Secret Service agents Dale Wunderlich & Jim Jeffries

Secret Service agents Dale Wunderlich & Jim Jeffries



Ex-Secret Service agent talks at Rotary Club about JFK assassination



By Scott Rochat

Longmont Times-Call



LONGMONT — No grassy knolls. No mob conspiracies. Just one man, one

rifle and three shots.



That was and is the conclusion of Dale Wunderlich, a retired Secret

Service agent who helped investigate the death of President John F.

Kennedy as part of the Warren Commission. Wunderlich spoke about the

assassination Thursday at the Twin Peaks Rotary Club.



“There’s a lot of theories about what happened,” said Wunderlich, who

lives in Parker. “At some point, you have to wonder — if it had been a

conspiracy, do any of you really believe that anyone in Washington can

keep a secret for 46 years?”



Wunderlich helped protect five presidents, from Kennedy through Jimmy

Carter. On Nov. 22, 1963, he looked after Kennedy during a rally in

Fort Worth, Texas, but was off duty when the president went on to




Wunderlich was at the airport when he heard the motorcade had been

shot at. An early report said a Secret Service agent had been hit, and

Wunderlich hurried back.



As he arrived, he realized that all the agents were accounted for.

“Who got killed?” he asked agent Roy Kellerman.



“The president,” Kellerman said.



The sight of Kennedy’s body, face down in the hospital, is still

engraved on Wunderlich’s mind. So is the funeral ceremony, when even

the agents themselves were in mourning.



“I had such tears in my eyes that I couldn’t see anything,” Wunderlich

said. “If someone had wanted to kill President (Lyndon) Johnson, that

would have been the best time to do it. Everyone had tears in their

eyes. No one could see.”



Since then, he said, there have been a lot of stories and myths about

the assassination. Among them:



The Secret Service was drunk. Not true, Wunderlich said. Several

agents did go to a place called the Cellar Bar the night before, but

despite the name, the Cellar didn’t sell liquor. “We had sandwiches

and near-beer,” he said.



There was a fourth shot. Not likely, Wunderlich said. Researchers at

California Polytechnic State University analyzed the Zapruder film — a

home movie that captured the assassination — a few years back, he

said, and concluded the sound of the “fourth shot” was actually a

police Harley-Davidson backfiring.



Oswald couldn’t have shot so fast, so accurately. The range wasn’t

very far, especially for the rifle used, Wunderlich said — 192 feet

for the closest shot and 292 feet for the longest one. Moreover, he

said, Lee Harvey Oswald had spent hours practicing rapid-fire shots.



Fast enough to fire three shots in 8.5 seconds? As a test, Wunderlich

said, investigators sent a truck filled with hay bales down the street

at the same speed while the FBI armorer and the Secret Service armorer

took shots at it. In 8.5 seconds, each put five shots in the kill




Oswald was trying to kill Texas Gov. John Connally. That may never be

known, Wunderlich said. He said Oswald is believed to have had a

grudge against Connally, who as secretary of the Navy wouldn’t change

his “hardship” discharge to an “honorable” one. The field of fire

would have allowed a good shot at Connally, who was wounded by a

bullet that clipped Kennedy’s shoulder first. And Kennedy may not have

even been in the sights when the second shot was fired — his head was

in his wife’s lap after the first shot hit; the second hit his head as

she pulled him up.



“Sam Donaldson is the biggest supporter of this theory,” Wunderlich

said. “I love to watch people’s eyes when I describe it. It’s another

thing that could be logical.”



Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald, was on the mob payroll. Actually,

Wunderlich said, Ruby was a big admirer of Jacqueline Kennedy and

closed himself in his club after the Kennedy assassination, drinking

heavily. He knew several police officers and had a permit to carry a

gun because he frequently carried bank deposits with him.



He was on his way with a deposit and had made up a slip to put $20 in

an employee’s account when he saw the crowd of media around the police

station. After finding out it was Oswald on his way to be arraigned,

Wunderlich said, Ruby worked his way close and shot Oswald — a gun in

one hand and a bank bag in the other.



“If you plan to kill someone, are you going to be prepared to also

make a deposit?” Wunderlich asked. “I think it was a spur-of-the-

moment thing.”



To this day, he said, America remains fascinated with the case,

conspiracy or no.



“Hardly a day goes by when I don’t see something related to Kennedy,”

Wunderlich said. “It’s a topic I don’t think will ever go away.”




Tribute: James Gordon Jeffries protected presidents as Secret Service



Special to The Star



Associated Press file photo

Secret Service agent James Gordon Jeffries was the personal bodyguard

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“Jeff” Jeffries, 83, a Kansas City, Kan., native most recently of




When and how he died: Jan. 18, of pneumonia. He had suffered a stroke

more than 10 years ago.



