Friday, September 28, 2018

Re-reevaluating the Photo Evidence - A USMC Case Study

Re-reevaluating the Photo Evidence - A USMC Case Study 

Image result for USMC Iwo JimaImage result for USMC Iwo Jima

RESEARCH NOTES: I have previously said that most of the photo evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy has not determined much with certainty, except for the photo of Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol – that put to rest the question of whether the two men knew each other, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) Photo Panel determination that the boxes in the snipers window were moved after the last shot, based on two photos taken within seconds of each other.

Now however, because of the advancements in photo facial identification software and the recent US Marine Corps re-evaluation of the identities of the men in the famous flag waving photo at Iwo Jima, I believe that a re-evaluation of the photo evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy can and will make more new unquestionable discoveries that can have an impact on the case.

Convincing the Marine Corps Historians that they had identified the wrong man in the Iwo Jima photo, that won a Pulitzer Prize and served as the basis for books, movies and the famous monument in Washington D.C., was not an easy task, but was accomplished by two determined amateur historians – Erick Krelle and Stephen Foley.

If two amateur historical researchers can convince the USMC to admit they were wrong for 70 years in identifying the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, we can convince them that one of the most famous marines of all time - Lee Harvey Oswald, did not kill President Kennedy, and they should release all of the outstanding records they have that support this, including the report that concludes Oswald "was not capable of committing the assassination alone." 

Marines investigate claim of mistaken identity in famous Iwo Jima photo

Published May 03, 2016  Associated Press

In this Feb 23, 1945 file photo, U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan. (AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa –  The Marine Corps says it has begun investigating whether it mistakenly identified one of the men shown raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima in one of the iconic images of World War II after two amateur history buffs began raising questions about the picture.

The Marines announced its inquiry more than a year after Eric Krelle, of Omaha, Nebraska, and Stephen Foley, of Wexford, Ireland, began raising doubts about the identity of one man. In November 2014, the Omaha World-Herald published an extensive story about their claims and Saturday was the first to report the Marines were looking into the matter.

Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal shot the photo on Feb. 23, 1945, on Mount Suribachi, amid an intense battle with the Japanese. Rosenthal didn't get the names of the men, but the photo immediately was celebrated in the U.S. and President Franklin Roosevelt told the military to identify the men.

After some confusion, the Marines identified the men as John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Harlon Block, Michael Strank and Franklin Sousley. All were Marines except Bradley, who was a Navy corpsman.
Block, Strank and Sousley were killed in fighting at Iwo Jima before the photo was distributed in the U.S.

On Monday, the Marines issued a statement saying, "The Marine Corps is examining information provided by a private organization related (to) Joe Rosenthal's Associated Press photograph of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima.

"Rosenthal's photo captured a single moment in the 36-day battle during which more than 6,500 US servicemen made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation and it is representative of the more than 70,000 US Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen that took part in the battle. We are humbled by the service and sacrifice of all who fought on Iwo Jima."

Iwo Jima, a tiny island 660 miles south of Tokyo, was the site of an intense 36-day battle that began Feb. 19, 1945, between about 70,000 Marines and 18,000 Japanese soldiers. Capturing Iwo Jima was deemed essential to the U.S. war effort because Japanese fighter planes were taking off from the island and intercepting American bomber planes.

Hal Buell, a retired AP executive news photo editor, had long discussions with Rosenthal about the flag-raising picture and in 2006 wrote a book about the famous image. It's hard to understand the photo's power in 1945 to Americans, who were weary of the war and horrified by the incredible number of deaths by servicemen, especially in locations of Asia most had never heard of, Buell said.

"People were just tired of the war, and all of a sudden out of nowhere came this picture that encapsulated everything," Buell said. "It showed that victory was ultimately possible."

Buell said after Rosenthal shot the photo, the flag-raisers quickly moved onto other tasks, and it was impossible for him to get their names. That task was left to the Marines after the picture prompted an overwhelming response and the government decided to use the image in an upcoming sale of war bonds to finance the continued fighting.

Rosenthal died in 2006.

The identification of the six servicemen has been accepted for decades, but the World-Herald reported that while recovering from an operation Foley had lots of time on his hands and began noticing possible discrepancies in the picture. He enlisted the help of Krelle, who maintains a website dedicated to the Marines' 5th Division.

After examining the famous photo along with other pictures taken that day of the men, they concluded that the man identified as Bradley was actually Harold Henry Schultz, a private first class from Detroit. Schultz died in 1995.

Krelle declined to comment on the Marine's investigation, telling the World-Herald he had signed a confidentiality agreement with a third party. A message left by the AP at a phone number listed to Krelle wasn't immediately returned.

In 2014, Krelle had told the newspaper, "People can hold onto what they have always known in the past. But to me, the photos are the truth."

