Hemming reached the rank of sergeant and received an honorable discharge. in October 1958. The following year travelled to Cuba where he gave help to Fidel Castro and his revolutionary forces. In January 1959 he claims he met Lee Harvey Oswald.
A confidential U.S. Army report from March 1960 reports that Hemming was "stationed with Cuban rebel air force in Pinar del Rio. Claims he is a T-33 jet pilot with mission to intercept U.S.-based planes which fly over Cuba bent on destroying cane fields. Was formerly stationed in Isle of Pines. Subject wears Army fatigues, is armed with a pistol, and wears a U.S. paratrooper badge. He states he has been in Cuba for two years. He wears no insignia of rank.''
In 1961 Hemming established Interpen. Other members included Loran Hall, Roy Hargraves, William Seymour, Lawrence Howard, Steve Wilson, Howard K. Davis, Edwin Collins, James Arthur Lewis, Dennis Harber, Dick Whatley, Bill Dempsey, Ramigo Arce, Ronald Augustinovich, Joe Garman, Edmund Kolby, Ralph Schlafter, Manuel Aguilar and Oscar Del Pinto.
Declassified FBI files show that the agency had an informer within Interpen. His code name was MM T-1. In one document dated 16th June, 1961, it said that MM T-1 had “been connected with Cuban revolutionary activities for the past three years”. One document dated 12th May, 1961, claims that Allen Lushane of Miami “had made a trip to Texas to recruit Americans for some future military action against the Government of Cuba”. The document adds that the “first training camp was established by Gerald Patrick Hemming with Dick Watley and Ed Colby running the camp.” In an interview that he gave to John M. Newman on 6th January, 1995, Hemming claims that the FBI informer was Steve Wilson.
Interpen was involved in training members of the anti-Castro groups funded by the Central Intelligence Agency in Florida in the early 1960s. When the government began to crack down on raids from Florida in 1962, Interpen set up a new training camp in New Orleans. During this period Hemming was arrested by Customs for gun-running, but the charges were later dismissed.
In June 1962, The Miami Herald, reported that Hemming was ultimately forced to close the camp on the north edge of Lake Pontchartrain at the behest of the Cuban Revolutionary Council's Miami headquarters. It was claimed that this had happened under pressure from the CIA. When this work came to an end in 1964 Hemming was employed in the construction industry in Miami.
FBI files show that Gerry Hemming told agents in March 1968 that someone had offered to pay him to kill Martin Luther King.
Gerry Hemming has granted long interviews with several writers working on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This includes Anthony Summers (The Kennedy Conspiracy), Noel Twyman (Bloody Treason), John M. Newman (Oswald and the CIA), Joan Mellen (A Farewell to Justice) and David Talbot (Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years).
Some researchers believe that a combination of Interpen members and anti-Castro Cubans were involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This included Hemming, James Arthur Lewis, Roy Hargraves, Edwin Collins, Steve Wilson, David Morales, Herminio Diaz Garcia, Tony Cuesta, Eugenio Martinez, Virgilio Gonzalez, Felipe Vidal Santiago and William (Rip) Robertson.
By 1976, Hemming established an office in the Jose Marti Building in Miami. He told a reporter with the The Miami Herald that he was ''operations director'' of Parabellum Corporation, a group started in October 1971 by Rolando Masferrer and others for the sale of military armaments to domestic and foreign markets.
Gerry Hemming was arrested on 23rd August, 1976, for the illegal transfer of a silencer, and drug smuggling. It seems that this was the point that he began talking about his past work with the CIA. He told one reporter: "All of a sudden they're accusing me of conspiracy to import marijuana and cocaine. Hey, what about all the other things I've been into for the last 15 years, lets talk about them. Let's talk about the Martin Luther King thing, let's talk about Don Freed, Le Coubre, nigger-killers in bed with the Mafia, the Mafia in bed with the FBI, and the goddamn CIA in bed with all of them. Let's talk about all the people I dirtied up for them over the years."
Hemming was convicted by a Miami jury of conspiracy to import marijuana. In 1978 he was sentenced to six months in prison by U.S. District Judge William M. Hoeveler. Hemming was released on appeal bond and the conviction was later overturned.
In August, 1978, Victor Marchetti published an article about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the liberty Lobby newspaper, Spotlight. In the article Marchetti argued that the House Special Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) had obtained a 1966 CIA memo that revealed Hemming, E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis had been involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Marchetti's article also included a story that Marita Lorenz had provided information on this plot. Later that month Joseph Trento and Jacquie Powers wrote a similar story for the Sunday News Journal.
On 14th April, 1980, Gerry Hemming was arrested at the Lantana Airport in Palm Beach County with a plane loaded with 723 pounds of marijuana and a cache of Quaaludes. Hemming claimed he was he was working for the U.S. government in an undercover operation. Hemming told Alan J. Weberman that he was working for Mitchell WerBell and Lucien Conein. Hemming was sentenced to 35 years in prison. State records indicate he served seven years.
The HSCA did not publish this CIA memo linking its agents to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Hunt now decided to take legal action against the Liberty Lobby and in December, 1981, he was awarded $650,000 in damages. Liberty Lobby appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. It was claimed that Hunt's attorney, Ellis Rubin, had offered a clearly erroneous instruction as to the law of defamation. The three-judge panel agreed and the case was retried. This time Mark Lane defended the Liberty Lobby against Hunt's action.
Lane eventually discovered Marchettis sources. The main source was William Corson. It also emerged that Marchetti had also consulted James Angleton and Alan J. Weberman before publishing the article. As a result of obtaining of getting depositions from David Atlee Phillips, Richard Helms, G. Gordon Liddy, Stansfield Turner and Marita Lorenz, plus a skillful cross-examination by Lane of E. Howard Hunt, the jury decided in January, 1995, that Marchetti had not been guilty of libel when he suggested that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated by people working for the CIA.
Hemming moved from Florida to Fayetteville in North Carolina in the 1990s because he wanted to be near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Gerald Patrick Hemming died in his North Carolina home on 29th January, 2008.
Gerry Hemming was to become well known in the Sixties for his links with ClA-backed anti-Castro exiles; but in January 1959, as American policy hung in the balance, he was still working with Castro's people.... Hemming explained that he believed Oswald's service at the Atsugi base made him a likely recruit for intelligence... Hemming offers only his personal opinion, based on a gut feeling at the time, that Oswald was involved with one of the intelligence services when he met him in 1959.
He (Lee Harvey Oswald) was attempting to get in with the representatives of Castro's new government, the consular officials in Los Angeles. And at that point in time I felt that he was a threat to me and to those Castro people, that he was an informant or some type of agent working for somebody. He was rather young, but I felt that he was too knowledgeable in certain things not to be an agent of law enforcement or of Military Intelligence, or Naval Intelligence.
As a radar operator living in a highly restricted area, he would have been fraternizing with CIA contract employees. Sooner or later he would fraternize with a case officer, one or more, that handled these contract employees. He would be a prime candidate for recruitment because of job skills, and expertise, and the fact that they could personally vouch for him and give him a security clearance.
We were recently paid an unannounced visit by two Americans who were intimately connected with Cuban exile groups in the summer of 1963. One, Gerry Patrick Hemming, was even dressed in fatigues. The main purpose of their visit seemed to be to point an authoritative finger of suspicion at Hall, Howard and Seymour, (to an extent that we began to wonder if they knew that others were involved and were trying to protect them.) Gerry Patrick told me the following story which I thought might interest you.
According to Gerry Patrick, (he usually drops the Hemming) there were in 1963 numerous "teams" with paramilitary inclinations out to "get" Kennedy. Some of these teams had been approached by wealthy entrepreneurs of the H.L. Hunt type, (though not, I think, in fact H.L. Hunt) who were interested in seeing the job done and even provided financial assistance. Then, on November 22, 1963, Kennedy is shot down on the streets, ("Maybe Oswald got there ahead of them," Patrick commented) and then for 2 years or so, there the story rests.
