Any time there is an event in which a large number of people die, we build a memorial. It’s a nice thing to do. I think there should be a memorial built somewhere to all of the people who have been murdered in the wake of the JFK assassination. Penn Jones kept track of them up until his own death. This story is about a man who saw too much, and lived. For that reason, I have to hold out some doubt, but repeat here the events in the life of Sergeant Robert Vinson. It appears we are witness to a miracle.
- 11/20/63: Vinson traveled to Washington, D.C. from Colorado Springs, where he worked for NORAD, to inquire as to why he had been denied a promotion.
- 11/21/63: Vinson met with superiors about his record. The person interviewing him, a Col. Chapman, was interrupted by a phone call and he said to the person on other end that he “would highly recommend that the president not go to Dallas … because something there had been reported.”
- Vinson, good soldier, said nothing about the conversation. He received assurances that people would look into his situation.
- 11/22/63: Vinson went to Andrews Air Force base, looking to hitch a ride back to his home in Colorado Springs. Nothing was available and he was advised to hang around.
- He was paged in the cafeteria and told that he could ride back on a C-54 cargo plane headed that way.
- He got on the plane, which was empty. It had no markings. Two men in drab overalls were walking around the plane, and soon boarded, closed the cockpit door, and took off.
- While in flight, a voice on the intercom announced “The president was shot at 12:29.
- The plane banked sharply left and headed south.
- Around 3:30 Vinson saw and recognized the Dallas skyline on the horizon.
- The plane landed in a long sandy area alongside the Trinity River. The pilots did not cut the engines. They waited.
- Two men came running from a jeep parked by a distant shed. They got on the plane.
- One was 6′ to 6’1″, 180 to 190 pounds, and Vinson thought he was Cuban. The other was 5’7″ to 5’9″, 150 to 160 pounds.
- The C-54 took off, and soon after dusk landed on a runway which Vinson thought was the original destination, Lowry Air Base, Denver. The two men quickly got off.
- Vinson got off, found an empty runway, and one building with one Air Policeman on duty.
- He asked where he was, the Policeman said Roswell Air Force Base, New Mexico. He was told the base was on alert, and no one could come or go.
- He was later told he was free to go, and went to a nearby bus stop, eventually making his way home to Colorado Springs.
Vinson discussed the strange flight with his wife, and they agreed he might be in danger. Later that night, 11/23/63, watching TV, he realized that the shorter of the two men he had traveled with looked just like Lee Harvey Oswald, the guy in custody in Dallas. “I swear, that’s the little guy who got on the plane,” he told his wife. Vinson had inadvertently met Lee Oswald, an American born in New Orleans, a CIA agent, and the counterpart of a tag team with Harvey Oswald. They were originally designed to give Russian-speaking Harvey an American background to allow him to enter the Soviet Union as a spy, which he did in 1959. Later, Harvey was selected to be the patsy in the JFK murder. CIA, in allowing Vinson to stay on the plane that Lee and his friend boarded, had made a colossal blunder. If true to form, Vinson should have been murdered. He was not. That is strange. Vinson got on with his life.
- However, he found that men were about him asking questions of his neighbors, friends and associates. His wife was asked to sign a secrecy agreement, her first. (Vinson, a NORAD employee, already had.)
- In late 1964 he was ordered to Washington. He spent five days at CIA headquarters in Langley.
- He was put through a battery of psychological and physical tests. In movie-style, he was interviewed in a dark room by a semi-circle of men.
- He was asked to join the CIA. He refused. He wanted nothing more than to retire.
- In early 1965 he was ordered to Las Vegas, Nevada, and was told he was to work for the CIA. He was reassigned to a secret base (now closed) in the Nellis Mountains near Las Vegas.
- Vinson possessed no special skills, and realized that he was working for the CIA as a payoff for his silence.
- He retired on October 1, 1966.
Vinson went on to lead a normal life, working for 30 years in Wichita in clerical jobs. He asked a lawyer if he should keep his secret, and was told “Don’t tell a soul.” His conscience kept telling him to go public, but his brain stopped him. Fools die. In 1992, in response to Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, Congress passed the JFK Records Act.
- Vinson consulted with his Congressman, Dan Glickman, and was told that the new law freed him from his secrecy agreement regarding the JFK assassination.
- In 1993, he told his story to a Wichita news show.
- He offered to testify before the Assassinations Records Review Board. He was never called.
- He identified the place where he landed in Dallas, which was 4,463 feet long, and was told by a pilot who had flown those planes in the Berlin Airlift that it could easily accommodate a C-54.
After JFK’s murder in Dallas, there was a shell game going on, with two Oswalds running about. One of them, the American-born Lee, was an active participant in the assassination. He was the man who boarded the C-54. The other, Hungarian-born Harvey, was set up to be the patsy, and was murdered on 11/24/63 by Jack Ruby. Robert Vinso n stumbled on the escape plan for Lee. The miracle here is that he lived to tell his story.
PS: Where are my manners – the general narrative here concerning Robert Vinson is taken from Jim Douglass’s excellent book, JFK and the Unspeakable. I condensed it quite a bit. John Armstrong has done a yeoman’s job in uncovering the two-Oswald story, and it resulted in a 1033 page book, Harvey and Lee.
PPS: A JFK researcher whose work and integrity I admire, Walt Brown, suggests that the Vinson story has holes in it. Brown is a thorough and rigorous man, a detail guy. One oddity that I noticed was the Vinson thought one of the two men who got on the plane was a Cuban. In his shoes, my background, I would only know “Hispanic” or perhaps “Latin.” “Cuban” seems to be wisdom after the fact, as anti-Castro Cubans were indeed involved in the assassination.