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JFK's head covering at Parkland


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#1 Barry Keane

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Posted 25 July 2014 - 09:43 AM

I find this description of the head covering that was done at Parkland, from William Manchester’s “The Death of a President”,page 294, intriguing, as it conflicts with Bethesda.

“He (undertaker Vernon Oneal) was concerned about the Britannia’s pale satin upholstery; it was immaculate now, but could easily be stained. Motioning to Orderly David Sanders, Oneal directed him to line the inside of the coffin with a sheet of plastic. Nurse Doris Nelson and Diana Bowron swooped around, wrapping the body in a second plastic sheet. Then the undertaker asked Doris to bring him a huge rubber sheath and a batch of rubber bags. Placing the sheath over Sander’s plastic lining, he carefully cut the bags to size, enveloping the President’s head in them one by one until he had made certain that there would be seven protected layers of rubber and two plastic sheets between the damaged scalp and the green satin.”


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#2 Adele Edisen

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Posted 25 July 2014 - 07:49 PM

From what I have understood,  JFK's body was first seen at Bethesda Naval Hospital

in a  zippered body bag inside a simple metal shipping casket by Orderly (?)

Paul O'Conner, with the President's head wrapped in a white cotton cloth or towel..

 

The much larger, heavier, and fancier casket arrived later, accompanied by

 Mrs. Kennedy and others.   

 

Was that casket even ever opened at the Bethesda Hospital Morgue?

 

I assume that the description given by Manchester (above) referred to a covering of 

his head when the body was placed in the larger casket at Parkland Hospital in 

preparation for the flight to Washington.


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#3 Karen Clift

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 01:00 AM

In chapter 10 of A Deeper, Darker Truth (by Donald T. Phillips), Tom Wilson interviewed Jerrol Custer, the x-ray technician at the JFK autopsy.  Jerrol was told by the duty chief that JFK's body went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center first.  The body then arrived at Bethesda by helicopter about 6:15 p.m. EST.  

 

Jerrol was already waiting in the morgue when the body arrived.  He said it was in a plain metal shipping casket, light gray in color.  He didn't say anything about a body bag, but he also didn't specifically say there wasn't one. He helped lift the body out of the casket and place it on a rolling table.  He said the head had a plastic bag and a bloody sheet wrapped around it.

 

Jackie and RFK drove to Bethesda in the ambulance carrying the bronze casket -- a trip which took about 45 minutes or so.  Jerrol saw them arrive in the lobby as he was heading upstairs to develop the x-rays of JFK's head he had just taken.  When he got back to the morgue with the developed x-rays, he saw the (closed) bronze casket sitting next to the plain metal coffin in the room next to the morgue. 


"And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should ... withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."      

-- John F. Kennedy


#4 Brian Kelshaw

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 07:29 AM

Everything at Parkland conflicts with Bethesda. The best description of events at Bethesda that I have read thus far is Douglas Horne's in "Inside the ARRB". Adele, in answer to your question, the ornate casket was opened at Bethesda twice. After removal from the shipping casket, Humes performed crude and hurried surgery to the late Presidents skull in the time that Horne established as available prior to the commencement of the autopsy proper, this surgery was witnessed by Tom Robinson. Paul O'Connor described the body as being in the sort of zippered body bag used in disasters. When unzipped, the body was "nude". The empty ornate casket was bought in by a collection of individuals later, when the Kennedy entourage arrived by ambulance. This casket was opened to place the altered body in. It was then placed back in the ambulance that had brought it, which was then "found" by the honour guard, who had "lost" it in the grounds of Bethesda. They then reintroduced the casket to the morgue, with them forming the honour guard. So two caskets, three entries into the morgue, the last one witnessed by those attending the autopsy proper, who saw the president for the first time. An exception to this was Paul O'Connor who saw the original shipping casket. He described the wounds as those seen at this second (public) opening. Horne believes that O'Connor was conflating two events. He must have been, because Robinson confirmed that the surgery took place after the initial (shipping) casket opening, seen earlier by O'Connor. This whole shell game was necessary because JBK would not be separated from the casket after AF1 landed. The plan was to do the switch whilst she was en route to Bethesda by one of the helicopters summoned to the airfield. This, it would appear, was the one called but never used which was discovered by researchers some time later.

#5 Gordon Gray

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 05:13 PM

I have always wondered why, although there are plenty of witnesses to the three entries of the coffins, no one ever mentions seeing the body placed back in the ceremonial coffin and then placed back in the Ambulance. This would have required a number of people, that coffin was heavy, and there was a Marine security unit placed around the morgue. Why didn't someone notice this?



#6 Brian Kelshaw

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 05:27 PM

Doug Horne speculates that this was done at approximately 7:30, and that it was then that it sustained the damage seen by witnesses to the arrival with the honour guard. So you're right Gordon, it was heavy, and yes, why did no-one see it being moved. Doug's analysis is microscopically meticulous, so although the scenario of the casket being manhandled back into the ambulance is problematic, there is really no wriggle room for another explanation.



#7 Gordon Gray

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:10 AM

If my memory serves me the damage to the coffin occurred at Love Field when they were trying to get it onto Air Force One. They went to great pains to accomplished the coffin switch and keep it secret yet many observed evidence of it. Why is there no evidence of replacing the president's body into the coffin and then the ambulance. A great piece of research would be to put together a time line at Bethesda documenting exactly who said they saw what and at what time. Right now that situation reads like Rashoman . Of particular interest would be the account of Ed Read. Also if Robison indeed witnesses wound alterations at a pre autopsy, why didn't he see the president's body placed back into the coffin and then into the ambulance?



#8 Kathleen Collins

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Posted 30 November 2014 - 09:34 PM

Bobby and Jackie Kennedy were upstairs in a suite as the autopsy was going on.  The 2 of them together discussed what

they wanted of the body.  Elsewhere on this forum I mentioned reading about the disposition of President

Kennedy's body.  I don't know where I read it.  I probably read it on the Internet.  The only books I've read about

the Kennedys this past year were, Mrs. Kennedy and Bobby and Jackie.  I enjoyed Bobby and Jackie.  It may be

tabloid to some people but people are named as having witnessed certain things.  When asked why he never

socialized with Jackie, Gore Vidal said, "She was always with Bobby."  Gore Vidal hated Bobby and vice versa. 

But I don't recall where I read that there may have been a secret cremation.

 

Kathy C


"And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal." -- JFK

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." -- JFK

Kathleen Collins




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