Volume Two: New Orleans, Fort Worth, California, Japan, Indonesia & Santa Ana
Excerpt from Part 1
Reprinted with author's permission
Creation of the CAP
The Civil Air Patrol was formed by Administrative Order 9 on December 1, 1941 to provide civilian air support during WWII. In July, 1946, it was incorporated as a benevolent non-profit organization and made the auxiliary of the newly created US Air Force with mission areas set as aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services. [xxxiv]
In New Orleans, the Wing Headquarters and AF-CAP Liaison Office of the CAP Louisiana Wing moved from Building T-232 New Orleans Airport to the International Trade Mart on February 1, 1950. [xxxv]
The CAP and Col. Cord Meyer, Sr.
Col. Cord Meyer, Sr. was Northeast Regional Director of the CAP from January 1, 1952 to May 27, 1955 at which time his title changed to Regional Commander. He retired from the CAP on May 21, 1956. [xxxvi]
Meyer was born in New York City, owned a business in New York City, had his CAP headquarters in New York City, was Commander of American Legion Air Service Post 501 in New York City, headed a draft board in New York City and as at 1954 was living at 116 East 66th St. This was only one and a half miles from the Pic apartment on East 82nd St. [xxxvii]
In 1948, Norman J. Griffin, Information Officer for the Pennsylvania CAP (part of what would become Meyer’s regional responsibility), prematurely announced a plan being hatched at the national level. What follows is the complete text of the story as published on page 8 of the February 22 issue of the New York Daily News titled Publicity Stalls ‘Loyalty Police’.
The intention to set up the Civil Air Patrol as a sort of “Loyalty Police” with overtones of a strong-arm squad for American industry may have been scotched because of premature release of the idea through the Pennsylvania Wing of the CAP.
The National CAP has been a bit coy about the whole business, declaring that the press release, issued by Norman J. Griffin, Public Information Officer of the Pennsylvania CAP, was inaccurate and not in keeping with the national organization’s policy. The Civil Air Patrol, originally under the wartime office of Civilian Defense, is an official auxiliary of the US Air Force.<
However the national CAP admits that some sort of plan using the CAP for “espionage” work to act in case of a national emergency is now in the tentative stage, and is awaiting the approval of US Central Intelligence and FBI.
The plan released by the Pennsylvania Wing indicated the organization was getting set to send selected CAP recruits to the Army Counter-Intelligence School at Holabird Signal Depot, Baltimore, Md. It declared that these recruits would be taught the Russian language, Russian military tactics, Russian politics and all characteristics of the Russian people.”
The release further stated that Col. Philip F. Neuweiler, Commander of the Pennsylvania Wing, had asked the cooperation of the FBI and the State police in screening candidates for this training.
According to the release Col. Neuweiler was quoted thus:
“We are asking the industrialists and business men of Pennsylvania for three things” first, that they enlist one member of their firm in CAP and have them take this course; second, report via this enlistee, all persons in the organization known to have Communistic leanings or subversive tendencies; third, lend any financial support they are able to so that CAP can carry out this program”
Col, Neuweiler is quoted further:
“This is the first opportunity the business men have had to do something about this growing menace of Communism. We, of the CAP, are going to call a spade a spade and do something about it.”
In backgrounding the idea, Col. Neuweiler stated:
“We feel that someday, and, possibly sooner than we expect, an attack may be made against the shores of the US by some unfriendly foreign nation. Many of us in CAP are certain that any open and violent attack against the peace of the US will be preceded by an intensive enemy-guided ‘softening up’ campaign utilizing sabotage, espionage, propaganda, and many other underground subversive activities. It is against activities of this type that CAP with adequate and proper training, can help…”
Col. Neuweiler did not explain why such work would be done by volunteers, rather than the regular security force of the USA, nor did he have any suggestion as to why industrialists were to recruit candidates and pay the bills.
Industrialists in central Pennsylvania, asked for their reaction, said they had not yet been approached. Some thought it might be a good idea, and they indicated an understanding of what they might expect for their financial support, especially with their own handpicked recruits doing the job.
