As, since 1988, my area of specialty in the JFK assassination has been the Presidential Limousine SS100X, in which JFK was riding when he was killed on November 22, 1963, I have had quite a rollercoaster ride. Initially I chose the limo because I was jumping into the fray late in the game, so to speak. So much research had already been done, and so many fine researchers had already make substantial inroads in determining what really did happen that day (as opposed to what we were supposed to believe from the Warren Commission Report) that I felt overwhelmed. How could I possibly make a contribution? I wanted to step up to the plate, as JFK asked everyone to do in his Inaugural address, and give something back to the citizens of this country. I wanted to share information and bring issues previously hidden into the light of public scrutiny. But how? I wondered.
I realized that I needed to find a niche — and a small one at that. I needed an area where I could establish a grounding into the assassination, so that I could provide information to all who were interested, regardless of their personal beliefs about what happened.
Then it occurred to me — the limo. When I happened to be living in NYC and able to see an early viewing of the Zapruder film at the Charles Theatre on a large screen I was stunned to see JFK, tanned and waving one moment, his head shattered another, while sitting in that car. As I wrote in my essay “SS100X” in CAR CRASH CULTURE (Palgrave/Macmillan 2001), I had nightmares about it. It haunted me. Why did everyone focus on the Texas School Book Depository and ignore the limousine, when that was where the murder had taken place?
I then realized that the limo had been pretty much ignored in the research community, except for some wild tales about it. There also seemed to be a lot of confusion about the timeline surrounding it. Nobody seemed to know what happened to it during the days following the assassination.
I realized that I had found my niche. Or it found me. Before long I had received everything NARA had on the limo, including a memo from a Vaughn Ferguson which nobody had ever talked about. Turned out the memo had been sent to me by mistake while NARA was still trying to keep it suppressed. Another door had opened.
All these years later, after numerous requests from other researchers, I had prepared a book outline and contacted the Ferguson family about using photos and documents connected to Vaughn Ferguson in my book on the JFK limousine. I did not hear back from them, however, and began to wonder what turn this saga might now take.
And here is where an unexpected connection is made — a series of events that seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with the assassination. But now I began to wonder if I had been overlooking something right under my nose.
In short, I have a tangential connection to NASA and also Wernher von Braun. In fact, I probably could have met him, had I humbled myself enough to ask. But I didn’t like him back then — he had once been a Nazi, and, to my thinking, no amount of genius or charm could account for what seemed to me a lack of humility about his past. The family friends that I was involved with, who came to the US as part of von Braun’s team, were equally hypocritical, to my eyes. “How could you not see what was happening?” I asked them. “We knew nothing,” they insisted. “Were you Nazi’s?” I asked. “Of course, everyone was back then.” I was not impressed.
Recently, however, I began to research the life of this family friend, and then another door opened. There were things going on right before my eyes that I had been unable to understand, or to weigh and evaluate. Who convinced JFK to start the moon race at a time when we were being humiliated by the Soviets? Why were there so many indications of JFK’s backchanneling to the Soviets? What part did the space race play in the ill-fated Texas trip?
Then, this photo of the two of them, at Cape Canaveral just a few days prior to the assassination, caught my eye.
Within days of that photo, JFK would be dead. Almost immediately after Apollo 11 von Braun was virtually dumped from NASA. When he later moved to DC it was said that nobody would talk to him when he walked the halls of the Pentagon.
And so, as I move ahead with research on my book, it is with this additional focus. Somehow, this has been part of my destiny all along. Wish me luck. 🙂
Date: 11.16.1963 Title: Seamans, von Braun and President Kennedy at Cape Canaveral Description: Dr. Wernher von Braun explains the Saturn Launch System to President John F. Kennedy. NASA Deputy Administrator Robert Seamans is to the left of von Braun. ID: GPN-2000-001843 Other ID: 64P-0145 Credit: NASA Headquarters – GReatest Images of NASA (NASA-HQ-GRIN)