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Ferrie and del Valle

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I have noted before that there are some things about David Ferrie that turn out to be true, and some that turn out to be questionable. As this is an academic forum, I thought I’d give an example:

Everybody knows that Eladio Sefarino delValle was David Ferrie’s paymaster, right? Why? Because it’s been written in many books.

But all of those references track back, directly or indirectly, to one source: An article by Diego Gonzales Tendedera, the Miami correspondent for El Tiempo, a Spanish-language newspaper in New York. Most researchers have never read it. Here is the Ferrie material from his article:


“Del Valle…set up a grocery store as a front for his operations. And after I fled to Miami in May 1960, I became a frequent visitor at the store.

It was there that I met Ferrie. As a free-lance pilot, he was flying scores of missions with del Valle to drop bombs on Cuba.

For six months, I saw Ferrie and del Valle together almost every day.

They’d take off two or three times a week in del Valle’s twin engine Apache to drop incendiaries on strategic targets and rescue anti-Communist Cubans who wanted to escape.

Del Valle told me he gave Ferrie $1000. to $1500. per flight, depending on whether they would just drop bombs or would have to land on some highway to pick up refugees, a far more dangerous mission.

I never really trusted Ferrie. And del Valle didn’t either.

He once said to me: ‘Ferrie has guts. We’ve saved dozens of our friends. But I don’t fully trust him. He’d sell us out if he could.’

No one knows who sold del Valle out. But U.S. Government agents put a stop to his raids early in 1961 by confiscating his Apache plane.

After splitting up, del Valle stayed in Miami and Ferrie went to New Orleans…”


Let me summarize a few points from Tendedera’s article: He says that, for a six month period between May 1960 and early 1961, Ferrie, a “freelance pilot“, and del Valle were together almost every day in del Valle’s store in Miami.

A few problems here: David Ferrie was not a freelance pilot during this period. He was employed full-time with Eastern Air Lines, based at MSY in New Orleans. I have his flight and work records. He worked 5 days a week making numerous flights, but principally his 3-times weekly 379/506 run to Houston, Brownsville and Corpus Christi. There is simply NO WAY he could have spent “almost every day” in del Valle’s Miami store during this period. But this is the central thrust of Tendedera’s account. If THIS proves to untrue or unlikely, what are we to make of the rest of the account? Let alone the fact that none of his associates I have spoken with can confirm any knowledge of an association with del Valle, or any extended absences from New Orleans?

Now, there is an account by Fabian Escalante that seems to support a Ferrie/del Valle partnership, but Escalante does not claim it from his own knowledge. In fact, his book relies heavily on facts sourced from other assassination books and published accounts.

Did Ferrie work with del Valle? He was certainly involved in anti-Castro activities at that time (although not as intensely as the post-Bay of Pigs period) and del Valle was certainly involved in anti-Castro activities, but the single source for the claim that they worked together is inconsistent with Ferrie’s work record. So we would have to regard it as unproven. (As far as Ferrie is concerned, I “never say never”!)

And if it IS untrue, what does it say that the story has bounced from book to book, giving the impression of multiple sources?

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Thanks, Stephen. Very interesting.

I guess a connection was also made in most people's minds when both Ferrie and del Valle died within similar time frames and at the beginning of Garrison's probe.

I appreciate the information you have offered on Ferrie. Most enlightening.


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IMO Mr. Roy makes an excellent point. If one author gets a story wrong, presumably because his source is wrong, the story takes on a life of its own, as the saying goes, as it is repeated in book after book. And the more often one reads the story, the more credible it becomes.

I previously pointed out that the so-called "Hunt letter" has now been established as a KGB forgery. Does not necessarily mean the KGB did it; certainly means the KGB was trying to blacken the name of the CIA. But not everyone is aware of the fact that the letter was a forgery.

How about the numerous books and articles that state that Fitzgerald was in Paris giving Cubela the poison pen on November 22, 1963? We now know that it was Nestor Sanchez who transmitted the pen on the 22nd and Fitzgerald was in DC on the 22nd. Like the Ferrie/delValle story, this error can probably be traced to one author whose error was then repeated by others.

