Monday, July 15, 2019

First Class Sniper(s) at Dealey Plaza

First Class Sniper(s) at Dealey Plaza

One of the basic working hypothesis we have adapted for this analysis is that there was more than one gunman shooting at the President in Dealey Plaza that day, and the shot that hit JFK in the head killing him was not a "lucky shot" taken by the Third Class sniper in the Sixth Floor window of the TSBD but rather, a precision shot taken by a First Class sniper from a different location with a first class weapon. 

This is the case for a number of good reasons – including the fact that almost every ear witness at the scene heard a very distinct difference in the time between the first and second shot and the second and third shots – the last two of which came practically on top of each other – too close to have been fired by the same weapon.

In addition, first class snipers say that the fatal head shot was not fired at a moving target by the third class sniper in the sixth floor window with a third class weapon but was taken by a first class sniper either in front of or behind the target, as it approached or went away from the shooter.

And finally, as former Federal Attorney John Orr demonstrated in his report to the Attorney General, the fatal head shot was taken from a location other than the Sixth Floor of the Texas Book Depository with a different type of weapon, and a different type of bullet - a shot taken by a first class sniper.

Today there are many thousands of well trained and equipped first class snipers, most in the major armies of the world. But in 1963 there were only a few hundred. Someone once suggested that a list of the first class snipers in 1963 be compiled and you could solve the JFK assassination by finding which one was in Dallas that day.

You can't learn to be a first class sniper by reading books. It is a craft - a "craft of intelligence" as Allen Dulles put it, that must be learned from a craftsman who knows how to do it. And shooting accurately is not the most important part of the curriculum - getting into position without being identified, concealment, timing and extracting oneself after the shot is taken. "One shot one kill," is the motto of the first class sniper, and that's all they need. 

In the movie “American Sniper” Chris Kyle chases and eventually kills a terrorist and former Olympic champion shooter.

At Fort Dix, N.J., where they have been training soldiers for over a hundred years, the weapons Range manager for many years was the father of U.S. Olympic champion shooter Matt Emmonds, who missed a second gold medal because of a hick up – and was consoled by a Czech women's gold medal champion who he later married, and whose father is an Olympic team shooting coach.

You can’t be a first class sniper by reading books – it’s a master – apprentice job and you must be trained by a first class sniper, so those who train the first class snipers are a key to finding the Dealey Plaza sniper(s). This analysis focuses on those who were capable of training first class snipers 1960-1963.

The Canadian Sniper School, which served as the basis for US sniper schools, a part of the Canadian Weapons School, is in Frederickton, Canada, and is where many U.S. military sniper trainers are themselves trained by professionals.

In the U.S. military, the Army, Rangers, Navy SEALS and USMC all have first class sniper schools, but in 1963 it was more limited. The primary Army sniper schools are at Forts Benning, Bragg and Knox, while the USMC sniper schools are at Camps Lejeune and Pendleton, with the best sent to the Special Weapons Training Battalion Training Command at Quantico, Virginia, aka “The Farm.”

Another pertinent character in the JFK assassination story - Charles Ford, originally from Atlantic City, attended Princeton, joined the OSS and went on a mission to China with J. Walton Moore - who became the head of the Dallas Domestic Contacts division, while Ford became the head of the CIA Training Division at Quantico. Ford only left the Training Division for a one year tour with the Operations Division to serve at JMWAVE and work closely with the Attorney General RFK. He was also given custody of an early Secret Service copy of the Zapruder film, as the record attests "for training purposes only." John Newman writes about Ford in his books, and he discovered that one of the two transcripts of Ford's Church Committee testimony is missing. 

While there were many improvements in science and technology - the basic foundations of the CIA's training programs were based on the British model, as outlined by OSS Colonel William Donovan in the OSS manuals produced under his direction. 

This same manual was used by the CIA trainers at JMWAVE. 

The best and most renown sniper to come out of Vietnam was Carlos Hathcock, who was sent to Quantico to train snipers and later trained police SWAT team snipers.

Craig Roberts, a USMC trained sniper and 26-year police veteran, is a specialist in sniper and counter-sniper tactics, and the author of the book Kill Zone,  a professional sniper’s perspective of the JFK assassination, which confirms the beliefs of the Army snipers I knew that the head shot that killed JFK was not taken from the Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository but by a First Class Sniper from another location.

According to Craig Roberts (Kill Zone – p. 89-90), “Hathcock is likewise skeptical of Oswald's alleged shooting feat. Hathcock is a former senior instructor at the U. S. Marine Corps Sniper Instruction School at Quantico, Virginia. He has been described as the most famous American military sniper in history. In Vietnam he was credited with 93 confirmed kills,…and history’s single kill-shot of 2,500 meters, recipient of the Silver Star and nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor.”

