Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Prequil to the AF1 Radio Transmission Tapes

Prequil to the AF1 Radio Transmission Tapes

A study the assassination of President Kennedy through what is reported on the radio broadcast transmissions provides a unique perspective into the event.

The existing tapes of Air Force One radio communications on 11/22/63 begin at Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, with the pilot of Air Force One reporting his departure and estimated time of arrival in Dallas.

Carswell AFB is a Strategic Air Command facility whose commanding officer, at first, refused to allow the public onto the base to see the President arrive and depart, but later relented under pressure from the White house.

According to William Manchester, “That Friday Lyndon Johnson did not know that John Kennedy had ordered the taping of all Angel conversations while the plane was in flight,” an order that apparently also included the taping of all Special Air Mission (SAM) flights because among the recorded patches on the tapes are communications between the Cabinet plane and the White House and Andrews and the Pentagon and General LeMay’s SAM flight from Canada, neither of which involved Air Force One.

William Manchester’s “The Death of a President” (1967 pages 61-63)

           “Tourists thought of the President’s home as stationary, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They were wrong. The White House was capable of multiple division. It could be in several cities simultaneously. The (telephone switchboard) girls on the fourth floor of the Executive Office Building remained on duty, but the real White House was wherever Lancer happened to be, and once he hit the road the key switchboard was a jungle of color-coded wires in the executive mansion’s east basement, manned by elite Signal Corps technicians of the White House Communications Agency. It was a national security precaution that Lancer always be within five minutes of a telephone.”

“In the autumn of 1963 the White House telephone number was still NA-tional 8-1414, that winter the digits took over and it was changed to 456-1414, and when the man of the house was home communications were relatively simple. Of course, the President himself didn’t answer the phone. A light would flash on a forty-bulb switchboard on the fourth floor of the Executive Office Building and if you knew a name of a Presidential aide one of the women operators would instantly connect you with the proper extension, from which you could be transferred to the oval office, or the mansion.”

           “But the moment the Chief Executive left his helipad all that changed. Elaborate security precautions went into effect.”

“Even names were changed. Codes replaced them, from time to time names and groupings were changed…The White House was no longer the White House. It was Castle (aka Crown), and during a trip the President’s precise location at any given moment was Charcoal. He, himself was no longer John Kennedy, he was Lancer, who was married to Lace, whose children were a daughter named Lyric and a son named Lark. The First Family was all in the L’s — though Lyric’s and Lark’s grandmother lived in a Georgetown house which was referred to as Hamlet. Secret Service men were in the D’s. Chief James J. Rowley was Domino, Digest, Dazzle, Deacon, Debut, and Tom Wells of the kiddie detail were Drummer, Dresser and Dasher. W’s were for staff; Ken O’Donnell, Lancer’s chief vassal was Wand. Evelyn Lincoln, was Willow, Pierre Salinger, Wayside. Mac Kilduff who was to do Wayside’s press chores on the Texas trip— and, who ironically, had been told to start looking for another job, because Wand had decided that he was expendable had been christened Warrior. General’s Clifton and McHugh were Watchman and Wing. Taz Shepard, who would be minding the store at Castle during the Texas trip, was Witness. V’s were reserved for the Vice-President and his family. Lyndon Johnson was Volunteer, Lady Bird, who had never had much luck with names became Victoria.”

The SAM –  the Andrews based Strategic Air Mission detachment of the Air Force that was responsible for shuttling the President and his cabinet utilized four primary frequencies that were set by the Liberty station at Collins Radio headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Two other radio frequencies were used by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) on the ground where ever the President was or would be. The Secret Service and WHCA maintained the “Charlie” channel for those units involved in the motorcade, while the Dallas Police Department (DPD) utilized two channels, one strictly for the motorcade, and the Dallas Sheriff’s Department had its own frequency used by its personnel.

Col. Ralph Albertazzle in “The Flying White House – The Story of Air Force One” (1979, Coward, McCann & Georghegan, NY) wrote: “Air Force One’s communications center was in constant radio contact with the motorcade and with the White House Communications Agency’s temporary signal board in the Sheraton-Dallas Hotel. From there, trunk lines linked the traveling White House with the real one in Washington, the Military Command Center at the Pentagon, the State Department and Secret Service Headquarters.” 

