William Robert Greer (
September 22, 1909- February 23, 1985) was an agent of the U.S. Secret Service, best known for having driven President John F. Kennedy's automobile in the motorcade through Dealey Plazain Dallas on November 22, 1963, when the president was assassinated. Greer was also involved in the aftermath of the assassination, including maintaining custody of the president's body and clothing [President's Commission on The Assassination of President Kennedy, "Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy", (United States Government, 1964), Volume II, p. 125] . Despite the fatal delay on Elm Street [Philip H. Mellanson, with Peter F. Stevens, "The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency," (Carroll & Graf, 2002), p. 74] , Greer was neither reprimanded nor demoted. And although no court or official report has ever alleged wrongdoing on his part, published researchers continue to explore Greer's possible complicity in the assassination.
Greer was born on a farm in
County Tyrone, Ireland, and emigrated to the United States in 1930. After working for over a decade as a chauffeurand servant to several wealthy families in the Boston area, including the Lodge family, Greer enlisted in the U.S. Navyin World War II, and then joined the U.S. Secret Serviceon October 1, 1945.
Greer took a role close to Kennedy, and can be seen in several pictures with the Kennedy family. He chauffeured the president on many occasions, including the day of the assassination. Like all agents involved, he has been the target of much speculation and criticism for his actions on that day. He was interviewed by the FBI after the assassination and testified before the
Warren Commissionregarding the incident.
Greer retired on disability from the Secret Service in 1966 due to a stomach
ulcerthat grew worse following the Kennedy assassination. [Obit, "The Washington Post", February 28, 1985] In 1973 he relocated to Waynesville, North Carolina, where he died of cancerin 1985. Greer's son Richard told author Vince Palamarain 1991 that his father "had absolutely no survivor's guilt." ["Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye" by Dave Powers & Kenneth O'Donnell, page 44; "The Death of a President", page 290; Please see: http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v4n1/v4n1chapter08.pdf]
Some commentators have criticized Greer's actions during the assassination, noting that he did not accelerate the vehicle to get the president out of danger as soon as he could have. One such commentator was Secret Service agent
Roy Kellerman, who was in charge and sat to Greer's right. Kellerman stated that he shouted, "Let's get out of line, we've been hit," but that Greer apparently turned to look at Kennedy, initiating a fatal delay, before accelerating the car out of the danger zone. [Philip H. Mellanson, with Peter F. Stevens, "The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency," (Carroll & Graf, 2002), p. 74] Kellerman also told author William Manchester, "Greer then looked in the back of the car. Maybe he didn't believe me." ["The Death of a President" by William Manchester (Perennial Edition, 1988), page 160. Please see: http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v4n1.html]
Greer did not discuss slowing the car in his statement to the FBI on the night of the assassination, nor did he mention this aspect to the Warren Commission during the official investigation. [President's Commission on The Assassination of President Kennedy, "Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy", (United States Government, 1964), Volume II, pp. 112-132] His testimony also seems to deny that he turned to look directly at Kennedy during the shooting, although the
Zapruder filmshows him doing this. Greer also testified that he turned to look back only once. [President's Commission on The Assassination of President Kennedy, "Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy", (United States Government, 1964), Volume II, p. 117] However, in the Zapruder film, Greer looks back during frames 280-289 and again during frames 301-313, this time with his entire torso turned around. This second turn corresponds with the fatal delay just .05 seconds before the head shot. The film also shows that Greer rapidly accelerated the vehicle only after the fatal shot had been fired.
Greer later delivered a heartfelt, but confused, apology to
Jacqueline Kennedy, seeming to claim that either he hadn't heard the shots or that he hadn't reacted in time. [William Manchester, "The Death of a President," Harper & Row, 1967, p. 290] Privately, Mrs. Kennedy was bitterly critical of the agents' performance, Greer's in particular, comparing his efforts to those of "Maud Shaw" (the Kennedy children's nanny). [Mary Gallagher, "My Life With Jacqueline Kennedy," McKay, 1969, pp. 343, 351]
The FBI interviewed Greer after the assassination and, although agents Kellerman and Behn were also interviewed, Greer's interview is unique in that his physical description is also recorded in the 11/27/63 FBI report. [ Please see: http://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/arrb/master_med_set/pdf/md152.pdf]
Greer's involvement in the events of November 22-23, 1963 was not limited to his usual duties as driver of the presidential limo. Rather than being relieved after an apparent breach of Secret Service procedure (his failure to accelerate the limo as described by agent Kellerman above), Greer told the
United States House Select Committee on Assassinationsthat he and Kellerman were responsible for a "constant vigilance" over the president’s body [House Select Committee on Assassinations, Interview of William R. Greer, Feb. 28, 1978, pp. 2, 8 (JFK Document 014059)] until the conclusion of the official autopsy and preparations for burial. [Vincent Palamara, "Survivor's Guilt," Palamara, 2006 Chapter 8, pp. 9, 14]
In images and films of the arrival of the president's body at
Andrews Air Force Base, Greer and Kellerman are seen lowering the president's casket. [David S. Lifton, "Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy," (Macmillan, 1980), p. 243] Greer is also seen ejecting the crew from the waiting ambulance, and climbing into the driver's seat. He drove the ambulance to Bethesda Naval Hospitalfor the autopsy, and later drove the ambulance containing the president's casket from Bethesda to the White House.
Greer was also part of the Secret Service detail that forcibly removed the president's body from Parkland [ James Fetzer, with Ira David Wood III, "Murder in Dealy Plaza", (Catfeet Press, 2000), p. 96] , barred FBI agents from entering the autopsy room prior to the autopsy in Bethesda [ David S. Lifton, "Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy," (Macmillan, 1980), p. 392] , and destroyed an entire roll of negative film taken by the autopsy photographer. [David S. Lifton, "Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy," (Macmillan, 1980), p. 637] When contrasted with his fatal delay relating to Kennedy's death, Greer's constant vigilance in controlling prima facie evidence (that was legally under the jurisdiction of the Dallas authorities and the FBI) continues to fuel speculation of a more sinister role. [Vincent Palamara, "Survivor's Guilt," Palamara, 2006 Chapter 8]
A new look at the Zapruder film
More recently, a newly stabilized and uncropped version of the Zapruder film displays greater detail of Greer's actions, including the removal of his left hand from the steering wheel as he rapidly turns to face JFK (frames 302-312). [Please see: http://www.jfkmurdersolved.com/film/Zapruderstable.mov Stabilized Zapruder Film] .
* [http://www.jfk-assassination.de/warren/wch/vol2/page112.php Warren Commission testimony]
* [http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v4n1/v4n1chapter08.pdf "Survivor's Guilt", Chapter 8, by Vince Palamara]
* [http://www.jfkmurdersolved.com/film/Zapruderstable.mov Stabilized Zapruder Film]
* [http://www.thoughtequity.com/video/clip/5112797371_005.do Video of casket arrival at Andrew's Air Force Base]
* [http://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/arrb/master_med_set/md44/html/Image2.htm FBI Agent O'Neils Report]
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