Griffin’s premature release of the scheme seems to have put the quietus on it for the time being. However, neither the national CAP nor the Pennsylvania Wing stated that the idea has been dropped. [xxxviii]
The CAP and Col. Harold Byrd
(David) Harold Byrd was Commander of the Texas Wing of the Civil Air Patrol from December 1, 1941 through May 25, 1948. He had been among a small group who had established the CAP in Washington [xxxix], and was appointed Texas Commander by another co-founder, Fiorello La Guardia, who happened to also be Roosevelt’s Director of the Office of Civil Defense. [xl] Byrd rose in rank from Major to Colonel in 1943 when the CAP was transferred from the Office of Civilian defense to the Department of War.
During the war, Byrd personally oversaw and guided the activities of the CAP in Texas which included border patrols, antiaircraft training, radar testing, fire patrols, courier services, anti-sabotage patrols and search and rescue missions.
In 1948, Byrd was made Coordinator (later retitled Regional Commander) for CAP’s Southwest Region which is comprised of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona. That same year he was also made Vice Chairman of the National CAP Board and took over as Chairman in 1959. [xli]
Also in 1948, Byrd, along with Earle L. Johnson helped establish the CAP cadet program. [xlii]
Following WWII, when there was talk of disbanding the CAP, Byrd’s political influence was instrumental in the organization’s incorporation and in fact, he was one of the signatories to that legal instrument. [xliii]
Byrd and the TSBD Purchase Scam
Byrd is widely said to have purchased the building at 411 Elm St. in Dallas at public auction on Independence Day, 1939 from the previous owner, the Carroway-Byrd Corp. Thomas Carroway and Harold Byrd had started up as Carroway-Byrd Engineering, but changed the name circa 1936. The corporation was involved in air-conditioning and had purchased the building for $400,000 to use as a manufacturing plant. [xliv]
The whole auction deal was a scam. It would have taken some string-pulling to run an auction on a 4th of July holiday, revered at the time probably more than Christmas Day – the one day you could guarantee virtually no opposition bidding. The ostensible reason for the sell-off was that the company had defaulted on its loan. As a result, Byrd got the building for $35,000 – less than a tenth of the price his company had paid for it. [xlv]
The CAP and David Ferrie
David William Ferrie was born on March 18, 1918 in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of a police captain turned attorney. Originally studying to become a priest, he was forced to leave Saint Mary seminary and later, St Charles seminary over what was delicately termed “emotional difficulties”. In between, he had obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baldwin-Wallace University in 1941.
Ferrie obtained a student pilot license in 1945 and two years later, as a fully-fledged pilot, became a CAP instructor at Hopkins Airport. According to Stephen Roy, who has spent many years researching the life of Ferrie, a year or two after joining, he was chased out of the CAP for some unorthodox flying activities and taking a group of underage boys to a whorehouse. Roy goes on to say that by 1950 Ferrie had joined the US Army Reserve and began writing letters to the Secretary of Defense as well as to the Commander of the First Air Force, asking for a direct commission to train pilots ("I want to train killers...") . This bravado should be considered however alongside his letter to St Charles seminary seeking to speed up his admission to avoid the draft for WWII. In any case, he certainly was not volunteering to be a fighter pilot himself, though in fairness he may well have had the capacity to be a very good instructor. The HSCA bio on Ferrie quoted noted aviatrix Jean Naatz as saying that Ferrie had done more for the [Cleveland] Civil Air Patrol than anyone else and built up the squadron to one of the biggest squadrons in the state of Ohio.
In 1951, with the Korean War in full swing, a civilian pilot shortage saw him land a trainee position with Eastern Air Lines and he was soon transferred to New Orleans via Miami. A year after arriving in the Big Easy, Ferrie became an instructor, and later, a commander of the CAP Lakefront Cadet Squadron, but in April, 1955, he was advised that he had failed to gain reappointment. This is where the story becomes muddied through lack of inquisitiveness by the WC and HSCA, as well as by interference being run by more recent individual efforts. Ferrie’s next CAP activity was via an “unofficial” relationship commencing in June with the smaller Metairie squadron out of Moisant Airport. This relationship apparently terminated later that same year. From here, the official history shows that Ferrie was allowed back into the Lakefront squadron in 1958, but was booted out again in June, 1960. In September, he formed his own cadet squadron without CAP accreditation, but oddly, was allowed to base his group called “Falcon Squadron” at Metairie’s CAP base at Moisant.