However, since all the mounting controversy of the last 12 months, a startling new development has occurred, according to Patrick. Recently, members of the "teams" have been returning to their sponsors, taking credit for the assassination, and at the same time requesting large additional sums of money so that they won't be tempted to talk about it to anyone. In turn, the sponsors have apparently been hiring Mafia figures to rid themselves of these blackmailers.
Gerry Patrick admitted that his own association with some of these extremist groups in 1963 has recently been causing him some concern. Incidentally, this may very well be the true story behind the Del Valle murder in Miami, reported this spring in the National Enquirer.
First contact with No Name Key group was in July or August, 1962, when small group was camping on south shorts of Lake Okeechobee, near Pahokee-Belle Glade.
Among those present were Howard K. Davis, identified as "car leader", Gerald Patrick Hemming, aka "Jerry Patrick", Joe Garman, and Steve Wilson.
Group a bit publicity shy, but in September, at request of WFLA-TV Tampa friend, Don Starr, tried for footage on their activities. Met with Davis and Patrick in Miami on Sat. Sept. 15, finally, around 2 a.m. Sunday Sept. 16, got approval.
Two carloads departed Miami for No Name Key, including Davis, Patrick, Cuban known only as Pino, among others. At the camp on No Name Key, Steve Wilson was in charge. Other Americans there included Ed Collins, Bill Seymour, Canadian Bill Dempsey, one individual identified as Finnish and in doubtful status with Immigration, named Edmund Kolbe, also Roy Hargraves.
Number of men transported by boat from No Name Sunday, Sept 16, for a demonstration which was filmed on Big Pine Key, near No Name, by WFLA-TV sound crew, by myself with film going to WTVT Tampa, plus stills which were used in Miami Herald story on 20 September and in Glades County Democrat 21 September 1962.
Democrat article read by a friend Larry Newman Jr., managing editor of Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, resulting in request for a feature with fresh art, dated 15 October.
Returned to Miami on Saturday 20 October, or possibly Friday. At any rate, after beer-drinking session in bar of Hotel Flagler, at which time Dennis Harber first encountered, accompanied Roy Hargraves to tourist court on Flagler where he was living with female know only as "Betty" whom he later reportedly married.
Arrival at 2 a.m. brought protest from Betty, who rather profanely instructed Hargraves to "get the hell out of here and take your queer friend with you." Later gratifyingly learned she had thought Harber was outside instead of me.
She protested to Hargraves that he was wasting his time with a revolution. He advised her he had too much time invested to quit. We slept in my car outside Patrick's headquarters, Federico's Guest House, 220 NW 8th Ave.
Howard K. Davis at that time lived at 3350 NW 18th Terrace. He accompanied both trips to No Name Key, and was reported leader of group. (Davis, interestingly, was listed in Associated Press Florida wire story F56MH ( believed to be March 24, 1960, but could have been 1959) as among 29 persons whom the Miami News listed as banned from aircraft rental on Border Patrol orders. Davis, and another American known only as "Art", later identified as Arthur Gerteit, were check pilots for CBS-Rolando Masferrer Haitian invasion "air Force" in November, 1966. Gerteit was later identified in United Press International dispatch from Tifton, Cal, early 1967 (Apr. 11) where Cuban arrested with bombs as he rented an airplane, as "an FBI Decoy")
On second trip to No Name on behalf of Dayton Daily News, Harber accompanied group, which included Cuban known to me only by last name of Pino, who also had been present at first filming session. Pino reportedly head of an exile group called Christian Army of Anti-Communist Liberation (ECLA), and not quotable by name at that time.
Harber was drunk on departure from Miami, and took one pint of whisky with him, which he asked be rationed to him slowly. I performed this task. Pino much amused at Harber, whom he called "el profesor."
Harber at that time was night clerk for the Flagler Hotel, 637 West Flagler, and also taught English (to Cuban exile students) at a language school next door to the hotel.
Harber was described by Patrick at that time as having terminal cancer. At present, according to last report from Patrick, Harber was serving sentenced in Mexico for murder, undocumented to me.
Harber lived in a small apartment behind Flagler Hotel, and shared it with various of the Americans occasionally, including Seymour, Collins, and a Czeck lad known as Karl Novak, who I don't recall seeing on No Name.
Chapter 27 (is) a long account of the author's interviews with and analysis of Gerry Patrick Hemming. Hemming is a figure whose exact ties to the case have always been unclear to me. But this is a fine example of Bloody Treason being loaded with, if not new evidence, at least a lot of information that has not been brought together like this before, as far as I know.
Twyman says that unnamed "prominent researchers" had warned him not to take Hemming seriously or Bloody Treason would be "completely discredited." But I am glad he did take him seriously, going so far as to meet with him on a number of occasions and probe his story in depth. Hemming is mentioned throughout the assassination literature. The author fills in much of Hemming's background (he formed a paramilitary group as a teenager) and demonstrates how his later activities, specifically Hemming's group Interpen, may have involved him in the JFK assassination plot(s). Hemming comes across as very credible in these pages.
A few months ago, in March, there was a meeting at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., the plush home of America's super spooks overlooking the Potomac River. It was attended by several high-level clandestine officers and some former top officials of the agency.
The topic of discussion was: What to do about recent revelations associating President Kennedy's accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, with the spy game played between the U.S. and the USSR? (Spotlight, May 8, 1978.) A decision was made, and a course of action determined. They were calculated to both fascinate and confuse the public by staging a clever "limited hangout" when the House Special Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) holds its open hearings, beginning later this month.
A "limited hangout" is spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting - sometimes even volunteering some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.
We will probably never find out who masterminded the assassination of JFK - or why. There are too many powerful special interests connected with the conspiracy for the truth to come out even now, 15 years after the murder.
But during the next two months, according to sensitive sources in the CIA and on HSCA, we are going to learn much more about the crime. The new disclosures will be sensational, but only superficially so. A few of the lesser villains involved in the conspiracy and its subsequent coverup will be identified for the first time - and allowed to twist slowly in the wind on live network TV. Most of the others to be fingered are already dead.
But once again the good folks of middle America will be hoodwinked by the government and its allies in the establishment news media. In fact, we are being set up to witness yet another coverup, albeit a sophisticated one, designed by the CIA with the assistance of the FBI and the blessing of the Carter administration.
A classic example of a limited hangout is how the CIA has handled and manipulated the Church Committee's investigation of two years ago. The committee learned nothing more about the assassinations of foreign leaders, illicit drug programs, or the penetration of the news media than the CIA allowed it to discover. And this is precisely what the CIA is out to accomplish through HSCA with regard to JFK's murder.
Chief among those to be exposed by the new investigation will be E. Howard Hunt, of Watergate fame. His luck has run out, and the CIA has decided to sacrifice him to: protect its clandestine services. The agency is furious with Hunt for having dragged it publicly into the Nixon mess and for having blackmailed it after he was arrested.
Besides, Hunt is vulnerable - an easy target as they say in the spy business. His reputation and integrity have been destroyed. The death of his wife, Dorothy, in a mysterious plane crash in Chicago still disturbs many people, especially since there were rumors from informed sources that she was about to leave him and perhaps even turn on him.
In addition it is well known that Hunt hated JFK and blamed him for the Bay of Pigs disaster. And now, in recent months, his alibi for his whereabouts on the day of the shooting has come unstuck.
In the public hearings, the CIA will "admit" that Hunt was involved in the conspiracy to kill Kennedy. The CIA may go so far as to "admit" that there were three gunmen shooting at Kennedy. The FBI, while publicly embracing the Warren Commission's "one man acting alone" conclusion, has always privately known that there were three gunmen. The conspiracy involved many more people than the ones who actually fired at Kennedy, both agencies may now admit.
A.J. Weberman and Michael Canfield, authors of Coup d'Etat in America, published pictures of three apparent bums who were arrested at Dealy Plaza just after President Kennedy's murder, but who were strangely released without any record of the arrest having been made by the Dallas police. One of the tramps the authors identified as Hunt. Another was Frank Sturgis, a long time agent of Hunt's.
Hunt immediately sued for millions of dollars in damages, claiming he could prove that he had been in Washington D.C. that day-on duty at CIA. It turned out, however, that this was not true. So, he said that he had been on leave and doing household errands, including a shopping trip to a grocery store in Chinatown.
