Blue Water Healthy Living

“That Day”

By Mark Pearson

“Editor’s Note: the following article includes graphic descriptions which may be unsuitable for some readers.”

Anyone who was old enough to remember that Friday in November of 1963 can still remember that day as if it was yesterday. Here it has been more than 55 years after that event and like Perl Harbor or D day, it is embedded in our memory and can still vividly be recalled.  I was 11 years old and sitting in my 7th-grade history class when our teacher, Mr. Boatwright announced to the class the fact that the President had been shot.  Of course, back then there were only 3 TV channels and all three channels had wall to wall coverage of the event.

Without going into all the details and remembering all the news commentators, such as Huntley, Brinkly, and Cronkite who all became familiar faces after that – we can still recount some of those events as they unfolded.  It wasn’t until later that the film of the shooting was made available to the public.  At that time there were several theories as to who really was responsible and who if any more people were involved.  Were there any foreign countries involved or was it strictly a national event?  Many books have been written and movies and documentaries have been produced over the years since then. Both books and movies have put forth different theories and many so-called experts were interviewed but none were proclaimed as the official conclusion until the Warren Commission was released to the public.

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The official version is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and fired 3 shots from a window in the Texas book depository warehouse.  The weapon he used was an Italian Manlickler Carcano infantry rifle of WWII vintage.  It was a 6.5 millimeter 6 shot bolt action weapon.

Here’s where this article will place its focus. Anyone well versed in firearms will know what I’m about to say, and please don’t mistake me for trying to be condescending in the way. I’m not a gunnery expert.  I am trying to explain some things for the laymen and so those who are reading will understand the terminology presented.

 10 Years after President Kennedy was assassinated, my wife and I attended a presentation put on by the Wayne or Oakland County Medical Examiner, I can’t remember which, who was only one of three Medical examiners who were allowed to review the evidence that the Warren Commission had available to use in their findings and conclusions.   This presentation was put on by and at SC4 so it may be remembered by others in this community who may have attended it.

What he presented that day was startling, to say the least.  Without going into all the conspiracy theories that have been kicked around, I will stick to the particulars of the event itself. All the particulars like which floor and which window and which direction he was facing are all on the record so I don’t need to go into all that.  First of all, I would like to restate his conclusion that Oswald could not have fired all three shots at the president, as well as the Texas governor and here, is why.

First of all, it was pointed out that some of the features of the rifle were interesting.  As I stated before, the rifle had a 6 round capacity and the rounds, or bullets were loaded from the top after the bolt was opened and pulled back.  The 6 rounds were inserted in a clip that held all 6 together.  This made for quick loading as you didn’t need to put each bullet into the rifle one at a time.  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but this rifle had a dangerous flaw.  The safety wasn’t that reliable, in fact, if the rifle was jolted, bumped or dropped; it had a tendency to go off thereby endangering the person or anyone else in close proximity.

To overcome that problem, the person using this rifle would place a spent cartridge, an already fired bullet so the shell was empty of powder, into the top of the clip so when it was pushed into the chamber by closing the bolt and pulling the trigger the rifle would then be rendered safe.  When the person was ready to shoot, he would then eject the already spent shell and begin to fire by shoving the next live cartridge into the chamber.  Why is this important?  Because the back side of the spent cartridge would have more than one firing pin mark or dimple on the primer.

Guess what, one of the three cartridges found on the floor next to the rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald had more than one firing mark on it.

 Photographs of the backs of all three shell casings that were part of the Warren Commission’s official evidence clearly showed the firing pin marks. Other conclusions were ruled out such as that it could be that when the trigger was pulled and the round failed to fire, he pulled back the bolt and kept the same round in the chamber.  It can’t be done that way as when the bolt was pulled back it would automatically extract the round and throw it into the air.  If that happened then there would have been an unfired round on the floor with a dimple in the primer.  No round fitting that description was found at the scene.

The next reason is this: witnesses from both inside and outside of the book depository building who heard the shots said one thing in common.  Those that were inside said under oath that they heard 2 shots, those that were outside said that they heard 3 shots.  Both those inside and outside said that the first sound did not sound like a gunshot.  They all said that the first one sounded more like a firecracker or a loud popping sound, not like the next ones.  What would cause a different sound that both of the witnesses said they heard regardless of whether they were inside or out?

A short round.   The description of a short round is as follows.  If ammunition is not stored properly and gets damp or possibly has a manufactures defect can cause a situation where when the round is fired not all of the propellant or gunpowder is burned.  From the time firearms were invented, the main propellant has been black powder.  This substance has been used in firearms up until the last of the 19th century.  Of course, it is still used in muzzleloaders and vintage firearms for reenactments, hunting and other types of venues. The problem with black powder is when it is ignited it burns all at once in other words, it explodes.

One of Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of relativity is for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Because of the black powder exploding all at once, this causes the firearm to kick back as the projectile is driven down the barrel and out the end or muzzle. A new type of powder was invented that burned slower, in other words, it didn’t explode all at once thereby slowly expanding as it burned to cause less of a kick and driving the projectile down the barrel faster before it exited the end of the barrel or muzzle.  This is where we get the term muzzle velocity or the speed the projectile exited from the end of the barrel.

A round properly manufactured and stored properly has certain characteristics depending on what firearm it is fired from. It has a known velocity and range, an effective and total range is also listed and the damage that is produced at different ranges is calculated. Another characteristic of a fully functioning round is that it usually makes a larger exit wound than an entrance wound.  One of the ways that this is tested is by using a substance that is called ballistics jell.  This material resembles flesh so it reacts closely to the way human flesh reacts when it is struck by different articles, not just bullets.

