Embalming ET:
A Practitioner's
Close Encounter
From The American Funeral Director
Issue Of November 1994
From Joyce Murphy
In the summer of 1947 Glenn Dennis was a fountain of information about embalming and embalming fluid, since he had just graduated from San Francisco Mortuary College. A lifelong Roswell, New Mexico, resident, Mr. Dennis, today 68 years old, recalls that he began his 35 years in the funeral business by going to work for the local funeral director as a car washer, a "go-fer," and eventually an apprentice.
Mr. Dennis served as chairman of the New Mexico State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers for a time. It was during his tenure that New Mexico first required college study as a requirement for licensing in that state.
Though just starting out in the business, Mr. Dennis might have been just the right person to answer the phone just after lunch on Tuesday, July 8, 1947, because an older practitioner, for whom the textbooks were a distant memory, would not have been able to answer the questions about embalming and embalming fluid, and the handling of deceased remains that the U.S. government asked Glenn Dennis that day.
When the phone at Ballard Funeral Home rang, Mr. Dennis found the mortuary officer at Roswell Army Air Base on the other end of the line:
"This is just a hypothetical situation," he began. "But do you have any three-foot or four-foot long hermetically sealed caskets?"
"Yes, we have four feet," Glenn Dennis answered.
"How many do you have?"
"How soon before you could get more?"
"If we called the warehouse in Amarillo, Texas, before 3 p.m. today, they can have them here tomorrow morning. Is there some kind of a problem?" Mr. Dennis asked.
The funeral home where he worked had the government contract with the base to handle deaths, including air crashes.
"No, this is just for our information."
The call ended. Mr. Dennis went back to work. About an hour later, the same mortuary officer called back.
"How do you handle bodies that have been exposed out in the desert for four or five days?" he asked, again assuring Glenn there was no crash. This was just a "hypothetical" situation.
They were just gathering information for their files. The man also wanted to know what embalming fluid did to tissue, what embalming fluid was made of, what to do to close holes in bodies made by predators, how best to pick up such remains. Glenn anwered all questions, and his performance was no doubt impressive and a credit to his profession -- right out of embalming school! Nevertheless., Glenn's curiousity was piqued.
"Just call us for a situation like that!" Mr. Dennis pointed ou to the officer. "Is there some kind of crash?"
"No, no, just gathering information for our files."
Glenn's firm had handled up to 20 bodies at a times in crashes at the base. The firm had constructed an addition next to the embalming room just for those situations. About an hour after that strange call, an opportunity presented itself for a trip to the base. A young airman had injured his hand in a motorcycle accident. Now, Glenn was called upon in the capacity of his firm's ambulance service to transport this man back to base.
The airman was able to sit in the front seat of the hearse-ambulance with Glenn. The guards at the gate, familiar with Glenn, readily let the hearse through. Glenn was a familiar figure at the base -- even being an honorary member of its Officers Club.
He drove his ambulance to the base hospital and backed up to the loading area, as was his customary procedure. This time, however, he noted there were two field ambulances in the spot he preferred, so he parked next to them. He and the airman got out and started into the hospital.
As Glenn passed the field ambulances, which were guarded by an MP, he looked into the open back end. Inside both ambulances was an enormous amount of a silvery, metalliclike material, which seemed to be as thin as aluminum foil, but not as flexible. Glenn particularly noticed two chunks, each of which seemed to be between 3 feet and 2.5 feet high, and "curved like the bottom of a canoe."
Glenn also noticed odd markings, in some sort of a "hieroglyphic -like" script that was totally unfamiliar. Mr. Dennis sauntered down the hall of the hospital, heading to a soda machine -- as was customary after bringing in a patient. Here Glenn had a nasty encounter with an unfamiliar officer.
"Looks like you've got an air crash. Should I go back to town and get my equipment ready?" Glenn casually asked the officer he saw in the hallway.
"Who the hell are you?" was the response. Glenn introduced himself and explained his role in handling crash victims. The response to this was an order to get out of the hospital and off the base.
Glenn gladly complied and turned to head back down the hall. He had not gone far when he heard someone scream after him. "Bring that (man) back here!" And two MPs appeared from somewhere, grabbed Glenn, and took him back to a red-haired officer.
"Now don't you go back to Roswell and start shooting off your mouth about how there's been a crash out here or...." A series of threats followed. Glenn said, "You can't talk to me like that. I'm a civilian. You haven't got any say over me."
