Thursday, April 30, 2015

As the Byrd Flies--Virginia to Texas

In a previous post we discussed D.H. Byrd's claim that he was a cousin of Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., the Polar explorer of the 1930's and made only a possible connection to a common ancestor 300 years or so earlier. Admiral Byrd's line of descent seems to have no other common links to the line from which D.H. Byrd stemmed. D. H. Byrd's heritage is traced below from his ancestor Andrew down to Abraham Ruddell Byrd, who died in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1857:




To Cape Girardeau, Mo. in 1799
 
D.H.'s branch of Byrds arrived in Missouri in 1797, before that territory (then called Upper Louisiana) became part of the Louisiana Purchase. Amos and Sarah Ruddell Byrd were progenitors of the clan which had started out in disputed territory of the Watauga Valley near the Proclamation Line of 1763. Heading west, they crossed the line into what is now Knox County, Tennessee and settled there long enough for three of Amos' sons to find wives among a family named Gillespie. Amos' family, including Stephen and Abraham, were born in Knox County 1768 and 1772, respectively. They remained there until almost the end of the century before the entire family headed west for the Spanish territory. They acquired land grants from Spain near what was to become Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

Unfortunately for the settlers, however, in 1800 Spain ceded the land to France shortly after the Byrds arrived there, so they were forced to prove the validity of their land grants after the United States purchased the land from Napoleon in 1803.

Author Louis Houck, 1908, page 185
We are told that the Byrd men became prominent in the government of the area--Amos as a judge, Abraham and Stephen as colonels in military regiments. Amos and Sarah died in 1818. Sarah's maiden name, however, would continue to be passed down to descendants, including D.H. Byrd's eldest brother, Ruddell Jones Byrd (called R.J., or Leo), who was born in 1888.

Stephen died in 1830, and his brother, Abraham Byrd, remained in Missouri until his death in 1857. Abraham had a son born in 1815, whom he named Stephen, and it is through that ancestor that D. H. Byrd springs.

From Missouri to Texas after 1900

Continuation of D.H. Byrd ancestry, indicating his mother's family link to John Nance Garner. Click to enlarge.
Stephen Byrd II married Nancy Moore in 1844 and farmed his land in Missouri until his death occurred in 1866, leaving their two youngest sons--Abraham (born 1852) and Edward (born 1854) --along with some daughters, as orphans, their mother having died in 1861. Edward was then only 12, but he had his oldest brother, William, to look after him.

William Charles Byrd (born 1845) married Mary Jane Evans at the age of 23, just as the civil war was waning. Three of his sons relocated after 1900 to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, later enticing their parents to move to this promised vegetable-growing  paradise in Dimmit County at Winter Haven, situated between Crystal City and Carrizo Springs (Zavala County), just above the border with Mexico.What could have possessed them to move to that part of Texas at that particular time?

Most likely it was a railroad advertisement that prompted the move, such as this one which appeared in 1907:








Herbert Hurd of Kansas City, Mo. was promoting his Texas lands near South Padre Island that year from his office in the original Union Depot (built in 1878 and demolished in 1915), by advertising in magazines such as the Western Fuit-grower. He gave prospective purchasers a ride from Kansas City on his private railway car parked at Union Depot to view the land which would later become a citrus paradise. Real estate all over the region had been skyrocketing in price ever since the railroads arrived in the most southern regions of Texas.

At some point around 1901, Ed Byrd moved from Detroit, Texas to Ardmore, Oklahoma--which at that time was still part of the Indian Territory, having been opened up in the 1880's to homesteaders. The local newspaper in the latter city declared on June 13, 1901:
Ed Byrd, Bob Easley and F. C. Dollins [Ed and F.C. were married to Easley sisters] from Detroit. Texas, are prospecting in the city.
On October 10, 1905 an item appeared in the Ardmore, Oklahoma Ardmoreite:
A. R. Byrd and William Byrd of Jackson, Mo., accompanied by their nephew, E. R. Byrd of St. Louis, have been in the city the guests of their brother, Ed Byrd. These gentlemen have made considerable investments here and have gone to West Texas to see about their business interests there.
S.A., Uvalde & Gulf RR, 1918
We learn of their investments in West Texas from an item that appeared in the San Atonio press in 1918 (see clipping at left).

Three Byrd men (A.R., William, Jr., and E.R. Byrd) in 1918 were directors of a short line that became part of the Missouri Pacific in 1925--the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Railroad. Two years earlier directors and officers of this railroad, with offices in San Antonio, were listed on page 481 of the 1916 Official Railway Equipment Register. The preceding page shows officials of four other Gulf Coast Lines. Then at page 482 another Gulf Coast Line branch is shown--the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico, with offices in Kingsville, Texas.

Two of the Byrds' fellow directors--Buckingham and Groos--were real estate promoters and were mentioned in a book by Beatriz de la Garza, A Law for the Lion: A Tale of Crime and Injustice in the Borderlands, published in 2009. De la Garza describes Crystal City as being in 1917 a "modern, 'planned community,' barely ten years old." It was one of the "new towns, created out of the old ranches, the Cross S:
See also a 1910 ad  and 1911 ad for Cross S ranch lands.
The International and Great Northern railroad, part of the Gould system, in 1906 had begun building a 45-mile extension in Southwest Texas, from Carrizo Springs to Artesia, through the heart of the "Bermuda onion belt." This railroad (sometimes called the Artesian Belt) went into receivership in 1914, possibly a result of overextending itself into less populated areas with little traffic. Thus these uncles and cousins of D. Harold Byrd, while young Harry was still in short pants, were making inroads into an industrial network of railroad tycoons who would later play politics as though it were an untuned violin.

We will pick up there in the next post.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Richard E. Byrd, Cousin of D.H. Byrd or not?


In 1937 David Harold Byrd had his photograph published in numerous newspapers across the country in which he was depicted receiving a flag that had flown on both the North and South Poles, carried by George Hamilton Black, a Byrd-Frost employee who  in 1930 claimed that he had been a garage man from Brooklyn, New York when he went to work for Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, then planning his first Arctic exploration to the South Pole in 1929 with private funding. According to the Admiral's archived papers (Box 27 / Folder 1152), he had corresponded with G. H. Black as early as 1926, the same year he wrote to Van Lear Black, publisher of the Baltimore Sun and a close friend to Mr. and Mrs. J. Walter Lord, who had an office in the Maryland Trust Building in Baltimore.

Cousins?
As stated in "Tale about a Tail Number (Part II)":
Even though a photograph of D. H. Byrd appeared in numerous Texas newspapers in December 1932, showing him receiving a flag given him by his "cousin," Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. of Virginia, genealogical records did not at first indicate there was any kinship between the two men. However, as I dug deeper into Byrd's family background, some amazing facts came to light.

Black procured the ship for the Byrd expeditions and later went to work for Byrd-Frost Oil Co. in Texas. Records appear to show that Black was born in Massachusetts in 1896, moved to New York where he enlisted in the Navy in 1917 and served in the military from 1912-1962. [See George Hamilton Black's death certificate, 1965.]

