The Arrival of JFK’s Body at Bethesda Naval Hospital — What I Saw
There’s some confusion regarding the arrival of JFK’s body at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and many conflicting accounts of the event.
On the night JFK’s body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital, I was living with my parents in Rockville, Maryland.
My dad heard, on television, that JFK’s body was being flown from Andrews AFB to Bethesda Naval Hospital by helicopter. After hearing this, my dad drove to Bethesda Naval Hospital to watch the helicopter arrive, taking me and my mom with him.
In front of Bethesda Naval Hospital, I remember sitting on my dad’s shoulders.
We were in the midst of a group people standing — waiting — in the darkness, and in silence.
I remember the loud noise of a helicopter approaching, and I watched as it noisily landed, not far from where we stood.
It seemed to me, in the darkness, that flames were coming from its engines.
A battleship grey ambulance was waiting near the helicopter and, from my perch high atop my dad’s shoulders, I watched as men rolled a gurney, upon which lay a body, covered by a white sheet, from the helicopter to the open rear door of the ambulance.
I remember people crying, sobbing, but I didn’t know why.
Someone, probably my dad, said it was President Kennedy.
My mom and dad remember seeing Jackie Kennedy there too — still wearing her blood stained dress — but I don’t remember seeing her.
I only remember seeing the body covered by a white sheet. JFK’s body.
As I said, there’s a lot of confusion about the arrival of JFK’s body at Bethesda Naval Hospital. There are many theories, witnesses, and claims regarding how and when JFK’s body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and whether or not Jackie had been (somehow) separated from his body.
All I know is what I saw: JFK’s body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital via helicopter, on a gurney, covered by a white sheet.
And my mom and dad told me they saw Jackie there too, that night, along with his body.
Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
“Given a choice between the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., and the Army’s Walter Reed Hospital, Mrs. Kennedy chose the hospital in Bethesda for the autopsy because the President had served in the Navy. Mrs. Kennedy and the Attorney General, with three Secret Service agents, accompanied President Kennedy’s body on the 45-minute automobile trip from Andrews AFB to the Hospital.”
Source: Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy – Chapter 2: The Assassination – Return to Washington, D.C. – http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/chapter-2.html#return
VIDEO – More Evidence That JFK’s Body Was Tampered With After The Assassination – http://youtu.be/VE13gEWgmQo
The AF1 Tapes and Subsequent Events at Andrews AFB on November 22, 1963
“Everything in this essay is grounded around one basic, undeniable fact: that the heavy, bronze, reddish-brown ceremonial casket from Dallas, in which JFK’s body was taken aboard AF1 at Love Field in Dallas, was empty when the public saw it unloaded from Air Force One on live television shortly after 6:04 PM on November 22, 1963, and placed into a light gray Navy ambulance. We know this is so because President Kennedy’s body arrived at the Bethesda morgue twenty minutes BEFORE the motorcade from Andrews AFB, transporting the Dallas casket in a light gray Navy Pontiac ambulance, arrived at the front of the Navy hospital. If the timeline that supports the above conclusion can be trusted, then the only conclusion possible is that JFK’s body had been removed from the Dallas casket onboard the airplane, prior to the arrival of Air Force One at Andrews, and somehow spirited to Bethesda Naval Hospital before the Andrews motorcade arrived. It is essential that the reader review the basic facts proving that the body’s chain-of-custody was broken enroute the autopsy, before we move on to the principal topic of this essay, which is “What do the AF1 tapes reveal about what was intended that night; what actually transpired; and how did those events deviate from what had been planned, and why?”…
“How did JFK’s body arrive at Bethesda Naval Hospital before the motorcade from Andrews AFB?
“The short answer is, “by helicopter.” Specifically, by a helicopter that landed at the Bethesda Naval Hospital complex’s Officer’s Club parking lot. JFK’s body was transferred from that helicopter to a Hearse (a black Cadillac mortuary ambulance), placed inside a shipping casket, and delivered to the morgue loading dock less than five minutes later, at 6:35 PM, when USMC Sergeant Boyajian dutifully recorded the time of arrival of the casket in his notes. He committed his notes to a typed report three and one half days later, a copy of which he provided to the ARRB staff in 1997 after I established contact with him. How I reached these conclusions, and the crucial role of the AF1 tapes (and other evidence) played in reaching these conclusions, is detailed below…
“Paul O’Connor was interviewed extensively by David Lifton on film in 1980 for his short documentary Best Evidence, and subsequently again by Lifton, a few years later, on video for a TV journalism news show. He was also interviewed extensively by Nigel Turner for his multi-part documentary, The Men Who Killed Kennedy. Although he is now deceased, the reader has ample opportunities to assess Paul O’Connor’s credibility. I find him very credible. His story about the shipping casket never wavered, and his account of a group of Navy corpsmen bringing in the shipping casket dovetails perfectly with Dennis David’s account. His memory of one helicopter landing on the north side of the Bethesda Hospital, at the helipad, concurs with Manchester, who records in his book that the H-21 helicopter carrying the Joint Service Casket Team from Andrews landed at that site, out in front of the main building.”
