The Day That Changed America: The Assassination Of JFKThis is a featured page

Ex-Secret Service Agent States JFK Assassination 'Not a Conspiracy' - Phantoms and Monsters WikiNo grassy knolls. No mob conspiracies. Just one man, one rifle and three shots.

That was and is the conclusion of Dale Wunderlich, a retired Secret Service agent who helped investigate the death of President John F. Kennedy as part of the Warren Commission. Wunderlich spoke about the assassination Thursday at the Twin Peaks Rotary Club.

“There’s a lot of theories about what happened,” said Wunderlich, who lives in Parker. “At some point, you have to wonder — if it had been a conspiracy, do any of you really believe that anyone in Washington can keep a secret for 46 years?”

Wunderlich helped protect five presidents, from Kennedy through Jimmy Carter. On Nov. 22, 1963, he looked after Kennedy during a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, but was off duty when the president went on to Dallas.

Wunderlich was at the airport when he heard the motorcade had been shot at. An early report said a Secret Service agent had been hit, and Wunderlich hurried back.

As he arrived, he realized that all the agents were accounted for. “Who got killed?” he asked agent Roy Kellerman.

“The president,” Kellerman said.

The sight of Kennedy’s body, face down in the hospital, is still engraved on Wunderlich’s mind. So is the funeral ceremony, when even the agents themselves were in mourning.

“I had such tears in my eyes that I couldn’t see anything,” Wunderlich said. “If someone had wanted to kill President (Lyndon) Johnson, that would have been the best time to do it. Everyone had tears in their eyes. No one could see.”

Since then, he said, there have been a lot of stories and myths about the assassination. Among them:

The Secret Service was drunk. Not true, Wunderlich said. Several agents did go to a place called the Cellar Bar the night before, but despite the name, the Cellar didn’t sell liquor. “We had sandwiches and near-beer,” he said.

There was a fourth shot. Not likely, Wunderlich said. Researchers at California Polytechnic State University analyzed the Zapruder film — a home movie that captured the assassination — a few years back, he said, and concluded the sound of the “fourth shot” was actually a police Harley-Davidson backfiring.

Oswald couldn’t have shot so fast, so accurately. The range wasn’t very far, especially for the rifle used, Wunderlich said — 192 feet for the closest shot and 292 feet for the longest one. Moreover, he said, Lee Harvey Oswald had spent hours practicing rapid-fire shots.

Fast enough to fire three shots in 8.5 seconds? As a test, Wunderlich said, investigators sent a truck filled with hay bales down the street at the same speed while the FBI armorer and the Secret Service armorer took shots at it. In 8.5 seconds, each put five shots in the kill zone.

Oswald was trying to kill Texas Gov. John Connally. That may never be known, Wunderlich said. He said Oswald is believed to have had a grudge against Connally, who as secretary of the Navy wouldn’t change his “hardship” discharge to an “honorable” one. The field of fire would have allowed a good shot at Connally, who was wounded by a bullet that clipped Kennedy’s shoulder first. And Kennedy may not have even been in the sights when the second shot was fired — his head was in his wife’s lap after the first shot hit; the second hit his head as she pulled him up.

“Sam Donaldson is the biggest supporter of this theory,” Wunderlich said. “I love to watch people’s eyes when I describe it. It’s another thing that could be logical.”

Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald, was on the mob payroll. Actually, Wunderlich said, Ruby was a big admirer of Jacqueline Kennedy and closed himself in his club after the Kennedy assassination, drinking heavily. He knew several police officers and had a permit to carry a gun because he frequently carried bank deposits with him.

He was on his way with a deposit and had made up a slip to put $20 in an employee’s account when he saw the crowd of media around the police station. After finding out it was Oswald on his way to be arraigned, Wunderlich said, Ruby worked his way close and shot Oswald — a gun in one hand and a bank bag in the other.

“If you plan to kill someone, are you going to be prepared to also make a deposit?” Wunderlich asked. “I think it was a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

To this day, he said, America remains fascinated with the case, conspiracy or no.

“Hardly a day goes by when I don’t see something related to Kennedy,” Wunderlich said. “It’s a topic I don’t think will ever go away.”

Lee Harvey Oswald Co-Worker No Longer Silent

Ex-Secret Service Agent States JFK Assassination 'Not a Conspiracy' - Phantoms and Monsters WikiBuell Frazier wants to tell it like it is – or was – on a very important day in U.S. history 45 years ago in Dallas.