Weberman and Canfield investigated the new alibi and found that the grocery store where Hunt claimed to be shopping never existed. At this point, Hunt offered to drop his suit for a token payment of one dollar. But the authors were determined to vindicate themselves, and they continued to attack Hunt's alibi, ultimately completely shattering it.
Now, the CIA moved to finger Hunt and tie him to the JFK assassination. HSCA unexpectedly received an internal CIA memorandum a few weeks ago that the agency just happened to stumble across in its old files. It was dated 1966 and said in essence: Some day we will have to explain Hunt's presence in Dallas on November 22, 1963 - the day President Kennedy was killed. Hunt is going to be hard put to explain this memo, and other things, before the TV cameras at the HSCA hearings.
Hunt's reputation as a strident fanatical anti-communist will count against him. So will his long and close relationship with the anti-Castro Cubans, as well as his penchant for clandestine dirty tricks and his various capers while one of Nixon's plumbers. E. Howard Hunt will be implicated in the conspiracy and he will not dare to speak out-the CIA will see to that. In addition to Hunt and Sturgis, another former CIA agent marked for exposure is Gerry Patrick Hemming, a hulk of a man-six feet eight inches tall and weighing 260 pounds. Like Sturgis, Hemming once worked for Castro as a CIA double agent, then later surfaced with the anti-Castro Cubans in various attempts to rid Cuba of the communist dictator. But there are two things in Hemming's past that the CIA, manipulation HSCA, will be able to use to tie him to the JFK assassination.
First, Castro's former mistress, Marita Lorenz (now an anti-Castroite herself), has identified Hemming, along with Oswald and others as being part of the secret squad assigned to kill President Kennedy. And secondly, Hemming was Oswald's Marine sergeant when he was stationed at CIA's U-2 base in Atsugi, Japan-where Oswald supposedly was recruited as a spy by the Soviets, or was being trained to be a double agent by the CIA.
In any event, Hemming's Cuban career and his connection with Oswald make the Lorenz story difficult for him to deny, particularly since the squad allegedly also included Hunt and Sturgis.
Who else will be identified as having been part of the conspiracy and/or coverup remains to be seen. But a disturbing pattern is already beginning to emerge. All the villains have been previously disgraced in one way or another. They all have "right wing" reputations. Or they will have after the hearings.
Howard Hunt, close associate of David Atlee Phillips, with whom he worked in the both the CIA's Guatemalan campaign of 1954 and the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. Hunt would later be arrested for his role in the Watergate affair. In one of Hunt's libel suits, one Marita Lorenz gave sworn testimony that Lee Harvey Oswald, American mercenaries Frank Sturgis and Gerry Patrick Hemming, and Cuban exiles including Orlando Bosch, Pedro Diaz Lanz, and the brothers Guillermo and Ignacio Novo Sampol, had met one November midnight in 1963 at the Miami home of Orlando Bosch and had studied Dallas street maps. She also swore that she and Sturgis were at that time in the employ of the CIA and that they received payment from Howard Hunt under the name "Eduardo," They arrived in Dallas on 21 November 1963, and stayed at a motel, where the group met Howard Hunt. Hunt stayed for about forty-five minutes and at one point handed an envelope of cash to Sturgis. About an hour after Hunt left, Jack Ruby came to the door. Lorenz says that this was the first time she had seen Ruby. By this time, she said, it was early evening. In her testimony, Lorenz identified herself and her fellow passengers as members of Operation Forty, the CIA-directed assassination team formed in 1960 in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion. She described her role as that of a "decoy".
Only 13 percent of Americans believe President Kennedy was shot by a lone nut, says a 2001 Gallup poll.
What really happened on November 22, 1963 is known only to a handful of people still alive. One of those has recently started to share some of the secrets of the Kennedy assassination.
Gerald Patrick Hemming served as a consultant on the 1991 movie JFK and is listed in the credits. This week, Hemming spoke with Solares Hill of the days when he was the leader of Interpen, a group of American anti-Communists who trained Cuban exiles in the early 1960s at a camp on No Name Key, 25 miles north of Key West.
Hemming, who is 6 foot 7 inches tall, was in his early twenties at the time. With his wavy black hair and movie-star good looks, he was often compared to Errol Flynn but Flynns movie exploits paled in comparison with hemmings real-life adventures.
Hemming, raised in Los Angeles, started a paramilitary group while he was still in high school. He served in the Marines, then went to Cuba to train Castros paratroopers. When Castro embraced Communism, Hemming returned to the United States and told the CIA what he had observed in Cuba. He then started his Interpen group on the same site on No Name Key once used for the same purpose by Rolando Masferrer, who in Dec. 1960 trained with 300 anti-Castro mercenaries on the key. (Readers will recall that Masferrer was arrested on January 2, 1967 for attempting to launch an invasion of Haiti from Coco Plum Island off Marathon.)
Hemming told Solares Hill that his sources were the first to verify the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962, and that they were able to provide precise locations for them. Hemming provided this information to Florida Governor Farris Bryant. Hemming states that that the photos of missile sites that Adlai Stevenson showed the United Nations were actually decoy sites set up by the Soviets. Hemming considers the work he did on the Soviet missile sites the most important accomplishment of his life.
In a deposition to the House Assassinations Committee, Hemming testified that in 1963 he was offered money by New Orleans private detective and former FBI agent Guy Banister to kill Kennedy, an offer he refused. (Banister was played in JFK by Solares Hills friend Ed Asner.) Banister reportedly knew Oswald, a fact confirmed by a New Orleans history professor who had observed the two together on two separate occasions. Hemming testified that George deMohrenschilt, the mysterious Russian from Dallas who became Oswalds best friend, was present at the meeting when Banister made the offer.
Hemming himself encountered Oswald twice. The first time was in Monterey Park, California, shortly before Hemming first went to Cuba. Hemming was then acting as a guard at the home of the Cuban consul. He was approached by a skinny young man in civilian clothes who called himself Lee Oswald (Oswald was then in the Marines). Oswald said he wanted to fly to Cuba and join the revolution. Hemming says Oswald gave him an eerie feeling. It was like he had read my file, Hemming told us. Moreover, Oswald expressed knowledge of a secret cache of arms hidden in the consuls house and destined for Cuba.
Fearing Oswald was an agent provocateur, Hemming sent him away. Hemming tried to follow him to get his license plate, but Oswald had disappeared too fast.
The second time Hemming saw Oswald was in 1962. On December 4 of that year, Hemming and 13 of his Interpen colleagues were arrested in Marathon by U.S. Customs for violations of the Neutrality Act. Hemmings group had moved a boat, the Sally, from Miami to Marathon, and Customs had information they were going to use the boat for a raid into Cuba.
After being booked in Key West, they were released on bond with the help of a Miami attorney named Charles Ashman, then drove to Miami where they rented hotel rooms. In Miami, Hemming was shocked when he saw Oswald with one of his No Name Key men, apparently trying to infiltrate his group. Hemming stopped that right away. Get away from him, Hemming told his man, hes trouble. Attorney Ashman witnessed the incident.
Hemming told Solares Hill of a third encounter with Oswald. Shortly after Hemming arrived in Havana, in January of 1959, while he was near the Presidential Palace, Hemming was told an American named Oswald was looking for him. Hemming avoided Oswald.
And there was a fourth attempted contact as well. A month or two before the assassination, Hemming and his No Name Key comrade Howard Davis were appearing on a Miami radio talk show hosted by Allen Courtney. A man called in asking to speak to Hemming, identifying himself as Lee Oswald. Hemming did not want to take the call and handed it to Davis.
By November 1963, law enforcement had picked up rumors of potential danger to the President from both anti-Castro and pro-Castro Cubans. When President Kennedy visited Miami on Monday, November 18, 1963, Hemming and several of his No Name crew were asked to help with security by scanning the crowds for potentially dangerous Cubans. They were asked to come armed, but Hemming told the authorities they would be there but unarmed; he was concerned it might be a set-up with his men possessing firearms too close to the President.
