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Air Force One Radio Transmissions


William Kelly
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It was at the Pentagon Bill, I happen to be reading a series of books at the moment, dealing with strategic command and control and one particular book - The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces - discusses that the National Military Command System had been established at the Pentagon in June, 1962. It was the control "portal" though which national command authority ie. the President or SecDef interacted with the consolidated warning systems and the control links for weapons release.

I'm learning a good deal more about the details of the command and control system and a great deal about the tactical military alerting systems. It would have been those systems that the Chiefs and McNamara were monitoring for real time attack indicators more than anything coming in from the CIA. It should be noted that in 62 an NSA feed was also put in there and at the White House, that had not existed before and was more a matter of telephone calls from staff duty officers, things were really becoming much more electronic during 62.

-- anyway, if I come across more relevant details I'll share them, lots of reading and learning to do on this, Larry

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Larry - Dorman was concerned that LeMay be contacted while he, LeMay, was still in flight. It doesn't sound like SOP to me. Surely Dorman had already contacted LeMay hours earlier before AF 1 was aloft.

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Bill - I hope you are able to locate unedited transcripts, because, as you say, its the parts that were edited out of the tapes that will prove to be the most interesting.

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Paul, I've done some detailed posts on this that you should find in my blog and elsewhere. LeMay was in Canada, on vacation, out of touch. His aide and probably others were trying to get to him a number of methods. They were also trying to organize a flight back for him, to get in touch with that flight etc. With his position on the Joint Chiefs they wanted constant contact with him and no doubt LeMay wanted it as well. As head of SAC he had routinely carried a SSB radio with him at all times to remain in constant touch via the SAC world wide network. But then he had been flying in "his" own aircraft.

I'm pretty sure any aide to LeMay would be busting his rear to be in communications and arrange communications for his boss on Nov. 22, not being proactive would definitely be a career limiting move.

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Paul, I've done some detailed posts on this that you should find in my blog and elsewhere. LeMay was in Canada, on vacation, out of touch. His aide and probably others were trying to get to him a number of methods. They were also trying to organize a flight back for him, to get in touch with that flight etc. With his position on the Joint Chiefs they wanted constant contact with him and no doubt LeMay wanted it as well. As head of SAC he had routinely carried a SSB radio with him at all times to remain in constant touch via the SAC world wide network. But then he had been flying in "his" own aircraft.

I'm pretty sure any aide to LeMay would be busting his rear to be in communications and arrange communications for his boss on Nov. 22, not being proactive would definitely be a career limiting move.

Paul, there is more to come on LeMay's aide Col. Dorman.

And Larry, great that you are on to this angle, that Peter Dale Scott has been harping about for years now, and for good reason.

Did you see the two articles about the former US Army officer who was recruited out of college ROTC to be part of the "Continuity of Government" and Interagency Communications Agency? He was at Mount Weather (Site R) during the Cuban Missile Crisis and at the White House on 11/22/63. Interesting guy.

As for LeMay, there is info about his flight plans detailed in the Andrews Log for 11/22/63 and the day RFK was killed, which was salvaged from a dumpster by a Andrews Air Force base civilian employee and turned over to the ARRB. That log indicates LeMay was a first to be picked up a Toronto, but after the flight from Andrews took off to pick him up there, the destination was changed - to a remote SAC base north of Toronto. The only thing I can figure is that if LeMay was in upstate Michigan fishing with his wife's family, who had a lodge there, he was taking a private plane from there to the closest base where a Special Air Mission jet could land, and that was the SAC base.

Then, on the Clifton tape only, we here a patch from Col. Dorman - Gen. LeMay's aide, saying that LeMay is enroute to DC on a plane - and he gives the type - a small executive jet, and tail number, and that he is due to land in a half hour - and that he has a very important message for LeMay that he must have before he lands.

