Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Julio Fernandez


On the night of President Kennedy’s assassination, Clare Booth Luce, the wife of Time-Life publisher Henry Luce, received a telephone call from Julio Fernandez, a crew member of an anti-Castro Cuban attack boat that she financially co-sponsored with William Pawley.

Pawley, a Miami multi-millionaire, staunch right-wing conservative and former owner of the Havana bus system and airlines before Castro, had helped General Claire Channault form the original Flying Tigers during World War II. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil and Peru, and persuaded Clare Booth Luce to help finance a fleet of motorboats that attacked Cuba like the Flying Tigers fought the Japanese.

According to a Congressional Report, "Pawley envisioned them as Cuban ‘Flying Tigers’ flying in and out of Cuba on intelligence gathering missions." Luce agreed to sponsor one boat and its three-man crew, one of whom was Julio Fernandez. She met with her Cuban commandos in New York on three occasions and published a story about them in Life Magazine.

She referred to them as "my boys," but until the night of the assassination, hadn’t seen or heard from them since the October, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the raids were said to have been discontinued.

On the night of the assassination however, Julio Fernandez called Luce on the telephone and told her he had some information on Lee Harvey Oswald, the President’s alleged assassin. Luce claimed Fernandez told her that Oswald had approached the anti-Cuban group that Fernandez belonged to and offered his services as a potential assassin.

"The Cubans however, didn’t trust Oswald," the report continues, "and suspected him of being a communist, and decided to keep tabs on him. They eventually penetrated Oswald’s ‘cell’ and tape recorded his talks, including his bragging that he could shoot anyone, even the Secretary of the Navy."

Fernandez told Luce that Oswald came into some money, went to Mexico City and then Dallas. Fernandez said that he still had tape recordings of Oswald as well as photographs of Oswald and samples of the handbills he had distributed on the streets of New Orleans.

Luce later said that she advised Fernandez to contact the FBI immediately, and didn’t think about the incident again until the Garrison investigation in 1967. She then recontacted Fernandez, and he told her that one of the members of his group has since been suddenly deported and that another had been murdered. He himself, wanted nothing more to do with the Kennedy assassination.

When Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi tried to track down Fernandez, Luce said that "Julio Fernandez" may have been the Cuban’s "war name," like those used by Sylvia Odio’s visitors, "Angelo" and "Leopoldo," and the Congressional report concludes, "no such individual was every found."

But there is a Julio Fernandez, a suspicious suspect investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI and whose records are published among the exhibits of the Warren Commission. This Julio Fernandez was a Cuban professional who may have known about an association between Jack Ruby and Lee Oswald before the assassination.

On November 27, 1963, Corporal Theodore Lezar was stationed at the Hollidaysburg, Pa. State Police barracks when Robert Steele, of Altoona, Pa., stopped in and advised that he had some information that might have a bearing on the assassination of President Kennedy.

Steele, the brother of Mrs. Margaret Hover, of Martinsburg, Pa., told Lezar that sometime in the third week of October, 1963, his sister found some items in the dry leaves immediately below her porch. The items included an envelope, a used train ticket and a throwaway trailer advertisement, which had hand, scrawled notes on the back that might have a relation to the assassination.

The envelope was from the Seaboard Airline Railroad Company of Miami, Florida. The used ticket indicated the holder had a coach reservation on the railroad for seat #48, Car #3E, on a train leaving Miami at 12:40 pm on September 29, 1963, arriving in Washington D.C. the following day.

The back of the trailer advertisement contained the names "Ruby" "Lee Oswald" and the "Silver Slipper," as well as some drawings of a window, some other names and a six-digit number.

When the State Police interviewed Mrs. Margaret Hover at her home she confirmed what her brother had told them, saying that at first she thought the items belonged to her estranged husband, who was in the trailer business and she showed them to her daughter, remarking that "Ruby" and "Lee" were probably women her recently divorced husband was seeing.

She then realized however, that the items came from her neighbor’s yard, where similar items were being burned in a trashcan.

The FBI then got involved and interviewed Mrs. Hover’s daughter, who also confirmed the fact that her mother found the items and showed them to her, and indeed the names "Ruby" and "Lee Oswald" were written on the back of the advertisement.

Of course, this is the FBI at work, so instead of going over to the neighbor’s house right away, they talk to the daughter’s husband, who told them his wife tends to exaggerate, was on tranquilizers and believed everything her mother told her, effectively discrediting her.

