Secret Service security and press coverage for JFK pre-11/22/63

Secret Service security and press coverage for JFK pre-11/22/63



Things that happened on 11/18/63 in Tampa that did not happen on 11/22/63 in Dallas:  

  1. agents on the rear of the limo (other than Clint Hill, briefly, 4 times before they got to Dealey Plaza; JFK is falsely blamed for the agents not being there);
  2. military aide in front seat between driver and agent in charge (McHugh was asked, for the first time in Dallas, not to ride there!);
  3. press photographers flatbed truck in front of limo (canceled at last minute at Love Field);
  4. fast speed of cars (slow in Dallas; Greer attempted to blame JFK for the slow speed on the night of the murder after being remorseful all day);
  5. ASAIC Boring on trip (SAIC Behn and Boring always accompanied JFK in motorcades. A third-stringer, Kellerman, goes in their place- one of if not the first major trip Kellerman took on his own); 
  6. multi story rooftops guarded (officially, no buildings were guarded in Dallas. Eyewitnesses Arnold and Barbara Rowland did see a man with a rifle in the Texas School Book Depository building before the motorcade reached the eventual site of the assassination and, tellingly, thought the man was a Secret Service agent.15 Rowland later testified to the Warren Commission on his thought process at the time: “I must honestly say my opinion was based on movies I have seen, on the attempted assassination of Theodore Roosevelt where they had Secret Service men up in the building such as that with rifles watching the crowds, and another one concerned with attempted assassination of the other one, Franklin Roosevelt, and both of these had Secret Service men up in windows or on top of buildings with rifles, and this is how my opinion was based and why it didn’t alarm me.”16);
  7. multiple motorcycles running next to JFK in a wedge formation (they repeated this coverage 11/18-11/22/63 [morning in Fort Worth]until Dallas, when the Secret Service reduced the coverage and had the few motorcycles that were remaining drop back from the rear wheels of JFK’s limo, rendering them ineffective or, as the HSCA stated, “uniquely insecure”);
  8. White House Press Photographer Cecil Stoughton riding in follow-up car taking photos (he did 11/18-11/21/63…until they got to Dallas. No satisfactory answer has ever been given as to why Stoughton was not there on 11/22/63);
  9. Pierre Salinger on trip (Assistant Malcolm Kilduff makes his first trip on his own to Texas; Salinger said he missed only “one or two trips” with JFK…Texas was one of them! Agent Bob Lilley told me that Salinger was extremely knowledgeable about motorcade security and planning);
  10. Dr Burkley close to JFK (Burkley protested being placed far away from JFK in Dallas, for this was the only time, save in Rome, this ever happened to him…and Rome was a model of great security in every other respect);————————————————————-

Tampa was the longest motorcade President Kennedy undertook domestically (only the one in Berlin was longer). In contrast, the motorcade in Dallas was far shorter and, thus, more manageable.,_Florida)

“During the research for my first book Survivor’s Guilt: The Secret Service & the Failure to Protect President Kennedy, I made a major discovery, based on both personal interviews with former agents and through newspaper archives and other somewhat obscure source material: not merely as a response to the JFK assassination were building rooftops guarded during motorcades…they were regularly guarded at least from the 1940’s onward! I knew there had to be a reason (or reasons) that presidents survived before the Kennedy murder beyond just good old-fashioned luck. In short, this method of protection – along with the intermingling of police in the crowds themselves, often in plainclothes – was how the Secret Service “got around” the so-called lack of manpower they sometimes faced, as well as the need to not always look so obtrusive with security, not to mention being able to protect our presidents with confidence. This was a major factor that eluded me for years, as well-meaning people would sometimes play devil’s advocate with me, observing a still photo from some motorcade online or in a book that, on the surface, appeared to leave President Kennedy a sitting duck. Compared to today’s very overt security, with notable exceptions, it is rather easy to find a photo from the Kennedy years that can appear to make JFK’s security seem paltry, to put it mildly. What cannot be gauged in a still photo is the speed of the limousine, the presence of protective officers in the crowd, and, again, building rooftops (at least multi-story structures) guarded along the route of travel. I cannot emphasize how important this discovery is – not only would a well-designed conspiracy have been foiled if these measures were employed in Dallas (which they were not), even the designs of a lone-nut killer would perhaps have stood an even greater chance of failure. Imagine if Dealey Plaza would have had some well-armed men, whose job it was to protect the president and vice president, standing tall and maintaining vigilance from above.”

Here is a good example- Nashville motorcade photo, 5/18/63:

Looks bad, doesn’t it? However:

SAIC of the Nashville office (and former JFK WHD agent) Paul Doster told the Nashville Banner on 5/18/63 that “a complete check of the entire motorcade route” was done for JFK’s trip to Nashville. In addition, Doster stated, “Other [police] officers were assigned atop the municipal terminal and other buildings along the route. These men took their posts at 8 a.m. and remained at their rooftop stations until the president and his party passed.” A helicopter was used on the route, as well. This information only became known to myself in 1999 when researcher Bill Adams sent me the actual yellowing newspaper article itself!  Unfortunately, this was before I had a scanner or was very internet or computer savvy, so I literally recorded what was said there word for word, then I threw out the paper (!)

