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Speed of the Motorcade


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Just reaching here. While many find something suspicious about the motorcade route, it seems the route used was the most logical one considering Kennedy's final destination.

There is another question to be raised in connection to the motorcade, however.

The other day I was reading an article from U.S. news from Dec. 1963. This article made the point that while Oswald was a good enough shot to have hit Kennedy, the fact that Kennedy was moving at 12 miles an hour made it almost certain Oswald had been practicing a lot in anticipation of the motorcade. (Ironically, the WC was unable to find ANY evidence that Oswald had practiced at all.) The article goes on to say that if only the motorcade was going 20 miles an hour, it would have been almost impossible for Oswald to have hit Kennedy.

At this point a light bulb went on in my head. Was there a standard speed for Presidential motorcades? Was this standard speed observed in Dallas? If the standard speed was 12 mph, and a speed of 20 mph would make it many times harder for a sniper to be successful, why wasn''t the standard 20 mph? Was U.S. News and World Report that much smarter than the Secret Service?

While I could dig around and probably find an answer, I'm hoping someone out there will save me the trouble.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Interesting question, Pat.

One would THINK there must have been some sort of training manual or directives re this.

As you know I don't think Greer was a conspirator but I think he might have performed better had there been a lot of practice re shootings at motorcades on how to respond.

Is it possible the speed of the motorcade was being set by the lead car (or even the car immediately in front of the presidential limousine if there was more than one)? I assume this could perhaps be determined by reviewing the Zapruder film.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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They should have been going faster! They were running late, after all.

Does anyone have the expertise to deterrmine if an eight mile an hour speed differential would have made the difference? (Not to Oswald, but to the real shooter, of course.)

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I'm not an expert but my understanding is that it's harder to track a target that is not only going away from you but also 'up' than for example 'panning'. To compensate for shooting at different elevations + a changing distance takes a bit more skill than target shooting. Its the job of a hunter (or, shock horror, a sniper). To do it with a thing like that MC, hmmm. Does it make sense?

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Pat, the SS procedures manual and issues like motorcade speed, turn radius, closure of windows, building security have been discussed for ages. One of the problems is that the last I heard nobody has turned up an actual copy of the SS procedures manual circa 1963. At one point I seem to recall that McAdams claimed to have a copy but no scanned pages or other concrete references turned up to justify that claim so it was greeting with some skepticism (perhaps someone is more current on this than I am though). I know that Vince P. looked diligently for this withoug locating it. And of course SS procedures and training were dramatically revised after the assassination so reference to anyting after 1963 is pretty meaningless. Interestingly two sources have claimed to know a great deal about Presidential motorcade security. Fletcher Prouter gave that impression however in his ARRB interview that totally came apart and he backed off it; however David Phillips notes in his book that he was in Mexico City for JFK's visit and became quite familiar with all elements of Presidential security (given that his job was totally unrelated one wonders why, also why he would bring such a thing up in his book...hmmm).

I would say however, based on Vince's work and numerous photos of Presidential motorcades its pretty obvious that the motorcades did not always travel at a minimum of 20 miles an hour on city streets. And of course maintaining

a speed like that going around the Elm/Houston turn would have been impossible. No doubt they would have tried to make up time heading up onto the freeway but the turn certainly slowed the limo even without crowds rushing into the street (which often happened to JFK and is seen in many photos).

Bottom line, anyone knowing about the motorcade route two days in advance would have redily seen that the car was going to be very slow coming out of that turn.....and could have also picked a few other places were crowds and turns

would have slowed the vehicle substantially (any 90 degree turn on a downtown

street would do it....say Main to Houston). And we know that there were a number of apparent Oswald impersonations at locations in downtown Dallas including a couple on Main street (one right across from Ruby's club).

Sorry for the rambling, Larry

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So, Larry, in essence, you're saying this issue is probably a non-issue, but has never quite been resolved. While people talk about the SS breaking its own rules on the 22nd, no one has actually ascertained just what their rules were.

So, then, it remains to be determined whether or not the Dallas motorcade traveled at a rate that was slower than mormal. I wonder if anyone with footage of the other Texas motorcades might be able to make an estimate.

