Friday, July 26, 2013

Prequel to A Forensic Analysis of Air Force One Tapes

By William Kelly (

There are a number of audio tapes of forensic value (1) in high profile crimes, including Kent State, the RFK assassination, the assassination of President Kennedy and more recently in the Martin/Zimmerman case in Florida.

While the controversial Dallas Police tape that some acoustical experts say contains evidence of a fourth shot from the Grassy Knoll, has received the most attention, the recordings of Air Force One radio transmissions from 11/22/63 should be of more general interest because of the variety of issues and subjects.

The Air Force One radio transmission tapes from 11/22/63 include the LBJ Library cassette recordings released in the late 1970s (2) and the more recently discovered reel to reel tapes found among the personal effects of Gen. Chester Clifton, the president’s military aide. (3)

                             COMBINED TRANSCRIPT AND TAPE

Dissatisfied with the official transcript of the LBJ Library version, I compiled my own transcript, and when the Clifton tape was released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), I compiled a transcript of that as well, and then compared the two. (4)

The Clifton tape is longer by about a half hour, but both tapes contain unique information, so I combined and annotated the transcript that I am still working on.
Acoustical forensic specialist Ed Primeau studied the tapes and is creating a combined copy, using the better quality of the two where they overlap, so the two tapes will soon be combined, with the result being one seamless, high quality tape of all the available information that will be used to conduct a complete forensic analysis. (5)

This will include a scientific, technical analysis that will try to determine how many edits there are, how many frequencies were used, what frequencies they were, and see if static and noise can be eliminated, background conversations enhanced, and try to answer other similar questions. (6)

This forensic analysis will also include a review of the content and conversations on the existing recordings – identify those who talk or are mentioned, translate all codes and technical language, explain and paraphrase what is said and compare it to what we know from other sources. (7)

Since the Clifton tape is longer than the officially released LBJ version, it includes conversations that were edited out of the publicly released version, which also permits us to determine why key comments were deleted from the public version and others not.

Some people mentioned on the newly released Clifton version, including Maj. Patterson, aka “Stranger,” in charge of the White House Situation Room at the time of the assassination, who is heard talking on the tapes. He has been recently located and interviewed for the first time about what happened that day. (8)

Gen. LeMay’s aide, Col. Dorman, is also heard on the newly released tape in a section edited out of the publicly released version, with an urgent message for Gen. LeMay, who was flying back to Washington from Canada. Col. Dorman’s wife, who was working at the White House that day, has also been located and recalls what happened that day. (9)

There are also conversations of interest among White House aides and the military officers on such subjects as the autopsy, the living arrangements of the new President and plans for the funeral, as well as conversations between LBJ and the JFK’s mother and Mrs. Connally at Parkland hospital. Most interesting are the conversations between Air Force One and the Situation Room at the White House.

The entire combined tape is over eighty minutes in length.


The Air Force One radio communication tapes “best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership,” is the way T. H. White put it, even though he never got a chance to actually hear the tapes. (10)

A study of the assassination of President Kennedy through the sounds of the radio broadcast transmissions provides a unique perspective into these historic and tragic events, but it is not the complete picture of what happened that day.
Before listening to the tape as part of a forensic analysis, even though we are interested in different aspects of the tapes, those seriously interested in this subject should all get on the same page and become familiar with what’s already been done even before the tapes were made public.
                                                        AF1 - 101
 “That Friday Lyndon Johnson did not know that John Kennedy had ordered the taping of all Angel (Air Force One) conversations while the plane was in flight,” wrote William Manchester (in The Death of a President). It was an order by the President that was carried out with diligence, and apparently included the tape recording of all Special Air Mission (SAM) flights because the Air Force One tapes include communications between the Cabinet plane and the White House and refers to General LeMay’s SAM flight from Canada, neither of which directly involved Air Force One.
“Patches” are sequences of conversations over the radio, each patch having a beginning and end, but they often concern a variety of different subjects. It is advisable before listening to the tapes to become familiar with some of the terminology of radio communications, the code words used and what they mean, which I’ve compiled and posted on line. (11)
William Manchester was one of the first to broach this subject in his book “The Death of a President” (12)
            “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…”


 “There is a tape recording in the archives of the Government” wrote Theodore H. White in his book The Making of a President, 1964 “which best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership. It is a recording of all the conversations in the air, monitored by the [Army] Signal Corps Midwestern center ‘Liberty,’ between Air Force One in Dallas, the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs' Communication Center in Washington.” 

