Skip to comments.JFK and the corset that helped to kill a president
Posted on 11/24/2004 12:03:50 PM PST by weegee
JFK and the corset that helped to kill a president
Back brace made Kennedy an almost stationary target
By JAMES RESTON JR.
Two years ago, historian Robert Dallek revealed new details about the extraordinary range of shots, stimulants and pills President Kennedy took to control his physical pain and present his youthful image to the world. Important and interesting as these details are, they should not distract us from the one medical remedy that probably killed the president: his corset.
Members of Kennedy's inner circle had often witnessed the painful ritual that Kennedy endured in his private quarters before he ventured in public, when his valet would literally winch a steel-rodded canvas back brace around the president's torso, pulling heavy straps and tightening the thongs loop by loop as if it was a bizarre scene out of Gone With the Wind.
Once in it, the president was planted upright, trapped and almost bolted into a ramrod posture. Many would wonder how JFK could ever move in such a contraption. And yet move he did, and, besides his painkillers, his corset contributed to the youthful, high-shouldered military bearing that he presented glamorously to the world.
But this simple device imparted a fate almost Mephistophelean in its horror to the sequence of events in Dallas 41 years ago.
In researching my biography of Gov. John Connally of Texas 15 years ago, I was put on to the critical importance of Kennedy's corset in the ghastly six seconds in November 1963 by a former Texas senator, the late Ralph Yarborough, who was in the motorcade that day.
Yarborough growled softly about that "damned girdle," and this led me to the remarks of two doctors, Charles James Carrico and Malcolm Oliver Perry, buried in Volume 3 of the 26-volume set of testimony that attended the Warren Commission report.
In November 1963, Carrico was the 28-year-old resident in the emergency room of Parkland Hospital who first received the injured president in the trauma room; Perry came quickly to the emergency room to supervise the case and then to pronounce the president dead a half-hour later.
Before the Warren Commission, Carrico told of removing Kennedy's back brace in the first seconds after his arrival. He described the device as made of coarse white fiber, with stays and buckles.
Apart from the never-ending controversy over how many bullets Lee Harvey Oswald actually fired from the Texas School Book Depository, most experts agree with the Warren Commission that Oswald's first bullet passed cleanly through Kennedy's lower neck, missing any bone, then entered Connally's back, streaking through the governor's body and lodging in his thigh. This was the first so-called magic bullet.
When Connally was hit, he pivoted in pain to his left, his lithe body in motion as it swiveled downward, ending up in the lap of his wife, Nellie.
But because of the corset, Kennedy's body did not act as a normal body would when the bullet passed through his throat. Held by his back brace, Kennedy remained upright, according to the Warren Commission, for five more seconds. This provided Oswald the opportunity to reload and shoot again at an almost stationary target.
The frames of the Zapruder film confirm this ramrod posture: Kennedy's head turns only slightly in those eternal seconds, and his upper body almost not at all, from frame 225 (when the first shot entered his neck) to the fatal frame of 313.
Without the corset, the force of the first bullet, traveling at a speed of 2,000 feet a second, would surely have driven the president's body forward, making him writhe in pain like Connally, and probably down in the seat of his limousine, beyond the view of Oswald's cross hairs for a second or third shot.
With no bones struck and the spinal cord intact, the president almost certainly would have survived the wound from the first bullet. Both Carrico and Perry testified to this likelihood (and apropos of the decades-long controversy, both testified that the small, round, clean wound in the front of Kennedy's neck was an exit wound rather than an entry wound).
To Perry, under the questioning of then-assistant counsel now senator from Pennsylvania Arlen Specter, the injury was "tolerable"; the president would have recovered. Because the bullet had passed below the larynx, the wound would not even have impaired his speech later.
In the new focus on cortisone shots, codeine painkillers, barbiturates, stimulants such as Ritalin, and gamma globulin injections, the simple corset needs to be emphasized, tragically, in the context of those medical strategies Kennedy used to create the illusion of the vigorous leader.
--Reston's forthcoming book is on the Spain of Christopher Columbus and will be published by Doubleday next year.
So what does this say about the presumed affair Kennedy had with Marylin Monroe? Another legend building myth?
Even during his Administration.
Whose corset do you think he was wearing?
Some say Marilyn's but I still maintain it was Hoover's.
"So what does this say about the presumed affair Kennedy had with Marylin Monroe? Another legend building myth?"
Perhaps another corset was keeping something else ramrod-stiff?
The corset may have contributed but trying to both use and eliminate the mob and trying to kill Castro had a lot more to do with his death than anything else.
Which one of us can ever actually be confident to say "would surely" about anything like this?
There was not a lot of time, just mere seconds, between the throat wound and the head wound on that day. How can anyone PREDICT that such and such a thing would have happened.
The corset did not kill Kennedy.
The human being, who with malice and aforethought, squeezed a trigger on a rifle, pumping bullets into Mr. Kennedy, KILLED HIM.
One more JFK book? This poses an intriguing contretemps, but it also raises the question, "If he was so rigidly
braced that he couldn't move to avoid the 2nd bullet that burst open his skull, HOW did he ever step into and sit down in the limo in the first place?" The McGruder film
also shows the President lifting his arms to wave to the crowds, turning his shoulders, bending an ear to Jackie,
and seemingly without restriction of any kind.
The damn limo should have had a bulletproof shield front and
back like those fitted onto the cars of the Pope!
But, after downloading and using the controversial JFK Reloaded software where you can "be" Oswald, I now believe it's possible.
People claim "you can't make 3 shots in x number of seconds". It is only 2 shots that must be made once the clock has started counting. Oswald had time to line up that first shot.
