Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dealey Plaza - View from the Sniper's Nest

Embedded w/ Snipers

By William Kelly

     The Sniper's Perspective of Dealey Plaza  

“In a free society, counter-espionage is based on the practice most useful for hunting rabbits. Rather than look for the rabbit, one posts oneself in a spot where the rabbit is likely to pass."
       - Alexander Hamilton (as attributed by Allen Dulles)

The lead Humvee in the convoy suddenly comes to a halt as it slips under a tree on the edge of town, an empty tin can, hanging from a branch by a thread, dangles in the breeze.

To the untrained eye it is an empty tin can hanging from a tree, but to the trained eye it’s a sure sign of danger – a makeshift wind gauge, a sniper’s wind gauge, indicating a Level 2 or Level 3 sniper is operating in the area and they were about to enter the sniper’s kill zone.

When Uncle Sam contacted me for a special mission recently, I answered the call and spent a few weeks in the field helping to train American soldiers, including expert snipers, from whom I learned some things that can be applied to a better understanding of the mechanics of what happened at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.

Before trying to figure out who the Sixth Floor Sniper was and why he did the things he did, a few things must be understood about the nature of the sniper profession.

Not a new idea, the historical development of the sniper as a key surgeon in the course of battle has only been perfected in the last half of the twentieth century.

During the Revolutionary War, at the Battle of Brandywine, near Philadelphia, a British sniper had General George Washington in his sights, but decided not to shoot him in the back as he thought it ungentlemanly to do so, thus sparing the life of the man who would be the first president of the American republic.

At Saratoga, a few months later, an American sniper with a Kentucky long rifle shot and killed a British general, decisively altering the outcome of not only that battle but the war.

On eighteen and nineteenth century war ships, the marines were issued long barrel rifles and placed in high mast nests from where they would shoot select targets during battles, so friendly forces were forced to wear identifying marks on their hats so not to be accidentally hit by the marine marksmen.

As European gunsmiths refined the rifle and ammo, the abilities of marksmen increased, though applying the weapon for assassination purposes didn’t become effective until World War II, and increased steadily through the Korean War and Vietnam, when the sniper came into his own.

Snipers played pivotal roles on the Russian front during World War II, and refined their abilities in Korea, but it wasn’t until Vietnam (1965-1973) when the Level One sniper came into his own, especially recruited, trained, equipped and sent into the field on specific missions.

Historically snipers were responsible for killing mobster Bugsy Siegel, civil rights activist Medgar Evers, and the Texas Tower murders, as well as failed attempts to kill Charles deGaul and Fidel Castro.

Traditionally snipers have been measured by the ultimate yardstick – confirmed kills, as well as the longest shot, most difficult shot and high target value. 

As for confirmed kills, there is Simo Hayha on top, and no one else really close. Although relatively unknown outside of his native Finnland, where he is a national hero, you can thank Hayha for popularizing the Olympic sport that combines cross country skiing and accurate shooting, as that’s the way he attacked and killed over seven hundred invading Russians in 1939.

A lone wolf with no military chain of command, Hayha used his intimate knowledge of the terrain to attack and evade the Soviets, who kept track and confirmed his kills and sent Level 1 sniper teams and eventually a hole brigade to stop him.

Following Hayha, there’s a Fyodor Okhlopkova, a World War II Russian sniper with 423 kills, and Francis Pegahmagabow, a Canadian native American Indian scout and sniper credited with 378 kills during World War I.

A World War II German, Matthaus Hetzenauer comes in at number four with 345 kills, while his Russian front antagonists Lyudmila Pavlichenko (309 kills) a women, is fifth on the all time snipers list.

Vasikly Zaytsev, who shared Lee Harvey Oswald's nickname – “the Rabbit,” (242 kills) is sixth, and probably one of the best known snipers thanks to the movie “Enemy at the Gate,” which depicted the personal battle between the best German and Russian snipers during World War II. Zaytsev went on to instruct snipers at a special school he established and his students were known as "little rabbits" and accounted for another 3,000 confirmed kills. 

Red Chinese sniper Zhang Tyaofang (214 kills) fought in Korea, is number seven.

The Americans don’t rank until number 8 with Chris Kyle, a US Navy SEAL whose 160 confirmed kills during the Iraq war just outrank Australian Billy Sing, whose 150 kills during World War I and American Adelbert F. Waldron II, whose 109 kills in Vietnam round out the top ten snipers of all time.

