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Documents State JFK's Dallas Coffin Disposed At Sea

 

5-30-99

[NARA Press Release] [CNN] [AP] [Washington Post] [NYTimes]
6-01-99        
[AllPolitics] [AP - Karen Gullo] [AP - NBC's Pete Williams] [AP - Deb Riechmann]  
6-02-99        
AP - WFAA Dallas        


Documents


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bluediamondNews Stories

JFK's Family Insisted on Casket's Disposal

WASHINGTON Jun 01 -- It was the Kennedy family that insisted that the polished bronze casket
used to carry President Kennedy's body from Dallas to Washington be dumped into the ocean,
newly released documents say.

Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a mahogany coffin and there have been
lingering questions about what ever happened to the casket used in Texas after Kennedy was
assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

"What I would like to have done is take it to sea," Robert Kennedy, the president's brother, told an
official of the General Services Administration in February 1966.

Despite concerns that the casket was government property, Kennedy told GSA Administrator Lawson
Knott Jr. that he believed it belonged to the family "and we can get rid of it any way we want to,"
according to a memo recounting their telephone conversation.

About two weeks later, on Feb. 18, 1966, an Air Force van picked up the casket at the National
Archives building in downtown Washington.

To make sure that it would sink, the casket was loaded with three 80-pound bags of sand. Numerous
holes were drilled into the coffin and a pine box that encased it. It was bound with metal banding
tape and rigged with parachutes to break the impact of hitting the water.

At 8:38 a.m., a C-130 airplane carrying the casket left Andrews Air Force Base and flew off the
Maryland-Delaware coast. The plane descended to 500 feet and at 10 a.m., the tail hatch of the
plane was opened and the 660-pound load was pushed out.

"The parachutes opened shortly before impact and the entire rigged load remained intact and sank
sharply, clearly and immediately after the soft impact," John Steadman, special assistant to the
defense secretary, wrote in a Feb. 25, 1966 file memo.

"The aircraft circled the drop point for some 20 minutes at 500 feet to ensure that nothing returned
to the surface," wrote Steadman, who was on the plane.

The drop point -- in 9,000 feet of water beyond the continental shelf -- was chosen because it was
away from regularly traveled air and shipping lines and would not be disturbed by trawling and
other sea-bottom activities, the documents said.

The government paid for the bronze coffin, but it was unclear whether it was covered by a law that
made certain items of evidence related to the Kennedy assassination government property.

Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach said in a Feb. 11, 1966 letter to the GSA that he felt it was
necessary to dispose of the coffin.

"I am unable to conceive of any manner in which the casket could have an evidentiary value, nor
can I conceive of any reason why the national interest would require its preservation," Katzenbach
wrote.

"It is obvious that it could never be used for burial purposes and its public display would be
extremely offensive and contrary to public policy."

 

Reporter: The Associated Press
Copyright: 1999 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. top

Coffin used to transport Kennedy's body sunk at sea

June 1, 1999
Web posted at: 5:33 p.m. EDT (2133 GMT)


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 1) -- At the Kennedy family's insistence, the
polished bronze casket used to carry President John F. Kennedy's body from
Dallas to Washington was dumped into the ocean in 1966, according to newly
released documents from the National Archives.

Its whereabouts had long been a mystery and questions lingered about the
casket after Kennedy's burial at Arlington National Cemetery in a mahogany
coffin following his assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

"I think it belongs to the family and we can get rid of it any way we want
to," Robert Kennedy, the president's brother and the former attorney general,
told Lawson Knott, the administrator of the General Services Administration,
according to a memo recounting their February 1966 telephone conversation.

"What I would like to have done is take it to sea," Kennedy told Knott. "I
don't think anybody will be upset about the fact that we disposed of it."

There were concerns that the casket was government property since the
government purchased it from Dallas undertaker Vernon Oneal. The casket,
lined with brushed satin, was replaced because it was damaged. It was also
unclear whether it was covered by a law that made certain items of evidence
related to the Kennedy assassination government property.