Discrepancies identified by Krelle and Foley included:

— Bradley wore uncuffed pants in the famous photo but other pictures shot that day shows in him tightly cuffed pants.

— The bill of a cap is visible beneath the helmet in the flag-raising picture but not in other images of Bradley made that day.

— The man identified as Bradley is wearing a cartridge belt with ammunition pouches, and a pair of wire cutters hangs off the belt. But as a Navy corpsman, Bradley would typically be armed with a sidearm, not an M-1 rifle, and he'd have no need for wire cutters. Other photos that day show him wearing what appears to be a pistol belt with no ammo pouches.

Bradley's son, James Bradley, wrote a best-selling book about the flag raisers, "Flags of Our Fathers," which was later made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood.

Bradley told the AP he was shocked to hear the Marines were investigating the identity of the men.

"This is unbelievable," said Bradley, who interviewed the surviving Marines and Rosenthal before writing his book.

"I'm interested in facts and truths, so that's fine, but I don't know what's happening," he added.
The Marines didn't give a timeline for its investigation.

Marines misidentified one man in iconic 1945 Iwo Jima photo

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps acknowledged Thursday it had misidentified one of the six men in the iconic 1945 World War II photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima.

The investigation solved one mystery but raised another. The Marine Corps investigation identified a man who has never been officially linked to the famous photo: Pvt. 1st Class Harold Schultz, who died in 1995 and went through life without publicly talking about his role.

“Why doesn’t he say anything to anyone,” asked Charles Neimeyer, a Marine Corps historian who was on the panel that investigated the identities of the flag raisers. “That’s the mystery.”

“I think he took his secret to the grave,” Neimeyer said.

U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Harold Schultz (Photo: Courtesy of The Smithsonian Channel)

The Marine Corps investigation concluded with near certainty that Schultz was one of the Marines ra
raising the flag in the photo.

The investigation also determined that John Bradley, a Navy corpsman, was not in the photograph taken on Japan's Mount Suribachi by Joe Rosenthal, a photographer for the Associated Press. The Feb. 23, 1945, photo that has been reproduced over seven decades actually depicts the second flag-raising of the day.
The three surviving men identified in the photo, John Bradley, Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon, went on a tour selling war bonds back in the United States and were hailed as heroes.

Bradley’s son James Bradley and co-author Ron Powers, wrote a best-selling book about the flag raisers, Flags of our Fathers, which was later made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood. John Bradley had been in the first flag-raising photo on Iwo Jima and may have confused the two, Neimeyer said.
Schultz, who enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17, was seriously injured in fighting on the Japanese island and went on to a 30-year career with the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles after recovering from his wounds. He was engaged to a woman after the war, but she died of a brain tumor before they could wed, said his stepdaughter, Dezreen MacDowell. Schultz married MacDowell's mother at age 63.

Analysts believe Schultz, who received a Purple Heart, knew he was in the iconic image, but chose not to talk about it.

“I have a really hard time believing how it wouldn’t have been known to him,” said Matthew Morgan, a retired Marine officer who worked on a Smithsonian Channel documentary on the investigation. The filmmakers turned over their evidence to the Marine Corps to examine.

Schultz may have mentioned his role at least once. MacDowell now recalls he said he was one of the flag raisers over dinner in the early 1990s when they were discussing the war in the Pacific.

“Harold, you are a hero,” she said she told him. “Not really. I was a Marine,” he said.

She described him as quiet and self-effacing.

It’s difficult to fathom his desire to keep his role quiet in an era when many Navy SEALs and other servicemen are rushing books into print about their exploits. During World War II many veterans were reluctant to speak about their experiences because it reminded them of the horrors of war.

One of the flag raisers, Ira Hayes, initially asked to remain anonymous, but the Marines were under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt to identify the Marines so they could go on a war bonds tour.

The photo appeared in thousands of newspapers and raised the morale of a nation that had grown weary of the bloody slog in the Pacific.

“We were winning the war but it was the hardest part of the war,” historian Eric Hammel said of the Pacific island-hopping campaign.

“It went viral in the 1945 equivalent of the word,” Neimeyer said.

The new investigation was prompted by growing doubts about the identity of Bradley in the photo.

Two amateur historians, Eric Krelle and Stephen Foley, went further and were able to identify Schultz as a possible flag raiser. They examined the Rosenthal photo and compared it to others taken the same day, including a film that was shot at the same time as Rosenthal took his photo. Their research was highlighted in a lengthy 2014 Omaha World-Herald article.

More than a year later the Marine Corps agreed to investigate the claim, appointing a nine-person panel headed by Jan Huly, a retired Marine Corps three-star general.

The faces in Rosenthal’s photos are mostly obscured, but investigators were able to identify distinctive ways the Marines wore their equipment and uniforms in the photo and then compared it to other photos taken of the unit on the same day.