Two other American Marines deserve notice however, as Chuck Mawhinney (103 kills) and Carlos Hathcock (93 kills) in Vietnam are almost celebrities, as the USMC has an award named after Hathcock, while Mawhinney is known for being humble about his achievements, as not even his wife, family or friends knew of his Vietnam exploits until they were revealed in a book over twenty years later.

Top Twelve Snipers of All Time - Based on Confirmed Kills 

1-      Simo Hayha – 705 kills (505 w/ rifle) Finnland 1939 WWII
2-      Fyodor Okhlopkov – 423 kills – Russian WWII
3-      Francis Pegahmagabow – 378 kills - Canadian WWI
4-      Matthaus Hetzenauer – 345 kills – German WWII
5-      Lyudmila Pavlichenko – 309 kills - Ukraine WWII
6-      Vasikly Zaytsev – the rabbit - German 242 kills WWII
7-      Zhang TYaofang – 214 kills Chinese - Korea
8-      Chris Kyle – 160 kills – US Navy SEAL – Iraq War
9-      Billy Sing – 150 + Australian during WWI
10-  Adelbert F. Waldron III – 109 kills US Navy/Army 1968 Vietnam
11-  Chuck Mawhinney – 103 kills USMC 1968
12-  Carlos Hathcock – 93 kills USMC 1968

Longest Shot

As for the longest shot, the long standing record once held by Canadian Corporal Rob Furlong – 2,430 meter (1.51 miles) was recently eclipsed by Craig Harrison, of the Royal Marines at 2,475 meters.
Carlos Hathcock is said to have taken the most difficult shot ever, killing an enemy sniper by shooting him through his scope as he was aiming at Hathcock. Waldron once shot an enemy sniper in a tree from a moving boat, and an American in Iraq made a successful shot through a brick wall.

According to the snipers, Oswald is a Level Three sniper who is officially credited with making the most difficult shot of all time at the highest priority target, and that's why they don't believe it. 

Before the Dealey Plaza analysis begins however, for starters, you must understand that there are three categories of snipers. From the Sniper’s Manual (Based on the Canadian Army TTP – Training, Techniques and Procedures.

Level One – the Specially Trained Sniper

The most dangerous sniper is the one who is individually selected, trained and equipped with an accurate sniper rifle outfitted with a modern scope, night vision device and thermal imager, an expert trained to select key personnel as their target and can hit the bull’s eye accurately at great ranges (1,000+ meters).

These snipers are accompanied by a spotter-security aide and are skilled in avoiding detection. This sniper is the most difficult to effectively counter.

The Level One sniper doesn't take multiple shots at a target when one shot is all that’s needed. As they say, “One shot one kill,” is their motto.

This level sniper is portrayed in the Hollywood movie “The Shooter," which exemplifies the training, discipline, pride and professionalism exhibited by expert snipers at this level.

Level Two Snipers

Level Two Snipers are trained marksmen, often found in the national armies of the world and commonly utilized in urban combat, equipped with a standard issue weapon and with fair to good field craft skills, he is difficult to detect. May be deployed alone or in teams, with women snipers effective against the Nazis on the Russian front during World War II.

The Level Three Sniper

The Level Three sniper is the armed irregular, with little or no formal military training, who may or may not wear a distinguishing uniform, and may or may not carry his weapon openly. He will go to great lengths to avoid identification as a sniper.

The 6.5 mm Manlicher Carcano with cheap Japanese scope and custom US Air Force holster sling 
(Where did Oswald get the sling?) 

The gunsmith at Klines Sporting Goods in Chicago who mounted the scope on the rifle recently came out and acknowledged that Oswald got "very, very lucky," if in fact he used that gun to kill Kennedy.[ http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=226036]

The Sixth Floor Sniper, whether it was Lee Harvey Oswald or someone else, would be classified a Level Three Sniper by his weapon – the Mannlicher Carcano, a standard issue Italian weapon, and if Oswald, by his limited US Marine Corps training.

                                                   Winchester Model 70 - Circa 1963 

As explained to me, a Level One sniper wouldn’t use that weapon and wouldn’t need or take more than one shot. In 1963, a Level One sniper would probably use a state of the art custom weapon and scope, or a prized Winchester Model 70  [http://en.wikipedia.og/wiki/Winchester_Model_70][ or Remington Model 700 rifle [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remington_Model_700], top of the line models.

