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On 8/13/2015 at 3:21 PM, Steven Gaal said:

A video DVP should see. ,gaal




A helicopter was definitely sent to Andrews AFB to pick up President Kennedy’s body:
In November of 1996, David Lifton gave a remarkable presentation at the JFK Lancer conference in Dallas, in which he played a video interview he had just conducted with the former Marine Corps pilot of a military helicopter sent to Andrews AFB to pick up President Kennedy’s body and transport it to Bethesda Naval Hospital. Anyone interested can watch and listen to the video of this interview by obtaining the DVD disc from the 1996 Lancer conference titled: “Medical Evidence.”
Summarizing, the former Marine pilot was a member of the “HMX” helicopter squadron based in Quantico, VA and Anacostia, Maryland. This squadron provided 24-hour, seven days per week “hot team” standby service for the President and high level, VIP Federal officials. Normally they were on duty for 48 hours at a time, and then off duty for the next 48 hours. Lifton’s witness (whose identity he protected) stated in the videotaped interview that he was about to go home and enjoy a rare day off on November 22, 1963 when he was called into a special, surreptitious briefing at the Anacostia base where he was working that day. He was ordered to take a helicopter to Andrews AFB, and to be as unobtrusive as possible (including not using the lights on his helo), to await the arrival of Air Force One, and to take President Kennedy’s body to Bethesda Naval Hospital. He was ordered to use a VIP helicopter, and was told that others would load the body onto his helicopter. His call sign for this mission was to be “Nighthawk One.” He was told to stay out of public view; to taxi up to the tail of Air Force One after it had landed; and to stay out of the lights as much as possible.
The pilot of “Nighthawk One” landed on the west taxiway at Andrews just prior to sunset (he remembered the orange sky) and parked his helicopter behind some trees near the passenger terminal. He kept the engines running, but turned the rotors off. As soon as he saw Air Force One land, he spun his rotors up again.
He then taxied out to Air Force One in the darkness, and stopped about 100 feet from AF1 on the right rear side of SAM 26000—on the starboard aft quarter of the airplane. He could see “Army 1” (the helicopter LBJ used that night to go to the White House) parked in the lighted area of the tarmac “where the action was,” and noted that the entire port side of Air Force One was illuminated by the television lights. He saw a large casket coming down on the scissors lift from the port aft door, then saw the casket loaded into the Navy ambulance and saw Jackie Kennedy get into the ambulance. At this point he realized that either the plans had changed since he was given his mission, or he had merely been a backup, and no one had told him about the ambulance. As soon as he saw the Dallas casket put into the Navy ambulance, he taxied away into the darkness, requested clearance, and flew his helicopter to Quantico, Virginia.
Undoubtedly, “Nighthawk One’s” mission had been requested by Gerald Behn at “Crown,” the one official who had insisted throughout the Air Force One conversations on the Clifton tapes that JFK’s autopsy be conducted at Bethesda, and that his body be moved by helicopter.
The obvious questions, in view of “Nighthawk One’s” departure without President Kennedy’s body onboard, are: (1) Who changed the plan? How did this happen? and (2) How did JFK’s body get to Bethesda Naval Hospital, if “Nighthawk One” did not take it there?
Orders were given by “Crown” to separate Jacqueline Kennedy from the Dallas casket, and to send the casket to Bethesda by helicopter:

Oh man,

Thank you Steve!!!!

The information contained in your post helps me put the final pieces of the puzzle together on JFK's wounds in between Parkland & Bethesda.

Thanks again!

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On 8/13/2015 at 7:15 PM, Steven Gaal said:

DVP facts are here for you to see. you eems not to want them.,gaal



The AF1 tapes reveal unambiguously that Gerald Behn in the White House situation room wanted to separate Mrs. Kennedy (hereafter referred to by her initials, JBK) and all other VIP passengers who were not Secret Service agents from the Dallas casket. Although JFK’s Military Aide, General Ted Clifton (code name “Watchman”), initially insisted on an autopsy at Walter Reed Hospital and the use of a mortuary-type ambulance for transportation, he eventually fell into line with “Crown’s” demands and then actively supported Behn’s orders. Here are some telling quotes from the Clifton tapes:

Digest: Walter Reed ambulance for body that will go to Walter Reed, over?

Duplex: Say again, say again.

Digest (Kellerman): …[we need] an ambulance from Walter Reed to transport body, over?

Duplex (Behn): Arrangements have been made for a helicopter for the Bethesda Naval Medical Center, over.

Digest: Standby, jerry—ah, I’ll have to get Burkley here.