Not to fear, though- here is the article as published in the 2013 book JFK IN NASHVILLE:

However, there is much to back up the guarding of buildings rooftops:

Milwaukee, WI 5/12/62:

Pueblo, CO 8/17/62:


The next image is from a 1962 book written with the help of Chief Inspector Michael Torina, as well as Chief James Rowley and the Secret Service, in general. Torina, whom I corresponded with twice, confirmed the veracity of what is written. These important standard security procedures were not used in Dallas. Chief Inspector Michael W. Torina, WHO WROTE THE SECRET SERVICE MANUAL [The United States Secret Service by Walter S. Bowen & Harry E. Neal (New York: Chilton, 1960), page 209], told author William Manchester back in 1961 that wherever a Presidential motorcade must slow down for a turn, the entire intersection must be checked in advance. [The Death of a President, 1988 anniversary edition by William Manchester, page 32]

11/21/63 San Antonio, TX- the view from a police helicopter:

The live video of the 6/6/63 San Diego trip is sometimes used to attempt to say that the motorcade here was the same as in Dallas…WRONG! What they CONVENIENTLY fail to mention are the countless Marines lined on each side of the street 5-6 feet apart FACING THE CROWD (as even the live television newscaster makes note of), SAIC Behn on the trip (riding in the front seat) and TWO FLATBED TRUCKS TAKING STILL PHOTOS, MOTION PICTURES, AND A LIVE TELEVISION FEED! Building rooftops were also guarded:

Miscellaneous motorcades

Boston, MA April 1963:

San Juan, Puerto Rico December 1961

Bogota, Columbia Dec 1961:

Mexico July 1 1962: JFK, Jackie, Clint Hill…and the bubbletop in nice weather

Washington, D.C.

Hawaii 6/9/63; Washington, D.C. 6/5/62

Chicago, IL 3/23/63:

Col. George J. McNally, White House Signal Corps and former Secret Service agent, wrote in his book: “But during the Chicago visit [3/23/63], the motorcade was slowed to the pace of a mounted Black Horse Troop, and the police got a warning of Puerto Rican snipers. Helicopters searched the roofs along the way, and no incidents occurred.”[A Million Miles of Presidents, p. 204]. Agent Don Lawton rode on the rear of the limousine and six motorcycles bracketed the vehicle.

Death threats preceded JFK’s 1963 Ireland visit: “Police, newspaper received warnings months before president’s killing. “The documents indicated that 6,404 police officers were on duty throughout Ireland the night Kennedy arrived, of whom 2,690 lined the U.S. president’s route from Dublin airport to the Phoenix Park mansion of Irish President Eamon de Valera. “Costigan wrote that, although the death threats were considered likely to be hoaxes, his officers would use binoculars to monitor rooftops along the route of the presidential motorcade. He said some police would carry firearms, an exceptional measure in a country with a largely unarmed police force, to engage any would-be sniper. “A rifle as well as Thompson guns and revolvers were carried for use against a possible sniper,” Costigan wrote in a post-Kennedy visit memorandum released Friday.

Police were on rooftops in Billings, MT–September 1963: This was confirmed by researcher Deb Galentine’s assistant police chief father who worked on the security for this trip, as conveyed to the author on 2/17/14. Deb further wrote: “Weeks before JFK’s arrival, my father, who would be in charge of the local police protection, met with Billings’ leaders and some of President Kennedy’s advance people. JFK’s planners wanted the fastest, safest routes possible. They desired routes with no tall buildings and hoped to avoid Billings’ Rimrocks as well. The Rimrocks, a natural sandstone formation riddled with caves, paths, and ledges and dotted with pine trees and shrubs, unevenly jut about 500 feet above the city of Billings. Avoiding them would be impossible since Billings’ airport lies perched atop them. Three separate routes were available from the airport to the President’s venue, and the planners decided to use the one that provided the safest and fastest passage away from the Rimrocks.”