"Listen, undertaker, somebody's gonna be picking your bones out of the sand." And the officer ordered the MPs to personally escort Glenn back to the funeral home, which they did. On the way down the hall, however, Mr. Dennis had an interesting encounter with a female nurse, he knew. A door opened to a supply room as Glenn and the MPs went down the hallway. Out stepped the nurse, whom Glenn had dealt with at the hospital. She carried a towel over the lower part of her face. Glenn at first thought she had been crying.
"Glenn, what are you doing here? You're going to get shot!" she exclaimed.
"Well, I'm leaving." He pointed meaningfully to his armed escort. He noticed that the nurse was followed out of the supply room by two unfamiliar men, both of whom also had towels over their noses and mouths. Farther into the supply room Glenn noticed gurneys.
The next day, that same nurse called Glenn at the funeral home. The two of them arranged to meet at the Officers Club. It was there that she unfolded for Glenn an extraordinary tale -- a flying saucer had crashed out in the desert and the Army had recovered three dead aliens.
Two of the bodies were badly mangled, both by the crash and by predators. One body was in fairly good condition. All the while, she kept becoming more and more emotional. Finally, she was openly crying in the club.
Glenn thought it best to take her back to the nurses' quarters on base. After he dropped off the nurse, he never saw or heard from her again. His later inquiries produced the information that she was transferred to England. He obtained an address in England, wrote to her, and received back the letters, which were stamped "addressee deceased."
He heard that she was killed in a plane crash. Talking to Glenn that afternoon in the Officer's Club, the nurse provided anatomical details. She said that they were little, smaller than an adult human. She said that the hands were different, too, that they only had four fingers with the middle two protruding longer than the others. She saw no opposoable thumb. She also said that the anatomy of the arm was different.
The bone from the shoulder to the elbow was shorter than the bone from the elbow to the wrist. The heads were larger than a human's. The eyes were large and concave shape. She said that all the features, the nose and the ears and the eyes, were slightly concave.
The nurse went on to draw a small sketch of the alien bodies, using the back of a prescription paper. It showed that the bodies had four digits on each hand. The end of each digit consited of a sort of pad. Mr. Dennis eventually lost this sketch, but has reproduced his own version. (will be sent a few minutes later than this e-mail)
The nurse also stated that the two men following her out of the storage room were pathologists from Walter Reed hospital in Washington, D.C. The nurse explained the towels over their faces. "Until they got those bodies frozen, the smell was so bad you couldn't get within 100 feet of them without gagging." It was when the nurse stepped out of the room where she had been assisting two doctors on the bodies, to get some air, that she ran into Mr. Dennis.
She explained that even the doctors were getting sick, and the smell was so bad they had to turn off the air conditioning to keep it from spreading throughout the hospital. Soon, they gave up trying to work under such conditions and completed the preparation of the bodies in a hangar.
Stanton T. Friedman, a nuclear physicist who has written several books and many articles on UFOs, first brought the UFO crash at Roswell to the attention of the public.
Since the late 1960s, Mr Friedman, now 59 years old and a resident of New Brunswick, Canada, has been an active researcher, writer, and lecturer on UFOs. He has spoken at over 600 colleges in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows, such as Sally Jessie Ralphael and Tom Snyder.
He first heard about the Roswell incident while in Louisiana for a radio interview. Someone at the radio station told him about the late Jesse Marcel, who then lived in nearby Houma, La.
Marcel told Mr. Friedman that he had been heavily involved in the initial retrieval fo the wreckage and alien bodies at Roswell. This information spurred Mr. Friedman to investigate the incident and the result has been three books, numerous articles and a 1989 NBC TV feature on "Unsolved Mysteries." It was while he was in New Mexico to film that 1989 TV episode that Mr. Friedman first met Glenn Dennis.
Mr. Dennis did not seek out Mr. Friedman, but rather Mr. Friedman used his research skill to track him down. Mr. Friedman reasoned that there must have been professional mortuary knowledge used by someone if alien bodies were recovered. Therefore, he asked sources whether military or private morticians were used on the base in 1947. When told that private morticians were used, he found out who -- and that led him to Glenn Dennis.
Mr. Dennis refused to appear on the "Unsolved Mysteries" show, but he was very willing to speak with Mr. Friedman.
Today, Mr. Dennis is involved with the UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell. This facility opened last year and has already been visited by more than 18.000 people. The center has numerous books, research materials, and exhibit items. Walter Haut, the 1957 press relations officer at Roswell Air Base, is also involved in the museum.
