Thursday, May 10, 2012

A 2 - Notes on Gen. Clifton

[2.] Gen. Clifton:Maj. Gen. Chester V. "Ted" Clifton Jr., 78
December 29, 1991 Maj. Gen. Chester V. "Ted" Clifton Jr., 78, senior military aide to President John F. Kennedy, died of lung ailments Monday in Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He joined President Kennedy's staff in 1961 and was in almost constant touch with him throughout his presidency. He was in the Dallas motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963, when the president was assassinated. He was aboard Air Force One when Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president and later served Mr. Johnson as a military aide.

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, General Clifton grew up in Tacoma, Wash., and attended the University of Washington. He graduated from West Point in 1936 and later received a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. In World War II, he served in Italy in the Cassino and Anzio campaigns and in the invasion of southern France.

From Arlington National Cemetery Web Site -  a contemporary press report:
Chester V. Clifton, Jr., Senior military aide to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, died December 23, 1991, Walter Reed Army Hospital. He was 78 years old and died of pneumonia after intestinal operation, family member said.

Widely known as Ted, he joined Kennedy staff in 1961 and was officer responsible for the President's daily morning intelligence briefings on world events. He was in the motorcade in Dallas on November 22, 1963, when JFK was assassinated and made arrangements with the White House to deal with military and national security affairs after the assassination.

Remained as military aide to President Johnson until 1965, when he retired from the army, after 33 years of service.In December 1965, he was elected president of Thomas J. Deegan Company, a public relations and management consulting firm. He then formed Clifton-Raymond Associates in 1967, and next year established Clifton Counselors, a management consultant firm that dealt mainly with publishing affairs.

General Clifton was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up in Puyallup Valley near Tacoma, Washington. Attended the University of Washington, and graduated from the United States Military Academy in USMA 1936 and received a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin in 1948.

Before his military career, he worked as reporter for Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the New York Herald Tribune. In World War II he served in the Field Artillery and fought in Italy, France and Germany. After the war worked in public relations in the army's Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and later became an Assistant to General Omar N. Bradley. After attending the National War College in 1954, he served with the Army's European command in Paris.

He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1956 and returned to Washington, D.C. where became the chief of information for the Army.

He was co-author, with Cecil Stoughton, of "The Memories: J.F.K., 1961- 1963," published by W. W. Norton; and served as public relations consultant in development of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

When he retired, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Among his other medals are Legion of Merit, French Croix de Guerre and Italian Cross of Military Valor.
He lived in Washington, D.C., and is survived by his wife, Anne Bodine, and brother, John R. Clifton, of Napa, California. Sep 24, 1913-Dec 23, 1991.

The General's remains were cremated and were buried with full military honors in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery on May 28, 1992.

Maj. General Chester V. Clifton & JFK: "One of my favorite stories: the exchange was wonderful. I saw this word, 'Draconian,' and I must say, I wasn't familiar with it. It was in an intelligence report from the CIA. I had very carefully written in the margin, 'cruel, inhuman!' The President grabbed the report and was running through it, and when he came to that he stopped and said, 'Who put this in here?' I said, 'I did.' He said, 'That's the trouble with you military; now if you'd had a classic Harvard education, you would have known what the word meant.' So I said, 'Yes, Sir,' and later on -- oh, four or five days later -- again the same thing: we were up in the bedroom, he was going through the report, and there was some very technical military term, in the atomic energy field -- I think it was 'permissive link.' He said, 'Well, what's this mean?' I told him; he said, 'Right,' and I said, 'Mr. President, if you'd had a classic military education at West Point, you would have known what that word was.' He said, 'Touche,' and grinned. He was willing to give and take with great humor.

Bay of Pigs
At 5:15 one morning last week, President Kennedy's military aide, Brigadier General Chester Clifton, got an urgent telephone call. He told the caller to telephone the President at his weekend home in Middleburg, Va. Shortly afterward, in keeping with instructions he had given, the President was awakened and told that an invasion force of Cuban revolutionaries had landed as planned on the south coast of Cuba. So began John F. Kennedy's darkest and bitterest week as President. Soon after he took office in January, Kennedy was faced with making a command decision on Cuba....

