Who Killed JFK? Part 1
I never knew Jack Kennedy or his brother Bobby, but I knew his brother Ted to speak to from periodically running across him while walking the family dog on Boston Common the year he was elected to the Senate. He emanated the essence of the Kennedy family. Although they spoke Ivy League, at their core they were were Boston Irish–vigorous and gregarious, idealistic and pragmatic, outspoken and courageous. They’re gone now, two of them assassinated, and all of us are the poorer for it.
On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s motorcade drove into Dealey Plaza, shown below. JFK sat in the rear right-hand seat of a 1961 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible limousine with the top down. His wife, Jacqueline, sat on his left. Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie, also facing forward, occupied the jump seat in front of and slightly below the Kennedys. The clock was coming up on 12:30 p.m., Central Standard time.
The limousine proceeded at a stately pace along Houston Street, made a sharp left turn onto mildly downhill Elm Street, and passed the Texas School Book Depository on its right. Just after Kennedy started waving, shots rang out. About 80 percent of the witnesses recalled hearing three shots. Most others remembered four or more shots, some remarking that one shot near the end exhibited a curious double timbre. Further confusion can be attributed to the first shot not registering with many spectators, as they dismissed the noise as a firecracker or car backfire.
The Warren Cover-up Commission, the Church Lotus-Eater Committee, and sundry other governmental groups “investigated” the JFK assassination with varying degrees of sincerity; many books were and continue to be written; films and videos abound; and various hypotheses have been advanced. Still, no one knows for sure who shot Kennedy or why. Probably we never will. I hope to part the curtain enough for a wavering glimpse of reality.
As an engineer and retired Pentagon–where I witnessed much bending of the truth to arrive at predetermined conclusions–weapons analyst, I have studied multiple JFK assassination books, analyzed the historic film shot by bystander Abraham Zapruder, compared photos snapped by other bystanders, and watched a riveting presentation on YouTube by close-in witness Beverly Oliver, Jack Ruby’s singer. I have assessed complementary and competing factors, applied a modicum of reasoning, and cobbled together a bare-bones scenario that seems most likely to answer the mail. On that basis, I will hereby posit–from the Latin, you know–the number of shooters and whence the fatal shot was fired. In part two I will attempt to identify the killer. In part three I will pontificate on who commissioned the hit and why.
Here is what I surmise happened. The first shot, presumably from a sixth-floor window of the Book Depository, possibly fired by Lee Harvey Oswald although no gunfire residue was later found on his cheek, struck Kennedy in the back. At the hasty autopsy overseen by the military at Bethesda Naval Hospital, doctors were prevented from performing an assessment of evidence that might cast doubt on the single-shooter hypothesis, some photos were tampered with, and others were suppressed, ostensibly out of respect for the President’s family. So far as I can surmise based on the jumble of conflicting and possibly altered data, the bullet entered the President’s back on the right side about 5 or 6 inches below his neck, was deflected upward by a rib, and exited his throat in a non-lethal manner. This weak ballistic performance probably occurred because the Carcano rifle found subsequently in the Book Depository was a cheap piece of Italian Army surplus mail-order junk and the 6.5x52mm ammunition displayed no uniformity within a production lot. President Kennedy flinched from the through-and-through, which turned his body toward his wife.
The second shot, fired either from the Book Depository or, considering the angle, more likely from a second-floor window of the Dal-Tex building–conspiracy!–was pulled at the last instant by the shooter because Jacky Kennedy moved into the line of fire as she bent toward her husband. The round moonballed above the occupants and ricocheted off the curb a city block in front of the limo, a piece of shrapnel stinging spectator James Tague on the cheek in the presence of a police officer. A bullet mark on the curb was later identified by the FBI.
The third shot, fired from in front of the limo, hit Kennedy in the right temple, jellied his brain, blasted away the right rear portion of his skull, and spewed brain matter over Secret Service agent Clint Hill as he jumped onto the limo from behind and then over two motorcycle patrolmen riding behind the limo, fire-hosing one so hard that he feared he had been shot. A portion of the President’s cranium landed on the rear deck of the limo, and Jackie Kennedy climbed after it and spent the frantic ride to Dallas Parkland Hospital trying to re-fit the grisly object to her husband’s shattered head. An autopsy photo, authentic as far as I can determine, shows the right-hand side of Kennedy’s head with the devastated brain laid bare from the temple all the way back, and another shows his head deformed into a boat tail at the rear. The first picture is so gruesome that it usually is rendered in black and white to disguise the details. Although the government, in order to quell any presumption of conspiracy, maintains that Kennedy was fatally shot from behind, there is no question that the shot came from the front. Conspiracy!
The fourth shot, fired again from the rear as the limo neared the infamous “grassy knoll,” hit Governor Connally in the back, took out a section of rib, exited below his right nipple creating a sucking chest wound, shattered his wrist, and lodged in his thigh. Talk about uneven manufacturing quality! As his wife pulled him into her lap, Connally exclaimed, “My God, they’re going to kill us all!” Not. Texans being a hardy bunch, he survived.
As soon as the firing ceased, a gaggle of spectators and law enforcement officials ran from all directions toward the infamous grassy knoll. I will have more to say about that surge, and the double timbre of the third shot, in part 2.