“It’s obvious to the untrained eye,” said Michael Plaxton, a consultant who examined the photographs for a documentary, "The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima," which will air on the Smithsonian Channel on July 3.
“People have pointed out the inconsistencies over the years,” Plaxton said.

He said it required more careful and independent analysis to draw any firm conclusions, however. Plaxton’s report and other material uncovered by the Smithsonian Channel was used by the Marine Corps in their investigation.

Neimeyer said the Marine Corps didn’t immediately launch an investigation because it frequently receive competing claims about the presence of people in famous war photos. Once the Marine Corps realized how compelling the evidence was in this case, it agreed to look into the issue earlier this year.
It wasn’t the first time the Marines had to correct the record. A Marine Corps investigation in 1947 determined that Henry Hansen had been misidentified as a flag raiser instead of Harlon Block. Both men had been killed in action on the island, as were two other men identified in the photo, Franklin Sousley and Michael Strank.

It's not surprising there has been confusion about the identities of the Marines. Rosenthal gave the shot very little thought as he took it, and the men raising the flag took little notice as well.

The Marine Corps effort to identify the men was further hindered by the confusion over the fact there were two flag-raisings, the chaos of one of the war’s bloodiest battles and the faces in the photos were obscured.
The Marine Corps said the results of the investigation do

 don’t undermine what the photo and memorial depicting it represent. The photo helped cement the Marines’ reputation as one of the world’s toughest fighting forces.

"Although the Rosenthal image is iconic and significant, to Marines it's not about the individuals and never has been," Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in a statement. "Simply stated, our fighting spirit is captured in that frame, and it remains a symbol of the tremendous accomplishments of our Corps -- what they did together and what they represent remains most important.

"That doesn't change," Neller said.

Marines landed on Iwo Jima, a tiny Pacific atoll about 760 miles from mainland Japan, on Feb. 19, 1945, beginning a bloody five-week fight for every inch of the island against an entrenched Japanese force that refused to surrender.

Few Marines escaped unscathed. Of the 70,000 Americans who participated in the battle, 6,800 were killed and about 20,000 were wounded. Some infantry units sustained much higher casualty rates. About 20,000 Japanese soldiers, most of the force, died trying to defend the tiny island.

The first flag-raising, which occurred shortly after 10 a.m., captured the attention of the Marines fighting on the island. In the midst of brutal battles throughout the island they looked up to see the flag flying over Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the island. Marines paused to cheer. Navy ships sounded their horns.
Hours later the Marines decided to replace that flag with a larger one. Rosenthal was there, snapping a photo so quickly he didn’t have time to look through his viewfinder.

After Schultz's death, MacDowell found only a few items that her stepfather kept from his Marine Corps days. Included in the metal box of military records was a group photo that Rosenthal took of Marines on Iwo Jima around the same time as the famous photo.

But there was no answer to the mystery of why Schultz remained largely silent about his brush with history.
“He probably wouldn’t be really happy with us revealing this now,” Neimeyer said.

Man in Iwo Jima Flag Photo Was Misidentified, Marine Corps Says

June 23, 2016

WASHINGTON — An internal investigation by the Marine Corps has concluded that for more than 70 years it wrongly identified one of the men in the iconic photograph of the flag being raised over Iwo Jima during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

The inquiry found that a private first class, Harold Schultz, was one of the six men in the photograph, which received a Pulitzer Prize. And it determined that a Navy hospital corpsman, John Bradley, whose son wrote a best-selling book about his father’s role in the flag-raising that was made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, was not in the image.

Mr. Schultz, a mail sorter who died in 1995 at age 70, never publicly acknowledged that he was in the photograph. According to his stepdaughter, he discussed it only once with his family, mentioning it briefly one night during dinner in the early 1990s as they talked about the Iwo Jima battle.

“My mom was distracted and not listening and Harold said, ‘I was one of the flag raisers,’ ” his stepdaughter, Dezreen MacDowell, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

“I said, ‘My gosh, Harold, you’re a hero.’ He said, ‘No, I was a Marine.’ ”

“After he said that, it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it,” she said. “He was a very self-effacing Midwestern person. He was already sick, and died two or three years later.”

The investigation was opened in response to questions raised last year by producers working on a documentary, “The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima,” to be shown July 3 on the Smithsonian Channel, in what was the latest controversy about the photograph. It was taken on Feb. 23, 1945, by Joseph Rosenthal of The Associated Press as the Marines battled the Japanese on the strategically important island in the Pacific.

Just days later, the image appeared on the front pages of major national newspapers, quickly becoming a symbol of the sacrifices American service members at war were willing to make. Ultimately, 6,800 American service members were killed on the island, and the image became the inspiration for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., which depicts six 32-foot-tall figures in the same positions as the men in the photograph.