After Kennedy was assassinated, the FBI interviewed Hemming to find out what he knew about the assassination. Hemming says the interview was perfunctory and it was clear to him the FBI was not conducting a serious investigation. Hemming once told an assassination conference in Dallas, After the assassination, when the FBI did not immediately detain me and Mitch WerBell [a right-wing arms merchant from Powder Springs, Ga.] for questioning, I knew there was going to be a cover-up. Not everyone laughed.
In fact, when New Orleans District Attorney James Garrison started his investigation, he first believed the assassination was planned on No Name Key. To disabuse him, Hemming walked into the office of the giant DA (Hemming even had a few inches on Garrison) and offered to help his investigation.
In late March of 1968, Hemming was in Los Angeles and was offered money to kill Martin Luther King, Jr., an offer he reported to the FBI. Within two weeks, King was murdered in Atlanta.
In 1972, Hemming may have foiled a plot to kill President Richard Nixon. One of his colleagues was approached by a Cuban exile group who wanted to use a boat disguised as Cuban military to shoot bazookas at the presidential compound on Key Biscayne. The idea was to blame the attack on Cuba to prompt a U.S. invasion of Cuba. Hemming and his associate reported the plan to the FBI.
Perhaps not coincidentally, there is a body of assassination researchers who believe the Kennedy assassination was conducted by Cuban exiles (some think with the assistance of renegade CIA agents) with a similar motive: Set up the left-wing Oswald as the patsy assassin, kill Oswald while he was trying to escape, pin it on Castro and prompt a U.S. invasion of Cuba. If that was indeed the motive, it backfired. Recently released recordings between LBJ and Chief Justice Earl Warren indicate LBJ initiated the cover-up precisely because he feared an investigation might demonstrate foreign involvement in the assassination and lead inexorably to a war.
On the night of the assassination, LBJs closest aide called the Dallas prosecutor and ordered him to delete any references to a foreign conspiracy in the indictment against Oswald.
Many people think that although Hemming was not involved in the assassination, over several years he learned the details through his associates. A few weeks ago Hemming identified to us for the first time the name of a man he states participated in the assassination.
Recall the JFK movies scenario that there were three teams involved, each team consisting of a shooter and a spotter. Hemming helped Stone set up the triangulation of cross-fire scenario.
JFK shows a white shooter and a black spotter in the Dal-Tex Building, across the street from the Texas School Book Depository. Hemming told Solares Hill that the spotter was a black Cuban exile named Nestor Izquierdo, a veteran of the Bay of Pigs and considered a hero among the members of Brigade 2506
Hemming tells a revealing story about this. Originally, Oliver Stone wanted Hemmings No Name Key colleague Howard Davis to play the role of the Dal-Tex spotter, but Hemming insisted the spotter should be black for reasons of historical accuracy. (Hemming did not tell Stone he knew the name of the spotter.)
Izquierdo was killed in 1979 fighting with the Somoza forces against the Communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Our sources say that Izquierdo was close to a CIA officer named Rip Robertson, who was involved with a CIA front company, Mineral Traders, that ran arms into Cuba from a warehouse on Stock Island. One of the boats in the Bay of Pigs invasion was captained by him. Some believe Robertson may have been one of the CIA officers involved in the assassination. In a photo of onlookers in Dealey Plaza there is a man wearing a hat who bears a striking resemblance to Robertson.
He died in the Congo in the mid-1970s, still fighting communists for the CIA. Solares Hill has a source who was involved in an intelligence operation that included several mercenaries who served with Robertson in the Congo. Those mercenaries told our source that Robertson admitted to them that he was in Dealey Plaza when Kennedy was shot.
And Robertson had one association that raises disquieting questions. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs, Robertson worked with JM/WAVE, the CIAs anti-Castro operation located in Miami that conducted Operation Mongoose against Cuba. In that program he worked closely, and reportedly became drinking buddies with, Johnny Rosselli, the flashy Los Angeles Mafioso whom the CIA had engaged to kill Castro. Rosselli and Robertson often met at the Mariners Restaurant on US 1 in Florida City. Rossellis operation was based in Point Mary on Key Largo, where he trained snipers to kill Castro but whose guns may have been turned on Kennedy.
Roselli recruited Florida mob boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. to assist in the attempts against Castro. In his biography, Trafficantes long-time lawyer states that Trafficante admitted to his attorney his involvement in the assassination. Trafficante also, apparently, had connections to Jack Ruby. Within days after the assassination, a British journalist approached the FBI in London and stated he had been in a Castro prison with an American gangster named Santos and that Santos was visited by a man the journalist believed to be Ruby. The journalist asked to view Rubys photograph to verify the match. But FBI HQ in Washington wired London FBI and said it did not want the matter pursued.
Hemmings revelation of Izquierdo as a participant opens new lines of inquiry among those who believe it is not yet too late to resolve what is without question the greatest unsolved crime in American history.
Gerry Hemming was the leader of a group of anti-Communist soldiers of fortune who trained anti-Castro Cubans in the early 1960s at a camp on No Name Key, an island 25 miles north of Key West.
Many assassination researchers believe Hemming knows at least some of the secrets of the Kennedy assassination (some believe he participated in or even planned it). Recently he has been sharing some of these secrets with Solares Hill and his revelations may bring us closer to what has been called the crime of the 20th century.
Hemming tells us the assassination was accomplished by several autonomous, separately funded, teams, consisting of a shooter and a spotter. (He has yet to identify the master planner and has suggested he does not know who the master planner was.)
This week Hemming revealed who he believed were two of the sponsors of the assassination. Two men met in Haiti in February of 1963 and contributed funds for the Kennedy assassination. Both were from the Dominican Republic. One, Ramfis Trujillo, and international playboy who dated Hollywood starlets, was the son of long-term Dominican Republican dictator Rafael Trujillo, who was assassinated in May of 1961. The second man was Johnny Abbes Garcia, former intelligence director for General Rafael Trujillo. It was not the first time Garcia had financed an assassination. In 1959, Garcia hired American adventurer Alexander Rorke to smuggle eight men into Cuba on one of the first missions to kill Castro. (See Rorke story.) The motives of Trujillo and Garcia were apparent: To revenge the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, widely believed to have been organized by the CIA.
A ranking member of Rafael Trujillos military wrote a book in which he stated that the assassination was organized with the support of CIA agent (and future Watergate burglar) E. Howard Hunt and flashy Mafioso Johnny Rosselli, although this report is uncorroborated.
Hunt, interestingly, returned from a fact-finding trip to Cuba in July of 1960 and reported to his CIA superiors that Castro was popular and the only way to eliminate him would be by his assassination. The next month, acting apparently on Hunts recommendation, the CIA initiated its alliance with the Mafia to kill Castro. The first Mafioso the CIA recruited was Johnny Rosselli. Some believe that Hunt and/or Rosselli were involved in the Kennedy assassination.
This week Hemming revealed to Solares Hill that the assassins had a back-up plan to ensure Kennedy never left Dallas alive. According to Hemming, there was a huge remote-controlled bomb planted in one of the cars parked beyond the triple overpass at the south end of Dealey Plaza. If the assassins were not sure Kennedy had been killed by the ambush in Dealey Plaza, they would detonate the car bomb as the motorcade sped toward the hospital, ensuring the death of all the occupants of the Presidential limousine.
Hemming told us this week that, through a source in a Central American intelligence organization, he learned that a shooter in the Texas School Book Depository, spoke German and used a shoulder-mounted, carbine-firing Mauser equipped with a scope and a silencer.
This man fired not from the snipers nest on the southeast corner of the sixth floor of the book depository, but from the window on the west end of the sixth floor. Hemming cannot identify this German-speaking shooter by name.
There is some evidentiary support for Hemmings report. Photos show that the window on the west end of the sixth floor was open, and there is also a photo of witnesses, after the shooting, pointing to the west end of the building. In addition, one witness reported seeing a man with a strange-looking weapon on the sixth floor, but she assumed before the assassination that it must have been a secret service agent.
