The view from the Triple Underpass

On November 22, 1963, railroad worker S.M Holland was watching the presidential motorcade approach Dealey Plaza from a perch on top of a bridge known as The Triple Underpass.

In this rare 1970 interview, he describes his impression of the gunfire that killed the president.

“I saw a puff of smoke still lingering among the trees in front of the wooden fence. The report sounded like it came from behind the wooden fence,” Holland said.

Watch.

More about the witnesses to JFK’s assassination:

VIDEO: Was there a gunshot from the grassy knoll? (Feb. 1, 2013)

‘What was going through my mind was that shot was coming right over the top of our heads’ (Nov. 22, 2013)

Missing JFK witnesses: two African-Americans on the grassy knoll (Nov. 20, 2013)

History Matters: What 216 witnesses to the assassination said about the origins of the gunshots.

18 comments

  1. Brad Milch says:

    Two of Sam Holland’s comments slipped past both the Warren Commission & his interviewer: A railroad detective was on the overpass during the ambush & Holland saw JFK standing up in his parade car as it turned the corner from Houston Street onto Elm Street. Questions not asked: Why was the railroad detective at the scene (had there been problems prior to the motorcade’s arrival?)and was he sure it was JFK standing up and not a Secret Service agent standing on the rear bumper? (some researchers believe that is why the Zapruder film’s turn was cut out of the film).

    Unfortunately, the world lost this most valuable witness before those questions were asked of him. Some believe what this man & his fellow railroad men saw & reported was enough to sway a jury not to convict Lee Oswald for murdering President Kennedy (at best, an attempted murder conviction).

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks for your comment. I believe the extant Z-film edits-out the turn onto Elm. Zapruder said he started filming as the limo entered the turn. The beginning of the extant Z-film is a blink.

      Holland told both Lane and the W.C. that Kennedy sat straight up (paraphrase) after the first shot.

      What is your source Holland said what you relate in your first paragraph?

      • Brad Milch says:

        Johnathan:

        Working from memory, Sam ‘Skinny’ Holland was interviewed by the Warren Commission, Josiah Thompson (Six Seconds In Dallas), Mark Lane (Rush To Judgment video 1966) & CBS News (1967 Warren Report TV special). Both of his comments came from one or more of those sources. I’ll do some digging this weekend & provide you a concise answer. I still have all resources minus ‘Six Seconds In Dallas’.

        The railroad detective is another witness that slipped through the cracks & was not identified or interviewed. Why he was at the ambush scene is also mysterious. Lee Bowers didn’t mention his presence or if he was the reason Bowers called DPD to stop & search a train departing the area (discussed about 1 PM on the complete DPD audio tapes). One of the DPD escort motorcyclists talks about the detective in a YouTube video. I believe it was officer Haygood. I’ll get you a link.

        The ‘JFK standing up in his parade car comment’ I always took to be Holland mistaking one of the SS agents standing on the running boards of the car behind JFK until researchers noticed a point just before the turn onto Elm Street & the actual turn is missing from several amateur ambush films. I’ll get back with concise references. Best

        • Brad Milch says:

          Jonathon:

          After much digging I offer these references for verification:

          _The Railroad Detective:

          1. Witness Richard Dodd explains how he bumped into him behind the grassy knoll fence immediately after the shooting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgTWNmMcnFQ

          2. DPD motorcycle escort officer Clyde Haygood describes recognizing the detective after running up to the overpass top & picket fence Western corner:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaSRbBvQtuw

          Clyde Haygood’s Warren Commission testimony:
          http://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh6/pdf/WH6_Haygood.pdf

          (Haygood here states he ‘presumed’ the man he saw on the overpass was a railroad detective, in his short Fox News TV interview from 2003 he states he knew the man was a railroad detective.

          3. Warren Commission testimony of S.M. Holland (Holland refers to several ‘plain clothesmen’ but not specifically a ‘Railroad Detective’: http://jfkassassination.net/russ/testimony/holland.htm

          I lost my copy of ‘Six Seconds In Dallas’ when the borrower never returned it to me. Josiah Thompson interviewed him in that book but I obviously can’t quote out of it presently.

