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Connally’s fifth right rib

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I have read little on the subject and hitherto assumed that accounts of the initial Parkland Hospital treatment of Connally were unproblematic. A recently encountered UPI dispatch has caused me pause.

In recent years, plaudits for saving the Governor have gone, almost exclusively, to James “Red” Duke, a fourth-year resident at Parkland. That Duke was involved in Connally’s initial treatment is not disputed. It’s the centrality of that involvement that is seemingly challenged by the aforementioned UPI dispatch.

A brief preamble to the relevant portion of the dispatch. It’s source was particularly credible for six reasons: 1) He was speaking from recent experience, when the memory was fresh; 2) he was doing so when he had no notion of how subsequent accounts might need to be “tweaked”; 3) the tribute he offered was unsolicited; 4) manifestly heartfelt; 5) without obvious gain, reputational or financial (quite the reverse); and 6) the level of detail.   With no further ado, then, the key, concluding section of the dispatch in question:



UPI (McAllen), Almost Saved Oswald, Dallas Surgeon Says (Detroit Free Press, Thursday, 28 November 1963, 2B):

“Perry massaged the President’s chest in an attempt to restore the heart-beat. Perry praised Dr. David Morbene [sic], another surgeon at Parkland. “Dr. Morbene, working on Gov. Connally across the hall, reminded everyone of their job early, he said. “He yelled, ‘Don’t get excited. Remember, we do this kind of thing every day.’”


It may just be that Perry, busy working on Kennedy, and therefore unsighted as to who precisely was doing what to Connally “across the hall,” incorrectly assumed Dr. David Mitchel Mebane, a much more experienced surgeon than James Juke, was doing more than merely keeping a watching brief on the latter’s handiwork while offering him (Perry) verbal reassurance.

Alternatively, was something perhaps more interesting was going on? Here I have in mind  Lifton's long-standing puzzlement at the fate of 6 inches of one of Connally’s ribs, noted as missing by Dr. Shaw prior to the commencement of his work on the Governor. A hypothesis suggests itself: Was Mebane’s role in Connally’s treatment minimized because it was he who removed the lengthy section of rib in question, rib that presumably contained manifold remnants of the bullet which struck the Governor’s back?



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