Something doesn’t add up.
On November 23rd, there was Ed Voebel in the media stating that he had …served in the same CAP Metairie Falcon Squadron with Oswald under the command of Captain David W. Ferrie. If the official story is true, this would have been impossible. Oswald was in the Soviet Union at the time we are led to believe was the only time the Falcon Squadron existed, and Voebel was attending the Marion Military Institute in Alabama.
Jack Martin, a private investigator working for Guy Banister, heard the media reports and passed the information on to the FBI. [xlvi] The FBI duly caught up with Voebel on November 25 after confirming with WWL-TV that they had interviewed him. Voebel repeated that Oswald had been in the CAP under Ferrie, but was not apparently pressed for any details. On the 27th however, Voebel was interviewed by Sergeant Horace Austin of the New Orleans Police Department and was explicitly asked if he had heard of the Falcon Squadron. Voebel flat out denied ever hearing of it. [xlvii] Given that Voebel had used that name in the media, he most assuredly had heard of it – but since he could not have been involved in the 1960 version, it follows that there must have been an earlier incarnation.
On the same day that the police were interviewing Voebel, the FBI interviewed Joseph Ehrlicker, Commander of the Louisiana Wing CAP. He located records showing that Oswald was enrolled as a CAP cadet at Moisant on July 27, 1955 with Serial Number 084965. There was no termination date listed. Regarding Ferrie, Ehrlicker stated he had been able to determine that Ferrie’s first period as Squadron Commander was terminated on December 31, 1954 and that Ferrie was working at Moisant Airport at this time. The Wing Commander added that it was later found that Ferrie, subsequent to this date, was working with the squadron at Moisant without official connection with the CAP and that as of late 1955, he was no longer with the squadron. Ehrlicker added that Ferrie was again connected with the CAP in late 1958 and was terminated on December 31, 1960 and that afterward Ferrie had set up a “spurious” CAP squadron - that being described as one with no connection with, or recognition by, the CAP. [xlviii]
In researching Ferrie’s Falcon Squadron it was noted that some of the literature references an elite inner-circle known as “the Omnipotents” while other sources refer to an elite group called “the Internal Mobile Security Unit” (IMSU). One might be forgiven for thinking that these were just different names for the same group, or that two separate elite groups existed within the Falcon Squadron simultaneously – but no source and none of the literature has ever suggested either possibility. The closest we get to any explanation that actually might work is from Ferrie researcher Stephen Roy, writing under his internet pseudonym of “David Blackburst”. Roy claimed in an online discussion group that Ferrie had merely considered forming the Omnipotents and that this was around September, 1960. Instead, he went on to form the IMSU from his squadron the following month. According to Roy, the purpose of the IMSU was to respond in the event of an attack on the US. According to the HSCA, based on testimony provided at Ferrie’s FFA fitness hearings (conducted following a morals arrest and a number of other complaints), it was the Omnipotents who were formed to respond to any attack upon the US. In its footnote however, the committee clarified (or muddied further, perhaps) by saying that despite would-be members being approached to join, Ferrie associate and former FBI SAC (Special Agent in Charge) in Chicago, Guy Banister, had testified that there never was any group by that name. Not even the footnote accurately reflects the record though. What it actually shows is that Mrs. John F. Barrett had complained to her employer sometime in early August, 1960 that her 14 year old son had been influenced to join an organization called “Omnipotent” and that her son had to swear allegiance and obedience to a 19 or 20 year old male. Mrs. Barrett’s son had told her that a Dr. Ferrie was behind the organization. That information speaks of an existing group – not one merely being contemplated.