Berlin Wall
….Early on the morning of August 13, thousands of frightened East Germans were fleeing across the flimsy boundary into free West Berlin. At 2 a.m. there were sirens, then the rumble of tanks on the East Berlin cobblestones. East German troops carrying rolls of barbed wire, concrete pillars, stone blocks, picks, and shovels leapt out of their trucks. Four hours later, millions of Berliners lived in a huge communist pen which over the next decade would be broadened and built into an automated armed fortress of steel and concrete —a fortress which stood as a monstrous rebuke to freedom. The wall would become the greatest public relations disaster of our age, with endless pictures of desperate men and women, rushing the barrier and being shot down, and then left to die on the concrete no man's land. Kennedy and other Presidents would use it as a stage to unmask the what Ronald Reagan called "the evil empire."
This wall was no symbol
When it happened we were all caught off guard — including Kennedy. He was on board his yacht, the Marlin, pushing off from the family dock in Hyannis Port, Massachussets, preparing for a well-deserved cruise with family and friends and a couple of bowls of fish chowder, his favorite dish. A military duty officer rushed down to the beach with the first flash. He walked into the surf in full uniform to deliver the grim news to Brig. Gen. Chester Clifton, the Presidents military aide who signaled the Marlin back to port. He handed the dispatch to Kennedy who read it in silence. "You go ahead," Kennedy told the family as he got into a golf cart with Clifton to ride back to his house.
Kennedy remained silent for several minutes. Then he blurted, "Why in hell didn't we know about it?" Clifton responded that out of more than 40 contingency plans he had read for Berlin he could not recall a single one that dealt with the possible construction of a barrier…..,8599,171352,00.html

[Jim Root notes: Senior Military Aid to Kennedy Chester Clifton, as I understand it, kept the Kennedy calander and was responsible for getting Kennedy to and from his daily appointments, he may have had a major imput on the motorcade route decission. This man was assigned by General Maxwell Taylor to this position and Clifton in the motorcade at the time of the assassination. I might also point out that upon graduation from West Point, Chester Clifton's first commanding officier was Edwin Walker.


General Chester Clifton was the senior military aide aboard the flight. And his voice can be heard, repeatedly, on the AF-1 tapes (and in 1980, I had the "Johnson Library Version" of those tapes, first unearthed, as I recall, by JFK researcher Fred Newcomb in Los Angeles). I had studied that tape carefully, spending hours --wearing a headset--listening to every single sentence.

After the manuscript to BEST EVIDENCE has been submitted (April 1, 1980), and the publication process had begun, I arranged to interview General Chester Clifton in his office, in Washington, D.C. The date was July 15, 1980, and the interview was an "on-the-record" affair. I had the Air Force One tapes with me, and a recorder to play them on. I also had a second recorder to record our interview. Everything was above board. No hidden recorders. Everything done with full permission. Clifton knew my book would soon be published. I will have much more to say about it in a future writing.

When I interviewed Clifton (and again, this was six months prior to the appearance of BEST EVIDENCE in any bookstore) he had no idea of the evidence that I had ascertained re the sequence of arrivals of body and coffin at Bethesda. And one purpose of my interview was to push him hard on this question: Just what did he know?

I never was able to get Clifton to admit that he had direct knowledge of what happened at the back of Air Force One. For one thing, he wasn't back there. He was at the front of the plane, where the radios were located. As I pursued the matter--very much in the manner of "Columbo" interview ("Well, sir. . I really must ask you just one more question." etc), and when Clifton realized how much I did know, and that I had entire chapters of my forthcoming work devoted to the sequence of arrivals of the Dallas coffin and the President's body (and that the body had arrived at Bethesda 20 minutes before the coffin), General Clifton admitted, four times, that yes, prior to takeoff in Dallas, the President's body could have been taken off Air Force One through the rear starboard door, at the back of the plane. And that he would not have known about that.

One other thing: Clifton was no dummy, and he knew the centrality of the body as evidence, and the importance of the autopsy. In a letter I have a copy of, written by relative of Clifton, in which he describes what Clifton said to him after the publication of the Warren Report, this person writes that Clifton said "Did not believe the Warren Report."

One other matter, and this is a post-script to my post-script: In 1985, I was at Hofstra College and attending their public symposium on the Kennedy presidency. Up on stage were several former JFK administration officials. Clifton was sitting in the audience, several rows in front of me. Under discussion was foreign policy and Vietnam. During the Q an A that followed the panel discussion, he stood up, much older looking now, and almost with his finger shaking, he told them: "I remember that President Kennedy said he would never send troops to Asia" (or words to that effect. Clifton was quite explicit and his remarks were delivered with considerable emotion). This entire matter is probably recorded on film--certainly, it would be on the audio of that memorable event.  

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