White never got the opportunity to hear this tape recoding, but once, while visiting the White House, he was permitted to read a transcript that he wasn’t permitted to keep, but he understood its significance. He also knew about “Liberty,” the special radio relay station that set the frequencies, established the network and monitored the communications used by the planes that ferried the top leadership in the administration and the military.

The Strategic Air Mission - SAM detachment - the 89th Military Air Wing of the United States Air Force is based at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside of Washington in Maryland, and is responsible for shuttling the President and his cabinet where ever they need to go. (13)

For its radio communications SAM utilized four primary frequencies that were set by ‘Liberty’ station, which was physically located at the headquarters of the company that manufactured the communications equipment - the Collins Radio company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

From Collins Radio Annual Reports:  “Air Force One, the Presidential airplane, was placed in service in 1962 using communications equipment developed and manufactured by Collins. The aircraft…was modified to meet special requirements…In 1962, the station that many remember as ‘Liberty’ was opened and operated from the new communications building…(in Cedar Rapids, Iowa)….Collins had a contact with the Air Force to serve as either the primary communications station or as a backup whenever Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, and other aircraft it the VIP fleet carried cabinet members or high ranking military officers. Over the airwaves the station’s call word was ‘Liberty.’” (14)

The Secret Service and WHCA also maintained the “Charlie” channel for those units involved in the motorcade in Dallas, while the Dallas Police Department (DPD) utilized two other channels, one strictly for the motorcade. The Dallas Sheriff’s Department also had its own frequency used by its personnel. So there were a number of different radio frequency channels being used by security officials at the time of the assassination, and all of them were routinely recorded by the WHCA. (15)

 “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,” Col. Ralph Albertazzle wrote in The Flying White House – The Story of Air Force One. “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.” (16)

                      WHCA COL. GEORGE MCNALLY - STAR GROUP

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

                       “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 [‘Haliburton’] 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 security had their own radio channel – “Charlie” channel, which was set up by the WHCA and included the Secret Service, with an operational base set up in a suite of rooms at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel.
After the motorcade left Love Field, “Charlie” channel was monitored by the pilot of Air Force One, Col. Swindel, who decided not to join the other crew members for lunch in the Love Field terminal and he remained in the cockpit.
Swindel was sitting back relaxing, as the radio crackled dispatches from those in the motorcade, when all of a sudden there was shouting, he recognized Secret Service agent Kellerman’s voice, “we’re hit!” and “cover Volunteer!”, which he knew was Vice President Johnson, and he knew immediately that something was wrong.
It is apparent, from the information contained in Gerald Blaine’s The Kennedy Detail, 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” 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, the fatal head shot occurred - while Kellerman was on the radio talking. (18)

“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 sounds of the second and third, 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 tape recorded, if anyone was recording these proceedings, as the WHCA base at the Dallas Sheraton should have been doing. ‘Charlie’ Channel could also have been recorded at the Dallas Civil Defense HQ at the Fairground, or by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) remote radio base stations at the White House, Andrews AFB, SAC Command Post at Offet AFB or the Collins Radio “Liberty” relay station, where the frequencies to be used were determined and monitored.
Without a tape of these broadcasts, we do have the reports and testimony of a number of witnesses who heard what was said, as Air Force One pilot Swindel (in “The Flying White House”) heard Kellerman’s sudden broadcast “We’re hit” and “…Cover Volunteer!,” and the resulting chaos that clued him that something significant had happened in the motorcade.
The Charlie Channel tapes, if they exist, could contain some extremely important information, and an attempt should be made to locate and release them to the public. (19)
                                      MERRIMAN SMITH - UPI
After Kellerman’s “we’re hit” broadcast over “Charlie” channel while shots were still being fired, 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 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 what it was like at Dallas UPI wire service:
            “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.”

