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Friday, November 22, 2013

The JFK Assassination And Japan Links

Even though I was not yet born when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the event was one of those things that fascinated me as a teenager and through to my current age. It was a conspiracy theorist's dream... and I read many article and book on the JFK family and the events around it... and yet, I knew next to nothing about his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald.

So... a few weeks ago when I decided to see if there were any connections between JFK and Japan for perhaps something interesting for this blog... I was pleasantly surprised.

Don't worry… despite the headline, it's nothing so Earth-shattering or even something we need to form a conspiracy theory about (maybe), but with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the beloved US president John F. Kennedy (and Dallas police office J.D. Tippit - read THIS... the letters J.D. did NOT stand for any name in particular!) on November 22, 1963, there are a few interesting links to Japan.

First off, when one gets assassinated, it's obvious JFK wasn't universally loved - in fact, a few crackpots in Dallas, Texas, where the motorcade assassination took place, had talked about doing harm to the president.

But... Dallas IS a fine city. Hate their football team - love their cheerleaders.

Anyhow… in Japan on November 22, 1963, it was supposed to be a special day for the country as a whole, as it was going to be the first time it would welcome in satellite television broadcasts, featuring live broadcasts from North America via the Telstar 2 communications satellite (launched on May 7, 1963).
Telestar 2

In fact, that very first broadcast was to have included a recorded message from JFK… instead, rather than celebrating, viewers tuning in saw news reports of his assassination.

As another sidebar, the very first broadcast on Telstar 1, launched in 1962 was to have been a speech by JFK... but since he wasn't ready and there was a short window for the satellite to broadcast, it instead showed a bit of a live televised baseball game on July 23, 1962 between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs at Chicago's beautiful Wrigley Field.

Although both Telstar 1 and Telstar 2 are no longer working, both are still in orbit around Earth.  

A current link between Japan and the JFK ongoing saga - and make no doubt about it, it is an on-going saga—the new US Ambassador to Japan is his daughter, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy (born on November 27, 1957, and the only living child of JFK and mom Jackie), who actually ends up taking on the position a mere seven days before the 50th anniversary of her father's death.

Note that her dad, JFK, died five days before her seventh birthday.

Then… there's also the link between Japan and JFK's assassin... one Lee Harvey Oswald, 24, who was a former U.S. Marine and self-proclaimed Marxist who was captured and arrested 80 minutes after the shooting, but still had enough time to put four bullets into Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit.
Ruby shoots Oswald.
Oswald after being captured, was shot and killed in a police station a couple of days later on November 24, 1963 by Jack Ruby on live television. Ruby was a nightclub owner who supposedly had ties to organized crime aka the Mafia (the Cosa Nostra... which translates to 'this thing of ours') - though nothing has ever been proven regarding his true role in the killing of Oswald... BUT... evidence exists to suggest that this Oswald killing was a spur of the moment decision for Ruby...  he had left his favorite dog behind in a car outside the police station... why do that? Then again... why not? He might have wanted his dog near him...  

The feeling exists that with the death of Oswald, the true people behind the JFK assassination would never be released. Who the hell was JFK to Jack Ruby? The president - yes… but why kill his already captured assassin? Were there mafia ties to the assassination? CIA? FBI? Castro? USSR?

But… the Japan connection is that Oswald… who, beginning in 1957, worked as a US marine radar operator at the Naval Air Facility Atsugi located in the cities of Yamato-shi and Ayase-shi in Kanagawa-ken, Japan.

Who is Lee Harvey Oswald?

Born on October 1, 1939 in New Orleans, Louisiana, he died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas on November 23, 1963. That hospital is also where JFK was pronounced dead. Jack Ruby, too.

That's the basics… there are enough good and controversial books on Oswald and Ruby and JFK out there to kick-start anyone's conspiracy theory.

As such… let's look a few facts as they relate to Lee Harvey Oswald and Japan.

Oswald had enlisted in the United States Marine Corp (USMC) on October 24, 1956 - just after his 17th birthday.
Photo of  Oswald holding a rifle in the backyard at 214 Neeley Street in Dallas, was apart of the evidence police gathered after the JFK shooting (Dallas Police Department).

