Assassination conspiracies remain 60 years later

Published 2:38 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Senior citizens such as myself can tell you precisely where we were at and what we were doing on the morning of November 22, 1963.

I was 10 years-old and in the fourth grade at Woodland-Olney High School. My class was in the school auditorium practicing for a play when a teacher entered from the hallway to the right of the stage. She was crying. Through those tears she said the President had been shot.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy served as the 35th President of the United States. At age 43, he was the youngest person ever elected as President. He was handsome and well-spoken. As the Commander of PT boats, he was hailed as a hero during World War II.

He led our nation through some scary times, most notably the Cold War with Russia and the Cuban missile crisis. I remember the latter one very well as it caused a rise in the number of bomb shelters that Americans built in their back yards.

So when I, along with the rest of the nation, learned that he had been assassinated while visiting Dallas, Texas, I wondered if foreign adversaries were to blame. I feared something even more evil was yet to come.

Those fears heightened when we learned that the President’s killer was an American citizen who had defected to Russia and then returned to the states. While the rumors swirled about Lee Harvey Oswald, we were robbed of an opportunity to judge his guilt for ourselves as he was murdered two days after Kennedy was killed.

And to add fuel to the conspiracy fires, the man that murdered Oswald – Jack Ruby – reportedly had ties to the Mafia.

Now, 60 years later, conspiracy theories remain over JFK’s death.

I remember a story told by Lee Bowers. As the motorcade was making its way through the streets of downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Bowers was operating the Union Terminal Company’s two-story interlocking tower, overlooking the parking lot that was 120 yards north of the grassy knoll and to the west of the Texas School Book Depository.

He remembers, about 35 minutes prior to the assassination, an Oldsmobile station wagon with an out-of-state tag circling around the parking lot, before exiting. Two other vehicles followed the same pattern around the lot. The driver of the second vehicle, he said, appeared to be talking into some sort of hand-held device. All three vehicles, he said, were occupied only by their male drivers. He said all the vehicles were dirty, as if they had just rode a great distance through the dusty roads of Texas.

Bowers said at the time that the shots rang out, he saw a brief flash of light coming from the grassy knoll.

“I can’t say what it was, but something out of the ordinary occurred there,” Bowers said in an interview

Bowers said he heard three shots and there was a pause after hearing the first one. The next two were “one on top of the other,” he said, adding he shared that information with the Dallas Police and the FBI.

“When I told them I thought that the second and third shots could not have been fired from the same rifle, they reminded me that I wasn’t an expect and I would have to agree,” he recalled.

Bowers died in August 1966 when his car struck a concrete bridge abutment near Midlothian, Texas. It was said that his car was forced off the road by another vehicle.

The majority of the conspiracies point to more than one shooter. Oswald, employed at the Texas School Book Depository, was said to be the lone assassin, firing three fatal shots with a bolt action rifle out a window on the sixth floor of that building as the presidential motorcade moved through Dealey Plaza.

Our government attempted to squash all those conspiracies by appointing a special commission to study all the evidence of the assassination. The Warren Commission, which met for the first time on Dec. 5, 1963 and published its 888-page report in September of 1964, concluded that “no credible evidence suggests that the shots were fired from the railroad bridge over the triple overpass, the nearby railroad yards, or any place other than the Texas School Book Depository building.”

However, two individuals – Bill and Gayle Newman who were within 50 feet of the president’s limo as it passed by – both said the first shot came from behind while the second one hit Kennedy in the temple. Neither was called to testify before the Warren Commission.

Emmett Hudson was employed by the Dallas Parks Department as a groundskeeper in Dealey Plaza. On Nov. 22, 1963, he was standing with two other men on a stairway on the grassy knoll north of Elm Street. Hudson said he heard shots from the front and behind. The other two men, he said, disappeared after the shots rang out.

“The only people I saw with guns up there were police officers,” Hudson said.

One Deputy Sheriff reported a confrontation with a uniformed police officer in the parking lot that Bowers referenced. That officer claimed to have been stationed there while the presidential motorcade passed by. However, this officer has never been identified.

After hearing the shots, Officer Joe Smith said he ran to towards the same parking lot. He was stopped by a man who identified himself as a Secret Service Agent.

“He looked like an auto mechanic, he had dirty fingernails,” Smith said.

Another person, Malcolm Summers, ran towards the grassy knoll and was stopped by man in a suit with an overcoat draped over his arm. Under that coat was a gun, Summers said.

Either all these folks lurking around the grassy knoll were law-abiding officials who were purposely stationed there to protect the President or you can conspire among yourselves as there are hundreds of more stories just like these still floating around.

I don’t believe the truth about JFK’s assassination will ever be revealed.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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