          _JFK ‘standing up in his parade car & waving to spectators around the Elm Street turn from Houston Street’:

          1. Comments from TSBD employee & eyewitness Bonnie Ray Williams made in a CBS news TV investigation special broadcast over several nights in June, 1967:
          (Part 2, 5:25 time mark) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qTsPCSqgz4

          [Note: I may be in error in attributing similar comments to S.M. Holland. Without access to ‘Six Seconds In Dallas’ I’m unsure]

          _JFK’s guards riding on the bumper as JFK’s parade car traveled down Elm Street towards him:

          Malcolm Summers 6th floor museum oral history (2002) (around 10 min time mark):
          http://www.c-span.org/video/?288318-1/kennedy-assassination-malcolm-summers
          [The interviewer (Gary Mack) either wasn’t listening to Summers, didn’t understand him or for some reason failed to ask Summers to clarify what he said about 2 guards being on the back of JFK’s car on Elm Street)

          Neither of the 2 DPD officers stationed on top of the triple overpass ( J.W. Foster & J.C. White) mentioned the railroad detective in their 1964 WC testimony. White stated a noisy train was traveling between he & Foster that prevented him from viewing and hearing the assassination.

          Hope this helps you & Jeff Morley’s other readers. Advice: never lend your JFK research books out! (especially one destined to become a valuable collector’s item).

  2. Jonathan says:

    Holland’s statements to Mark Lane are totally consistent with Holland’s Warren Commission testimony, except his story to the Warren Commission contained finer detail:

    Mr. HOLLAND.

    “There was a shot, a report, I don’t know whether it was a shot. I can’t say that. And a puff of smoke came out about 6 or 8 feet above the ground right out from under those trees. And at just about this location from where I was standing you could see that puff of smoke, like someone had thrown a fire­ cracker, or something out, and that is just about the way it sounded. It wasn’t as loud as the previous reports or shots.”

    Other witnesses reported hearing shots that did not all sound alike.

    • Jeff Pascal says:

      In 1992, when I first went to Dealey Plaza, I made it a point to stand on the Triple Underpass where Holland was for awhile and observe what he saw.Roughly, a couple hundred feet away on the horizontal, is the location near the corner of the picket fence where Holland heard the report and saw smoke. He had an excellent vantage point, appeared to be an intelligent certain man, and I believe him in conjunction with a large volume of other evidence that someone was firing from that position. I think the evidence of a Grassy Knoll gunman is much stronger than Oswald’s professed innocence in the Tippit, or JFK murders, as one can make a decent case for multiple scenarios.

  3. William Kane says:

    One of the few unimpeachable witnesses. Amen.

    • Paul Turner says:

      When Holland was questioned by the Warren Commission, I certainly hope the WC didn’t tell him “You must be mistaken, it couldn’t have happened that way”, or words to that effect. Holland was right there to see it-no one on the WC was.

  4. Greg says:

    why is the government covering for the assination of JFk. I belive there is more to this story than what is being told. Everyone has their theories. here is another one, maybe it was the banking system that did it?!? 4 months prior to his murder, he signed an excutive order into law, excutive 11110, JFK special curriencies. He saw that the government was printing money with out anything backing it, at this time , coins had silver in it and money was being backed up by silver. The banking system knew that this would put them out of business eventually. Ironicaly, after his murder, LBJ, signed the coinage act in 68.(stateing that all silver was to be taken out of money, now the Fed had what they wanted, they could print money with out any backing, and so went the DOLLAR, (down). Before the coinage ACT was signed , It was like a 100 + years that our money had been backed up and made with silver, and i believe that “death” was the punishment if anyone made or distributed it with out silver in it. But like always, the government got away with it and around it. Just a theory! What do You think?

    • JSA says:

      No, I don’t think that the Federal Reserve had ANYTHING TO DO with the JFK assassination, except with respect to the Kennedy Half Dollar coin minted afterward. If you read US history, following brilliant economists like John Maynard Keynes, FDR began (wisely I might add) taking the US off of the gold standard in the 1930′s. Tying an expansive modern national monetary system’s production and massive infrastructure to a metal is so absurd and antiquated as to be laughable. No, the elimination of silver from US coinage was the continuation of a trend begun well before JFK was president, as silver was becoming too expensive to justify for circulation. Kennedy himself was an admirer of Keynes’ theories, as was John Kenneth Galbraith, his Ambassador to India and close personal friend, as were many of his cabinet.