But in 1946, the Marines conducted a similar investigation in response to claims that the service had misidentified one of the flag raisers, concluding that the man in the far right of the photograph was actually Harlon Block, not Henry Hansen. (Both men had died on Iwo Jima.) In the decades since, the Marines and Mr. Rosenthal have fended off accusations that the photograph was staged.

Matthew Morgan, a retired Marine who worked as a producer for the show’s production company, Lucky 8 TV, said it first approached the Marines last year citing evidence that the men in the photograph were misidentified.

Mr. Morgan said the Marines were initially not interested in looking into the claim. But in January, the production company provided the chief historian of the Marines, Charles Neimeyer, with detailed evidence that laid out the case for mistaken identity.

Other photographs of the men on Iwo Jima that day, along with forensic analysis of them, showed that the gear Mr. Bradley was wearing was different from that worn by the man who was identified as Mr. Bradley in the photograph. Facial recognition technology used on the photographs also showed that the man was not Mr. Bradley.

“Over the years, people have claimed they were in the photo, but there was nothing besides their word to back that up,” Dr. Neimeyer said. “I thought that maybe they are on to something, maybe they are right.”
U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raised the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan, in 1945.CreditJoe Rosenthal/Associated Press

In March, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert B. Neller, appointed a retired three-star general to lead a panel of eight active and retired Marine commissioned and noncommissioned officers, including Dr. Neimeyer, to investigate the photograph.

The panel began meeting secretly the next month at Marine offices in Quantico, Va., where it painstakingly examined Mr. Rosenthal’s photograph. After six days, the panel voted unanimously to endorse findings that it was Mr. Schultz, not Mr. Bradley, who had participated in the raising of the flag.

Mr. Bradley’s role that day was at the center of the book “Flags of Our Fathers,” written by his son, James, and Ron Powers, which was published in 2000 and was on the New York Times best-seller list for 46 weeks.

But in May, shortly after it was publicly disclosed that the Marines were investigating the photograph, James Bradley said that he no longer believed that his father, who is deceased, was in the image. He said that his father had participated in an earlier flag-raising and mistakenly believed that it had been the one captured by Mr. Rosenthal. Mr. Bradley declined to participate in the documentary, according to Mr. Morgan.

Mr. Bradley, who did not return an email seeking comment, said in May that he had become convinced of this in 2014, after reading an article in The Omaha World-Herald that told how amateur historians had discovered the incorrect identifications. But he said that it took him a year to examine the evidence in the article because he had been working on a book in Vietnam, and then had become ill.

Days after the photograph was taken in 1945, Mr. Schultz sustained wounds to his arm and stomach, and he was sent home. Several months later, Mr. Schultz, who was originally from Michigan, was discharged from the Marines.

The federal government helped him get a job in Los Angeles as a mail sorter for the Postal Service. He was single until age 60, when he married Ms. MacDowell’s mother, who lived next door in his apartment building and shared a porch. But he never moved in with her and rarely discussed his time in the military, according to Ms. MacDowell.

Why Mr. Schultz apparently never disclosed that he was in the famous picture remains a mystery.
Many Marines who had fought on Iwo Jima suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but little was known about the condition at the time.

To cope, many Marines simply never talked about their military experience.

One of the other men pictured in the flag-raising, Ira Hayes, had asked men in his unit not to identify him as being in the photograph, but they could not keep it secret.

“I think Hayes and Schultz believed that if they were identified as flag raisers, not a day would go by without them being reminded of combat and being on Iwo Jima,” Dr. Neimeyer said.

On Wednesday, General Neller called Ms. MacDowell to tell her of the findings about her stepfather.
“I’m delighted he has gotten the recognition, but I wish it happened when he was alive,” she said afterward. “He was a kind and gentle man.”

General Neller said in a written statement that “although the Rosenthal image is iconic and significant, to Marines it’s not about the individuals and never has been.”

He added: “Simply stated, our fighting spirit is captured in that frame, and it remains a symbol of the tremendous accomplishments of our corps — what they did together and what they represent remains most important. That doesn’t change.”'

The Marines will now alter any places where they refer to the flag raisers, substituting Mr. Schultz’s name for Mr. Bradley.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

General Krulak to Joint Chiefs of Staff



J-3 Records Series –

SAOSA-M 457-639

9 August 1963


Subject: JCS Briefing by Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald

1.      A synopsis of the briefing given to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 31 July by Mr. Fitzgerald makes clear that he did not go into detail concerning the CIA operations against Cuba, nor the magnitude of the support which the on-going program will require from the military..

