They Talked

RIP: Dr. Robert McClelland, the most important JFK witness

Dr. Robert McClelland saw JFK’s wounds up close on November 22, 1963.

Dr. Robert McClelland, the surgeon who oversaw the effort to save President Kennedy’s life in 1963, died earlier this month at age 89.  In his interviews, you sense a man of considerable dignity, humility, and integrity. It comes as no surprise that he self-published an anthology of writings on surgery to which thousands of doctors subscribed. He was both a teacher and doctor, an instructor and  a healer. And it is those qualities that make McClelland one of the most important witnesses to JFK’s assassination.

In 1963, McClelland was 34 years old. He had just become the chief of surgery at Dallas’s Parkland Hospital. When the mortally wounded JFK was brought to Trauma Room One, McClelland stood over the dying president and participated in the efforts to save him. He observed the president’s fatal head wound for about 10 minutes from a distance of less than two feet.

“My God,” he recalled saying to his colleagues. “Have you seen the back of his head. There’s a wound in the back of his head that’s about five inches in diameter.”

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The remarkable story of Skip Rydberg  

People regularly assure me that we already know the whole JFK story with the claim, “Somebody would have talked by now.”

“People did talk,” I like to reply. “People like Skip Rydberg. Ever heard of him?”

Most people don’t know his story but it is well worth telling. Harold “Skip” Rydberg had a minor but interesting role in the JFK story: he illustrated the medical evidence for the Warren Commission.

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Don Adams RIP: an FBI agent who didn’t buy the official theory

Don Adams, FBI agent

Don Adams, whose career as an FBI agent spanned 22 years, never really bought the official line of his own employer: that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

Adams, who died on June 14 at age 83 in Akron, Ohio, eventually wrote From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle (Trine Day, 2012), in which he argued that “the FBI’s investigation was compromised from the top down, beginning with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.”

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