The quiet, thoughtful man of 64 is not as well-known as some of the others who skyrocketed to fame or infamy in November 1963. But Mr. Frazier played a defining, if unintentional, role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

He drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work that fateful Nov. 22.

And the Warren Commission, the investigative committee appointed to explain all aspects of Mr. Kennedy's death, claimed that Oswald carried his cheap mail-order rifle to work with him in Mr. Frazier's car.

That put Mr. Frazier in the spotlight immediately after Oswald was captured – and long afterward as a mourning nation sought to find an explanation to the tragedy.

With but a few exceptions, he has kept almost 4 ½ decades of angst, frustration, fear and occasionally even fury bottled up.

All Mr. Frazier did was offer a friendly gesture to a man he hardly knew.

Offering a ride

In mid-September 1963, Mr. Frazier, 19, moved to Irving to live with his sister, Linnie Mae Randle, her husband and three children.

He slept on his sister's couch, drove a clunker Chevy and was pleased to be earning $1.25 an hour, then the minimum wage, at the Texas School Book Depository.

As a teenager in Huntsville, Mr. Frazier had deftly balanced high school and several part-time jobs while trying to stay out of the way of an abusive, alcoholic stepfather.

But things seemed to be looking up.

On Nov. 22, Ms. Randle and Mr. Frazier were finishing breakfast about 7:15 a.m. when she looked out her window and saw a man standing close to her brother's car with a package under his arm.

She had never met Oswald, but she knew who he was because Mr. Frazier had driven him to Irving on three or four occasions to visit his wife, Marina, and their two small daughters.

Oswald had ridden home with him the previous afternoon.

A few minutes later, Mr. Frazier and Oswald headed for the book depository, where they were to report at 8 a.m.

They talked a bit about children – Oswald always seemed pleased to relate stories about his girls, Mr. Frazier said – but drove much of the 15-mile trip in silence.

Even though the area was inundated with news reports about the president's visit to Dallas later that morning, Mr. Frazier said they never discussed it during the ride.

"Lee didn't talk much, ever," he said. "Some people talk a lot. He just didn't."

Less than four hours later, Kennedy was shot to death riding through Dealey Plaza.

And Mr. Frazier's life was turned upside down.

Brown paper package

Mr. Frazier was questioned vigorously by police – accused of being involved in the plot to kill Kennedy – and even told falsely by police officers that Oswald had named him as a co-conspirator. After 12 intense hours at the Police Department, he was allowed to take a polygraph test, passed it impressively and was released.

The fact that Mr. Frazier helped train Oswald at his new job (Oswald was hired at the book depository Oct. 16) and had driven him to Irving several times soon faded from most people's memories. But another factor remained noteworthy.

Officials assumed that the package Oswald carried to work that morning was the Italian-made rifle he used to kill Kennedy.

Mr. Frazier still doesn't believe it.

When Oswald got in his car that morning, Mr. Frazier hardly noticed the bundle Oswald laid on the back seat.

"He told me he was taking some curtain rods for his room," Mr. Frazier said. "I didn't think much about it."

Mr. Frazier parked his car behind the depository building and revved his engine for a few moments, charging his low battery, and watched Oswald walk about 200 yards into the building with the package under his arm.

In his testimony before the Warren Commission, Mr. Frazier said the brown paper package Oswald carried that morning was too short to contain a rifle. Oswald cupped the package in his hand, he said, and it fit under his armpit.

In Washington, Mr. Frazier said, he was "pressured" to change his recollection. In the days afterward, he was badgered by the media, harassed by people who didn't understand his relationship to Oswald and even became fearful for his life.

His testimony was important because investigators had proved that Oswald bought the rifle used in the JFK slaying and had found a matching palm print on the stock, but they had no proof that he had it with him that day.

Ms. Randle, who was also a leading witness, said recently that when she and Mr. Frazier testified before the Warren Commission, "they tried to get us to say that package was much longer than we recalled, but that wasn't true."

The commission kept pushing, Mr. Frazier said. Could it be that he was traumatized by the horror of what happened or embarrassed that he hadn't been more observant?

"I know what I saw," he said, "and I've never changed one bit."

Size dispute

Hundreds of conspiracy theories have spawned thousands of books and articles since the tragedy, but the official investigation concluded that Oswald shot Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository and acted alone.

The Warren Commission cited eyewitnesses to the president's shooting and the later assault of Officer J.D. Tippit and knew that Oswald had bought the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle for $12.95 from a Chicago mail-order house.

