JFK doctor’s views may stir ‘Parkland’ debate

This should be fascinating event.

On Tuesday, the Sixth Floor Museum will hosting “Parkland Hospital: Trauma Room One Reunion,” featuring appearances by two doctors who treated President Kennedy after he was fatally wounded on November 22, 1963.

They are Dr. Ronald C. Jones and Dr. Robert N. McClelland.

With the Oct. 4 release of Tom Hanks’ “Parkland,” a motion picture about the hospital where President Kennedy died, the debate about the causes of JFK’s death will be revisited again.

The movie, starring Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, and Zac Efron depicts JFK’s death as the work of a lone assassin.

Dr. McClelland disagrees. He has said publicly that his observations of JFK’s wounds convinced him that the president was shot from two different directions and thus was the victim of a conspiracy.

The Parkland doctors

Dr. McClelland is the more senior of the two doctors who will appear at the Sixth Floor Museum event.

In 1963, Dr. McClelland was an instructor in surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital at the time of the assassination and participated in the treatment of President Kennedy. He  also assisted in the surgery of Governor John Connally and, less than two days later, the treatment of Lee Harvey Oswald.

In 1963, Dr. Jones was Chief Resident of Surgery at Parkland.

McClelland has said publicly that, based on his observations of Kennedy’s head wound, the president was hit by a gunshot from the front, not the rear as JFK’s autopsists  later concluded.

See “What did JFK’s doctors think of his wounds?” (JFK Facts, April 23, 2013.


The Parkland doctors

The Parkland Doctors (Photo Courtesy of Ronald C. Jones)


What Dr. McClelland has said

In Part 1 of this YouTube feature, a 2009 radio interview, Dr. McClelland talks about treating President Kennedy after he had been shot, including his neck wound. McClelland says he could not tell if it was an entrance or an exit wound.

In Part 2, McClelland talks about how the Dallas doctors missed the bullet wound in JFK’s back.

In Part 3, Dr. McClelland talks about his thinking regarding the causes of JFK’s assassination. “I’m reasonably comfortable in my own mind that there was a conspiracy,” he says.

Help Wanted

Since I cannot be in Dallas on Tuesday, I am looking for someone to write a professionally reported 1,000 word piece about this event for JFK Facts. If you’re interested, please email me here. I will pay for a good story.

About the movie

Read here for more about “Parkland,” the movie about the hospital where JFK was treate, which will be released on October 4.






  1. The very first Warren Commission testimony I ever read was selected at random. Grabbed a volume at random, flipped to page at random, and was shocked to find Arlen Specter trying to put words in Dr. Perry’s mouth. Clearly, Perry believed Kennedy had been shot from in front. Clearly, Specter wasn’t going to let him go until he allowed that the shot “could” have come from behind. It was so shockingly dishonest I knew right then and there that not only had their been a cover-up, but that the media had not even bothered to read the evidence. It was so black and white.

    • Tomaji says:

      Yes, Dr. Perry was SURE it was an ENTRY WOUND in JFK’s neck, but no allowed to stick to his testimony. He even wrote a book about it….good luck finding THAT.

  2. Michael Flower says:

    How could so many professional doctors who treated our slain president just after his shooting be wrong on the location of the gunshot wounds ?

  3. Hans Trayne says:

    The Sixth Floor Museum has a video interview between curator Gary Mack & Dick Stolley posted at YouTube in which Stolley remarks he had seen photos of President Kennedy being lifted out of his parade car at Parkland & taken into the hospital on a gurney. Mr. Mack did not inquire about these photos in the interview (who took them, who has them now, etc.).

    Perhaps someone at the conference can ask the doctors if they know anything about these alleged photos. According to Stolley, newsmen were at Parkland when the late President arrived and filmed what they saw.

  4. JSA says:

    I’d like Photon to attend this, so he can make the following statement/rhetorical question again (made by him back in April–JFKFacts April 23):
    “A case study done by one of the top Medical Centers in the country published in a refereed journal found that ER doctor perception of gunshot wounds was wrong 52% of the time.
    What more can be said?”

    I would love to hear both doctor’s responses to that gem!

  5. Photon says:

    The first senior physician to treat JFK? When he came into the ER AFTER the tracheostomy was started?
    By the way, Dr. McClelland has testified in the past that he never moved the head. Without moving the head it would have been impossible to see the wound as illustrated in the “McClelland version” drawing. Perhaps someone should ask him how he could have seen the external occipital protuberance if the head was never moved. Nobody apparently ever has- I wonder why?

    • JSA says:

      Photon will try to discredit this, as his role here seems to be: DENY, DENY, DENY.

