Monday, June 4, 2012

Was LeMay at Camp X on 11/22/63?


Where was General Curtis LeMay at the time president Kennedy was assassinated?

Was he on vacation hunting and fishing in upstate Michigan, as his official biographies attest, or was he at Camp X or at a secret command & control bunker overseeing the Dealey Plaza operation? 

An official biography of Air Force General Curtis LeMay reports that at the time President Kennedy was assassinated he was on vacation, hunting and fishing with family members in upstate Michigan.

"Iron Eagle: The Turbulent Life of General Curtis LeMay," by Thomas M. Coffey (p.430) reports that LeMay's wife was from Michigan and he had apparently told his biographer he was in Michigan on vacation and "hurried back to Washington in time for the funeral."

But an Andrews Air Force base log book, that was salvaged from the trash and almost destroyed, indicates that LeMay ordered a special Air Force jet to pick him up in Canada shortly after news of the assassination was widely broadcast, which indicated to some that he wasn’t hunting and fishing in Michigan.

Exploring the possibility that Gen. LeMay attended JFK’s autopsy at Bethesda, as Navy medical corpsman Paul O’Conner attests, Doug Horne, the Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board, made note of LeMay’s presence in Canada rather than Michigan, as his official biography reports.

And Larry Hancock, author of “Someone Would Have Talked” and “Nexus,” also thought it significant and notes: "I was struck by the fact that it (LeMay’s bio) 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."

From the salvaged Andrews Air Force Base Log Book for 11/22/63, it is officially noted that a special order to pick up LeMay in Toronto was requested at 1:20 PM CST (2:20 PM EST, 1420 GMT) and a special SAM – Special Air Mission C-140 jet took off Andrews at 1446 (1:46 PM CST 2:46 PM EST) to pick him up in Toronto, but after the plane took off (1:50 PM CST 2:50 PM EST) it was redirected to Wiarton, a Canadian Air Force base north of Toronto.

The official internet web site for Wiarton includes a photo of the Air Force base, but also makes tantalizing references to Camp X, the secret training camp for spies used by the British and Americans during World War II, and used as a hideaway for a prominent Soviet defector during the Cold War.

“Camp X was the unofficial name of a Second World War paramilitary and commando training installation, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario between Whitby and Oshawa in Ontario, Canada. The area is known today as Intrepid Park, after the code name for Sir William Stephenson of the British Security Coordination.”

Camp X was established December 6, 1941 by the chief of British Security Coordination (BSC), Sir William Stephenson, a Canadian from WinnipegManitoba, and a close confidante of Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The camp was originally designed to link Britain and the United States at a time when the US was forbidden by the Neutrality Act to be directly involved in World War II. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war, Camp X opened for the purpose of training Allied agents from the Special Operations Executive, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) intended to be dropped behind enemy lines as saboteurs and spies. However, even before the United States entered the war on December 7, 1941, agents from America's intelligence services expressed an interest in sending personnel for training at the soon to be opened Camp X. Agents head of the OSS, who credited Sir William Stephenson with teaching Americans about foreign intelligence gathering. The CIA even named their recruit training facility "The Farm", a nod to the original farm that existed at the Camp X site.”

“One of the unique features of Camp X was Hydra, a highly sophisticated telecommunications centre… Hydra also had direct access via land lines to OttawaNew York and Washington, D.C. for telegraph and telephone communications… In the fall of 1945 Camp X was used by the RCMP as a secure location for interviewing Soviet embassy cypher-clerk Igor Gouzenko who defected to Canada on September 5 and revealed an extensive Soviet espionage operation in the country. Post-war, the camp was renamed the Oshawa Wireless Station and was turned over to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals as a wireless intercept station, in essence a spy listening station. The Oshawa Wireless Station ceased operations in 1969.”

While the Camp X site was still in use as a top-secret and secure military communications base in 1963, it is located South East of Toronto, while Wiarton is located northwest of Toronto, so they are not near each other.

And although both Toronto and Wiarton are in Canada, they are actually south east of the rural lake area of North Michigan where LeMay was said to have been at the time of the assassination, and it is possible that LeMay flew by private airplane across Lake Huron that separates Michigan and Canada, to Wiarton, which is closer to Michigan than Toronto.