A brown paper sack with an Oswald palm and fingerprint on it was found close to the sixth-floor window where Oswald sat perched in wait that day.

Oswald's claim that he was carrying curtain rods for his room carried little weight with investigators because no curtain rods were ever found in the depository, and Oswald's room on Beckley Street in Oak Cliff already had curtains.

In a book he's writing, Mr. Frazier describes how he and his sister assembled packages with wrapping paper for hours, trying to show Warren Commission lawyers the size of the package Oswald carried that day.

In its report, released in the fall of 1964, the commission said:

"The Warren Commission has weighed the visual recollection of Frazier and Mrs. Randle against the evidence here presented ... and has concluded that Frazier and Randle are mistaken as to the length of the bag."

The FBI lab reported that the disassembled rifle stock measured just under 35 inches long, and the homemade bag measured 38 inches.

"I wasn't surprised," Mr. Frazier said. "They seemed to have a prearranged agenda when they questioned Linnie and me. Our refusal to agree with their agenda simply caused them to state that we were mistaken."

Their testimony fostered early public doubt about the commission's investigation.

President Gerald Ford, who in 1963-64 was a Michigan congressman and a Warren Commission member, told reporters in Dallas in early 1964 that he thought Mr. Frazier had been mistaken.

"I don't believe for a moment that he was consciously lying," Mr. Ford said then. "This is a fine young man – I've talked to him – who recalls seeing an object a certain size. But if Oswald was carrying curtain rods, as Mr. Frazier claimed he told him, I am a bit confused as to what happened to them."

Mr. Ford told a Dallas Morning News reporter that day: "I have never believed Mr. Frazier was involved in anything more than being a good neighbor, a good friend. I don't think he even knew Oswald very well."

Actually, Mr. Frazier said, "I didn't know his last name until that day. We all just knew him as Lee. I thought that was his last name."

Years of reticence

For years, Mr. Frazier refrained from talking about his role that fateful Friday. He hasn't had a listed telephone number for years. Few people have visited his home.

In recent years, he has spoken briefly to university classes and others studying the Kennedy assassination.

And when a British production company staged a mock Oswald trial in London in 1986, Mr. Frazier was a star witness. He still considers that trip one of his "greatest experiences ever."

As the years went by, he served two stints in the Army, worked in Denver and Portland, Ore., with banks and an airline, and studied at Southern Methodist University.

He married in 1969 and had a son, Robert, now 29, who graduated from Texas A&M and is in the Army, stationed in South Korea. Mr. Frazier divorced in 1987 and married his current wife, Betty, in 1988.

Since 2002, he has worked for the Lewisville school board as the receiving clerk, handling desks, chairs and other equipment to stock the district's schools

Asked if co-workers know of his background, Mr. Frazier said: "Some do, on a limited basis."

He has mixed emotions about conspiracy theorists.

"Conspiracy theories are like noses," he said. "Everybody has one. No one has ever sold me 100 percent that Lee did it. If he did, yes, but some other people were involved in some way."

He admits that the circumstances of that November decades ago helped mold his life and personality.

"I have had to be more careful and aware of what is going on around me at all times. Being able to trust someone is very hard for me. I simply do not trust people in general."

And though he is no longer physically afraid, he's more comfortable staying anonymous.

"Though I did nothing wrong," he said, "some of them think I am guilty, that I was involved with him.

"And there are people out there still today who think that I helped him, that he and I were in cahoots on that, and you just never know who you're talking to.

His sister, Ms. Randle, is a retired nurse in her 70s who lives "in the country" outside Sulphur Springs. She agrees that Mr. Frazier is super-careful and somewhat withdrawn but says she understands why.

"Even my children, at the time, we just didn't talk about it because you just never know who you're talking to. There are a lot of kooks out there.

"We weren't ignorant, but we were very, very naive," she said.

Dave Perry of Grapevine, a friend of Mr. Frazier, said: "When we first met in 1990, he was very distrustful of me. After a very short period, we got off the subject of the assassination and into baseball.

"When we get together now," said Mr. Perry, a retired insurance executive and longtime JFK assassination researcher, "it's never about the assassination, but as close friends."

David Murph, director of church relations for Texas Christian University, and his wife, Jean, are also friends of the Fraziers. "He is an honest, gentle soul with a good heart who sees and believes in people," he said.

