By: Bob Wilson |
Editor’s Note: In the below article, Bob Wilson recently spoke to Rick Bauer recounting his experiences and thoughts. Mr. Bauer’s quotes are new and have not been taken from old sources.
David Ferrie was an expert pilot, and occupied his time training guerrillas at Lake Pontchartrain for the Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17th, 1961. On November 22nd, 1963, Ferrie was in the courtroom working to block the deportation of mafia chieftain Carlos Marcello to Guatemala with attorney G. Wray Gill as the Don’s acquittal was won. Earlier, Ferrie was the pilot Marcello called upon to secretly transport him home to New Orleans when deported by RFK’s Justice Department. To unwind after the verdict, Ferrie took off in one of the worst thunderstorms in recent history, driving some 350 miles away to the Winterland ice skating rink in Houston, Texas. On the day JFK was slain in Texas, Ferrie made and received calls at the rink’s payphone as two young male companions skated the afternoon away. Chuck Rolland, the rink’s owner, would testify under oath at the Clay Shaw trial that Ferrie would ask no questions about becoming a fellow ice skating rink owner, which Ferrie would state to the FBI as his alibi for his trip after being picked up for suspicion as a conspirator in the JFK conspiracy. Rolland explained in testimony that Ferrie “pointed out his name like, I, Dave Ferrie, this or that” in conversation up to five times. Rolland testified that he found this to be “quite strange”, and most thinking people would have to agree. Ferrie seemed to be laying the foundation for an alibi should the need have arisen in the future. (We have to consider whether Ferrie was in the area in case an expert pilot was needed to offer his services, even as a back-up.)
In an interesting aside, Lee Harvey Oswald is said to have had Ferrie’s library card, and Ferrie went apoplectic trying to retrieve it. The FBI accepted Ferrie’s simple explanation that it was now held in evidence and was expired. Mrs. Jesse Garner, told officials that Ferrie came to her before his 350 mile trip to Houston to ice skate in a roaring storm, asking for the card to no avail. If such explanations were routinely accepted, the jailhouses would be empty, and could be turned into public housing. Was the library card simply taken from Oswald’s possessions and locked away in the evidence room?
Rick Bauer would come to know David Ferrie as his flight instructor when he attended Tulane University on a USN scholarship. Bauer would go on to become an International Captain at Delta Airlines for thirty years, after serving as a Commander in the U.S. Navy. “I admired Ferrie”, says Bauer. “Dave got me through the Private Pilot’s Checkride”, he adds. “Dave was even smarter, and a little crazier than depicted in the JFK film by Oliver Stone. And I had close contact with him for three quarters of a year. Most of my classmates would agree with that.”
Ferrie’s physical appearance was bizarre, and affected by the disease alopecia areata, which causes the loss of all body hair. “Dave’s hair didn’t look like Joe Pesci’s wig in the film ‘JFK’. It looked more like this barber’s floor hair glued onto his head with spirit gum”, explained Bauer. “It looked like kinky pubic-type hair”, his explanation continued. “His eyebrows were also not accurate in Stone’s film. They looked more like grease paint in real life.” Bauer described Ferrie’s build of piot/adventurer being “about five feet 11, and 190 pounds, but he did not have much muscle tone at all.” He further explained that Ferrie “did not swear as much as in the ‘JFK’ film, and he was not as hyper.” Bauer noted that “Ferrie was not dumb enough to overdose on proloid by accident.” *Ferrie suffered from hypertension, and and empty bottle of proloid would be found next to his body on February 22nd, 1967.
“Com Air was owned by a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel, whom I never personally met. It was located at Lakefront Airport. It was all paid for through the Department of Defense. This now sounds like CIA to some of us with a military background”, explains Bauer. “I think that Ferrie’s service for the U.S. Military after the assassination of JFK is possibly significant”, postulates the veteran. “Dave also had a clear connection with Cubans of some stripe. On weekends he would fly with them to Picayune, Mississippi in a DC-3 for their training. That was noticed by a USMC classmate of mine”, related Bauer. Ferrie was reported to be training Cubans prior to the Bay of Pig Invasion, and it seems this work extended well past the assassination of JFK, as well.
“Dave’s appearance led us to believe incorrectly that he he had been a burn victim, but we never saw any obvious scars”, recalled Bauer. “Dave was actually always a gentleman around women, such as my future mother-in-law, my future wife, and her sister. He did have a temper, though. He was a dogmatic person, and often went on about the full-time army reserve, and he had kind of a mantra regarding them”, recounted Bauer. “Ferrie would forcefully state that it was the reserves that won the wars, and not the professional military”, remembered Rick. He added, “That was sort of a strange tack to take with us, who were all future officers in training.”