Although not a new revelation, we also want to note Hemmings explanation for how the assassins escaped from the sixth floor. Immediately after the assassination, a Dallas police officer called Baker rushed into the book depository accompanied by its manager, Roy Truly. They first attempted to take the elevator, but it was not functioning, so they dashed up the stairs. They encountered Lee Harvey Oswald calmly drinking a Coke in the second-floor lunch room, no more than 90 seconds after the shooting stopped.
Many people find it doubtful that Oswald could have hidden the rifle and run down four flights of stairs and purchased a Coke in that time period.
Hemming states that the assassins had disabled the elevator before the assassination, and that they escaped by ropes down the elevator shaft.
Last week we reported Hemmings identification of Nestor Izquierdo, a black Cuban member of Brigade 2506, as the spotter in the Dal-Tex Building. We also reported Izquierdos close relationship with Rip Robertson, a CIA operative who ran a CIA front company on Stock Island hauling packs of arms into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs. Robertson captained one of the two boats delivering members of Brigade 2506 into the ill-fated Bay of Pigs. Some believe Robertson may have been involved in the assassination, a belief fueled by a photograph of a man watching the motorcade in Dealey Plaza who bears a striking resemblance to Robertson, as well as by Robertsons close association with flashy Mafioso Johnny Rosselli who was involved in the CIAs plots to kill Castro. FBI reports indicate Rosselli met twice in Miami with Jack Ruby in the months preceding the assassination.
Since our story on Izquierdo last week, our intelligence source has advised us that Izquierdo also had a close relationship with a CIA officer named David Sanchez Morales, which raises even more troubling questions than his association with Robertson.
Morales joined the CIA in 1951 and was involved in many of the CIAs most secret and dangerous covert operations. He helped the CIA overthrow the Guatemalan government in 1954. In the early 1960s, he was in South Florida working on the CIAs secret war against Castro. He was instrumental in the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965. He helped capture guerilla leader Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967. In the late 1960s, according to an unpublished story by Bryan Abas, Morales was in Vietnam, assisting in the CIAs notorious Phoenix program that killed thousands of Vietnamese civilians as suspected Communists.
His CIA colleague Thomas Clines said that Morales was one of the most feared undercover agents to the governments of Central and South America. A lot of leaders figured that if Morales was there, he said, their government was going to cave in. If the U.S. government needed someone or something neutralized, said Cline, Dave would do it, including things that were repugnant to a lot of people.
Gaeton Fonzi, a well-respected investigator who worked for both the Church Committee and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, is convinced Morales participated in the assassination. In the course of his congressional service, Fonzi interviewed a long-time friend of Morales, and Morales Harvard trained attorney, both of whom were with Morales when he boasted, referring to the slain president, We sure took care of that son-of-a-bitch!
One of our sources tells us that Morales had assembled a group of approximately twelve Cuban exiles trained as assassins, to be used in anti-Castro operations, and that Izquierdo was a member of that elite hit squad. Our source has identified all the members of this operation but because several are still alive, we do not deem it appropriate to name them yet. But we can state that several researchers believe that Izquierdo was not the only member of Morales team who was involved in the Kennedy assassination.
It is possible Morales statement was nothing more than drunken braggadocio and that he had nothing to do with the assassination. However, Hemmings identification of Izquierdo as a participant in the assassination adds strength to the conviction of those who believe that Morales was involved. This is particularly so because Hemming had no knowledge of the Morales hit squad or Izquierdos involvement in it. Like fellow CIA agent Rip Robertson, Morales was close to the Mafia leader Johnny Rosselli. Kennedy scholar Dennis Mahoney writes in Sons and Brothers that Rosselli was the only person who could make the ill-temprered Morales laugh, and that Morales and Rosselli engaged in all-night drinking binges, often joined by Robertson.
It was perhaps in one of those drinking sessions that Morales or Rosselli first raised the idea of turning the Cubans they were training to kill Castro against Kennedy instead. Morales and/or Robertson would supply the Cuban exiles, many of whom felt Kennedy had betrayed them and caused the death of many of their comrades at the Bay of Pigs, and Rosselli would supply Mafia funding and expertise (and, in the event, Jack Ruby to forever silence the patsy).
The House Select Committee on Assassinations put Morales on its witness list but was never able to interview or depose him. In May of 1978, Morales, then retired from the CIA, returned to his Arizona home from a business trip, complaining of chest pains. That night he collapsed at his home and was rushed to a Tucson hospital where he died several days later, at the age of 53.
Morales was not the only CIA officer involved with Rosselli to die during the investigation of the House Assassinations Committee. William Harvey was Rossellis case officer in the post-Bay of Pigs efforts to assassinate Castro. In fact it was Harvey who summoned Morales to work on the Cuban operations from the CIA base in South Florida. Harvey, like Morales, hated the Kennedys. Harvey died of complications following heart surgery in June of 1976, at age 61.
There is no evidence, and we do not suggest, that either Morales or Harvey died other than from natural causes. Several suspects in the assassination did, however, meet violent deaths while the Kennedy assassination was being reinvestigated, first by the Senate Church Committee and then by the House Assassinations Committee: Chicago Mafia don Sam Giancana was murdered in his Illinois home in June of 1975, only five days before he was to testify to the Church Committee; Jimmy Hoffa was murdered in Detroit in July of 1975; Johnny Rosselli was murdered in Miami in July of 1976; and George DeMohrenschildt, the mysterious Russian baron who had befriended the Oswalds in Dallas, apparently committed suicide in March 1977, on the same day that House Assassinations investigator Fonzi had scheduled a meeting with him.
Like Hemmings identification to Solares Hill of Izquierdo as the Dal Tex spotter, his new revelations add additional avenues of inquiry to those who believe it is not yet too late to solve the murder that continues to haunt the American psyche.
Our recent conversations with Gerry Hemming has caused us to revisit a story we covered in May 2004, when we met - at Little Palm Island, only a few miles from Hemmings former Interpen base on No Name Key - with several women whose fathers had disappeared fighting Americas secret war against Castro in the early 1960s.
One of the women was Sherry Sullivan, today the owner of an art gallery in Maine. Sullivans father Geoffrey, a Korean War Air Force veteran, was a pilot for Alexander Rorke. She remembers her daredevil father flying his plane under the St. John River Bridge during a family vacation in Florida when she was five.
Sullivan and Rorke took off from the Fort Lauderdale airport in a rented blue-and-white twin-engined Beechcraft mid-afternoon on September 24, 1963, having filed a flight plan for Panama. That night the plane refueled in Cozmuzel, Mexico, after Sullivan filed a new flight plan with a destination of Honduras. It was the last time the plane and its occupants were seen.
Rorke, the wealthy son of a New York judge and son-in-law of the owner of Manhattans tony Stork Club, was as much of a swashbuckler than Hemming. Before his disappearance, Rorke had spent four years fighting Castro, his activities funded by anti-Castro governments. Rorke was involved in at least two attempts to assassinate Castro.
In 1959, on a mission funded by Johhny Abbes Garcia, intelligence chief of the Dominican Republic - who, according to Hemming, would later help fund Kennedys assassination - Rorke delivered eight men into Cuba by speedboat in one of the earliest missions to assassinate Castro (the CIA did not enter the kill Castro business until a year later when it outsourced the mission to the Mafia). Although the men succeeded in killing Castros driver and bodyguard, they missed Castro and were subsequently captured and executed.
Rorkes second known attempt to assassinate Castro occurred in the fall of 1960. This attempt included his friend Frank Sturgis, who, like Hemming, had fought with the Castro forces. Shortly after Batista fled Cuba on New Years Day 1959, Sturgis gave the order for the mass execution of 59 followers of Batistas notorious hatchet-man Rolando Masferrer, who fled to Key West the day after the fall of Batista. The Masferrer followers were buried near San Juan Hill. Castro later named Sturgis the government overseer of the gambling casinos. But Sturgis, like several other Americans who had fought with Castro, became disillusioned by Castros embrace of communism and he returned to the U.S., dedicated to overthrowing Castro.