2.      Since the Joint Chiefs of Staff, except for (USMC) General Shoup, were absent, I propose that Mr. Fitzgerald be brought back in about two weeks. For that presentation I will prepare a talking paper which will include questions designed to draw out Mr. Fitzgerald concerning mattes which are of particular moment to the Chiefs.

3.      If this is agreeable, I will make the necessary arrangements.

V. H. KRULAK Major General, USMC

BK NOTES: I never heard of General Victor "Brute" Krulak until he was mentioned by Col. Fletcher Prouty, whose Pentagon office was just down the hall. Krulak was a young marine officer in the South Pacific during World War II when his men were trapped on a small island being overwhelmed by superior Japanese forces. In a scene depicted in the movie PT-109, Navy Lt. JFK took PT-109 close to the shore so the marines could board it and escape under intense fire. Krulak said he told Kennedy that he owed him a bottle of whiskey for that. When he was appointed Special Assistant for Counter-Insurgency and Special Operations (SACISO) at the Pentagon, Krulak claims he visited the White House after hours and gave the President the belated bottle of whiskey, that they share and recalled war stories.

As SACISO Krulak was responsible for the military support for CIA covert operations, especially those aimed at Cuba, and it was his aide Colonel Walter Higgins who attended and wrote the memo of the September 1963 meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired by General LeMay (USAF), and briefed by Desmond Fitzgerald, the CIA officer responsible for covert operations against Cuba.

This document reflects the fact that meeting with Fitzgerald and his briefing was held at the specific request of General Krulak.

It also gives us a few leads to search for other related records, such as the 31 July briefing by Fitzgerald when only the Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps General Shoup was present.

Then there is Krulak’s “Talking Paper” he said he was to prepare for questioning Fitzgerald specifically about the US military support for CIA covert Cuban operations.

Of the military support for such covert ops there were a number that are apparent – the CIA use of military bases for training of JMWAVE Cubans, the supplying of small arms and ammunition, and contingencies for US Navy maritime or air support against aggressive Cuban military response.

If anyone comes up with the documentary report of Fitzgerald’s July 31, 1963 briefing or Krulak’s “Talking Paper” bullet points for Fitzgerald, it would be greatly appreciated if you share it here.

Relevant Arms Caches - The Source of Dealey Plaza Bullets?


Since the source of the bullets said to be used in the assassination of President Kennedy have never been identified, I would suggest they came from one of three known arms caches.

Like cigarettes, you can’t buy individual bullets but must purchase them in packs and cases that are labeled and can be traced. The bullets and shells found at the Texas School Book Depository were traced from their serial numbers to a case of bullets sold to the US Marine Corps in 1954, and because the USMC does not have a weapon that could fire that caliber of bullets, it is presumed they were to be used during a covert intelligence operation, possibly in Guatemala or Iran.

There are a number of guns and arms caches that come into play in the JFK assassination drama;

1)      The Houma Bunker raid – that took place in the summer of 1961 in New Orleans when Oswald was in USSR. It included David Ferrie, Sergio Aracha Smith, Gordon Novel, his wife – Marlene Mancuso – a former Miss New Orleans beauty, Luis Rabel Nunez, Layton Martins, Carlos Quiroga, Andrew Blackmon and others. They broke into, or were given the key to an underground arms bunker in Houma, La., a property owned by the Schulemburger, a French company headed by Jean deMenil, who met Oswald when he returned to Texas. The arms were taken to Guy Bannister’s 544 Camp Street offices and David Ferrie’s apartment, and were said to be used for anti-Castro Cuban operations or the OAS French Generals revolt against deGaul for his Algeria policies.

2)      The U-Haul trailer filled with guns and arms William Harvey and the CIA provided to John Rosselli for his team of anti-Castro Cuban commandos who were attempting to infiltrate Cuba to kill Castro.

From Spartacus-Educational:

In February, 1963, William Harvey was removed as head of the ZR/RIFLE project. Harvey was now sent to Italy where he became Chief of Station in Rome. Harvey was convinced that Robert Kennedy had been responsible for his demotion. A friend of Harvey's said that he "hated Bobby Kennedy's guts with a purple passion".

Harvey continued to keep in contact with Johnny Roselli. According to Richard D. Mahoney: "On April 8, Rosselli flew to New York to meet with Bill Harvey. A week later, the two men met again in Miami to discuss the plot in greater detail... On April 21 he (Harvey) flew from Washington to deliver four poison pills directly to Rosselli, who got them to Tony Varona and hence to Havana. That same evening, Harvey and Ted Shackley, the chief of the CIA's south Florida base, drove a U-Haul truck filled with the requested arms through the rain to a deserted parking lot in Miami. They got out and handed the keys to Rosselli."

