Francis X. O'Neill
Mr. O'Neill continues: Remember something else. Colonel Best was the provost marshal in charge of Andrews Air Force Base, and he directed-prior to the landing of the plane-that the plane be ringed by air policemen to prevent anybody who was not authorized getting near the plane, which completely debunks something in a book by Mr. Clifton [sic] who says that they switched caskets and took a casket out the other side of the plane. If that had occurred, anybody who did that would be dead. [six] So there was no possibility of anything coming from the other side of the plane. They took the body in the casket out, came down, they got into the, into the ambulance and took off for Andrews Air Force [sic].
I was in the same car in the motorcade as I mentioned. We went out through the various ways, out to the air base itself, eh, then out to the Bethesda Naval Hospital. At Bethesda, the honor guard were lined up on the side. The ambulance came in, parked in front of the main building, Mrs. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy got out, went up to the seventeenth or nineteenth floor. Larry O'Brien stayed in front, he was postmaster general. Kenny O'Donald [sic] was there, and one or two other individuals.
After a moment or two, myself and Jim Sibert got out of our car, went up and said, "What's the delay?" They said, "Well, we don't know where the autopsy room is." We told that we did. We'd been there many times before. So, we got into our car, drove around the back, the ambulance followed us, and we parked right at the autopsy room, or the morgue, right at the back there. At this time, the two Secret Service agents who were in the car with Kennedy-Roy Kellerman and Bill Greer-came out and met us. I told who I was. He said, "I know. We received a message already from Jim Rowley." The four of us opened the back of the ambulance and we took the casket out and put it on a dolly, or a carriage, whatever you want to call it, and started to move it on in. It was at that time that the honor guard assisted us in moving it on in, into the morgue of [sic] the back of the Bethesda Naval Hospital. Opened the door going into the autopsy room, and at that time there was a little ante-room, more like a morgue. As I recall there was a little child on one of the slabs. Opened the door, taking it into the autopsy room, took it off the dolly and put it on one of the tables. Opened the casket and the medical personnel took it out, took it out, took the body out. [Three] a group of people-everybody tries to do something, so everybody is helping taking that body out and putting it on the table.
When that was completed, we went back inside. They cleaned off the body. They washed it down and they started to perform the autopsy. At that time there was Dr. Humes and Dr. Boswell, who were the two autopsy surgeons. At a subsequent time, Colonel Finck, who was a lieutenant colonel in the army -- he came in. But at the beginning of the autopsy there were those two gentlemen. Also there were various personnel from the navy, navy: not army, not air force. One exception please: There was General Godfrey McHugh who was the pilot of the president's plane. He was also-let me rephrase that, not the pilot-he was air force attach�. Ah, he was there, in there, in uniform. Nobody else from the military other than the naval personnel, Admiral Galloway, Captain Stover, these people were there. There were also some people from the Naval Medical Center, which were on a small little balcony-not really a balcony, up two steps-watching down what was going on. When they'd performed the necessary things at the beginning -- they, eh, start off by saying, "A white male, ah so much, eh so tall," measured, et cetera. They did the vee-shape on him, they did the whole jive and finally took out the various things from the inside of the body. Ah, looking at this particular incident it was quite evident, quite evident, that there was a wound in the throat. It was quite evident, according to the doctors-now I am not a medical man, my expertise is in law and investigations, and anything which I put in my report concerning the viewing of the body, or concerning why it was or what was said, was told to me. And they said, "That is a tracheotomy," and it's in my report.It was apparent that it was a tracheotomy, and it was. They viewed that, looked at that, discussed it, but everybody was concerned with this massive wound back here (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. "…this massive wound back here…"
Oh, by the way-the president's face was not disturbed in any way. The front of his face was perfect. Nothing came from in front to hit him anywhere on his face. Nothing came from the side to hit him here (Fig. 3), or here (Fig. 4) or anywhere.
I don't know whether you'd call this -- what type of evidence -- I saw it. I was there. I reported it. It's been documented, okay? But this wound really got everybody. It was massive. Right back in this area here (Fig. 5).
Figure 5. "Right back in this area here."
Ah…the brain was there. There's some conjecture that the brain was removed in some place, God knows where-. The X-rays show that the brain was there. The brain was taken out. There were several particles that were removed. A matter of fact -- the X-rays show there were about forty different particles of a bullet which exploded in the brain or, if not a bullet which exploded in the brain, particles of the skull which were driven into it as a result of the bullet which hit the back. Two particles were taken out-given to me and to Sibert. We signed a receipt for a missile because the naval terminology was that everything was called a "missile." You'll see that terminology used in the Warren Report too: the "missile." A lot of people say, "Well, there's a big difference here -- they've signed for a missile when in fact they were fragments." Sure. I know what I was signing for. They were two fragments. If you want to call them missiles, call them missiles. Makes no difference to me, it's the same thing. A horse is a horse is a horse, a rose is a rose is a rose. Alright? After they look at this, after they see this massive thing here, with part of the flap coming out (Fig. 6)-- very disturbing. I had seen autopsies before, but never one of the president of the United States.
The important thing-we flipped the body over, and looking at the back of the body-you must remember one thing-the body was never turned over in Dallas. Never turned over in Dallas. So, when the body was turned over on the table in Bethesda, they noticed a wound. As a matter of fact it was Agent Jim Sibert who was the very first one who noticed a wound in the upper back strap muscle, over here (Fig. 7). And in my report I give exactly where it was located from the definition that the autopsy surgeons gave me. It was a couple of inches down, or two inches down from the midline or something in that particular vein. That's not me saying that. That's the autopsy surgeon saying that. So, it was a very small wound and I was standing right next to the doctor as he was probing it…with his finger, and there was no point of exit. None. He couldn't go any further.