Fifty-nine Witnesses: Delay on Elm Street
By Vince Palamara
Updated 1998 edition (based off the original 1991 article "47 Witnesses" that appeared in The Third Decade, Jan/ March 1992) http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/59wit.htm
-UPI's Four Days (1964), p. 17---In the right hand picture [a frame from the Muchmore film], the driver slams on the brakes and the police escort pulls up."
-Newsweek, 12/2/63, p. 2---"For a chaotic moment, the motorcade ground to an uncertain halt."
-Time, 11/29/63, p. 23---"There was a shocking momentary stillness, a frozen tableau."
-Case Closed by Gerald Posner (1993), p. 234---"Incredibly, Greer, sensing that something was wrong in the back of the car, slowed the vehicle to almost a standstill."
-Gerald Posner, with Dan Rather, on CBS' "Who Killed JFK: The Final Chapter?", 11/19/93---By turning around the second time and looking at JFK as the car slows down, Posner says that "What he [Greer] has done is inadvertantly given Oswald the easiest of the three shots."
1) Houston Chronicle Reporter Bo Byers (rode in White House Press Bus)---twice stated that the Presidential Limousine "almost came to a stop, a dead stop"; in fact, he has had nightmares about this. [C-SPAN, 11/20/93, "Journalists Remember The Kennedy Assassination"; see also the 1/94 Fourth Decade: article by Sheldon Inkol];
2) ABC Reporter Bob Clark (rode in the National Press Pool Car)---Reported on the air that the limousine stopped on Elm Street during the shooting [WFAA/ ABC, 11/22/63];
3) UPI White House Reporter Merriman Smith (rode in the same car as Clark, above)---"The President's car, possibly as much as 150 or 200 yards ahead, seemed to falter briefly" [UPI story, 11/23/63, as reported in Four Days, UPI, p. 32];
4) DPD motorcycle officer James W. Courson (one of two mid-motorcade motorcycles)--"The limousine came to a stop and Mrs. Kennedy was on the back. I noticed that as I came around the corner at Elm. Then the Secret Service agent [Clint Hill] helped push her back into the car, and the motorcade took off at a high rate of speed." [No More Silence by Larry Sneed (1998), p. 129];
5) DPD motorcycle officer Bobby Joe Dale (one of two rear mid-motorcade motorcycles)---"After the shots were fired, the whole motorcade came to a stop. I stood and looked through the plaza, noticed there was commotion, and saw people running around his [JFK's] car. It started to move, then it slowed again; that's when I saw Mrs. Kennedy coming back on the trunk and another guy [Clint Hill] pushing her back into the car." [No More Silence by Larry Sneed (1998), p. 134];
6) Clemon Earl Johnson---"You could see it [the limo] speed up and then stop, then speed up, and you could see it stop while they [sic; Clint Hill] threw Mrs. Kennedy back up in the car. Then they just left out of there like a bat of the eye and were just gone." [No More Silence by Larry Sneed (1998), p. 80];
7) Malcolm Summers---"Then there was some hesitation in the caravan itself, a momentary halt, to give the Secret Service man [Clint Hill] a chance to catch up with the car and jump on. It seems to me that it started back up by the time he got to the car…"[No More Silence by Larry Sneed (1998), p. 104];
8) NBC reporter Robert MacNeil (rode in White House Press Bus)---"The President's driver slammed on the brakes---after the third shot…" [The Way We Were, 1963: The Year Kennedy Was Shot by Robert MacNeil (1988), p. 193];
9) AP photographer Henry Burroughs (rode in Camera Car #2)---"…we heard the shots and the motorcade stopped." [letter, Burroughs to Palamara, dated 10/14/98];
10) DPD Earle Brown---". . . The first I noticed the [JFK's] car was when it stopped..after it made the turn and when the shots were fired, it stopped." [6 H 233];
11) DPD motorcycle officer Bobby Hargis (one of the four Presidential motorcyclists)---". . . At that time [immediately before the head shot] the Presidential car slowed down. I heard somebody say 'Get going.' I felt blood hit me in the face and the Presidential car stopped almost immediately after that." [6 H 294; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71; 6/26/95 videotaped interview with Mark Oakes & Ian Griggs: "That guy (Greer) slowed down, maybe his orders was to slow down…slowed down almost to a stop." Like Posner, Hargis feels Greer gave Oswald the chance to kill Kennedy.];
12) DPD D.V. Harkness---". . . I saw the first shot and the President's car slow[ed] down to almost a stop…I heard the first shot and saw the President's car almost come to a stop and some of the agents [were] piling on the car." [6 H 309];
Palamara is a prolific writer on the assassination, and archives of his work can be found both on his own web page, and also on Deanie Richards' JFK Place.