Unfortunately Dorman died in Vietnam, his plane shot down - but I located and talked with his widow, who was working at the White House on the historical renovations on the day of the assassination. She said her husband - Col. Dorman called here there and told her the president was shot and to go home immediately. Her boss - apparently in charge of the renovations - a Mr. Castro, came in and closed the blinds and curtains on the windows and they all said a prayer together and then she went home. They lived on "General's Row" that borders Arlington Cemetery, and she stopped in the little church there and prayed some more. She had some teen age sons who I also talked to and they said that they witnessed the funeral and burial from a tree.

More significant however, one of the sons told me that his dad, LeMay's aide, took him to work one day, and he got a tour of "General LeMay's plane," which was named "Speckled Trout," that I found references to on the internet - a Command and Control plane of the "Silver Dollar" class.

There is also an earlier reference to LeMay on the existing tapes - a guy comes on and says "The Chief of Staff wants to know if the body is on board?" Air Force One, and the answer is yes, the body is on board. Now LeMay was the "Chief of Staff" of the Air Force, and these were Air Force officers talking to each other, so I think it is LeMay wanting to keep track of the body.

But the son told me that it was very strange for LeMay and his father not to be together because they were stuck like glue, and the fact that they sent a small executive jet to pick him up and not his regular Command and Control plane, "Speckled Trout," which may have been in use elsewhere.

In any case, the facts as they appear here seem to indicate that LeMay and his aide were taken by surprise by the assassination, and that they were not involved in any operational duties, or else they would have been in a command and control center bunker or aboard "Speckled Trout," monitoring the situation.

BK

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Bill, I'd like to know more about Speckled Trout but if it was a SAC airborne emergency command and control aircraft, which I suspect it was, then it would likely have been a four engine jet with a bunch of electronics equipment and multiple personnel. SAC kept a network of aircraft airborne for global communications in the era before satellite comm and along with the airborne alert bombers, there were comm aircraft in the air all the time. I'm also thinking such an aircraft might be borrowed for official travel but likely not for a fishing trip and in this case LeMay had first gone on vacation to visit relatives in the Chicago area and then on into Canada for fishing.

I think the point would be that those big four engine aircraft were staged out of a limited number of fields (that's in the paper I did on all this) and may well have not been able to fly into that small Canadian field that LeMay came out of to go to DC, it was the closest field of any sort to where he was fishing. And of course a small courier class jet is going to come and go and a lot faster as well,

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Project Speckled Trout Video

Researchers might be interested in capturing tail numbers from this:

http://www.projectspeckledtrout.com/videos/legend.htm

Thanks for that one Chris,

So Speckled Trout wasn't just the name of a plane, it was an entire program with an Air WIng all its own -

If anyone with the technical capabilities can take the still photos of the radio shacks in this film so we can copy them, we should be able to identify the sideband radios and coding equipment used by Speckled Trout, which should be the same as Air Force One.

I'm also looking for a photo of the radio room behind the cockpit of Air Force One circa 1963, if anyone can come up with one.

BK

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The fate of that original plane "Speckled Trout":

3126 (c/n 17242) was used as *Speckled Trout* flying testbed.

Set Buenos Aires to Washington speed record of 11 hours 5 minutes with General Curtis LeMay at the controls Nov 13, 1957.

TO MASDC as CA0004 July 31, 1975. Cut up for scrap and nose used as an a/c simulator.

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If Lemay was fishing in Michigan, he could have accessed a NORAD base in the Upper Peninsula. Also, it should be noted that he would have been closer to Detroit, than to Toronto, and that it would have been easier for a US military plane to pick him up in the US as opposed to the Toronto area. ( There is a Canadian base about 50 miles north of Toronto. Another base is about 100 miles
northeast of Toronto.)

Geography eh? Pass the maple syrup.