According to the Andrews Log, within an hour of the assassination LeMay requested a P/U Pick Up at Toronto, and twenty minutes later a C-140 – an Air Force version of a small, executive jet, was sent to pick him up, but while it was still in the air, it was diverted to Wiarton, a small military base north west of Toronto.

Canadian researcher, Randy Owen got in touch with an author who was working on a history of Wiarton, who seemed to be genuinely surprised about the LeMay story and  was asked if he could check it out. Owen said he never heard back and, “I'd be surprised if there was someone alive today who remembered the incident, if it happened. And I'm not sure there may be a paper trail, either. My understanding is an organization called Nav Canada could have any records if they still exist. But an inquiry on my part produced a rather arogant response from Nav Canada saying they have no reason to provide the information I was seeking to any member of the public, even if they had it.”

NAV CANADA, the country's civil air navigation services provider, is a private sector, non-share capital corporation financed through publicly-traded debt. With operations coast to coast to coast, NAV CANADA provides air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation. ANS facilities include seven area control centres and 41 control towers. The Company also operates 58 flight service stations and eight flight information centres. These facilities are supported by a network of over 1,000 ground-based aids to navigation located across the country.”

John Judge, while perusing a batch of then recently released JFK assassination records as Archives II, came across some NSA documents on the military alert status in the aftermath of the assassination. Included among them was a newspaper article on false reports that General LeMay had been killed in an airplane accident that day.

From Wiarton, LeMay had been ordered by Air Force Secretary Zuckert to proceed to Andrews Air Force base where they both were to greet Air Force One and meet the new President, but instead LeMay landed at Washington National, which is closer to downtown DC, the Pentagon and the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where some contend LeMay was during the autopsy of the President a few hours later.

While enroute between Wiarton and Washington, LeMay’s deputy, Colonel George Dorman tried to communicate with him via sideband radio using the Andrews Air Force base operations center, who were relaying radio patches between Air Force One and the White House and other locations. Dorman told the Andrews radio operator that he had an important message for LeMay, whose plane was due to arrive in Washington within a half hour. Because the message itself was not recorded on the Air Force One radio tapes, there is much speculation as to what the message actually was.

Although Colonel Dorman was killed in Vietnam a few years later, his wife Mary Dorman, who was working at the White House at the time of the assassination, recalls the events of those days, but she didn’t know what the message was her husband wanted to convey to LeMay.

Her son George Dorman, Jr. a witness to the burial of the President at Arlington cemetery, also recalls the events of that weekend, and suggests a number of possibilities, including what Secretary Zuckart wanted LeMay to know, the alert status of SAC or where LeMay wanted to go once he arrived in DC, the Pentagon, Andrews or Bethesda.

Dorman said it was peculiar that his father was not with LeMay in Michigan or Canada, or where ever he was, since he was almost always at LeMay’s side, which supports the contention that LeMay really was on vacation, fishing and hunting at his in-laws Michigan lake resort.

Dorman also thought it odd that LeMay didn’t have his own plane with him, “Speckled Trout,” a special command and control plane that he often used, and a sister plane to “Silver Dollar,” NEACP – the flying “Doomsday” plane.

While we don’t know exactly where LeMay was at the time of the assassination, or where his plane “Speckled Trout” was at the time, we do know that “Silver Dollar” was in the air at the time of the assassination, and above Texas, because at 12:25 PM, five minutes before the assassination, “Silver Dollar” checked in with Fort Sam Houston for what it said was a routine radio communications check.

So the answer to the question of whether Gen. LeMay was at Camp X at the time of the assassination is probably no, we still have more questions that answers.

Although there should be a more thorough record among the archives of government that documents the whereabouts of General LeMay, it is so far clear that we don’t really know where he was at the time of the assassination nor where he went after he arrived in Washington, both facts that can and should be established with more certainty.

