Up close and personal with David Ferrie

David Ferrie

Pilot in training Rick Bauer (left) with his trainer David Ferrie
(photo credit: Rick Bauer)

 

Rick Bauer, a reader in Florida, writes to tell of his personal experience in 1965-66 with David Ferrie, the New Orleans pilot who has been the target of JFK conspiracy speculation for decades.

Bauer writes.

“I am a graduate of Tulane University in 1966. In the fall of 1965 I commenced flight training paid for by the Department of Defense for students enrolled in various ROTC programs. I was a USN scholarship student at Tulane. My instructor was David Ferrie …. I knew Dave from Sept. 1965 until May of 1966. I passed my Private Pilot’s check ride on March 27, 1966.”

Bauer says he admired Ferrie.

“Dave was a terrific flight instructor. Quite honestly I was able to get over the initial hurdles in US Navy primary flight training because of his training and his spin/unusual attitude training followed me for my US Navy career and my 30 years with Delta Air Lines. I finished as an International captain flying to — believe it or not — Moscow, Russia.”

“Dave was both smarter than portrayed in the movie ‘JFK,'” Bauer went on. “And yes perhaps a little crazier. My classmates would agree with this.”

Joe Pesci as David Ferrie

Bauer says mainstream news organizations have never shown an interest what he and his fellow pilots knew of Ferrie.

“Six months ago I approached them about their willingness to speak with media about our experience regarding Dave,” he wrote. “I received no response from CNN or FOX.”

“Same thing happened in 1967 when Jim Garrison came out with his theory, and we called the FBI office. No one wanted to speak with us.

“Sounds something like, Do not confuse us with facts!”

Ferrie’s skin condition

Bauer added a bit of movie criticism to his email.

“By the way,” he wrote, “the wig that Joe Pesci wore in ‘JFK’ the movie was nowhere near accurate.”

“Dave had a skin condition that meant he had no hair,” Bauer went on. “That includes eye brows. He would paint his head and over his eyes with ‘spirit gum’ and then stick what looked like pubic hair shaved off and simply stuck this in place.”

“He always wore a ball cap. We knew he had a previous position as a commercial pilot and was fired on a morals charge but again we assumed underage females. The movie indicated younger boys I believe? I do not recall as much swearing despite his excitable nature.”

Ferrie’s trophy board

“First we saw absolutely no indication that Dave was homosexual,” Bauer wrote in his email. “Actually, this was not a surprise given his position at the time. That would have first been foolish and second, if bisexual, this was not uncommon in New Orleans. ”

David Ferrie

“What we observed in his apartment was a ‘trophy’ board with a pubic hair from his various sexual partners which we assumed were female. Why? He also had Polaroids of him and a black maid or so he said. She probably never did any cleaning since his apartment, which was uptown not in the Quarter, was portrayed accurately in the movie.”

“Dave was always polite and respectful around women. He knew my future wife, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law well during my training since they drove me to the airport. He definitely had a temper and my classmates have clear memories of that trait. He made many negative statements about ‘professional’ military officers. Strange since we were all tracking for that. [He] said the reserves always won the wars”

 

Flights with Cubans
“He was actively engaged with Cubans. My USMC classmate recalls flights on the weekend to Picayune, Mississippi, in a DC-3 for their training.”

“The company that had the government contract was called ComAir and was operated by a retired USAF Lt.Col whom I never met. This sounds like CIA to those of us with a military background….,” Bauer wrote.

Involved in JFK’s assassination?

In early 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison investigated Ferrie as a suspect in an alleged conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.

Literary scholar Joan Mellen argues Garrison was right about Ferrie. She says Ferrie had known Oswald since they were in the same Civil Air Patrol group. In the summer of 1963, she says Ferrie accompanied Oswald to Clinton, Mississippi, along with Clay Shaw, the New Orleans businessman later indicted and acquitted for conspiring to kill JFK. Ferrie and Shaw, she concludes, help set up Oswald as a “patsy” for the assassination.

