Doug Horne, former Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), writes with a comment/correction on our Oct. 19 story, “Enhanced Air Force One tapes capture a top general’s response to JFK’s murder.”
“There is an inaccuracy in this article, and it appears significant to me. It needs to be corrected.
Where was Curtis LeMay on the day JFK died?
“While General LeMay’s most recent biographer claims he was hunting in Michigan when the assassination occurred, he clearly was not.
“The ‘Chuck Holmes’ Air Force logbook from Andrews AFB obtained by the ARRB reveals that LeMay was in Toronto, in Canada, on the day of the assassination—not in Michigan. The logbook reveals that the flight dispatched to pick him up was originally sent to Toronto, not to any location in Michigan.
“While en route to Canada, the VIP flight was diverted to Wiarton (pronounced “wire-ton”), a different Canadian site, which Bill Kelly’s research has revealed was a commando training base in WW II. (It’s spelling was incorrect in the Andrews log—recorded as “Wairton”—but the intent and meaning was clear. For some reason, LeMay wanted to be picked up at a remote site.)
“We don’t know what LeMay was doing in Canada, but he did not take his aide with him. Colonel Dorman’s surviving family menbers told Bill Kelly that this was the one and only trip when LeMay did not take his aide with him. Apparently, LeMay felt it necessary to lie to his family and associates about his whereabouts that day, otherwise his family and associates would not have fed the false information about a Michigan hunting trip to his biographer.
Where did LeMay go?
“Furthermore, LeMay’s aircraft landed at Washington’s National Airport, instead of at Andrews AFB as had been ordered by the Secretary of the Air Force. The Chuck Holmes logbook reveals that LeMay disobeyed orders that day, and we don’t know why.
“But we do know, from the logbook, that LeMay’s aircraft landed at DCA (National Airport) at 5:12 PM—more than one hour and fifteen minutes prior to the time JFK’s body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital at 6:35 PM. And the Clifton tapes reveal to us that his aide, Colonel Dorman, was frantically attempting to speak to him on the radio while LeMay was en route to DCA, but was unsuccessful.
Did LeMay attend JFK’s autopsy?
“Navy Petty Officer Paul K. O’Connor—a hospital corpsman whose job it was to assist the pathologists at the autopsy—recounted consistently over the years that when he was ordered by the chief pathologist at the autopsy to tell whoever was smoking in the morgue to put out their cigar, he walked over to the gallery and discovered that the offender was Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay. LeMay contemptuously blew cigar smoke in O’Connor’s face, and of course, refused to extinguish his cigar.
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“This is a good example of how a multidisciplinary approach to research bears great dividends. Neither the Clifton Air Force One tapes, nor the Andrews logbook, nor Paul O’Connor’s recollections, can tell us the complete story; but together, we can piece together a significant event on 11/22/63: Curtis LeMay was present at JFK’s autopsy to gloat over the death of his nemesis, and in going there, he disobeyed the orders of his nominal superior, the Secretary of the Air Force, Eugene Zuckert.
“I am proud of the part the ARRB, and my Military Records Team, played in obtaining the Chuck Holmes logbook, for it is the heart of this story. The new dimension about the frustration of LeMay’s aide, Colonel Dorman, comes to us from the Clifton tapes. It certainly makes the basic story even more intriguing. And I believe Paul O’Connor. He told me that story himself back in 1998.”