                                                     Remington Model 700 - Circa 1963 

Since the weapon and MO – modus operandi – identifies the Sixth Floor Sniper as a Level Three Sniper, Level One snipers say the Sixth Floor Sniper probably didn’t take the fatal head shot that killed President Kennedy.

There are also indications that the bullet that struck JFK in the head was a different type of bullet than those fired from the Mannlicher Carcano, and that shot was probably taken by a Level One sniper with a different style of weapon, different type of bullet from a different location.

From the Sixth Floor sniper’s nest, the best shot was when the target was approaching the window on Houston Street, as it slowed down for the turn onto Elm Street, and from then on the shots get harder, as the target moves from left to right on a downward slope and interference by a tree.

The U.S. Army Sniper’s Manual says under Engaging Moving Targets that: “Engaging moving targets not only requires the Sniper to determine the target distance and wind effects on the round, but must also consider the lateral and speed angle of the target, the rounds time of flight, and the placement of a proper level to compensate for both. These added variables increase the chance of a miss. Therefore, the Sniper should engage a moving target when it is the only option.” [www.cybersniper.com]

To calculate leads, you take the Time of Flight (in seconds) x (times) target speed (in feet per seconds) which equals = lead (in feet) x (times) .3048 = meters x 1000 = mil. lead divided by range.

Of course familiarity with the weapon and practice shooting at moving targets increases the ability and skill of the shooter, but if Oswald was the Sixth Floor Sniper there is no indication that he ever shot that rifle before, didn’t practice or even purchase ammo for it.

As Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother Robert, who was familiar with his shooting abilities said, “If Lee did not spend a considerable amount of time practicing with that rifle in the weeks and months before the assassination, then I would say that Lee did not fire the shots that killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally.” (p. 208, “Lee – A Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald by his Brother, Coward-McCann, Inc., NY, 1967)

For the Fiftieth anniversary of the assassination, the gunsmith at Kline’s in Chicago who placed the scope on Oswald’s rifle was interviewed and quoted in a news article saying that if Oswald used that rifle and scope he was “very lucky,” and the snipers agree.

All of the snipers agree that whoever fired those shots with that rifle from the Sixth Floor window he did not use the scope, which was not properly aligned and not necessary at that distance, where the manual sight would be sufficient.

While the Sixth Floor sniper didn’t take the best shot from that location, as the nearly stationary target came towards him, the head shot was most probably taken by a Level One Sniper from either in front or behind so there was no lateral movement as the target came towards or was going away from him.

From what the Level One snipers tell me, the purpose of the Sixth Floor Sniper was to provide diversion and deception, put ballistic evidence incriminating Oswald into the car while the Level One sniper did what such snipers are trained to do – kill the high priority target (HPT) with one shot.

They say the Sixth Floor Sniper, whoever he was, was a Level Three sniper and his standard issue weapon, while capable of firing three shots in the allotted time and get out of three hits on target, was incapable of taking the fatal head shot from that position with that weapon. Not a “lucky” shot, it couldn’t happen. So there must have been a Level One sniper who took the fatal head shot from another location, using a different type of weapon and ammo, and stationed in front of or behind the target.

Integral aspects of the Level One sniper attack, the diversion and deception not only ensures the escape of the sniper and his spotter, but also protects the actual sponsors, as one of the reasons for using a sniper to commit an assassination is permit the escape of the shooter and to protect the sponsor.

The diversion and deception were needed because there would be limited suspects if a Level One sniper killed the President with only one shot, incriminating those few military and intelligence agencies capable of putting a Level One sniper in the field and taking out the highest priority target in the world without getting caught. The Level Three sniper firing openly at the same time diverted attention from the Level One sniper, expanded the suspect pool in general and incriminated Oswald in particular.

In the Marines Oswald’s nickname was “Ozzie Rabbit,” which they said was based on a cartoon character popular at that time, and like Alice goes Through the Looking Glass and into the Rabbit’s Hole to begin her adventure, those who devised the Dealey Plaza operation incorporated Oswald, not as the real assassin or the Sixth Floor sniper, but as the patsy and rabbit that would be set loose to set a false trail and keep the official investigators from the real perpetrators of the crime.

In his book, “A Sniper Looks at Dealey Plaza,” Craig Roberts concurs saying, “I analyzed the scene as a sniper,….(and concluded)…it would take a minimum of two people shooting. There was little hope that I alone, even if equipped with precision equipment, would be able to duplicate the feat described by the Warren Commission,” so neither could Lee Harvey Oswald, or any Level Three sniper.

