Friday, August 9, 2013
By Oliver “Buck” Revell via Walt Coughlin
Perhaps no single event has had a greater impact on the United States, since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Our entire Nation and indeed much of the World went into a state of shock and deep sorrow. All Americans who are old enough to have a personal memory of this traumatic event can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when the startling news flashes started coming from Dallas about shots being fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade as it traveled through Dallas.
My personal experience was a life changing event. I was a 1st. Lieutenant and aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time and on November 22nd I was flying a VIP mission transporting a Marine General from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Paris Island, South Carolina. As we were cruising down the Carolina coast line it was a beautiful cloudless day and I had the H-34 on cruise control at 5,000 feet taking in the beautiful view as we headed south toward the Marine Recruit Depot. As the flight was smooth and I had the Tacan navigation system tracking to the Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort, S.C. close by the Recruit Depot. As was my usual practice during VIP flights I tuned in a local radio station for any news or weather that might affect the flight. I was immediately drawn to CBS News breaking into a local broadcast with the startling announcement that there was a news flash from Dallas.
As I knew that the President was in Dallas this announcement was immediate concern in my mind. I alerted the general that there was breaking news from Dallas involving the President. I was totally focused on the information coming from Dallas. I will never forget the extremely distressed voice of Walter Cronkite announcing that President Kennedy was dead. The remainder of the flight and return to New River MCAS are a blind spot to me.
I felt a deep sense of personal loss as President Kennedy was my Commander in Chief and barely a year before had saved our country from war with the Soviet Union and Cuba; a war in which I would have been one of the first causalities as I was slated to pilot the second aircraft to takeout a Russian missile site in Cuba. As I sat in the cockpit with a squad of combat ready Marines below me we all knew that this was likely a one way mission. The missile sites were heavily defended by Russian Spetsnaz, Special Forces units, and they would be on full alert for our airborne assault. The Captain of our ship, the assault carrier USS Okinawa, put an urgent announcement by President Kennedy on the ships speaker system. Every ear onboard was silently listening to the President’s every word; when he said that the Russians had agreed to withdraw their nuclear missiles from Cuba and that our blockade would be lifted there was a tremendous shout of joy and relief from every hand on board. Our Commander in Chief had saved our lives and likely protected our families at home from a nuclear war. From that point on President Kennedy was my personal hero.
I watched television with my wife Sharon and our two young sons on Sunday morning November 24th as the sad and solemn procession paraded up Pennsylvania Ave from the White House to the Capitol Rotunda. We were choked with grief and tears streamed down our faces as young John-John Kennedy saluted the Military Caisson bearing his father’s flag draped coffin passed, by. This was one of the saddest times in my life. Suddenly a flash bulletin came on from Dallas announcing that the Dallas Police were about to move Lee Harvey Oswald from the city lockup to the Dallas County Jail. I wanted to see this former disgraced Marine traitor and assassin so we intently watched as TV cameras in the basement of the police station showed Oswald being lead out of the basement door to a van for transport to the jail. I was focused on Oswald’s face as I suddenly saw a fast movement in the surrounding crowd. I saw a flash and heard a gunshot as Oswald bent forward grabbing his stomach. I yelled to Sharon, Oswald’s been shot. The chaos that followed led to further dismay and confusion on our part as the television coverage switched back and forth from Washington and Dallas. We soon learned that Oswald had died at Parkland Hospital, the same hospital where President Kennedy had been treated and pronounced dead, and that a Dallas night club owner named Jack Ruby had been arrested in the murder of Oswald.