Researchers of President Kennedy's assassination consider the coffin evidence
that should not have been destroyed, including author David Lifton.

"We are dealing with evidence," said Lifton, whose 1981 book detailed medical
evidence in the Kennedy assassination.

Kennedy family spokeswoman Melody Miller said Tuesday that destroying the
casket was appropriate and "in keeping with the tradition of President
Kennedy's naval service and his love of the sea."

The new documents show that the casket was stored in the basement of the
National Archives building in downtown Washington in February 1966 when
Robert Kennedy, then a U.S. senator from New York, called the GSA, which
oversees government property, and asked for it to be released to the military
for destruction.
Knott told Kennedy that destroying the coffin might "raise loads of
questions" in light of an upcoming book about the assassination and said the
Justice Department would have to authorize release of the casket. Kennedy
served as attorney general before he entered the Senate in 1965.

Kennedy said he would contact his successor as attorney general, Nicholas
Katzenbach. Eight days later, Katzenbach wrote in a February 11, 1966 letter
to Knott that he felt it was necessary to dispose of the coffin.
"I am unable to conceive of any manner in which the casket could have an
evidentiary value, nor can I conceive of any reason why the national interest
would require its preservation," Katzenbach wrote. "It is obvious that it
could never be used for burial purposes and its public display would be
extremely offensive and contrary to public policy."

"As long as the casket remains ... there is always the possibility that it
could be misused or misappropriated," he added.

Documents show that Oneal, the Dallas undertaker, wanted to get the casket
back and display it in his funeral home.

On February 18, 1966, an Air Force van picked up the casket at the National
Archives building in downtown Washington and took it to Andrews Air Force
Base.

The casket was loaded with three 80-pound bags of sand. Numerous holes were
drilled in both the casket and the pine box it was encased in "to ensure that
no air pockets would develop," according to a memo written by John Steadman,
special assistant in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

Both casket and pine box bound with metal banding tape and the whole
apparatus was rigged with parachutes to break the impact of hitting the
water.The Defense Department had sought the advice of a submarine officer
with special training in hydraulics to devise a way to airdrop the coffin at
sea, according to the documents.

At 8:38 a.m., a C-130 airplane carrying the casket took off from the Air
Force base and flew off the Maryland-Delaware coast. The plane descended to
500 feet and at 10 a.m., the 660-pound load was pushed out of the plane's
opened tail hatch.

"The parachutes opened shortly before impact and the entire rigged load
remained intact and sank sharply, clearly and immediately after the soft
impact," Steadman wrote in a February 25, 1966 file memo.
"The aircraft circled the drop point for some 20 minutes at 500 feet to
ensure that nothing returned to the surface," wrote Steadman, who was on the
plane.

The drop point -- in 9,000 feet of water beyond the continental shelf -- was
chosen because it was away from regularly traveled air and shipping lines and
would not be disturbed by trawling and other sea-bottom activities, the
documents said.

The document released were from the National Archives and Record
Administration's records of documents relating to Kennedy. Congress passed a
law in 1992 requiring that all assassination-related material be housed in a
single collection at the National Archives with the intent of opening most of
the records for research.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. top

Kennedys Urged JFK Casket Be Sunk

.c The Associated Press

By DEB RIECHMANN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was the Kennedy family that insisted that the polished
bronze casket used to carry President Kennedy's body from Dallas to
Washington be dumped into the ocean, newly released documents say.

Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a mahogany coffin and
there have been lingering questions about what ever happened to the casket
used in Texas after Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

``What I would like to have done is take it to sea,'' Robert Kennedy, the
president's brother, told an official of the General Services Administration
in February 1966.

Despite concerns that the casket was government property, Kennedy told GSA
Administrator Lawson Knott Jr. that he believed it belonged to the family
``and we can get rid of it any way we want to,'' according to a memo
recounting their telephone conversation.

About two weeks later, on Feb. 18, 1966, an Air Force van picked up the
casket at the National Archives building in downtown Washington.

To make sure that it would sink, the casket was loaded with three 80-pound
bags of sand. Numerous holes were drilled into the coffin and a pine box that
encased it. It was bound with metal banding tape and rigged with parachutes
to break the impact of hitting the water.