13) DPD James Chaney (one of the four Presidential motorcyclists)---stated that the Presidential limousine stopped momentarily after the first shot (according to the testimony of Mark Lane; corroborated by the testimony of fellow DPD motorycle officer Marion Baker: Chaney told him that "…at the time, after the shooting, from the time the first shot rang out, the car stopped completely, pulled to the left and stopped…Now I have heard several of them say that, Mr. Truly was standing out there, he said it stopped. Several officers said it stopped completely." [2 H 44-45 (Lane)---refering to Chaney's statement as reported in the Houston Chronicle dated 11/24/63; 3 H 266 (Baker)];
14) DPD motorcycle officer B.J. Martin (one of the four Presidential motorcyclists)---saw JFK's car stop "…just for a moment." [Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71];
15) DPD motorcycle officer Douglas L. Jackson (one of the four Presidential motorcyclists)---stated "…that the car just all but stopped…just a moment." [Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71];
16) Texas Highway Patrolman Joe Henry Rich (drove LBJ's car)---stated that "…the motorcade came to a stop momentarily." [Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71];
17) DPD J.W. Foster---stated that "…immediately after President Kennedy was struck…the car in which he was riding pulled to the curb." [CD 897, pp. 20, 21; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97];
18) Secret Service Agent Sam Kinney (driver of the follow-up car behind JFK's limo)---indicates, via his report to Chief Rowley, that Greer hit the gas after the fatal head shot to JFK and after the President's slump to the left toward Jackie. [18 H 731-732]. From the HSCA's 2/26/78 interview of Kinney: "He also remarked that 'when Greer (the driver of the Presidential limousine) looked back, his foot must have come off the accelerator'…Kinney observed that at the time of the first shot, the speed of the motorcade was '3 to 5 miles an hour.'" [RIF#180-10078-10493; author's interviews with Kinney, 1992-1994];
19) Secret Service Agent Clint Hill (follow-up car, rear of limo)---"…I jumped from the follow-up car and ran toward the Presidential automobile. I heard a second firecracker-type noise…SA Greer had, as I jumped onto the Presidential automobile, accelerated the Presidential automobile forward." [18 H 742; Nix film; "The Secret Service" and "Inside The Secret Service" videos from 1995];
20) Secret Service Agent John Ready (follow-up car)---"…I heard what sounded like fire crackers going off from my post on the right front running board. The President's car slowed…" [18 H 750];
21) Secret Service Agent Glen Bennett (follow-up car)---after the fatal head shot "the President's car immediately kicked into high gear." [18 H 760; 24 H 541-542]. During his 1/30/78 HSCA interview, Bennett said the follow-up car was moving at "10-12 m.p.h.", an indication of the pace of the motorcade on Elm Street [RIF#180-10082-10452];
22) Secret Service Agent "Lem" Johns (V.P. follow-up car)---"…I felt that if there was danger [it was] due to the slow speed of the automobile." [18 H 774]. During his 8/8/78 HSCA interview, Johns said that "Our car was moving very slowly", a further indication of the pace of the motorcade on Elm Street [RIF# 180-10074-10079; Altgens photo];
23) Secret Service Agent Winston Lawson (rode in the lead car)---"…I think it [the lead car on Elm Street] was a little further ahead [of JFK's limo] than it had been in the motorcade, because when I looked back we were further ahead." [4 H 352], an indication of the lag in the limo during the assassination.;
24) Secret Service Agent William "Tim" McIntyre (follow-up car)---"He stated that Greer, driver of the Presidential limousine, accelerated after the third shot." [RIF#180-10082-10454: 1/31/78 HSCA interview];
25) Mrs. Earle ("Dearie") Cabell (rode in the Mayor's car)---the motorcade "stopped dead still when the noise of the shot was heard." [7 H 487; Accessories After the Fact by Sylvia Meagher (1967), p. 4; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71];
26) Phil Willis---"…The [Presidential] party had come to a temporary halt before proceeding on to the underpass." [7 H 497; Crossfire by Jim Marrs (1989), p. 24];
27) Mrs. Phil (Marilyn) Willis---after the fatal head shot, "she stated the Presidential limousine paused momentarily and then sped away under the Triple Underpass." [FBI report dated 6/19/64; Photographic Whitewash by Harold Weisberg (1967), p. 179];