It was Mr. Haut who released a press statement at about 11 a.m. on July 8, 1947.
"The many rumors regarding the flying discs became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff's office of Chaves County.
"The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff's office, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcell of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office.
"Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher's home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters."
Mr. Haut today maintains that he issued this statement at the request of the base commander, Col. William H. Blanchard. Blanchard, according to Mr. Haut, was very interested in maintaining good relations between the base and the Roswell community. "If anything unusual happened, or anything he felt the community should know about, he would call me and say, 'Get this thing out.' He did that with many, many things."
There is no doubt in Mr. Haut's mind that Blandhard and Marcel were convinced the debris found by the rancher came from another planet.
There is also no doubt in Mr. Haut's mind today that Blanchard did not originate the idea of contacting the press: "Do you think somebody was ordering Blanchard to order you to issue the press release?"
"Yes, I do," said Mr. Haut in a telephone interview on January 28, 1994. He took the press release to radio station KGFL and the Roswell Morning Dispatch, which in turn communicated the story to the wire services. Within an hour, telephone lines into Roswell and the base were jammed with calls from all over the world.
Art McQuiddy, then editor of the Roswell Morning Dispatch, reports that the reaction was almost immediate. "By the time Haut had gotten to me it hadn't been 10 minutes and the phones starting ringing.
I didn't get off the phone until late that afternoon. I had calls from London and Paris and Rome and Hong Kong that I can remember," he said.
Within hours, an official retraction was released by the government. Jesse Marcel was brought in to prop up the official "cover story" that what was found was a weather balloon. Marcel, in his later years, however, was very willing to admit that he was ordered by military superiors to make untrue statements.
The Roswell base was then key in the nuclear bomb strategy of the U.S. government. The Cold War was jsut starting, and World War II had jsut ended. In those days, when Uncle Sam said shut up few people asked why. This was particularly the case in New Mexico, where such sensitve military installations as Los Alamos and White Sands were located.
The next morning at 6 o'clock, the sheriff went to Glenn's parents' home and spoke to his father, saying that Glenn "might" be in trouble. Glenn's parents related that the Chavez County sheriff reported that the military had interviewed him. They became worried their son was in trouble.
The Roswell Daily Record of Tuesday, July 8, and Wednesday, July 9, 1947, spans the course of the initial press flurry turning to a cover story. "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region," trumpeted the Tuesday headline. The story stated that Marcel's recovery of a disc retrieved "on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had notified Sheriff George Wilcox, here, that he had found the insturment on his premises."
Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot of Roswell are also included in the same story, recounting their sightings of an oval object that was about 15 to 20 feet in diameter and about five feet thick, traveling at 400 to 500 miles per hour in a northwesterly direction. "In appearance it looked oval in shape like two inverted saucers faced mouth to mouth, or like two old type wash bowls placed together in the same fashion.
The entire body glowed as though light were showing through from inside, though not like it would be if a light were merely underneath," they said.
Roswellians were surveyed by the paper as to their opinions of the story and most thought it was some sort of secret government craft.
The next issue of the Daily Record gives insight into the excitement stirred up worldwide by Tuesday's story. Sheriff Wilcox is photographed talking on the phone to "a high English official." However, the story describes the incident as "the world comedy, which developed over the purported finding of a flying saucer.
"The numerous calls from reporters around the world are mentioned. Wednesday's headline sets the overall tone: "Gen Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer." Brig Gen. Roger M. Ramey, head of the Eighth Air Force, called the remains a weather balloon, the paper reported.
Weather experts were quoted to the effect that this was the most likely explanation. A bizarrely written UFO sighting from Iran is placed above Ramey's explanation, as if to ridicule the flying saucer story. The rancher who found the object, W.W. "Mac" Brazel, is quoted saying, "If I find anything else besides a bomb they are going to have a hard time getting me to say anything about it."
The object is described throughout the article as "a balloon." This, on the surface of it, seemed to put the matter to rest.
It is interesting to note a tiny item just above the Brazel story, which mentions a meeting between U.S. Senator Carl A. Hatch, of New Mexico, and President Truman on July 9. While it was described as being "just a personal visit," a former employee of the Roswell radio station who interviewed Mac Brazel said that the station owner received a call from the office of New Mexico's other U.S. Senator, Dennis Chavez, warning him not to broadcast the interview if he wanted his license renewed.
