Tuesday, December 24, 2019

General LeMay on 11-22-63


Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay and Arthur Collins of Collins Radio

One of the prerequisites of a coup d'etat is to control communications. 

After recently receiving three requests for information on General Curtis LeMay concerning his whereabouts on November 22, 1963 and the references to him on the Air Force One radio transmission tapes, I decided to bring that issue back to the table, so it here goes.

For starters, I received three cassette tapes of the AF1 radio transmissions from Larry Howard at the old Assassination Information Center on the third floor of the West End Mall in Dallas, and learned they had originated from the LBJ Library in Texas in the late 1970s.

It took me a few months but I patiently transcribed them and noted how highly edited they were, and they did not include most of the quotes from transcripts made available to Theodore White (Making of a President 1964), William Manchester (The Death of a President) and Pierre Salinger (On Orders of My President). White and Manchester were permitted to read a transcript at the LBJ White House, while Salinger says he obtained his copy of the transcript from the JFK Library, and each make references to aspects of the tape that are not on the existing recording, as Vincent Salandria called attention to many years ago.

Max Holland also wrote a book The Kennedy Assassination Tapes that quotes excerpts from the Air Force One tapes but fails to mention the most significant aspects on the recordings – especially the repeated references to “Liberty Station,” which is mis-identified in the official LBJ Library transcript as the White House, when it is actually the Collins Radio company relay station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

While Holland, who also worked with the Miller Center on the Presidential Recordings project, had secretaryies compose the transcripts that he used, I transcribed the three cassette tapes from the LBJ Library myself, and made them available on the internet for everyone to review, as I tried to do.

The LBJ Library cassettes begin with an introduction from a White House Communications Agency (WHCA) officer who notes that this is an edited version of the tapes made for public consumption, and it does include some riveting conversations, but not the ones quoted by the three writers. They were apparently given a transcript of the unedited version that they quote from. Neither the unedited tape or transcript are available today from the LBJ Library or the JFK Library, where Salinger said he obtained  his and returned it. It is now missing.

Then, years later, two identical reel to reel tapes of the Air Force One radio transmissions were discovered among the effects of General Chester Clifton, the President’s military aide who was aboard Air Force One when the tapes were recorded.

One of the two tapes was put up for auction by a Philadelphia auction company (Raab) and the other donated to the National Archives, who put it on line for anyone to hear.

I made a copy of the Clifton tape as well as a transcript, noting that while it is slightly – twenty minutes or so longer than the LBJ Library cassette tapes, the Clifton tape is still highly edited, as acoustical forensic expert Ed Primeau confirmed when he reviewed it.

I first heard of Primeau on a PBS news radio broadcast when he was consulted as a forensic audio expert in a Florida murder that involved a cell phone recording. I found him over the internet, emailed him, and talked with him on the phone. He was very interested in the Air Force One radio transmissions, and so I sent him a copy of my combined transcripts of the two tapes, a copy of the LBJ Library tape and a link to the NARA Clifton tape and asked him if he could combine them as I had combined the transcripts.

Ed Primeau, with the help of his small staff, not only combined them, but cleaned the combined version of static and noise so it is the most complete and clearest of the various versions of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes.

I told the story of the two versions of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes at the Wecht Institure of Forensic Pathology and Law at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in November 2013, where the Primeau version of the combined and cleaned up tape premiered. I did a followup presentation at the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) conference in Bethesda the following year.

I was also proud to receive the 2013 Mary Ferrell Award for historical research for my work on the Air Force One radio tapes, and am proud to share that award with Ed Primeau, who did all of his work Pro Bono, saying that it was an historical necessity.

While there are a half-dozen conversations on the Clifton tape that are not on the officially released LBJ Library version, the one thing that most people seem interested in are the references to General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force Chief of Staff.

Besides the two (three including the pilot’s) high frequency single sideband radios aboard Air Force One, another radio on the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, there were a number of base stations hooked up to the same system – one in White House Communications Agency base at their suite at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel, the White House Situation Room, another at the chief of the Secret Service in the Executive Office Building, the SAM – Strategic Air Mission (Andrews AFB), Strategic Air Command (SAC – Omaha) another at the Pentagon and the “Liberty” relay station at the headquarters of Collins Radio, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the manufacturer.

I write about these things in more detail at: http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2012/02/jfk-general-lemay.html

The first reference to LeMay comes from a Colonel Hornbuckle, OPS, who expresses a concern from the Chief of Staff (Gen. LeMay?) as to whether President Johnson and the President’s body were on board AF1.

In the course of multiple conversations that will be discussed elsewhere, a Colonel Dorman interrupts the proceedings with the announcement that he is General LeMay’s aide and needs to get an urgent message to the General, who was then aboard an special Air Force executive jet bound for Washington D.C. from Canada.