“I would have never put anyone in the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) with so many locations that were much more advantageous,” Roberts said, “unless I needed a diversion. If I did, it would be a good place for red herrings to be observed by witnesses.”

As seen from the street below, the Sixth Floor Sniper, according to all witnesses who saw him, wore a white shirt (Oswald wore brown), and according to one witness (Amos Eunis) who got a clear view of him, the sniper in the window had a very distinctive bald spot on the top of his head, not a physical characteristic shared by Oswald. Like Oswald, the Sixth Floor Sniper probably had good reason to be there, possibly worked in the building or as a subcontractor or delivery person familiar with the area, one who it wouldn’t seem suspicious for other employees to see him there.

Nor did he leave immediately, as the Warren Commission Report has Oswald running down four flights of stairs to get to the Second Floor lunchroom in time to be seen there by Dallas Police officer Marion Baker ninety seconds after the last shot. The Sixth Floor Sniper took his time, did not run, and instead, as the photo evidence proves, he moved boxes around, putting one on the window sill that was mistakenly believed to have been used as a gun rest. He was still in the window nearly four to five minutes after the shooting when seen by a secretary from across the street. If not a TSBD employee or contractor, the Sixth Floor Sniper was possibly a police or sheriff’s officer who just stayed nearby and blended in with the other investigators when they began a search of the building. 

The sniper’s analysis is that the Sixth Floor, Level Three sniper’s job was to divert and deceive, not to kill, and he did not take the fatal head shot, which was probably taken by a Level One sniper from a location in front of or behind the target, with a different style weapon and type of bullet, one that shattered on impact.

This sniper’s analysis is supported by the 1998 report by U.S. Attorney John Orr that indicates the bullet that hit JFK in the head was a different type of bullet than CE399 and other bullets fired from the Mannlicher Carcano rifle found in the TSBD. Orr’s important report convinced the Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) to conduct further tests of CE567, bullet fragments from the limo, no mean feat.[http://jfkcountercoup2.blogspot.com/2012/03/re-wc-ce-567-bullet-fragment-found.html]

Like the snipers, when a veteran deer hunter visited Dealey Plaza he was immediately drawn to the area behind the picket fence on the Grassy Knoll and said that’s where he would set up his deer stand.

But a Level One sniper could take that fatal head shot from hundreds of yards away, tucked back in a room away from the window so that no one could see him. Level One snipers are the most difficult to detect and to counter.

According to the Canadian Army Sniper Manual, the best way to stop a sniper is for another sniper to kill him. The manual says: “The best way to stop the sniper is to kill the sniper. Let them escape and they will attack someone else, somewhere else.”

Counter-snipers are instructed to “Have a plan and rehears it. Do Not fixate on casualties! Kill the sniper, then attend to casualties.”

When under fire the response policy is to keep moving, get out of the Kill Zone as quickly as possible and move in a swerving S or Z pattern, identify the sniper’s location, return fire, maneuver, attack and kill them. “Do not fixate on casualties, kill the sniper!”

Although Will Greer, the Secret Service driver was trained in these same procedures he inexplicably slowed down after the first shot and came to almost a complete stop precisely at the moment the head shot was taken. A Protestant Irishman from Northern Ireland, Agent Greer was an Orangeman who belonged to the secret order that fought the IRA and worked closely with the British MI5 and MI6 intelligence agencies.

Ian Fleming, in the short story “The Living Daylights,” has 007 assigned to kill a sniper expected to try to shoot a defector running across the no-man’s land at the Berlin Wall, and James Bond is surprised to see through his scope a beautiful women sniper, and he is reprimanded when he only wounds and doesn’t kill her.

The President’s security sometimes included counter-sniper snipers. Such precautions were taken a few weeks before Dallas when the President visited Tampa and traveled through the city in a similar motorcade, and over a dozen Tampa Sheriff’s deputies were deployed with rifles on roofs along the motorcade route. But no such precautions were taken in Dallas.

It has been alleged (by Penn Jones), that Dallas Deputy Sheriff Weatherford was on the Records Building roof overlooking Dealey Plaza with a rifle at the time of the assassination, and there are published reports he returned fire. But Weatherford’s official statement reflects that he was on the Houston Street sidewalk with other deputies. Weatherford said that he was with Deputy Allan Sweatt, whose statement confirms Weatherford’s story that they ran to the Grassy Knoll before entering the back of the TSBD and searched the building.