JFK researcher David Reitzes disagrees. He says Ferrie had no connection to JFK’s assassination. Reitzes impeaches the credibility of the Clinton witnesses, though he does not have a persuasive explanation for why so many people would have independently and erroneously placed Oswald there at that time.

When Ferrie died suddenly in February 1967, speculation about his role in Kennedy’s assassination, ran riot.

Final thoughts
Bauer sums up his recollections Ferrie with these words:

“I had close contact with Dave for three quarters of a year. He was employed indirectly by the Department of Defense, had clear connections with Cubans of some stripe … so I feel something is missing” from the way he has been portrayed.

Bauer thinks Ferrie’s service for the U.S. military after JFK’s assassination is significant.

33 comments

  1. Eric Saunders says:

    Why not mention that the HSCA also concluded that Ferrie, Shaw, and Oswald had a relationship of an undetermined nature? Or that a photograph emerged decades later unmistakably showing Ferrie and Oswald together?

  2. Fredrick Burlakoff says:

    I look forward to Judyth Bakers book on David Ferrie soon to come out.

  3. Flip de Mey says:

    Ferrie was a suspect early on in the case. The reason was his close relationship with Marcello, and his strange trip on the evening of the murder. He drove -without a credible reason- through a rainstorm from New Orleans to Houston, and then on saturday to Galveston. Galveston has an airport, and is a perfect gateway to Mexico. At the very moment Ferrie arrived in Galveston, Ruby called a friend in that little town. Ruby, supposedly completely depressed by the Kennedy-murder, wanted to discuss at midnight on a saturday, while the Carousel-club was closed, a long pending matter about amateur dancers with Breck Wall, the sitting president of AGVA the union of the strip dancers. Breck Wall had left Dallas without obvious reason and drove all the way to Galveston. This AGVA is without any doubt a mafia-front-organisation. Why was Ruby calling Galveston at the moment Ferrie arrived in that little village? During his strange trip Ferrie was walling all the time (to who, about what?) from public telephones. When Ferrie heard Sunday-morning that Oswald was killed, he immediately returned to New Orleans, a 700 km drive. The skating, hunting and other leisure-activities for which Ferrie and his male compagnons had driven 700 kilometers, where all in a sudden not so important anymore. When he arrived there he learned that policeman were in his apartment, and that he was wanted in relation to the Kennedy murder. And he decided not to go home. Only on monday he turned himself in. What was he afraid of? There is also a strange story about his library card. Rumors went on that it was found in Oswalds wallet. That seems not to have been the case. But the strange factor is that Ferrie went looking for the library-card, as if the rumor could have been true. There are other strange coincidences. Ferrie worked in New Orleans in an office two doors away from Jim Braden’s office. Braden was the gangster arrested immediately after the murder in the building across the street of the TSBD. And Ruby was on the evening before the murder not only in the same building as Braden, and in that same building, the Cabana motel, was a certain mrs. Aase with Ruby. Ferrie (or at least the office where he worked) once called this mrs. Aase’s phone number. A last coincidence: Ferrie worked together with Guy Bannister. And the adress on Oswald’s pro-Castro pamphlets was the address of Guy Bannister’s building (tough another entrance). Whatever all these, and other coincidences, the Warren Commission was not the least interested. The name Ferrie is not mentioned once in the Warren Report.

    • Photon says:

      Since when is Galveston a “little town”?
      You admit that the ” library card” story is bogus, then try to use it as something suspicious.
      Why not use facts, not innuendo ? Unless of course the facts simply do not exist.

      • Flip de Mey says:

        Photon, I looked it up while writing the book, I think it was around 60.000 inhabitants, indeed not a village, but certainly not a “big” town compared to Dallas and Houston. What does it change to the story if I say it’s a medium-size-town?
        I invested quite some time in this case. I never saw a proof that Ferrie’s library-card was mentioned, other than the stories Martin was telling to everyone who would listen. But it is a fact that Ferrie went looking for the library-card. I mention those two facts. So I don’t see where you have a problem.