3)      The Venezulian Arms Cache found on a Venezuelian beach, the last major issue JFK delt with in the Oval Office before leaving on his trip to Texas. The CIA director himself took a weapon from the cache into the Oval Office and there’s a photo of JFK being shown the weapon, that the CIA falsely claimed originated from Cuba and bound for communist guerillas in Venezuela.

David Talbot “Brothers”:  “On November 19, three days before the assassination, President Kennedy was starteled when Richard Helms opened a canvas air bag in the Oval Office and pulled out a submachine gun. The weapon Helms claimed, was part of a Cuban cache that had been found on a beach in Venezuela – dramatic proof of Castro’s brazen effort to subvert his neighbors’ governments. Helm’s message was all to predictable; it was time to get rid of Castro. But Kennedy seemed more disturbed by the fact that the CIA official had been able to blithely slip an automatic weapon into the Oval Office unmolested by his Secret Service centurions. “It gives me a feeling of confidence,” he dryly told Helms.”

Monday, September 24, 2018

Review of Gayle Nix Jackson's book "Pieces of the Puzzle"

BOOK REVIEW: Pieces of the Puzzle by Gayle Nix Jackson (2017)

Some people try to understand the assassination of President Kennedy by using metaphors or matrix models, comparing it to a game of chess or a puzzle, and Gayle Nix Jackson adds some previously missing pieces of the Dealey Plaza picture in her book Pieces of the Puzzle, an important new book on the assassination.

As the late Jim Marrs says, “Some people believe that there’s nothing left to say about JFK’s assassination. They couldn’t be more wrong. There are still people alive who were there and who were witnesses to the goings on in Dallas and beyond. Gayle has found these people and talked to them and that’s what good investigative reporters do: they go to the source. In a time where so many JFK books are nothing more than recycled stories everyone has heard, Gayle brings us new information about people we’ve heard about but never knew. Now we do.”

As Gayle Nix Jackson’s second book on the assassination, after one on her grandfather’s film, this is an anthology with chapters written by James Wagenvoord, Doug Campbell, Steve Roe and Chris Scally, so there is more than one dimension to this book.

With a Foreward and a chapter written by Wagenvood, a former Life Magazine employee who gives good insight into the inner workings of the publishing giant that purchased and suppressed the Zapruder film. It’s a subject he will discuss further at the CAPA symposium at the Old Red Court House at Dealey Plaza on Thursday, November 15.

Steve Roe writes the chapter on “Welcome Mr. Kennedy to Dallas,” while Doug Campbell writes Chapter 8 on The Gunrunner (Loran Hall) and Chris Scally writes the final chapter on Closing In On the Nix Film?, about the frustrating search for the missing film that is now the subject of a legal civil court case.

Most people recognize Gayle Nix Jackson as the granddaughter of Orville Nix, the guy who made the other film of the assassination, the original of which has gone missing. There’s certainly more substance to this book than the one written by Zapruder’s granddaughter, who pooh poohs conspiracy theorists and those who question the provenance of that film. Establishing a clear provenance of the Z film is something that Zapruder could have but failed to do and something that must still be done. Where was the Z film and when was it there? That would seem to be a simple question that she could have answered, but doesn’t.

Gayle Nix Jackson gives us some answers we didn’t have before, and her writing cohorts Wagenvoord and Chris Scally go into the details of the Nix film.  But this book goes beyond the film as she also goes into detail with the Walker shooting, the Cuban refugees in Dallas, the Odio incident, and Loran Hall, who the Warren Report falsely says was one of Odio’s visitors. Most significantly and miraculously, she tracked down and interviewed the obscure and elusive but important witness Walter J. Machann, a former Catholic priest who catered to the Cuban community in Dallas, including the Odios.

Years ago, when I finally tracked down Machann’s sister in Dallas, she said he was in Thailand, where I imagined him becoming a monk after leaving the priesthood, but the real story is even more interesting. Then known as Father Machann, in 1963 he was a young Catholic priest assigned by his bishop to cater to the welfare of the Cuban refugees in Dallas, mainly because he had attended the University of Mexico and spoke Spanish.

Among those he worked closely with were a number of Cuban exiles including Silvia Odio, who told Machann of her encounter with “Leon” Oswald and two Cubans a month before the assassination, seeking assistance for their anti-Castro activities. The next day one of the Cubans called Odio on the phone and told her the Gringo “Leon” was an “ex-Marine marksman who said that the Cubans had no guts or President Kennedy would have been killed after the Bay of Pigs.”

Machann first came into the picture when one of the rich society ladies he worked with in helping the Cubans refuges informed the authorities of the story of “Leon” Oswald visiting Odio with two Cubans.

Machann is one of the most mysterious and elusive characters that populate the JFK assassination story, yet she found him and convinced him to talk to her openly and candidly.