28) Mrs. John (Nellie) Connally (rode in JFK's limo)---JFK's car did not accelerate until after the fatal head shot. [4 H 147; WR 50; Best Evidence by David Lifton (1988), p. 122];
29) Texas Governor John Connally (rode in JFK's limo and himself a victim of the assassination)---"…After the third shot, I heard Roy Kellerman tell the driver, 'Bill, get out of line.' And then I saw him move, and I assumed he was moving a button or something on the panel of the automobile, and he said 'Get us to a hospital quick'…at about this time, we began to pull out of the cavalcade, out of line." [4 H 133; WR50; Crossfire by Jim Marrs (1989), p. 13];
30) Dallas Morning News reporter Robert Baskin (rode in the National Press Pool Car)---stated that "…the motorcade ground to a halt." [Dallas Morning News, 11/23/63, p. 2; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71];
31) Dallas Morning News reporter Mary Woodward (Pillsworth)---"…Instead of speeding up the car, the car came to a halt."; she saw the President's car come to a halt after the first shot. Then, after hearing two more shots, close together, the car sped up. [2 H 43 (Lane); Dallas Morning News, 11/23/63; 24 H 520; "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" 1988]. She spoke forcefully about the car almost coming to a stop and the lack of proper reaction by the Secret Service in 1993. [C-SPAN, 11/20/93, "Journalists Remember The Kennedy Assassination"; see also the 1/94 Fourth Decade: article by Sheldon Inkol];
32) AP photographer James Altgens---"He said the President's car was proceeding at about ten miles per hour at the time [of the shooting]…Altgens stated the driver of the Presidential limousine apparently realized what had happened and speeded up toward the Stemmons Expressway." [FBI report dated 6/5/64; Photographic Whitewash by Harold Weisberg (1967), p. 203] "The car's driver realized what had happened and almost if by reflex speeded up toward the Stemmons Expressway." [AP dispatch, 11/22/63; Cover-Up by Stewart Galanor (1998), Document 28];
33) Alan Smith---"…the car was ten feet from me when a bullet hit the President in the forehead…the car went about five feet and stopped." [Chicago Tribune, 11/23/63, p. 9; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71];
34) Mrs. Ruth M. Smith---confirmed that the Presidential limousine had come to a stop. [CD 206, p. 9; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97];
35) TSBD Supervisor Roy Truly---after the first shot "…I saw the President's car swerve to the left and stop somewheres down in the area…[it stopped] for a second or two or something like that…I just saw it stop." [3 H 221, 266];
36) L.P. Terry---"…The parade stopped right in front of the building [TSBD]." [Crossfire by Jim Marrs (1989), p. 26];
37) Ochus V. Campbell---after hearing shots, "he then observed the car bearing President Kennedy to slow down, a near stop, and a motorcycle policeman rushed up. Immediately following this, he observed the car rush away from the scene." [22 H 845];
38) Peggy Joyce Hawkins---she was on the front steps of the TSBD and "…estimated that the President's car was less than 50 feet away from her when he was shot, that the car slowed down almost coming to a full stop." [Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97];
39) Billy Lovelady---"I recall that following the shooting, I ran toward the spot where President Kennedy's car had stopped." [22 H 662];
40) An unnamed witness---from his vantage point in the courthouse building, stated that "The cavalcade stopped there and there was bedlam." [Dallas Times Herald, 11/24/63; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97];
41) Postal Inspector Harry Holmes (from the Post Office Annex, while viewing through binoculars)---"…The car almost came to a stop, and Mrs. Kennedy pulled loose of him and crawled out over the turtleback of this Presidential car." [7 H 291]. He noticed the car pull to a halt, and Holmes thought: "They are dodging something being thrown." [The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop (1967), p. 176];
42) Peggy Burney---she stated that JFK's car had come to a stop. [Dallas Times Herald, 11/24/63; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97; interestingly, during the 11/20/93 C-SPAN "Journalists Remember" conference, Vivian Castleberry of the Dallas Times Herald made the claim that her first cousin, Peggy Burney, was Abraham Zapruder's assistant "and was next to him when he shot his famous film. She called and said, 'Vivian, today I saw the President die.'"!---See Sheldon Inkol's article on this conference in the January 1994 Fourth Decade];