- Andrews Sideband. Sir?
- This is Colonel Dorman, General LeMay’s aide.
- Right.
- General LeMay is in a C-140
- The last three numbers are 497 SAM 497
- 497 last three numbers.
- Right. He is in bound. His code name is Grandson, and I want to talk to him.
- Grandson. Okay sir, we'll see what we can do. We’re really busy with Air Force One right now.
- Okay. You don’t have the capability to work more than one?
- We're running Air Force One with two different frequencies.
- We're running two patches at once and that's all we can do.
- I see.
- What is your drop sir? Are you on the drop off the Washington switch?
- Yes. Either or seven, nine, two, two five.
- Seven Nine two two five.
- But if you can’t do it now it will be too late because he will be on the ground in a half hour.
- Okay, and what is your name again sir?
- Colonel Dorman. D-O-R-M-A-N
- Okay, I’ll get back to you...if we can get him right away sir.....

We don’t get to hear the message, though it might be on the unedited tape, but we do know from the Andrews Air Force Base Log for November 22, 1963 that LeMay requested a jet to pick him up at a Canadian base to return to Washington.

Apparently, from LeMay family sources, the General was at a family lake cabin hunting or fishing at the time of the assassination, and traveled to the Canadian base, as it was the closest to where he was located.

In his book "LeMay- The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay," (Regnery History, 2009, first paperback edition- 2011-page 356.) Warren Kozak writes, "On November 22, 1963, while on a hunting trip in Michigan, Curtis LeMay heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. He immediately flew back to Washington." 

But then Kozak brings up the issue at hand and attempts to discount the idea of the assassination being part of a coup by saying, "LeMay remembered a lot of people in Washington worrying that the entire series of events might be some type of attempted coup, a theory he never took seriously. LeMay was just too practical and, knowing the military as he did, he believed the United States was the least susceptible country in the world to a military takeover "because the military profession is itself steeped in the tradition of civilian supremacy over the military... [and] the armed forces of the United States have repeatedly fostered and protected this principle."

LeMay's official biography (p.430, "Iron Eagle: The Turbulent Life of General Curtis LeMay," by Thomas M. Coffey) says he was visiting his wife's family in Michigan when the news arrived about JFK's assassination.

According to the Andrews Air Force Base Log book turned over to the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB), LeMay returned to Washington D.C. from Wiarton, a Canadian military air base.

The Andrews Log Book itself is strange as it only covers two shifts – the days President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were killed, and was apparently ordered destroyed because it was retrieved from the trash by an alert Andrews employee, possibly a janitor – named Chuck Holmes.

It’s official Records Identificantion File is labeled:
RIF: 161-10002-10000

And the relevant excerpt says:





COMMENTS: Special Log of Events found by Air Force civilian employee, Mr. Chuck Holmes, and transferred to ARRB by USAF. Cover stamped 1254 ATW Command Post.

COVER REMARKS: Special Unclassified
J.F.K. Assassination - 22 Nov. 63 & RFK Assassinations 5 June 68.
1254th ATW Command Post

9 pages long, it is written in long hand, apparently by the duty officer at the time who thought it wise to begin a special log when it was learned the President was assassinated, and the same log was filed away but used again when RFK was killed.

It begins at 1400 hours [2 pm] when “Col. Hornbuckle Heard News Report on the President being shot at Dallas. Put Wing on Alert.”

Twenty minutes later, at 1420 [2:20], “092488 & 2493 CANX. 4197 Set-up
To Dept To Plu Gen Lemay at Toronto, Canada. Trip #1602

Change Gen Lemays Plu from Toronto To Wairton Canada 44.45N 0981.06W

1625 [4:25pm] 24197 Gen Lemay Dept Wairton 1604 ETA DCA 1715, Driver & Aide at DCA ETA changed 1710, Secy Zuckert Will Meet Lemay at ADW. (notified AC f t )

1700 [5:00pm] =09 Gen Lemay Will land DCA NOT ADW……

Now Air Force Secretary Zuckert is an interesting character himself, who I address in an article on CIAir 
         [  http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2008/01/ciair.html  ]

Just across Lake Huron from Michigan is Wiarton, where there is an airport that had a 6,000 foot long runway that could handle jet planes. Wiarton, Canada is a community in Bruce County, Ontario, at the western end of Colpoys Bay, an inlet off Georgian Bay, on the Bruce Peninsula. The community is part of the town of South Bruce Peninsula, Ontario. 

LeMay departed Wiarton at 4:04pm (Eastern) and arrived in Washington at 5:12 pm and some think it significant that he disobeyed Air Force Sec. Zuckert's orders to meet him at Andrews Air Force Base before Air Force One arrived with JFK's body. Instead, LeMay insisted his military plane land at the civilian Washington National Airport.