As explained by Manchester, the man responsible for keeping the President within five minutes of a secure phone line was Col. George McNally. Manchester: 

                       “Colonel George McNally, alias Star — this was the S group — saw to it that he was much closer than that (five minutes). There were phones in the President’s helicopter, phones aboard Aircraft 26000, portable phones spotted fifty feet away from every airfield space where 26000 could park, and radiophones in his motorcade cars, operating on two frequencies. Like the Secret Service and the Democratic National Committee, Colonel McNally had a corps of advance men. By dawn of that Thursday morning temporary switchboards had been installed in trailers and hotel rooms in San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and at the LBJ Ranch. Each had its own unlisted phone number.” 

“The Dallas White House, for example, was in the Sheraton-Dallas Hotel. It could be reached through RIverside 1-3421, RIverside 1-3422, and RIverside 1-3423, though anyone who dialed one of them and lacked a code name of his own would find the conversation awkward.”

Manchester: “S’s advance man for the Texas trip was Warrant Officer Art Bales (code name Sturdy) a gaunt thirty-year veteran who knew every executive in the Southwest Bell Telephone Company could bug any line from the nearest manhole or conduit and had the facilities to scramble almost any conversation, or to disconnect it without notice. When out of town the President needed one clear circuit to Washington at all times, which meant that Bales had to pull the plug on a Cabinet member, if necessary.”

“In motorcades Bales would ride in the Signals control car. By tradition this was the last vehicle in the caravan, and his companion there, and his roommate at hotel stops, was a swarthy S man, Warrant Officer Ira D. Gearhart. Gearhart (Shadow), had been assigned the most sinister task in the Presidential party. No one called him by his Christian name, his surname, or even by his code name. He was the “man with the satchel,” or, more starkly, “the bagman”. The bag (also known as “the black bag” and “the football”) was a thirty-pound metal suitcase with an intricate combination lock. Within were various Strangelove packets, each bearing wax seals and the signatures of the Joint Chiefs. Inside one were cryptic numbers which would permit the President to set up a crude hot line to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of France on four minutes’ notice. A second provided the codes that would launch a nuclear attack.”

The motorcade had their own radio channel – “Charlie” channel that was set up by the WHCA and included the Secret Service, with an operational base set up at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel, a channel that was monitored by the pilot of Air Force One, Col. Swindel, who decided not to join the other crew members for lunch and remained in the cockpit.

From the information contained in Gerald Blaine’s The Kennedy Detail (w/ Lisa McCubbin, Gallery, 2010­, p. 215), it is apparent that as soon as bullets started flying, Secret Service Kellerman, in the front passenger seat of the target car, was on the radio, tuned to “Charlie Channel” reserved for motorcade security, saying, “Lawson, this is Kellerman. We’re hit. Get us to the nearest hospital! Quick!” when at the same time the second shot was fired and then the third, and fatal head shot occurred, - while he was on the radio talking.

“As he was relaying the message, he heard one bang, and then another, and as Greer trampled down on the accelerator, Kellerman felt the car burst forward with such thrust he felt like it was jumping off the goddamned road. Up ahead the lead car was nearing the overpass when the first shot was fired. Through the open windows of the sedan, Agent Win Lawson heard the sharp report and turned to look back through the rear window. He could see some commotion in the president’s car behind him. Then Kellerman’s voice over the radio, ‘We’re hit!’”

If this is the case, then the sound of the third and fatal head shot should have been broadcast over the open microphone on Charlie Channel, along with Kellerman’s orders, and if it was broadcast, it should have been taped if anyone was taping the proceedings, as the WHCA base at the Dallas Sheraton could and should have been doing.

Without a tape of these broadcasts, we do have the reports and testimony of a number of witnesses who heard what was said, and quote them faithfully, as Air Force One pilot Swindel is quoted in “The Flying White House,” as hearing Kellerman’s sudden broadcast “We’re hit” and “…Cover Volunteer!,” and the resulting chaos clued him that something significant had happened in the motorcade.

We do have tapes of the two DPD channels, recordings that have been studied in detail and have produced numerous and controversial studies and reports on what information is and isn’t on them. At 12:29, the Dallas Police channel reserved for the motorcade was interrupted by a motorcycle radio that malfunctioned for four minutes, during which time the President was assassinated. Tapes of this inadvertent broadcast transmission are said to include the sounds of the rifle shots, though there is some controversy over what it all means. Here, we are only concerned with what are literally spoken words.