Rorke and Sturgis knew a lady named Marita Lorenz. At the age of 20, Lorenz met Castro when he dined on board the cruise ship she was traveling in on a visit to Havana in February 1959. She fell for Castro and moved into his suite at the Havana Hilton. She accompanied him on his first visit to the U.S. in April 1959, and it was on that trip she became pregnant with Castros child. In September 1959, back in Cuba, Castro operatives drugged her and a Cuban doctor aborted her pregnancy. Upset over the forced abortion and still suffering medical complications from it, Lorenz returned to the U.S..
According to Lorenz, Rorke and Lorenz convinved her to return to Cuba and embrace Castro once more, but this time poison him while she was in his bed. They supplied her with the poison disguised in a bottle of cold cream. But she returned with her mission unfulfilled. She stated the poison had melted and become unuseable. Some thought, however, that she had either lost her nerve or been overcome by Castros charms. (The Lorenz story is told in a HBO movie, My Little Assassin, starring Joe Mantega as Fidel Castro. Frank Sturgis later gained notoriety as one of the Watergate burglars.)
After the two unsuccessful assassination attempts, Rorke engaged in numerous other missions against Castro and Cuba. Some involved dropping anti-Castro leaflets. Others involved sabotage operations. In April 1963, Rorke went on a mission to bomb a Cuban refinery but the bomb failed to explode. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Customs impounded Sullivans plane.
After his disappearance in late September, Rorkes wealthy father-in-law announced at his Stork Club a substantial reward for information about the whereabouts of Rorke.
In early October 1963 prominent Florida attorney Ellis Rubin engaged Hemming and his No Name Key colleague Howard Davis to search for the missing plane and its occupants. Hemming, Davis and several others, including a representative of the company that had insured the missing plane, spent days searching the waters of the Florida straits and the Caribbean as well as the rugged terrain of several Central American countries in an unsuccessful effort to locate any sign of the missing plane or its occupants.
Hemming has offered a plausible explanation for the disappearance of Rorke and Sullivan. When they left Ft. Lauderdale there was a third occupant on the plane, a Cuban named Enrique Molina. Hemming is convinced Molina was a double agent for Castro. If so, Molina probably forced Sullivan to fly the plane from Cozmuzel to Cuba or to some other destination where they were turned over to Castros agents. If Hemmings scenario is correct, it is likely that Rorke and Sullivan paid the ultimate penalty for their activities against Castro.
A strange addendum to this story: In 1980, a newsletter named Spotlight claimed that Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Attorney Rubin, who had engaged Hemming on the search for Rorke and Sullivan, sued Liberty Lobby for libel on behalf of Hunt. Hunt won but the verdict was reversed on appeal. In the retrial, the Liberty Lobby engaged a new counsel, Mark Lane, author of Rush to Judgment, one of the early critiques of the Warren Commission. At the new trial, Lane introduced the testimony of Rita Lorenz, the same lady that Rorke and Sturgis had engaged in the 1960 plot to poison Castro. Lorenz told an incredible story: that on the day before the assassination of JFK, she left Miami for Dallas in a multi-car caravan. Among the other members of the caravan, she testified, were Lee Harvey Oswald, Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming and several Cubans. She further testified that in Dallas the group met with E. Howard Hunt as well as Jack Ruby. She claimed she flew back to Miami before the assassination.
Most assassination researchers dismiss Lorenzs story. It is known that Oswald spent the night before the assassination at his wifes home in Irving, Texas, for instance. Hemming was with a Miami newsman at the time of the assassination and Sturgis also claimed to be in Miami. Finally, Hemming famously once asked why anyone would take a woman along on a mission to assassinate the President, a comment that, while chauvinistic, has the ring of truth.
Hunt was never able to satisfactorily explain to the second jury his whereabouts on November 22nd and he lost the second trial.
Readers will recall that Attorney Rubin represented former Key West Police Chief Ray Peterson in his suit against the city and more recently was involved in the Elian Gonzales saga.
Edwin Anderson Collins was murdered by Castro "fellow-travelers" upon their discovery of his identity, and just a few weeks after he was tasked to penetrate their "protest march" from Canada, down the east coast, and on to Havana, and GITMO. Steve Wilson and I identified his body at the Medical Examiner's morgue, and when I questioned an assistant there as to the severe lacerations, cuts and bruises on Eddy's face and scalp - he responded that: "This was most likely due to crabs and other critters munching on the corpse post-mortem!!"
Upon my questioning exactly how a corpse (in salt water) might continue to bleed, acquire bruises, and suffer contusions and edema after only 8 hours + in Biscayne Bay (400 yards off the docks of Dinner Key & City Hall) - police detectives Tony Fontana and Bill Cloy charged into the room demanding to know our purposes.
Eddy Collins was one of our best swimmers, as evidenced when he was blown overboard (sans UDT the same life jacket he is pictured wearing in the No Name Key pix) - along with Dickey Chappelle, Hargraves, and Felipe Vidal on a Cuba run during early 1964.
Wilson and I tracked down the now hiding boat crew a few days later, and with less than Abu-Ghraib measures, thoroughly "interviewed" them.
Their "official" story to the police was that Eddy was drunk and that he had dived overboard to recover a dinghy which had cast adrift that night. Despite witnesses ashore reporting screams beforehand - they had insisted that had he uttered one sound they could have turned the boat around, located and recovered him. (They admitted to the police that they had motored to the dock, and "immediately" called the police??) The live-aboard boaters and shrimpers who already knew Eddy over the years, wondered about the great discrepancies in timing, especially the police report (initial call) showing that this was made some 45 minutes after the boaters heard the screams and turned on their searchlights (evidenced in their official log books). They had asked the "hippies" what was going on only 5 minutes after the screams, and just after the "protestor" boat was being tied to the dock.
Eddy Collins had been recruited by FBI agents (MIA/FO), and John Evans of the "Johns Committee" (Red-Squad) in Tallahassee - to assist in monitoring the "peace marchers". The "Mounties" (R.C.M.P.) had inserted two assets into the group in Canada, and one of these had operated together with one of our guys, who, the year previous, had worked a joint CSS/RCMP/FBI operation involving Nicaraguans, Cubans, and other foreign nationals embarking on a mission to attend training camps inside Cuba.
The day of the JFK assassination, Jim Lewis was [as usual] playing Chess at "Little Joe's" apartment by the Miami River - together with Eddy Collins, "Skinny", Dick Whatley, Bobby Willis, and Bill Dempsey. When Garman started dancing in the street soon after hearing the news from Dallas, Jim chastised him severely (along with Cuban pissed-off neighbors); He reminded him that just four days before; he had been a member of our security detail for JFK at MIA (Monday, 18th Nov.), and that he had been prepared to "take-a-bullet" for the President!!
A steady steam of people bent on sidetracking Garrison's investigation beat an unholy path to Tulane and Broad. An intellectual, more interested in ideas than practicalities, Garrison was a gullible man. "I regret to say, I trust everyone and am easily fooled," he would acknowledge. That soldier of fortune who had scorned John F. Kennedy's offer that he take over the CIA's Radio Swan, arrived unannounced on July 7, 1967. Gerald Patrick Hemming wore green camouflage fatigues and jungle boots with treads, as if he had just interrupted guerrilla maneuvers.
From serving as a CIA courier, like Beckham, like Donald P. Norton, Hemming in Cuba had participated in those assassination squads of Batista functionaries. CIA media asset William Stuckey had written in the New Orleans States-Item that Hemming could handle "two heavy machine guns from the hip at the same time." The CIA liked that Hemming "appears to be little influenced by deep beliefs in democratic principles."
On orders from Robert Kennedy to pursue the untimely death of Fidel Castro exclusive of the efforts of the CIA's clandestine services, General Edward Lansdale had solicited the help of Gerald Patrick Hemming. Lansdale had requested of the CIA its Hemming file, only to be told CIA had "a dosier [sic] about an inch thick." CIA had offered its sanction: "As far as they are concerned he is OK," a Colonel Patchell writes Lansdale in a handwritten memo. "They consider him helpful to their cause." Hemming believed that it was "one or more of Bobby's boys gone bad" who had killed his brother, as Bobby shared operatives with CIA executioner William Harvey, tool of the DDP, Richard Helms. If Jim Garrison was perplexed by Bobby's efforts to "torpedo" his investigation, Hemming understood them well.
