Wednesday, November 16, 2011

JFK at the SAC Command Post - Offut AFB

President John F. Kennedy at the Command Post during a tour of Strategic Air Command Headquarters, Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska, December 1962. Pictured in the front from the left are Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay, Secretary of the Air Force Eugene Zuckert, President Kennedy, SAC Commander-in-Chief General Thomas Power, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, White House Air Aide Colonel Godfrey McHugh, White House Naval Aide Captain Tazewell Shepard, and an unidentified person. Standing between Johnson and Power is Chief of Naval Operations George Anderson; behind Johnson to his right is White House Military Aide General Chester V. Clifton. Photograph courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

Can anyone tell me what they are looking at in this photo? Thanks (
Nuclear Arms and Politics in the Missile Age,

In his ARRB memo on the subject of the Air Force One Radio Tapes, Doug Horne says that it is not known where "Liberty" station and "Command Post" were located.

Horne memo:

Liberty station is the radio relay station at the Collins Radio company headquarters at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is also specifically mentioned by name on the newly discovered tape -

“Hello? Can you get me Secretary Rusk? Hold on please...Cedar Rapids, give me 972. Stand by we are having a State Dept. join now. I’m showing a...I’ll have John give you a call soon as he’s done. WTE wants him. OK. Hold on line. 1102 3000 1104.”

The radioman requests "Cedar Rapids" (Collins relay station) to give him 972, which is 86972 - the Cabinet plane Rusk is on enroute from Hawaii to DC.

The point being that what appears to be nonsense to some is simple radio code that is understandable to anyone who knows what the code means.

The reason they had to use such codes is because these radio frequencies were open to anyone who had a radio receiver and could be heard by anyone who knew the frequency or scanned the dial listening for such conversations over seldom used or frequencies assigned to the military or government for such purposes.

There is even an amateur HAM radio club out of Colorado that listens in to the Air Force One radio traffic and similar radio frequencies as a hobby, and I would bet that on 11/22/63, some of these amateur radio buffs not only listened in, but tape recorded what they were tuned in to, knowing it might be significant since the President was just killed. In addition, I am pretty sure that the Canadian government, the Cuba/Russian listening post in Cuba and other nations (Australia) may have had big ears and also listened in and tape recorded the AF1 radio conversations that day. That is why I knew there are other copies of these tapes, and not just the ones the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) made and now says it no longer has. There are other tapes out there.

While the use of code names for persons and designated places was required, it obviously broke down because 86972 - the Cabinet plane's code book was missing and they didn't know who was what, and here in the newly discovered tape for example, instead of calling "Liberty" station, as they do early in the officially released tapes, they break down and ask "Cedar Rapids" to connect them with the Cabinet plane, breaking code and giving the location of the Liberty relay station.

There were a number of radios officially in the loop - including three aboard Air Force one, one on the Cabinet Plane, another at the Situation Room at the White House (Crown) where McGeorge Bundy was located, Andrews and Command Post. That's eight radios, with three aboard AF1 active at the same time.

Command Post is the Strategic Air Command HQ at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska.

See photo above.

Air Force General Curtis LeMay was commander of the SAC and a senior member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Powers was apparently the SAC commander at Offut.

According to the Andrews AFB Log Book for 11/22/63, LeMay was at a Canadian Air Force Base at the time of the assassination and immediately flew back to Washington DC, and was apparently in the air at the same time as Air Force One, and arrived in DC about a half hour before AF1.

According to Doug Horne's ARRB Memo, the radio transmissions indicate that LeMay was ordered (By Secretary of the Air Force Zuckart, who is in the above photo), to land at a particular base, but LeMay ignored that order and landed at another airport. According to Horne, this put him into a position to attend the Autopsy at Bethesda, as some have claimed he was there, despite his name not being on the official list of those in attendance.

I went to the NARA Archives II, read the original Andrews Log and made a copy of the few - nine handwritten pages - that I transcribed and posted at:

This log was reportedly found in the trash by a civilian employee at Andrews and turned over to the Assassination Records Review Board. It lists certain events that the air traffic controller and author of the log deemed worthy of making note of.

It also includes notes some air traffic controller made on the day Robert Kennedy was killed, as his body was also flown into Andrews in 1968. As John Judge noted, it is odd that they would keep one log book that would include highlights of events at Andrews on the days that both Kennedys would be killed, five years apart, and then throw it away.

86972 is the Cabinet plane that Dean Rusk, Ball, Salanger and others are on that is in the air on the way to Japan, but upon word of the assassination, turns around and returns to Hickham Field, Hawaii to refuel and allow secure land line phone calls to be made. It then flys to Andrews at the same time Air Force One is enroute from Dallas.

The log also indicates that LeMay is at Wiarton AFB in Canada at the time of the assassination.

The Andrews Log reads:

Received word from 86972 - Returning To HIK, Min 6nd Time, Direct Dallas. 092489 inbound To Whitemn with ulsec McMillian Advised to Standby there for further instructions.

[ie. 86972 - Cabinet Plane - Returning to HIK - Hickham, AFB Hawaii.]

1450 Set up MSN #1617 12490 To Take Sen Kennedy To Otis.

Crossed out ione line. Undecipherable

Change Gen Lemays Plu from Torento To Wawirton Canada 44.45N 0981.06W

1625 [4:25pm] 24197 Gen Lemay Dept Wairton 1604 ETA DCA 1715, Driver & Aide at DCA ETA charged 1710, Secy Zuckert Will Meet Lemay at ADW. (notified AC f t)

1700 [5:00pm] =09Gen Lemay Will land DCA NOT ADW.

Wiarton AFB Canada, where LeMay was on 11/22/63.

According to the Andrews AFB Log from that day (posted below on this blog), LeMay flew from Wiarton to Washington National Airport, despite being ordered to fly to Andrews.

LeMay's official biography (p.430, "Iron Eagle: The Turbulent Life of General Curtis LeMay," by Thomas M. Coffey) falsely says he was visiting his wife's family in Michigan when the news arrived about JFK's assassination, so there is a discrepancy in the records.

Randy Owen makes the following observations:

-LeMay departed Wiarton at 4:04pm (Eastern) and arrived in Washington at 5:12pm

-LeMay disobeyed Air Force Sec. Zuckert's wishes (order) to meet him at Andrews Air Force Base before Air Force One arrived with JFK's body. Instead, LeMay insisted his military plane land at the civilian Washington National Airport. Horne says this would put LeMay closer to Bethesda than Andrews.

-Oddly, the website for the Wiarton Airport has a link to a website about Camp-X. Camp-X was created in World War II in Oshawa, Ont. to train spies. The Camp-X website even has a photo of Ian Fleming visiting the Camp site.

Larry Hancock notes: "I was struck by the fact that it made a big deal of his being so remote that he was out of contact and was not even able to make it back to Washington until the funeral. I don't see that as a minor thing, the book definitely creates the impression that he was not back in Washington that weekend. This really is an important point, if Doug is right and can be verified it looks pretty certain that LeMay was handing out disinformation and there would need to be a good reason for that. After all, it would not be unusual for him to rush back to DC or to some other AF base where he could achieve command and control capability. What seems to me not at all understandable is why he would go to Bethesda, and then lie about it."

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