Bauer lauded Ferrie for his own success in the program. “Dave did a very good job, and I owe him a great deal for my excelling in the training”, lauded Bauer. “Ferrie tutored many of my classmates in subjects like philosophy and physics and he seemed at times to be an actual genius.”
In a somewhat incredible account, Ferrie was able to instruct one student from the army who was colorblind to pass a color blindness, or ‘Lantern’ test. “Physicals were given before an optometrist, and Dave was able to enable him to recognize the red/green test”, said Bauer. “I don’t know how he was able to do that”, said a noticeably perplexed Bauer. “Ferrie had an incredible grasp of many subjects, and he could speak on, or tutor on almost any subject. He had an incredible grasp of just about any subject”, related Bauer. “Dave also showed me a recovery technique to come out of a spin. He was a remarkable pilot and talented instructor.”
David Ferrie had been dismissed from Eastern Airlines on a morals charge, using his Cap squadron to recruit male teenagers ranging from 14 to 18 years old for improper relations. Ferrie would be aided in fighting these charges by fellow JFK suspects, former FBI agent Guy Banister, and anti- Castro Cuban exile Sergio Arcacha Smith, who wrote lengthy testimonials in his behalf. Bauer remarked that, “We knew some sort of scandal had occurred, but we had assumed that it was with underage females. We had no indication that Ferrie was interested in males in that way. It would have been very bad for business to have that sort of thing being broadcast at that point in time.” The efforts of Banister and Arcacha Smith would fall short of reinstating Ferrie to his position at Eastern.
“The film ‘JFK’ got his apartment exactly right, as it was an absolute mess. There was even a skillet laying around with vomit caked in it, that he had puked in earlier. Dave was obviously noticeably not a healthy man”, recounts Bauer. “There were no mice in cages, or anything like that, though.” Bauer goes on to recount an extremely tawdry decoration in the apartment. “There was a ‘Trophy Board”, he recounts, “with about 40 strands of pubic hair, each from a different sexual conquest on display. And Dave had a set of tawdry Polaroids of him with an African American Maid. Judging by the state of the apartment, I would suspect the poor woman was actually a ‘pro’.”
“When the news of Dave’s strange death broke on the news in 1967, I contacted both the FBI and Jim Garrison’s office. My association with him had concluded by that time. Neither the FBI or Garrison’s office even returned the call. Years later things would remain much the same.”, according to Bauer’s recounting. In 2013, Bauer would contact the CNN and Fox news outlets, with offers of his and his peers’ to recount their experiences with David Ferrie. Neither outlet responded to the offer. It was only when author Jefferson Morley met Bauer that an article appeared describing any of these events. That article (Up Close and Personal With David Ferrie) was published on March 3rd, 2014. That is where the author of this article became aware of Rick Bauer’s experiences and then reached out to Bauer.
The New Orleans district attorneys office picked up David Ferrie for questioning because of allegations of his involvement in the murder of President John F. Kennedy. Garrison turned Ferrie over to the FBI for questioning on November 25th, 1963. Ferrie told the agents that he drove 350 miles to Texas in driving rain to seek information on investing in his own skating rink, and to question the rink’s owner, Chuck Rolland. Rolland would testify under oath that this was a fallacy. Ferrie would remind the owner of his name approximately five times, and use the rink pay phone numerous times, both making and receiving calls. Ferrie never once pulled on a pair of skates. Ferrie told the district attorney his party would be drinking, and he wasn’t sure if they would also go ‘goose hunting’. The trio brought along no rifles, depending which party member was being interrogated.
Ferrie would deny knowing Lee Harvey Oswald at all, in the Civil Air Patrol Ferrie commanded, as well. Ferrie suggested that the FBI question CAP official Jerry Paradiso regarding the matter. In 1978, The House Select Committee on Assassinations did just that. Paradiso placed David Ferrie with Lee Harvey Oswald at ten or fifteen meetings. Paradiso went on to add, “I am not saying they might have been there together. I’m saying it was a certainty.” Six Cap members would place the two together, and they even appear in a 1955 CAP cookout photo together about ten feet from one another.