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Pat,

The speed of the Limo, on Houston Street till the turn on Elm Street, was low enough because it allowed Rosemary Willis to run in parallel of this one till a few yards down on Elm Street. :)

rw.jpg

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Pat,

The speed of the Limo, on Houston Street till the turn on Elm Street, was low enough because it allowed Rosemary Willis to run in parallel of this one till a few yards down on Elm Street.  :)

I believe the WC established that the car was going roughly 12 mph along Elm Street. It slowed down to perhaps 8 mph on the turn, which is slower than a man can run. I believe Greer testified that he was going between 10-15 throughout the whole motorcade. What I'm trying to establish is whether or not this was slower than usual. Thanks for your input.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Pat,

The speed of the Limo, on Houston Street till the turn on Elm Street, was low enough because it allowed Rosemary Willis to run in parallel of this one till a few yards down on Elm Street.  ;)

I believe the WC established that the car was going roughly 12 mph along Elm Street. It slowed down to perhaps 8 mph on the turn, which is slower than a man can run. I believe Greer testified that he was going between 10-15 throughout the whole motorcade. What I'm trying to establish is whether or not this was slower than usual. Thanks for your input.

Pat and all,

I have attended the SS Course on LE Protection and have taken part in numerous Presidential/VP/Candidate and spouse visits in forms of motorcade/motorcade supervision/Site/Site Supervision/Overnight Security/Overnight Security Supervision and both Airport/Airport Security Supervision. One can speak all they want about SS Policy and Procedure Guidelines but what it comes down to is adjusting to the last say which is made by the dignitaries inner sanctum. I have had from 3 to 5 days to work with advance agents on the security detail I drew and the last twenty-four hours and often the last three to four hours is crush time to make the late changing plans into a safe security issue. An example being the first president Bush changing his mind on running on an indoor track to an outdoor cinder track when he was less than an hour out. Talk about a scramble for both local LE and the advance team of the SS.

The motorcade speed is not set by the lead car but by the dignitary car. The lead car paces the distance of space between itself and the protected vehicle.

P&P on dignitary protection has not changed radically over the past fifty years. What has changed is the perimiter of responsibility of the SS and local LE on both standing and moving protection over the years.

I will be happy to comment on questions regarding this as long as it does not require issues that would compromise the security of dignitaries in the future. Generic issues involving the JFK Assassination would be addressed with generic responses in accordance to current practices.

What I am saying is I will reply with an inside look at this both through current practice and through a historic eye as the training I have taken dealt with trial and error issues on what has evolved.

I will also comment on tracking issues in accordance to speed for a sniper in the designated terrain of DP if anyone is interested.

Al

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Yes Pat, in general I think this, like all the discussion of Greer's "reaction" is largely a non-issue. You might want to check the WC work itself though because one entire section pertains to a study by the SS itself its own procedures and what revisions might be required based on the experience in Dallas. Also I would heartily endorse reading all of Vince Palamara's work on this including interviews with agents and managers from the period in question.

There are some relevant issues including the apparently endemic drinking problem a good deal of the WHD had developed not to mention the cover-up of the late hours the night before. We have interviewed the club manager who says that without a doubt serious drinking was going on and that most of the agents left far later than they admitted. The club was also visited by an SS agent a few weeks later...apparently the one who went back to talk with the Parkland Doctors...who pleaded with the club personnel not to talk with the press about the drinking that evening. There are also a few things that are suspicious about the motorcade including the lack of a camera vehicle ahead of the limo and the movement of a couple of motorcycles with orders coming from a man from the VP's car at Love field. It's also important to recall that the Texas trip, following on the heals of several other trips, had placed a lot of strain on the WHD. Certainly you should read Lawson's report...and note that some arrangements such as freezing train traffic also appeared not to have worked in DP (which nobody ever really investigated).

Personally I think there is much more to be gained by looking at the details of the cover-up as supported by a few SS personnel afterwards...in particular there are some very interesting quotes from the SS agent who went back to Dallas, something about "it was too bad people had to die but" (very rough paraphrase). It freightened the interviewer....makes one wonder exactly what story was given to some of the individuals engaging in the cover-up.

-- Larry

So, Larry, in essence, you're saying this issue is probably a non-issue, but has never quite been resolved.  While people talk about the SS breaking its own rules on the 22nd,  no one has actually ascertained just what their rules were.

So, then, it remains to be determined whether or not the Dallas motorcade traveled at a rate that was slower than mormal.  I wonder if anyone with footage of the other Texas motorcades might be able to make an estimate.