      No, I think if you want to point a finger at suspicious people, Alan Dulles, Lyndon Johnson, and J. Edgar Hoover, along with maybe some high military people, to name a few suspects, better fit the bill as targets for historians to more closely examine. The Kennedy assassination looks more like a military/domestic political power coup than one over international finance, unless you want to talk about military contracts overseas than would have benefited (in Vietnam).

      • Gerry Simone says:

        Well said JSA.

        The power of any currency is backed by the strength of a nation’s economy (how many successful businesses own gold bullion?).

        As for additional suspects, let’s not forget the cast of sketchy CIA characters and mobsters.

      • Bill Clarke says:

        JSA September 12, 2014 at 10:44 am

        And what men in the military do you think guilty of such a crime? That is a very serious charge to make without very credible evidence.

        • JSA says:

          Responding to Bill Clarke:

          Regarding the military, it’s speculation, Bill. But I would put Curtiss LeMay under very high suspicion. As for the military in general, they have good people and bad. That’s nothing new. As for speculation about a military/CIA coup, JFK himself hinted that it was possible, when he spoke with Red Fay, and old friend whom he put in a Navy position. Listening to the disrespectful back talk that LeMay and others said about the President during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I don’t think it’s naive to suspect foul play at all. Just common sense.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            JSA September 12, 2014 at 8:54 pm

            If I had killed every superior officer, up to and including Nixon, that I didn’t like, had no respect for and feared they unnecessarily endangered my men I would be a record holding mass murderer.

            I expressed my disgust about some, I back talked some that I knew I could get away with it and I disobeyed some orders that exposed me and my men to unnecessary danger.

            But I never killed any of them and in some cases it would have been easily done.

            You get my point?

          • bogman says:

            If there was a conspiracy, LeMay in conjunction with CIA elements would be my guess as well.

            LeMay told Kennedy to his face that the diplomatic resolution to the Cuban missile crisis was the “greatest defeat” in U.S. history.

            I could see someone like Lemay considering it his patriotic duty to take out a president that was “endangering” the future of U.S. security. He was, after all, the role model for the crazy general in “Dr. Strangelove.” I could see a cabal with CIA spooks like Angleton, Harvey and Phillips who had their own reasons to get it done.

            Take a look the movie “Seven Days in May.” It was the movie JFK wanted director John Frankenheimer to make, and JFK ensured he could film scenes in front of the White House. JFK definitely thought a coup was possible in his day and time. The film could be seen as his message from the grave.

          • JSA says:

            Bogman: “Seven Days in May” was a great film. I agree that it makes the same point about the military that I was alluding to, although I still can’t PROVE their involvement, I would like a deeper investigation done.

            Bill Clarke: With all due respect, I’m not talking about your level of service. I’m talking about people at the top levels of the military, people who held a lot of POWER, people who would have been useful players in a major coup and/or coverup of a CIA domestic coup. There are so many lower level non-coms and brass who are honorable and distinguished men, who wouldn’t DREAM of hurting a fellow serviceman or who wouldn’t DREAM of executing or overthrowing an elected official. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the big shots, who challenged the President’s authority the same way George McClellan did to Lincoln, and MacArthur did to Truman. Those kind of military people are dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted—they should be FIRED.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            JSA September 13, 2014 at 6:18 pm

            Thanks, I was just pointing out that most soldiers don’t and won’t do this crime.

            If any general was involved in the Kennedy assassination LeMay would be the first name to pop in my mind. But I don’t believe there is any credible evidence for this. Is there?

            Certainly agree on MacArthur and any other general that doesn’t toe the line on civilian authority. LeMay stayed too long. JFK should have fired him when he got rid of the rest of the Chiefs and Chairman he inherited from Ike.

  5. Bill Callahan says:

    And the view of Zapruder and Sitzman. Best spot to see the even. 16 paces from JFK’s headshot to his pedestal. Great comment on the knoll, the noises (or lack thereof most notably), the bench behind the wall, the African-American couple, glass…lunch bags..etc).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-1c323jlvE

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