    • S.R. "Dusty" Rohde says:

      Flip…..who else was headed to Houston/Dallas? Rose Cheramie, Sergio Aracha Smith and “Osantos” (sounds a lot like Santos) to complete their Heroin deal and “kill the President”. Then they were to fly to Mexico together. Very convenient for Ferrie to be in the neighborhood. Ruby supposedly met with Santos Trafficante and Carlos Marcellos to discuss issues regarding the AVGA. Ruby also admitted some of his connections to Houston which was getting cars (some stolen) to Cuba. Rose Cheramie was Ruby’s former employee now dealing Heroin. Reminds me of Barney Ross (Ruby’s lifelong friend, professional boxer) who died one week after Ruby, from Heroin. Houston, Heroin, Havana…drugs, gun running, stolen vehicles and gambling…mob central. Gun running out of Bannisters office but also directly involving the CIA and their illegal activities (probably including some profiteering by certain gov’t officials). Garrison was wise to some of it but was about to stumble into a hornets nest, Pandoras Box of corruption and Dean Andrews knew it.

  4. Brian H says:

    Funny thing about Reitzes is that he is just like the rest of the “Debunking” community he ignored incredible strong evidence and offers week at best theories in order to create doubt. It’s my opinion that right from the get go the Warren Commission was not about facts they were only trying to create enough doubt about what happened knowing most people wouldn’t do the leg work in order to find the real truth.
    Unfortunately they were right.

  5. JSA says:

    From people I knew growing up in CIA whom I talked to I am fairly sure that ComAir was CIA-run.

    Ferrie was head or involved in a Civil Air Patrol group which included Oswald, and they were photographed together. I think Ferrie knew Oswald prior to the assassination, in New Orleans. The lone nutters tend to dismiss this, but I think there might be some leads if someone did some good digging in this area to see if there was much of a link or not.

    • Photon says:

      After 50 years of digging by the most determined researchers the only link ever found was the CAP photograph from the 1950s.
      Links aside from this one picture have never been found for one simple reason- they don’t exist.

      • JSA says:

        Don’t be so sure.

        Even the most determined investigators have run up against the wall that is the CIA and government secrecy. It’s been over 50 years. Let’s free all of the Oswald-related files, and see what turns up. What are we afraid of? The truth shall set us free, as the old Langley floor says.

      • mitch says:

        I love that argument: no link between the two has ever been found other than the link that has been found.

        Let’s presume that Jack Martin was making up allegations against an enemy in David Ferrie when he claimed that Ferrie knew Oswald, he sure got lucky when this photo of Oswald with Ferrie surfaced.

  6. Who set LHO up was 33 rd Mason Guy Banister working with 33rd Hoover and 33rd Murchison.

    Ferrie knew Banister, Oschner, Marcello, Ruby, Shaw, et al.

  7. TLR says:

    An interesting Galveston link between Ruby and Ferrie the night of the assassination:

    David Ferrie will tell the FBI that on the afternoon of 11/23/1963, he spends two hours at the Winterland Rink in Houston, Texas, skating and talking with Chuck Rolland (the owner) about the cost of installing and operating his rink. Later, Rolland will tell FBI agents that Ferrie had called from New Orleans the afternoon of November 22 only to obtain the skating schedule at Winterland, and “at no time did he discuss the cost of equipping or operating an ice skating rink.” Furthermore, Rolland will inform the agents that Ferrie does not skate at all while at his rink, but spends the entire stay at Winterland making and receiving calls at a public phone. From Winterland, Ferrie and his two friends go to another Houston skating rink, the Belair. Witnesses will later tell FBI agents the trio does not skate there either. Eventually, Ferrie and his companions will check out of the Alamotel in Houston and drive 100 miles to Galveston. First, however — David Ferrie calls Carlos Marcello’s Town & Country office from the Houston motel.