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But from memory, if you are referring to the Salandria "Tale of the Tapes" article in which he quotes T.H. White's book "Making of a President 1964" when White says Bundy radioed AF1 from the WHSR and informed them that Oswald captured and no conspiracy, well that is not on the existing tapes. White, along with William Manchester and Pierre Salinger, were given access to a transcript of the AF1 tapes that must have been from the complete unedited tapes, as all three quote sections of the transcript that are not on the existing tapes. So there were a lot of parts edited out, and the unedited tapes are missing, and the transcript of the unedited tapes is also now missing from the existing records.

I do believe however, that we will someday soon locate the unedited tapes, as I think they still exist and we have a good lead on where they could possibly be.

Thanks for your interest in this,

BK

Thank you for your great work on this.

The Bundy line we have on tape about "the Pentagon is taking its own steps" possibly refers to the actions of Gen LeMay and the preparation for a strike on Cuba.

But Bundy himself way-laid those preparations when he informed LBJ that the lone assassin was captured.

Dueling cover-ups!

The lines attributed to Bundy - including "the Pentagon is taking its own steps" - are not on the existing tapes.

Yikes! Unforced research error! (Note to self: always review material before posting...)

William Manchester quoted Gen. Clifton as saying Bundy responded "crisply" -- "'The Pentagon is taking its own steps."

But it's not on the tapes...

Also missing are other the quotes White and Manchester attributed to a transcript they were permitted to read at the White House, but not take with them. Salinger was also sent a copy of the transcript which he quotes from in his book, and then passed on to the JFK Library in Boston. When Vince Salandria asked the LBJ library for the AF1 transcript that Salinger had and gave to them, they said they no longer had it. So the Dealey Plaza Clean Up Crew was hard at work.

Jim Bishop, who didn't have access to the tapes or the transcripts, wrote in his book that LBJ conversed with military commanders over the radio - this information apparently attained from an interview with one of the AF1 radio men, Air Force sergeants attached to the White House Communications Agency (WHCA).

A recent article in Esquire Magazine - Flight From Dallas - posted on another thread - also quotes this same radio man - and notes that he is still alive.

I agree with you that there were probably dueling cover-ups.

The original cover-story - that Castro Commies were behind the assassination, assumed that Oswald would be killed but that the assassination would be considered a conspiracy because there was more than one gunman, and the trail - rifle to Oswald - Oswald to FPCC/Mexico to Cuba - was clearly laid out, just as the evidence was linking Oswald to the crime - and the DPD Special Services Bureau cops who were also part of Army Reserves Intel #488 - Gannaway, Revel, Lumpkin, Stringfellow, et al., began to push for the Commie Conspiracy line - and Stringfellow sent the memo to the Florida Strike Force - alerting them to Oswald's Cuban Castro Commie background - they were pushing for the Cuban invasion backlash - the Northwoods twist to the Dealey Plaza operation. BUT

But LBJ took command, and the first decision he made as president was to go immediately to AF1 rather than the plane he flew in on, because as the Warren Commission tells us - it had better communications equipment. Once there, he makes a half dozen phone calls from the land line - run into AF1 that the WHCA claims was not recorded. JFK had only ordered the AF1 radio communications recorded when the plane was in the air. So LBJ calls Goldberg, the Dallas lawyer who tells him to have the swearing in right away, and have Judge Hughes do it. He then calls Judge Hughes' office and tells them to have her come to AF1 immediately. Then he calls RFK and asks for the words to the oath of office. Then he calls J.W. Bullion, his tax attorney and tells him he will now have to sell his Halliburton stock. RFK then calls him back and gives him the words to the oath.

In the meantime - we are told - by Bishop and Manchester and White, that he also talks to his generals about the Soviet threat, and by now - before they even take off - Oswald is captured and identified as FPCC, not by the White House Situation Room but by the news media - mainly the DRE - CIA assets - Hal Hendrix, et al., and the plane takes off. When they get back to Andrews, LBJ makes his speech and then he and his men - Valente, Cliff Carter, Bill Moyers, et al, take helicopters to the White House lawn.