Carlos Hathcock 

Roberts asked Hathcock about the marksmanship feat attributed to Oswald by the Warren Commission and Hathcock answered that he did not believe Oswald could have done what the Commission said he did.

According to Roberts, Hathcock said:  "Let me tell you what we did at Quantico. We reconstructed the whole thing: the angle, the range, the moving target, the time limit, the obstacles, everything. I don't know how many times we tried it, but we couldn't duplicate what the Warren Commission said Oswald did".

Though classified a third class sniper with a third class weapon, the sniper in the end window of the Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository was certainly a military man, as Arnold Rowlands saw him. Rowlands was one of those witnesses on the street who saw the man with a rifle standing back from the window next to another man (in a brown sports coat). The man with a rifle, Rowlands said, stood in a "Port Arms" position, with the rifle held diagonally across the chest. Port Arms is a military drill position one does not assume unless ordered to do so. And I believe the Sixth Floor Sniper, whoever he was, was a military man operating under orders who knew he was part of the deception plan that would allow him and the other men in on this operation - including the first class sniper and his spotter - to escape without being identified.   
Along with Carlos Hathcock, Robert Rohrer started the first USMC sniper school designed to train sniper instructors - as Rohrer relates: “We essentially ran two classes end-on that summer of 1977,…the first six weeks was designed to make snipers out of our fledgling shooters….while the second six weeks was designed to make them sniper instructors. The snipers were certified to go back to their various Divisions to start Division Scout Sniper Schools, and thus could feed their finest graduates back to our school in Quantico to make Scout Sniper Instructors out of ‘em….”

As Bob Rohrer writes at his blog: “The word had been out that the individuals giving the indoctrination (us) were simply ‘team shooters’ who were ‘pushing’ competitive marksmanship. What they hadn’t figured on was that we were combat veterans with appropriate decorations and awarded for combat skills. The youngsters were more impressed than the Basic School Company Officers had envisioned. Carlos’ skills were well documented, and I had done my time as a combat Rifle Company Commander with lots of time in the dirt. We gave ‘em what  I would have considered to be an impressive lecture from combat experienced veterans.”

“The possibilities of, and the ability to impose our will on the enemy with a minimum amount of exposure seemed to have  made its mark.”

The snipers are trained not only how to shoot - and how to escape - but "the ability to impose our will on the enemy with minimum amount of exposure..." 

“Modern Sniper Classes are now the rule of the day, and even the Basic School instructional staff seemed to be properly impressed, subsequent combat experiences have made our point…”

At the Canadian Sniper School at Frederickton – “We learned a new lexicon of terminology that was added a bit at a time to our slowly expanded Marine Corps sniping influence. We had such terms as ‘Sniper-Hide’ (we had just called ‘em positions), ‘Gillie Suits’ – (we were using plain old camouflage with appropriate twigs – don’t laugh since Carlos ‘offed’ at least 93 of the offending blighters using such archaic methods, good shooting positions, and ‘sans’ the more modern terminology). Gillie Suits had been used by Scottish Game Keepers to fend off poachers, but the name stuck and has since become one of the well recognized terms utilized in modern sniping training….”

Some U.S. Army Reserve soldiers were trained as snipers and in their civilian jobs as policeman were assigned to the special teams that later became known as SWAT teams, some of whom were trained by Hathcock.

Most of the Dallas Special Services unit policeman also served in the U.S Army Reserves, some with the 488th Army Intelligence unit created and led by Colonel Jack Crichton, of who was originally from Shriveport, Louisiana.

Also from Shriveport, U. S. Marine Captain Carl Jenkins (USMC-R) helped establish the first US Marine Corp Reserve unit in Louisiana, and like U.S. Army Ranger Captains Bradley Ayers and Edward Roderick, was cross posted to the CIA to help train the anti-Castro Cubans. Jenkins helped train the brigade that went ashore at the Bay of Pigs and later fought in what Taylor Branch and George Crile III called “the secret war” against Cuba (1960-1964).

Unlike the USMC and US Army sniper schools, the Cubans were trained by a Joint Task Force that included Marines, Army Rangers and the CIA and was coordinated out of the Task Force W at CIA HQ at Langley, and the Pentagon.

Of all the Cubans assembled in Guatemala to go ashore at the Bay of Pigs, the best were selected and given special training, including Watergate burglar Rolando Martinez and paramilitary commando Felix Rodriguez – who went on to capture and execute Che Guevara.