    9:00 PM “On leaving the skating rink they drove out Old Spanish Fort Trail and stopped at a restaurant near Telephone Road. They left this restaurant at approximately 9:00 or shortly after 9:00 PM and decided to drive to Galveston, Texas. He [Dave Ferrie] said that while enroute to Galveston, Texas, they stopped at the Manned Space Craft Center and looked around for about 20 minutes.” (FBI interview 11/25/1963)

    10:30-11:30 PM David Ferrie and his two companions check into the Driftwood Motel in Galveston, Texas. Ferrie then leaves the motel and stays out until early morning: “They then proceeded to Galveston, Texas, arriving there between 10:30 and 11:30 PM. They immediately checked into Room 117 at the Driftwood Motel, 3128 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston. After checking into the motel they drove around in the vicinity of some old clubs in Galveston, Texas, returning to the motel after midnight and it could have been as late as 1:00 AM.” (FBI interview 11/25/1963)

    11:44 PM Breck Wall (Billy Ray Wilson), a friend of Jack Ruby and president of the Dallas council of AGVA, receives a long distance call from Ruby at the Galveston number of a Thomas J. McKenna. Wall had driven from Dallas to Galveston that evening. This is the last long-distance call Ruby is known to have made before shooting Lee Harvey Oswald at Dallas Police Headquarters the following day. (HSCA, WC testimony)

    • Blackburst says:

      The skating rink story has been exaggerated by some writers. An objective look shows that there appear to be no significant conflicts between the accounts given by Ferrie and rink manager Chuck Rolland. Ferrie said he arrived at the rink at about 3:30pm, and Rolland did not dispute this because he was not yet there. Ferrie said that he initially skated and then stopped, but Rolland may not have been there to see this, as he arrived at 4:00pm (or as late as 4:15pm, as he testified at the Clay Shaw trial). Ferrie said Beaubouef and Coffey continued skating, and Rolland confirmed this. Ferrie said he approached Rolland and introduced himself, and Rolland confirmed this. Ferrie said he spoke to Rolland at length concerning the cost of installation and operation of the rink, and Rolland confirmed that there was casual talk about skating rinks and Ferrie said he liked skating and that there were no rinks in New Orleans. Ferrie said he used the pay phone to try to call Gill and Rolland said he saw Ferrie using the pay phone. In his trial testimony, Rolland said that he thought Ferrie may have received a call on this phone, but this would not be unusual because people using a pay phone in 1963 often had their party call them back if they had no more change for the phone. And Rolland confirmed that he was busy and did not pay much attention to what Ferrie was doing. So there are no significant conflicts between the accounts of Ferrie and the boys, and Rolland.

      Further, no evidence has emerged indicating that Ferrie knew or contacted Breck Wall.

      • TLR says:

        Just another amazing coincidence – that Ferrie and Breck Wall would suddenly decide to drive to Galveston on the night of the asssassination for no particularly good reason.

        • The problem with this logic is that you folks have such a massively large cast of suspects that this or that pair of suspects will necessarily end up in the same large city with some frequency.

  8. Jonathan says:

    I believe Ferrie is a distraction. Any professional intelligence operator who was involved in setting up the hit would avoid using Ferrie. He had too high a profile; had too well-known political views; was too volatile.

    Might he have been useful to the CIA? Sure.

    He’s an interesting guy who maybe did some unlawful things and some weird, unexplained things. But I doubt helping to kill JFK was one of them.

  9. I met a guy from New Orleans who refused to consider that Garrison had been right, but he did say everyone knew Ferrie and Shaw knew each other and were frequently seen together. He and numerous other sources confirmed Ferrie was gay.

    Carl McNabb, a former CIA agent, knew Ferrie and talked to me about him. He said he was such a good pilot he could land on a beach strip.

    I met a guy at a workplace who had been in the Civil Air Patrol in California. He did well and the CIA tried to recruit him. I doubt that was limited to the CA CAP.

  10. Maryam says:

    So what if Ferrie and Shaw were gay?

  11. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Thank you for your post Ms. Pease. It further corroborates much of the reading I’ve done elsewhere. Your reputation for veracity precedes you.

  12. LarryS says:

    I have a little theory to put out there….

