In late February issues of the Hot Springs Village Voice, we covered U.S. Secret Service agent Mike Howard’s actions during the Kennedy assassination weekend.
Near the end of the interview we talked about Lee Harvey Oswald’s notebook. In this article we’ll go into more of Howard’s amazing story and next week cover his years of service with President Lyndon Johnson.
In review, remember Howard was ordered to protect Oswald’s family after the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination. He and fellow agent Charles Kunkel sequestered Lee’s wife, Marina, their two children, Lee’s mother, Marguerite, and his brother, Robert at the Inn of the Six Flags near Dallas.
Howard told me they had orders to not reveal their location to anyone, not even the FBI, and they should call in once per day by pay phone. “The FBI was going crazy trying to find us,” Howard said.
Howard and Kunkel obtained the Oswald notebook one day when they took Marina to Ruth Paine’s home (this is where Marina was living at the time of the assassination and where Oswald would visit over the weekends) in Irving to pick up some clothes for her baby. Dallas Police and the FBI had already been there to collect evidence, but didn’t see the notebook. This is because Marina had put it on a shelf between some cookbooks. She pointed it out to Howard and Kunkel who took custody of it. “So the police and FBI missed it,” said Howard of the find.
Now back at their secret location the agents and Marina began looking through the notebook pages.
Howard said Marina was very cooperative in making sense of many notations in the notebook.
In that book was the name of FBI agent James Hosty. Howard said, when Marina noted the name she told him he (Hosty) was mean and no good. Lee would come home and beat her because of Hosty’s visits.
Howard said Hosty’s job was to keep track of people who’d come to America from other countries, which the Oswalds did, from Russia, in summer 1962.
Hosty would interview them and report his findings. This is how Marina came to know Hosty, who left his business card with Marina with a message for Lee to contact him.
In the notebook Howard revealed what he saw, that has not been seen since. “I will kill him,” it said on a page that had the names of Hosty, John Connally and Gen. Edwin Walker on it, as well as the notation “the vice president.”
Why Walker? Because Oswald saw him as un-American (remember Oswald was thought to be the alleged shooter at Walker in his home in April 1963).
Why Connally? Because back then he was the Secretary of the Navy (remember Connally was in the Nov. 22 motorcade, seated in front of President Kennedy and wounded during the shooting) and it was Connally’s Secretary of the Navy office that gave Oswald an undesirable discharge from the Marine Corps because he was a defector in 1959.      Connally’s signature was at the bottom of that discharge-related document.
Howard learned from Robert Oswald that when Lee came home from Russia with Marina and their first child, Lee thought he’d be greeted as a hero at the airport. But family was all that was there to greet him. Later at Marguerite’s house, Lee was shown the letter from the Navy. Howard said, when this happened back in 1962, Robert said his brother Lee said, I outta kill that so and so, referring to Connally.
Robert then helped Lee draft a letter to Connally trying to get the discharge designation changed. The handwritten letter, dated Jan. 30, 1962, is in Warren Commission Volume 19, page 713. In that letter Oswald said, “I shall employ all means necessary to right this gross mistake…..”. Weeks later Lee received a letter saying the discharge stays as stated.
“He said it right then and put it in his little notebook, that he would kill this S.O.B. Connally, James Hosty, because he was messing with his wife, the vice president and Gen. Edwin Walker who was un-American, according to Lee,” said Howard.
It was this page with the “I will kill…” statements on it that later disappeared. The notebook is in Warren Commission Volume 16, page 43, Commission Exhibit 18. Look closely and you’ll see a sliver of a page, but the rest of that page torn out (see photo).
So what happened to that page? It remains a mystery. Howard said the Secret Service turned it and other evidence over to the FBI. Howard feels the page was removed so it would look like the FBI did not know about Oswald before the assassination.
(Editor’s note: This makes sense because there is irrefutable proof of another piece of evidence about Oswald that was destroyed. Oswald dropped off a note for Hosty at Dallas FBI headquarters just days before the assassination. After the assassination Hosty was told to get rid of the note. He did so by flushing it down a toilet. This escapade came to light 13 years after the assassination, when in 1975 Congressional hearings delved into the rumor and learned the truth about the note that Hosty, under orders, had destroyed.)
After a break for lunch I point blank asked Howard this question: Are you saying Lee Harvey Oswald was shooting at Gov. Connally, not President Kennedy? Howard said yes, that was his opinion. Howard’s not alone with this thought. Oswald’s wife, Marina, told the Warren Commission (Hearings, Volume 5, page 607) that she thought Lee was aiming at Connally because of the Marine Corps discharge-related letters.
Howard added that Oswald had threatened Connally, not Kennedy and nowhere has anyone found evidence that Oswald disliked JFK. “Not once did he ever say anything derogatory about John Kennedy to his wife (Marina),” said Howard. Referring back to the talk when Oswald came home to Russia, Howard said, “Now that’s the way she said it and that’s the way his brother said it.”
Howard didn’t realize the page was missing until after the September 1964 publication of the Warren Report and the 26 volumes of evidence. “Someone tore that page out. It (the notebook) went directly to the FBI, directly to J. Edgar Hoover, directly from J. Edgar Hoover to Lyndon Johnson and from there to the Warren Commission. And the Warren Commission said it wasn’t there.”
Howard told me the notebook, Agent Kunkel’s notes and reels of tape recorded interviews were put in a box, sealed and sent in.
Why did it disappear? I asked. Howard said because Hoover didn’t want anything derogatory to come out about his FBI having anything to do with Lee Harvey Oswald. They didn’t want it seen because it involved an FBI agent (Hosty). “You can draw your own conclusions one way or the other, but that’s the evidence we have,” he said. Howard also referred me to a 2016 book called “Tragic Truth,” by Pierre Sundborg. Chapter 20 of the book delves into this missing evidence mystery. Copies of this book are very limited. Only 300 copies were printed of this 615 page book with 3,481 footnotes.
Later the Secret Service turned Marina over to another agency and Howard received orders to report to Austin, Texas, for protective duty for now-President Lyndon Johnson’s daughter, Lynda Bird, who was attending the University of Texas.
Howard said at the end of the semester, or thereabouts, she went to Washington, D.C. “She went back to Washington because she wanted to go live in the White House. Her Daddy was now President,” he said. Lynda Bird then enrolled in Georgetown University.
After a brief time back in Dallas, Howard returned to D.C. for protective duty for President Kennedy’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy.
Next week we’ll pick up the story at that point and also cover the many years Howard spent with LBJ and his family, both at their Johnson City, Texas, ranch and in Washington, D.C.