Mrs. Hover then produced the envelope and train ticket, but could not locate the trailer advertisement with the names on the back. Interviewed again, the daughter continued to maintain the names were there and wouldn’t back down under FBI pressure.

So, Special Agents of the FBI J. Edward Kern and Richard Randleman of the Pittsburgh, Pa. Field Office reluctantly went to the door of the neighbor who burned his trash in his backyard. Their report became Warren Commission Exhibit #3076.

Mrs. Hover’s neighbor, Dr. Julio Fernandez, explained to the FBI that he was a Cuban refugee and former editor and publisher of La Nacion newspaper in Cuba. As Minister of Information in the regime of Carlos Prio Soccaras, he at first welcomed the Castro revolution, but then turned against it when Castro became a communist.

Fernandez said that his brother-in-law, Antonio Larraz, had been a Captain of Police under Batista, but the Batista government was oppressive. Fernandez emphasized to the FBI that he was not a communist and was not on welfare, but working as a Spanish language teacher at the local high school and was trying to build a better life for himself in the United States.

In addition, Fernandez told the FBI that his sister-in-law, Aurora Fernandez was the mayor of a small rural town in Cuba and his wife, a Spanish attorney, worked for a Cuban refuge relief organization in Miami, and with the Catholic Welfare Society.

Although Fernandez didn’t know anything about the trailer advertisement with the names on the back, nor did he know Lee Oswald or Jack Ruby, he did acknowledge that his son Julio Fernandez, Jr., had used the train ticket to travel from Miami to Washington.

The official investigation ended there, but I called Mrs. Hover on the telephone in the early 1970s after reading the reports published in the Warren Commission, when she still lived at 105 South Walnut St., Martinsburg, Pa., and she reiterated the facts as they occurred and added some new information. Mrs. Hover said that Fernandez often worked late into the night typing a manuscript, and that his son Julio Fernandez, Jr. was an artist and often away at School, Penn State. She also noted that Fernandez had signed a three year teaching contract with the high school and recently purchased a home in Martinsburg which he began to renovate when suddenly he sold the home and left town, possibly relocating to Rye, New York.

In addition, Mrs. Hover said that years after the FBI interviewed here two men in suits came around asking more questions about the incident, indicating that there was still some investigation of Fernandez years after the FBI lost interest, yet before Fonzi began looking for him.

According to Royce Bierma, Dr. Julio Fernandez, who was born on January 3, 1909, died on August 2, 1992 in Miami, Florida. [Can someone provide an obituary on Fernandez?]


Bradley E. Ayres, in his Zenith Secret, identifies Julio Fernandez as a team leader from the Point Mary safe-house and Karl, a CIA case officer, as being director of the Elliot Key Project. Shortly after the assassination, Clare Booth Luce said she received a phone call from Julio Fernandez.

Also shortly after the assassination a Julio Fernandez, Sr. was investigated by Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI after a Martinsburgh, Pa. neighbor considered his burning of papers and typing late into the night suspicious. She retrieved some of the burnt papers which included the names Lee and Ruby and a train ticket to Florida, showed them to her daughter and told her brother, who notified the State Police of a possible connection to the assassination.

Fernandez told the police that he was a Cuban exile, former Cuban newspaper publisher, who was teaching Spanish at the local high school. His son, Julio, Jr., an art student at nearby Penn State University, used the train ticket that summer to attend a conference of Cuban exile journalists at the University of Miami, a conference that lasted five weeks.

Shortly thereafter Fernandez packed up and left town, later pursued fruitlessly by HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi.

Fernandez, Jr. however, was enrolled at Penn State when the relatively small art school there received as a guest lecturer, Sir Athony Blunt, the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, and former MI5 counter-intelligence agent who was later revealed to be the fifth man in on the Cambridge Spy ring.

If in fact, the anti-Castro Cuban commando operations run by the CIA were indeed infiltrated thoroughly by pro-Castro Cuban G2 intelligence, and shared such information with their Soviet allies at the KGB, does Blunt’s sudden and surprising visit to the obscure Pennsylvania art school have a connection with at least one particular student there – Julio Fernandez, Jr.?

And is this Julio Fernandez or his father of the same name, identical with the Julio Fernandez of the Point Mary safe-house and lived near who worked with Bradley Ayers at JMWAVE?

And is this the same Julio Fernandez supported by Clare Booth Luce, who called her on the night of the assassination?

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