Hampton: “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.” (21)


[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 Altgens, who took a photo of the President’s car in front of the TSBD, immediately ran into the TSBD, was directed to a telephone (possibly by Lee H. Oswald) and called his office. The AP wire report went out a few minutes after the UPI report. 


The White House Communications Agency (WHCA) car is usually the last one in the motorcade, and included 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 (Shadow) Mr. Herb Smith.” (22)
[BK Notes: From an obituary 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.”
When Bales got to the hospital, he immediately began to establish secure phone communications with Washington and the WHCA base at the Dallas Sheraton, seizing a wall of public telephones, except for one, the one which Merriman Smith was relaying his second report to UPI.

Bales: “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; 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 to Dealey Plaza, Bales then 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 communication 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 Situation Room in the White House after the Bay of Pigs, prepared the doomsday code books, and was in the Situation Room at “Crown” at the time of the assassination and is mentioned prominently on the Air Force One radio tapes.

The Doomsday bag that he helped prepare, is a special “Halliburton” case which was originally designed and made for the founder of the Halliburton oil company and was used to hold the black box “football” carried by the “bagman.” (23) Ira Gearheart - the “Bagman,” was stationed just outside the Parkland hospital room where LBJ was 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 Washington DC aboard the same plane he flew in on, Air Force One was chosen, they said, because it had better communications equipment. (24)
When LBJ was rushed out secretly, before the death of the President was officially announced, Gearheart the “Bagman” was momentarily left behind, and rushing to catch up he had to sit on the lap of a Dallas policeman for the ride to Love Field. After they had left the hospital, Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff announced 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.”
                         FIRST CALLS FROM AF1 NOT RECORDED

Since JFK ordered the WHCA to tape record the radio communications from Air Force One only while it airborne, they apparently didn’t record the communications made before takeoff, or at least won’t admit to it.
But we do know that the first thing LBJ did as President was to make at least three phone calls from the special land lines the WHCA had set up at Love Field.
One was to the office of North Texas Judge Sarah Hughes, who LBJ had arranged to be appointed to the federal bench and was still waiting for their arrival at the Dallas Trade Mart. LBJ personally called and instructed her office to get in touch with her and have her go immediately to Air Force One to administer the oath of office. (25)
LBJ made another phone call to his personal tax lawyer J. Waddy Bullion and a third call was made to 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. (26)
                               J. W. BULLION and HALLIBURTON
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, and therefore not recorded for posterity.
[Thanks to Dallas researcher Robert Howard we know] Bullion’s son wrote a book, “In the Boat” (i.e. with LBJ) (27) that claims that LBJ’s call did not get through to his father, but Russ Baker talked with one of Bullion’s law partners, who was privy to the conversation.
Baker 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.’”
Bullion’s book, “In the Boat” also includes “accounts of the family's relationship with Johnson 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.” Bullion claimed not to have billed LBJ for any of the legal work he did, so as not to be indebted to him.

J. Waddy Bullion’s official bio notes he “was born and raised in Eden (Texas), 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 Halliburton 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 Halliburton – 3211 Southland Center, Dallas, Texas – is in the same building in which the Dallas Sheraton - WHCA switchboard was located. 

The Southland Center is also the building where anti-Castro Cuban Antonio Veciana said he met his case officer “Maurice Bishop” and Lee Harvey Oswald in the late summer of 1963.

Among the corporate officers of Halliburton were R. O. Brown and G. R. Brown (of Brown & Root) and J.B. Connally, a Halliburton director and governor of Texas who was wounded in the shooting.

As previously noted, the Doomsday bag with special communications and the nuclear attack codes is carried in a special “Halliburton” case, originally designed for the founder of the company.

                                   JACK CRICHTON AND SILVER DOLLAR

It is also significant that J. W. Bullion was the personal tax attorney for not only the new President but Jack Crichton was also an important client.

Jack Alston Crichton was one of the oil men who knew Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, through their mutual friend George DeMohrenschildet, and it was Crichton who arranged for Illya Mamantov to assist authorities in interpreting Marina Oswald in the immediate aftermath of the assassination.

Crichton was also an officer 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 Lumpkin, another U.S. Army Reserve Intelligence officer. (30)

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, thus informing the Sixth Floor Sniper as well as the traffic cops posted there. 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 points out that Jack Crichton was affiliated with the Dallas Civil Defense Post, (that Russ Baker also writes about) and Scott 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?” (31)

“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, according to the special Andrews AFB Log (that was ordered destroyed), an order was issued 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 Toronto, Canada, at the 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, Canada.

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 Cassette #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.

LBJ was officially sworn in as the new president aboard Air Force One at 2:38 PM CST.

Air Fore One finally departed Dallas at 2:47 PM CST (3:47 EST) for Andrews, and was 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.

                              THE CABINET PLANE - SAM 86972

Before reviewing the existing, Air Force One tapes as edited, it should be noted that three journalists who did not hear the tapes, were permitted by the LBJ White House to read a transcript of the unedited tapes, because they quote things that are not only the existing tapes. William Manchester, T. H. White and former Presidential Press Secretary Pierre Salinger all had access to a transcript of the unedited tapes, and reporter Jim Bishop talked with those who had heard the broadcasts in real time or heard the unedited recordings, and quote from it.

At the time of the assassination Salinger and six members of the President’s Cabinet were aboard the Boeing 707 known to radio operators as SAM 86972 (aka 972), 35,000 feet above the Pacific, nine hundred miles west of Hawaii, when they first learned of the assassination from the UPI wire service report.

Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon, Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, Secretary of Commerce Luther Hodges, Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman, Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz and Press Secretary Pierre Salinger were among those aboard the specially modified Boeing 707-120 (VC-137B) commercial airliner, with different interior furnishings and electronic equipment. The primary mission of SAM 86972 was “to provide first class, worldwide transportation for the Vice-President, Cabinet members and international dignitaries.” (32)

Among the communications equipment aboard SAM 86972 were standard newsroom UPA and AP wire service machines.

Press Secretary Pierre Salinger had just sat down with a book when the wire service machine bell rang five times and then began to clatter text on paper.

Robert Manning (33), the assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, a former newsman, knew that the bells meant breaking news, so he went over and began reading the jumbled text as it came over the wire, tapped out by an automatic typewriter, as it had been sent moments earlier by the Dallas UPI office:


Manning immediately took the disjointed report to Dean Rusk, the senior cabinet member on board in the state room, and Rusk read it, and told Manning to get Salinger.

In his book “With Kennedy” Pierre Salinger wrote: “By 7 A.M., our sleek blue and white presidential Boeing 707 jet was lifting off Hickam Field, headed for Wake Island and Tokyo. I was immersed in my reading sometime later when I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up. It was Robert Manning, ‘The Secretary wants to see you up forward,’ he said. Up forward was the private cabin reserved for the President, but used on this trip by the Secretary of State as the senior officer aboard.” (34)

“I found the Secretary, grave-faced, holding a yellow piece of paper in his hand. I recognized it instantly as coming from the plane’s teletype machine. Because this plane was used a great deal by the President, it carried sophisticated communications equipment not usually carried on commercial airliners. One of these extra communications items was a newspaper teletype. The other members of the Cabinet on the trip were already in the cabin. As we waited for Myer Feldman of the White House staff and Walter Heller, the chairman of the President’s Council on Economic Advisor’s, I looked over Secretary Rusk’s shoulder, the words on the page were badly scrambled – but what I managed to read was unbelievable.”