An active beginning: Known as Jeff to some family members and Jimmie

by others, the boy born in Kansas City, Kan., in 1925 led an

adventurous life. He attended Argentine High School until he moved in

his sophomore year with his mother, Mildred Hamilton, to Washington.



Jeffries enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943 and served in World War

II. After leaving the service, Jeffries attended Benjamin Franklin

University, which later merged with George Washington University.



Jeffries went to work for the embezzlement division of the U.S.

Treasury Department and thus began a long career in the federal




Presidential proximity: Jeffries then worked for the Secret Service,

serving presidents from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon. He traveled

extensively with them but did find time to marry Thelma Thompson in

1955. They had no children.



Jeffries seldom spoke about his Secret Service experiences.



“Jeff was the consummate Secret Service agent: He never shared much,”

said niece Beth Hanna of Iowa, who helped care for her uncle in his

final years.



“He was very secretive about what he did,” said nephew Dave Horseman

of Kansas City. “He did have Christmas cards on the wall from various

presidents (he served), and he hunted with (Dwight) Eisenhower.”



When John Kennedy was elected president, Jeffries was assigned to be

Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal bodyguard.



Hanna recently found a letter that the first lady had written to her

Uncle Jeff in April 1962, just after he was assigned to another




“The letter said, ‘I will miss you so much. … I will never meet anyone

who has been as loyal and faithful as you, patient and understanding

with me, so sweet and kind with my children. … The President is as

grateful as I am for all you did to make easy my adjustment to being

guarded all the time. I will always remember you. My deepest

appreciation and affection and all good wishes. Your friend,

Jacqueline Kennedy.’ ”



Other interests: In 1972, Jeffries retired from the Secret Service on

disability from an injury aggravated by the performance of his duties.



He sold real estate in Northern Virginia and pursued other interests.

He enjoyed spending time at the couple’s cabin at Lake Anna, Va., as

well as fishing and playing tennis.



“His ideal home would have been where he could have gone out the front

door and play tennis and out the back door to fish,” Horseman said.



In the mid-1990s, Jeffries and his wife moved back to the Kansas City

area. As the years passed, they developed health problems. Hanna moved

her aunt and uncle to Hiawatha Care Center near her home in west-

central Iowa so she could help care for them. Thelma died in 2005.



“I had a relationship that was very dear with my uncle,” Hanna said.

“My aunt and uncle were incredibly unassuming and humble about their




Survivors include: Four sisters, two brothers, several nieces and




The last word: “Family and friends were very important to him,” Beth

Hanna of her uncle. “He never acted as though what he did was





Tim Fleming said…



Wunderlich is a liar. He gave a presentation a few months ago to some evangelical group in California. There was a news article in the local paper about it, and I responded to some of Wunderlich’s claims. Here, verbatim, is what I wrote:


Wunderlich is either the most gullible dupe breathing on the planet, or he is an out-and-out liar.


Let’s address his disinformation point-by-point. There were no Secret Service agents at Parkland Hospital blubbering about JFK getting killed. They, instead, were busy breaking Texas law by forcibly removing the body from the custody of Dr. Rose, Dallas coroner, at gunpoint. By Texas law, the autopsy was supposed to be performed there at Parkland that day; no way the Secret Service was going to let that happen. Besides, according to Abraham Bolden, a SS Agent who quit the presidential detail despite being handpicked by JFK, the Secret Service hated Kennedy. The other agents often joked that if Kennedy were ever shot at, they would get out of the way. In fact, they did exactly that. Newsreel footage taken at Love Field clearly shows Emory Roberts, agent in charge of the Dallas detail, ordering Henry Rybka off the side of the president’s limousine as it leaves Love Field, thus stripping JFK of protection from the front right of the vehicle. In Dealey Plaza, Roberts ordered his agents to stand down as the first shots were fired. Agent Bill Greer, the driver slowed the limo to a stop so that the head shot could hit its mark easily. Only then, after looking back twice at JFK to make sure he was mortally hit, did he speed up. Greer lied about this to the Warren Commission even though the Zapruder film and other photos clearly show what Greer had done.


Jack Ruby not affiliated with the Mafia? [In his speech, Wunderlich made this claim.] Pardon me, as I try to stop laughing. Just two facts for you here–when Santos Trafficante, head of the Florida Mafia, was jailed in Havana after Castro took over, Jack Ruby visited him in jail several times. If Ruby is not Mafia, explain this. Moreover, Ruby knew Oswald. That was the testimony of many witnesses, including Marita Lorenz. Lorenz made this assertion under oath in the Florida civil trial of E. Howard Hunt (CIA) for libel. The jury in that case found that Hunt and the CIA were involved in the assassination.


