It was back in junior high school in the small desert town of Roswell, New Mexico, that Glenn Dennis got his unusual start. "The teacher was going around the room asking us what we wanted to do for a living," Dennis recalls, "and I will never know why, but I said, `I want to be an undertaker.'" He got what he thought he wanted: All the girls laughed. But little did Dennis realize that this flip remark would seal his fate, determining his career (mortician) and thrusting him into national prominence as the key witness to the most notorious UFO case the world has ever known.
Indeed, teachers being what they were, Dennis was asked to write a report on undertaking. To his surprise, he found the subject fascinating. And soon after, in 1940, he began working part time at the Ballard Funeral Home while attending Roswell High School. After graduation, excluded from World War 11 military service because of a hearing loss, Dennis apprenticed as an embalmer at Ballard, working to put his twin sister through nursing school and to save enough money to attend the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, from which he graduated on December 22, 1946.
Shortly after returning to New Mexico and his job at Ballard, Dennis married and set up housekeeping in a cottage behind the funeral parlor. There, the 22-year-old Dennis was put in charge of the company's military contract work--ambulance and mortuary service for the Roswell Army Air Field (AAF), nearby.
Dennis was settling into his life as a "country funeral director" when, during the first week of July 1947, cowboy William W. ("Mac") Brazel moseyed into the Roswell office of Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox. He announced he had found a large amount of unusual debris on the ranch he managed about 75 miles northwest of town. The sheriff contacted authorities at Roswell AAF, and by noon of Tuesday, July 8, the base public relations department had rolled into high gear: The U.S. Army Air Force had recovered one of the mysterious "flying discs," the press release declared. The implication, bandied about in headlines around the world, was that military officers had recovered an extraterrestrial vehicle, "a flying saucer," to be exact. But hours later, at his Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters, Eighth Air Force commander Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey deflated the excitement: The alleged saucer was nothing more than the misidentified remains of a weather balloon and its radar target.
There the matter rested until the late 1970s, when UFO researchers Stanton T. Friedman and William L. Moore decided to take another look at the Roswell case, Their conclusion: The official denial was a cover-up. The Army Air Force had indeed recovered the remains of a flying saucer, just as originally announced. Even more startling was their claim that bodies of the craft's alien crew had been discovered and somehow spirited away by the military. This last, extraordinary claim gets its strongest backing from the testimony of Glenn Dennis, who, back in 1947, was the young mortician on call.
At the center of what is now considered the most controversial UFO story ever told, Dennis says that back in 1947 he was an innocent and reluctant player. He relates a story replete with the trappings of second-rate film noir: mysterious telephone calls, military strong-arm tactics, a secret autopsy of aliens, and a missing nurse who knew too much. In brief, he claims, after driving an injured airman to the base as part of his job as ambulance driver, he wandered into a top-secret military operation in which Air Force doctors were examining humanoids, or so it seemed. In fact, it became hard for him to escape that conclusion, he states, when an Air Force nurse, also unwittingly swept up in the covert operation, told all (to him), drew some pictures of the alien creatures, and then promptly disappeared.
Always gracious, Dennis until recently has tried to accommodate virtually everyone. Now, however, tired of the intrusions, frustrated by what he says are published distortions of his recollections, and angered by the attacks and ridicule of skeptics, he avoids the media and most UFO investigators.
Dennis has agreed to break his silence of recent years at last, however, in an interview for Omni with writer and UFO researcher Karl T. Pflock, who is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and intelligence officer. For those fascinated by the Roswell case, it is possible to read the testimony of the star witness for the first time here, without benefit of anyone else's spin, pro or con.
Omni: How did you first become involved in the events now known as the Roswell incident?
Dennis: I received a phone call from the Roswell Army Air Field mortuary officer on July 7 sometime after lunch, around one-thirty. I have no idea who it was, but he asked if we had any baby caskets, three foot six or four foot, hermetically sealed. I told him we kept a four foot. Then he asked how many we had in stock. I told him we had two, He asked how long it would take to get more. I told him, if we called Texas Coffin Company in Amarillo by three o'clock, we could have them by Hill Truck Line at six the next Morning.