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Museum speakers’ views range from certainty to ambiguousness

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Lisa Dunlap Photo "I've always wondered what happened to my family, because I really didn't know," says Thomas Reed, one of 16 speakers in the lecture series of the International UFO Museum and Research Center occurring as part of the UFO Festival.

Some speakers at the International UFO Museum and Research Center’s lecture series are firmly convinced of extraterrestrial visitations and the other-worldly nature of the Roswell Incident. Others say only that they’ve experienced something that so far cannot be explained by conventional wisdom.

Many of those presenting at this lecture series, one of three conference offered as part of the UFO Festival, are recognized worldwide for their books and research.

Stanton Friedman, one of the first civilian UFO researchers in the world and the author of the first book about the 1947 mysterious crash that became known as the Roswell Incident, recounted his 39 years of experience looking into reports of UFOs worldwide to a standing-room-only crowd Saturday morning at the UFO Museum’s North Library.

A physicist by training who worked in nuclear technology development before becoming a UFO expert, Friedman said he gave his first talk to a small group of people gathered in a living room in Pittsburgh in 1967.

Now, after more than 700 speeches delivered in 19 countries, he firmly believes that UFOs have regularly flown in the skies above Earth and that the U.S. government persistently has covered up, including about what really crashed 70 years ago on a ranch near Corona.

He was motivated to start his work in the 1960s after reading a U.S. Air Force press release that he said he knew for a fact was deliberately minimizing the number of recorded UFO sightings from 21 percent to 3 percent.

“It made me angry,” he said. “I was a naive young man, and I didn’t like our government lying to me. Now we take it as routine.”

He has interviewed many people involved in UFO sightings and the Roswell Incident, adding that the integrity and character of Jesse Marcel, the U.S. Army officer who handled the crash debris, and his son, Jesse Marcel Jr., always impressed him. Marcel reportedly told many people before his death that the debris material was “not of this world.”

Jesse Marcel III also gave talks at the lecture series. He told an audience Friday that, unlike Hollywood’s depictions, neither his father or grandfather expressed anguish about their experiences. In fact, he said, his father enjoyed talking with him about their memories.

“My opinion here is a little biased, since they concern my family,” said Marcel. “I have views based on the views of my family.”

Jesse Marcel had shown Marcel Jr., his son, the debris material. Now, 70 years later, the grandson confirmed that both the grandfather and father said it was material not made by human hands. Neither man kept any of the materials, the grandson said, but both were changed forever by what they had experienced.

“He was actually proud of the story,” Marcel III said about his father. “He thought it was amazing … He thought it was a gift in a way.”

Two veteran UFO researchers, Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt, have made the Roswell Incident the focus of their work, with both having dedicated almost 30 years to interviewing witnesses, obtaining documents, examining photographic and physical evidence and exploring the crash site.

They have written numerous books, participated in a number of TV shows, served as technical advisers for movies about their work and made documentaries.

In a Saturday talk, “Roswell: Best Evidence,” they summarized the findings that they say prove that an other-worldly aircraft carrying extraterrestrials crashed in 1947.

Among the findings they showed is an enhancement of a 1947 photo of Gen. Roger Ramey and Jesse Marcel examining what Schmitt and Carey say is fake debris. They say Gen. Ramey is holding a telex that some experts now conclude reads, in part, “the victims of the wreck” and includes instructions on forwarding them to Fort Worth, Texas.

Their current research, says Schmitt, includes examining photographs from Walker Air Base at the time of the incident. Walker Air Base was where the crash debris was initially taken and where the military investigation began before being quickly moved elsewhere. Schmitt and Carey said that, so far, their findings include photos of ambulances covered in desert soil and sand.

An eyewitness to a different UFO experience is Thomas Reed.

He was just a boy of 9 when he and his family experienced something unexplainable near Sheppfield, Massachusetts. That event has been certified by the Great Barrington Historical Society as “historically significant and true,” and a UFO monument has been established to commemorate the event.

According to Reed, he, his mother, his grandmother and brother all experienced feeling as if they had been removed from their vehicle after seeing what looked like a large, illuminated spaceship. All his family members recounted their own experience, but Reed said that he experienced being on an examination table and saw what looked like a “giant ant” assisting other beings.

At the request of a police officer, he underwent a polygraph test and the results, according to a video interview of the examiner he showed during his talk, indicated that Reed’s statements were made without intention to deceive.

Reed does not say that is 100 percent certain that he experienced an abduction by extraterrestrials. He acknowledges that it could be some other type of phenomena, perhaps an encounter with military or intelligence researchers or some sort of hypnotic event resulting from a magnetic force.

What he does know is that, when he and his family were reunited, they were located in different seats in their vehicle, felt that they had lost time and had the sensation of regaining consciousness. “We felt like we came out of surgery,” he said.

He and his family have faced some ridicule and hardships for what they have shared, he said, but also found some acceptance.

Historians and others have “basically looked at us from top to bottom, everything from school records to business records to examining our car,” he said.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.