All this info is very old and has been hashed out decades ago.
One should remember however that it is not always the force and direction of a bullet that moves a body that has been hit. Nerve jump can do strange things. If Kennedy had not had on his back support, he might have remained upright anyway if the bullet passed through without hitting bone and then hit Connally passiing more energy to the governor's body than to Kennedy's.
Another little known fact is that LHO was ALSO a robot as no man could fire the shots so quickly.
JFK was a trans-vestite?
Interesting, but, if the small round hole in Kennedy's neck was an exit wound, Oswalt must have been using a high powered bb gun. The exit wound almost always is ten times bigger than the entry wound.
Oops! No bone was hit, only flesh, but wouldn't the exit wound still have been larger, had the slug been lead, or hollow point lead?
After all his planning and practice, would Oswald have been so inept as to have used a steel jacketed slug? Not hardly.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda...
..."you can't make 3 shots in x number of seconds". ...Oswald had time to line up that first shot.
Thanks for this contribution. I had never heard this so cogently stated before.
You mean there was a SECOND film? You mean that Zapruder wasn't the only one with a movie camera that day?
Maybe. Of corset it could have been someone else.
Arafat is dead
Maybe. Maybe not.
And with that uncertainty, I don't think it merits its own article, book or subject.
The ammunition that LHO used was full metal jacketed. No mushrooming, hence the small exit wound.
Well this is totally inane...if Kennedy wasn't wearing the corset in the first place, his body wouldn't have been in the same position when he took the first shot. It would have hit him somewhere else. This invalidates the entire discussion.
This is all just, "swatting at the flies." It's what LBJ wanted everyone to do. During 64, LBJ got busy pushing Civil Rights legislation (which he really didn't believe in), micro-managing the WC Report through J. Edgar, and pumping troops into Nam to further obfuscate. We'll never know how LBJ had the hit pulled off.
I don't know the name but yes indeed there is a second film of the shooting. It is from the other side of the street and a little farther away. It is also color.
let's be honest. That guy would've died in office no matter what. He was ill to the bone. The corset he was wearing was to keep his bones, spine, ribs in place. A lot of his bone tissue had withered away. He should never have been president with his ill health and drug/medicine use. The reason he was still alive was sheer will and drugs, not a good constitution.
Paging Arlen Specter!
But, when corsets are outlawed, only outlaws will wear corsets.
It's just not the way we change Presidents.
Too bad someone couldn't have video taped me because I'd really like to know just how fast I was working the bolt, reaquiring the target and firing.
With that personal experience in mind, I have no doubt Oswald could have done what he was accused of doing.
A few years back, when John Connally passed away, there was a proposal to perform an autopsy for the purpose of recovering the bullet fragments that remained in his body as a result of the shooting. The intent was to determine if the fragments came from a single bullet, and a single gun, or if there could have been a second shooter. Connally's widow refused to allow the autopsy.
There is no predicting which way a body will move, or even if it will move when hit by a relitively small calaber round like a .30 cal. Especially in the head where nerve tissues are damaged. It's not like the movies where people fly off the ground.
The "Jet of blood" that came out the back of his head is also normal. You can do it by shooting a ripe watermellon and watch as a spray of juice exits the entry point. It's hydraulics in action.
The final head shot by Oswald was from a distance of only 88 yards. I have stood on the 6th floor of that building and looked out. It would have been an easy shot, even for someone who wasn't a Marine Corps marksman.
That's the reason for Kennedy's oblong exit wound in the throat, and TX Governor John Connally's oblong entry wound.
Oswald didn't have any choice of ammunition for his mail-order rifle.
Who really cares about talking about this man? He was flawed and certainly not the King most Democrat Liberals make him out to be. He abused drugs for pain, cavorted on his wife with women, and generally was an unspectacular person. He only seems as such now because the MSM and Democrats claim he's the next best thing to Jesus. I think not. He's better left to whatever history will make of him and not worthy of distracting us from what has to be done to right the course of this country.
The corset did not kill Kennedy and neither did Oswald. I am conviced he was set up as a patsy and although in the Texas Book Depository that day, he was not on the sixth floor.
I still believe the fatal headshot came from the front not the rear. I am not so sure the first shot that penetrated his throat back to front would also not have been fatal. It pierced his trachea and larynx and it is possible he could have drown in his own blood before he got to Parkland.
Again, all this is still conjecture on my part, no one will ever really know for sure. It happened 41 years ago, all the players are either very old or dead and a lot of vital evidence was either lost or buried by the conspirators.
IF my aunt had a Penis , she would have been my Uncle.
How do you think he screwed his back Up? In a PT boat or sumpn'?
He thought the whole thing up on a moment's notice, and did it all by himself with no outside help whatsoever.
It was also not Oswald's first assassination attempt on a notable public figure.
I have stood on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository also, and my first reaction looking out the window was the same as yours. What an easy shot it would have been for Oswald.
Yeah, and if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass when he hops.
With no bones struck and the spinal cord intact, the president almost certainly would have survived the wound from the first bullet. Bunk. The President's arm drawn up with the elbows to the side is neurologic reflex to a devastating spinal cord injury. It was described in the medical literature about 100 years ago. Survive? Perhaps. Recover? No. He would have been quadriplegic. The cord injury resulted form the compression wave as the bullet passed within inches of the spinal cord.
most experts agree with the Warren Commission that Oswald's first bullet passed cleanly through Kennedy's lower neck Bunk. Neither remark is true. The Warren Commission doesn't conclude what happened to the first bullet, and most experts certainly don't agree the first bullet hit Kennedy. For us nonconspiracy people, the second and third shots hit Kennedy.
It would change their minds.