IMSUs actually did exist in other states. The idea was not the brainchild of Ferrie, but of unknown individuals in Chatauqua County in New York who formed the first one in August, 1956. In 1959, after three years of operating in the shadows, it partnered up with the local Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. [xlix]
Whatever the truth, it shows Ferrie had a propensity for organizing kids with civil defense and counterintelligence operations in mind. It also reinforces the possibility of Oswald being utilized in similar fashion in NYC as contemplated in volume one. Clearly, kids were not off limits in Cold War operations.
Further evidence surfaced in 1968 when the ONI interviewed a Marine who had been one of Ferrie’s teenagers in 1961. The Marine, whose name is redacted, was used by Ferrie as a messenger and delivery boy for the Cuban Denocratic Revolutionary Front and was soon requested by Ferrie to obtain a passport with the intention of sending the youth to an unnamed South American country for training in “infiltration” into Cuba. [l] This somewhat follows Oswald’s trajectory of being a delivery/messenger boy in New Orleans before joining the Marines where training could take place for his coming “defection” to the Soviet Union. Beyond all of that, we have the HSCA interview with former CAP member, Robert Boylston. On October 17, 1978 Boylston told Bob Buras and L.J. Delsa that
- Ferrie had paid a $1,000 in tuition fees for him (Boylston) to study at the University of Loyola and had never asked for repayment. [li]
- Ferrie was always hinting about “secret” orders of a military or intelligence nature. Two examples were given, one relating to the 1958 Lebanon Crisis [lii] and the other relating to Cuba circa 1961 (most likely a reference to the Bay of Pigs).
- Ferrie talked a great deal about a group who knew what was going on in this country and was going to take care of it.
- Ferrie knew people in Dallas.
- Ferrie had once hopped a lift on an Air Force C-47 and that,
- He (Boylston) felt back then and still did, that some of the people around Ferrie, as well as Ferrie himself were not playing around when they talked of “taking care” of something.
Boylston’s friend, Van Burns added to the concerns during a May 21st 2001 interview with author, Joan Mellen. Burns told Mellen that in September of 1959, he had seen Lee Oswald with Ferrie. This was just prior to Oswald leaving for Europe. Burns also stated that he had been interested in the CAP in those days and had learned that some cadets were studying the Russian language. Jim di Eugenio has also written about some of the same issues. In Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case, di Eugenio informs his readers that Ferrie told his cadets he was going to control their outside activities and their destinies. [liii]
Marguerite Oswald & the Recruiting Officer
Young Oswald commenced 10th Grade at Warren Easton High on September 8, 1955. Barely a month into the term Lee (or a third party) forged a letter in his mother’s name stating that he had to leave school due to a looming relocation to San Diego. He dropped out a few days later, not quite having attained the age of 16.
During Marguerite’s second session before the Warren Commission, the following colloquy occurred:
Mr. DOYLE. Tell them about the defection.
Mrs. OSWALD. Would you please consider that I can’t go any more today? It is 4 o’clock. The defection is a very long and important story that leads into a story where a recruiting officer at age 16 tried to get Lee to enlist into the Marines. And it is a very important story, gentlemen. And I think you would be quite interested in it for the record.
The CHAIRMAN. We will recess now until tomorrow. Mr. Doyle, I understand in the morning you have a court appearance that you must make. But you will be available at 2 o’clock.
Mr. DOYLE. Two o’clock, Your Honor.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well, we will recess now until 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
Mrs. OSWALD. I appreciate it, because I was up until late last night trying to get the papers for you. It wouldn’t do you any good if I break down.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, we don’t want to overdo the situation in any way. So we will adjourn until 2 o’clock tomorrow.
Marguerite had handed the commissioners a key to understanding the path her son had taken, but as already suggested, she would prove abysmal during future appearances, at laying out the details. This was possibly due in part to withholding self-implicating information, given the past roles played by her third husband, Edwin Ekdahl, and eldest son, John Pic in the real Lee Harvey Oswald story. This failure made it easy to marginalize her testimony and to paint her in the most unflattering light.
