He was there as JFK lay dying.
The story of Dr. Robert McClelland never fails to fascinate. Fifty years ago, McClelland was a 34-year surgery instructor at Dallas’s Parkland Hospital who was called into the emergency room to treat President John F. Kennedy after he had been shot.
Yesterday, the 84-year old McClelland spoke by videolink to an audience of 400 people attending a conference at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh on the assassination of JFK.
McClelland recounted that terrible day with quiet dignity, describing the frontal gunshot wound to the president’s head with massive blowout damage to the back of his skull. He was standing at the head of the gurney looking down at JFK as he took his last breath and he left no doubt that after 10 minutes looking at Kennedy’s wounds from less than five feet away that Kennedy had been hit by gunfire from two different directions.
McClelland’s story was the highlight of the day that ended with a panel discussion on JFK assassination and the media in which I spoke, along with Oliver Stone, David Talbot, Russ Baker, and Lisa Pease. More on that in a coming post.
The lowlight of the day was the talk by photo expert Robert Groden. He showed photos from his unparalleled collection of JFK imagery and offered his opinion (“theory” would be too strong a word) that the JFK was the target of 10 gunshots, a number that is not based on earwitness testimony, eyewitness testimony, ballistic evidence or photographic evidence. In other words, Groden made it up.
Those eager to banish the JFK story from their minds (and public discussion) will say that since Groden is an unreliable witness and McClelland spoke at the same conference, therefore McClelland must be unreliable too. Such desperate and illogical thinking is a hallmark of what I call “JFK denialism” — the impulse to deny inconvenient facts in the case of the murdered president.
The facts are that Groden is an unreliable commentator and McClelland is an unimpeachable witness.
“Surgeon recounts JFK operation” (From the McKinney Courier Gazette, January 28, 2012)
“21 cops who heard a grassy knoll shot.” (JFK Facts, September 24, 2013)
“What did JFK’s doctors think of his wounds?” (JFK Facts, April 23, 2103)
From Washington Decoded: “New LIght on a Lingering Forensic Controversy.”
Annals of denial: In March 1964, Warren Commission staff attorney Arlen Specter took testimony from Dr. McClelland. Specter’s efforts to lead the witness toward his own opinion are revealing in their nakedness.