According to several witnesses, the night before the assassination Secret Service agents were provided free liquor by Pat Kirkwood, owner of The Cellar in Dallas. [Wunderlich claimed that no agents were drinking the night before the assassination.] Many agents partied until 4 am, and so were useless as protection in the motorcade the next day. It was well known in Dallas that Kirkwood was associated with the head of the Dallas Mafia, Joe Civella. Civella visited Ruby in jail after he killed Oswald.


It is now well-known that many in Washington expressed, publicly and privately, doubt about the Warren Commission findings. [Wunderlich claimed that no one in Washington has ever disputed the Warren REport findings.] These included Robert Kennedy, Russell Long, Hale Boggs, LBJ, Allard Lowenstein (who was gunned down himself) and the entire House Select Committee on Assassinations which stated that JFK was probably murdered as the result of a conspiracy. And the whole purpose of the CIA is to keep secrets forever. The whole point of a covert operation is to, ostensibly, cover up the truth of it for the rest of time.


Many of the witnesses in Dealey Plaza heard more than three shots…and a rifle shot is clearly distinguishable from a motorcycle backfire on any audio graph that is honestly and competently performed. And it is ludicrous to believe that one magic bullet could have inflicted all the damage caused to JFK and Connally, and then emerge pristine on a hospital stretcher. Wunderlich misses the irony of his claim that Oswald might have been aiming at Connally. That would make Oswald a really bad marksman, then, because he hit the wrong guy. Oh, but wait, Oswald, according to the Warren Commission, had to be an expert marksman to get off all those shots and hit somebody in six seconds.


One more thing, how did Wunderlich get from Love Field to Parkland Hospital so quickly? [Wunderlich claimed he was at Love Field when he heard of the shooting.] The president was shot at 12:30 pm, arrived at Parkland at 12:40 pm, and was pronounced dead at 1 pm. No doctor worked on him after that. I’ve been to Dallas many times, and the drive from Love Field to Parkland, even with no traffic, cannot be made in under 25minutes. Presumably Wunderlich did not hear of the assassination before it occurred, so I’m guessing he did not know of it before 12:45. Did he fly to Parkland Hospital by flapping his arms? And no one turned over the body so that it was lying face down[Wunderlich claimed he saw JFK face down in the ER.]. [Note here: I’ve read nearly every word ever written on the JFK assassination, and I recall no one–doctors, nurses, SS agents, anyone–ever saying that JFK was turned face down. Not even the funeral home attendant, Aubrey Rike, did that.]


I’m sure the evangelicals, blissfully unaware, lapped up Wunderlich’s whoppers without so much as a softball question. Allen Dulles, David Atlee Phillips, Charles Cabell, and Dick Bissell always counted on the compliant and the uncritical to keep their secrets safe forever.


Tim Fleming

About vincepalamara

Vincent Palamara was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in Sociology. Although not even born when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Vince brings fresh eyes to an old case. In fact, Vince would go on to study the largely overlooked actions - and inactions - of the United States Secret Service in unprecedented detail, as well as achieving a world's record in the process, having interviewed and corresponded with over 80 former agents (the House Select Committee on Assassinations had the old record of 46 with a 6 million dollar budget and subpoena power from Congress), not to mention many surviving family members, White House aides, and even quite a few Parkland and Bethesda medical witnesses for a corresponding project. The result was Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service & The Failure To Protect President Kennedy. Vince is also the author of the books JFK: From Parkland To Bethesda, The Not-So-Secret Service, Who's Who in the Secret Service, and Honest Answers about the Murder of President John F. Kennedy: A New Look at the JFK Assassination. All told, Vince has been favorably mentioned in over 140 JFK and Secret Service related books to date (including two whole chapters in Murder in Dealey Plaza, The Secret Service: The Hidden History Of An Enigmatic Agency by Philip Melanson, and the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, among many others), often at length, in the bibliographies, and in the Secret Service - and even medical evidence - areas of these works. Vince has appeared on the History Channel's THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY (VHS and DVD), C-SPAN, Newsmax TV, A COUP IN CAMELOT (DVD/BLU RAY), KING KILL '63, THE MAN BEHIND THE SUIT (DVD), National Geographic's JFK: THE FINAL HOURS (including on DVD), PCN, BPTV, local cable access television, YouTube, radio, newspapers, print journals, at national conferences, and all over the internet. Also, Vince's original research materials, or copies of said materials, are stored in the National Archives (by request under Deed Of Gift by the ARRB), the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Harvard University, the Assassination Archives and Research Center, and the Dallas Public Library. Vince Palamara has become known (as he was dubbed by the History Channel in 2003) "the Secret Service expert." As former JFK Secret Service agent Joe Paolella proclaimed: "You seem to know a lot about the Secret Service, maybe even more than I do!" Agent Dan Emmett calls Vince a Secret Service expert in his new book.
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