At some point in the proceedings, Lansdale's plan to train commandos and send them in to engage in guerrilla war was replaced with the full fledged invasion, and Lansdale's man - Napoleon Valeriano was replaced as head of training at the Guatemala training camp. 

In p. IV of the Official CIA History of the Bay of Pigs – it is explained how two basic changes in the plans doomed the invasion - changing the tactics from infiltration of small commando units to engage in guerrilla warfare from the mountains to a full fledged invasion. And the site changed from Trinidad to the Bay of Pigs. 

The CIA's Official History reads: “From April plans for the infiltration into Cuba of small teams of agency trained specialists in communications, sabotage, and paramilitary operations to provide training and guidance to anti-Castro dissidents,….November’s plan called for an amphibious landing.”

Another key change in strategic plans – not relayed to the President – changed the planned landing site from Trinidad to the Bahia de Cochinos – which would become more famous as the Bay of Pigs.

At Trinidad – the infiltrated commandos could easily work their way into the nearby mountains to establish bases of operation – much like Castro himself did – and an airstrip for supplies –

American ornithologist James Bond just happened to be at the Bahia de Conchinos a few months before the Bay of Pigs invasion – and noted the recent construction of roads to the swamp, which made Castro’s counter-attack much easier. 

When these changes – from commando – guerrilla infiltration to full fledged amphibious invasion – both Jake Easterline and Col. Hawkins – attempted to resign and warned the invasion would fail given those changes – but Bissell persuaded them to stay and go down with the Dulles ship. 

Like the U.S. Army Rangers – who take the lead and are known as “Pathfinders,” these Cuban Pathfinders went ashore into Cuba in the days and weeks before the invasion and were to pave the way for the main invasion forces. Some Cuban Pathfinders were captured, some were killed, a few like Rodriguez - the self-described “Shadow Warrior”– escaped and found their way back home.

In the USA they were assigned to the CIA’s Operation Mongoose, run out of the JMWAVE station. 

JMWAVE was what the military calls a FOB - Forward Operating Base. 

From there they ran maritime infiltration and hit and run missions against economic targets in Cuba, as described by Branch and Crile in their landmark August 1975 Harpers article “The Kennedy Vendetta.”

Watergate burglar Martinez was a JMWAVE boat captain who was interviewed by George Crile  and Taylor Branch for their Harpers article. Martinez told them that he made many missions to Cuba, delivering high powered rifles with scopes that weren’t to be used to “kill rabbits.”

Were these “officially sanctioned” Castro assassination teams?

As Martinez put it, it‘s largely a question of semantics: “There was an attempt by this country to overthrow Castro, and it was not to be by elections,” Martinez said. “It was to be by war. The (news) papers now want to say there were plots. Well, I can tell you there were plots. I took a lot of weapons to Cuba. Some of them were very special weapons for special purposes – Springfields with bolt actions, rifles only used by snipers. They were not sent to shoot pigeons or kill rabbits. Everyone in the underground was plotting to kill Castro, and the CIA was helping the underground. I was with the underground, as well as with the CIA, so you could say I was involved in the plots, too, but that is all so obvious.”

“Very special weapons for special purposes – Springfields with bolt actions, rifles only used by snipers. They were not sent to shoot pigeons or kill rabbits.”

These were first class snipers, taught by first class sniper trainers with specially refined weapons only used by snipers.

Of all the plots to kill Castro, one was a plan that stands out – Operation Pathfinder, a contingency plan to kill Castro with a high powered rifle as he rode in an open jeep.

As Felix Rodriguez explains in his book “Shadow Warrior”: “I was given a weapon… a beautiful German bolt-action rifle with a powerful telescopic sight, all neatly packed in a custom-made padded carrying case… a box of ammo, twenty rounds. I was told that I wouldn't have to sight the rifle, as it had already been zeroed in. Apparently the resistance had obtained a building facing a location that Castro frequented at the time....We were supposed to debark onto a Cuban boat near Varadero Beach, an area I knew from my childhood. From there we would be taken to rendezvous with members of the anti-Castro resistance…..We would be provided a safe house, then move to the room where we'd be able to shoot Fidel….”

The whole operation was well planned. He was selected because they knew he was from that area and knew it well. The plan was complete with a safe-house, secure operational base room from where to shoot Fidel where he frequented at the time, - given a beautiful German bolt action rifle, pre-sighted, custom made padded carrying case. First class plan, first class weapon, first class sniper who was trained by another first class sniper.

They were trained at JMWAVE – or sub-bases under the control of JMWAVE.