In December of 1956 he gained a score of 212 in shooting to earn the designation of "sharpshooter"… but in May of 1959 he scored a 191, which reduced his ranking to "marksman". This is important when you consider the skill the assassin required to hit a moving target in a car with a kill shot shot - firing three times with a 6.5 mm Carcano carbine rifle from a distance of 265 feet.

The first shot that went through his neck, but did not kill the President was from 190 feet away. Keep in mind that the car was moving at about 11 miles per hour... You have to be an effing excellent shot... and while Oswald's skills did drop after six months, he still had four-and-a-half years to practice shooting.

Also... there are reports that three shots were fired... and three spent bullet casings were found at the scene - the infamous sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. That implies the first shot... missed... after all... why shoot a third shot if you have already got the killing head shot?

But... that also implies that Oswald missed his intended target with his first shot from a closer distance.

Recent scientific data, by the way, shows that Oswald could indeed have acted alone, and that the head of JFK snapping back as though shot from the front is actually a nerve reaction after being shot in the head from behind. At least that's what I saw on a television program a few days ago... conspire if you wish.

Because his main training was to be involved in radar operation, Oswald was required to have a security clearance, which was granted to him in May 1957... noting he was: "granted final clearance to handle classified matter up to and including CONFIDENTIAL (blacked out) after careful check of local records had disclosed no derogatory data."

After finishing seventh in a class of 30, he was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine, California (since decommissioned in 1999) in July of 1957 and two months later in September of 1957 was made a part of Marine Air Control Squadron 1 at the Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan.

While in Japan, Oswald's behavior became erratic… perhaps because he was 17 going on 18 and on his own for the first time, after coming from an overbearing mother… but then… that's not really a valid excuse. However, back in grade school, a psychiatrist did describe Oswald having a "personality pattern disturbance with schizoid features and passive-aggressive tendencies".

Oswald was court-martialed after he accidentally shot himself in the elbow… with an unauthorized .22 caliber handgun.
A second court-martial occurred after got into a fight with a sergeant, with Oswald believing the sergeant was responsible for his punishment in the first court-martial. Take a look at the photo of Oswald as a marine in 1957… he has that "What, me worry?" grin on him that made Alfred E. Neuman famous in Mad Magazine in 1956.
Alfred E. Neuman
Anyhow… for this second incident, he was demoted from private first-class to private and placed in the brig for a short time.

A third incident occurred in the Philippines after he fired a shot into the jungle for no apparent reason. This occurred when he was on night-time sentry duty… you'll notice they didn't have him performing any radar duties that require clearance.

Oswald stayed with the US's Japanese Naval Air Facility Atsugi until November of 1958 when he was transferred back to El Toro.

Now… perhaps due to continued disillusionment with the US thanks to his experiences in the USMC, Oswald began learning the Russian language.

While that could be seen as commendable since the US could always use American folk who spoke the language for spying, for Oswald, it was self-serving.

Oswald, while in Japan, was nicknamed Ozzie, after the Disney character Oswald the Rabbit, but was also called Oswaldskovich because he often talked about his pro-Soviet beliefs… which, while it is his right to do so, was not something the USMC was looking for in its recruits to combat the Soviets during the Cold-War era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Nyet-nyet, Soviet.

Anyhow… he sucked at Russian - bojemoi (oh my god!) - which was proven by the poor results Oswald achieved in a February 1959 proficiency exam in written and oral Russian.

I've had good Russian oral taught me by a hot-to-trotsky Russian girlfriend who looked like Claudia Schiffer. I learned about 20 conversational lines in about three hours that first night - most of which are unprintable here. Oh… those Russians.

Anyhow… in September of 1959, Oswald ended up with a hardship discharge from the USMC because he said his mother was sick and - so he claimed - he needed to look after. One month later - screw the mother - Oswald, just before his 20th birthday, traveled to the Soviet Union… a trip he had planned for long before.

Anyhow… there's a cool story about Oswald fooling everyone to get to the USSR… but suffice to say that everyone believed that Oswald assassinated JFK because he was pro-Soviet…and the USSR and the US were mortal enemies... and what better way to score a moral victory than to take out the King of Camelot, JFK.

So… that's the JFK - Japan experience. It's not conspiracy-forming, but it does help fill in a few blanks.

Andrew Joseph
PS: By the way... I really struggled with what type of an image to place at the top of this blog... but... being an ex-newspaper guy, a newspaper seemed fitting and the least shocking.

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