Pilot Car in Motorcade

Pilot Car –  Dallas Motorcade 11/22/63


The assassination of JFK has special meaning to columnist


Friday, 03 December 2010

Jack Puterbaugh
Contributing Writer

Isanti County News, Cambridge MN
Recently it was the 47th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Since I was an advance man on that Presidential visit Nov. 22, it has a special meaning to me.

For that assignment we left on Nov. 12 on a Military Air Transport Service plane, and dropped off a crew of three at each of the places the President was to visit.

The Dallas crew, which included Secret Service Agent Win Lawson, Chief Warrant Officer Arthur Bailles of the Army Signal Corps and myself, were the last to land. The Dallas Presidential event was sponsored by the Dallas Citizens Council, whose members were the city’s “shakers and movers.”

Before we left we were informed that two possible locations were under consideration for the luncheon—a building on the State Fair Grounds and the Trade Mart—and that there would be a motorcade. There were some security concerns expressed about the Trade Mart building, but those concerns would be reviewed by the Secret Service.

After looking at the proposed sites and reviewing the motorcade route, and following a determination by the Secret Service that the Trade Mart building could be secured, a decision was made to select the Trade Mart and the subsequent route for the motorcade. The rest of the time was spent on who would be invited to the luncheon. There would be 2,500 at the luncheon, and there was competition regarding who would be the fortunate diners.

By the morning of Nov. 22, all of the details had been worked out, and when Air Force One put down at Love Field the expectation was the Dallas visit was going to be a big day for the President and Mrs. Kennedy.

When the motorcade pulled out I was in what is known as the “pilot car,” a vehicle that is some five or six blocks ahead of the main motorcade. As we traveled the motorcade route, the crowds were huge and friendly as they awaited the arrival of the President.

The pilot car was a Dallas Police vehicle, and shortly after entering the Stemmons Freeway, there was a radio message that instructed all available police officers to report to the triple underpass area, and to alert the emergency facilities at Parkland Hospital.

Our car pulled over to the shoulder of the road and stopped. When the President’s car and the Secret Service follow car sped by, we pulled behind and followed them to Parkland Hospital. For our country it was a very sad day, and unfortunately something was lost that has never been replaced. Thus, Nov. 22 will always have a special meaning to me.

Neither Phil Melanson’s The Secret Service- The Hidden History nor The Kennedy Detail, include the pilot car in their story of JFK’s motorcade through Dallas, and it is not mentioned in the first Secret Service report

[SS Report to WC re: Motorcade.  List of cars – no mention of Pilot Car. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=11076&relPageId=2]

Melanson’s study of the Secret Service procedures, especially its Protective Research Section (PRS), concludes that the Dallas Police Department Criminal Intelligence Section (DPD CIS) the PRS was depending on for local information, was responsible for the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald not being on the Secret Service 400 suspect Watch List.

The CIS had identified a dozen organizations that they considered worth keeping tabs on, including the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), two organizations that Oswald was affiliated with, that should have put him on their radar.

In addition, as Melanson also points out, they failed to identify the group of anti-Castro Cuban Alpha 66 terrorists that had taken up residence in a house in Oak Cliff, where Oswald was reported to have been seen.

We later learn, when Manuel Rodriguez was misidentified as Oswald in Oklahoma, that it was not Oswald but probably Rodriguez who was seen at the Alpha 66 house in Oak Cliff. One must wonder if there were any other incidents where Rodriguez was misidentified as Oswald, as there were numerous occasions where Oswald was said to have been when he most certainly couldn’t have been. Some of these cases can be shown to be cases of mistaken identity, but some can also be shown to be cases of intentional impersonation.

[SS report on Manuel Rodriguez – Alpha 66 in Dallashttp://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=11250&relPageId=2  ]

The ATF agent in Dallas had learned from a local Dallas gun dealer, who also resembled Oswald,  that Rodriguez was trying to buy arms for his group to attack targets in Cuba, and this agent and FBI agent James Hosty, along with US Army Intelligence officer Ed Coyle, met together on the morning of the assassination to discuss this case.

But it was a Deputy Shriff (Buddy Walters?) who informed the Secret Service about the Alpha 66 being in Dallas after the assassination.

Coyle worked with the 112th US Army Intelligence group under  Col. Robert Jones, who testified before the HSCA that he was responsible for counter-intelligence against such subversive suspects as Rodriguez and Oswald, and that his group, responsible for a region that included Texas and Louisiana, had files on both Rodriguez and Oswald.

Jones was also familiar with Capt. James Powell, who photographed the scene of the crime shortly after the assassination, and said both Jones and Coyle were working that day, while Powell says he took off to photograph the motorcade on his own time. Jones also said that there were eight to ten other plainclothes officers from his group who worked on security for the President’s visit to Texas, including Dallas.

But Jones did not know or recognize the name of Gen. Whitmyer, the head of the 488th Army Reserves unit based in Dallas, whose officers included men in the pilot car of the motorcade and the entire 50 man Criminal Intelligence Unit (DPD CIU) including Lt. Jack Revell and Captain Gannaway, who ran most of the informants for the Dallas Police Department. [It has been reported that the office of the CIU Special Services Unit was at the Texas State Fairgrounds, rather than DPD HQ, so informants could report in without being seen at the DPD HQ.]

According to The Kennedy Detail (Blaine, Hill et al, 2010), the PRS didn’t have one suspect in the Dallas area among their top 400 suspicious subjects on the Watch List, yet there was an ongoing investigation into those who were filmed by a TV news crew physically assaulting United Nations Ambassador Adli Stevenson.

In addition, we learn from J. E. Hoover’s memo to Secret Service Chief Rowley (Dec. 18) that the FBI did indeed tip the Secret Service off about a suspect who threatened the president, a John Birch Society (JBS) college student whose threat was reported by a DPD CIU informant and investigated by Revell and Gannaway. They apparently talked with the suspect, who said he wasn’t going to be in Dallas when the President was there, and they apparently took his word for it.

Revell and Gannaway, along with the other fifty members of the DPD CIU were members of the 488th US Army Reserve unit under Gen. Whitmyer, who reportedly said that his unit was ordered to stand down and not participate in the security for the president’s visit, as they normally should have been.

But members of the unit were participating in the security of the President as members of the Dallas Police Department, there were two members of the 488th in the pilot car of the motorcade.

While most of the descriptions of the motorcade mention only the Lead Car, driven by DPD Chief Curry, and including Secret Service officers, in front of the Lead Car there was a Pilot Car, driven by 488th member Capt. Lumpkin.

According to PDS Dallas COPA address, this car pulled to the side of the road in front of the TSBD and Capt. Lumpkin talked briefly to one of the three police officers assigned to traffic duty at that intersection  (Huston & Elm), sixty feet below the Sixth Floor Sniper’s window. Except there is no mention of this stop or what was conveyed in the official reports. 

(Are there any photos or films of the pilot car at all ?)

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