Numerous questions were continued to circle around in my mind:
  1. Was D.H. Byrd really closely related to Richard E. Byrd and Sen. Harry Byrd of Virginia?
  2. Was there any significance to the fact that D.H. Byrd was born in the same small town as John Nance Garner, the former Speaker of the House and Vice President under FDR 1932-41?
  3. Was there any significance to the fact that the family of Mac Wallace, former University of Texas student body president and convicted murderer of Douglas Kinser, came from this same area of Texas? Was Mac a tool of Byrd and Garner before becoming an assassin?
We begin with Question 1.

Texas Roots of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr.

The short answer is that they definitely were not first or second cousins on the Byrd side of the family. The closest possible link dates back to a common ancestor named John Bird, a London goldsmith, born in 1620. One genealogist says this ancestor had families by two different wives, one son being Andrew and another being William Evelyn Byrd. However, a different source says that D. H. Byrd descends from Andrew Bird/Byrd, son of a John Bird, allegedly born in Long Island, New York in 1631. This line migrated first to Raritan, New Jersey, where another Andrew was born in 1695. He married Madelene Jones in Chester County, Pennsylvania, another Andrew Bird was born in  and eventually to Augusta County, Virginia. Richard and Harry Byrd descend from John Bird whose son William Evelyn Byrd, arrived in Virginia.

Nevertheless, Admiral Byrd, born in Maryland in 1888, did have a Texas-born father, Richard Evelyn Byrd, Sr., who was actually born in Austin, Texas, in 1860. That is a story in itself.

Richard E. Byrd's Texan ancestor, Robert Jones Rivers
Richard E. Byrd, Sr.'s father, William Byrd, had been born to an earlier Richard Evelyn Byrd and his wife, Anne Harrison, in Winchester, Virginia. William became a Confederate officer and lawyer, first attending the Old Winchester Academy, then graduating from the Virginia Military Institute, and finally having received a law degree from the University of Virginia.



William Byrd, Texas Lawyer, with Political Connections

Soon thereafter he went to Texas, where in 1853 he became the law partner of Thomas Scott Anderson of Austin. Anderson held the office of secretary of state under Governor Hardin R. Runnels until his defeated by Sam Houston in the election of 1859. Anderson saw to it that his law partner, William, was appointed treasurer for the City of Austin in 1856, only eleven years after the former Republic of Texas had become a state. In those days there were very few adults who were native Texans.

Anderson's bro-in-law
Byrd's partner, T. Scott Anderson married a widow, Mary Walker McNeill Harper, whose father, Angus McNeill, arrived in Texas from Natchez, Mississippi. There he met the famed Jim Bowie, who was destined to die in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 as Texas began its revolution again Mexico. Angus McNeill sold a Massachusetts textile mill to Bowie before they all set off for Texas. McNeill appears to have been a trader in land claims and had also acquired a great deal of land in Texas through his partnership in Wilkinson, McNeil [sic] & Co. located in Shreveport, La. (See also American State Papers). Angus moved first to Houston in 1837 but eventually settled 70 miles to the west, around Eagle Lake in Colorado County, where he continued to engage in his former real estate speculation business. His son, Col. Harry C. McNeill, a West Point graduate, joined Tom Green’s Brigade of Texas Rangers.

William Byrd married Jennie Rivers, daughter of Robert Jones Rivers, a lawyer in practice with former Virginian, William Jefferson Jones, an old friend of U.S. President James Monroe. After leaving Virginia, Rivers lived in Georgia, working for a newspaper owned by Mirabeau B. Lamar, who enticed him to Texas to run Lamar's campaign for President of the Republic of Texas. W.J. Jones served on the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, a job which disappeared in 1845 when Texas was annexed as a state in the Union. At that point Jones became a law partner of William Byrd's father-in-law, R.J. Rivers, who lived in Austin and Georgetown. In 1852 he moved to Columbus and later to Galveston County, in order to help promote the Galveston, Houston & Henderson Railroad at Virginia Point. After two foreclosures by bondholders, the railroad was absorbed by Jay Gould's empire.

When the civil war began, Governor Edward Clark appointed Byrd Adjutant-General of Texas Troops. Clark had been lieutenant governor under Governor Sam Houston, who was forced to resign from office when he refused to take the Confederate oath. As lieutenant colonel in the 14th Texas infantry, Byrd commanded Fort DeRussy in Louisiana, and in March of 1864 was forced to surrender the fort to the Union army. He returned with his wife and children to Virginia after the war. while his superior officer, Edward Clark, and many other Southern Confederates fled to Mexico, led by Gen. Joseph O. Shelby of Missouri, and remained there until Emperor Maximilian was overthrown in 1867 by Benito Juarez.

Jennie Rivers Byrd lived the remainder of her days in the East. Her father, who died in Georgetown, Texas in 1854, had known Sam Houston and his children, one of whom exuded praise for his wit and eloquence. Jennie's two brothers were killed in the civil war, and a sister married and moved to South Texas.

We will explore the other questions set out above in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Etiology of the Red Bird Getaway Plane Story

Researched and written
by Linda Minor

D.H. Byrd's CAP outfit flew from Red Bird.
This post is a sidenote to research I've been doing previously, but it relates only tangentially to the DC-3 plane which Wayne January was selling at the time he was told in advance about the assassination of President Kennedy. January himself had no knowledge of or connection to the group planning the assassination, but the story he revealed to author Matthew Smith sheds light on one small piece in the puzzle as a whole. Possibly the reason so many of us "conspiracy buffs" spend so many years of our lives digging into the 1963 Kennedy assassination is that we can dedicate years of study to it and never solve the puzzle to anyone's satisfaction. It is my opinion that we may be trying to solve the wrong puzzle. We have to broaden our context.

The FAA Report to FBI--1967

I began delving into a simple question asked me by a reader about the Wayne January incident, not remembering that Daniel Hopsicker had dealt with one aspect of that question in his book Barry & 'the Boys', originally published in 2001. Daniel has also mentioned what has been referred to as the "getaway plane" at Red Bird Airport at his website, The MadCowNews, under the subheading, "Three men in suits at Redbird Airport," dated November 20, 2013. Keep in mind, however, he was not talking about N-17888, but a different aircraft from the one we have been investigating. Nevertheless, the "getaway plane" was also part of what had been of interest to Matthew Smith in describing events that took place at Red Bird Airport in 1963.

Ferrie's mugshot
Garrison's New Orleans investigation had zeroed in on David Ferrie, and he sent an employee to Dallas with Ferrie's photograph (possibly his mugshot) to inquire whether anyone at Red Bird Airport had seen him there in November 1963. Louis Gaudin had not seen Ferrie, but he did disclose a separate suspicious incident he witnessed the afternoon of the assassination. Three men in suits boarded a "Comanche-type aircraft" just over an hour after President Kennedy had been gunned down. Gaudin had not called the FBI at the time because by then Lee Harvey Oswald was in custody, with officials claiming he was the "lone" assassin. Why did Gaudin and Bowles wait to contact the FBI until two weeks after Ferrie's dead body had been found on February 22?