      But others might find this bit of research by Vince Palerma to be interesting regarding what people saw of JFK’s head wound both at Dealey Plaza AND when he was carried to the ER, Trauma Room 1, before the doctors even got to work on trying to save his life.

      Here’s what Vince says:
      During the course of research and writing my manuscript, “The Third Alternative–Survivor’s Guilt: the Secret Service and the JFK Murder,” I spoke to and corresponded with some twenty-plus former agents and White House aides from the JFK era, one of whom was Sam Kinney, the driver of the follow-up car on November 22nd (in all, I spoke to Kinney at length three times between 1992 and 1994, and he had much of value to say). However, it was during interviews conducted on 3/5/94 and 4/15/94 that Kinney totally amazed me with details concerning his first-hand observations of the President’s wounds. Same told me twice that he saw the back of JFK’s head come off immediately when the fatal shot struck him. (Kinney was watching JFK’s head and the rear bumper of the limo–as a normal part of his duty to maintain a 5′ distance between the follow-up car and JFK’s limo, something he had done many times). Sam told me, “It was the right rear–I saw that part blow out.” He added that his windshield and left arm were hit with blood and brain matter immediately after the head shot.

      Once at Parkland Hospital, Kinney helped remove the President from the back seat of the car, with help from Clint Hill, Roy Kellerman, and Dave Powers. This gave him an extremely vivid, up-close look at JFK’s head wound. “His brain was blown out,” Kinney said, “…there was nothing left!” I pressed further, learning, “There was brain matter all over the place…he had no brains left in his head.”

      If that was startling, it was just the beginning. Kinney and S/A George W. Hickey, Jr., both members of the White House Garage Detail (chauffeurs) drove the follow-up and the limo, respectively, back to Love Field to be put aboard a C-130 transport. Once the cars were secured on the plane, it took off for Washington with Kinney, Hickey, and several members of the 76th Air Transport Squadron from Charleston, SC: Capt. Roland Thomason, Wayne Schake, Vincent Gullo, Hersal Woosley, David Conn, Stephen Bening, and Frank Roberson (names revealed for the first time via Kinney’s copy of the flight manifest). However, it was Kinney who made a most valuable discovery: the piece of the back of JFK’s head lying in the rear seat of the bloody limousine, exactly where Clint Hill told the Warren Commission he saw the “right rear” piece (2H 141). Fellow agents Kellerman (2H 85) and Jerry Behn (Sibert/O’Neill interview, 11/27/63) confirm this fact!

      Kinney added that the fragment was “clean as a pin” and that it resembled a “flowerpot” or “clay pot” piece, adding, “It was a big piece–half his head was gone.” When pressed as to the anatomical orientation of the fragment, he said, “I don’t know what else it could have been but the back of his head.”//

      Source: http://www.manuscriptservice.com/DPQ/fragme~1.htm

      • Photon says:

        Ok JSA, you got me. “His brain was blown out… there was nothing left! “… ” he had no brains left in his head”.
        If you believe that you have just impeached your favorite witnesses- Crenshaw and McClelland. You can’t have it both ways- either Kinney’s statement (assuming it is real,which I suspect it isn’t) is correct and Crenshaw’s and McClelland’s claims about seeing cerebellum and brain tissue can’t be possible, or you have to accept the Crenshaw-McClelland version and Kinney is completely off base. They are mutually exclusive statements.

        • JSA says:

          Well, according to you, Kennedy’s body magically floated into Trauma Room 1 without anyone looking at the back of his head, because they had to keep their eyes on his face the whole time! Then, once in the ER, everybody made sure he was “supine” the whole time and God forbid anyone look at his head, even what was spilling out the back, because someday that might get them into trouble with the deniers. So, they worked the best they could, then carefully closed their eyes so they wouldn’t look at anything, while he was wrapped up and sent out at gunpoint to the hearse and Love Field. And of course, doctors in an ER don’t see much, aren’t very qualified to look at wounds (!!), so only the top secret autopsy crew were qualified to make the political decision that JFK was only hit from behind. Meanwhile, the car with a bullet hole in the windshield and brains and skull in the back seat had to be mopped up quickly before the car was spirited away, then hidden in the White House garage, and finally refitted, evidence thrown away as the car was rebuilt.
          Hmmm….Yup. No conspiracy here, folks. Photon NEVER makes a mistake. It’s pointless to argue with him, because he’s all knowing and always right.

          • Photon says:

            Kemp Clark himself said that he made only a cursory examination of the head of JFK and that definitive findings of the trajectory and wound extent required an autopsy- obviating the need for a more extensive physical examination.
            Was he wrong?