“I kept reading it over and over again as Feldman and Heller pushed their way into the cabin. The words stayed on the paper. They would not go away. Secretary Rusk read us the last brief bulletin.”

“‘My God!’ gasped Orville Freeman…..Then there was an interminable silence as each man became lost in his private sorrow.”

“‘We’ve got to turn back right now,’” I said to Secretary Rusk.” 

“That’s right, but we have to verify this somehow. Get us in communication with the White House and see if you can get Admiral Felt at CINCPAC…”

“I pushed my way through the forward door of the cabin into the communications section of the plane. ‘Get the White House and Admiral Felt,’ I ordered the communicators, Sergeants Walter C. Baughman and Darrell Skinner. In less than a minute, from almost 6000 miles away, I was talking to the White House Situation Room, the operating nerve center of the nation.”

In the basement of the White House, the Situation Room was set up in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s first crisis, the Bay of Pigs, in early 1961. Historian Arthur Schlesinger, in his book "A Thousand Day," notes that JFK thought that one reason the Bay of Pigs failed was because he received secondhand updates on the situation. (35)

Michael Bohn, who once worked in the White Situation Room and wrote it’s history in his book “Nerve Center” (2003)  reported that, “Kennedy and national security adviser McGeorge Bundy wanted a place where they could get the same real-time info the Pentagon and the CIA got, and where the chief executive and his closest advisers could weigh this data in confidence and come to their own conclusions. In retrospect, lack of timely updates may have played a minor role in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. But in the weeks between the Bay of Pigs and May 15, Kennedy's naval aide Tazewell Shepard enlisted a bunch of Seabees and turned part of the West Wing basement ‘into a facility that some political scientists say changed the fundamental nature of the presidency.’" (36)

As the Air Force One radio transmission recordings reveal, Salinger was put through to “Crown” the code name for the White House, and when he asked for the latest situation on the President, the operator asked if he wanted the Situation Room.

The Navy officer in the White House Situation Room, Oliver Hallett, within the hour, would also learn from the wire service reports that the accused assassin was former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, who Hallett had known from his stint as a Navy attaché at the US Embassy in Moscow. Hallett was in Snyder’s office when Oswald turned his passport over to the senior embassy officer, who kept Oswald’s passport in his desk drawer until Oswald decided to return home. His wife was Snyder’s secretary. (37)

As Max Holland points out, Hallett is one of the few members of the small group of people who had met both President Kennedy and his (alleged) assassin. (38)

When Salinger was writing his book he requested and the White House Communications Agency gave him a copy of a transcript of the Air Force One radio communications that included his conversations with the White House Situation Room. Salinger said that he gave his copy of the transcript to the JFK Library in Boston, but when Vincent Salandria requested this document, it could not be located. (39)

Salinger wrote: “The radio operator called me forward almost immediately to take a call from the Situation Room: ‘AP bulletin is just coming in. President hit in the head. That just came in.’”

“‘Understand. President hit in the head,’ I replied, heading back to Secretary Rusk’s cabin. We were then 1200 miles from Wake Island and 800 miles from Hawaii. Secretary Rusk had swiftly taken control of the situation. If the President lived, he felt it was essential that certain members of the party on the plane go immediately to Dallas, to his side. Others should get back to Washington as soon as possible. The Secretary decided that he, Bob Manning, and I should go to Dallas, and that the others on the plane should go back to the Capital….Communications were established with Admiral Harry D. Felt.”

Admiral Harry D. Felt, the commander of the Pacific Command – CINPAC, as we later learned, was the only theater commander to raise the military alert status as a result of the assassination, increasing it from Defcon 5 to Defcon 4, a state of increased readiness over an area that included all the US forces in the Pacific, including Vietnam.