A short time later Behn clarified his intentions:

Duplex: The, everybody aboard Air Force One, everybody aboard Air Force One, with the exception of the body, will be choppered into the South Grounds [of the White House]. The body will be choppered to the Navy Medical Center at Bethesda, over.

Burkley: The body will be choppered or will go by ambulance to the Navy Medical Center?

Duplex: Will be choppered, will be choppered.

Somewhat later, General Clifton on AF1 (apparently unaware that the Secret Service is running the show in Washington) “reads the riot act” to General Heaton, the Surgeon General of the Army:

Clifton: [material appears to be missing here from both the LBJ Library and Clifton version of the AF1 tapes — there is no “point one” on the tape “…two: we do not want a helicopter for Bethesda Naval Medical Center. We do want a [sic] ambulance and a ground return from Andrews to Walter Reed, and we want the regular, ah, post mortem that has to be done by law, under guard, performed at Walter Reed. Is that clear, over?

Heaton: That is clear, General Clifton. You want an ambulance, and another, ah, limousine, at Andrews, and you want the, ah, regular post mortem by law done at Walter Reed.

Clifton: That is correct.

These instructions, given to the Army Surgeon General (who was at Walter Reed, and not at “Crown”), were undoubtedly why the Gawler’s Hearse was originally ordered to go to Andrews AFB by Colonel Miller of the Army’s Military District of Washington. This conversation, apparently, also stimulated Dr. Dick Davis, the acting Head of Neurosurgery at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (the AFIP was co-located with Walter Reed in Washington D.C.), to assemble a team and set up to perform a craniotomy (the surgical skull cap removal performed at autopsies) at Walter Reed. He told me, when I interviewed him in 1997 while on the ARRB staff, that his team was set up and ready to go, but President Kennedy’s body never arrived at Walter Reed.

Then, after the “black Cadillac” conversations overheard at Crown on the Clifton tapes, General Clifton (who now began using his code name, “Watchman”) begins to defer to Behn’s plans for a Bethesda autopsy:

Watchman: Ah, Duplex, this is Watchman. I understand that [you] have arranged [fadeout] … [mor]tuary-type of ambulance [garbled] take President Kennedy to Bethesda. Is this correct, over?

Duplex: Watchman, ah, there’s been [sic] arranged to helicopter, helicopter, the body to Bethesda, over.

After some discussion about whether it is safe to use a helicopter, this ensued:

Watchman: This is Watchman. Ah, don’t take a chance on that. Also, have a mortuary-type ambulance stand by in case the helicopter doesn’t work.

Duplex: That’s affirmative [garbled] That’s affirmative, I received.

Watchman: Now, some other instructions. Listen carefully. Ah, we need a ramp, a normal ramp put at, put at the front of the aircraft, on the right-hand side, just behind the pilot’s cabin, in the galley. We are going to take the First Lady off by that route, over. Do you understand?

Duplex: I receive, affirmative.

Clifton then asked for a large forklift for the casket at the port side rear door, and a normal ramp for passengers at the port forward door. He then summarized:

Watchman: Duplex, this is Watchman, I say again: at the right front, a ramp for Mrs. Ken[nedy]; at the left rear, if possible, a forklift for the casket; and on the left front, near the pilot, [a] normal ramp, [a] normal press arrangement [garbled], over?

Clearly, at this point General Clifton was implementing Jerry Behn’s stated intention to separate JBK from the Dallas casket. Behn had earlier said all passengers were to be choppered to the South Grounds of the White House; and now Ted Clifton was attempting to ensure that this would happen by arranging for her to exit the aircraft secretly, in the darkness, using the forward starboard galley door — a different door than was going to be used for the Dallas casket.

The question is, WHY? I have inferred that among the many conversations that must have been deleted from the AF1 tapes, were undoubtedly conversations between Kellerman and Behn about the body switch — about the removal of JFK’s body from the bronze Dallas casket prior to takeoff, as a “security measure” to keep it out of the hands of the Dallas County Medical Examiner, Earl Rose. This is the context in which the “black Cadillac” discussions overheard at “Crown,” and the blatant attempts by Behn and Clifton to separate JBK from the Dallas casket, best make sense.

Now, just because “Nighthawk One” took off from Andrews AFB without JFK’s body onboard, that does not mean that there weren’t other helicopters available. Please read below this crucial exchange between Kellerman (Digest) and Behn (Duplex), which occurred between time 3:52 and time 6:05 on side 2 of the Clifton tapes (after the Clifton plan to remove JBK from the aircraft in secret was discussed):

Duplex: [after many communications problems]…Go ahead Digest, this is Duplex.

Digest: Again, I repeat, three helicopters [to] transport people to the White House lawn, OK?

Duplex: That is affirmative.