The ability to obtain the trust and belief of suspicious, mistrusting and previously abused witnesses is a difficult task, and Gaeton Fonzi, Dick Russell and Tony Summers are among the few who have attained the trust of Marina Oswald, who Priscilla Johnson McMillan betrayed, Sylvia Duran of Mexico City fame, and Silvia Odio.

Machann puts an exact time to the visit when he says that Odio told him the incident occurred on the night of a big Gala ball that featured actress Janet Leigh, which sets the once disputed date as Friday, September 27, when Oswald was, according to the Warren Report, on his way or in Mexico City seeking a visa to Cuba.
It doesn’t matter whether it was Oswald or an imposter posing as him, as the incident, as Gayle suggests, was clearly a ruse to associate Oswald with the liberal JURE faction of the anti-Castro Cuban groups as well as a preliminary chess move before the assassination actually took place. JURE was a group that Silvia’s father helped establish before he was arrested for his role in a plot to kill Castro, a plot that also included Antonio Veciana, who figures prominently in other aspects of the assassination drama.

Former Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi, who convinced both Veciana and Silvia Odio to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) but to their dismay, they were never called. Fonzi wrote; “With liberal leader Manolo Ray (the Odios) had formed one of the early, most aggressive anti-Castro groups, the mOvimiento Revolucionairo, del Pueblo (MRP). Manolo Ray would later be the leader of JURE (Junta Revolucianario).”

While a leader of the anti-Batista underground in Havana, Manolo Ray worked as the chief engineer at the Havana Hilton, which was managed by Colonel Frank M. Brandstetter. Colonel “Brandy” as he was known, was affiliated with the Dallas military intelligence unit headed by Col. Jack Crichton, but he reported directly to Colonel William B. Rose of the Pentagon office of ACSI – Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, whose officers were all over the Dealey Plaza operation. When Castro arrived in Dallas he took over the penthouse of the Havana Hilton, at the invitation of Brandstetter, so they kept close tabs on him.

The Warren Report dismissed Odio’s story by falsely claiming her three visitors were Loran Hall, William Seymour and Lawrence Howard, another wrong conclusion that has since been debunked, and this book has an interesting chapter devoted to Loran Hall and his connections to the assassination.

The FBI and Secret Service also went looking for Machann and found him in New Orleans, staying at the home of Odio’s uncle Auhudin Guitart – who just happened to be one of the few people who attended the New Orleans court hearing the previous summer, where Oswald was fined $10 for fighting with Carlos Bruinguier and two other anti-Castro Cuban DRE members.

While the official government records say that it was Secret Service Inspector Thomas Kelley who met Machann in New Orleans, and had him call Siliva Odio to ask her about the encounter with Oswald and the Cubans, Machann says it was FBI Agent James Hosty. Machann knew Hosty as a parishioner at his Sacred Heart Parish, and Machann’s secretary taught Hosty’s son in school.

Machann was also the subject of a Life Magazine investigation that was never published, and was interviewed on camera by the Frontline documentary producers. Machann does get a mention in the book “Oswald Talked” and is the main character of Marianne Sullivan’s “Kennedy Ripples,” which has been described as the Harlequin Romance version of the assassination. She was one of a number of the female parishioners who had a crush on the young, handsome priest and wrote the book full of falsehoods, increasing Machann’s desire for anonymity.

But other than that, Gayle Nix Jackson is the only person he has told his story to, and what an interesting story it is.

According to a Dallas Morning News report Father Machann shared a Highland Park, Dallas stage with John Martino, a book signing promotion shortly after the publication of Martino’s book “I Was Castro’s Prisoner” (with Nate Weyl, NY Devin-Adair, 1963).  Father Machann reportedly introduced Martino to a crowd of mostly John Birch Society members and Cubans, including Silvia’s sister Sarita. Sarita cried when Martino mentioned meeting her father in prison on the Isle of Pines.

Gayle refers to him as “Johnny Martino,” and showed Machann a photo of the man, but Machann has no memory of him, though Martino also features prominently in other aspects of the assassination story. Martino shared a Florida apartment with John Rosselli, the mobster who worked with the CIA on various plots to kill Castro and backed one of the JMWAVE commando teams that were paid by the CIA and trained to kill Castro. Martino’s wife told Anthony Summers that he expressed foreknowledge of the assassination before it occurred.

 I had previously interviewed Martino’s Atlantic City sister and brother, and recorded a telephone interview with Nate Weyl, the co-author of Martino’s book.

Trudi Castorr, wife of Colonel William Castorr, also knew the Odios and Machann, and it was Colonel Castorr who Nancy Perrin Rich says met with her husband and Jack Ruby to discuss running guns to Cuba and exfiltrating refugees. But Machann doesn’t recall Martino or the Castorrs, or perhaps he doesn’t want to and knows they are hot suspects in this case.