Hemming had heard Garrison had been looking at "his men." "We're going to be indicted by Jim Garrison for the JFK thing," Hemming told his cohort, Roy Hargraves. Hargraves would later admit he was in Dallas on November 22nd, armed with fake Secret Service credentials. His later FBI COINTELPRO service would include the planting of bombs against the Black Panthers. Lawrence Howard, "fat Larry," another Hemming No Name Key associate, had also been in Dallas on that day. Hemming had good reason to fear that Garrison might consider as suspects the men training with him for sabotage against Cuba. An anonymous letter mailed from Miami stated that the "person that shot at President Kennedy was Hector Aguero (Indio Mikoyan), who was prepared in Miami by two Americans to kill Fidel Castro, those Americans are named Chery and Davis."
Examining that note, William Martin had told Garrison that "Chery" was the way a Latin-American would pronounce "Jerry". "Davis" must be the Howard Davis who flew with Hemming over Covington in search of training camp sites. El Indio ("Mikoyan") would be exposed by Gaeton Fonzi as David Sanchez Morales, a CIA officer involved in the overthrow of President Arbenz in Guatemala.
"Investigate in Miami," the writer advises Garrison.
On June 28th, one Wiley Yates had written to Garrison suggesting that Loran Hall, another Hemming cohort, should be a suspect. Yates' source was a Dallas businessman named Wally Welch, who had been together with Hemming and Hall in Cuba. Concluding that Hemming had been involved in "assassination training," Garrison had been showing witnesses those photographs of Hall, Howard and William Seymour, whom he had nicknamed "Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod."
Accompanying Hemming now was Roy Hargraves. Hemming made him wait downstairs. The CIA, aware of the presence of Hemming at Tulane and Broad, watched.
He was writing an article for Life magazine, Hemming told Garrison. (Richard Billings smiles and denies that this was so.) "You're heading back to No Name Key and you're leading back to me," Hemming said. "Either I'm stupid or someone is trying to frame my ass, and you're taking the bait." Hemming's alibi is that he was in Miami on November 22nd, at the office of the Miami News. There, he ran into CIA media asset Hal Hendrix, who was about to write a story linking him to Oswald until Angleton's people stopped him, Hemming claims.
Hemming fears that he is being recorded. He fears that his foreknowledge of the Kennedy assassination is tantamount to treason. He worries that Garrison's attention will cause him to lose a possible appointment to the CIA's Agency for International Development (AID) in Vietnam. His strategy, like Boxley's, is to divert Garrison's attention away from the CIA.
"There were numerous teams of adventurers with paramilitary inclinations trying to get Kennedy," Hemming says. There were two hundred conspiracies. "Maybe Oswald got there ahead of them." He is gifted at double-talk, as he extrapolates about teams blackmailing their sponsors, pretending to have killed Kennedy and demanding money for their silence. Then the sponsors hired the Mafia to silence them. Later Hemming will claim that Guy Banister was one of these sponsors, offering Hemming a suitcase full of cash to shoot Kennedy. Howard K. Davis, present on that occasion, suggests that Hemming could not have resisted telling him about such an offer had it been made.
"Just to have this queer pilot isn't enough," Hemming says, as if the dead David Ferrie and not Clay Shaw was now Garrison's chief suspect. "You need to begin all over again." Hemming floats a laundry list of suspects: Dennis Harber; a Minuteman from California named "Colonel Gale"; a Jim Keith; an Edward Claude, a former intelligence officer for the Dade County sheriff; G. Clinton Wheat, an ex-Klansman; oil man H. L. Hunt.
He is willing to give up Loran Hall, who, Hemming confides, was in Dallas and could "very well have assassinated the president." Hall was fooling around with Communists, Hemming suggests, an unlikely scenario that Garrison saw through at once. Hall had gotten Sylvia Odio's name from a Ford motor salesman named Nico Crespi. Howard and Seymour, however, Hemming claims, had nothing to do with the assassination. Hemming does not tell Garrison, as he later will tell others, that it was "his people" who were with Oswald when he visited Sylvia Odio and who were "working Oswald on the assassination of Castro operation."
"I don't know who you work for," Lou Ivon tells Hemming. Ivon is not easy to fool, the reason why of all the people Hemming meets this day, it is Ivon he respects. "There were more snitches in there than cops," Hemming would remember.
"If you knew to a T, it wouldn't do any good," Hemming tells Garrison harshly. "You can't cause me any trouble." Only when Garrison appears not to know the name "Angleton" does Hemming breathe a secret sigh of relief. He offers to "join forces" with Garrison, and asks to read Garrison's files, so that for a month Hemming believes he is actually working for Jim Garrison. He telephones Tom Bethell that he has been unable to find "Nico Crespi," and is irritated that Garrison has not sent him the twenty-six Warren Commission volumes. His phone bill is high, Hemming complains, attempting to pull a Bernardo de Torres. No one at Tulane and Broad falls for it.
Upon departing from New Orleans, Hemming telephoned Angleton's office. "Do you think Garrison has heard of U.S. Customs?" Angleton asked, well knowing the role of Customs in Oswald's activities. "Would he go after them?" Hemming says that Garrison had not placed Customs in the case. Yet, Hemming knew, "that's where all the family jewels were." Other information Hemming withheld from Jim Garrison was how Angleton, hating Kennedy, termed him a "KGB mole running the country," and how Allen Dulles, no longer DCI, had ordered the FBI to have Hall recant on the Sylvia Odio story, and say he was not, after all, at Sylvia Odio's.
Hemming knew that Bernardo de Torres was working for the CIA during the Garrison investigation. He knew that not only Clay Shaw, but also Oswald had "Q" clearance from the CIA. He calls Lawrence Howard "one of the best shots in the world," and places him at Dealey Plaza as a shooter. At times he lies, as when he told a Garrison volunteer that he knew Thomas Edward Beckham, who was "five foot eleven inches tall," off by four inches. He lies convincingly, with so much passion, that it seems inconceivable that he doesn't believe what he is saying.
Digression is his tactic, doubt a stranger.
"There is reason to believe he is still working for the CIA," Garrison remarked when Hemming was gone. He drew this conclusion without knowing that only four months earlier, Hemming had turned up at CIA officer Justin P. Gleichauf's house to report on Rolando Masferrer's projected Haitian invasion. CIA concluded that Hemming was targeting his own assets. Hemming "was an informer for the CIA," while claiming to be with Naval Intelligence. When Hemming had applied for regular employment with the Agency in January 1962, he had been turned down, even as Lawrence Houston pondered more than forty reports to his CIA handler filed by Hemming in the fall of 1960 upon his return from Cuba.
Hemming did not get the job with AID. His visit to Jim Garrison's office led to CIA's checking again on Hemming and his Interpen (Intercontinental Penetration Forces), Hemming's group of soldiers of fortune training at No Name Key in Florida for sabotage against Cuba. CIA was troubled that Hemming's visit might lead Garrison to focus on Robert K. Brown and on the JMWAVE station's activities. The Agency had to admit to the FBI that Hemming was a source. Soon the ONI was inquiring of Hoover what information he had on Hemming. Then the Defense Investigative Program Office asked <' Naval Intelligence for its Hemming files.
Five days after Hemming's visit, Lawrence Laborde's son, Michael, appeared at Tulane and Broad. His goal was to divert Jim Garrison's attention from his father and to implicate Hemming and Hargraves. Hargraves had called David Ferrie shortly before the assassination, Michael claimed. Then he told the Bureau: "You have to stop Garrison before he harms the country."
At the end of July another CIA asset, Frank Bartes, that cousin of Dr. Frank Silva, whose name appears in Oswald's notebook as "Bardes," arrived with a message from Hemming. He wants to be a friend to this office; he wants "to do whatever he can to help you," Bartes says.
A decade later, Hemming admitted to HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi that he had lied to Jim Garrison. "I created smoke myself," he confessed. He had passed on to Garrison useless "smoked" names through "cut-outs." Garrison's West Coast volunteers had begun to focus on the specious Hemming names, California-based right-wingers who had nothing to do with the assassination. Garrison perceived, correctly, that Hemming's "mission was to add to the confusion." (pages 248-252)
'60s-era Miami soldier of fortune and a key figure for conspiracy theorists around the world, Gerald Patrick Hemming, is dead at 70. His death was confirmed Thursday morning by the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C. His son, Felipe, told The Miami Herald that he was found dead in his North Carolina home on Tuesday evening.
A shadowy figure who enjoyed talking about paramilitary operations and anti-Castro activities during the 1960s, Hemming became known in his later years mostly for statements he made about the Kennedy assassination to the Warren Commission and to many investigative journalists. A Google search of Hemming's name and the Kennedy assassination turns up more than 4,000 hits.
Robert K. Brown, publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine, said he knew Hemming well during the 1960s. "Gerry was an especially charismatic guy who on first impression came across very well. He was looked up to by a lot of Cuban exile groups. He was a big man, spoke fluent Spanish, a very intelligent guy.... But Gerry tended to get carried away with this conspiracy stuff,'' Brown said, "and it was hard to tell where the fact ended and the fiction started.''
He knew so many things,'' said Felipe Hemming, who works for Miami-Dade fire rescue. "He was still researching when he died. . . . My dad was an operator. He wasn't a guy on the side of the road making up stories.''
Others disagree. Don Bohning, who was The Herald's Latin America editor for many years, said, "I never believed a word he had to say.''
In 1959, after Castro came to power, Hemming spent considerable time hanging out in Havana, often in the company of William Morgan, an ex-U.S. paratrooper who went to Cuba to join the rebel forces in the Sierra del Escambray to fight the Batista dictatorship. A confidential U.S. Army report from March 1960 reports that Hemming was "stationed with Cuban rebel air force in Pinar del Rio. Claims he is a T-33 jet pilot with mission to intercept U.S.-based planes which fly over Cuba bent on destroying cane fields. Was formerly stationed in Isle of Pines."
"Subject wears Army fatigues, is armed with a pistol, and wears a U.S. paratrooper bade. He states he has been in Cuba for two years. He wears no insignia of rank.''
Hemming may have claimed being in the Castro military at the time, but other experts question that information. However, Olga Morgan, the widow of William Morgan, recalls Hemming warning her husband to leave Cuba, or he would be killed by the Castro regime. "He said, 'Cuba is no good for you, with the new government. You need to get out. You have a family.' '' Morgan didn't heed Hemming's advice. He was executed by a Cuban firing squad in March 1961.
In his 2005 book, The Castro Obsession, Bohning wrote that in the early 1960s, Hemming was among the soldiers of fortune who hung around the Time-Life bureau in Miami. An ex-Marine, six-foot-five, Hemming had organized a paramilitary force based in the Florida Keys called the Intercontinental Penetration Force. At one point, Bohning wrote, Hemming used Time-Life stationery to write to the military aide of President Kennedy, seeking ''advice and constructive criticism'' for his forces. ''There is no indication any was forthcoming,'' Bohning wrote.
Hemming is survived by six children, said his son, Felipe. A graveside service is planned for 2 p.m. Monday at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake, N.C. A memorial service in South Florida may take place later. Herald investigations editor Mike Sallah contributed to this report.
A former soldier who trained Cubans to fight against Fidel Castro and had been a central figure in assassination probes of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. died this week in Fayetteville, family members said.
Gerald Patrick Hemming, 70, died in his sleep at his Haymount Manor apartment, his daughter, Kristi Hemming Roderick, said Thursday.
An exact date and cause of death is still being determined. Mr. Hemming will be buried with military honors at 2 p.m. Monday in Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery.
“My father was a Cold War freedom fighter,” Kristi Hemming said. “He put country first, which meant he wasn’t around as much as we like, but that’s OK, we loved him anyway.”
Born March 1, 1937, in Los Angeles, Mr. Hemming joined the Marines in 1954. Four years later, he left the Marines to go to Cuba, where he fought side-by-side with Fidel Castro to overthrow then president Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
"A lot of people don’t remember that initially we supported Castro,” said Mr. Hemming’s wife, Patricia Hemming. Patricia and Kristi Hemming live in Fayetteville.
Shortly after Castro assumed power, Mr. Hemming discovered the Cuban leader secretly working with the Soviet Union. He felt betrayed.
"He didn’t know nuclear warheads were being pumped into Cuba,” his wife said. “When he found out, he tried his best to stop it.”
Castro learned of Mr. Hemming’s plans to organize an uprising and threw him and his friends in jail, Patricia Hemming said. Sometime later, Mr. Hemming was able to escape. Many of his fellow insurgents weren’t as lucky.
"My father named my brother Felipe Vidal Santiago, in honor of Felipe Vidal, who was executed,” Kristi Hemming said. Vidal was a Cuban naval officer who went into exile when Castro gained power.
Mr. Hemming returned to the United States and settled in Miami, where he gradually became a fixture in the anti-Castro community. At the time, the CIA — operating out of a non-descript office on the campus of the University of Miami — was heavily recruiting Cubans for a secret offensive against Castro, according to congressional records.
Mr. Hemming was also recruiting and training Cubans to fight in his organization, called the Intercontinental Penetration Force (Interpen), the records shows. Some people alleged that Mr. Hemming was working with the CIA during that time.
His wife and daughter deny the allegation.
"If he did, where were the checks?” Patricia Hemming said. “We scraped and struggled all of our life.”
After President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the FBI questioned Mr. Hemming as a suspect. Investigators dropped the inquiry once they learned he was in Miami taking care of his pregnant wife, Patricia Hemming said.
But in the 1970s, congressional investigators questioned Mr. Hemming again after he revealed that he met Lee Harvey Oswald years before the assassination.
FBI files show that Mr. Hemming told agents in March 1968 that someone had offered to pay him to kill King.
Patricia Hemming said her husband began to fervently research both assassinations, in part to get to the truth and in part to clear his name.
"Those accusations were like a cloud that he wanted to get rid of,” she said.
As part of that effort, Mr. Hemming spoke out at assassination-related conferences. He is also listed as a technical adviser on Oliver Stone’s film J.F.K.
But he got his most joy in his humanitarian work, Kristie Hemming said.
In the 1970s, Mr. Hemming organized a group of doctors and Special Forces veterans for a rescue mission into Peru after an earthquake hit.
And he led a rescue mission into Honduras after a Hurricane flooded an entire area, family members said.
He moved from Florida to Fayetteville in the 1990s because he wanted to be near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and old buddies.
"He wasn’t driven by money or the world,” Patricia Hemming said. “Honor was his most important thing.”
''Gerry was an especially charismatic guy who on first impression came across very well,'' said Robert K. Brown, publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine, who knew Hemming in the 1960s. "He was looked up to by a lot of Cuban exile groups. He was a big man, spoke fluent Spanish, a very intelligent guy...
''But Gerry tended to get carried away with this conspiracy stuff,'' Brown said, "and it was hard to tell where the fact ended and the fiction started.''
''He knew so many things,'' said Felipe Hemming, his only son, who works for Miami-Dade fire rescue. "The secrets he took to his grave... He was still researching when he died.... My dad was an operator. He wasn't a guy on the side of the road making up stories.''
Others disagree. Don Bohning, who was The Miami Herald's Latin America editor for many years, said, "I never believed a word he had to say.''
Among his other exploits, Hemming was arrested three times, twice for drug smuggling and once for gun running. His only conviction was drug smuggling...
After the Kennedy assassination on Nov. 23, 1963, WQAM radio personality Alan Courtney told investigators that a year earlier he had interviewed Hemming and three others on his radio show about their training camp in the Keys, according to an FBI document from the Kennedy assassination files released in 1992.
''At the conclusion of the program, a telephone call was received at the radio station from a young man who said he was from New Orleans, was formerly in the U.S. Marine Corps and wanted to volunteer his services,'' the FBI document stated. "Courtney recalled that this young man gave a name such as Harvey Lee, Oswald Harvey or Oswald Lee.''