Daniel Hopsicker tracked down Gaudin, 37 years after the FBI report (dated March 10, 1967), and recounted in his book what the FAA air traffic controller told him:
“The FAA had its general aviation headquarters there, said Gaudin. “Howard Hughes had a huge old WWII hanger there, with heavy security. People from Wackenhut all over the place. And there were the Porter planes from General Harry Byrd’s outfit.”
General D. Harry Byrd’s links to the Kennedy assassination begin with the fact that he owned the building, the Texas School Book Depository, from which Kennedy was supposedly gunned down.

Then, too, he founded an aircraft company that became one of the largest U.S. defense contractors during the Vietnam War, Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), which also—and perhaps not coincidentally?—tested missiles at the Venice Airport in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

“What had happened was this,” he continued. “I was an air traffic controller working in the tower at Redbird [sic] that day. When I came on shift at 2 PM, we received a bulletin to report any suspicious activity immediately to an FAA Security number. And we kept calling that number all afternoon, but got nothing but a busy signal. And then, after we heard they had caught the ‘lone gunman,’ I guess they called it, we stopped calling, and let the matter drop.”
From his perch atop the control tower, Mr. Gaudin, between handling twenty or thirty flights into and out of the airport an hour, had noticed something suspicious about three well-dressed men in business suits standing, along with several suitcase, beside a Comanche painted green-and-white.

So suspicious was he, Mr. Gaudin related, that when the plane took off on runway 17, he asked the pilot if he needed any assistance. The pilot said no. Gaudin asked which way the plane was heading. The pilot stated south.

Gaudin watched as the plane flew south for two miles, then made a hard left, and then flew north to Love Field.

The pilot had lied.

Suspicions aroused, Gaudin went over to the control tower’s receiver and listened as the plane made an approach and landed at Love Field, eight miles north of Redbird.

An hour later, the plane was back at Redbird. This time only two people were aboard. The third passenger—let’s call him the shooter–had been left at Love Field.

And that’s where the matter rested until Garrison’s investigator’s came calling.

Then, after Gaudin became alarmed at the death of a man whose picture he had just recently been shown, he called the FBI, and filed the report which, he said, became something of a burden to him for the rest of his life.

“There was no Freedom of Information Act back then,” he says today. “That’s what’s created some problems for me.”

This would be just a ‘suspicious sighting’ except for something that happened later, which clearly indicated to Gaudin that he was a witness to something he had no business seeing.

From the control tower, he says, he was too far away to be able to identify anyone who boarded the plane. But there was one person who could: Merrit Goble, who ran the fixed-wing operation, TexAir, at Redbird Field.

“Merrit and I were friends,” Gaudin relates. “So one day, after filing the FBI report, I went down to see if the FBI had been by to visit him as well. They hadn’t, he told me. So I asked him if he had anything, any gas receipts, any record of the fueling of the plane in question. And Merit acted very strangely. He told me, in effect, that it was none of my business. He said, ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’”

“I always thought that was strange: ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’ Because like I said, we were friends.”

Merrit Goble died last year, taking any secrets he possessed about the suspicious plane to his grave.
Bowles worked with LBJ's bro-in-law.
It is not clear to me from reading Hopsicker's work whether it was Gaudin who told him about Byrd's use of Red Bird for Civil Air Patrol planes, or whether he gleaned that information from another source. "Harry Byrd" usually refers to the Virginia Senator of that name, the brother of Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., whom D. Harold Byrd claimed as his cousins.

I also have to ask whether, before calling the FBI, Bowles may first have contacted his own superior at the FAA, who, by 1967 was the President's brother-in-law, Birge D. Alexander, husband of Lucia Huffman Johnson since 1933. Birge rose to the position of Area Manager for the Southwest Region of the F.A.A. not long after brother-in-law Lyndon was himself "promoted". Bowles and Alexander had been officials together at C.A.A., later F.A.A., for many years.

Birge, Lucia and Rebekah (Libby Willis)
Birge and his siblings were reared in Sabinal, a tiny town in Uvalde County from 1908 until leaving for college in Austin. Before 1908, home had been at Manchaca Springs, in south Travis County, where Birge's grandfather is buried.

Robert Carogoes into more detail.
Alexander played center for the Sabinal football squad and was named all-district center in 1929. A few years later Birge was off to the University of Texas to study engineering. Graduating in 1939, he immediately went to work for the Lower Colorado River Authority, a job for which he unquestionably had his brother-in-law, the newly elected Congressman Johnson from the district, to thank.

Within a short time, however, Birge transferred to a different government job at the Civil Aeronautics Administration, in charge of building and inspecting airport runways. He would no doubt have come into contact with Bowles, who was in charge of air traffic control--both men with offices in the same building in Fort Worth.

Sabinal, coincidentally, where Birge grew up and where his father's siblings all lived, was where John Nance Garner's wife, Mariette "Ettie" Rheiner, was born in 1869. According to Ettie, she was taking a secretarial course in San Antonio when she met Garner on a train. They married as soon as she finished the course in 1895. His story was, with a big wink, that she was running for county judge, opposing him, so he married her to win the election.

Was Cactus Jack, as Garner was nicknamed, as prickly as his name implies? Was he just an innocent curmudgeon? Only more research will tell. We do know he had power, but all we ever saw of it was just the tip of an iceberg. What lay beneath that icy peak?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tale about a Tail Number (Part II)

This is a story about how people involved in intelligence operations hide behind corporations, and about how corporations disguise covert ops behind the guise of business. When I began this research project, I had no pre-conceived notions about what I might find. After a few delays and one accidental deletion, things are finally becoming clearer. After years of doing this sort of research it has been my experience that accidents--such as inadvertently deleting material that was almost complete--are gifts rather than mistakes. Starting over without groaning, following new instincts, usually leads in a direction that would have been missed otherwise. In this case that new direction led me to David Harold Byrd, as you will see below.

In Part I we reviewed briefly the title to Tail Number N-17888, set out in documents provided to me by Alan Kent. Larry Hancock wrote that, according to what Wayne January told author Mitchell Smith, N-17888 was one of several airplanes he sold which were to be used in secret government projects, after "being processed through companies at Red Bird and Houston Air Center." Thus it appears someone within those companies was a witting accomplice with the Central Intelligence Agency. Our aim in this segment is to answer the question of who was involved in creating and operating Houston Air Center.

NAvion Aircraft History

Refer back in Part I to the section under the heading "Background Title on N-1788," where we reviewed the title to the Red Bird airplane. Before coming to Wayne January's company, its previous long-time owner had been Navion Aircraft Co., a division of TUSCO. Here we will explore who that was and what that fact represents.

The first airplanes called NAvions were built for the Air Force during the final years of WWII at the former Hensley Field, created in 1940 as a training base for Army and Navy pilots. North American Aviation was a defense plant operated by the federal government there, just east of Grand Prairie. Along with it was a housing development (called Avion Village) set up to provide housing for the almost 40,000 workers this plant and others in the area employed until 1945.