At 8:38 a.m., a C-130 airplane carrying the casket left Andrews Air Force
Base and flew off the Maryland-Delaware coast. The plane descended to 500
feet and at 10 a.m., the tail hatch of the plane was opened and the 660-pound
load was pushed out.

``The parachutes opened shortly before impact and the entire rigged load
remained intact and sank sharply, clearly and immediately after the soft
impact,'' John Steadman, special assistant to the defense secretary, wrote in
a Feb. 25, 1966 file memo.

``The aircraft circled the drop point for some 20 minutes at 500 feet to
ensure that nothing returned to the surface,'' wrote Steadman, who was on the
plane.

The drop point -- in 9,000 feet of water beyond the continental shelf -- was
chosen because it was away from regularly traveled air and shipping lines and
would not be disturbed by trawling and other sea-bottom activities, the
documents said.

The government paid for the bronze coffin, but it was unclear whether it was
covered by a law that made certain items of evidence related to the Kennedy
assassination government property.

However, Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach said in a Feb. 11, 1966 letter
to the GSA that he felt it was necessary to dispose of the coffin.

``I am unable to conceive of any manner in which the casket could have an
evidentiary value, nor can I conceive of any reason why the national interest
would require its preservation,'' Katzenbach wrote.

``It is obvious that it could never be used for burial purposes and its
public display would be extremely offensive and contrary to public policy.''

AP-NY-06-01-99 1120EDT

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. top

 

Kennedys Ordered JFK Coffin Dumped

.c The Associated Press

By KAREN GULLO

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Loaded with 240 pounds of sand and drilled with holes so
it would stay on the ocean floor, the coffin that carried John F. Kennedy's
body from Dallas to Washington was dumped at sea in 1966 under orders of the
Kennedy family.

Documents released Tuesday by the National Archives showed that despite
concerns over whether the casket should destroyed, the government honored the
Kennedy family wishes and took pains to ensure that the casket would remain
in a watery grave.

The Defense Department even sought the advice of a submarine officer with
special training in hydraulics to devise a way to airdrop the coffin at sea.

Kennedy, assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, was buried at Arlington
National Cemetery in a mahogany coffin obtained in Washington. The first
coffin, made of bronze and lined with brushed satin, had been purchased from
Dallas undertaker Vernon Oneal to take the body to Washington. It was
replaced because it was damaged.

Its whereabouts had long been a mystery. And Kennedy assassination
researchers consider the coffin evidence that should not have been destroyed.

Documents show that the casket was in the basement of the National Archives
building in downtown Washington in February 1966 when Robert Kennedy, then a
U.S. senator from New York, called the General Services Administration, which
oversees government property, and asked for it to be released to the military
for destruction.

``I think it belongs to the family and we can get rid of it any way we want
to,'' Kennedy told Lawson Knott, GSA administrator, according to a memo
recounting the conversation.

``What I would like to have done is take it to sea,'' Kennedy told Knott. ``I
don't think anybody will be upset about the fact that we disposed of it.''

Kennedy family spokeswoman Melody Miller said Tuesday that destroying the
casket was appropriate and ``in keeping with the tradition of President
Kennedy's naval service and his love of the sea.''

To ensure that the coffin would sink, three 80 pound bags of sand were put
inside, metal banding tape was wrapped around it and it was placed inside a
pine box that was also wrapped in metal tape, documents said.

Numerous holes were drilled in both the casket and the box ``to ensure that
no air pockets would develop,'' according to a memo written by John Steadman,
special assistant in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

One last precaution was taken: To keep the 660-pound load from shattering
when it hit the water, two parachutes were attached to it.

On Feb. 18, 1966, an Air Force van picked up the casket and transported it to
Andrews Air Force Base, where it was loaded onto a C-130 airplane, the
documents said. The plane took off at 8:38 a.m. and flew over a calm ocean to
a point approximately 131 nautical miles off the Maryland-Delaware coast.