Salinger: “The plane roared through the early morning skies. We were informed that a jet had been set up for a trip to Dallas, if necessary. I got two more messages. The first was from ‘Stranger.’ He said our plane was to turn around and go back to Washington.”

Salinger: “My report of these messages seriously troubled Secretary Rusk. He wanted to know who Stranger was. Aboard every presidential jet there is usually a White House codebook. We searched for it for about five minutes, but there was none aboard this plane.”

“’We have to know who Stranger is,’” Secretary Rusk said. ‘We don’t know what is happening in Dallas. Who is the government now?’” 

“And certainly this was a question running through everybody’s mind. We had no further word on President Kennedy. Was his shooting an isolated event or part of a national or international conspiracy? Certainly, if the latter were true, our own plane was not immune to attack because any foreign power which had planned the shooting of the President would certainly not be unaware of the fact that six of his ten Cabinet members were in an airplane high over the Pacific.”

Salinger says, and as the tapes confirm, “The decision was made that I was to break the code and find out the identity of Stranger.”

Salinger: “Stranger was Major Harold R. Patterson, a high-ranking officer in the White House Communications Agency. He was, at the time of his transmission to our plane, in Washington D.C. I knew Paterson well. He was one of the most trusted members of the White House staff and he would not have sent us the message without very clear instructions….” (40)

“The messages kept coming off the wire service machine and finally one started grinding out the story of Lee Harvey Oswald and his previous life in Russia and his membership in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. This went against all the preconceived theories we had established.” (41)

“‘If this is true,’ Secretary Rusk said, ‘this is going to have repercussions around the world for years to come.’ His words were prophetic because even today, only in the United States is the report of the Warren Commission, fixing the sole responsibility on Oswald, widely believed…”

“It took us only eight hours and thirty-one minutes to make the non-stop flight from Honolulu to Andrews Air Force Base. We arrived there at 12:31 A.M., Washington time, and stepped out of the plane into a barrage of lights from television cameras…”

In an article posted on the internet, “The Tokyo Flight - Coincidence or Conspiracy?”
Ronald L. Ecker considers the idea that if the assassination was a high level coup, the presence of the cabinet on the plane over the Pacific was possibly part of the plot. He reviewed these same facts and concluded, “And that was the extent of the missing code book crisis. The code book should not have been missing, but its absence, which proved to be of no real consequence, does not by itself mean something sinister. Still, Rusk's concern over Stranger illustrates the fact that conspirators would certainly have been able to take advantage of there being no code book on board under a worst-case scenario.” (42)

Just as Col. Fletcher Prouty suspects he was sent to Antartica to get him out of the way at the time of the assassination, there is the suggestion that it wasn’t a coincidence that most of the cabinet were on a plane on the other side of the world, and additional evidence of chicanery is the fact that the code book was missing.

While one such incident may be happenstance, and two might be a coincidence, three such incidences stretches credulity, and John Judge presents just such a case.

John Judge, the director of COPA – the Coalition on Political Assassinations, attended the University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio, also the home of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where today the Air Force One from November 22, 1963 is on display at the air museum.

While there in the 1970s, Judge was a guest at the Wright-Pat Officers Club, where he talked with an officer who said he was a Strategic Air Command pilot of a nuclear armed B-52 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and when President Kennedy was killed. This pilot told Judge that he came to within 30 seconds of reaching the Fail Safe point during the Cuban Missile Crisis. (43)

On the day JFK was assassinated, the SAC pilots said they were in the air on their regular shift as part of a fleet of armed bombers in the air on a 24 hour basis. When they learned, over civilian commercial radio, that the President had been shot, they thought they would receive new orders. In preparation for that they opened the plane’s safe to get the code books that are needed to translate and confirm any orders, and the code books were missing. While they didn’t get any orders while airborne, when they returned to their base in Nebraska, they compared notes with other pilots, and they too said their code books were missing.