One great advantage of this Forum, as John points out, is the "collective wisdom" that allows a member with the most recent and/or accurate information to point out errors that creep in, often (but not always) innocently, to the "assassination lore".

Edited by Tim Gratz
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One great advantage of this Forum, as John points out, is the "collective wisdom" that allows a member with the most recent and/or accurate information to point out errors that creep in, often (but not always) innocently, to the "assassination lore".

Someone on another thread posted some of the startling statements included in Newsweek's first article on the assassination. Today, I read this article at a library, along with the first articles written by two of America's other news magazines, Time and U.S. News. I found that all of these articles were filled with mistakes, some of them shocking, considering they were written after Oswald's death on the 24th. Newsweek, for example, had an account from their correspondent in the motorcade which stated that Connally was sitting beside Mrs. Kennedy. When one takes into account the bad information flowing from Hoover, and the mis-information coming from LBJ himself, it becomes clear that nobody knew what was going on and was repeating rumors and conjecture as fact. In this light, LBJ's creation of the Warren Commission makes sense.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Thanks for the replies.

As I noted, in Ferrie's case, I "never say never"! As both were involved in anti-Castro activities at about the same time, it is certainly possible that they crossed paths. But I have never been able, through diligent research, to establish it one way or another. I was a bit alarmed that all the accounts trace back to one source, but nobody ever looked closely at that source to see if it was plausible. And even more alarmed that it was taken as gospel by a number of writers. That is why it is important to consider Jim Marrs' caution not to accept what one reads in books without some independent confirmation.

And there are other examples in "both" directions. On the "disprove" side, it is widely accepted that Ferrie was a paid employee of William Guy Banister. Not so. Both Jack Martin and mistress/payroll master Delphine Roberts said Ferrie was never on WGB's payroll (although neither is a really great source.) Ferrie was working full-time for Gill, Bernstein, Schreiber and Gill. Ferrie engaged Banister to investigate in his grievance matter against Eastern Air Lines, and Banister offset his fee by asking Ferrie for advice regarding the autopsy of a small child (this from the testimonies of Ferrie and Banister). So in effect, Banister was "employed" by Ferrie! But it changes little: Ferrie and Banister had met when both were working with the FRD, and they "got together" as associates and friends in February 1962, continuing on through the assassination, and Ferrie was an occasional visitor to Banister's office.

On the "prove" side, it is often denied that Ferrie had any connection to the CIA, but I draw out the facts in my book: Ferrie volunteered for the New Orleans branch of the Frente Revolucionario Democratico in November 1960. From then until the BoP, he was not fully accepted, being regarded as a gringo, but he was involved in certain activities, such as "shaking the cans" for the FRD at Mardi Gras 1961. AFTER the BoP, he became the great white hope for Arcacha and the FRD, and was involved in at least one episode to obtain arms (maybe two) and other activities, at least until he was arrested on morals cgarges in August of that year. Internal CIA documents make clear that the FRD ("nationally") was created, funded, and its activities to some extent directed by the CIA. Arcacha was appointed by Manuel Antonio de Varona y Loredo and reported to FRD headquarters (JMWAVE?) through a Coral Gables PO box to one Mario del Canal, and he reported occasionally to the local FBI and CIA.

Thus, Ferrie WAS connected, heavily for at least several months, to a CIA organization. One internal CIA document says Ferrie was of no operational value to the CIA, and another makes the case that neither the FRD or CIA could have knowledge of people "taken on" by the movement at Arcacha's level. Maybe they're right, maybe it was serendipitous for Ferrie, almost a Walter Mitty thing, as he bragged to a few friends. But it is not accurate to say he had no connection to the CIA. For a period of time, he was "involved" in a very hot CIA project.

And there are a few other interesting hints, examined in my book: Ferrie told a pal about a CIA recruitment in about August 1960. While some of the details seem exaggerated, there may be some truth, given the timing. Then another coincidence: Another friend recalled Ferrie training his "IMSUs" (actually, American boys in his "Falcon Squadron") for anti-Castro activities at Belle Chasse in the spring of 1961. Years later, it was revealed that CIA had trained Cubans at that location in that period of time! Then there were hints to a friend about a secret Operation Mosquito. I disagree with Bill Davy that this may have been Mongoose, but it is still interesting.

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