Digest: Roger, OK, White House 102 and 405-X for transportation to, ah, Navy Hospital, OK?

Duplex: That is affirmative.

This is significant. Kellerman is confirming that three helicopters at Andrews were assigned to take AF1’s passengers (largely, the Kennedy entourage, including JBK) to the White House, and that two additional helicopters were assigned to transport JFK’s body to Bethesda. These are designated by Kellerman as White House assets, and are therefore not HMX “hot team” assets. Getting the body of JFK to Bethesda was so important that redundancy was laid in: both “Nighthawk One” had been arranged to perform that function, as well as two other assets controlled by the Secret Service (White House 102 and 405-X). Presumably, one of these two White House assets would be used to take the heavy, ceremonial bronze Dallas casket to Bethesda — an event which was highly likely (indeed, almost certain) to be televised on live TV. The second helicopter mentioned by Kellerman would have been needed to surreptitiously transport the actual body of JFK from the luggage compartment on AF1 where it had been hidden during the flight, to Bethesda, where it could have been reunited with the bronze Dallas casket. If this had taken place as planned — a two helicopter rendezvous on the grounds of Bethesda in the darkness — JFK’s body could have been placed back into the Dallas casket and no one at the morgue would have known otherwise. Once the very public loading of the Dallas casket onto helo # 1 had taken place, the klieg lights would have been turned off, and the Andrews TV coverage would have ceased. (This is exactly what happened once LBJ’s helo, “Army 1,” departed. The TV coverage abruptly ended.) Then, in the ensuing darkness, it would have been easy to offload JFK’s body from its hiding place in an AF1 luggage compartment and place it on helo # 2.

The most significant quote on the Clifton tapes then takes place almost immediately after Kellerman tells Behn about the two helicopters to be used for the Navy Hospital.

Duplex: Digest, this is Duplex. You accompany the body aboard the helicopter.

Digest: Roger…

After all that had gone before in the AF1 conversations, the reader will understand that this is the proof that the light gray Navy Pontiac ambulance was never intended to take JFK’s Dallas casket to Bethesda. In fact, William Manchester makes clear, in two places in his book The Death of a President, that this was a cardiac ambulance (not a hearse), and that it was sent to Andrews by Captain Canada, the commanding officer of the treatment hospital at Bethesda, in case LBJ had experienced any heart trouble. [Rear Admiral Galloway commanded the entire complex; Captain Stover was the C.O. of the medical school at Bethesda; and Captain Canada was the C.O. of the treatment hospital.]

On page 381, Manchester writes:

Captain R.O. Canada, Jr., Bethesda’s commanding officer, wasn’t informed of the role his hospital would play. And Godfrey McHugh’s tart order for an ambulance had been ignored. Captain Canada did send one to Andrews, but that was sheer chance. Because Lyndon Johnson had served in the Navy, he had been Canada’s patient after his massive heart attack on July 2, 1955; the ambulance was dispatched against the possibility that the new President might be stricken again during the flight.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, on impulse, changes the Secret Service/Military plan to separate her from the Dallas casket:

We know from Manchester’s book that Robert F. Kennedy, the slain President’s brother and the U.S. Attorney General, was the first person to board AF1 after touchdown. In fact, he appears to have done so in the darkness, just when the bright television klieg lights were briefly switched off as the aircraft approached its designated parking spot. Air Force One had touched down at 6:00 PM local time, and had been taxiing toward its normal waiting area for about three minutes. Manchester writes on page 387:

The crowd waiting by the chain fence had realized that arrival was imminent because they heard the whining jets. They couldn’t see its silhouette, however; the klieg lights blinded them. At 6:03 PM these were abruptly cut off. The reason was commonplace. The pilot had to see his way… Closer and closer the huge ghost crawled until Swindal [the pilot], looking down, could identify two of the waiting men. Robert McNamara was facing him, looking peculiarly tall. Robert Kennedy had just left the sanctuary of his [pickup] truck [where he had secreted himself] and was posed in a tense half-crouch, ready to spring aboard. Swindal paused momentarily for the croucher. [Did AF1 actually pause momentarily in the darkness to let RFK onboard before any others? The meaning of Manchester’s writing here is unclear.] The eyes of the crowd were on the rear hatch, the President’s. A ramp had been readied for the front entrance, and the Attorney General vaulted on it, unseen; he was pumping up the steps while it was still being rolled into place … the aircraft glided forward once again and parked.” The time “on the blocks” was reported by AF1 as 6:04 PM.