Just like Air Force One, the Cabinet Plane (86972) and Gen. LeMay’s plane, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) nuclear bomber radio communications utilized Collins Radio sideband equipment. Gen. LeMay was himself an amateur ham radio buff, and was personal friends with Art Collins, the president of the company, whose hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa was also home to “Liberty” station, where radio communications frequencies were set, coordinated and relayed. (44)

As Manchester wrote, aboard Air Force One “Aft of the cockpit Signalman John Trimble was too busy to brood. He had three phone patches going to the communications shack, and he was using Hanson's UHF and VHF sets, yet it wasn't enough. Every official in Washington it seemed, wanted to talk to Air Force One...Several conversations were trivial....Lem Johns was forwarding instructions to the White House Communications Agency, and Bill Moyers was talking to Walter Jenkins and Mac Bundy. (Ted Clifon talked to Bundy, too, asking again whether an international plot was emerging. It was not a discreet inquiry. Trimble's patches were not secure. They could be bugged. Bundy replied crisply that the Pentagon was taking its own steps.) But the bulk of the verbal traffic was about President Kennedy...”  (45)

William Manchester, personally selected by Jackie Kennedy to write the definitive story of the assassination, wrote in The Death of the President.  “…On April 21, 1964, this writer learned that the Love-to-Andrews tape still existed. Since security was not involved, it was first thought that a complete transcript of it would serve as a useful appendix to this book. Presidential consent was withheld, however. On May 5, 1965, the author was permitted to read an edited transcript at the White House. Doubtless the tape will be available to future historians.” 

Theodore. H. White, who first described Jackie Kennedy’s “Camelot,” wrote in The Making of a President 1964, "There is a tape recording in the archives of the government which best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership. It is a recording of all the conversations in the air, monitored by the Signal Corps Midwestern center ‘Liberty,’ between Air Force One in Dallas, the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs’ Communications Center in Washington….On the flight the party learned that there was no conspiracy, learned the identity of Oswald and his arrest; and the President’s mind turned to the duties of consoling the stricken and guiding the quick." 

According to the analysis of E. Martin Schotz and Vincent Salandria (in History Will Not Absolve Us, 1996), "And yet the White House had informed President Johnson and the other occupants of Air Force One, all of them witnesses to the hail of bullets which had poured down on Dealey Plaza, that as of the afternoon of the assassination there was to be no conspiracy and that Oswald was to be the lone assassin. If White’s report were correct this would mean that federal officials in Washington were marrying the government to the cover-up of Oswald as the lone assassin virtually instantaneously. This could have occurred only if those federal authorities had had foreknowledge that the evidence would implicate Oswald and that he would have ‘no confederates.’ An innocent government could not have reacted in such a fashion internally." (47)