Eventually, this same Grand Prairie plant would be operated by Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company, known by its acronym, TEMCO, a company which by 1947 was making B-25 bombers for South American countries, including Brazil and Mexico, under its president and general manager, Robert McCulloch. By the end of 1948, Temco would roll out its first "reconditioned" airplane for the Chinese Nationalist government, backed by the Office of Strategic Services during the closing days of WWII.

In a previous post at this blog, QJ reported on how the Nationalist Chinese army had financed its purchases of military hardware, using CIA bankers as middlemen in converting opium into airplanes by quoting from The Marcos Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave:
[Paul] Helliwell’s first major assignment after the war was to find a way for the CIA to subsidize the airline, Civil Air Transport, owned by Major General Claire L. Chennault, which had been used to furnish materiel to the anticommunist Chinese in Southeast Asia. In 1951 Helliwell set up Sea Supply as the CIA’s first proprietary company in order to transport weapons to the Nationalist Chinese troops in Burma and to Thailand police, whose Chief was involved in the opium trade. The planes were not returned empty after the guns were unloaded; they were filled with drugs destined for the United States — usually Florida. The money derived from the sale of the drugs had to be laundered for the CIA, and Helliwell figured out how to do it.
Neil Mallon of Dresser joined Temco Board.
At this same Grand Prairie plant, Temco would soon be building a variety of aircraft in the light twin market throughout the post-WWII and Korean War years, but NAvcon's single-engine four-seater "type certificate" had been sold in late 1948 to Ryan Aeronautical Co. Temco had ceased making this design for civilians in order to fulfill an Air Force contract awarded it that year for the military version (L-17) used in the Korean war.

Gerard P. Moran, at his website celticowboy, has written a concise history of Navion aircraft. The "type certificate," was the abstract design of the plane approved by CAA, and not the business entity authorized to manufacture the design. According to Moran:
By 1949 Ryan began introducing changes to improve the Navion (the capitalization of the 'A' was dropped as it was an abbreviation of North American). Auxiliary fuel tanks, improved instrumentation were popular options, as were colorful paint schemes. Ryan produced another 158 upgraded L-17Bs ordered in 1948 by the United States Air Force and a final order of 5 L-17Bs in 1949 for the Hellenic (Greek) Air Force....
Even though Ryan's order books were full, Ryan had to face an undeniable truth -- they lost money on every Navion they built. Each plane cost about $15,000 to make, and basic models were selling for as little as $9,500. At the end of 1952 Ryan ceased all Navion production. A total of 2,350 had been completed (1 prototype, 1,109 by NAA and 1,240 by Ryan).
While the Navion was still in production, the USAF returned (in 1948) to place another order, this time for 163 upgraded L-17Bs. A further 35 L-17As returned to the factory for the same upgrades, becoming L-17Cs. In 1952 the USAF deployed L-17s to the Orient in the first wave of the Korean War....
For some time, going back to the North American Aviation days, there had been interest in converting the single engine Navion into a more powerful twin engine version. Neither North American or Ryan were able to divert resources to such a project because of increasing military demands.... [O]n November 10, 1952, one full year after starting, with their Twin Navion, the plane, designated D-16 (D for Daubenberger) received its CAA certification. Interestingly, before the Twin Navion the Civil Aviation Authority had no way of certifying modifications as extensive as those done for Daubenberger (all were approved using the Major Repair and Alteration Form). This, plus a couple of other major conversions led the CAA to develop the Supplemental Type Certification [STC] process that is still in place today.
Almost immediately word of the D-16's existence spread across the United States, and in Florida, Jack Riley entered the Twin Navion story. Jack Riley was a self-made millionaire in the oil business and a natural salesman. He had formed a company, Riley Aircraft Corporation, to sell, refurbish, upgrade or modify general aviation aircraft in Florida. He obtained licensing and or certification from original manufacturers.... He took a trip to see the Navion manufacturing facility in California. After only a couple days in California, the businessman returned home with the Twin Navion's production rights....
Eager to sell his new twin Jack Riley took his plane to Dallas, Texas, where he demonstrated it to some 30 or 40 potential customers. Riley admitted that owners of single Navions were his primary customers, since they already knew the plane and could continue to expect the same performance, handling and ruggedness that they'd come to expect from their own planes. That tour resulted in the company's first sale, with two more following. Within a couple months the books were filled with orders for more than three dozen planes....

As production began, prices increased from $20,000 (initial sale price) to $24,850. This was nearly three times the price of a used single Navion but with Jack Riley's salesmanship there were always customers. In March 1953 a production agreement was entered with TEMCO Aircraft Corp., a well known subcontractor, maintenance provider for the USAF and small plane manufacturer. The next month, TEMCO purchased the exclusive production rights to the 'Riley Twins.' Jack Riley meanwhile returned to Florida where he remained responsible for marketing and sales. It also appears that Riley Aircraft served as a broker for Navions, buying them on the used market and then reselling them to TEMCO when an airframe was needed. [Italics added. Keep in mind the old type certificate (TC) for the single-engine Navion was still owned by Ryan.]
A new corporation was formed to purchase the single-engine design from Ryan Aeronautical. Navion Aircraft Co., later changed to NAV Corp., was initially set up in 1958 as a division of Tubular Service & Engineering Company (TUSCO).

Who Created TUSCO?

When I first saw this name, I was struck by its similarity with the name TEMCO, with capital letters used as an acronym for a descriptive name for what the company did. Could the two companies have been created by the same individuals perhaps? I decided to do some digging along this line, comparing the two acronymic manufacturers.

We look first at a chapter entitled "Byrds, Planes, and an Automobile" from Richard Bartholomew's classic work, Possible Discovery of an Automobile Used in the JFK Conspiracy - Part 4, in which he mentions Temco. The implication is there that Lyndon Johnson had enough influence over Temco's hiring practices to obtain a job with the company which would morph into E-Systems for his favorite assassin, Malcom Everett "Mac" Wallace. Temco began simply enough as a WWII era airplane manufacturer, helped along with financial backing from D. Harold Byrd, Dallas oilman. Byrd, who helped establish the Civilian Air Patrol (CAP), sought out electronics expert James Ling to turn Temco into a conglomerate which added electronics and missiles to balance military and civilian sales. Then Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) "sorta got outa control," as we say in Texas.

Back in 2011 QJ looked into D. Harold Byrd's foray into uranium mining, exploring his connections in that field, as well as his ownership of the building in Dallas which was to become known as the "Texas State Schoolbook Depository Building," even though it was only leased to that business six months prior to the November 1963 assassination. That curiosity ate up the next year while we examined connections to Israelis in Canada, Roy Cohn and eventually Florida real estate development, not to mention the history of the pseudononymous author of the Torbitt Document. Understanding history is a time-consuming endeavor!