Weatherford assisted in the search of the sixth floor that discovered the shells and the rifle, but failed to find Oswald’s clipboard, and he also participated in the search of the Paine’s house and garage when the backyard photos were found depicting Oswald holding the murder weapons and communist publications, which was part of the cover-story, a failed black propaganda operation that attempted to blame the assassination on Fidel Castro. 

                                                            Fidel Castro with sniper rifle 

Just as the dangling tin can was sign indicating there was a sniper operating in the area, there were similar signs of danger before JFK entered Dealey Plaza, but they went unheeded or were intentionally ignored.

Of the Dealey Plaza danger signs, a few stand out, especially those who expressed foreknowledge of the assassination, the Walker shooting, the recorded Alpha 66 threat, the Stevenson incident and Umbrella Man.

While each of these danger signs should be reviewed in depth, the Umbrella Man was right there at Dealey Plaza, and he admits that his umbrella was intended to be a sign – a silent protest, a signal and message that President Kennedy would recognize and understand – a sign that referred to his father’s isolationist stand at the beginning of World War II, the image of Chamberlain’s umbrella at Munich that represented the failed policy of “appeasement” with the Nazis, which the Umbrella Man implied was JFK’s policy towards communists.  

Louie Steven Witt, a Dallas insurance office worker who claimed to be the Umbrella Man, told the HSCA that the umbrella was a visual protest of JFK’s father’s policies of appeasement of Hitler at Munich when he was ambassador to the UK (1938-39), with the umbrella being a reference to Nevelle Chamberlain. Witt told the HSCA that it was someone in his insurance office - the Rio Grande National Insurance Co., told him that the Kennedys were sore about the umbrella being used as protest sign. “I was going to use the umbrella to heckle the president’s motorcade….I just knew it was a sore sport with the Kennedys. I just knew the vague generalities of it. It had something to do with something that happened years ago with the father Joe Kennedy when he was the Ambassador to England.”

                                                    The Umbrella Man at Dealey Plaza 

Who planted the seed in Witt’s mind to heckle the president? Perhaps it was someone who also shared an office in the Rio Grande building, - which included the Secret Service, Army Intelligence and the Emigration and Naturalization Service, where Oswald visited numerous times. Witt’s references to Chamberlain’s umbrella and appeasement at Munich are echoed exactly by General LeMay at the White House a year earlier.

                                                   Chamberlain - Appeasement at Munich 

At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, on October 19, 1962, President Kennedy met in the Oval Office with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when Air Force Chief Gen. Curtis LeMay was recorded as saying, “…I don’t see any other solution for it [other than direct military action].….This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich.(Pause)...”   Sheldon Stern: “The general had gone well beyond merely giving advice or even disagreeing with his Commander-in-chief. He had taken his generation’s ultimate metaphor for shortsightedness and cowardice, the 1938 appeasement of Hitler at Munich, and flung it in the President’s face. President Kennedy, in a remarkable display of sang froid, refused to take the bait; he said absolutely nothing.”

A few minutes later JFK did reply to LeMay’s remark that, “…In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix at the present time.”

“What did you say?” Kennedy asked.

“You’re in a pretty bad fix,” LeMay repeated. And in a response that the Miller Center’s transcriptionists got wrong, JFK told LeMay that, “You’re in it with me.”

And the pretty bad fix that JFK and LeMay were in together then was not about Munich but Cuba.

Then, as JFK entered Dealey Plaza and the sniper’s Kill Zone, the Umbrella Man's sign may have been the last thing Kennedy saw before his head was shattered by a bullet fired by a Level One sniper who was not Lee Harvey Oswald. 

           Ambassador Joe Kennedy - Approved Chamberlain's Appeasement Policy at Munich


gerald campeau said...

If my research is correct Boris Pash was the planner,Othar Shalikashvili was leval one sniper and his brother John part of take out

Robert Truitt said...


I was looking for something on the internet to get me/keep me interested in JFK's murder. I read JFK Facts at least daily and I listen to Black Ops Radio weekly. But Bill you hit another homerun with this article, Dealey Plaza - View from the Sniper's Nest & Klein's Gunsmith says, If LHO did it he was very, very lucky." I thought that I had read almost every one of your articles but apparently I haven't. I'm going to have to read all of these articles. I like baseball and I like a pitcher's duel, but I like when you come to bat as it seems that your either on base or hitting a three-run homer. Please continue your great work. Bob Truitt