NOTES for: Prequel to a Forensic Analysis

1) Forensic - fo·ren·sic adj. 1. Relating to, used in, or appropriate for courts of law or  for public discussion or argumentation. 2. Of, relating to, or used in debate or argument; rhetorical. 3. Relating to the use of science or technology in the investigation and establishment of facts or evidence in a court of law: a forensic laboratory.
4)     Transcripts - LBJ Transcript - By K. Cunningham.
            Combined Tape Transcript
5)     Technical Analysis (Ed Primeau)
7)     Forensic Analysis will also try to determine if any laws were broken aboard Air Force One. Crimes committed in the air are federal offenses.
8)     Major H. Patterson, aka “Stranger.”
9)     Col. Dorman, Gen. LeMay’s aide.
10) White, T. H. Making of the President 1964.
11)  Nomenclature - glossary, acronyms, crypts, codes,,,.
12) Manchester, William. “Death of a President.” (1967 pages 61-63), (page 20).
13) 89th MAW - SAM Andrews AFB.  89th Airlift Wing Public Affairs1419 Menoher DriveSuite 108Andrews AFB, MD 20762  301-981-1110
14) Liberty” Station, Collins Radio, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Quote taken from Collins Radio Annual Reports (1962-63-64)
15) “Charlie” Channel and WHCA. Maj. Patterson, in a telephone conversation with Bill Kelly, said that the WHCA did not edit tapes, only recorded them for the White House and the Military.
16) Albertazzle, Ralph. “The Flying White House - The Story of Air Force One” (1979, Coward, McCann & Georghegan, NY)
17) Manchester, William. “The Death of the President.” On Col. George McNally, Star Group, WHCA.
18) Blaine, Gerald. “The Kennedy Detail” (Gallery, 2010, p. 215)
21) Lifton, David. Author of “Best Evidence,” David Lifton has a keen interest in the Air Force One radio transmissions, especially those conversations concerning the autopsy and the body.
22) Bales, Arthur, WHCA. After Action Reports. For Bales Complete Report see: JFKcountercoup: WHCA Comm Center After Action Reports
….When consulted by the Vice President, O'Donnell advised him to go to the airfield immediately and return to Washington.245 It was decided that the Vice President should return on the Presidential plane rather than on the Vice-Presidential plane because it had better communication equipment. 246…
25) LBJ calls Judge Hughes’ office. Warren Report, p. 58. - end
27) Bullion, J. W. “In the Boat.” Thanks to Robert Howard for obtaining this book.
28) Baker, Russ. Family of Secrets (Bloomsbury, 2009, p. 132) Note 32 – “Author interview with Pat Holloway, March 11, 2008. Halliburton had merged with Brown & Root in 1962.”
29) Davis, Jas. Walker. “Money Tree Grows in Texas” (1968)
31) Silver Dollar - Rogers, Alan; Haapanen, Larry. “A Phone Call From Out of the Blue” JFK Assassination Chronicles (Vol. 8, Issue 2, 2002)
32) SAM 86972. Used by Vice President, Cabinet and senior military officers. According to official descriptions, “The interior of SAM 86972 was divided into three sections: Forward (crew area), center (stateroom) and aft (passenger). The forward section had a communications center, a galley, lavatory and 13-seat compartment with one table and two overhead bunks. The center section was designed for VIP, with conference tables, swivel chairs, projection screen, two convertible sofa-bunks and a lavatory. The aft section was a combination staff and passenger areas, and contained a Xerox machine, reclining seats, overhead bunks, tables, galley two lavatories. The VC-137B was usually operated by an augmented crew of about twenty, including three pilots (two were qualified aircraft commanders), two navigators, two flight engineers, one crew chief, two communication systems operators, six flight attendants and four security guards.” 

33) Manning, Robert. Sec. State for Public Affairs. From The Kennedy Presidency An Oral History of The (page 450)Eraby Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober, an updated edition of “Let Us Begin Anew: An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency” by the same authors.
34) Salinger, Pierre. “With Kennedy” (1966)  PBS Interview:
35) Schlesinger, Arthur. “A Thousand Days” (Houghton Mifflin, 1965)
36) Bohn, Michael. “Nerve Center” (Potomac Books, 2003)
37) Holland, Max “The Kennedy Assassination Tapes” (Alfred Knopf, NY, 2004, p.18 notes) on Hallett. While Holland didn’t identify the “Liberty” station, he did point out that Hallett knew Oswald from the US Embassy in Moscow.
38) Hallett, Capt. Oliver, USN.
39) Salandria, Vincent. “Tale of the Tapes.”
40) “Stranger” aka Maj. Harold R. Patterson. Identified on AF1 Tape at [18:52]
With Kennedy, p. 7; Death of a President, Manchester,p. 224
41) Oswald background over wire reports. See: Salandria “Tale of the Tapes.”
42) Ecker, Ron. “The Tokyo Flight - Coincidence or Conspiracy?”
43) Judge, John. Recollections of conversation with SAC pilot.
44) LeMay and Art Collins.
45) Manchester, Wm. “Death of a President” (Footnote 9 - p. 371).
46) White, Theodore. H. “Making of a President 1964”
47) Schotz, E. Martin. “History Will Not Absolve Us” (1966)

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