I returned to duty on Monday as the Assistant Group Legal Assistance Officer and JAG investigator. All of the discussions at work were about the President’s assassination and the rogue ex-Marine named Oswald who had allegedly killed the President. I learned that Oswald had been a radar technician and was stationed in California and the Pacific before he had been given a hardship discharge and shortly thereafter gone to Russia. I was surprised when two FBI agents showed up in my office on Tuesday morning and made a request for assistance in locating any of our MAG-26 Marines who may have known or worked with Oswald when he was in service. The senior agent was named Joe Pearson and he told me the FBI had been ordered to conduct a full investigation of the President’s assassination and that everything that any of our Marines knew about Oswald was needed. I told him that I was sure that we could assist but that I needed to get the Group commander’s approval. I quickly went down the hall and informed the C.O. about the request; he responded, “Give them anything they need to help in the investigation”. I returned to speak with the agents and asked agent Pearson what we could do to help. He wanted to identify every Marine in our Group who had ever known or worked with Oswald and to interview separately each of these individuals. As our Group had over 2,000 Marines this was not an easy task, but we began the process of identifying our Marines who had any knowledge of Oswald.
Working with the FBI agents who were actually investigating the assassination of the President was a catharsis for me and helped me overcome my personal grief from the President’s death. Over about a two week period I worked with Agent Pearson and we developed a personal friendship. He couldn’t discuss the FBI’s overall investigation with me but he was able to keep me posted on the publicly known information. We began having lunches together and would go down to the Station’s pistol range and fire off surplus ammo that was slated for disposal. I held the Marine Corps Pistol Expert Badge, but Pearson showed me the FBI’s draw and shoot method of firearms defense and I enjoyed our personal rapport.
I had just been selected for promotion to Captain and had to make a decision about staying in the Corps for a career or being discharged to the Reserves and looking for a civilian career. I was leaning on staying in the Corps but the constant deployment away from Sharon and our two sons was weighing on my mind and I had to consider other alternatives as well. Joe then surprised me with statement, “Buck, why don’t you consider a career as a Special Agent with the FBI”? I was surprised to learn that my Bachelor’s degree and four years as a Marine officer qualified me to apply for the FBI Special Agent position. On November 16, 1964 I was sworn in as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; almost exactly one year after President Kennedy was killed.
I continued to follow the Kennedy assassination case through the Warren Commission Report (WCR) and as much of the media reporting as I could find, but I had no personal involvement until I was promoted to a supervisory position in the Organized Crime Section at FBI Headquarters in January of 1971. Upon arrival at FBIHQ I had an obligatory meeting with Director J. Edgar Hoover. I expected a routine handshake and admonition to do a good job; however, Hoover surprised me by asking me to sit down and engaging in a very wide ranging discussion. It started with a discussion of the rapid progress that we were making against the La Cosa Nostra (LCN-the American Mafia). Hoover was genuinely pleased with the progress the Bureau was making against the LCN and congratulated me on the success that I had in making several significant cases in Philadelphia. He then surprised me with a statement that he had had to personally warn President Kennedy against carrying on a personal relationship with Judith Campbell paramour of Sam Giancana, the boss of the Chicago LCN family. Hoover stated that President Kennedy just nodded and said nothing further about the information. Hoover said that he admired President Kennedy and was a friend of his father, Joe Kennedy, but that he had no respect or regard for Bobby Kennedy who he regarded as a novice and unprofessional politician who wasn’t qualified to be Attorney General. The conversation lasted about three hours and covered many more subjects, but the revelation about President Kennedy was the most startling part of the conversation for me.
My next real involvement in the Kennedy assassination case came when I had returned to FBI Headquarters from Chicago where I was the senior Assistant Special Agent in Charge and for five months the Acting SAC. I had been promoted to the rank of Inspector and was assigned to the Director’s office as the Executive Assistant to the Associate Director (then the second in command of the Bureau) and as Chairman of the FBI’s Career Promotion Board. I had daily contact with Director Clarence Kelley and was consulted on major policy decisions. It was during this time that the House of Representatives created a Special Committee to investigate the assassinations of President Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. The Assassinations Committee appointed former Justice Department Attorney G. Robert Blakey as its chief counsel. Bob Blakey was and is a personal friend who I had worked with when I was in the Organized Crime Section. I found him to be a dedicated and capable attorney and expert on organized crime law. But Blakey had decided that the FBI and Warren Commission were wrong in finding that Oswald acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy. He based his belief that there was a forth shot fired from the grassy knoll of the Texas Book Depository and therefore there had to be a second assassin and a conspiracy. When the Committee on Assassination’s final report came out I had been out of FBI Headquarters as SAC of the Oklahoma Division and promoted back to FBIHQ as the Assistant Director in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division. Judge William Webster was now the Director and I advised him to seek an outside of the Bureau review of the Committee’s findings of a forth shot. I strongly believed that the Committee’s findings were in error, but was convinced that only an outside organization with impeccable credentials could settle the dispute between the FBI’s technical acoustics experts and the experts hired by the Committee. Webster and the Attorney General agreed with me and the AG asked the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a totally independent review and analysis of the sounds recorded at the scene and time of the assassination. The National Academy of Science’s report agreed with the findings of the FBI’s Technical Services Division that the first three sounds were gunshots from the vicinity of the Texas Book Depository building and the fourth sound was a motorcycle backfire from at least two blocks away and at a time when the President’s motorcade had already gone into the railroad underpass in route to Parkland Hospital. That finding took away the House Committee’s only “evidence” of a conspiracy and they had already concluded that Oswald was the shooter from the 6th floor of the Book Depository.