Dallas CST Andrews EST – GM - Military Time – Andrews Log

12:34 PM CST First UPI "A" wire transmission:
1:00 PM CST (2:00 PM EST) – 1400 GM – JFK pronounced dead.
1:00 PM CST (2:00 PM EST) –1400 GM - Col. Hornbuckle Puts Andrews on Alert
1:20 PM CST (2:20 PM EST) - 1420 Andrews ordered to pick up LeMay at Toronto
1:26 PM CST (2:26 PM EST) – 1426 – LBJ Leaves Parkland for AF1
1:33 PM CST (2:33 PM EST) – 1433 – Kilduff officially announces JFK dead.
1:46 PM CST (2:46 PM EST) - 1446  LeMay’s C-140 Departs Andrews for Toronto
1:46 PM CST (2:46 PM EST) – 1446 Cabinet Plane 86972 Turns Around
1:50 PM CST (2:50 PM EST) P/U for LeMay changed from Toronto to Wiarton, CA.
2:00 PM CST (3:00 PM EST) - 1500 Flight Plan filed for AF1.
3:25 PM CST (4:25 PM EST) 1625 GMTLeMay dep Wiarton ETA Andrews 5:15
4:00 PM CST (5:00 PM EST) 1700 GMT– LeMay destination DCA not ADW/Andrews
4:30 PM CST (5:30 PM EST) 1730 GMT – Col. Dorman tries to contact LeMay 
4:12 PM CST (5:12 PM EST) 1712 LeMay lands at DCA
5:04 PM CST (6:04 P.M. EST) 1800 – AF1 Lands at Andrews 2300 – 2304 Zulu (GMT)

NOTE: With the recent addition of the fact that there were two SAC bases in North Michigan in 1963, it appears that LeMay could have used either of these basis for a PU/Pick Up rather than traveling to Toronto or Wiarton, Canada. - BK 


garcra said...

There were 2 SAC bases in Northern Michigan's Upper Pennisula in 1963.

Both now closed.

K.I. Sawyer AF Base near Marquette.
Kincheloe AF Base near Sault Ste Marie.

Growing up in that area, I remember visiting K.I. Sawyer with
a friend whose father was an AF Officer, and seeing rows of
B-52s lined up and ready for take off.



Linda Minor said...

With reference to Sir William Stephenson of BSC, Bill, have you read Jennet Conant's book, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington? In it Conant documents that the BSC's "Stephenson allowed [Ian] Fleming privileges far above his rank. He invited him to his penthouse, which for all practical purposes was a safe house, where he held court in an elegant two-storied drawing room with an enormous fireplace and regularly gathered the grand and near-grand of the British High Command. Among those who could be found there, at various times, were General Lord Ismay, the prime minister's defense chief of staff; Major General Sir Colin Gubbins, chief of the Special Operations Executive; Lord Beaverbrook; and many others. It was there that he introduced Fleming to the handful of figures in his inner circle, including Ernest Cuneo, Donovan's personal liaison between British intelligence, the White House, and the FBI." This close relationship between British and American spies which began at Camp X during WWII continued unabated 20 years later when the upstart JFK promised to bust it up.

Charles Edward Frith said...

That 8 days in May fishing scene came to mind. JFK assisted in the making of that movie.

G. Wats said...

If Le May was at Wiarton, Ontario, then he was around 500 miles from Washington DC and it is a bit of stretch for the C-140 to make that flight in 47 minutes when you factor in other airplane traffic.

Why would any official record of flights in and out of Washington,DC involving Le May be thrown in the Trash ?

G. Wats said...

Well you all have got a problem.

The C-140 had a maximum speed of about 540 mph.

Now Wiarton, Ontario is about 500 miles from Washington D.C.

You have Le May making the flight in 47 minutes.

47/60 is 0.783


0.783 times 540 is 423 Miles.

So if I have the right Wiarton in Canada, there is no way

Le May was able to travel to DC in 47 minutes,

and this is not taking into account the time it took the

C-140 to get to travel altitude and to descend and land in

Washington, DC.

Where are these times of departure and arrival coming from ?

Charles Edward Frith said...

The question I'm about to ask of this posts comment readers is to provide a glimpse of the wider challenge. This is a movie quote but it's not without substance.

David Ferrie : Oh man, why don't you fuckin' stop it? Shit, this is too fuckin' big for you, you know that? Who did the president, who killed Kennedy, fuck man! It's a mystery! It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma! The fuckin' shooters don't even know!

My question is how many people (not just passengers) were in the car that day?

If interested, I insist you answered my question before watching the following clip.