Jesse Marcel Jnr, who died on 24 August aged 76, was a military surgeon who said he had handled debris from the 1947 crash of a UFO near Roswell, New Mexico. Over the past 35 years he had appeared on television and radio and been interviewed for articles and books, and had travelled the world lecturing about his experiences in Roswell.
Marcel's father was an Air Force intelligence officer and reportedly the first military officer to investigate the wreckage in July 1947. Marcel Jr said he was 10 when his father brought home some of the debris, woke him up in the middle of the night and said the boy needed to look at it because it was something he would never see again. His father maintained that the debris "was not of this Earth," Marcel Jnr's wife Linda said. "They looked through the pieces, tried to make sense of it." The item that Marcel Jr said fascinated him the most was a small beam with some sort of purple-hued hieroglyphics on it, she added.
After an initial report that a flying saucer had been recovered on a ranch near Roswell, the military issued a statement saying the debris was from a weather balloon. Interest was revived when the physicist and UFO researcher Stanton Friedman spoke to Jesse Marcel Sr in the late 1970s. Friedman, who wrote the forward to Marcel Jr's 2007 book The Roswell Legacy, and described him as a courageous man who "set a standard for honesty and decency and telling the truth ... His legacy is that he had the courage to speak out when he didn't have to about handling wreckage that his Dad brought home. He worked with artists to come up with what the symbols on the wreckage looked like. He didn't have to do that. He could have kept his mouth shut."
Marcel Jr joined the US Navy in 1962 and later served as a flight surgeon in Iraq.