As one commentator noted however, the sudden lack of communication ability was also suspicious. “In Dallas the police radio was immobilized at 12.29. Channel One of the DP radio system was rendered inoperative when someone within the dept. keyed his radio microphone button for four minutes, making it impossible for any police communication from the kill zone during the critical moments...and immediately afterward.....Channel One was reserved that day for those officers in the security of the President…From 12.29 till 12.33 the only audible sound on the police audio tape is the rumbling of a motorcycle engine...In Dallas the press telephone within the motorcade was immobilized. At 12.34 the radiophone in the press car carrying the members of the wire services was rendered inoperative, also...In fact a fight broke out between UPI's Merriman Smith and Jack Bell of the AP. Bell finally managed to grab it after Smith has issued the initial report that shots had been fired, but to Bell's dismay, the line inexplicably went dead. In Washington there was a crucial breakdown of communications when the telephone system in the capital went out at approximately 12.33 pm. It was almost an hour before full telephone service resumed...It was explained, that it was due to overloaded phone lines…”

After Kellerman’s broadcast over “Charlie Channel” in the course of the shooting, the second most significant radio communication was made by Merriman Smith, the UPI White House correspondent in the press pool car. Smith clearly heard three shots, immediately picked up the radio telephone from the dashboard of the press pool car, dialed the UPI Dallas office and when it was picked up, yelled, “Bulletin! Preceed! Three shots fired at President Kennedy as he rode in a motorcade through downtown Dallas.”

According to other reporters in the car, Smith then broke the radiophone so it could not be operated, preventing them from filing similar reports.

Wilborn Hampton, the youngest United Press International (UPI) reporter at the Dallas bureau, took the call from Merriman Smith in the motorcade with first word of the president's shooting. Hampton later reported:

           “It had been very hectic in the office for the previous two days. President John F. Kennedy was making a highly publicized trip to Texas, going to five cities and making a major speech in Dallas. Everybody in the Dallas office had been busy on the story. Everybody, that is, except me. Since I was the most inexperienced reporter on the staff, I did not have a lot to do with covering Kennedy’s trip. As a result, I had felt like a fifth wheel around the office since the President had arrived in Texas. The only part I had played so far in covering the President’s visit was to take some dictation over the telephone the previous day from Merriman Smith, who was UPI’s chief White House reporter. But that was about to change in the next couple of minutes. In fact, my whole life was about to change. So, there I was, standing alone by the news desk, while there was a lull in the office. President Kennedy has arrived at Love Field, the Dallas airport, on a five-minute flight from Fort Worth, and he was at that moment driving through downtown Dallas in a motorcade on his way to the Trade Mart, where he was to make his speech.”

           “There had been a flurry of activity in the office with the President’s takeoff from Fort Worth, where he had spent the previous night, and his arrival in Dallas. Although Dallas was considered hostile political territory to Kennedy, a large crowd turned out to greet him at Love Field. Jackie Kennedy was given a bouquet of roses and both the President and First Lady went over to shake hands with some of the people at the airport. Merriman Smith, who was known by everyone who knew him as Smitty, had even called in from the telephone in the press car to dictate a paragraph about how surprisingly large the crowds were. But the office was quiet now, everyone relaxing for a few moments until the President arrived at the Trade Mart, and the frenzy of covering an American President would resume. So I was alone as I stood by the news desk that day. I was wondering whether I should offer to get sandwiches for the rest of the office from the diner across the street.”

“Suddenly the telephone rang. I picked up the receiver and answered, ‘U.P.I.’”

“I immediately recognized Smitty’s voice from the day before. But this time Smitty was shouting.”

“‘Bulletin preceed!’ Smitty yelled. ‘Three shots were fired at the motorcade.’”

Within a minute, Hampton would dictate what Smith told him to another editor who punched it into the UPI teletype machine, pushing a special bulletin button that would sound a bell alarm to prepare news desks around the world for a special bulletin, and then began to type the report which went out to all the UPI teletype machines in the world, including the ones aboard AF1, the cabinet plane and in the Situation Room at the White House.

[UPI’s Bob Chockrum notes that, “Ten bells are for a news flash, five for a bulletin, four for urgent and three for advisory.”]

David Lifton: “The first transmission was the result of Merriman Smith excitedly talking to (Wilborn Hampton) at the UPI Dallas office, which means it went from his lips to UPI's Wilborn Hampton, who took the call; then to staff editor Don Smith, who actually wrote the copy (along with Hampton); and then it was handed to teletype operator Jim Tolbert, who actually punched out the words onto perforated paper, and fed the punched paper-tape into the teletype machine, pressing ‘send’ at 12:34 PM CST.”