    Just as Oswald was the designated patsy, who took the fall for
    the actual “shooters”, Shaw, Bannister, and Ferrie were
    the designated patsies to take the fall for the true conspirators. One cannot look into Oswalds’ background without looking into his “New Orleans” connections….Shaw, Ferrie, and Bannister were easy targets as each had mysterious connections of their own. I believe Garrison was sincere in his belief the above 3 were involved in Dealey Plaza, but I also believe whatever involvement was superficial to the actual plot….and their cooperation was
    achieved without their knowing the ultimate outcome. Men willing to undertake and carry out the assassination of an American
    President would certainly have a back-up plan for every possible angle, then and in the future. Not just lay the blame on a single lone nut, but if ever someone looked further, back up “conspirators” would be needed as well. I believe Oswald was manipulated into moving to New Orleans, the summer before the assassination, then directed to work with Bannister (as Bannister was simultaneously directed to use him). Neither man had to have any idea the real reason why. From the mere use of Oswald by Bannister, the cancer spread, the links to Shaw and Ferrie, however tenuous, were tied, leaving us with the movie JFK–from which the majority of the American people base their beliefs. Whoever planned this did it brilliantly. Of course, the successful overthrow of
    the worlds greatest Democracy, couldn’t be done stupidly now could it?

    • PJB says:

      Whenever I look at the byzantine workings of the deep state relative to JFK, I have a kind of “Orient Express” moment. Several factions, all with the same intent, getting the job done. Not so much conspired as coordinated.

  13. David Regan says:

    Figure in Oswald Inquiry Is Dead in New Orleans (NYTimes – 2/23/67)
    http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Sylvia%20Meagher%20Clips/Sylvia%20Meagher%20Images/SM-017.pdf

  14. I agree with Larry – Shaw, Bannister and Ferrie were fall guys as much as Oswald was the Patsy.

    And I like what Ferrie said about the professional soldiers – “The reserves win wars,” and the fact Ferrie did not work for the CIA but for on DOD contract – so those screaming CIA are barking up the wrong tree.”

    • MDR says:

      Yes, I also agree with Larry! But who else can orchestrate a coup, which is still going on today!Who else can control the investigation? Only one group…Not the Mafia, (they were used as cutouts, shooters), the answer is the Govt.! Also, Like Caesar, kings are killed…it could not be done with out the Praetorian Guard (Secret Service), who were ordered to ‘stand down’ on the Pres., and only protected the Vice Pres. (as seen on the Zapruder Film!) The CIA, DOD, doesn’t matter what you call it, in the 60’s they were the function of the Govt. It was/is a coup d’ etat, still on going, as long as G.W. Bush is still alive…(Was photographed at the scene with Gen. Lansdale.)

  15. That Ferrie would be working for DOD training future military pilots after the morals conviction and discharge from the (I forget) airline does sound significant as noted by Mr Bauer. Somewhere there ought to be employment interviews, evaluations, etc. Peculiarity is that this has apparently been missed by all and sundry for more than 50 years.

    • Jim Glover says:

      Good comments Bill. I reported again to the national headquarters of the FBI last May which i was told was being recorded. Among my evidence also reported in 91 but never released since i name names was there was a Ferrie impostor with massive Freckles who knew that I knew George Bush and pointed him out as George got on the shadow bus at the Houston Airstrip. I was earlier forced onto this bus to see Bush next to Hoover and other operatives. The real Ferrie was also from Cleveland and the FBI knew that Ferrie wanted to meet me when I was still in high school and was trying to find out more and turn in George Bush for wanting me to spy on my Family as my dad was a friend of Gus Hall CPUSA. I am the only one who knows where Hoover was that late afternoon. he was not in DC until LBJ called him that night and ordered him to lead the investigation. Read Hoover’s testimony to the WC.

      • Val Zampedro says:

        Jim Glover – Your comments are so interesting. You should write a book, if you haven’t already.

      • Bill Banks says:

        Uh, this is a bridge too far. Way, way, too far. A teen “forced onto a shadow bus” containing Bush and Hoover? This alone–politely–renders all else _questionable_. Very, very, very questionable.

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