Ferrie’s razor sharp mind for facts suddenly fell dull for one instance, at such a pivotal moment in history. Wile E. Coyote found the Road Runner ever elusive, and although David Ferrie was only feet from Oswald at the CAP cookout, his incredible mind simply slipped on a proverbial banana peel.
Despite Ferrie having spent such copious amounts of time with no less than powerful Mafia Don Carlos Marcello in recent months, the FBI agents curiosity was not at all piqued. At the time, the FBI did not bother to even look Mr. Paradiso up to question him either. A presidential assassination did not seem to merit thorough examination of details in the minds of FBI Special Agents Ernest Wall, and L.M. Shearer. They were indeed very ‘special’ agents.
The FBI would also determine that Ferrie’s plane was not airworthy at the time of JFK’s murder, so he could not have been a getaway pilot in any capacity for assassins possibly fleeing the killing zone. *Even as Lee Harvey Oswald was taking a paraffin test, and they were finding he did not fire a rifle in Dallas that horrible day. Ferrie was released, and cleared superficially of any involvement.
Later, when Jim Garrison’s investigation of Clay Shaw was underway and Ferrie was also a suspect, it was learned that Ferrie had been flying bombing raids over Cuba with anti-Castro exile Eladio del Valle. The plane used in the raids belonged to that of del Valle, and Ferrie was paid approximately
$1, 500 per raid using del Valle’s aircraft. del Valle was suspected of being in Dealey Plaza at the time of Kennedy’s murder. The FBI never bothered to check on other planes available to Ferrie, or into the incendiary milieu that the pilot was involved in. Ferrie claimed he had no experience in firing a rifle with a telescopic site, and would not know how to use one. Meanwhile he trained CAP cadets with rifles, and trained Cuban exiles at Lake Pontchartrain for no less than the invasion of Cuba.
David Ferrie was defended by Guy Banister in his morals charges, and was linked to his 544 Camp Street operation. Munitions from the Schlumberger Arms Houma, Louisiana Raid that Ferrie was alleged to have participated in, were said to be stored in Banisters office. Lee Harvey Oswald is linked to that Oswald by Banister’s secretary Delphine Robert’s, his Fair Play for Cuba leaflets, and by William Gaudet. The raid was said to depart and return from David Ferrie’s apartment. Some of the arms were unloaded there, and brought into Ferrie’s residence. Banister’s organization was operating blatantly in the heart of the intelligence district in New Orleans, which either supported his work, or had suddenly lost all five senses completely in rapid succession. Patty Duke may have gone over and been of some service.
*The HSCA would conclude that the overall investigation of the 544 Camp Street issue at the time of the assassination was not thorough.
David Ferrie was found dead in his apartment on February 22nd, 1967, less than a week after the story of Jim Garrison’s investigation broke publicly. The verdict was natural causes by the coroner Nicholas Chetta, although two typed apparent suicide notes were found in the apartment. (At the very least, the notes lamented the prospect of continuing further in this life). Neither note bore a signature. Ferrie suffered from hypertension, and was found with an empty bottle of proloid near his body (with several other empty pill bottles also in the vicinity). A physician friend of Garrison’s said that this amount of the medication could prove fatal to someone with hypertension.
Garrison’s aide Lou Ivon is quoted in John Barbour’s fine documentary ‘The Garrison Tapes’ as stating that Ferrie phoned him stating, “You know what this news story does to me, don’t you. I’m a dead man. From here on in, believe me, I’m a dead man.” Meanwhile in Miami, anti-Castro fighter Eladio del Valle was being sought concurrently with Ferrie by the Garrison team. In a still unsolved murder, del Valle was tortured, shot above the heart, and had his skull split open crosswise from ear to ear with a machete or axe. This murder occurred the same day that David Ferrie met his demise. Officials scoff at a connection in these deaths, in a leap of logic that seems to be bereft of common sense, and rife with corruption.
Rick Bauer has spoken up, and given us a glimpse through the looking glass into the world of David Ferrie. We see a section of the life of Dave Ferrie after the murder of JFK where he has been allowed to walk free, with his suspicious associations eluding examination. In this time period David Ferrie is training pilots being paid indirectly for the Department of Defense during the week, and training Cubans during the weekend. It seems after he escaped serious examination in the murder of President Kennedy, he went back to business as usual in this world so visible yet so cloaked from everyday life. That after our country, its way of life, and its leader had suffered a grievous and terrible blow from which justice still awaits the people demanding it’s being served, our finest blood having run into the storm drain in Dallas, Texas.