The drop point -- in 9,000 feet of water beyond the continental shelf -- was
chosen because it was away from regularly traveled air and shipping lines in
an explosives dumping area.

The pilot descended to 500 feet and at 10 a.m., the plane's tail hatch was
opened and the load was pushed out.

``The entire rigged load remained intact and sank sharply, clearly and
immediately after the soft impact,'' wrote Steadman, who was on the plane.

Leaving nothing to chance, the plane circled the drop point for 20 minutes
``to ensure that nothing returned to the surface.''

Knott had cautioned Kennedy that destroying the coffin might ``raise loads of
questions'' in light of an upcoming book about the assassination. It was
unclear whether the casket was covered by a law that mandated that certain
items of evidence related to the Kennedy assassination be preserved.

The Justice Department would have to authorize release of the casket, Knott
told Kennedy, who had been attorney general before he entered the Senate in
1965.

Kennedy was adamant and said he would call his successor as attorney general,
Nicholas Katzenbach. Eight days later, Katzenbach wrote Knott and said the
casket had no evidentiary value and didn't need to be preserved.

``As long as the casket remains ... there is always the possibility that it
could be misused or misappropriated,'' he added.

Documents show that Oneal, the Dallas undertaker, wanted to get the casket
back and display it in his funeral home.

Author David Lifton believes the government was wrong to dump it.

``We are dealing with evidence,'' said Lifton, whose 1981 book detailed
medical evidence in the Kennedy assassination.

AP-NY-06-01-99 1642EDT

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. top

 

JFK's family ordered coffin dumped
Newly released documents describe disposal at sea

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON, June 1 "It was the Kennedy family that insisted that the polished
bronze casket used to carry President John F. Kennedy's body from Dallas to
Washington be dumped into the ocean, newly released documents say.

NBC's Pete Williams reports on documents that explain one of the lingering
mysteries surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

       KENNEDY WAS buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a mahogany coffin
and there have been lingering questions about what ever happened to the
casket used in Texas after Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.
       "What I would like to have done is take it to sea, Robert Kennedy,
the president's brother, told an official of the General Services
Administration in February 1966.
       Despite concerns that the casket was government property, Kennedy told
GSA Administrator Lawson Knott Jr. that he believed it belonged to the family
"and we can get rid of it any way we want to, according to a memo recounting
their telephone conversation.
       About two weeks later, on Feb. 18, 1966, an Air Force van picked up
the casket at the National Archives building in downtown Washington.
       
RIGGED WITH PARACHUTES
       To make sure that it would sink, the casket was loaded with three
80-pound bags of sand. Numerous holes were drilled into the coffin and a pine
box that encased it. It was bound with metal banding tape and rigged with
parachutes to break the impact of hitting the water.
       At 8:38 a.m., a C-130 airplane carrying the casket left Andrews Air
Force Base and flew off the Maryland-Delaware coast. The plane descended to
500 feet and at 10 a.m., the tail hatch of the plane was opened and the
660-pound load was pushed out.
       "The parachutes opened shortly before impact and the entire rigged
load remained intact and sank sharply, clearly and immediately after the soft
impact, John Steadman, special assistant to the defense secretary, wrote in
a Feb. 25, 1966, file memo.
       "The aircraft circled the drop point for some 20 minutes at 500 feet
to ensure that nothing returned to the surface, wrote Steadman, who was on
the plane.
       The drop point " in 9,000 feet of water beyond the continental shelf "
was chosen because it was away from regularly traveled air and shipping lines
and would not be disturbed by trawling and other sea-bottom activities, the
documents said.
       