Here's a question you might win a bar bet on:

Who were the top two US Gov't officials on the ground in DC that afternoon?

George Ball and W. Averell Harriman, the #2 and #3 men at the State Department.

All the other top cabinet guys were in the air.

Now, there was one hell of a co-incidence at work the afternoon of 11/22/63 -- the two men most responsible for the sending of Cable 243 on August 24, which set in motion US support for the overthrow of Diem in Vietnam, were the top officials in DC the day Kennedy's Vietnam withdrawal policy was overthrown.

They got around, didn't they?

Harriman, Ball and Bundy met LBJ at the airport.

If I recall correctly, Ball and Bundy took the copter with LBJ to the White House, no doubt pooh-poohing any notions of conspiracy.

Harriman went to pick up Sen. J. William Fulbright -- top Democrat on Foreign Relations -- and then high tailed it to the White House to tell Lyndon that "the top Kremlinologists" didn't believe the Soviets had anything to do with it.

Lyndon was happy to go with the lone nut idea.

After looking into the Oval Office French Doors from the Rose Garden, LBJ decides to use his own VP office in the Executive Office Building next door, so they walk over there. If they had used the Oval Office we would have a tape of the calls he made, because LBJ kept JFK's recording system going for awhile. But in the EOB, the phones were not recorded, and a lot of important calls were made, including a number to Dallas - Barefoot Sanders, Dallas DA - Henry Wade - etc., trying to put a squelch on the rumor they had heard that Oswald was going to be charged with a the assassination as part of a commie conspiracy.

This rumor was being fueled by one Joseph Goulden, reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was talking directly to Dallas Asst. DA William Alexander, who had told Goulden he was indeed going to charge Oswald with being part of a communist conspiracy, but once LBJ heard that - and called three top Texas lawmen, all of whom called Wade, the DA went back to the office and asked about Oswald being charged with a conspiracy and Alexander denied it. Goulden, it turns out, was one of David Atlee Phillips top media assets, who later - with another CIA media asset Hugh Aynesworth - "made up" Oswald's FBI informant number - a trial balloon they sent up to see if it would fly. And while the commie conspiracy didn't fly, the FBI informant did, at least long enough to unnerve the Warren Commission.

So there were two alternative cover stories - the commie conspiracy and the lone nut, both untrue, but the latter more easier to swallow, at least for LBJ because he didn't have to go to war with Cuba and the Soviets, as the original cover story would have if they stuck to it. To placate the military, he told them he would give them their war but it would be in Vietnam instead - since Cuba was the reason JFK was killed, LBJ didn't want to have anything to do with it, and didn't.

That's my take on it, and it appears that the most important parts of the Air Force One tapes is what was once on it - and now isn't.

BK

Edited by Cliff Varnell
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Ken, as I recall he was fishing in Canada or right along the border and actually flew out of a field in Canada. There have been some good articles on this including one with photos of the small airfield. You should be able to find it with some searching....its sort of new here right now but as Bill knows we have visited the story several times before...

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I appreciate that Larry, thank you. My point is that there are many better airfields in Michigan, which are closer than Canada.
I have lived across a river from Michigan for the past 60years, and have travelled Michigan, Ontario, and 34 other US states frequently. From a geograhic standpoint this story, despite photos of a small airfield, makes little sense to me, unless the brave general was actually in Northern Ontario.

Peace from the Great White North!

There was freezing rain in this area the day JFK was shot, so flights may have been affected. Air service was limited in those days. Also, the fishing season would have ended months before November.

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I can't imagine a military coup and a desire to light Cuba ablaze (clearly a Northwoods style provocation) that would leave LeMay out. What are the chances his fishing trip was simply a ruse? His reported interference with everything at the autopsy suggests some operational role.

A coup if it were discovered and thwarted would result in executions for treason so wouldn't a high level plotter create some plausible deniability?

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