At JMWAVE, a series of buildings on the South Campus of the University of Miami, the CIA’s largest Forward Operating Base was commanded by Ted Shackley, with the maritime operations run by Gordon Campbell and the covert operations by David Morales.

JMWAVE came under the nominal control of Task Force W – the CIA’s Cuban desk that was set up in the basement of the CIA’s new headquarters at Langley, Virginia, and run by William Harvey, until after the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, when he was replaced by Desmond FitzGerald. FitzGerald later said that while he assumed control of most of Harvey's operations, he didn't know about them all, and he didn't assume the role of case officer for John Rosselli, a job that Harvey kept. 

The Cuban commandos being trained were handled by case officers and their trainers, and were kept “compartmentalized” and out of the main JMWAVE headquarters, were the “inside men” – Ted Shackley and Gordon Campbell ran things from desks. Even Felix Rodriguez later said that he didn’t know the location of the JMWAVE HQ until years later when he worked as a part time security guard for the university of Miami and saw his case officer and other CIA officials at the HQ.

Besides Carl Jenkins, the anti-Castro Cubans were trained by two U.S. Army Rangers assigned to the CIA by  US Marine General “Brut” Krulak, who had an office just down the hall from the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Krulak was responsible for military support of CIA covert operations, especially those being run against Cuba.

U.S. Army Ranger Captains Edward Roderick and Bradley Ayers took their orders from Krulak and were each assigned teams to train in covert operational procedures, small boat maneuvering, infiltration and exfiltration, explosives and sniper tactics.

Ayers taught small craft maneuvering and infiltration and exfiltration at a remote Everglades swamp sub-bases, one called Pirates’ Lair.

Roderick taught another team sniper tactics at a remote base near Point Mary, off Key Largo. With Roderick at Point Mary were USMC Capt. Carl Jenkins, and legendary CIA explosives expert John “I.F.” Harper, along with strategic and financial support from John Rosselli, aka “Colonel Rawlins.”  

We know a lot of what went on there because of Ranger Capt. Bradley Ayers, who wrote two books about his experiences, “The War That Never Was,” and “The Zenith Secret.”

After JFK was killed, the JMWAVE base was deactivated – by Jake Esterline, the guy who engineered the Bay of Pigs, and Ayers was given other assignments. Because Ayers didn’t sign a CIA secrecy agreement he didn’t have to have his manuscripts reviewed and censored by the CIA before being published, as did Victor Marchetti and David Atlee Phillips.

But the only publisher really interested in “The War That Never Was” – Bobbs-Merrell – out of Indiana, included their attorney William Harvey, who edited the manuscript and left out some key characters like maritime operations chief Gordon Campbell.

Harvey, who started Task Force W after being herald as the brains behind the Berlin Tunnel, ordered the Cuban Pathfinder commandos into Cuba during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and was fired for doing so by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Harvey was the second CIA case officer for mafia boss John Rosselli, who supported one of the Pathfinder commando teams by giving them money and supplies.
Rosselli had William Harvey fill a U-Haul Trailer full of weapons, guns, ammo and explosives and delivered to his Cuban commando team – a cache of weapons that was assembled on the orders of Ted Shackley and invitoried before being given to the Cubans.

Although Harvey was reassigned as CIA COS – Chief of Station in Rome, Italy, where he was at the time of the assassination, he traveled extensively, and in June 1963, met with Rosselli in Florida where they went to dinner and got hotel rooms on Harvey’s CIA credit card – a tab that he chalked off to “ZRRIFLE,” the CIA code for the Castro assassination plots.

After leaving the CIA Harvey returned to his home state of Indiana and worked for Bobbs-Merrell, primarily a school book publishing company that had an office and secretaries at the Texas School Book Depository. Harvey edited Bradley Ayers book “The War That Never Was,” that I recognized when reading it, included important information on the assassination of President Kennedy.

In his book “The Zenith Secret,” not edited by Harvey, Ayers describes how his US Army Ranger counterpart – Capt. Edward Roderick, was assigned to train the commando team supported by Rosselli – aka “Colonel Rawlins.” 

While Ayers trained his team at remote Everglades bases like Pirate’s Lair, Roderick trained Rosselli’s team in sniper techniques and tactics at Point Mary, a remote area near Key Largo. And it is that team that we are interested in learning more about as they are the ones who were trained and practiced to kill Castro as part of the Pathfinder operation – the one that was “disapproved by higher authority” – that is JFK and RFK. 

And it was the Pathfinder operation, I believe, that was redirected to JFK in Dallas, as I hope to conclusively demonstrate.  

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