One of the frequent criticisms of the FBI Investigation and the WC was that both had only focused on Lee Harvey Oswald as the sole assassin of President Kennedy. The facts are very different; as of April of 1965 the FBI had submitted 18 reports containing 6,378 pages of investigative information on Oswald and all of his activities and alleged connections, but the investigation didn’t stop there, As of August 1965 the FBI had submitted 13 reports containing 3,070 pages on the investigation of other possible suspects including the Mafia, Cuba, the Soviet Union, corrupt politicians and big business interests. All of these reports went to the Warren Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.
In May of 1991 after the conclusion of the first Iraqi War (Desert Strom) I had been in Washington for 12 years and for 6 of those years I had direction and oversight responsibility for all FBI investigative and intelligence operations and programs. I was tired of Washington and all of its bickering and hypocrisy, especially from the national news media and the badly dysfunctional Congress. I was eligible to retire but I still had the urge to serve my country and the drive to do so. I proposed to FBI Director Bill Sessions and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh that I would postpone my retirement by at least 3 years if they would approve a transfer for me to head up one of the Field Divisions in the Southwest. Both indicated that they wanted me to continue my career in the Bureau and not long thereafter Sessions offered me the position of Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Dallas Division. I jumped at the opportunity; the Dallas Division covers the Northern half of Texas and has always been one of the most active and productive offices in the Bureau. Most of my family lived in Texas and Oklahoma and I had many friends in the area. Dallas was also still the Office of Origin of the Kennedy Assassination case, but I didn’t expect any activity in that area as it had been so thoroughly investigated in the previous 28 years. I was wrong!
In 1991, Oliver Stone, released his motion picture “JFK”. The movie and its story line were almost entirely fictional, but it got a tremendous amount of publicity and caused the public to once again raise questions about the findings of the Warren Commission. Again, conspiracy theorists were coming out of the woodwork, bellowing their demands that the government come clean with what it knew. Now that I was SAC of Dallas, the very city of the assassination, I would unavoidably be at the center of the cacophony.
Upon the movie’s release, the Dallas Police Department was immediately inundated by a huge number of requests for access to their files. To accommodate the requests, the police moved the files from the department to the Dallas City Archives. In the process, they came across a surprise; several folders had slipped down in the filing cabinet and were not properly indexed or filed. One of the folders was a file on the Dallas Police Department’s brief interrogation of three individuals, “the three hoboes”.
In the years since the President’s assassination, wild theories had grown up around these men. Some claimed they were CIA agents or operatives; others said two of them had been identified as E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate infamy. With the discovery of the missing files, the theories only gained more exposure, as the disappearance was said to be part of the government cover-up.
Fortunately the true identities of the men are duller than many conspiracy theorists have hoped.