RFK raced to the rear of the aircraft to be with JBK. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had already displayed a gritty, stubborn frame of mind during the flight back. On page 348, Manchester writes that when Rear Admiral Burkley, JFK’s Military Physician, asked her if she wanted to change her blood-spattered pink Chanel suit:

“No,” she whispered fiercely. “Let them see what they’ve done.”

A similar exchange took place with Malcolm Kilduff, the acting Press Secretary for JFK’s trip to Texas. Manchester, who did not have access to the AF1 tapes, and therefore did not understand the true intent of taking JBK out the forward starboard door, continued on page 348:

The last man to realize that she really meant it was Kilduff. He thought long about how they could offload the coffin at Andrews without pictures being taken. His solution was to open the galley door on the starboard side, opposite the usual exit. That way the great mass of the fuselage would mask both the coffin and the widow; photographers and television cameramen would see nothing. He proposed the plan. She vetoed it. “We’ll go out the regular way [using the Presidential exit on the port aft side of the aircraft],” she said. “I want them to see what they have done.”

Ask yourself what was more likely: was General Clifton taking orders from an assistant Press Secretary, or was the assistant Press Secretary taking orders from the Commander-in-Chief’s Military Aide? It seems obvious to me that Clifton tried to use Kilduff to get Jackie to leave the aircraft in the darkness, via the secret exit ramp previously arranged by Clifton, on the radio circuit to “Crown.” And it was naive for Manchester to fall for this specious after-the-fact explanation for a purported plan to remove both the casket and Jackie Kennedy from the forward starboard galley door, since there was no forklift at the forward starboard galley door to take the casket off. The forklift was at the Presidential door, on the aft port side. Air Force One itself (Clifton) had initiated that arrangement.

On page 390, Manchester writes:

Bob Kennedy explained the transportation choices to his sister-in-law. “There’s a helicopter here to take you to the White House. Don’t you want to do that?”

“No, no, I just want to go to Bethesda.” She saw the gray ambulance, assumed it was the one she had requested, and said, “We’ll go in that.”

And thus, were all the devious plans of the coup plotters to separate the widow (and all other witnesses) from the Dallas casket torn asunder, and rendered moot. In this instant, while looking out the Presidential exit door at the left rear of the aircraft, the determination of President Kennedy’s widow to remain with her husband — she had no idea the Dallas casket was empty, and therefore equated staying with the casket to staying with JFK’s body — threw a giant monkey-wrench into the plans of the Secret Service to surreptitiously reunite his body with the Dallas casket. The failure of this plan led directly to the absurd “French Farce” of the three casket entries discussed earlier, and through this discovery of the body’s broken chain-of-custody — by investigating what it meant — we have uncovered the clandestine post-mortem surgery that was performed on JFK’s body, at Bethesda Naval Hospital, to remove all evidence of frontal shots from his cadaver before the autopsy officially began. No coup plotter in his right mind would have planned the three Bethesda casket entries that actually occurred that night, for the different entries left undeniable evidence of a serious break in the body’s chain-of-custody, and of “missing time” prior to the beginning of the autopsy at 8:00 PM. The investigation of what transpired during that “missing time” (between 6:35 PM and 8:00 PM), and of what the three casket entries implied, has led to a true understanding of why the Parkland Hospital wound observations and the Bethesda Naval Hospital wound observations are so markedly different. (See Chapter 13 of Inside the ARRB, pages 998-1013.)

Manchester’s confirmation that RFK and JBK, with an ad hoc decision, commandeered a cardiac ambulance sent to provide aid to LBJ (and that that vehicle was not the intended mode of transportation for the body) is found on page 391 of The Death of a President, where he writes: “Beside the driver, gaping, were the heart specialist and nurse who had been sent to attend Lyndon Johnson. At Roy Kellerman’s request all three slid out wordlessly and Greer, Kellerman, Landis, and Burkley scrambled in, Burkley on Landis’ lap. The Attorney General entered the back, sitting opposite his sister-in-law; Godfrey perched beside her.”

This is the precise moment when the pilot of “Nighthawk One” took off, without the Dallas Casket, and flew to Quantico to put his bird to bed. Kellerman and Greer had no choice but to modify their plan immediately, and to stay with the Dallas casket, which Kellerman surely knew was empty. (He was in charge of all security for the Dallas trip, and as the reader will recall, blurted out a revealing oral utterance on the radio to Gerald Behn prior to takeoff from Love Field, about something happening with “the, ah, body.”) As soon as the AF1 personnel failed to separate Jackie Kennedy from the Dallas casket, Kellerman’s main task changed from “going with the body on the helicopter” to preventing anyone from opening it while it was still empty. It was for this reason that he stayed with JBK, RFK, and the empty Dallas casket.