Margurerite’s major contention has some support from a surprising source. Donald Monier was with Military Intelligence and was interviewed by the Assassinations Record Review Board on August 12, 1996. Monier covered topics such as the activities of the 112th Military Intelligence Detachment, Military Science and the art of deception, espionage at home and in the Soviet Union, and Civil Rights. Monier also stated that he recalled Navy Code 30 operations relating to a “fake” defector program run by ONI. [liv]
Unfortunately we are left with two alternatives here. “Code 30” is the Navy operations department dealing with programs for the recruitment of enlisted, officer and reserve candidates. But there is also a Code 30 Department within the Office of Naval Research (ONR). It is unclear at the time of writing if ONR Code 30 existed in 1959, and if it did, whether its role was the same then as it is now and which incorporates Human Performance Training and Education, as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, among other streams. It should be added here that Robert Webster, who defected to the Soviet Union shortly before Oswald’s arrival in Moscow, was employed by Rand Corp, and that Rand Corp had a close working relationship with ONR.
[xxxiv] http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/about history of Civil Air Patrol
[xxxv] The CAP National History Program Website, File #819: General Orders No. 3 January 24, 1950. The author gratefully acknowledges researcher, Paul S. Vine as the finder of this document
[xxxvi] Northeast Region CAP website, history page
[xxxvii] earlyaviators.com, Cord Meyer, Sr. page
[xxxviii] The York Gazette and Daily of January 19, 1948 referred to the plan in its editorial column as “Fascism wrapped in the American flag” and a “gestapo” whereby the CAP would be turned into an organization of stool pigeons recruited and financed by industrialists who would in turn also provide the victims. This editorial also gave the additional information that the plan included the provision of classes in military intelligence and internal security by the state units. It is no doubt this type of adverse publicity which delayed the program. Secrecy would be forced upon it for the same reason, but more so by the very nature of any “off the books” operations it might undertake.
[xxxix] Ever since the assassination, there has been an effort by some supporters of the Warren Commission to try and limit Byrd’s historical involvement with the CAP to that of founding the Texas Air Wing. Byrd’s autobiography along with other sources, puts the lie to that. Byrd was indeed a co-founder of the organization in Washington and was so heavily involved from day one that he earned the nickname of “Mr. CAP”.
[xl] I’m an Endangered Species, David Harold Byrd, p98
[xlii] Ibid p99
[xliii] Information obtained in 2005 by Duke Lane via telephone interview with Col. Len Blascovich, CAP National Historian.
[xliv] Refrigeration Engineering 1937 volumes 33-34, p328
[xlv] The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas School Book Depository entry
[xlvi] Admin Folder L9: HSCA Administrative Folder, LHO Incoming Communications, volume III, p81
[xlvii] Warren Commission Document 365, p37
[xlviii] Oswald 201 File, volume 3, Commission Document 75, Part 3, p23
[xlix] The Rifleman in Civil Defense, Gun Magazine, p42, Apr 1959
[l] ONI Investigative Report by WE Davis. Special Agent, ONI and dated April 17, 1968
[li] This was from a man who purchased religious and scholastic credentials from diploma mills for himself.
[lii] Eisenhower authorized Operation Blue Bat to deal with the crisis in what was the first test of the Eisenhower Doctrine where US intervention would be restricted to protecting regimes considered threatened by “international communism”.
[liii] There was more than a shade of the Athenian System in Ferrie’s sexual attraction to teenaged boys, and his desire to “control their destinies” – specifically to turn them into Spartan warriors. In ancient Athens, shy teens in particular, were attractive to the older males – and we see time and time again, Lee’s apparent shyness described by former CAP cadets. An axiom among those ancient Greek “mentors” was the absolute identification of friends and enemies. Help friends, hurt enemies is ubiquitous in Greek literature. It may be no coincidence that Lee wanted to name a son (should he have one) David and dub (misspell?) his own political system the “Atherian System”
[liv] NARA Record No 10772 – Sound Recording of Monier (misspelled as “Moneir” by NARA) interview conducted ARRB 8/12/96