43) David Broeder--"…The President's car paused momentarily, then on orders from a Secret Service agent, spurted ahead." [Washington Evening Star, 11/23/63, p. 8];
44) Sam Holland---stated that the Presidential limousine slowed down on Elm Street. [taped interview with Holland conducted in April, 1965];
45) Maurice Orr---noted that the motorcade stopped. [Arch Kimbrough, Mary Ferrell, and Sue Fitch, Chronology, unpublished manuscript; see also Conspiracy by Anthony Summers, pages 20 & 23];
46) Mrs. Herman (Billy P.) Clay---"…When I heard the second and third shots I knew someone was shooting at the President. I did not know if the President had been hit, but I knew something was wrong. At this point the car President Kenedy was in slowed and I, along with others, moved toward the President's car. As we neared the car it sped off." [22 H 641];
47) Mrs. Rose Clark---"…She noted that the President's automobile came almost to a halt following the three shots, before it picked up speed and drove away." [24 H 533];
48) Hugh Betzner---"…I looked down the street and I could see the President's car and another one and they looked like the cars were stopped…then the President's car sped on under the underpass." [19 H 467];
49) John Chism---after the shots he saw "the motorcade beginning to speed up." [Crossfire by Jim Marrs (1989), p. 29];
50) Bill Newman---after the fatal head shot "the car momentarily stopped and the driver seemed to have a radio or phone up to his ear and he seemed to be waiting on some word. Some Secret Service men reached into their car and came out with some sort of machine gun. Then the cars roared off…"; "I've maintained that they stopped. I still say they did. It was only a momentary stop, but…" [Crossfire by Jim Marrs (1989), p. 70; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 96] "I believe Kennedy's car came to a full stop after the final shot." [JFK: Breaking The Silence by Bill Sloan (1993), p. 169] "…I believe it was the passenger in the front seat [Roy Kellerman]---there were two men in the front seat---had a telephone or something to his ear and the car momentarily stopped. Now everywhere that you read about it, you don't read anything about the car stopping. And when I say "stopped" I mean very momentarily, like they hit the brakes and just a few seconds passed and then they floorboarded [sic] and accelerated on." [11/20/97 videotaped interview with Bill Law, Mark Row, & Ian Griggs, as transcribed in November Patriots by Connie Kritzberg & Larry Hancock (1998), p. 362] "One of the two men in the front seat of the car had a telephone in his hand, and as I was looking back at the car covering my son, I can remember seeing the tail lights of the car, and just for a moment they hesitated and stopped, and then they floorboarded [sic] the car and shot off." [No More Silence by Larry Sneed (1998), p. 96];
51) Charles Brehm---"Brehm expressed his opinion that between the first and third shots, the President's car only seemed to move some 10 or 12 feet. It seemed to him that the automobile almost came to a halt after the first shot…After the third shot, the car in which the President was riding increased its speed and went under the freeway overpass and out of sight." [22 H 837-838];
52) Mary Moorman---"She recalls that the President's automobile was moving at the time she took the second picture, and when she heard the shots, and has the impression that the car either stopped momentarily or hesistated and then drove off in a hurry." [22 H 838-839];
53) Jean Hill---"…The motorcade came to almost a halt at the time the shots rang out and I would say it [JFK's limo] was just approximately, if not---it couldn't have been in the same position, I'm sure it wasn't, but just a very, very short distance from where it had been. It [JFK's limo] was just almost stunned." [6 H 208-209; Hill's testimony on this matter was dramatized in the Oliver Stone movie "JFK" (1991): "The driver had stopped-I don't know what was wrong with that driver." See also JFK: The Book of the Film (1992), p. 122. Therein is referenced a March 1991 conversation with Jean Hill.];
54) James Leon Simmons---"…The car stopped or almost stopped." [2/15/69 Clay Shaw trial testimony; Forgive My Grief Vol. III by Penn Jones, p. 53; High Treason by Groden & Livingstone (1990 Berkley Edition), p. 22];