[NOTE: "1234 PCS" means "12:34 Central Standard time. The initials on the typed line specifying the time of transmission are those of the teletype operator – Jim Tolbert.]
After Smith filed his first emergency bulletin from the Press Pool Car radiophone, he kept the phone from the AP pool reporter in the back seat, but AP photographer James Alkins, who took a photo of the President’s car in front of the TSBD, immediately ran into the TSBD, located a phone and called his office. The AP wire report went out a few minutes after the UPI report. 


The White House Communications Agency (WHCA) car, as explained by Manchester, is usually the last one in the motorcade, and includes Arthur Bales, the chief WHCA advance man  in Dallas and Ira Gearheart the “bagman” with the strategic communication and nuclear codes. Earlier Bales had lunch with the top Secret Service and advance men at the Dallas Sheraton to go over the details of the motorcade, and the Sheraton was where the WHCA base station – the “Dallas White House” was located.

In his After Action report Bales wrote: “Following is approximately the sequence of events, as recalled by the undersigned, in Dallas, Texas, 22 November 1963.....The motorcade departed for the trip through downtown Dallas and to the Trade Mart. In the WHCA Communications Car were: A telco driver; the undersigned WHCA Advance Officer; the WHCA Courier, Mr. Gearheart; and the Telco special representative (or "Shadow"), Mr. Herb Smith.”

[BK Notes: From an obituary found by a Dallas researcher, we learn that Herb Smith was a senior executive at the Dallas telephone company, a necessary collaborator for Bales.]

Bales: ‘We were approximately six cars and two (Press and Staff) buses behind the President. The motorcade had just passed the last buildings on the route before entering the freeway to the Trade Mart. The WHCA Communications Car was around two corners from and not in sight of the President's car. Three explosions were heard, and I thought that they were backfires from vehicles up ahead. Herb Smith remarked that firecrackers were in appropriate for the occasion. Then the USSS Agent riding with the President announced on the FM "Charlie" radio, "Lawson, he's hit". The motorcade came to an abrupt halt with one bus and the WHCA car still around two corners from the President. Realizing that emergency communications facilities may be required on the spot, I instructed the driver to get Mr. Gearhart immediately to the vicinity of the President and to keep him there regardless of my own location. I, with the Telco representative, Mr. Smith, then started running toward the scene of the shooting. As we rounded the first corner the motorcade suddenly raced away. I commandeered a police car and instructed the driver to take us immediately to the Parkland Hospital. We arrived short minutes after the President.”

[For Bales Complete Report see: JFKcountercoup: WHCA Comm Center After Action Reports ]

When Bales got to the hospital, he immediately began establishing secure phone communications with Washington and the WHCA base at the Sheraton, seizing a wall of public telephones, except for one, the one which Merriman Smith was relaying his second report to UPI.

Bales: “The Parkland Hospital: The very limited telephone facilities at the hospital were tied up by the members of the Press Pool. I immediately seized all but one line (leaving Merriman Smith on the one most remote from the Emergency Rooms) and established direct circuits to the Signal Board in Washington; the Dallas White House Bd; and to the Signal board via the Dallas and Fort Worth White House Boards. I assigned police officers to guard these phones and instructed the individual Signal Operators in Washington who were on these circuits to handle no other calls, but to guard these lines exclusively.”

In an unofficial history of UPI it is noted: “The press car followed the limousine as it raced to Parkland Hospital. As (Merriman) Smith ran up to the limousine parked at the emergency entrance, he saw Kennedy face down on the back seat, with Jacqueline Kennedy cradling her arms around the president's head. Smith saw a secret service agent he knew and asked him about Kennedy. The agent, Clint Hill, responded: ‘He's dead.’ Smith went inside, found a phone and reached (UPI editor in New York) Fallon, who dictated the flash: ‘Kennedy seriously wounded, perhaps seriously, perhaps fatally by assassins bullet.’

Since he jumped out of the communications car at the tail end of the stalled motorcade and ran ahead, Bales hijacked a police car to get to Parkland Hospital, where he immediately established secure communications over pay phones and caught up with Ira Gearheart, the “Bagman.” At Parkland Gearheart was recognized by a Secret Service Agent and stationed in the hall outside the small room where LBJ and his wife were being kept.

Besides emergency numbers and codes to talk to other national leaders, the special attaché case Gearheart carried contained the nuclear codes that could send US nuclear missiles and bombs to their destinations. As Manchester described it, these codes were accompanied by some text cards that allowed the president to quickly determine what the results of his decisions would be.

