The following is an excerpt from The Children of Roswell: A Seven-Decade Legacy of Fear, Intimidation, and Cover-Ups by Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt
Nightmare in the Emergency Room
From all eyewitness accounts, something suspicious was happening inside the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) hospital at the time of all the rumors about the crash of a flying saucer just north of town. Outside doctors and nurses rushed throughout the halls and into and out of rooms that had been designated off-limits to the regular staff. The normally assigned staff were relieved of their duties and sent back to their quarters until further notified. The wings of the complex, despite all of the commotion, were eerily quiet except for guarded whispers. Nothing was to be openly discussed without permission, as though those allowed to stay remained on auto-pilot to complete their clandestine work. MPs were positioned around the outside perimeter as well posted inside the main emergency corridor. Ambulance trucks would hurriedly pull up to the rear loading dock, which led directly to the emergency room. As First Lieutenant Rosemary A. McManus, a regular nurse assigned to the RAAF medical unit, described to us just weeks before passing away in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 1994, “Something big had happened.” She declined to acknowledge anything more.
Lieutenant Colonel Harold M. Warne was a highly experienced hospital administrator who, as a doctor, had been exposed to the worst human atrocities during WWII. Even in 1947, planes would occasionally crash during training exercises, and bodies mangled and burned beyond repair had become all too common at the world’s first atomic base. But nothing in Warne’s medical schooling prepared him for this. Something big had happened, and it was not part of any medical journal. And what became especially insulting was that even though Warne was in charge of the RAAF medical unit, he was not cleared for this situation—a situation he personally knew not to be based on mere rumor. Therein may be the cause of his behavior as opportunities would later present themselves.
All military hospital administrators had their own executive secretary. Dr. Warne’s was a 27-year-old civilian woman named Miriam “Andrea” Bush. Bush was a graduate of New Mexico State College at Los Cruces, where she majored in business administration. During WII college campuses were principal recruiting centers for the FBI, and young women like Bush saw the allure of such a lifestyle. That lifestyle required one to be unmarried, in no relationship, and free to be assigned most anywhere in the country. According to Bush’s family, she specialized in intelligence, which would explain why she was hired by the military for a Top Security job at the RAAF after the surrender of Japan.
Now, one item of crucial importance needs to be emphasized here: The RAAF hospital in 1947 did not have a morgue. That is precisely why the base had a contract with a private mortuary: the Ballard Funeral Home. The city of Roswell did not have its own coroner at that time, so it relied on Chavez County to provide such assistance. All reports of extra security and the presence of outside medical personnel took place at the exact time of the purported crash of the flying saucer outside of town. If civilian fatalities were involved, they would have been sent directly to one of Roswell’s two funeral homes. The other was LaGrone, and both it and Ballard are still in business today.If there were military fatalities, they would have gone first to the base hospital and then to the private mortuary. Curious phone inquiries were made to the Ballard Funeral Home regarding the availability of children’s caskets. This was a rather bizarre request on the face of it, but even more so coming from a facility without a morgue—and, more importantly, no children were ever reported to have died from any cause on the base during the entire month of July 1947. Why the need for child-size caskets? Dry ice was called in from Clardy’s Dairy in Roswell during this same period of time. Subsequently, there were follow-up calls to the mortician asking questions about recommended embalming techniques that would be the least detrimental to biological tissue and bodily fluids. Something big had happened, and it appeared that the RAAF hospital had in its possession a number of bodies beyond the realm of standard and regulated state law. In any event, the absence of a morgue notwithstanding, the base hospital would have to temporarily serve for whatever “bodies” superseded legal protocol.
It was dinnertime one evening during one of the days highlighted by all of those strange circumstances when Miriam Bush arrived at her parent’s home from a rather unsettling day at the base hospital. She sat down to eat in the dining room with her mother and father, who was the first chiropractor to set up a practice in Roswell; her brother, George; and her sister, Jenny. Many years later, both George and Jenny recounted how upset their sister became as she pushed her food aside. She became panic-stricken as she started to weep uncontrollably and raced toward her bedroom. The entire family had great respect for her employment at the base. Did she lose her job? A close friend? George sensed something worse—more sinister. “Fear seemed to overcome her,” he said. Dr. Bush reacted immediately and he went to her aide.
He found his daughter lying on her bed as she continued sobbing. Finally, her father was able to calm her enough to learn what was distressing her so terribly. The story she would confide was told between tears and near-shock. It all would sound like a bad dream, but her emotional behavior was all too real. It was something she was never prepared for. None of them were. This nightmare was for real. Slowly, she was able to verbalize exactly what the cause of it was.
She had been performing all of her regular duties at the hospital earlier that day, but grew more and more curious about all of the additional personnel who seemed to be relieving the regular staff. So when her boss, Dr. Warne, took her by the arm and led her aside, she expected either an explanation or that she, too, would be dismissed for the day. Instead, whether out of frustration from being left out of all the commotion or merely just the human desire to share all of the excitement with one of the few local staff on hand, Warne cautiously walked her to the examination room. Upon entering, surroundings that otherwise would have been quite familiar to Bush demonstrated something she did not anticipate. She was immediately taken aback to observe a number of bodies on gurneys in the middle of the room. But something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong. At first she quietly cried out, “My God! They’re children!” But she soon realized that their body size was the only child-like quality. Their skin was grayish to brown in tone, and white linens covered most of each figure. But the heads—the heads were too large. And those eyes, those large eyes that wouldn’t shut. “Those staring eyes,” she cried. Panic started to quicken her heart rate, and then it happened: “One of them moved!” All her father could do was hold her and listen in total disbelief as she wept. He was aware of all the talk in town about the crashed spaceship outside of town and the crew of little men. But now it had touched his own family, and there was little if anything he could do to remedy the pain in his daughter’s mind. Eventually she would cry herself to sleep, though one might argue whether sleep would serve as any respite. Mental exhaustion was more likely reason.