55) Norman Similas---"…The Presidential limousine had passed me and slowed down slightly." [Liberty Magazine, 7/15/64, p. 13; Photographic Whitewash by Harold Weisberg (1967), p. 233];
56) Presidential Aide Ken O'Donnell (rode in the follow-up car)---"…If the Secret Service men in the front had reacted quicker to the first two shots at the President's car, if the driver had stepped on the gas before instead of after the fatal third shot was fired, would Presdient Kennedy be alive today? [as quoted in Marrs' Crossfire, p. 248, based off a passage from O'Donnell & Powers' book Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye] On page 40 of O'Donnell's book Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye, the aide reports that "Greer had been remorseful all day, feeling that he could have saved President Kennedy's life by swerving the car or speeding suddenly after the first shots." Indeed, William E. Sale, an airman first class aircraft mechanic assigned to Carswell AFB and who was stationed at Love Field before, during, and after the assassination, stated that "when the agent who was driving JFK's car came back to Air Force One he was as white as a ghost and had to be helped back to the plane [undated Sale letter, provided to the author by Martin Shackelford];
57) Presidential aide Dave Powers (rode in the follow-up car)---"…At that time we were traveling very slowly…At about the time of the third shot, the President's car accelerated sharply." [7 H 473-475]. On 11/22/88, Powers was interviewed by CBS' Charles Kuralt. Powers remarked about the remorse Greer felt about not speeding up in time to save JFK"s life and agreed with Kuralt that, if Greer had sped up before the fatal head shot instead of afterwards, JFK might still be alive today [CBS, 11/22/88---this is a very dramatic and compelling short interview]. If that weren't enough, the ARRB's Tom Samoluk told me that, during the course of an interview he conducted in 1996 in which the Board was in the process of obtaining Powers' film, Powers said that he agreed with my take on the Secret Service!;
58) Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough (rode in LBJ's car)---"…When the noise of the shot was heard, the motorcade slowed to what seemed to me a complete stop (though it could have been a near stop)…After the third shot was fired, but only after the third shot was fired, the cavalcade speeded up, gained speed rapidly, and roared away to the Parkland Hospital."; "…The cars all stopped. I put in there [his affidavit], 'I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but for the protection of future Presidents, they [the Secret Service] should be trained to take off when a shot is fired." [7 H 439-440; Crossfire by Jim Marrs (1989), p. 482; see also "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" 1988: "The Secret Service in the car in front of us kind of casually looked around and were rather slow to react."];
59) First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (rode in the Presidential limousine)---"We could see a tunnel in front of us. Everything was really slow then…[immediately after shooting] And just being down in the car with his head in my lap. And it just seemed an eternity…And finally I remember a voice behind me, or something, and then I remember the people in the front seat, or somebody, finally knew something was wrong, and a voice yelling, which must have been Mr. Hill, "Get to the hospital," or maybe it was Mr. Kellerman, in the front seat…We were really slowing turning the corner [Houston & Elm]…I remember a sensation of enormous speed, which must have been when we took off…those poor men in the front…" [5 H 179-181] Mary Gallagher reported in her book: "She mentioned one Secret Service man who had not acted during the crucial moment, and said bitterly to me, 'He might just as well have been Miss Shaw!'" [My Life With Jacqueline Kennedy by Mary Barelli Gallagher (1969), p. 342---Secret Service Agent Marty Venker and Jackie biographer C. David Heymann confirm that this unnamed agent was indeed Greer (Confessions of an Ex-Secret Service Agent, p. 25; A Woman Called Jackie, p. 401)] Jackie also told Gallagher that "You should get yourself a good driver so that nothing ever happens to you" [Ibid., p. 351]