It is now known that Lt. Gen Nathan F. Twining, the commander of Air Materiel Command, headquartered at Wright Field in Ohio, made a sudden visit to Alamogordo Army Air Field in New Mexico on July 7, 1947. This was a short drive from Roswell. On the next day, Glenn Dennis received his mysterious phone calls and made his visit to the base. Twining later on became the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Neight Mr. Haut nor Col Blanchard suffered any career repercussions. Mr. Haut, prior to the incident, had already decided to retire from the military and settle in Roswell, which he did in 1948. Col. Blanchard went on to become a general. Marcel went on to do research on the Soviet nuclear program. When President Truman announced that the Soviet Union had exploded a nuclear bomb, the report he read to the public was written by Jesse Marcel. As to where the bodies of the aliens are today, Stanton Friedman says: "It is anybody's guess."
The nurse who spoke with Glenn in the Officer's Club said she believed the bodies ended up in Ohio. Numerous rumors have circulated for years concerning the alleged presence of alien bodies at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Stanton Friedman believes the bodies may have been studied for a time at a private clinic in Albuquerque, N.M.
It was also reported that the Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters of the Eighth Air Force and Gen. Ramey, was the first destination of the crate containing the bodies after it left Roswell. The bombardier of the plane that transported the crate reported the flight was met in Fort Worth by, among others, a man the bombardier personally knew to be a mortician. The identity of this mortician is unknown.
INSERT: The mortician is known as his wife is still alive and well in Ft. Worth, Texas, and remembers her husband being called out to Ft. Worth Army Air Field that night because their funeral home had the contract for any casualties involving needs of a mortician. Accompanying her husband that evening was a family friend, who was the dentist with the base contract for bodies with teeth. And, when recently a building was about to be torn down on that base most recently known as Carswell Air Force Base and now the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station Ft. Worth, the Texas State historical commission represented by 3 persons showed up at the base saying "No, you cannot tear this building down as it has historical signficance and value. It was the building which the alien bodies were unloaded on the west dock the night there were brought in from Roswell after the UFO crash there. And, since the bodies were stored for a time in this building before being shipped elsewhere this building has historical importance to Texas. The historical commission was ignored and the building was torn down in April of 1998. Pieces of the original floor of this building have been saved from the bulldozers and while supplies of these chips last they are available from Beyond Boundaries free of charge to members who would like a chunk of this bizarre history. For more information see
Back to article: However, the identity of the other mortician who played a role in this event is well-known. Glenn Dennis has neither sought notoriety nor tried to hide from researchers. He has an interesting story to tell, as do others involved in the same event now willing to talk about it in their sunset years.
Would arterial embalming work on an extraterrestrial? Embalming fluid uses formalin, which changes the chemical composition of protein by acting on nitrogen. All life forms on earth are protein-based organisms. If alien bodies were recovered, and if they were protein-based organisms, then preservation could have been achieved.
No funeral was held for the remains of these stranded travelers. However, the book, "The Roswell Incident", by Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore, contains an account of the government's providing a private viewing for a member of the clergy. This book includes a letter allegedly written on April 19, 1954, which describes a February 20, 1954, visit to Edwards Air Force Base in California by President Eisenhower to view the bodies of alien pilots of a crashed UFO. Bishop (later Cardinal) James F.A. McIntyre of Los Angeles, Edward Nourse of the Brookings Institute, and journalist Franklin Allen were also permitted to view the bodies. The letter goes on to say that Eisenhower was about to "go directly to the people via radio and television" to spill the beans on UFOs. Evidently, he changed his mind, or else the letter is a fraud.
It should be mentioned that there is a point of controversy within the community of UFO researchers as to whether there were two or just one UFO crash in New Mexico in July 1947. Stanton Friedman believes that another UFO (with more alien bodies) was recovered on the plains of San Agustin -- about 150 miles to the west of Roswell, New Mexico.
It is thought that these two vehicles may have collided. Other UFO researchers -- specifically Donald Schmidt -- believe that the Roswell crash was the only such incident to occur in New Mexico, at that time.
Some also believe that after the Roswell crash, a supersecret government group called Majestic 12 was established to oversee all UFO-related events. Mr. Friedman has done extensive research into the subject, the results of which are found in his book "Crash at Corona." He has studied documents allegedly generated by this secret group, and believes them genuine.
A made-for-TV movie, "Roswell," was broadcast last July. Mr. Haut was an advisor for the movie.
Article submitted from the files of Beyond Boundaries, UFO Research Organization. PO Box 250, Rainbow, TX 76077. To discuss this article contact

Sightings HomePage