The three hoboes were part of the eyewitness documentation to the Kennedy case, as they had been seen walking across the railroad track near Dealey Plaza soon after the three shots from Oswald’s rifle were fired on November 22, 1963. Hearing of these men from eyewitnesses, police promptly went in search of them. They were found a short time later, taken into custody, briefly interrogated at the Dallas police station, and then released. When their interrogation report disappeared, they became part of the mystery surrounding the assassination. Come to find out, the three men had come over on the rails from Fort Worth earlier that morning, were fed and cleaned up at a nearby soup kitchen, and were heading back across the railroad switchyard when they heard the shots and the ensuing commotion in Dealey Plaza. Because they didn’t want to get caught up in any trouble, they hurried to get out of the area, but were intercepted by the police.
Shortly after the hoboes’ interrogation, Dallas police took Lee Harvey Oswald into custody at the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff, east of downtown Dallas. With the information available to them at the time, it looked as if they had their man. Officer J.D. Tippit had been shot and killed just a few blocks away, and Oswald was found with a pistol in his possession that was believed to have fired the fatal shots. At this point, the police shifted their attention to this strange character named Oswald and released the three hoboes. It would be more than a quarter century before law enforcement found any reason to look for or talk to them again.
During those years the police had no record of the men, as the files had apparently disappeared. Now in 1991, with the transfer of the files, they were found. Many conspiracy theorists believed the files had been destroyed, which made their reappearance still more ominous. But it was plainly shown in the files that the three hoboes had been identified, questioned and then released once it became clear that they had no information concerning the death of President Kennedy.
I knew conspiracy theorists would not be satisfied with this. Based on the new details in the lost folders, I directed that a search to find the men be initiated. In a short time we found that two were still living and one had died. We interviewed the two survivors, one of whom lived in Oregon and the other in Tampa, Florida. Since that November day, both men had done fairly well in life, having left their transient phase behind. One had gone back to work, while the other received disability from the Veterans Administration. When we interviewed them (the first and only time they had spoken with the FBI), they told us exactly what they had seen and heard but they had no more or less to tell us than they had told the Dallas police twenty-seven years earlier.
The only good this foray into the investigation of President Kennedy’s death did was to remove another element from the wild theories that were now epidemic. In the process, however, the public would become needlessly cynical about their government and its motives. The American people were being told by irresponsible parties, inflamed in this instance by Oliver Stone’s purely fictional conspiracy scenario, to believe dark, unseen forces were at work behind the scenes of their polity. Invisible evil geniuses had control of this puppet democracy; they had slain President Kennedy and were now hiding their nefarious deed. I came to call this phenomenon “the Oliver Stoning of America”, the belief that the government, or at least some of its agencies, are behind every unfortunate event.
Theories of this ilk were devoid of credible, evidence and downright acrobatic in making known historical facts comply with their particular design. But what they lacked in validity they more than made up for in sheer number. Requests were constantly submitted to the Dallas FBI office to respond to “new evidence” that inevitably turned out to be irrelevant or fraudulent. Tremendous pressure was also exerted to expedite the release of FBI documents on the case. Being the principal repository of the investigative files, the Dallas FBI office had an incredible forty-two linear feet of files on the Kennedy assassination. Finally, Headquarters called and said they wanted them in Washington as they were going to photocopy them all and then send the originals to the National Archives. So I had my people pack them up. We rented a U-Haul and I assigned senior agent, Bill Teigen, and two support employees to drive the files under armed guard to FBI Headquarters. None of this, however, would do anything to mute the controversy over the case. It would just go on and on.
A new controversy developed over a hoodlum with alleged connections to organized crime in Chicago who said he had information concerning the mob’s roll in the murder, and that he had been one of the assassins. In response, I ordered a thorough review of his background and a detailed interview by agents experienced in Chicago organized crime, only to discover the man had no new or even pertinent information. The alleged assassin’s story was completely concocted. However, Don Hewitt, Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, became interested in this one and called me several times about information he had received. In the end I convinced Hewitt that this was not the story of the century but just another hoax by people who had their own agenda.
Later, Charles Crenshaw, a doctor who had been at Parkland Hospital on November 22, 1963, and had looked over the shoulder of attending physicians, came out with a book claiming the autopsy of Kennedy’s body had been manipulated. Though he hadn’t examined Kennedy’s body and had only seen it for a few seconds, he had been convinced by one of the frequent contributors to the conspiracy milieu, J. Gary Shaw, to coauthor a book some thirty years later that made fantastic claims of a cover-up. Nevertheless, we interviewed Dr. Crenshaw only to find he had grossly exaggerated his claims and had little idea of what his coauthor had actually written. Out interview with him varied little from the one he had given the FBI some thirty years earlier.