Machann now tells us that he met the Odio sisters in the course of his parish work for the Catholic Cuban Refugee Relief. He says another Cuban – Joaquin Insua was also assigned to work with him, taking care of all the money that was raised to help the Cubans. As Machann put it: “I didn’t hire him. I don’t know who did, but I would think it was someone from the Diocese. We worked together. Mr. Insua kept our books so he knew all about the money we took in and gave out.”

Gayle writes; “In 1962, after Father Machann was appointed head of the Dallas Cuban Catholic Relief Program, his manager was put in place. Machann says he didn’t hire the man: Joaquin “Papa’ Insua. Insua’s daughter Marcella also helped as well as (a secretary), teaching Parish school classes and working part-time at Neiman-Marcus. One of her students was (FBI Agent) James Hosty’s son. The Insuas were related by marriage to the Odios. Joaquin Insua not only kept the books for the Cuban Catholic Committee, but was an FBI informant as well.”

Unknown to Machann or Gayle Nix Jackson, the Catholic Cuban Refugee Relief program was bankrolled primarily by the CIA through the Catherwood Foundation, an ostensibly philanthropic fund based in Philadelphia that I had wrote about years earlier. 

From Machann, and Odio’s book of poetry, we learn that while Sylvia Odio was born to a wealthy family in Cuba, she attended a Catholic high school in Philadelphia and the Catholic Villanova University, not far from the Catherwood Fund office.

I first learned about the CIA’s ties to the Philadelphia based Catherwood Fund from the David Wise and Thomas Ross book “The Invisible Government,” where it is mentioned in a footnote of such foundations that served as financial fronts and conduits for CIA covert operations, including the Catherwood Foundation. An article in Philadelphia Magazine also intimated that the Catherwood Fund had some connection to Ruth Paine, who lived in Philadelphia at the time, and the assassination of President Kennedy. In the summer of 1976 I investigated the Catherwood Fund and read all of the newspaper clips that showed how it covertly served the CIA. From the news reports, that didn’t know of the CIA’s backing, I learned that the Catherwood Foundation financed the Cuban Aide Relief (CAR) to aide anti-Castro Cuban professionals who fled Cuba. 

It also provided covert cover for CIA agent Joseph Smith when he was sent to the Philippines.
(See: Joseph Smith – “Portrait of a Cold Warrior” Ballantine Books, 1976, p. 251)

The Catherwood Fund also financed the Catholic Cuban Refugee Relief program, established medical clinics for the Cuban refugees in Miami, and financed other Catholic Church related facilities set up in Philadelphia, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Dallas and other places the Cuban refugees settled in large numbers.
 Shortly after the assassination, Dr. Jose Ignorzio, the chief of clinical psychology for the Catholic Welfare Service in Miami, contacted the White House to inform the new administration that Oswald had met directly with Cuban ambassador Armas in Mexico, a story that was also falsely attributed to Silvia Duran, the Mexican national who worked at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City and dealt with Oswald.

As House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigator Dan Hardway and others have pointed out, most of the false stories implicating Castro in the assassination stemmed from assets and associates of CIA officer David Atlee Phillips. And this one originates from the CIA Catherwood funded Catholic Welfare Service, the same organization that Father Machann was affiliated with, even though he wasn’t aware of the CIA connection.

When the FBI found out about the Odio incident they listed a dozen people who should have been questioned about it, including Insua, Machann’s Catholic Cuban Welfare associate and his daughter, the secretary for the Dallas Catholic Cuban Refugee program. The Life Magazine investigation did the same thing, but never published what they found out.

While Machann was unaware of it, Joaquin Insua, the FBI informant who was inserted into the Dallas Cuban Refugee Relief to manage the funds and files, must have known that much of the money came from the CIA, and managed it.

Insua died suspiciously in December 1964, and his office was torched, with the fire destroying all of the Dallas Catholic Cuban Welfare records, emphasizing their importance.

Gayle asked Machann if he was around when the office caught fire and he responded: “No, I was gone by then. I know all the records that Mr. Insua kept were burned. He died not long afterwards, or maybe it was before.”

The Dealey Plaza Cleanup Crew at work. 

Walter Machann is just one of dozens of still living witnesses who should have been questioned further about the assassination. These witnesses should be questioned again to verify their official statements and testimony or correct the record, as their numbers are dwindling.

Posterity would have missed Walter Machann’s fascinating story if it wasn’t for Gayle Nix Jackson, whose perserverance, tenacity and persuasiveness convinced the reluctant Machann to talk.

Machann has been invited, with other similar witnesses to tell their JFK assassination stories at the CAPA event at the Old Red Courthouse in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on Thursday, November 15.

For Gail Nix Jackson’s Interview Excerpts see: 

To purchase the book: 

For more information on this event see:''

Walter Machann and Gail Nix Jackson