’s words : “So, twenty feet maybe?” Cavitt said, as he pointed around the room: “Some here, some here, some here. No concentration of it.” That all brings us to the biggest problem in this aspect of the overall Roswell debate: almost no-one of significance in the Roswell story disputes that the debris field on the ranch was expansive. Even the Air Force believed that. It still does, if asked. And, the fact that the field was so huge, and packed with debris, allowed the USAF to make a somewhat plausible case that it came from one of the military’s goliath-sized Mogul arrays. But, when talking to Colonel Weaver in 1994, Cavitt outright disputed the size of the field. It was, he said, just about “as long as this room is wide.”

(Nick Redfern) Roswell was a secret test of a new military device, not a UFO. Period

Cavitt’s testimony was potentially extremely important to the Air Force, as it could have helped bolster the idea that the materials came from Project Mogul. But, Cavitt’s words on the size of the area in which the material was found, were wholly inconsistent with what one would expect to see if Mogul was the culprit. Instead, what Cavitt described was consistent with just a small weather-balloon: not much wreckage and a very small area in which the materials were strewn about. On top of that, when Colonel Weaver brought up the matter of Project Mogul, Cavitt shot back: “Never heard of it.” Perplexing is the fact that the USAF never addressed that one, notable inconsistency: how could Project Mogul have been the culprit when, according to Cavitt – who even the Air Force accepts was at the ranch in July 1947 with Bill Rickett - the amount of material found would have fitted comfortably in his and Mary’s living-room? Does that sound, to you, like something which could have comfortably fitted inside one room of the Cavitt home? Remember, the Cavitt’s living-room was not large. When asked about the size of the debris field, Cavitt told Colonel Weaver it was no longer than the width of the room in which the interview was then taking place. To which Weaver asked: “So, twenty feet maybe?” Cavitt made not a single attempt to dispute Colonel Weaver’s math.Good luck trying to shovel 600-feet of Mogul-based balloon materials into a twenty-foot-wide room. 

There is something else, too: if Cavitt knew all along that what he, Marcel and Rickett saw and collected came from a weather-balloon, why then did Cavitt – or all three of them – not nip things in the bud and lay matters to rest before the “flying disc” statement was released to the media? The Air Force’s only theory on this issue goes as follows: “…it seems that that there was overreaction by Colonel Blanchard and Major Marcel in originally reporting that a ‘flying disc’ had been recovered when, at that time, nobody knew for sure what that term meant, since it had only been in use for a couple of weeks.” That statement does make some sense – after all, flying saucer hysteria was definitely growing, as it was only two weeks earlier that pilot Kenneth Arnold launched the era of UFOs. But, that Cavitt was so adamant that he immediately knew the material was from a weather-balloon still means he could have quashed everything before it erupted. Also, Colonel Weaver’s report makes it clear he was familiar with the testimony of the RAAF’s Provost Marshal, Major Edwin Easley, who had told Kevin Randle that, with respect to Roswell, he was sworn to secrecy. Easley died in 1992, but no attempt was ever made by the USAF to address his revelations. 

Recall that the Air Force stated: “Prior to the interview [with Cavitt], the Secretary of the Air Force provided him with a written authorization and waiver to discuss classified information with the interviewer and release him from any security oath he may have taken.” Cavitt was not too bothered by this, as he made it clear to Colonel Weaver that he “was not sworn into secrecy ever about any of this stuff.” That, unlike Cavitt, Easley was adamant he had signed a secrecy oath is surely something that should have caught the attention of the USAF. And, more importantly, the Air Force knew Easley had made such a statement. That this important matter was not chased down can only be described as troubling. My view on all this? I believe that, just like John Keel, the Air Force was absolutely right to go looking for a balloon-driven program. As I see it, that is where all of the evidence points. But, also like Keel, the USAF got the wrong kind of balloon. It wasn’t a weather-balloon. It wasn’t a Fugo balloon. It wasn’t even one of the gargantuan Mogul affairs. As one of my original sources told me years ago: there is no better way to hide a classified balloon-based operation than by hiding it behind another classified balloon-based operation. Mogul, then, may have been the convenient fall-guy for a project that was far more controversial in nature; a project of sinister proportions and which was also inextricably linked to new and novel balloons flown in the skies of New Mexico in 1947. 

Was the Air Force of 1994 hiding the history of a series of post-war human experiments behind something else, such as Mogul? Or, incredibly, was the truth hidden from the Air Force, too? Do I think the Air Force engaged in chicanery, lying and obfuscation? Did the Air Force make a legitimate search, only to find little at all? These are all important questions. Personally, I think the USAF legitimately went looking, but in doing so found nothing of a smoking-gun nature in the slightest. So, its investigators continued to search, finally focusing on Mogul, and coming to accept that without definitive documentation to make a cast-iron case, the whole thing was destined to remain a ufological equivalent of Jack the Ripper. Namely, an old mystery, one that was filled with intrigue, but which was lacking in a definitive answer. Perceiving quite correctly and astutely that coming up with no answer, at all, was unacceptable, the Air Force went with the only candidate that it thought made at least some degree of sense: Project Mogul. Based on the words of my sources, I am as certain as I can be that either (a) the relevant files were destroyed decades ago (which would explain why the Air Force of 1994 came up with nothing solid), or (b) the documentation was locked away – also decades ago – to prevent a dirty secret from ever leaking out and embarrassing not just the Air Force, but the entire U.S. Government, and even the President. 

(Nick Redfern) Will we ever get the truth?

If the former is the correct scenario, we may forever be reliant on nothing more than the old memories of equally old people who are now nearly all gone. If the latter proves to be accurate, however, there is still a chance we might one day get our hands on the elusive proof: documents, photos, autopsy reports, and so on. If that happens, I predict the Air Force of 1994 will be shown to have been out of the loop, but not sinister conspirators. As for Cavitt, was he carrying out some kind of secret duty right up until the very end? Was he – even as late as the 1990s – still answerable to someone else? Was it the same person, or agency, Bill Rickett was still so concerned about crossing? Someone above the Air Force and the GAO? Someone concerned that, if the USAF kept pushing for answers, the hidden truth might still surface? Was Cavitt, by maintaining the weather-balloon scenario, even determined to keep the hidden facts out of the hands of Colonel Weaver? Quite possibly. In other words, Cavitt was the guy who knew the full story, but chose not to reveal it. Now? The whole thing is long gone. Unless, that is, there are still some old, faded files that might blow the whole thing wide open. I'm not giving up on it. Ever.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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