Was there enough time to fly JFK’s body to Bethesda to support a 6:35 PM arrival at the morgue loading dock? Do the facts fit the hypothesis?

The answer is YES.

I closely studied the events on the ground at Andrews by watching my DVD of the A&E network’s rebroadcast of the NBC live TV coverage on November 22, 1963, called “As It Happened.”

Using that broadcast and a stopwatch; and the AF1 tapes; and the Chuck Holmes logbook of Andrews AFB activity on 11/22/63; and Manchester’s book, I was able to construct the following timeline:

6:00 PM AF1 Touchdown. [From the AF1 tapes and the Chuck Holmes Andrews AFB logbook]

6:04 PM: AF1 “on the blocks.” [From the AF1 tapes]

6:14 PM: LBJ makes brief televised remarks before microphones. [From the DVD of TV coverage, and Manchester’s book] The Navy ambulance has already departed with the Dallas casket, with RFK and JBK onboard.

6:20 PM: LBJ’s helo, “Army 1,” takes off and the television lights are turned off and the coverage abruptly ends. [From the DVD of TV coverage]

6:26 PM: LBJ and “Army 1” arrives at the South Lawn of the White House [from Manchester’s book]

6:30 PM: Air Force Two (more correctly, SAM 86970, since there was no Vice President onboard) lands at Andrews. It would have taxied for three to four minutes before parking, based on the time required for AF1 to taxi to its resting spot. [from the Chuck Holmes special Andrews logbook for 11/22/63]

The time required for a helicopter flight from Andrews to the White House (6:20 to 6:26 PM) was just 6 minutes, and you can be sure that the pilot of “Army 1” was being very careful that night, and was not trying to set any speed records.

In order for JFK’s body to show up at the Bethesda morgue loading dock at 6:35 PM (per the seminal Boyajian report) I stipulate that it would have had to arrive by helicopter on the grounds of Bethesda five minutes prior to that, by 6:30 PM.

Was there enough time to fly JFK’s body from Air Force One’s parking spot at Andrews to the grounds of Bethesda, and arrive by 6:30 PM? YES. If JFK’s body (wrapped in the two sheets in which it left Parkland) had been loaded onto a helicopter by 6:23 PM — three minutes after LBJ’s helo departed and the TV broadcast was discontinued—it would have had seven minutes to get to Bethesda Naval Hospital. If JFK’s body had been put on a helicopter at 6:21 instead of 6:23, then nine minutes would have been available for the flight to Bethesda. Washington D.C. is a small town, not very large in land area, and Bethesda is immediately northwest of the city limits, not that far from the White House.

My estimated “necessary” arrival time for the helicopter surreptitiously transporting JFK’s body to the Bethesda Naval Hospital complex Officer’s Club parking lot — 6:30 PM — is indirectly corroborated by an entry in an Army log from MDW’s funeral operations center. In a footnote on page 689 of Best Evidence (cloth edition), Lifton wrote that the log indicates that at 5:30 PM word was passed that Kennedy’s body was going to Bethesda. A log entry then notes that one Army official notified Admiral Galloway “advising them to provide a security cordon around the heliport at the Bethesda Naval Center, expecting arrival of the remains at approximately 1830 hours [6:30 PM].” This confirms my own estimate of the possible arrival time of the surreptitious flight with the body from Andrews calculated above, and proves my own calculations of the feasibility of getting there on time (to support a 6:35 PM offload at the morgue loading dock) were “spot on.”

Is there evidence of a helicopter landing on the Bethesda grounds near the morgue?

The answer is YES. On page 35 of William Law’s 2005 book In the Eye of History, from his interview of Paul K. O’Connor (a Navy corpsman who assisted the Navy pathologists with the autopsy on JFK), he quotes O’Connor as follows:

Right after we heard the helicopters come over, I distinctly heard one land in the back of the hospital, which was the Officer’s Club parking lot. There was a big parking lot. I heard one helicopter land there. I heard another helicopter land at the north side of the hospital where there was a normal helicopter-landing pad. Several minutes later, I can’t give you a definite time — maybe five minutes — the back of the morgue opened up and a crew of hospital corpsmen and a higher ranking corpsman brought in a plain, pinkish-gray, what I call a shipping casket. It was not ornate. It was not damaged…. They brought it up front where we were. At that time we opened up the coffin. Inside was the body bag.