Mr. Murph says he hopes Mr. Frazier finds a publisher for his memoirs. "Buell's story is extremely important. It needs to be told."
Ex-Secret Service Agent States JFK Assassination 'Not a Conspiracy' - Phantoms and Monsters WikiBy Duane Dudek of the Journal Sentinel

Although I mostly get the New Yorker magazine for the cartoons, I read the new issue on Barack Obama from cover to cover.

It included two fascinating behind the scenes looks at the mechanics of the campaigns of Obama and John McCain - what worked, what didn't and why - and a long piece by David Remnick on how Obama did not transcend race so much, as personify both sides of his mixed race heritage.

Meanwhile on the season finale of Bill Maher's show on HBO, the host pressed P. Diddy, of all people, on the question of Obama's personal safety. And while the question seemed bizarre, presumptuous and discourteous another program "Oswald's Ghost," on the PBS series "American Experience," served as a reminder of how often political assassinations brutalized our national optimism.

And the assassination of president John F. Kennedy, occurred 45 years ago tomorrow. "Oswald's Ghost" explored the various conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.

I've long felt the grainy Zapruder footage of the assassination was the most important film ever made, and chronicles not just the death of a president but a loss of innocence that haunts us still.

I had a copy of the Zapruder film; it was stolen from my car a few years back. It was sent to met mysteriously by an anonymous reader after a column I wrote about it. And when I taught at UWM, I would show it to students who would gasp all these years later at the "pink mist" of the head shot.

Like everything else, the Zapruder film is easy to find on the internet in various versions, some of which isolate camera angles and interpret every frame in an attempt to understand what happened that day.

In "Oswald's Ghost" Norman Mailer, who was a long time conspiracy buff, said he finally concluded that it would have been impossible to keep such a conspiracy secret for so long a time, and believed Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

But most Americans continue to believe that the killing was part of a conspiracy.

Documents Spark New Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theory

Ex-Secret Service Agent States JFK Assassination 'Not a Conspiracy' - Phantoms and Monsters WikiA batch of old documents linked to the slaying of President John F. Kennedy has reportedly been unearthed, including a highly suspect transcript of a conversation between assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and Oswald's killer Jack Ruby, the Dallas Morning News said on Sunday.

The newspaper said the Dallas County district attorney's office, which uncovered the documents, would display its discovery at a news conference on Monday morning.

The Morning News said the items found in an old safe in a Dallas courthouse included personal letters from former District Attorney Henry Wade, the prosecutor in the Ruby trial. Ruby shot Oswald two days after the president's death.

Also found were official records from Ruby's trial, a gun holster and clothing that probably belonged to Ruby and Oswald, District Attorney Craig Watkins told the newspaper.

But one potentially controversial item is a transcript of an exchange between Oswald and Ruby in which they discuss killing Kennedy to halt the mafia-busting agenda of his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

The Morning News said one theory about the transcript was that it was part of a movie script Wade was working on with producers, for a film that was never made.

The transcript resembles one published by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination and concluded Oswald acted alone. The FBI had determined the conversation between Oswald and Ruby -- this time about killing Texas Gov. John Connally -- was definitely fake, the newspaper said.

Connally was riding in the car with Kennedy and was wounded in the attack.

The documents may be a Presidents' Day gift to conspiracy theorists who have long questioned the official U.S. government version that Oswald acted alone when he shot Kennedy on November 22, 1963, as the president's motorcade swept past the Texas School Book Depository in downtown Dallas.

Nightclub owner Ruby subsequently shot Oswald dead at point-blank range as police were escorting their prime suspect. Ruby died a few years later from cancer.

The Day That Changed America

Ex-Secret Service Agent States JFK Assassination 'Not a Conspiracy' - Phantoms and Monsters Wiki
November 22, 1963: A beautiful, sunny early afternoon in Dallas, Texas is suddenly turned into the day that changed all Americans. Two bullets found the mark and the intended victim is mortally wounded. In the 44 years since that day, we still don't know the real story behind the murder of President John F. Kennedy.

It's the same with other facts to mysteries that our government has decided to hide from us. Will these servants of the people ever come clean? Is the truth so terrible that it would cause panic in the streets? Or is it simply that a disclosure would prove that our innocence really did end 44 years ago in Dallas.

Remember the final scene in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark?" A government worker is nailing up a large crate that contains the Ark of the Covenant, then wheels that crate to a forgotten spot in an endless secret warehouse never to be seen or discussed again. Another mystery that needs to be hidden away to maintain and foster a lie, all in the name of national security. I fear that scene may be closer to fact than fiction.

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