If this were not enough, we also had the revelation of an eight millimeter movie that had been taken in Dealey Plaza five minutes before the assassination. People now swore they could see assassins in the windows of surrounding buildings. And the wild claims continued to mount.
In the face of all this, I gave several interviews to the press stating my firm belief that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin in Dallas that day and that he had acted alone. The physical and testimonial evidence was clear and conclusive. This, of course, turned out to be little avail, as you can never prove a negative, that there was no conspiracy. All I could say was that there was no credible evidence of a conspiracy. Keeping the investigation open took enormous resources and a lot of my time, but no case was more important in the annals of American History, so I wanted us to answer as many questions as we could. I kept it under my direct supervision, assigning leads to our principal legal advisers, Special Agents Gary Gerszewski and Jay Gregory. We thoroughly checked out new information that could possibly shed light on unknown factors in the case. This was necessary, as the assassination would remain a divisive issue in American society, and there was no end in sight.
In June of 1993, I received the sad news that Governor John Connally had passed away. The Governor and his wife had been in the car with the President and First Lady on the day of the assassination. Governor Connally had been critically wounded by Oswald’s second shot. This bullet, which erroneously came to be known as the “pristine bullet” was the pivot on which the cases of many conspiracy theorists, who knew little or nothing about ballistics, turned. For the remainder of his life, the Governor had carried tiny fragments of this bullet that had passed through the President’s back and neck. After passing through the Governor’s chest as well, it impacted his wrist then got caught in his clothes. It was then found on the Governor’s stretcher at Parkland Hospital (many would find this explanation for the discovery of the bullet fraught with clues to a cover-up.
Shortly after Governor Connally’s death, I began receiving calls from the media asking me what I was going to do about his body. In the beginning this was puzzling. Why should I do anything? But to my amazement, Attorney General Janet Reno said it was up to the SAC of the Dallas FBI office as to whether there would be a request for an autopsy to remove the lead. It was my call.
In response, I contacted Headquarters. I hadn’t been told by anybody it was my call to make the request but they checked with the Attorney General and sure enough she had made the statement.
“So what are you going to do?” they asked. Under the circumstances, I told them I was going to leave it up to the family. I knew what the Attorney General’s thinking was; the lead from the jacketed bullet was known to be in Connelly’s wrist and therefore it would forever remain an issue. This was now a real dilemma. As the jacketed bullet had passed through the bodies, it lost a small amount of its mass. This, by itself, raised suspicions that were not likely to go away anytime soon.
Having experienced the absolute cacophony of howls raised by conspiracy theorists, I was concerned. They had demanded and received access to all these files (I favored their release except where it would reveal intelligence sources and methods); they had successfully lobbied to have Oswald’s body exhumed. I now worried that they might one day demand the same of the Governor’s body in the ridiculous quest of retrieving the minute metal shavings of the now famous pristine bullet from his right wrist. To avert what I saw as an unnecessary travesty, I requested that the Attorney General suggest to the Governor’s wife that it might be better in the long run to remove the bullet fragments. It wasn’t going to add meaningfully to the mass of forensic evidence, but it would help close off this seemingly endless investigation.
After I made the recommendation to the Attorney General, the media went to Millie Connally and told her that the FBI chief in Dallas had said that there ought to be an autopsy to retrieve fragments. Upon hearing this, she was apparently beside herself. They were in the midst of grieving over their loss and thought that this was some kind of grandstand play on the part of the FBI. My heart went out to the family but all I could do was explain my thinking. I certainly wasn’t going to seek a court order to have an autopsy done. However, this would help put the issue to rest and work toward completing the historical record. In the end the family was vehemently against an autopsy, and so far as I was concerned, their wishes came before those of the people who wanted access to this relatively insignificant piece of the Kennedy assassination puzzle.