* William Manchester, who interviewed Greer, tells us what the driver told Jackie on 11/22/63 at Parkland Hospital: "Oh, Mrs. Kennedy, oh my God, oh my God. I didn't mean to do it[?!?!], I didn't hear[who, Kellerman?], I should have swerved the car[how about hitting the gas!], I couldn't help it[!]. Oh, Mrs. Kennedy, as soon as I saw it[?] I swerved. If only I'd seen it in time! Oh!" (Manchester, p.290). 59 witnesses (10 police officers, 7 Secret Service agents, 37 spectators, 2 Presidential aides, 1 Senator, Governor Connally, and Jackie Kennedy) and the Zapruder film document Secret Service agent William R. Greer's deceleration of the presidential limousine, as well as his two seperate looks back at JFK during the assassination (Greer denied all of this to the Warren Commission-2HGREER[see his entire testimony]). By decelerating from an already slow 11.2 mph, Greer greatly endangered the President's life, and, as even Gerald Posner admitted, Greer contributed greatly to the success of the assassination. When we consider that Greer disobeyed a direct order from his superior, Roy Kellerman, to get out of line before the fatal shot struck the President's head, it is hard to give Agent Greer the benefit of the doubt. As ASAIC Roy H. Kellerman said: "Greer then looked in the back of the car. Maybe he didn't believe me"(The Death of a President by William Manchester, p.160). Clearly, Greer was responsible, at fault, and felt remorse. In short, Greer had survivor's guilt.
But, then, stories and feelings changed.
Agent Greer to the FBI 11/22/63: "Greer stated that he first heard what he thought was possibly a motorcycle backfire and glanced around and noticed that the President had evidently been hit [notice that, early on, Greer admits seeing JFK, which the Zapruder proves he did two times before the fatsal head shot occurred]. He thereafter got on the radio and communicated with the other vehicles, stating that they desired to get the President to the hospital immediately [in reality, Greer did not talk on the radio, and Greer went on to deny ever saying this during his WC testimony]…Greer stated that they (the Secret Service) have always been instructed to keep the motorcade moving at a considerable speed inasmuch as a moving car offers a much more difficult target than a vehicle traveling at a very slow speed. He pointed out that on numerous occasions he has attempted to keep the car moving at a rather fast rate, but in view of the President's popularity and desire to maintain close liaison with the people, he has, on occasion, been instructed by the President to "slow down". Greer stated that he has been asking himself if there was any thing he could have done to have avoided this incident, but stated that things happened so fast that he could not account for full developments in this matter(!) [the "JFK-as-scapegoat" theme…and so much for Greer's remorse from earlier the same day!]."(Sibert & O'Neil Report, 11/22/63)
Agent Greer to the FBI 11/27/63: "…he heard a noise which sounded like a motorcycle backfire. On hearing this noise he glanced to his right toward Kellerman and out of the corner of his eye noticed that the Governor appeared to be falling toward his wife [notice that Greer now mentions nothing about seing JFK hit---he does the same thing in his undated report in the WC volumes (18 H 723)] He thereafter recalls hearing some type of outcry after which Kellerman said, "Let's get out of here." He further related that at the time of hearing the sound he was starting down an incline which passes beneath a railroad crossing and after passing under this viaduct, he closed in on the lead car and yelled to the occupants and a nearby police motorcyclist, "Hospital, Hospital! [nothing about using the radio this time out]" Thereafter follows a complete physical description of Greer, as if the FBI agents considered him a suspect, inc. age, height, and color of eyes! (Sibert & O'Neil Report, 11/29/63)
Critical excerpts from Greer's 3/9/64 Warren Commission testimony before Arlen Specter:
Mr. Specter. Were you able to see anything of President Kennedy as you glanced to the rear?
Mr. Greer. No, sir; I didn't see anything of the President, I didn't look, I wasn't far enough around to see the President.
Mr. Specter. When you started that glance, are you able to recollect whether you started to glance before, exactly simultaneously with or after that second shot?
Mr. Greer. It was almost simultaneously that he had--something had hit, you know, when I had seen him. It seemed like in the same second almost that something had hit, you know, whenever I turned around. I saw him start to fall.