Manchester: “The rest contained pages of close text enlivened by gaudy color cartoons. They looked like comic books — horror comics, really, because they had been carefully designed so that any one of Kennedy’s three military aides could quickly tell him how many million casualties would result from Retaliation Able, Retaliation Baker, Retaliation Charlie, etc. Taz Shepard had prepared these doomsday books. No one liked to think about them, much less talk about them, and on trips the man with the football was treated as a pariah. He needed Art Bales company. His only job was to stick around, log the satchel, and remember that vital combination in case the duty aide forgot it. Yet both he and his ghastly burden were necessary. At the outset of the nuclear age Harry Truman would have had four hours to think things through if Soviet bombers had appeared over Canada in force. In the Kennedy administration that time had been cut to fifteen minutes, and it was shrinking.” 

Taz Shepard, the President’s naval attaché, set up the White House Situation Room, prepared the doomsday books, was holding down the fort at “Crown” and is mentioned prominently on the Air Force One radio tapes.

The Doomsday bag, that he helped prepare, was then at the side of Ira Gearheart, outside the Parkand hospital room where they were being kept by the Secret Service. At some point, after it was determined that the President was dead, it was decided to take LBJ to Love Field and put him aboard Air Force One. Although some of the Kennedy aides thought Johnson would fly back to DC aboard the same plane he flew in on, Air Force One was chosen, they said, because it had better communications equipment.

When LBJ was rushed out secretly, before the death of the President was officially announced, Gearheart was momentarily left behind, and rushing to catch up, and had to sit on the lap of a Dallas policeman for the ride to Love Field. After they were gone, Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff made the official announcement that the President had died.

The official UPI history reads: “When White House deputy press secretary Malcolm Kilduff gave official word at the hospital that Kennedy was dead, Hampton, Joe Carter and Preston McGraw set up a three-man relay between a pay phone and the news conference - one at the conference, one running between and a third dictating to the bureau. That was backed up by Virginia Payette on a second phone and Smith, who had found a third line. Smith then went back to Air Force One, and witnessed the swearing-in of Lyndon Johnson as president. Smith's account of the assassination won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.”

While the WHCA tapes only recorded the radio communications from Air Force One while it airborne, we know that the first thing LBJ did as President was to make three phone calls. One was to the office of Judge Sarah Hughes, who he had arranged to be appointed to the federal bench and was still waiting for their arrival at the Dallas Trade Mart. LBJ instructed her office to get in touch with her and have her go immediately to Air Force One to administer the oath of office. Another call was made to his personal tax lawyer J. Waddy Bullion and the other to the Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, ostensibly to get the exact wording of the oath of office, but more likely just to let Bobby know that he was now President.

The call to Bullion was the most bizarre, and possibly significant. Whether LBJ made the call to Bullion from Parkland Hospital or Air Force One is not clear, but it was undoubtedly made by a land-line telephone before the swearing in ceremony while the plane was still on the ground.

Although Bullion’s son has written a book, “In the Boat” (i.e. with LBJ) that claims that LBJ’s call did not get through to his father, Russ Baker talked with one of Bullion’s law partners, who was privy to the conversation, and reported that: “Pat Holloway, former attorney to both Poppy Bush and Jack Crichton, recounted to me an incident involving LBJ that had greatly disturbed him. This was around 1 P.M. on November 22, 1963, just as Kennedy was being pronounced dead. Holloway was heading home from the office and was passing through the reception area. The switchboard operator excitedly noted that she was patching the vice president through from Parkland hospital to Holloway’s boss, firm senior partner Waddy Bullion, who was LBJ’s personal tax lawyer. The operator invited Holloway to listen in. LBJ was talking ‘not about conspiracy or about the tragedy,’ Hollway recalled. ‘I heard him say: ‘Oh, I gotta get rid of my godamn Halliburton stock.’ Lyndon Johnson was talking about the consequences of his political problems with his Halliburton stock at a time when the president had been officially declared dead. And that pissed me off….I really made me furious.’” 32

[Russ Baker, Family of Secrets (Bloomsbury, 2009, p. 132) Note 32 – “Author interview with Pat Holloway, March 11, 2008. Haliburton had merged with Brown & Root in 1962.”]

Bullion’s book, “In the Boat” includes “accounts of the family's relationship with the Johnson's as well as a in depth analysis of the hunting trips that both John and Robert Kennedy made to the LBJ ranch, as well as a very detailed analysis of the Johnson Trust which was formed to divest the family of assets which would be a conflict of interest while holding the office of President.”