During all of this, I was fortunate to have access not only to the extensive files in the Dallas office, but to several former agents who had actually conducted the original investigation. Chief among them was Bob Gemberling. Bob had never written a book about his experience as the lead FBI agent investigating the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, but he had lectured on the subject (without charge) to responsible groups. I asked him to discuss the investigation for the Dallas Rotary Club and he held the audience in rapt attention as he wove together the airtight case that Oswald was the assassin. As new allegations came pouring in, Bob was always willing to discuss his recollections with me, but he always said, “Well, you need to check it out. The FBI can’t leave any loose ends on this one.”
And we didn’t. My secretary, Nancy Collins, had actually typed the original investigative report from the Dallas office. At the time she was just out of high school but was one of the most proficient stenographers in the office. Although Nancy remembered few of the details of the investigation, she did recall who had conducted each critical phase. Gemberling and Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles, a sergeant in the Dallas PD at the time of the assassination, provided insight into the claim by two Dallas area television documentary producers that Oswald had a cellmate in the Dallas PD jail. His cellmate, they said, had important information that the FBI had “suppressed”. For reasons that I couldn’t decipher, the Washington Post decided to give these two a huge spread before the publication of their book. I usually didn’t respond to these articles, but this one named me personally and disparaged the investigations we were conducting. I wrote a rather lengthy rebuttal and the Post published it. Then the paper turned around and gave the authors still more space for their own interpretation of the evidence. I didn’t bother to respond this time, but when I asked a friend at the Post why they were giving this bogus story so much play, he said a senior editor believed the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy and thought stories such as this one would keep the controversy alive. “The case is already very much alive,” I said with utter incredulity. “It doesn’t need hype to stay that way.”
I certainly wished that I could have found even one scintilla of evidence that the worst political crime in our nation’s history was a conspiracy. Such a revelation would have made me the most celebrated detective since Sherlock Holmes. But I was trained to follow the evidence and in the case of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, that evidence clearly and overwhelmingly points to Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin.
Perhaps the most disturbing facts to have come to light since the Warren Commission Report involved the CIA. Apparently the agency withheld information on its involvement in plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and its dealings with certain organized crime figures in order to accomplish that goal. Also withheld was information of a note delivered to the Dallas FBI office by Lee Harvey Oswald. The FBI didn’t withhold this information as it was never reported by Special Agent Jim Hosty, the case agent on Oswald before the assassination, who first received it. He had never actually met Oswald until after the assassination, but he was making inquiries about him and his Russian wife, Marina. On November 12, 1963, Oswald delivered a note to the Dallas FBI office warning Hosty to stay away from Marina. According to Hosty, the note said in effect: “If you want to talk to me, you should talk to me to my face. Stop harassing my wife and stop trying to ask her about me. You have no right to harass her.”
In an act of inexplicable stupidity and possible criminality, Hosty later destroyed the note and didn’t report it to the Warren Commission or to FBI Headquarters. Hosty claimed his SAC, Gordon Shanklin, told him to destroy the note because Hoover would “second guess us”.
I knew Jim Hosty from my days in Kansas City just a year after the Kennedy assassination. He’s an intelligent man and was a dedicated agent but he surely knew that he couldn’t be ordered to destroy evidence. Even if Shanklin told him to do so, which Shanklin later denied, Jim knew that he could not legally or morally do so. This duplicity on the part of Hosty and perhaps others would cost the FBI much of its credibility in the case. Thousands of hours working around the clock by hundreds of other dedicated agents and support staff would forever be marred by the actions of very few.