Mr. Specter. Did you step on the accelerator before, simultaneously or after Mr. Kellerman instructed you to accelerate?
Mr. Greer. It was about simultaneously.
Mr. Specter. So that it was your reaction to accelerate prior to the time--
Mr. Greer. Yes, sir.
Mr. Specter. You had gotten that instruction?
Mr. Greer. Yes, sir; it was my reaction that caused me to accelerate.
Mr. Specter. Do you recollect whether you accelerated before or at the same time or after the third shot?
Mr. Greer. I couldn't really say. Just as soon as I turned my head back from the second shot, right away I accelerated right then. It was a matter of my reflexes to the accelerator.
Mr. Specter. Was it at about that time that you heard the third shot?
Mr. Greer. Yes, sir; just as soon as I turned my head
Mr. Specter. To the best of your current recollection, did you notice that the President had been hit?
Mr. Greer. No, sir; I didn't know how badly he was injured or anything other than that. I didn't know.
Mr. Specter. Did you know at all, from the glance which you have described that he had been hit or injured in any way?
Mr. Greer. I knew he was injured in some way, but I didn't know how bad or what.
Mr. Specter. How did you know that?
Mr. Greer. If I remember now, I just don't remember how I knew, but I knew we were in trouble. I knew that he was injured, but I can't remember, recollect, just how I knew there were injuries in there. I didn't know who all was hurt, even.
Mr. Specter. Are you able to recollect whether you saw the President after the shots as you were proceeding toward Parkland Hospital?
Mr. Greer. No; I don't remember ever seeing him any more until I got to the hospital, and he was lying across the seat, you know, and that is the first I had seen of him.
Mr. Specter. Your best recollection is, then, that you had the impression he was injured but you couldn't ascertain the source of that information?
Mr. Greer. Right. I couldn't ascertain the source.
Warren Commission finding: "The driver, Special Agent William R. Greer, has testified that he accelerated the car after what was probably the second shot...The Presidential car did not stop or almost come to a complete halt after the firing of the first shot or any other shots."(WC Report, page 641)
11/19/64 interview with Death of a President author William Manchester [RIF#180-10116-10119]---"After the second shot I glanced back. I saw blood on the Governor's white shirt, and I knew we were in trouble. The blood was coming out of his right breast. When I heard the first shot, I had thought it was a backfire. I was tramping on the accelerator and at the same time Roy was saying, let's get out of here fast."
But remember what Roy Kellerman said: "Greer then looked in the back of the car. Maybe he didn't believe me"(The Death of a President by William Manchester, p.160).
2/28/78 HSCA interview [RIF#180-10099-10491]---"The first shot sounded to him like a backfire. He did not react to it. After the second shot he turned to his right and saw blood on Governor Connally's shirt. At the same moment he heard Kellerman say "We're hit. Let's get out of here," or words to that effect. He said he immediately accelerated and followed the pilot car to Parkland Hospital [However, DNC Advance man Jack Puterbaugh, who rode in the pilot car, said they "pulled over and let the motorcade pass" (HSCA interview 4/14/78). The Washington Post from 2/28/85 reported Greer as saying that "I just looked straight ahead at the car in which the police chief was leading our way to the hospital"---this is the lead car. Nevertheless, the Daniel film and still photos depict the limousine ahead of the lead car, as it appear it was the lead motorcyclists who actually guided Greer to Parkland! (see pp. 21-22 and 59 of The Third Alternative by the author)]
Bill Greer passed away from Cancer on 2/23/85.
From a 9/17/91 interview with Bill's son Richard:
When asked, "What did your father think of JFK," Richard did not respond the first time. When this author asked him a second time, he responded: "Well, we're Methodists..and JFK was Catholic..." (Bill Greer was born and raised in County Tyrone, Ireland; 2 H 112 - 113)
"My father certainly didn't blame himself; it's not one of those things - if only I was driving one mile per hour faster
"My father had absolutely no survivor's guilt...he figured that events were kind out of their control...it was pretty common knowledge that a person riding in an open car was subject to a bullet at any time..."
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Edited by Bernice Moore, 18 January 2010 - 03:52 AM.