Even though a photograph of D. H. Byrd appeared in numerous Texas newspapers in December 1932, showing him receiving a flag given him by his "cousin," Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. of Virginia, genealogical records did not at first indicate there was any kinship between the two men. However, as I dug deeper into Byrd's family background, some amazing facts came to light.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wayne January's Tale about a Tail Number (Part I)

Photo Credit
(Updated with added material, highlighted below.)

A Facebook friend (Alan Kent) recently messaged me to ask whether I had researched entities mentioned by Wayne January to author Matthew Smith in his book, Conspiracy: The Plot To Stop The Kennedys, pp. 141-45. The name did not ring a bell, so I had to refresh my memory on the computer.

Here is a Summary of what I learned:
On November 21, 1963, Wayne January is working side by side with a Cuban born pilot who is to fly a newly purchased DC -3 out of The Redbird Airfield tomorrow. Since early that morning, January has been helping the pilot complete a preflight inspection in order for the plane. The pilot becomes uneasy and finally turns to January and says: ‘they are going to kill your president. January will eventually tell researcher Matthew Smith that the Cuban pilots goes on to say: ‘I was a mercenary pilot, hired by the CIA’. The pilot continues: ‘they are not only going to kill the President. They are going to kill Robert Kennedy and any other Kennedy that gets in their position. When January expresses his skepticism, the pilot replies ‘you will see’. The conversation is dropped for a while, then the pilot breaks the silence: ‘they want Robert Kennedy real bad. ‘When January asks why, the pilot replies ‘never mind. You don’t need to know. Let’s get this job done, time is running out. My boss wants to return to Florida; he thought we would be through today. (Conspiracy) Matthew Smith believes this DC-3 flew the group of assassins out of Dallas the next day Inquiries indicate that the plane was not logged out of The Redbird Airfield. Smith says this is an indication that the plane and its flight plan are under the auspices of the CIA. When Smith asks the FAA for details on the aircraft, he is told that no such plane existed. Later, the FAA does confirm the number of the plane (N-17888) originally belonged to a Douglas DC-3, having later been transferred to another aircraft. Smith eventually learns that the aircraft had been purchased by the Houston Air Center. A former [alleged] CIA agent tells Smith that the Houston Air Center was a front for the CIA.
Here is another person's take on the book's story:
One company Wayne January was a partner in was said to be Royal Air Service Inc., which was wrapping up the selling off of large aircraft--supposedly part of a top-secret government program that was interested in developing radar mapping for low-level flying by such planes as the F-111 fighter-bomber. At the time of our story they only had one DC3 left to sell off to finish the contract. This final plane was sold in mid-November by January’s partner and the owner showed up on November 18 to sign for it. January told [author Matthew Smith] he was a very well-dressed gentleman. January said “he was about six feet tall, fair complexioned, brown hair, and late thirties to early forties. His haircut was short, military type, and wore slacks and a sport shirt.” January also said, “he had no particular accent.” January said later on he found out he was an Air Force Colonel who specialized in the type of plane being specialized….

Matthew Smith believes this DC3 flew out of Red Bird that day with the complete team that had murdered JFK. He surmised it went from Dallas to Houston, and he also believes David Ferrie’s “ice skating” trip to Houston was really to fly this plane from Houston to its ultimate destination.


Smith tried to trace this plane and did learn that the number (N-17888) had been tied to a DC3 after initially being told a different type plane had that number and the DC3 never “existed.”

He also found out that the plane had been purchased by the Houston Air Center. Mr. Smith then contacted a former CIA Agent out of Houston and asked him if he would check this out for him. The former CIA Agent said the Houston Air Center was a “CIA front.”
The best explanation of the incident was written by Larry Hancock (whose book proved, incidentally--once I located it on its backshelf, covered in dust--that I had actually read of the episode years ago and even underlined parts of it, before depositing it into an unmemory hole). The following is from Hancock's article appearing at CTKA.net:
The plane had come to Red Bird in January 1963 and was owned by two different companies there during that year. Wayne January was a partner in both companies. At some point that year, the aircraft had been heavily modified, all the seats had been removed from the plane and it had been reclassified with the FAA as a research and development aircraft. We also know that it had been sold to individuals of the Houston Air Center, but paperwork was not actually completed until it was eventually resold outside the U.S. to a company named Aerovias del Sur. The records place that company’s headquarters in Mexico City, however, defunct companies of that name can be found in Cuba, Mexico and Columbia. Further tracing seems virtually impossible.

Another tack in evaluating January’s overall story of the incident is to look at where such aircraft were indeed being used covertly during the timespan of 1964-1965. Records reveal that the Cuban exile autonomous group initiative supported by Robert Kennedy in 1963 was in the process of buying and leasing a broad variety of equipment, both boats and planes. That effort was led by Manual Artime and records demonstrate that extensive “cut outs” were used to shield its financial activities — and the fact that the U.S. was funding the project. Available records confirm that Artime did lease a similar Douglas transport aircraft until his project was closed down in 1965. Artime’s personnel were all Cuban exiles and his funding, purchasing and leasing were all carried out by CIA staff in a highly covert project designated as AMWORLD.


Another covert operation involving aircraft and Cuban exile personnel would have been the highly secret dispatch of aircraft and Cuban exile pilots to the Congo, which began in 1963. A joint effort of the American military assistance mission and the CIA, the effort focused primarily on providing B-26 fighter-bombers and Cuban exile pilots. However a number of transport aircraft and technicians were also sent into the Congo in 1964.[10]

A third option, and one especially interesting in regard to the modifications and R&D recertification of the Red Bird aircraft, is the fact that a variety of covert air assets were being prepared to go into Laos in this period. In addition, the Air Force was developing the class of modified C-47 gunships eventually known as “Spooky”. The craft were totally stripped internally to allow the mounting of heavy machine guns and cannon.[11] Development of these gunships was underway in 1964 and the first aircraft were deployed into Vietnam in 1964. Therefore, the aspect of January’s story about the pilot being familiar with certain veterans of the Bay of Pigs is supportable.


January indicated to Smith that it was his understanding that the series of aircraft being purchased through companies at Red Bird and Houston Air Center were being processed through a series of cut out sales for eventual use in secret government projects. Investigation confirms that such projects and cut out sales were most definitely occurring at that time. It also confirms that Cuban exiles were very much involved in some of them. Of course, if January had gone to the FBI with such an incident at the time, it obviously would have had security implications as well as a negative impact on his own business. Beyond that, it would have likely done little good, as we have a number of examples from both Texas and Miami that show the FBI was not at all interested in following up on Cuban exile assassination leads; even when they had specific names in hand.[12]

After 50 years it is virtually impossible to carry Wayne January’s most significant lead to a final resolution. Still, with what has been learned about both January himself, as well as the aircraft sale, it seems rather foolish to write it all off as some sort of fiction. Especially since Wayne January never told anyone but Smith and then only with the promise of total anonymity. If true, it could offer a major insight into the President’s assassination.
Excerpt from The Second Plot

After doing the above research, the book I ordered by Matthew Smith (JFK: The Second Plot) arrived. Here Smith sets out his interpretation of the assassination plots from the evidence he had gathered:
So the two plots were meticulously put into operation. The team of marksmen were recruited and drilled. Weapons were prepared, heights and distances calculated in relation to motion; this was to be a once only event and it must succeed first time.... But for all its precision and careful planning, the first plot by itself added up to little more than a bunch of hi-tech bandits lying in wait to spring an ambush on the President. All the real sophistication lay in the planning and execution of the second plot. Without the second plot the shooters would have been picked up at once and those who had sent them would have been exposed....