The assassination of President Kennedy revealed a major flaw in Federal Law which led to some difficulties in the investigation of this horrendous crime. To the total surprise of authorities at all levels the assault or killing of the President of the United States was not a Federal crime. Therefore the Dallas Police Department took the lead after some argument with the DPD. The U.S. Attorney in Dallas, Barefoot Sanders, settled the dispute and advised the Secret Service, the DPD and Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade that this case was only covered by Texas State law. Chief Jessie Curry firmly took charge of the investigation and assigned the head of the homicide Bureau, Captain Will Fritz, to supervise the investigation. After the murder of President Kennedy Dallas police were checking on the location of all known employees of the Texas Book Depository; Officer J.D. Tippit was dispatched to locate and interview an employee named Lee Harvey Oswald at Oswald’s Oak Cliff apartment. Upon Tippit’s arrival he got out of his patrol car and saw an individual coming from Oswald’s apartment who matched the broadcast discretion of the unknown suspect in the President’s assassination. As Tippit approached this person, who turned out to be Lee Harvey Oswald, Oswald drew a pistol and fatally shot Tippit with four shots from his revolver. Witnesses helped the police trace Oswald’s flight to the Texas Theater where he was arrested by DPD officers after a brief struggle. Oswald was taken to the DPD headquarters where he was taken to Captain Fritz’s office. Fritz allowed the Secret Service and FBI agent’s to interview Oswald in his office, but he was always present during the interviews.
When agent Jim Hosty discussed Oswald with Lt. Jack Revill, Chief of DPD Intelligence he told Revill that the Bureau had a file on Oswald due to his defection to the Soviet Union and his proclaimed Marxist beliefs. A significant deviation in the recollection of Hosty and Revill occurred at this point; Revill claimed that Hosty told him that Oswald posed a threat to the President. Hosty vehemently denied making such a statement and pointed out that the Bureau had no information that Oswald was violent or posed a threat to the President. Chief Curry, later at a press conference facing great criticism for the death of Oswald while he was in DPD custody, accused the Bureau of withholding information from the DPD that Oswald was in Dallas and posed a threat to the President. This statement infuriated Hoover who ordered all cooperation with the DPD to halt. As President Johnson had ordered the FBI to take over the investigation and to take custody of all the evidence this created a very difficult dilemma for both agencies. Henry Wade, the long time and highly respected, District Attorney of Dallas County happened to be a former FBI agent and friend of Hoover’s. Wade acted as a go between and facilitator for both agencies and the working level officers and agent’s continued to do their duties and find ways to cooperate.
The evidence that Oswald acted alone in the assassination of the President is clear and compelling, but you can never prove a negative. What we do know about Oswald’s background leads to the deadly encounter on Dealy Plaza. Oswald’s father died before he was born so he came from a broken family. At age 13 he was diagnosed to have schizophrenic tendencies and to be emotionally disturbed. He never received treatment and dropped out of High School. He was able to join the Marine Corps where he was trained as a radar technician, but never fit into the life of service required of a Marine. He received marksmanship training and earned the Sharpshooter badge with the M-1 rifle. He served in the Pacific and received several remands for lack of discipline and disorderly conduct. He was granted a hardship discharge in 1958 and returned to the Fort Worth area to reconnect with his mother. In 1959 he went to the Soviet Union and declared his intention to defect to the USSR. He married a Russian girl and held low level positions that disappointed his ambitions. In June of 1962 he returned to the United States bringing with him his Russian wife Marina. In March of 1963 he ordered a 6.5 MM Carcano Italian rifle with a 10 power scope from a mail order house in Chicago using the alias of A.J. Hidell. On April 10th this rifle was used by Oswald in attempt to assassinate retired Army Major General Edwin Walker. Walker was widely known for his outspoken anti-Castro views after the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile crises. Oswald went to Mexico City after the attack on General Walker and visited both the Russian and Cuban Embassies. He was also seen demonstrating in New Orleans with the “Fair Play for Cuba” organization.
The case agent for the FBI investigation, Bob Gemberling, stated that he thought Oswald’s motive was to gain recognition. I think that was part of Oswald’s motivation, but I believe that his ultimate goal was to escape to Cuba and be recognized as a “Hero of the Cuban Revolution”. Instead he will always be known as one of the most despicable men to have ever been a citizen of the United States.
Buck Revell was a former Assistant FBI director in Washington and the local director of the Dallas office.
Mr. Revell is the founder and President of Revell Group International, Inc., a global business and security-consulting firm, based in Rowlett, Dallas County, Texas. He also serves as Executive V.P. of Rogue DNA, Inc, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.