JFK Conspiracy Fact #37: The Strange Case Of JFK’s Personal Physician

In perusing HSCA (House Select Committee on Assassinations) on-line documents recently, I came across this disturbing document filed by George Burkley, JFK’s personal physician. Let me give some background first. The Dallas Parkland doctors, in the early afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, described two wounds on the president—a wound of entrance on the throat, near the Adam’s apple, and an exit wound, about the size of a fist, on the lower right rear of the president’s head, in the occipital-parietal area.

The Bethesda Naval autopsy doctors, hours later on the evening of Nov. 22, 1963, saw a completely different set of wounds on the president. The throat wound had been enlarged to three times its Dallas size, and appeared to be a wound of exit. There also appeared to be a bullet’s entrance wound on the upper back, near the shoulder blade. The head wound was massive and involved nearly the entire top right portion of the president’s head. THE OCCIPITAL-PARIETAL WOUND WITNESSED BY THE DALLAS DOCTORS HAD DISAPPEARED! That portion of the president’s head appeared to be intact at Bethesda. The only conclusion a reasonable person could draw was that the president’s body had been altered sometime between Dallas and Washington D.C. Thus, also, was the direction of the shots reversed. All evidence of shots from the front was erased. Only evidence of shots from the rear remained. (Was this trajectory reversal at the heart of the plotters’ scheme to frame Oswald?)

In 1976 Burkley was contacted by an investigator for the HSCA named Richard Sprague. Through his lawyer, Burkley made a statement to Sprague that “others besides Oswald must have been involved.” Burkley surely became convinced of a conspiracy after seeing the conflicting wound patterns on the corpse on Nov. 22, 1963. Burkley was perhaps the only doctor who saw the body’s condition in both Dallas and Washington. But when Sprague was fired from the HSCA, Burkley’s testimony was never taken. Instead, he submitted the below affidavit:

Reference copy, JFK Collection: HSCA (RG 233) AFFIDAVIT I, VICE ADMIRAL GEORGE G. BURKLEY (M.C.) (Ret.) living in Los Angeles, California, being duly sworn make oath as follows:

I was interviewed in January, 1978 by T. Mark Flanagan, Jr. and Donald A. Purdy, Jr. of the staff of the Select Committee on Assassinations. During the interview I set forth the substance of the information which follows. At this time I reaffirm that this information is accurate and truthful to the best of my knowledge. This statement is made freely, voluntarily, and with out threats, promises, assurance, or remuneration from any source. I was Personal Physician to President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 and accompanied President Kennedy on the Texas trip. I was at Parkland Hospital and later at Bethesda Naval Hospital on the evening of November 22, 1963. I saw President Kennedy’s wounds at Parkland Hospital and during the autopsy at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. There was no difference in the nature of the wounds I saw at Parkland Hospital and those I observed at the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital. 1. I was with President Kennedy in Dallas. I arrived at the Parkland Hospital within five minutes of the President’s arrival. I checked the Presidents physical condition, gave the doctors working with the President the blood type and some adrenal medication (Sol U Cortef) to place in the intravenous blood and fluids which were being administered. My findings clearly indicated that death was certain and imminent. 2. One of the doctors reported to me vital signs of life no longer could be elicited. I rechecked the vital signs of President Kennedy and there was no sign of life. I reported to Mrs. Kennedy who was nearby in the treatment room that President Kennedy was dead. 3. I remained with the President’s body in the treatment room until the body was placed in the coffin and I saw it closed. There was no movement or manipulation of the body other than removal of the intravenous equipment during that time. 4. In Dallas I traveled from the hospital to the Air Force One in the ambulance with the President’s body in the casket and also on the plane; the casket was neither opened or disturbed in any way. 5. I had ordered the United States Naval Hospital to be prepared for performing an autopsy on the body of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, the permission having been granted by Mrs. Kennedy while enroute. It was to be a complete autopsy with no limitations and no curtailment in time necessary for completion. 6. I traveled from Andrew’s Air Force Base in the ambulance with the President’s body to the Bethesda Naval Hospital and accompanied the coffin to the autopsy laboratory and saw the body removed from the coffin and placed on the autopsy table. 7. I directed the autopsy surgeon to do a complete autopsy and take the time necessary for completion. I supervised the autopsy and directed the fixation and retention of the brain for future study of the course of the bullet or bullets. 8. The autopsy material was retained in a secure area and subsequently turned over by Captain Stover USN to me and a member of the Secret Service. We took this material immediately to the EOB Building where it was placed in a locked file cabinet by the Secret Service. 9. Senator Robert Kennedy, representing Mrs. Kennedy and the Kennedy family, directed that the autopsy material be transferred to the National Archives. This was done on April 26, 1965. See attached letter of transmittal with listing of individual items. The notation under Item #9, one stainless steel container, 7″ in diameter x 8″, containing gross material, represents the container of the brain. This material was accepted and signed for by Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln and witnessed by three people. Signed copies of these affidavits are attached. I understand that this affidavit may be introduced and received into evidence by the Select Committee on Assassinations of the United States House of Representatives, and may lead them to make various findings of fact, and the statutes applicable to Congressional investigations, including but not limited to those concerning false statements, obstruction, or misleading, would subject me to criminal penalties for not telling the whole and complete truth in this affidavit.

GEORGE G. BURKLEY SIGNATURE Vice Admiral George G. Burkley (M.C.) USN (Ret.) Personal Physician to President John F. Kennedy

Interesting that Dr. Burkley, possibly the only medical person who saw the body in both places (Parkland and Bethesda), signs an affidavit which states that the wounds he saw were unchanged from Parkland to Bethesda. All other medical personnel testimony contradicts his affidavit–the Dallas doctors saw one set of wounds, the Bethesda doctors saw another set of wounds. Therefore, Burkley’s statement is at odds with all other known medical testimony concerning JFK’s wounds. One then must choose to believe Burkley or all the other doctors (and there were dozens). I tend to discredit Burkley’s affidavit, because it is refuted by all other medical descriptions of the two wound patterns. Also, Burkley has no explanation for FBI agents’ Sibert and O’Neill testimony that one of the autopsy doctors stated “surgery of the head area had been performed.” No such surgery took place in Dallas, so when and where had this surgery been performed? Burkley gives us no clue.

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