When a short round is fired and not all of the propellant is burned several things can occur.  A projectile may never leave the barrel or come out at a reduced muzzle velocity that will cause the projectile to drop and hit the target much lower then what was intended.  The damage done will be reduced as well.  Also, the sound that is made is different than the sound produced by a fully functioning round.

Most of us have seen the film that was taken by a man by the name of Abraham Zabruter.  He just happened to be at a place where he filmed the shooting at precisely the time that it happened.  His film shows President Kennedy’s reaction as the first round hit him.  He grabs his throat with both hands and leans forward apparently trying to get down.  He was prevented from doing so as he was wearing a back brace that helped him sit up without causing him pain resulting from injuries dating back to his military service in WWII.  He was on steroids for his back that also caused the flesh around his neck to become flabby, for lack of a better term.  What happened was the first round instead of entering the back of his head as was originally intended, possibly being a short round caused its trajectory to drop hitting him in the back of the neck.  It made a 7 to 8 MM hole going in and missed his neck bone and exited out his throat.  Before the bullet exited his throat it stretched the skin out and verily had enough energy to exit. This bullet was found on the floor with no other damage done to it other than the rifling marks on the outside of the bullet.  The exit wound was smaller than the entrance wound.  This is characteristic of a short round as short rounds have been fired into blocks of ballistics jell and have been observed and proven to be true.

If that is not enough reason to believe that Oswald was not the only shooter then I offer another.  A Marine gunnery sergeant with experience firing all types of weapons including the Carcano could not fire it at the speed needed to fire 3 shots in the time that it took during the assassination.  He tried hip firing it and couldn’t get 3 shots off in that frame of time.  When you consider that a person using a scoped rifle has to acquire a moving target, fire, unlock and pull back the bolt, shove the bolt forward thereby pushing a new round into the chamber, reacquire the moving target through the scope and repeat this procedure again and do this 3 times.  This was proven not possible.

What about that bullet that was found on the floor?  This is what the Warren Commission report concluded.  The first bullet that hit the president continued on through the back of the seat that Governor Connelly was seated in, entered his back, broke a rib going in, broke another rib exiting his front and then slammed into and smashed his wrist.  For this bullet to do all of this, it would have had to change direction 2 times which means that it would have had to bounce off of two solid objects hard enough to cause that bullet to change direction once, hit another solid object and change direction again and still have enough energy to penetrate a seat and a person who was quite portly to say the least.  This bullet has been commonly referred to as the Magic bullet.

No kidding?  This bullet has defied all known laws of physics especially when this bullet has not been deformed in any way other than the ballistics markings on its sides.  Normally a round fired from a high powered rifle will mushroom as it travels through the air.  Air molecules hitting the surface of the round will actually distort the leading edge of the bullet causing the point to expand and flatten, causing the width of its mass to increase in diameter.

This bullet had none of those common characteristics so that evidence alone pretty well shows that another shooter was at a different location and elevation and firing a different weapon that resulted in the wounds inflicted on Governor Connolly.

My personal theory is this, somebody else had it in for the Texas governor. And when it was announced that the president was going to visit Dallas, this person decided to take a shot at him knowing that the president would be the assumed target and the shooter was just a lousy shot and hit the governor instead.

Does anyone remember the movie Shooter, starring Mark Walburg?  The only difference that I see is that the person going after the governor most likely had no knowledge of the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was in the book depository, gunning for the president at the same time.  It’s something to ponder after all these years and, in my opinion, isn’t any more crazy as all of the other theories out there!

So if we conclude that it is entirely possible that someone else was shooting at the same time regardless of who was the intended target, let’s look at the next round that Oswald fired.  This round wasn’t a short round.  All the witnesses attest to the fact that the next shot or shots depending on where they were located when they heard them, sounded like a gunshot.  This is the bullet that hit the president in the back of the head. Things get a little gory at this point so if you are reading this you may want to pass over this part and skip the next two paragraphs.

This round latterly blew the top of his head off.  When watching the Zabrutter film, it shows the president trying to get down.  When this bullet hits him a red smudge appears to leave the back of his head and go up and forward at almost a 45-degree angle.  He also loses control of his arms and they flail out and his body springs back as a result of the tension of the back brace pulling him back. One must remember that the convertible was still moving forward.  Mrs. Kennedy is shown climbing out of the back of the car and out onto the rear or trunk of the car.  She was only out there for a moment and then she turned around and went back into the car.  It was speculated that she was trying to get out of the line of fire but went back.  Some assumed that a secret service agent told her to get back into the car.

The Medical examiner giving this presentation believes otherwise. Remember, the convertible is still moving forward when the red smudge dissipated as it shows on the film but that object had to come down somewhere.  It did. It landed on the back deck of the convertible and that was what Mrs. Kennedy was going after.  It was the top of his head that she was going after and after she retrieved it she returned to her seat and replaced it back on the top of his head.

After reviewing the same evidence that the Warren Commission looked at, I still to this day cannot fathom how anyone could come up with the conclusions that they made.  I have no idea if this material is available under the freedom of information act, but it is still intriguing even after 55 years of remembering that fateful day in November of 1963.


Mark E. Pearson was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo.  In 1970 he moved to Michigan where he met and married the girl of his dreams, Mary Lou Davis, together they have two sons.  He attended Briercrest Bible Institute in Saskatchewan, Canada, and later received his associate’s degree in business from St. Clair Community College.  He was a bookkeeper and worked in retail sales for 30 years and has spent the last fifteen years as a Jeweler at Coughlin’s Jewelers in St Clair, MI.  He is a voracious reader of history and as a result of being an avid reader, he began to write short stories and articles for editorial columns and magazines on current events and comparing and relating past events to current happenings.  

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1 comment

Kathleen Knowles May 1, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Excellent, Mark! I never believed in the one shooter.


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