EVIDENCE LAW UNCLEAR
       The government paid for the bronze coffin, but it was unclear whether
it was covered by a law that made certain items of evidence related to the
Kennedy assassination government property.
       However, Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach said in a Feb. 11, 1966,
letter to the GSA that he felt it was necessary to dispose of the coffin.
       "I am unable to conceive of any manner in which the casket could have
an evidentiary value, nor can I conceive of any reason why the national
interest would require its preservation, Katzenbach wrote.
       "It is obvious that it could never be used for burial purposes and its
public display would be extremely offensive and contrary to public policy. top

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 27, 1999

National Archives To Open Additional JFK Materials

College Park, MD . . On Tuesday, June 1, 1999, the National Archives at
College Park will make available to the public additional documents related
to President John F. Kennedy, in accordance with the President John F.
Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. These materials
include:

* Itineraries of the Presidential campaign of then Senator John F.
Kennedy in 1959 and 1960; copies of public statements and press conferences
of Senator Kennedy; documents showing the dates, starting points,
destinations, and mileage of the flights taken by the campaign plane during
1960, with the exception of July 1960; and related documents concerning the
campaign. 311 pages.

* The Russell Holmes Papers. 50,000 pages of CIA documents maintained
by Holmes in his role as the custodian of the Oswald 201 file, as well as the
Segregated Collection of CIA records compiled for the investigation of the
House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Holmes was the CIA liaison
for all inquiries on the assassination after the end of the HSCA
investigation until his retirement.

* Documents from the Department of Defense, Department of Justice,
General Services Administration, and other sources relating to the
disposition of the casket used to transport the body of President Kennedy
from Dallas to Bethesda Naval Hospital. 43 pages.

* FBI records consisting of three series: 50,000 pages of "House Select
Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) Administrative Folders"; 9,000 pages of
"HSCA Ticklers"; and 13,000 pages of "JFK Act Administrative Files."

* 9,000 pages of CIA miscellaneous files including the files of the
Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), CIA History files, Office of Security
files, and other records series. The subjects covered include a wide range of
issues related to the assassination: DCI meeting notes, Cuba, and other
matters.

The documents will be available in Lecture Room E at the National Archives
facility in College Park, MD, located at 8601 Adelphi Road, at 9 AM on
Tuesday, June 1. Researchers will be limited to one box or file at a time.
Research Room hours are: Monday and Wednesday 8:45 A.M. - 5 P.M.; Tuesday,
Thursday and Friday 8:45 A.M. - 9 P.M.; Saturday 8:45 A.M. - 4:45 P.M.
Research cards are required. Personal property, i.e. notebooks, briefcases,
purses or fountain pens, are not allowed in the research room. Lockers are
available. Debit cards may be purchased for the photocopying machines.
DIRECTIONS:
BY CAR the new facility is approximately 40 minutes from downtown Washington,
DC. Take North Capitol Street north, turn right onto Michigan Avenue,
(Michigan Avenue becomes Queens Chapel Road in Maryland,) continue to East
West Highway, turn left on Adelphi Road and follow it to the Archives II
entrance on the right. Parking is available.
BY SHUTTLE from the National Archives in Washington, DC, board the bus on 7th
Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues. The shuttle leaves on
the hour, from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., returning to the downtown building from
Archives II on the hour. Researchers may use the shuttle on a space available
basis with National Archives staff members receiving priority boarding.
* * * *
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public
Affairs staff at (301) 713-6000 or by e-mail. Visit the National Archives
Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.nara.gov. top

 

JFK's Casket Was Dropped in Ocean

.c The Associated Press

By DEB RIECHMANN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A bronze casket used to transport President Kennedy's body
from Dallas to Washington was dropped from a military plane into the ocean
two years after he was killed, according to assassination documents.

``Apparently the casket is in 9,000 feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean,''
Kermit L. Hall, a member of the now-defunct Assassination Records Review
Board, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday night.

Hall said that documents to be released Tuesday by the National Archives show
that the casket was flown several miles off the Maryland-Delaware coast in
early 1965 and dumped in an area where the military discards unstable and
outdated weapons and ammunition.

``There's actually a map in the documents that pinpoints the coordinates
where it was dropped,'' Hall said.

The revelation -- on the eve of what would have been President Kennedy's 82nd
birthday --that the casket was deep-sixed resolves a lingering mystery about
its whereabouts. But it also fuels speculation among assassination
researchers that it was discarded to hide foul play.