Dennis David had first told his story about delivering a plain gray metal casket (from a black Cadillac) to a small town midwestern newspaper in May of 1975. Paul O’Connor corroborated this story about a “pinkish gray” casket to the HSCA staff in 1977, and also told the HSCA staff that the President’s body had been removed nude, from inside a zippered body bag, with a sheet wrapped only around the head. (JFK did not leave Parkland Hospital in a body bag; and his body, when it departed Parkland, was not nude — it was wrapped in a sheet. His head was wrapped in a separate sheet, also.) A third witness to the shipping casket was Navy corpsman Floyd Riebe, who assisted the official photographer at the autopsy that night; he has recalled that the crude shipping casket had ugly turnbuckles on it to seal the lid, and had no prominent side rails for the pallbearers, like the bronze Dallas casket.

Paul O’Connor was interviewed extensively by David Lifton on film in 1980 for his short documentary Best Evidence, and subsequently again by Lifton, a few years later, on video for a TV journalism news show. He was also interviewed extensively by Nigel Turner for his multi-part documentary, The Men Who Killed Kennedy. Although he is now deceased, the reader has ample opportunities to assess Paul O’Connor’s credibility. I find him very credible. His story about the shipping casket never wavered, and his account of a group of Navy corpsmen bringing in the shipping casket dovetails perfectly with Dennis David’s account. His memory of one helicopter landing on the north side of the Bethesda Hospital, at the helipad, concurs with Manchester, who records in his book that the H-21 helicopter carrying the Joint Service Casket Team from Andrews landed at that site, out in front of the main building. His account of a second helo landing at the Officer’s Club parking lot, behind the morgue, is indirectly corroborated by Dennis David. David told Lifton in 1979 that he believed the black Cadillac ambulance (the Hearse) that delivered the shipping casket to the morgue loading dock had come in through “the back gate.” When Lifton asked David to explain why he said that, he explained that the road which brought the black Cadillac to the morgue loading dock wound its way from the back gate, past the Officer’s Club, to the morgue entrance. (See page 573 of Best Evidence, cloth edition.) So the route used by the black Cadillac ambulance met by Dennis David passed directly by the Officer’s Club parking lot, where O’Connor was certain a helicopter had landed, only about five minutes before the shipping casket was delivered to the morgue where O’Connor worked that night, by a working party of Navy corpsmen.

Everything fits.

Including the Hearse. Dennis David has consistently recalled that the two people in the front of the black Cadillac were wearing white operating room smocks, and that it was definitely not a military vehicle. It had to have been the Gawler’s funeral home Hearse that was originally assigned to go to Andrews AFB, but which was recalled by Colonel Miller “at the last minute.” Apparently it was sent to Bethesda instead. Tom Robinson, who in 1963 was a twenty-year-old Gawler’s embalming assistant (whose specialty was applying restorative art to cadavers to prepare them for open-casket funerals), said he was present all night long inside the morgue and had a “50-yardline seat” in the gallery. He witnessed things that were NOT WITNESSED by the large audience to the official autopsy that began at 8:00 PM. [Two examples were: (1) him witnessing JFK’s skull sawed open to remove the brain — something Humes did not have to do before his large audience at 8:00 PM; and (2) he saw about ten metal fragments removed from JFK’s cranium and placed in a vial—this contradicts the official account that there were only two small metal fragments removed from the cranium.] In order to see these events, Robinson must have arrived early, with the body. Therefore, I conclude that he was one of the occupants of the black Cadillac’s front seat (wearing a white smock as one would expect an embalmer to wear), and that the black Cadillac met by Dennis David and his working party at 6:35 PM was the Gawler’s Hearse.

One big loose end

On page 690 of Best Evidence (cloth edition), David Lifton writes that in her handwritten notes, recorded two minutes prior to Air Force One’s touchdown at 6:00 PM, LBJ’s secretary, Marie Fehmer, recorded the following entry: “5:58 Arr Andrews — Body w/Mrs. K to Walter Reed.”

What is of extreme interest to me is that she made this entry just prior to landing, not one hour or more earlier, when the selection of the autopsy site was apparently undecided, and in fact was a subject of controversy between AF1 and “Crown.”

Furthermore, author Craig Roberts, in his book Kill Zone, quoted an official Andrews AFB history that stated JFK’s autopsy had been preformed at Walter Reed Hospital after the body’s arrival at Andrews AFB.

Of course we certainly know today that JFK’s autopsy was performed at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and that his body first arrived there at the morgue loading dock at 6:35 PM (per Dennis David and the Boyajian report). We also know that while there was sufficient time to get JFK’s body to Bethesda by 6:30 PM, using a helicopter, there was no time to spare, either — no time for a diversion.