It was probably only a few days before the President's visit that Lee Oswald was given his instructions. He was told that a decision had been made to fly him into [probably] Cuba in a light aircraft. He would make the trip on the afternoon of Friday, 22 November, the day the President was to visit Dallas. Advantage would be taken of the commotion the visit would create for him to slip quietly away.

A pilot would be provided and pretense made that they were flying to Yucatan [blogger's italics]....On the morning of Wednesday, 20 November, he was driven out to Red Bird airfield by [most likely] two agents. They sought to hire a small aircraft there, perhaps a Cessna or a Piper Cub or something of that kind, for the trip....One operator they called upon was Wayne January, who recounted Oswald's visit to this author in detail. He told how one man waited in the car whilst the others in the party came to speak to him:
There was a man and woman and they asking intricate questions concerning a certain type of aircraft which was capable of delivering them to their destination, and the way they were dressed and the way the conversation went I was sensitive to the fact that why would they want to know that many technical questions to take a vacation trip . . . (They continued) talking to me asking me the fuel consumption, the amount of hours in the air, the total distance and would it be capable of going on to another location under certain wind conditions and things like that . . . People don't ask those kind of questions to charter an airplane.
January decided not to accept the charter, being suspicious the\at they were going to hijack the plane and go on to Cuba. His reasons, he said, were:
. . . because of the way they were dressed, I sensed something not right. Their dress was not anybody who could afford to hire that kind of aeroplane to make that kind of trip, and the car was an older car. It was a black 1947 model which I recognised because I had had the very same model. I carried my tools in it and I knew it . . . and I was questioning, well, where are they going to get all this money? Y'know it was an expensive trip they were talking about....
He then told his prospective clients:
I think you need to go somewhere else to get this done.
As they left, January had a look at the man who had been sitting in the car during the discussion which had taken place. He said he was curious to see whether he was dressed like the others and he wondered why he hadn't come out to talk with him. Watching television and reading newspaper reports of the assassination two days later he saw pictures of the man who had been sitting in the car. It was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Another take on Dobbs House incident by Epstein
. . . Oswald was next seen that day at Dobbs Restaurant on North Beckley, having a late breakfast. The waitress, Mary [Ada] Dowling, testified that Oswald usually called in for his breakfast between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. before he started work, but on Wednesday, 20 November he did not arrive until 10 a.m. She remembered it well, because Oswald made a lot of fuss about his order, which was not cooked to his satisfaction. He swore, she said. A policeman who was in the restaurant at the same time looked across when he heard the commotion. It was Officer J. D. Tippit, and Tippit was [we assume] scheduled to pick Oswald up to take him to Red Bird Airfield on Friday, 22 November, just two days later. Since they had never met, this may have been the means by which Tippit and Oswald identified one another in preparation for the Friday pick up. Oswald would recognise Tippit, since he was the only police officer in the restaurant at that time, but Tippit may have been told he would identify the passenger by looking for the mean creating a row about his eggs.
After reading what Judyth Vary Baker has told us about the fact that she and Lee hoped to meet up in Mexico, travel to the Yucatan, and explore the Mayan ruins at Chichen-Itza, we find ourselves wondering whether Lee took off work on Wednesday, November 20, the day preceding the evening when he had his last conversation with Judyth. At the time Lee had gone to Mexico in late September, Lee's CIA associate Alex Rorke went missing. Alex had already agreed to help Judyth get to Mexico in the event Lee was successful during his time in Mexico in getting a visa to Cuba. The plan was by those working on the bioweapon, for Lee to deliver it to a contact in Cuba to inject the cancer cells into Fidel Castro. But the window of time was short, and Lee failed to obtain the necessary visa, and he returned to the U.S. Otherwise, he would have met Judyth in Mexico, where she was to have been delivered to him by his pilot friend, Alex Rorke.

Excerpt from Me and Lee by Judyth Vary Baker

Under the heading September 25, 1963, beginning on page 498:
Today, we know that Alex Rorke's plane crashed on the day Lee left for Mexico City after leaving Cozumel, where I believe Alex and his co-pilot, Geoffrey Sullivan, flew to check out where I could safely be dropped off. Then the plane took off on another mission, apparently near or over Cuba, where it was shot down. On Oct. 6, eleven days later, Gerry Hemming took Interpen members and hunted for the downed plane and bodies. I find the timing of both the Alex Rorke rumor and his subsequent disappearance troubling.
Once his business in Dallas was finished, Lee boarded the Dove again and flew to Houston, landing at Hull Field in Sugarland, on the west side of Houston. There, he was handed a second blue zippered "lunch bag" and told that it contained fresh cancer cells which would give the Product to extra days of shelf life. Then Lee swapped the lunch bags and took a long bus ride to Laredo. To the outside world, he seemed to have traveled by bus all the way from New Orleans....

Finally, the phone rang. It was Lee calling from Houston. He began by telling me that Alex Rorke was missing. I could hear the stress in his voice. Lee said he was planning to meet Alex Rorke in Mexico City to discuss the best places to drop me off in the Yucatan. He would try to find out more about Alex's situation.

In the meantime, I should be ready to go to Eglin AFB [in Florida]. He would try to find another pilot. If not, I could take a commercial flight out of Tampa or Miami.
Alexander Rorke was last seen at Cozumel? Read entire document in pdf.

Did Lee, after fearing the worst about Alex, attempt to rent an aircraft in Dallas to get Judyth to the Yucatan, and, if so, who would have taken him to Red Bird on Wednesday, a day he should have been at work?


Tail number N-17888

What follows is the research I did in answer to the question of a curious reader, Alan Kent, who thought my interest about people in Texas might reveal a deeper part of the story.

Everything I know about tail numbers I learned from my friend Daniel Hopsicker. In fact, I picked up almost as much knowledge about this subject from him as he learned about the Texas Railroad Commission from me. Virtually zero. So...here goes.

A google search of the tail number showed the plane had been part of Braniff’s fleet used during August, 1952 through May 1960. How does one find out to whom Braniff sold it? Alan Kent snail-mailed me documents he had acquired, which set out the history of the plane's ownership. On November 28, 1944 the Army Air Force declared this airplane to be surplus property of the government, with title transferred to the Surplus War Aircraft Division of Jesse Jones' financial empire within President Franklin Roosevelt's administration. A month later it was registered to the Defense Plant Corporation for disposal, eventually going with several other aircraft to Mid-Continent Airlines, Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri. Title of the specific airplane, as part of a 69-airplane fleet, was transferred to Braniff in 1952 when the two corporations merged.