Those who put LeMay close to Bethesda do so to boister the theory that LeMay attended the autopsy and may have had a hand in directing it. Paul O’Conner, a Navy technician who was there recalled one of the autopsy doctors being annoyed that someone was smoking a cigar, a LeMay trademark.

There is also speculation that LeMay could be the four star general who directed one of the autopsy doctors not to probe the back wound, or conduct a forensic autopsy but just, by law, determine the cause of death – gunshot wound to the head.

While LeMay’s name is not on the list of those who were officially present at the autopsy, there are those on the list who were not there so the list is not complete.

There's still the question of what was the important message Col. Dorman wanted to get to Gen. LeMay before he landed in Washington and both Colonel Carl G. Hornbuckle or Colonel George Stanton Dorman could tell us. But Hornbuckle died in 1997 in Texas, while Dorman was killed in action on 4 August, 1969 in an air battle near Ch Lai, South Vietnam.

When I learned that Col. Dorman’s widow lived nearby outside of Trenton, N.J., I found her phone number and called her. I told her that her husband’s voice is on the Air Force One radio tapes that I was transcribing, and asked her about him.
Does she remember what happened on November 22, 1963?

“Of course, how could I forget that day?” she said.

At the time she worked at the White House Historical Office, responsible for the renovations of the building that were overseen by the President’s wife and first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, while her husband was the aide to Air Force General Curtis LeMay, the chief of staff of the Air Force.

On the day of the assassination, Mary Dorman recalled that with news of the assassination of the President, “My husband called me at the White House and told me to get home immediately. I was at the White House Historical Association office. There were only three of us and the man in charge, his name was Mr. Castro, he pulled he shades and we all knelt and prayed.”

“We lived at Fort Myer on General’s Row, so going past Arlington National cemetery, I stopped at the Chapel to pray. The news was so fresh nobody knew, so I knelt and prayed and didn’t know whether to tell them.”

“I went home and I remember sitting around crying,” she relates. “I went down to the White House when they brought the body there, and it was a mob scene. Everything was in chaos. Everybody was devastated.”

Did she did discuss the assassination with her husband?

Although Colonel Dorman was very busy that weekend, she said, “I did talk to my husband about it, but I can’t remember what he said. We talked about it, and I think there was a sense of fear, is this the beginning of something, of what?”

“For the most part we watched the stupid tube and cried. I was in the kitchen cooking, but maybe he told my sons, George Jr., William, and Robert and they remember what he had to say about it.”
Of her three sons, I talked with George, Jr. who recalled being a young boy at the time and watching the funeral of President Kennedy from a tree in Arlington cemetery.

While George Dorman, Jr. said that he didn’t know what the message was, “it probably had something to do with the changing of the alert levels, their initial response in preparation for the funeral, or where LeMay had to go next.”

Where would that be? I asked.

“Back to work,” said Dorman, “the office at the Pentagon,” or where ever LeMay went. Dorman said wherever LeMay went his father usually went with him, and the fact that he wasn’t with LeMay at the time of the assassination is itself something.

Others familiar with how close a adjunct Colonel is to a General say that there is no way Dorman would not be in constant contact with LeMay. The fact that Dorman was having trouble getting a very important message to LeMay is – as Dorman’s son noted, something in itself. It’s an indication Colonel Dorman is out of the loop, much like Colonel Jiggs in Seven Days in May.

The fact that LeMay disobeyed a direct order from the Secretary of the Navy to land at Andrews and meet him there, and instead landed at the commercial National Airport, is also telling of something, though I’m not sure what. LeMay was a pretty obstinate guy who pretty much did what he wanted.

George Dorman, Jr. also noters that the C-140 was a brand new plane at the time, and it was rare for LeMay to use that plane when he had a 707 – code named “Speckled Trout,” that he more frequently used.
General LeMay, besides being Chief of Staff of the Air Force, whose code name was Grandson, was a close, personal friend of Art Collins, founder of Collins Radio, whose company made the sideband radios used on Air Force One and all SAC bombers. LeMay was also a HAM radio buff who had his own radio and could possibly have monitored the Air Force One radio transmissions if he had the frequencies they used.

If the assassination of President Kennedy was a covert intelligence operation and coup d’etat, then those responsible conducted the successful operation according to standard operating procedures, and all such communictions would have to be not only monitored but controlled, according to Ed Ludwak’s “Coup d’etat – A Practical Handbook.”

Who had the capability of doing that?

Certainly Art Collins was a key to the Communications Nexus, and General LeMay a pivitol player in the Chain of Command.


 BK NOTES: Since this is Christmas Eve, Happy Holidays to everyone who follows this research and my writings on this subject. Please support this work if you can:


Unknown said...

According to the "Parrott memo", George H. W. Bush stayed also in the Sheraton Hotel at the same time, Google the "Parrott memo", the fake alibi call of George H. W. Bush to the FBI

RedTerrors said...

SAM=Special Air Mission, not Strategic Air Mission