Mornings can be a blessing or a resumption of the same pain experienced the night before. Miriam’s professional training tried to engage and, with little thought, her fear grew more and more into anger at her boss. “Why did he have to show me something so upsetting?” became her primary motivator for returning to confront Dr. Warne. But just as important, the entire town of Roswell was abuzz with all the talk about the crashed flying saucer and the small men who piloted it. Only the base south of town could provide the answers, and only the hospital knew the whole truth. The morning newspaper carried headlines about all the excitement being over some old weather balloon. How silly, she thought.
Much had taken place overnight while Miriam played the same scenario in her mind over and over again. Maybe she imagined that the next time all that disturbed her would somehow magically change. Base personnel, who had forgone sleep, dealt with the reality that commanded their full attention: A temporary morgue was hastily set up, a full-scale recovery operation was taking place at another site further to the northwest of town, and another body site was located. Most all of the clandestine activity at the hospital was on hold at least for the time being—as though nothing big had ever happened. The day was Wednesday, July 9th, and Miriam’s fate for the rest of her life was about to be sealed.
As did so many others who were merely performing their duties at the RAAF, Miriam immediately became suspect. Any base personnel and employees who saw anything out of the ordinary had to be warned of the consequences of speaking out of turn, and the traumatized secretary was no exception. Her brother, George, somberly described to us her demeanor that evening, as she said, “I am never to say another word about what I saw. None of you ever heard me say anything about it,” she chided them. According to her brother and her sister, Jenny, she displayed all the symptoms of being subjected to heavy-handed threats. She would become more and more paranoid about the entire ordeal. Yet she couldn’t share even her worst fears with the very family who also knew the truth. There was nothing any of them could do and certainly nothing any of them could prove. The entire situation became rather hopeless. Best to do just as the military sternly advised—never to say another word, as though it never happened. In many ways Miriam could then try to convince herself that it was nothing more than a nightmare. Unfortunately for her, the images of what she witnessed in that examination room were etched in her very psyche, and those who observed her realized she wouldn’t let it go. She would need to be watched.
No one ever questioned Miriam’s truthfulness, and she refused to ever discuss the incident again. Her fear and paranoia were two-sided: both the haunting images of what she experienced and the concern for government reprisal. But it had also made a lasting impression on her brother. When George married Patricia, it was one of the very first private pieces of family history he confided to her. Sadly, no one in Miriam’s immediate family was able to penetrate the wall of silence built around her. Whatever she saw in that hospital examination room in 1947 tormented her relentlessly. She would marry within a year—someone she had just met—move to California, and try to forget the unforgettable.
After nearly 40 years of a loveless, childless, “arranged” marriage, she would finally file for divorce in 1987. A tremendous weight was lifted off her shoulders; she was not distraught or depressed about the failed relationship. Ironic that she was casting aside part of her past—which all began in a Roswell hospital room back in 1947. Such was the distinct impression from her sister-in-law, Pat, who spoke to her over the phone on a regular basis. Within months of the marriage breakup, Pat sensed a subtle change becoming the focus of each new conversation: Miriam was becoming increasingly paranoid, according to Pat. She was deeply concerned about being watched and followed, which, to Miriam’s sister, Jenny, all seemed to be connected in some way to 1947 and the objective of a 40-year marriage to a gay man. It appeared that shadowy figures had taken his place, albeit from a distance.
During December 1989, Patricia Bush would receive another phone call from Miriam, but it would be the last time anyone would hear from her. She had become obsessed with the fear that someone was spying on her day-to-day activities. Nothing Pat could tell her would alleviate her dread. Still, no one in the family suspected that time was about to run out for Miriam.
The very next day, Miriam registered into a motel just north of San Jose, California, in the small town of Fremont. If she had no intention of drawing any attention to the family, she mistakenly checked in using her sister Jenny’s name. She was unaccompanied, and no one saw her again until the next morning. The coroner’s report concluded that she had taken her own life by wrapping a plastic bag around her head, a rather prolonged and gruesome way to commit suicide. In fact, statistically it is seldom done in that manner. What was not publicized was that there were fresh scratches and bruises all over her arms. Other suspicious details, such as no prearrangements with her insurance providers or a suicide note, were not considered by investigators. Jenny believed that her sister was sending a message by the use of her name. “Something was not right, and it was her way of letting us know,” she remarked. Miriam’s own suspicions and fears may not have been totally unfounded. The truth she possessed about Roswell died with her—death being the ultimate silencer.
Within a few years of Miriam’s death, investigator Victor Golubic tracked down Dr. Jack Comstock, who had served as the RAAF chief surgeon in 1947. Not only didn’t Dr. Comstock have any memory of the unearthly patients, but he also had no memory of former hospital associate Miriam Bush—denial being the second greatest silencer.
© Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt. Excerpt is printed with permission of the publisher New Page Books. ISBN: 978-1632650191 List Price: US $16.99.