What happened to the bronze casket has been a lingering question over the
past three decades. Last year a document released by the archives showed that
a General Services Administration truck picked up the bronze casket on March
19, 1964. The review panel asked the GSA where the casket was. The agency
said in the summer of 1998 that it didn't know.

The documents from GSA and the Justice and Defense departments being released
describe the disposition in detail, Hall said.

``Essentially what was going on was an effort to make sure the casket didn't
turn into a historic relic for the marketplace,'' he said.

Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a mahogany coffin that
had been purchased in Washington to replace the bronze one, which was missing
a handle and had been damaged.

Some had lobbied to have the discarded bronze casket destroyed to keep it
from becoming an object of morbid curiosity.

Earle Cabell, a then Texas congressman, wrote to Attorney General Nicholas
Katzenbach in 1965 and recommended that ``in keeping with the best interest
of the country,'' the casket be destroyed.

Katzenbach said in an interview Friday that he doesn't recall details about
the disposition of the casket. If anyone had asked him if the casket should
be disposed of, ``I'd have said that's a good idea,'' Katzenbach said.

Kennedy's caskets have long been a subject of controversy. And some
assassination researchers see a dark motive.

``That coffin is evidence,'' David Lifton, who wrote a book about medical
evidence in the November 1963 assassination, said Friday. ``You don't go drop
evidence into the sea.''

In the 1970s, a Navy medical technician told congressional investigators that
Kennedy's body arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in a body bag inside a gray
metal shipping casket -- not a bronze one.

Douglas Horne, who was the chief analyst for military records at
congressionally created review board, speculated that the bronze casket was
destroyed to end the two-coffin controversy.

``I think the way to get rid of the problem is you get rid of the casket. You
throw it out of an airplane,'' said Horne. ``Then it's just a bunch of
stories.''

AP-NY-05-28-99 2205EDT top

Casket that once carried JFK
reportedly discarded in Atlantic

Report expected on Tuesday

CNN May 29, 1999
Web posted at: 4:39 a.m. EDT (0839 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A bronze casket used to transport President Kennedy's body
from Dallas to Washington was dropped from a military plane into the ocean two years after he
was killed, according to assassination documents.

"Apparently the casket is in 9,000 feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean," Kermit L. Hall, a member
of the now-defunct Assassination Records Review Board, told The Associated Press in a
telephone interview Friday night.

Hall said that documents to be released Tuesday by the National Archives show that the casket
was flown several miles off the Maryland-Delaware coast in early 1965 and dumped in an area
where the military discards unstable and outdated weapons and ammunition.

There's actually a map in the documents that pinpoints the coordinates where it was dropped,"
Hall said.

Why was bronze casket discarded?

The report, released on the eve of what would have been President Kennedy's 82nd birthday, that
the casket was dropped into the ocean resolves a lingering mystery about its whereabouts. But it
also fuels speculation among assassination researchers that it was discarded to hide foul play.

What happened to the bronze casket has been a lingering question over the past three decades.
Last year a document released by the archives showed that a General Services Administration
truck picked up the bronze casket on March 19, 1964. The review panel asked the GSA where
the casket was. The agency said in the summer of 1998 that it didn't know.

The documents from GSA and the Justice and Defense departments being released describe the
disposition in detail, Hall said.

"Essentially what was going on was an effort to make sure the casket didn't turn into a historic
relic for the marketplace," he said.

Buried in mahogany coffin

Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a mahogany coffin that had been purchased
in Washington to replace the bronze one, which was missing a handle and had been damaged. Some
had lobbied to have the discarded bronze casket destroyed to keep it from becoming an object of
morbid curiosity.

Earle Cabell, a then Texas congressman, wrote to Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach in 1965 and
recommended that "in keeping with the best interest of the country," the casket be destroyed.

Katzenbach said in an interview Friday that he doesn't recall details about the disposition of the casket.
If anyone had asked him if the casket should be disposed of, "I'd have said that's a good idea,"
Katzenbach said.

Kennedy's caskets have long been a subject of controversy. And some assassination researchers see a
dark motive.

"That coffin is evidence," David Lifton, who wrote a book about medical evidence in the November 1963
assassination, said Friday. "You don't go drop evidence into the sea."