JFK’s trip to Duluth, MN 9/24/63: The following appeared on p. 6 in the October 31, 1963 issue of The Wanderer, which catered predominantly to right-wingers. The Taylor Caldwell that wrote the following letter is the well-known author and John Bircher. Caldwell is replying to Sheldon Emry’s letter dated Oct. 17 commenting on the extensive protection that JFK had around him on his trip to Duluth in early October 1963. “President Kennedy in Danger?” By Taylor Caldwell: “I was deeply interested in Sheldon Emrey’s [sic] account [Wanderer Forum, October 17th] of Air Force men, soldiers with rifles at the ready, Highway Patrol officers, helicopters, guards, etc., being out in full force day and night when President Kennedy visited Duluth. This account is most extraordinary – but even more alarming, and not for the reasons Mr. Emery [sic] gives: “Mr. Kennedy is now showing a visible power in the soldiers that he had not openly displayed before”…It is possible that Mr. Kennedy is in personal jeopardy from them, a matter which is not being mentioned in the newspapers. Indeed, it is very probable. Presidents have been murdered before in our history, and in less dreadful times…The very fact that Mr. Kennedy is apparently now being so closely guarded should alarm all of us very deeply, whether or not we agree with the President on political matters. The mere thought of Mr. Kennedy being assassinated should make all of us shudder for the repercussions in America would be most terrible and disorder would result at the very least [emphasis added].” The bubbletop was used on this trip, as well. Researcher Chad Carlson wrote to me regarding this very same trip: “I am friends with a man here who was in charge of JFK’s trip to Duluth, MN here in September of 1963. I ask him a lot about JFK. He got to talk one on-one with the President for 30 minutes before he made his rounds and speeches. His name is Larry Yetka, former Minnesota Supreme Court justice. Larry said that he wondered what [Mafia boss] Sam Giancana of Chicago was up to on 11-22-63. I told him that I had been watching the motorcade in Dallas on 11-22-63 and told him it looked very “lax.” He said, “Yes it was.” So I asked him how was security in Duluth in Sept.1963? He said, “Tight as hell-men were on the rooftops even.” So that’s the answers I got out of him on that. Vince, that Larry Yetka guy is quite the man. He had met President’s Truman, Kennedy, and LBJ. He was close friends with former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. He also met former Vice-President Walter Mondale of Minnesota. Larry went to the 1956 and 1964 Democratic National Conventions…at one of them he exchanged unpleasant words with Texas Gov. John Connolly. I’d have to ask him again what happened with that. He was invited to the White House rose garden ceremony under LBJ. The man was a lawyer, and a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice. I think he’s around 86 so the time to ask questions is now.

JFK’s trip to Miami 11/18/63: Bob Hoelscher worked for the Miami-Dade Police Department for 50 years and was a counter-sniper and observer on the terrace deck of the airport hotel on November 18, 1963, the day Kennedy arrived in Miami. He guarded almost every VIP that came through Dade County from Kennedy to Clinton and started the tactical special weapons team, later known as SWAT, in 1970. Documents reveal a bomb threat against JFK in Miami just days before his death. Hoelscher told that he knew of potential threats to the president ahead of his November visit. “I was told that information had been developed that the Cubans might start a protest at an unknown location and they might make an attempt on the life of the President if there was sufficient distraction,” Hoelscher said. “I was told to keep this information to myself, watch the periphery and look for anything unusual.” While Hoelscher and some others in the police department knew, it was strictly on a “need to know” basis. “The information about the death threat was not shared with the rank and file out of fear that the media would find out,” Hoelscher said.



Agents Blaine, Giannoules, Hill, Landis and Pontius surround JFK and Jackie in the limo, Orange Bowl, FL December 1962:

The aforementioned 11/18/63 Tampa trip:

7/2/63 Rome:

The aforementioned June 1963 Berlin trip:

New York 9/20/63:

North Carolina 1961:

France April 1961:

Different motorcades- press photographers (still, motion picture) in FRONT of the limousine:


Dallas? Cancelled at the last minute:

Motorcycles? The HSCA termed the Dallas trip “uniquely insecure”:

11/21/63 Houston:

Chief Curry wanted a police car inserted into the motorcade, which was fairly common in prior motorcades:

So did Captain Fritz of Homicide (again, like the police car, a detective car was used to augment the Secret Service follow-up car in many prior motorcades):

President Kennedy didn’t have “hundreds” of motorcades. He had a very finite number of motorcades and trips:

The bubbletop was used in roughly ONE THIRD of all of JFK’s motorcades, often in nice weather conditions, in either partial or full form. Secret Service agent Sam Kinney was adamant to me, on three occasions, that he was solely responsible foe the top’s removal on 11/22/63 and President Kennedy had nothing to do with it. Please see:


It has been an uphill battle recovering any documents relating to security. Alone in the wilderness, so to speak, it has taken me many years to find these items (out of print books, old newspaper articles only available for a fee, documents obtained for fees at the National Archives, photographs obtained from the JFL Library, etc.). Here is a large reason why:

JFK ordering the agents off his limousine? Total bunk- President Kennedy did not convey this and the Secret Service was and is the boss of the President’s security, not the other way around:


NOT EVERYONE ON THE KENNEDY DETAIL ADMIRED JFK- some were angered by his personal sex life, including Tim McIntyre, who rode on the Secret Service follow-up car in Tampa and in Dallas, as well as Emory Roberts (who died in 1973- McIntyre is speakingof him in the second video, as confirmed in Hersh’s book), etc.:






1017371_10201594424277968_366767892_nTRUMAN ERA




6 years before Dallas, Ike and Queen Elizabeth received this outstanding protection in both New York and Washington, D.C.





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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