Source: The AF1 Tapes and Subsequent Events at Andrews AFB on November 22, 1963 – http://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/07/douglas-p-horne/jfks-phonied-up-autopsy/
The ongoing Kennedy casket mystery
“A few hours later, the plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. The casket was removed from the plane and placed into an automobile in which the deceased president’s wife Jacqueline was riding. The automobile slowly made its way to Bethesda Naval Hospital. It arrived in the front of the hospital at 6:55 p.m. and the casket was officially carried into the morgue at 8:00 p.m. (after another unofficial secret entry into the morgue at 7:17 p.m.) In the meantime, Mrs. Kennedy was escorted into the hospital to a VIP waiting lounge.”
Source: The ongoing Kennedy casket mystery – http://fff.org/2012/11/21/the-ongoing-kennedy-casket-mystery/
What happened to JFK’s body? A cover-up “on the fly”
“But what is most important to understand,” Horne continued, “is that a tug-of-war was taking place during the flight from Dallas to Washington over where JFK’s autopsy would be conducted, and how his body would be transported. Onboard the airplane, three persons were lobbying, and lobbying hard, for JFK’s autopsy to be at Walter Reed Hospital (the Army site) in D.C.: Roy Kellerman, Admiral Burkley (the President’s military physician), and General Ted Clifton. All three of these people wanted ground transport–an ambulance–to take JFK’s body to Walter Reed. Opposing them was Jerry Behn at “Crown,” who not only said the autopsy was to be at Bethesda Naval Hospital, but that it would go by helicopter. The tapes reveal that those onboard the aircraft seemingly lost the battle to go to Walter Reed, and that Gerald Behn prevailed. Clifton then cautioned him to have a mortuary style ambulance available in case the Dallas casket was too heavy for the helicopter. Throughout the flight there was a coordinated effort, begun by Jerry Behn at the White House and reinforced by Clifton on the airplane, to separate Jackie Kennedy from JFK’s body as soon as the aircraft landed, and to send her and all other passengers to the South Lawn of the White House, while the body went alone to the autopsy site.”
Source: What happened to JFK’s body? A cover-up “on the fly” – http://jamesfetzer.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-happened-to-jfks-body-cover-up-on.html
Burial At Sea: The Odyssey of JFK’s Original Casket
“When Air Force One arrived at Andrews Air Force Base after dark on November 22, 1963, Bobby Kennedy rushed on to the plane and directly to Jackie to comfort his sister-in-law, blowing past President Johnson and snubbing LBJ as the new President attempted to offer his condolences to JFK’s devastated brother. The dead President’s aides and Secret Service detail rebuffed a military casket team who arrived to remove the President’s coffin from the plane. Instead they formed a personal honor guard and handled Kennedy’s casket themselves, awkwardly placing it on to a catering lift and lowering it to the ground so that they could place it in a waiting hearse. Jackie and Bobby climbed into the back of the hearse with JFK’s casket and drove straight to Bethesda as President Johnson made a statement for the millions of Americans watching the arrival ceremony on live television.”
Source: Burial At Sea: The Odyssey of JFK’s Original Casket
The State of the Medical Evidence in the JFK Assassination
“[Small aside – Lipsey was an aide to General Wehle, Commanding General of the Military District of Washington. According to Lipsey, Lipsey and Wehle flew by helicopter from Andrews Air Force base to Bethesda with JFK’s body. At least that’s my reading of what he’s saying.]
“Here’s the relevant passage, from MD 87:
“Lipsey mentioned that he and Wehle then flew by helicopter to Bethesda and took JFK into the back of Bethesda.”
Source: The State of the Medical Evidence in the JFK Assassination – http://www.jfklancer.com/Backes.html
New Medical Evidence in the JFK Assassination
“Author David Lifton interviewed Navy personnel who told stories which suggested that JFK’s body was secretly diverted and flown to Bethesda Naval Hospital by helicopter…”
Source: New Medical Evidence in the JFK Assassination – http://www.kenrahn.com/JFK/Spring1999Conference/Abstracts/BradfordAbstract.html
See: The 1963 Pontiac ambulance that transported JFK’s body after the assassination – http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2011/01/1963-pontiac-ambulance-that-transported.html
Interview with Jim Douglass recorded in early 2000 while researching his current book: “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters”