Dennis David

Dennis David

Dennis Duane David was born on 10th May, 1937. After graduating from high school in 1955 he spent a term at the University of Illinois. In 1956 he joined the United States Navy. He attended the Hospital Corps School at Maryland before serving overseas in North Africa. On his return to the United States he became an Administrative Technician at the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated on 22nd November, 1963, his body was taken to Bethesda. David was Chief of the Day and directed the off-loading of President Kennedy's body.That evening he was asked to type a memorandum for a FBI agent, that said that four bullet fragments had been removed from Kennedy's head.

A few days after the assassination, David found William Pitzer, head of the Audio/Visual Department at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, working on a 16-mm film, slides and black and white photos of the Kennedy autopsy. David noted that those materials showed what appeared to be an entry wound in the right frontal area with a corresponding exit wound in the lower rear of the skull.

On 22nd November, 1963, an autopsy was carried out by Dr Joseph Humes on the body of John F. Kennedy. A few days after the assassination, a colleague, Dennis D. David, found Pitzer working on a 16-mm film, slides and black and white photos of the Kennedy autopsy. David noted that those materials showed what appeared to be an entry wound in the right frontal area with a corresponding exit wound in the lower rear of the skull.

Jerrol F. Custer, an X-ray technician at the hospital, later stated that Pitzer had photographed the proceedings, including the military men who attended the Kennedy autopsy. It was also rumoured that Pitzer had copies of Kennedy's autopsy photographs.

According to Dr. Joseph Humes, Pitzer was not present at the autopsy. However, he admitted that the Bethesda Naval Hospital was equipped with closed-circuit television. This was the responsibility of Pitzer and over the years had used these facilities to make instructional movies. It is therefore possible that Pitzer had secretly made a 16-mm movie film of the autopsy on President Kennedy’s body, without being present in the autopsy room when it was carried out.

William Pitzer decided to retire in 1966. He told friends he had been offered a good job working for a network television station. It is believed that he intended to make a programme about the Kennedy assassination. On 29th October 1966, Lieutenant Commander William B. Pitzer was found dead at the Naval Medical School, Bethesda. Investigations by the Naval Investigative Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation later concluded that a gunshot wound to the head had been self-inflicted.

In 1967 Dennis David was transferred to El Toro, California and two years later he was appointed Administrative Officer at the Naval Dental Clinic in Tennessee.

Dennis David studied for a degree at the George Washington University. After graduating he became Executive Officer at the Naval Dental Research Institute at Great Lakes. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander on 1st July, 1976. He moved to Hoopeston, Illinois where he became Personnel Director for Stokely-Van Camp.

In 1986 Dennis David opened his own business (a furniture repair and antique shop). He retired in January, 2001.

Dennis David was interviewed by William Matson Law for his book, In the Eye of History: Disclosures in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence (2005).

Primary Sources

(1) William Matson Law, In the Eye of History (2005)

Law: There's a story about a man named Bill Pitzer, and I'd like you to go into that a little. I want you to tell me who Bill Pitzer was, what your relationship was with him, and what you saw one to two days after the assassination of the president.

David: When I came out of the Corps School in SC, my father had asked if I was going to make a career in the navy and I said, "Yes, sir, but I'm not going to retire as a white hat." Meaning I was going to become a commissioned officer, and I told him what steps I was going to take to achieve that.

When t got to Bethesda, I had achieved being First Class, and in the Naval Medical Service, as a First Class or a Chief, you could apply for a commission as a Medical Case Service Officer in the Service Procurement Program. They had a program where you take a series of tests, physical, personal, and interviews. If you were lucky - and God knows, l was - you would have some of the MSC officers who would take a liking to you and would help you. I had four who were basically my mentors. Lieutenant Commander Bill Pitzer was one of those, and at that time, in '63, '64, '65 and '66, he was head of the Audio-Visual Department of the Naval Medical School and, as such, made training films that were utilized to train fleet marine force corpsmen-navy corpsmen, chaplains, and dental techs from the navy, supporting the Marine Corps-if they don't have that type of individual in their own command. Bill, as I said, was head of the Audio-Visual Department and was one of my mentors-and I would stop in two, three, four times a week, and ask him questions, and he would tell me, "Okay now, study this, or study that." And sometimes he would question me and say, "Well, maybe you should bone up on this area." In other words, helping me to become an MSC officer.

Law: What's an MSC officer?

David: Medical Service Corps-the administrative people in the Naval Medical Service. The physicians treat the patients, and the Medical Service Corps people make sure they've got supplies and the assistance - usually the head of the personnel departments, the patients' affairs departments - we make sure that the records are maintained and that the doctors have the supplies to accomplish what they needed to do.

Also, Lieutenant Commander Munroe - who was a physical therapist and also an MSC officer - Bill Pitzer and myself and the physical therapist used to play bridge together at noon damn near every day. Bill was not only my mentor, but he was also a good friend. A very good friend. A couple, three days after the assassination - I don't remember if it was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - it was two or three days after - I stopped in to see Bill about something about the MSC exams that would be coming up - and, again, I just walked in. He was working on a sixteen-millimeter film, and on his desk he had some black and whites, some color photos and some thirty-five-millimeter slides. All of these were from the autopsy. There was, you know - one of them I recall I was - I saw years later - was the so-called death-stare photo of President Kennedy on the table at the morgue.

Law: Now, these are pictures.

David: These were pictures. They were black and whites, and colored.

Law: So he actually had these with him?

David: Yes he did. And he was editing a film, a sixteen-millimeter film. I watched him do several reels. I got the impression that he was pulling some of the frames off of the film to make slides with. I could be wrong. You know, I helped him. And, you know, watched some of these. We were looking at various aspects, and we made some continents. Number one, it was our distinct impression - impression, hell, it was our opinion, actual opinion - that the shot that killed the president had to have come from the front.

Law: And why do you say that?

David: Because we both noted a small entry wound here (points to the right side of his forehead) from another photo, and a large exit wound back in this area (indicates right rear of head). I had seen gunshot wounds before, and so had Bill. I've seen a lot of them since, and I can assure you that it definitely was an entry wound in the forehead.

Law: Now I'm going to hand you a picture, the "stare-of-death" photograph. Is this the picture that you remember seeing with Bill Pitzer?

David: Very similar, except that it seems to me that there was more to it - the camera seemed to be at an angle like this (indicating a right-profile perspective). What I saw, there seemed to be more of a ninety-degree shot to it. But there was a small hole that looked like an entry wound. It was about the size of the tip of my finger. Maybe a little over a quarter of an inch, five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. It was located right in this area right here (indicates a point at the hairline above the pupil of the right eye).

Law: Now, is there anything else about that picture that looks different? Does it look about the same?

David: I don't recall seeing this (neck wound) at the time. I may have. But I do know one comment that has been made about this is that if that was supposed to be a tracheotomy incision, it was a Goddamned sloppy job! Because, I had done tracheotomies - I am not a physician - but it did a tracheotomy on a young lad in Memphis in 1957, it was the first time I ever did one, in the back of an ambulance-and I sure as hell didn't need a two-and-a-half-inch diameter incision! Besides, the incision should have been vertical to get into the cartilage so that the trach tube could be inserted.

(2) William Matson Law, In the Eye of History (2005)

Law: What happened to Bill Pitzer?

David: As l said, Bill was one of my mentors - and I took the program for MSC in '64 then - starting early '64 - and missed it. They selected forty - I was forty third on the list. In 1965 I applied for and took the program again. And there were sixty selected that year, and I was number two on the selection list. So then, in late August of '65, Congress passed the bill and the president signed the bill, and I became an officer and a gentleman (laughter). I used to laugh about that because I used to say, "Well, they made me an officer, but my mother made me a gentlemen." At least I tried to be, before that. I left Bethesda in the first week in December of '65 to go to Officer's School and Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island, And shortly before I left, Bill indicated to me that he was getting ready to retire - probably in '66 - and he would have had, I think, thirty years at that time. He had been through the second world war for one thing. So I left, and reported in at Newport, Rhode Island, in the early part of January.

I went through the three weeks at Officer's Training School and Naval justice School, and was assigned to a naval hospital in Great Lakes - one of the jobs I had there was as an assistant to one of the department heads. I was in the lobby of the hospital at Great Lakes when Lieutenant Commander Barb Munroe came in and saw me and came over, and of course we renewed old friendships. And she said, "By the way, did you know Bill's dead?" And I said, "No, what happened?" Then she said, "Well, he shot himself." I said, "I don't believe that." And she said, "Well they found him with a gun in his right hand, and he blew his brains out." And I said, "But Bill's left-handed..." That's what I recall, because sometimes - back at Bethesda, Barb, Bill, and I would play bridge together - he sometimes would deal the cards in reverse, you know instead of dealing them clockwise he would deal them counter clockwise (with his left hand) and we'd kid him about it.

That was the first time I had heard he was dead. I asked, "Well, why did he commit suicide?" And she said "It's highly questionable that he did." I said, "Well, it stands to reason." And then she said something to me about, "Did you know that he'd had some pretty good job offers?" And I said I had, and that just before the last time I'd seen him, just before I'd left Bethesda, he'd told me that lie had some very lucrative offers from a couple of the national networks like ABC, CBS, to go to work for them. I said, "I suspect it was probably because of some of the films and the material he had from the assassination." She said, "You know he had those?" And I said, "Yes, because l was over there a couple, three days after the autopsy and saw them." She kind of nodded her head as though she agreed with me, or something like that.

Law: Did she apparently know that he had the film?

David: I don't know whether she did. She seemed surprised when I told her that I knew about it though. Now whatever that was -the reaction - that was the first time she heard... we really didn't discuss it too much after that, because even in '67 - excuse me, in '66 May or June - you still didn't talk about what you knew, your experiences on the night of the assassination. It was still classified information.

Law: It's not so unusual that somebody would commit suicide. It happens every day. Why do you feel that Bill Pitzer would not have done this?

David: Because I knew the man. You can say well, lie wasn't the type to commit suicide. Well, what type will commit suicide? I don't know, it was just a gut feeling. I didn't think that he would do it. He had been through too many stressful situations in his life. Second world war-he had been in and out of Vietnam for various and sundry reasons-dealing with classified information and I didn't think-you know, lie was not a weak personality type, or type of person who would ever run into anything he couldn't handle, whether it be stressful or whatever, mental. I knew lie had some problems with his kids, but lie generally had a "well you know it will work itself out" attitude towards that. So I don't know. I just didn't feel like lie was the kind of man who would commit suicide.