But in view of all the early talk on AF1 about an autopsy at Walter Reed (begun by Roy Kellerman, and continued for a time by both Dr. Burkley and General Clifton), and in view of the fact that Dr. Dick Davis (the acting head of Neuropathology at AFIP) was set up at Walter Reed and ready to perform a craniotomy on JFK’s cranium, I have to wonder whether at some point that day, there might have been a plan to alter and sanitize JFK’s head wounds surreptitiously at Walter Reed, and then take the altered body to Bethesda, where the damage seen at Bethesda would then be [falsely] represented as “damage done by the assassin’s bullet?”

We might never know that answer to this question. All we know today is that the timeline shows that as events actually unfolded, there was no diversion enroute Bethesda from Andrews — in fact, there was “just enough time” to land at the Officer’s Club parking lot at about 6:30 PM and to get the body to the morgue in the black Cadillac (the Gawler’s Hearse) by 6:35 PM.

Another possibility is proved impossible

Various researchers, at one time or another, have speculated that JFK’s body might really have come back to Washington on Air Force Two. This can now be definitively ruled out, because of the firm time of arrival of JFK’s body provided by the Boyajian report, dated November 26, 1963. Sergeant Boyajian wrote that the casket arrived at the Bethesda morgue at 1835 hours, which equates to 6:35 PM, civilian time. (He was surely talking about the President’s body; no other reasonable interpretation is possible. And of course Dr. Boswell, who was present on the loading dock when the shipping casket arrived, confirmed to Dennis David later that night, that it had indeed been President Kennedy in the shipping casket.) We know from a transmission on the new Clifton tapes that SAM 86970 (otherwise known as AF2) took off from Dallas at 3:15 PM CST (thus confirming the takeoff time listed in the reports of two Secret Service agents), and we know from the Chuck Holmes logbook provided to the ARRB (the special operations log for 11/22/63 made by the 1254th ATW [Air Transport Wing] Command Post), that SAM 86970 landed at precisely 1830 hours, or 6:30 PM civilian time.

Presumably, the taxi time for AF2 to get to its designated spot on the Andrews tarmac would be similar or identical to that for AF1 — namely, three or four minutes. This would have AF2 rolling to a complete stop and “on the blocks” at about 6:33 PM at the earliest. Secret Service agent Emory Roberts wrote in his after action report that the landing time for AF2 was 6:35 PM — this was probably the actual time “on the blocks.” This allows insufficient time for a helicopter trip from Andrews AFB to Bethesda Naval Hospital. And that’s an understatement; in fact, the landing time recorded by Emory Roberts allows no time at all for a trip from Andrews AFB to Bethesda Naval Hospital. The numbers don’t lie.

So, not only did the pilot and flight engineer on AF2 deny to David Lifton that they ever had JFK’s body (or any other body) onboard their aircraft (as reported in the cloth edition of Best Evidence on page 679), but more importantly, the facts on the ground (the landing time of 86970 — 6:30 PM), combined with the known time for a helicopter flight from Andrews to Bethesda (7 to 9 minutes), make it impossible for Air Force Two (86970) to have delivered JFK’s body to Andrews in time for it to arrive at the Bethesda morgue loading dock at 6:35 PM.

Consider these additional facts. The actual flight time for AF1 from Love Field to Andrews was 2 hours and 13 minutes. The actual flight time for AF2 from Love Field to Andrews was 2 hours and 15 minutes. The “Great Circle Mapper” software which I consulted when writing my book revealed that, at the cruising speed of 535 mph for the military version of the Boeing 707 aircraft reported by William Manchester (who after all, did interview the pilot of AF1), the trip from Love Field to Andrews should have taken 2 hours and 14 minutes. This is only one minute off of the actual flight times for AF1 and AF2! Everything fits, and is consistent with the arrival time for SAM 86970 in the Chuck Holmes logbook—6:30 PM—being accurate. (See pages 1790-1792 of Inside the ARRB for a thorough discussion of the capabilities of the two aircraft.) Therefore, there is every reason to have full confidence in the Chuck Holmes logbook.

In the world of great uncertainty that characterizes much of the JFK assassination evidence, it is comforting and satisfying to be able to rule out one distracting possibility, for this allows us to focus with confidence on what really happened, instead of wasting our time on idle and unfounded speculation.


This essay, I believe, provides a good lesson in historiography. When one studies a problem, one needs to use as many sources of evidence as are available, and take a holistic approach to the problem; that is, to study it with an open mind, and without making any assumptions or preconceptions, while keeping the “big picture” in mind at all times. In this case the problem was defined by this series of questions: “What can the Air Force One tapes tell us about the autopsy planning while AF1 was enroute Washington, D.C. from Dallas? Was there anything amiss? Did the plans evolve? Was the final plan executed as planned? If not, why not?”