          • JSA says:

            Yes, he was lying to appease Arlen Specter and the WC, who didn’t want to hear of shots entering JFK’s throat or head from the front.
            His testimony, which you cite, can be found here:

            It’s important to note that Dr. Clark originally stated the following about JFK’s head wound: “There was a large wound beginning in the right occiput extending into the parietal region.” “Both cerebral and cerebellar tissues were extruding from the wound.”

    • Bill Pierce says:

      “Perhaps someone should ask him how he could have seen the external occipital protuberance if the head was never moved”

      That the doctors did not explicitly state how they were dressed on the 22nd does not infer that they came to work naked.

      Your nitpicky argument is asinine. Here’s Dr. Clark’s unambiguous statement to the Warren Commission’s Specter: “I THEN EXAMINED THE WOUND IN THE BACK OF THE PRESIDENT’S HEAD.” [ WC Vol. VI] Is there any way to be more explicit than that?

      Clark’s hand written note dated 11-22-63 (WC Vol. XVII) states, “There was a large wound beginning in the right occiput and extending into the parietal region. Much of the skull appeared gone at brief examination.”

      According to your nitpicky rationale, he was
      hallucinating . . . simply because he failed to say, for the record, that he lifted the head or nudged it to the side. All the other doctors were hallucinating, too.

      The many descriptions of the large posterior wound are credible. Your argument is not.

      • Photon says:

        He also stated that he made only a cursory exam of the head and never turned the body over. He specifically stated that after the determination was made that the wound was not survivable further examination efforts were terminated. He also stated that at that point further examination was pointless as an autopsy would define the true nature of the wound.
        Other doctors in the room stated that the head was never moved, including Dr. McClelland.

        • JSA says:

          Photon, You’re nitpicking. Clark said what he saw, then changed his statement in front of the Warren Commission after they put pressure on him to change his story. It fits a pattern of changed testimony by the Parkland doctors, who either said what the Warren Commission wanted them to say, or shut up completely, per Dr. Baxter’s orders (see Crenshaw’s ABC 20/20 story).

    • Gary Shaw says:

      Wrong as usual. McClelland arrived after an endotracheal tube was inserted. HUGE difference in endotracheal and tracheostomy. MINOR to Photon.

      • Photon says:

        He also arrived AFTER the tracheostomy was begun. He arrived in time to assist by holding a retractor-his comments, not mine. Exactly what is wrong in my statements about the timing of McClelland’s arrival?
        As far as knowing the difference what are you trying to state? You are the one who has previously claimed to be a non-expert in medical affairs.

    • Paul Turner says:

      I believe Dr. McClelland didn’t need to move the head to make his finding and analysis. Enough of the wound was right there for him to see.

  6. Trauma nurse says:

    The first physician to see the President at Parkland was James Carrico. The medical records clearly stated the wound in the throat was an ENTRANCE wound and that there was a large exit wound in the area of the OCCIPUT. The Parkland physicians were hounded in their testimony to the Warren Commission to alter or mute their written recordings of that failed resuscitation. The Nurse Manager of the ER helped extricate the victims from the convertible. She reported the windshield was broken. Parkland was and is Dallas’ knife and gun club. These people saw gunshot wounds multiple times a day. If it wasn’t recorded it wasn’t done or didn’t happen. Read the charts. Dr. Carrico’s and others notes clearly state the injuries.

  7. does anyone know if this will be on Cspan

  8. Diana says:

    Read Barr McClellan and L Fletcher Prouty. They were involved with the players of the conspiracy and have alot of first hand knowledge, including confessions, regarding what brought about the assassination. It all hinged around Johnson.

    • Paul Turner says:

      I have read one of McLellan’s books and am waiting on reading another one(The Verdict). He writes so well.

  9. Mariano says:

    It is interesting that some contributors to this forum absolutely avoid embracing any appreciation of the many and varied activities that bear the trademarks of cover-up; yet will fight tooth and nail to discredit any witness testimony that is at odds with the WC conclusion.

    McClellan stood at the head of the bed assisting efforts to keep JFK alive (and he was alive early in the peace, not dead), giving him a clear vision and opportunity to see JFK’s rear head. He clearly states in testimonies (with a diagram) that JFK had a large open wound at the back of the head. He admits that the other surgeons thought the neck wound to be an entrance wound, emphasis on “thought” (their primary intention was to keep JFK alive). They were not conducting an autopsy. McClellan also admits they missed the bullet wound in the back, but that once JFK had died there was no longer any need for them to assess the body.
    The Secret Service were in such a forceful hurry to move the president’s body, any opportunity to provide a more thorough assessment was denied.

    The public could have been excused for trusting that the government would ensure a proper autopsy, but as history attests, the autopsy was anything but a proper autopsy.

    LHO was afforded a better autopsy than JFK.

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