J. Waddy Bullion: Was born and raised in Eden (Texas) and taught at Eden High School. completed the University of Texas Law School in three years, majoring in tax law, and made the highest grades in the history of the school. After graduation he served as Special Attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Bureau of IRS until World War II. He served as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve and during the last three years of the war, was Assistant to the Administrative Aide to the Commander-in-chief of the United States.”

In “A Money Tree Grows in Texas” Jas. Walker Davis notes that “A $1,000 investment in Haliburton Company in 1948 when the company was initially available to the public would be worth as of the year-end 1968, $19,700.00. This included the following stock distributions: 2 for 1 in 1953, 5 for 4, 1955; 2 for 1, 1964, 2 for 1, 1969.” 

The Corporate office of Haliburton – 3211 Southland Center, Dallas, Texas – is in the same building in which the Dallas Sheraton was located, and among the corporate officers of Haliburton at the time were R. O. Brown and G. R. Brown (of Brown & Root) and J.B. Connally, a Hailburton director and governor of Texas who was wounded in the shooting.

It is also significant that J. W. Bullion was the personal tax attorney for not only the new President but he also included Jack Crichton as a client.

Jack Alston Crichton was one of the oil men who knew Oswald, the accused assassin, through George DeMohrenschildet, and arranged for Illya Mamantov to assist authorities in interpreting Marina Oswald in the immediate aftermath of the assassination. Crichton was also chief of the local U.S. Army Reserve Intelligence Unit, whose commander, Lt. Col. George Whitmeyer was an unauthorized passenger in the Pilot Car, a half mile ahead of the motorcade, which was driven by Deputy Police Chief Lumpin, another U.S. Army Reserve Intelligence officer.

It should be noted that this car stopped briefly at the corner of Houston and Elm and informed one of the police officers on traffic duty, directly under the alleged assassin’s window, that the motorcade was forthcoming. Those in the Pilot Car were also tuned in to the special WHCA “Charlie Channel” radio, which they used it to keep abreast of the location of the motorcade.

Peter Dale Scott also points out that Jack Crichton was affiliated with the Dallas Civil Defense Post, and relates the possible significance of another strange and possibly wayward telephone call that was made at 12:25 PM, five minutes before the assassination. At that time, the U.S. Fourth Army Headquarters at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas received a telephone call over the regular, unsecured phone line: “This is Silver Dollar calling to test communications. I read you loud and clear. How do you read me?”

“Silver Dollar” was the code name for the National Emergency Airborne command and control “Doomsday” plane – NEACAP. As Scott correctly surmises, “The fact that NEACAP was airborne and making test calls might seem irrelevant to events on the ground in Dallas, until we learn that Crichton’s Dallas Civil Defense Post was part of its network. Those with resource to such secure networks are in a position to manipulate our country’s history, when necessary by provocation-deception plots.”

“Silver Dollar,” the NEACAP “Doomsday” plane, was one of several command and control planes operated by the Strategic Air Command as part of a fleet that also included “Speckled Trout,” a plane often used by General Curtis LeMay, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

At 1:20 PM, while LBJ was still at Parkland, Andrews AFB issued an order for a plane to pick up Gen. LeMay in Toronto, Canada. At 1:46 PM, twenty six minutes later, an Air Force SAM C-140 departed Andrews to pick up LeMay in Canada, at the exact same time the Cabinet plane over the Pacific turned around to return to Hawaii

At 1:50 PM, LeMay changed his point of pickup from Toronto to Wiarton, Canad.a

The first news story naming Oswald was an AP report issued at 2:35 PM CST, while 26000 (Air Force One) was still on the ground in Dallas.

At the end of LBJ Tape Reel 1, Air Force One has yet to depart Dallas, and the first patch on Reel 1 Side 2 begins with Jerry (Behn), head of the White House detail of the Secret Service in Washington, being informed that they are still waiting for LBJ to be sworn in.

Air Fore One finally departs Dallas at 2:47 PM CST (3:47 EST) for Andrews, and is in the air at the same time as the Cabinet Plane and LeMay’s plane, and they are all using the same four radio frequencies that can be heard on the Air Force One radio transmission tapes.

According to Jim Bishop's book "The Day the President Was Shot" contains another revealing incident:

"Officials at the Pentagon were calling the White House switchboard at the Dallas-Sheraton Hotel asking who was now in command. An Officer grabbed the phone and assured the Pentagon that Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara and the Joint Chief of Staff ' are now the President"."

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