Apparently, that was where Wayne January's companies came in. Wiki tells us all we need to know about Braniff. From Wiki we learn that things began to change dramatically at Braniff only two years after it acquired this airplane:
Braniff and Edgar Tobin, among others, died in crash.
On January 10, 1954 Braniff founder Thomas Elmer Braniff died when a flying boat owned by United Gas crash-landed on the shore of Wallace Lake, 15 miles outside of Shreveport, Louisiana due to icing. According to information from Captain George A. Stevens: "Mr Braniff was on a hunting expedition with a group of important citizens of Louisiana. They were departing from a small duck hunting lake out of Shreveport in a Grumman Mallard aircraft with no deicing system. The wings iced up and they attempted to land. One of the wings hit cypress stumps and the plane crashed against the shore. It caught fire and all 12 lives aboard were lost." [1]
Braniff Executive Vice President Charles Edmund Beard became the first non-Braniff family member to assume the role of President of the airline after Tom Braniff's untimely death. Mr. Beard gathered Braniff employees to announce that the airline would move forward and assured the public that the airline would continue.
Paul R. Braniff died later that year of cancer.[6] Tom Braniff's wife, Bess Braniff, also died in 1954. Tom's son Thurman Braniff was killed in a training plane crash at Oklahoma City in 1938, and his daughter Jeanne Braniff Terrell died in 1948 from complications of childbirth.[1]
That must have been one unlucky airplane for the Braniff family! I decided the book by John J. Nance, footnoted in the Wiki citation, was a must-read and placed an order: Splash of Colors: The Self-Destruction of Braniff International. Had I not already done some research into the alleged buyer of this airplane, my interest would not have been piqued by some of the facts surrounding the death of the Braniffs, who were all dead by 1954!

Background Title on N-1788

Documents detailing the history of the title to Tail Number N-17888, sent to be by Alan Kent, revealed:
  • On July 9, 1960, Braniff tranferred the title to Navion Aircraft Corporation (NAC) of Galveston (Division of Tusco Corportion). Leo F. Childs was then vice president and J. L. McCann was president. Childs grew up in Center, Texas, where the first aircraft manufacturing in Texas began in 1933. [Added on April 23, 2015: Childs in 1955 was general manager of Camair Aviation in Galveston, a division of Cameron Iron Works.
    During the Korean War Cameron Iron Works supplied armaments and was involved in power generation and manufacture of jet engines and airplane parts. In 1957 it established a guided-missile plant. Cameron Iron Works was controlled by Texas oilman, James S. Abercrombie, who was related to Secretary of Defense Robert Abercrombie Lovett--a partner with Prescott Bush in Brown Brothers Harriman.] When Navion borrowed money and placed a lien on this DC-3 airplane in October 1961, it was then situated at Hou-Port Aviation Agency, Inc. in LaPorte, Texas. The lien also included another DC-3 (#N-151A) situated at Redbird in Dallas, though, according to the mortgage, "both of said Douglas DC-3 airplanes [were] permanently home-based at International Airport, Galveston." The promissory note amount of $92,925.00 was payable to Tennessee Bank and Trust Company of Houston in monthly installments amortized for one year.
  • NAC sold the plane in January 1963 to Executive Aircraft Service, Inc. of Dallas, and it was registered for the corporation on January 17 by V.E. Morgan. 
  • One month later L.V. Emery, President of Executive Aircraft transferred the plane's title to Jack Birdwell, Harvey M. Phillips and Wayne January, partners of  American Aviation (101 Terminal Bldg. at Redbird). 
  • After being repaired and refitted, it was transferred effective March 1of that year to Royal Air Service, Inc., with paperwork signed on May 10.
  • Effective as of May 9 all three partners transferred it back to Executive Aircraft, Inc. (signed on August 9).
  • On May 1, 1963 (Royal Air Service, Inc. (Harvey M. Phillips, president; Jack Birdwell, vice president; and Wayne January, secretary-treasurer) borrowed $32,400 from an unnamed lender. A Dallas insurance agent named Jesse Ambler, signed on the back of the document in the space designated for the person notarizing the signatures made on behalf of the borrower, Royal Air Service, Inc.. Below Ambler's signature someone named Evelyn B. Bedinger in Berrien County, Michigan, notarized the signature of the non-existent seller-mortgagee, which also failed to assign the chattel mortgage to the entity which printed the form document, i.e. Appliance Buyers Credit Corporation (ABCC), a Delaware corporation with a Michigan address. This document was recorded by the FAA in October 1963, but apparently returned as not acceptable. Two years later it was attached to another document which indicates ABCC was the original lender in the amount of $20,0000, the lien amount being transferred to Walter E. Heller & Company of California on July 16, 1965. Wayne January indicated that this was the standard procedure for the business.
  • On October 9, 1965 the three men in the same capacities signed a bill of sale to Houston Air Center, Inc. of 7700 Airport Blvd. in Houston. A lien was retained to secure a $40,000 note to North Side State Bank in Houston. This document was recorded by the FAA on October 27.
  • On October 18, 1965 Houston Air Center, Inc. executed a chattel mortgage on the plane in favor of the North Side State Bank, indicating it was then at Houston Int. Airport (Hobby). E. Mitchell Smith, Jr. signed as president of Houston Air Center, Inc. 
  • A new certificate was issued by the FAA to Houston Air Center, Inc. on October 28, 1965. On the back of this certificate is a transfer to Aerovias del Sur, Mexico City D.F., signed by Clarence E. Wigley. It was stamped in Oklahoma City on December 20, 1965.
  • It was removed from American registry records on January 5, 1966.

Red Bird Airport

Red Bird Airport was located at 4800 S. Hampton Road in Dallas. The 1960 phone directory shows the only company listed there that year was Texair, Inc., 4837 S. Hampton Road, Dallas [click link to see map]. This is the servicing company mentioned by the Garrison investigation in 1967. Today that site is the location of Dallas Executive Airport.

Red Bird was then about 3.7 miles from the Januarys' 1960 home -- 931 S. Montreal, while Braniff was based at Love Field in Dallas. Before construction of the interstate highway, the two air fields were 13 miles apart via Hampton Road routing through Oak Cliff and passing Sunset High School, from which Wayne January graduated, according to information we have gleaned from various sources. 
 
Wayne January was born in Coryell County, Texas in 1931 to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hasten January. He attended Sunset High School on the southwest side of Dallas, where in 1947 he played in the orchestra. He graduated in 1951, the same year his father died. His father's obituary reads:
News Circulation Employee, Charles H. January, 65, Dies - Charles Haston January, 65, a district manager of the Dallas News' circulation department, died of a heart attack at his desk Wednesday. He had been with The News for eight years, and was in charge of twenty-eight carriers of the West Dallas district.
He lived at 824 North Edgefield [mere blocks from the high school].
 
Before coming to The News, January was captain of the Highland Park fire department for twenty years, and before that was a member of the Dallas fire department for seven years.

