Home News Vision Looking Up: Wernher von Braun and the Roswell Incident

Looking Up: Wernher von Braun and the Roswell Incident

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By Donald Burleson

Special to the Daily Record

When the UFO crash northwest of Roswell occurred in early July 1947, President Harry Truman, upon receiving that fateful phone call in the wee hours, must have needed to make some quick and shrewd decisions about what to do. As we all know, this obviously ended up including a cordoning off of the crash site and the control of that site by the military.

Some other actions must have been needed as well, notably including the decision to bring in some civilian scientists to examine what had to be the most remarkable object ever encountered in human history.

Various speculations and inferences over the years have been made as to who some of those experts might have been, for example, my own conclusions about consultation with Robert Oppenheimer. In addition, another interesting choice has come to light.

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At the end of World War II, the U.S. Government brought a number of prominent German scientists to America, in what was called Operation Paperclip. One of these scientists was the now legendary Wernher von Braun, who functioned as a key figure in the design of American rocket technology, including the Saturn rocket that first took us to the moon in 1969.

Recently, UFO researcher George Filer has explored, published in his online journal Filer’s Files, an account given by Ufologist Robert Trundle in his book, “Is E.T. Here?” to the effect that von Braun was one of the scientists Truman brought in on the Roswell UFO crash. Trundle cites an account given by Clark McClelland, astronaut and former science officer with the Kennedy Space Center, who describes a memorable exchange he once had with von Braun.

During one of many meetings of Cape Canaveral launch crews, McClelland and von Braun stepped outside onto a patio for a chat. The conversation drifted around to the fact that at the time of the 1947 Roswell incident, von Braun and his scientific colleagues were working nearby, testing captured V-2 rockets at White Sands Testing Range. McClelland asked von Braun whether the rumored Roswell UFO crash really happened, and whether he had gotten to visit the crash site.

On condition that McClelland wouldn’t repeat any of it while von Braun was still alive — a pledge which McClelland kept — von Braun opened up and spoke freely of the fact that he was indeed asked to help inspect the mysterious object. He described the craft’s material as being a thin, unfamiliar substance more resembling some sort of skin than metal, remarking also that some pieces were like silvery chewing gum wrappers.

This account especially intrigues me because once, about 1968, I met and shook hands with Wernher von Braun myself when he was a guest speaker at Midwestern University in Texas, where I was a graduate student in mathematics. At the time, I had no idea that he had been present at a UFO crash site, but then in 1968, the highly classified Roswell UFO Incident was still a decade away from being uncovered by independent researchers.