We now know that there was a vehement disagreement within the Federal bureaucracy over whether the autopsy would be at the U.S. Army’s Walter Reed Hospital, or the Navy’s Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. The Secret Service won the argument. We know that the AF1 personnel (especially General Clifton) wanted initially to use a mortuary-type ambulance to move the body, whereas the Secret Service at the White House Situation Room wanted to use a helicopter. The Secret Service won the argument: while the empty Dallas casket was moved in a light gray Navy cardiac ambulance, the actual body of JFK was transported to the grounds of Bethesda Naval Hospital in a White House VIP helicopter. We now know that this helicopter from Andrews (with unnamed escorts onboard — presumably Secret Service agents) arrived at about 6:30 PM in the Officer’s Club parking lot, and that the body of the assassinated Commander-in-Chief was then encased inside a body bag, and that the body bag was then placed inside a plain, unadorned, lightweight aluminum shipping casket, and taken to the morgue loading dock, where it arrived at 6:35 PM and was offloaded by HM1 Dennis David’s working party. The Hearse (the black Cadillac mortuary ambulance) and the shipping casket were undoubtedly provided by the Gawler’s Funeral Home. [something not mentioned above was how “radioactive” any and all questions about the President’s casket, or the time of his arrival at Bethesda, seemed to Joseph Hagan of Gawler’s when he was interviewed by the ARRB in 1996. He would not speak to us voluntarily without a subpoena, and so he received one. He was evasive and non-credible about all questions related to the Gawler’s hearse, his arrival time that night at Bethesda, and the types of caskets he saw at the morgue. However, he did verify that it was his handwriting on the Gawler’s business document called the “First Call Sheet,” in which he wrote the following words: “Body removed from metal shipping casket at USNH at Bethesda.”]

We now know, from the new evidence revealed in Inside the ARRB, that two witnesses, Tom Robinson of Gawler’s funeral home, and Navy enlisted x-ray technologist Ed Reed, both witnessed the illicit, clandestine, post-mortem surgery to President Kennedy’s cranium — surgery whose goal was to “sanitize the crime scene” by removing all evidence of frontal shots from the body — well before the official autopsy began at 8:00 PM. We now know that the series of skull x-rays and photographs taken of President Kennedy’s cranium prior to 8:00 PM (when the autopsy began) represent damage caused by this post-mortem surgery, not by any assassin’s bullet. Based on what we know about the autopsy report today, it would not be admitted in evidence at a trial (since the first two written versions, as well as original autopsy notes, have been destroyed), and each individual autopsy photograph and skull x-ray would be subjected to significant challenges before they could be admitted into evidence. The three surviving skull x-rays would not be admitted into evidence at any trial today, for we now know (thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. David Mantik, MD, PhD) that the three skull x-rays in the Archives are not originals, but are altered copy films. We know today that the brain photographs in the National Archives that reside with the JFK autopsy photographs cannot be photographs of President Kennedy’s brain: they have been disowned by the official photographer, John Stringer (because they are recorded on the wrong types of film), and by one of the FBI agents present at the autopsy, Francis O’Neill (because there is too much mass present, and in the wrong locations). Furthermore, the large amount of mass present in these brain photos is grossly inconsistent not only with the skull x-rays (which show much brain tissue missing in the forebrain, and in the right cerebral hemisphere), but also with the amount of missing mass noted at Parkland Hospital (at least one third of the brain was observed to be missing by Dr. McClelland), where President Kennedy received emergency treatment in an attempt to save his life.

For all these reasons, it is important to study the Air Force One tapes, and how (and when) President Kennedy’s body really arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital — for this is when the medical cover-up began: on the trip back to Washington onboard Air Force One, and on the ground at Andrews AFB.

As libertarian scholar and activist Jacob Hornberger has recently pointed out, there are two general types of people that one observes when studying how Americans react to the JFK assassination evidence. One category is those who have open and inquiring and even critical minds — people who demand logical and rational answers when they encounter things in the evidence, and in the “official explanation,” that do not make sense. Another category of people one encounters are what he calls deferentials, those who tend to blindly defer to authority when they encounter things that don’t make sense. These are the people who want simplistic explanations to mysteries and conflicting evidence, so that they can sleep well at night. These are the people who don’t want to believe that a coup happened in America in 1963, or that there was a massive cover-up by the U.S. government of the medical and forensic evidence in JFK’s assassination. These deferentials include the minority of the U.S. population who still profess to believe in the Warren Report. It is to the first category of people — at least 80 per cent of all Americans today — those who are “empiricists,” who follow evidence wherever it leads them, and who have open and inquiring minds, that this essay is dedicated.

Douglas Horne served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board and is the author of Inside the Assassination Records Review Board.

I meant to include this post also.

Thank you!

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