January was born in Shelby County in 1886. As a young man, he joined with others in setting up an oil refinery in De Leon, Comanche County. In 1909 he sold his interest in the refinery and moved to Dallas.

He was a member of the Round Table, Dallas News employee organization.

Surviving are his wife, the former Miss Vadah Baldwin of Dallas, whom he married in June, 1918; five sons, W. Spencer January and Wayne January, both of Dallas, Farold January of Waco, C. H. January, in service in Korea, and Lawrence E. January, at an Air Force base in Alabama; two daughters, Mrs. Ruth Landers and Mrs. Shirley Hurley, both of Dallas; one sister, Mrs. Blanche Morrison of Center; and four brothers, Dillon January and Luther January, both of Dallas, Walter January of San Antonio, and Hugh January of Houston; and seven grandchildren. Funeral arrangements had not been completed Wednesday night.
- Dallas Morning News, November 15, 1951

Wayne’s older brother, C.H. Jr., enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served the military for 20 years as a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, and was also assigned to the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, NM. He died in 2011 in Denton.

In 1966 Wayne married Sylvia Gwynn Landrum, though we see from directories in 1960 and before that his wife was Delores; Wayne died in 2002 in Ellis County.


The Mary Ferrell website contains a document placed in Oswald’s 201 file concerning the interview of Wayne January, who had called his local FBI office on November 27, 1963 and spoke to Special Agent John V. Almon. It took Almon and Agent Kenneth B. Jackson two days to make it out to conduct a personal interview with January on the 29th at Red Bird Airport terminal building in Room 101.  The interview began with a discussion about Jack Ruby's Carousel Club, which January admitted to frequenting between February and April of 1963, beginning a month or so after the airplane and others arrived at January's company at Red Bird. There was mention by Larry Hancock that the plane arrived from Woburn Aircraft, though the documents provided by Alan Kent do not bear this out. It was during this same time frame that FBI reports indicated he reported receiving calls about chartering an airplane, though January was adamant that the visit by Oswald actually occurred on November 20.


I found online a text version of the document, apparently posted by John Watters at alt.assassination.jfk in July 2002 and reposted by Peter Fokes. including these prefatory remarks:
From my reading of the FBI memo below there seems to be an implied connection between January's frequenting of the Carousel Club between February and April 1963 and the two anonymous phone calls in February and March 1963. The Feebs did not ask if there was any connection with the Carousel, whether he recognized the voice(s) or whether the men had given any indication why they had chosen him particularly.

They did not ask him why he would surmise that the trip to Laredo involved narcotics. What made him jump to this conclusion, the person asking the favour (in which case, did he know them?) or the destination itself (was Laredo synonymous with narcotics?).

The Feebs do not seem to have raised an eyebrow at the call re $12 million of gold dust - $12 MILLION ??!! Wow, if this kind of caper was connected to the Carousel and Ruby, Jack could hardly be dismissed as just a nightclub owner and small-time hoodlum.

I confess I don't understand the significance of the comments re plain clothes officers in the Carousel but I guess the Feebs must have had their reasons for including this in their report.

The report includes January's views on Ruby - not something you would expect from someone who had just gone to the guy's nightclub for a while. The Feebs don't appear to have asked January how often he had spoken to Ruby, how long he had known him, how well he knew him etc etc.

And finally, on to LHO - the Feebs played down January's identification of LHO, changed the date of the incident from 20 November to late July [blogger's italics] and emphasized that the man asking the questions had not been LHO. (No-one had ever claimed that the man asking the questions was LHO - January clearly stated that LHO had stayed in the car).

Is there an implied connection between the flights January was asked to make in February/March and the LHO incident in November?

Matthew Smith's "JFK: The Second Plot" contains the following FBI memo which Harold Weisberg obtained under the FOIA:
"The following interview was conducted by SA's KENNETH B. JACKSON and JOHN V. ALMON on November 29, 1963:

AT DALLAS,TEXAS
WAYNE JANUARY, owner, American Aviation Company, Room 101, Terminal Building, Red Bird Airport, Dallas, Texas, advised that from February through April, 1963, he, together with several friends, on occasion frequented the Carousel Club, Dallas, Texas, which he understands is owned by one JACK RUBY.

JANUARY stated that during February, 1963, he received an anonymous telephone call from a  man who offered him the sum of $5,000.00 to fly to Laredo, Texas, and back with no questions asked. JANUARY said that he surmised that this individual planned to transport narcotics to Dallas and for this reason he declined the offer. JANUARY further stated that during March, 1963, he received a second anonymous telephone call from a man who wanted him to fly $12,000,000.00 worth of gold dust to Mexico City where he was to pick up the currency and return with it to Dallas. He stated that this individual offered him $400,000.00 to make this flight which he also declined.

JANUARY stated that during the latter part of July, 1963, a man and a woman whom he had never seen before contacted him at his office at which time they inquired about chartering a plane for a trip to "Old Mexico". JANUARY stated that when he asked this man questions essential to such a flight he was definitely evasive in his answers. JANUARY explained that this individual did not appear to know exactly where he desired to go in Mexico but said something about the West Coast. Furthermore, he did not appear to know when he desired to return or or exactly how many passengers could be expected on the flight. JANUARY said that this man, after stating that he did not wish to make the flight for a couple of months, stated that he would consider the information which JANUARY had given him and let him know at a later date. He said that when the couple left he observed a third man who had been waiting in their automobile during the entire conversation, and after observing a photograph of LEE HARVEY OSWALD on television it now seems to him that this man somewhat resembled OSWALD although he was not definitely sure in this respect. JANUARY was unable to offer any additional information which might be of assistance in identifying the man and woman who inquired about the flight to Mexico. He said that they did not appear to him to be persons of sufficient financial means to charter a trip such as the one discussed.

JANUARY reiterated the fact that the man, accompanied by the unidentified woman, who made inquiries concerning a chartered flight to Mexico, was not LEE HARVEY OSWALD and said that he has no records or any other method of identifying the persons who contacted him during the latter part of July, 1963.

JANUARY further commented that he never visited the Carousel Club when he did not observe several plainclothes officers, and when a friend of his attempted to date one of the performers, KATHY KAY, she informed this friend that she had to go with another man, whom she identified as a plainclothes officer.

JANUARY concluded with the opinion that JACK RUBY was not the type of individual who would have killed, or attempted to kill, anyone charged with the assassination of the President. He said that he does not think that RUBY would care that much, even about his own mother."
We are told by Smith that:
Wayne January had never seen this memo until Matthew Smith showed it to him and, according to one of Smith's books, "was amazed when this author told him the FBI stated he had said his visitors, including Oswald, had called several MONTHS before the assassination, instead of two days before." January said, "How would I have been able to remember the face to compare with the pictures of Oswald I saw on television for that long? It was the Wednesday before the assassination."
Smith also says, "As opposed to the uncertain identification stated in the report, January told this author his identification of Oswald was so strong he would give it nine out of ten."
We pick up in our next post with research into exactly who owned the Houston Air Center and find out what it was about United Gas that intrigued me so.