In the 1970s, a Navy medical technician told congressional investigators that Kennedy's body arrived at
Bethesda Naval Hospital in a body bag inside a gray metal shipping casket -- not a
bronze one.

Douglas Horne, who was the chief analyst for military records at congressionally created review
board, speculated that the bronze casket was destroyed to end the two-coffin controversy.

"I think the way to get rid of the problem is you get rid of the casket. You throw it out of an airplane," said
Horne. "Then it's just a bunch of stories."

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. top

 

Kennedy Coffin Was Sunk

Sun, 30 May 1999
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS KAREN GULLO

WASHINGTON -- A bronze coffin used to carry President Kennedy's body from
Dallas to Washington is deep in the Atlantic Ocean, documents show.
Materials to be released on Tuesday at the National Archives reveal that in
1965, the coffin was dropped from a military plane into an ammunition dumping
area off the Maryland-Delaware border, said Kermit Hall of the now-defunct
Assassination Records Review Board.

Mr. Hall said the coffin was sunk so it would not become "a historic relic
for the marketplace." President Kennedy was buried in a mahogany coffin
because the bronze one had been damaged. top

Kennedy Files to Detail Casket Disposal

Damaged Coffin Dumped Off Eastern Shore; Release Includes CIA Data on Oswald
By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 30, 1999; Page A02

The National Archives will release this week the latest cache of documents
relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, reportedly
including details of the dumping at sea of the bronze casket in which his
body was transported from Dallas to Washington.

The release also will include 50,000 pages of CIA documents relating to the
presumed Kennedy assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as intelligence files
on Cuba and other matters.

It is the latest unveiling of information gathered in accordance with the
President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which
urged government agencies to review their files for information that could be
released or declassified that might shed light on the assassination.

Although the release will include CIA materials and data about Kennedy's 1960
presidential campaign, the details about the casket are likely to draw the
closest scrutiny.

The 43 pages on the casket are to be made available Tuesday at the National
Archives center in College Park.
The information will reveal the disposition of the casket, the archives said,
which reportedly had a handle knocked off as it was being used to transport
the president's body from Dallas, where he was killed Nov. 22, 1963, to
Washington.

The damaged casket was replaced with the mahogany one in which Kennedy was
buried by Joseph Gawler's & Sons Inc. funeral home in Washington. But the
fate of the damaged casket has long been a mystery.

The archive documents will detail how the casket was loaded aboard a military
plane and flown off the Maryland-Delaware coast, where it was dropped into
water 9,000 feet deep in an area used as a military dump site.

Kermit L. Hall, a historian with the now-defunct Assassination Records Review
Board, which examined Kennedy documents, told the Associated Press that a map
and coordinates marking the exact location exists.
Hall said the casket was dumped because of fears it might become an object of
morbid curiosity.

There also was pressure from former U.S. representative Earle Cabell
(D-Tex.), who was mayor of Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated, to dispose
of the extra casket to keep it from becoming a public focus.
There were mixed reactions to the revelation yesterday.

David Lifton, the Los Angeles historian who long has speculated about
irregularities in the investigation of the assassination, was fascinated by
the report.

"If it's really true that they dropped it in the ocean, then there should be
the name of the pilot" among the archive papers, he said, suggesting another
avenue for further investigation.

He said that if true, the casket's disposal at sea was deplorable. It was
forensic evidence, he said, that ought to have been preserved.

"Now you're going to have this Titanic syndrome, where somebody is going to
go out there and try to take a picture of it," he predicted. "Whoever heard
of dumping a coffin in the ocean. It's so bizarre."

"Here we are 35 years later," he said. "It's so disrespectful. They've set
the stage for confusion."

Lifton said one of the last times the casket may have been seen was when
author William Manchester had it uncrated in a government warehouse as part
of research on the assassination and noted that it had been damaged.

But William L. Joyce, associate university librarian for rare books and
special collections at Princeton University, said potential new information
about the casket's disposal was not necessarily a big deal. top

 

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