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In his book The Secret Service, Melanson refers to "the twenty to thirty miles per hour that the Secret Service liked to maintain." IOW there was apparently no rule, just a preference. He also notes that "the president would have slighted the throng if his limo had suddenly sped up after making the turn." Consequently it was "now crawling along at a mere 11.2 miles per hour" (p. 73).

On Greer, Melanson says that he "had had no special training in evasive driving, no specialized driving experience at all. Secret Service procedures in operation at this time did not allow Greer to accelerate or take evasive action on his own initiative: He was supposed to wait for a command from his colleague seated next to him. . . . (Kellerman) told him to move out because they were hit, yet Greer only looked back toward the president. Kellerman later said: 'Greer then looked in the back of the car. Maybe he didn't believe me'" (p. 75).

Ron

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I have read some of Palamara's interviews with the SS, and have read the WC Report's section on the SS. I was simply interested in whether there was a standard speed for a motorcade, and whether the Dallas motorcade was exceptionally slow. And, based upon the responses I've received the answer seems to be YES. The next question is who told Greer to drive so slow. I've been to Dealey, and watched the cars drive by, and driving 11 mph on the street at the point of the fatal headshot amounts to a deliberate crawl. If 20-30 was the preferred rate of speed, why wasn't Greer going 20-30? It's a downhill stretch with no intersection or traffic lights for several hundred yards. There were only a handful of spectators nearby. They were running late. Why hadn't the man sped up? Was he concerned because of the men on the railroad bridge? Could the men have been allowed onto the railroad bridge for specifically that purpose? Is that why the shooter waited till the limo was well down Elm before firing? While I don't necessarily believe there was a conspiracy involved in the limo's behavior, so much attention has been given to the possibility that the motorcade route was changed in order to facilitate the assassination, I thought I'd point out that there are other solid questions about the motorcade that have not been fully explored.

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Al

....

I will also comment on tracking issues in accordance to speed for a sniper in the designated terrain of DP if anyone is interested.

Al

Could you comment on tracking speed and accuracy on a from above and down on an object moving away and 'up' both in the case of that object being close and further away? and could you likewise comment on a flatter side track where the object doesn't move in the 'up' 'down' direction nor away or closer but only side ways, some considerations I'd be interested in a comment on would be, what if the person is right handed, or left handed panning right or left, is ergonomics an issue? do exterior ballistic factors such as coreolis force come into it? what I mean is how does a north south trajectory differ from east west? any comments / links to educating sources much appreciated.

John

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If 20-30 was the preferred rate of speed, why wasn't Greer going 20-30?  It's a downhill stretch with no intersection or traffic lights for several hundred yards.  There were only a handful of spectators nearby. They were running late.  Why hadn't the man sped up? Was he concerned because of the men on the railroad bridge?

Pat,

Greer told the WC that he saw nothing at all on the overpass that concerned him. In fact he saw nothing at all on the overpass, period.

Mr. GREER. . . . When I made the turn into Elm Street, I was watching the overpass expressway--the overpass, or what was ahead of me. I always look at any--where I go underneath anything, I always watch above, so if there is anyone up there that I can move so that I won't go over the top of anyone, if they are unidentified to me, unless it is a policeman or something like that. We try to avoid going under them.

. . . . . . .

Mr. SPECTER. And as you turned onto Elm Street, how far, to the best of your ability to estimate, was your automobile from the overpass which you have just described?

Mr. GREER. I wouldn't have a distance recollection at all on how far it was. It wasn't too far. I just could not give you the distance.

Mr. SPECTER. At that time, did you make a conscious effort to observe what was present, if anything, on that overpass?

Mr. GREER. Yes, sir. I was making sure that I could not see anyone that might be standing there, and I didn't see anything that I was afraid of on the overpass.

Mr. SPECTER. Did you see anything at all on the overpass?

Mr. GREER. Not that I can now remember.

Ron

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Ron,

Slightly off-topic, an unverifiable theory... :D

I always wondered if Greer (senior and experienced agent) had immediately realized that some shots were coming from the front.

He certainly wondered during a few too long seconds what follows:

What do I do?

I continue ahead towards the danger or do I stop?

(Thinking that his SS buddies would come quickly to shield the President.)

That could explains his hesitations and his dramatic lack of fast reactions.

That could also explains, according to many testimonies, that he slowed down until an almost complete stop.

:cheers

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