Did David Ferrie Know Lee Harvey Oswald?
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
About once a week on Facebook, somebody posts the picture below and says this proves that David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald knew each other. Conspiracy authors also regularly cite this photograph, which was first shown on the PBS Frontline documentary on Lee Harvey Oswald in 1993.
This picture was taken in 1955 when Lee Harvey Oswald was just 15 years old. You can see David Ferrie on the left - and the picture is of a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) meeting.
Edward Voebel got Lee Harvey Oswald interested in CAP. Here is an excerpt from his testimony before the Warren Commission:
So, we know that Oswald only attended 2-3 meetings.
Stephen Roy, author of Perfect Villain, wrote that:
Could a CAP officer have forgotten a cadet? As a high school teacher, Ferrie worked with about 80 students, all boys. As a CAP officer in Cleveland, he had worked with about 100 boys. In his first tenure with the CAP/Lakefront in New Orleans, he worked with about 130 boys. As an instructor with CAP/Moisant, he had worked with about 20 boys. On his return to CAP/Lakefront, he worked with about 100 more boys. In his Falcon/IMSU group, he worked with about 15 boys, some new and some holdovers from CAP. That totals between 430-440 boys. Oswald had attended 2-4 meetings eight years earlier. Can one believe that Ferrie might have forgotten him?
David Ferrie gave a full statement to the FBI on November 25, 1963. Here are a few excerpts:
Fairly early on, David Ferrie said the photograph of Oswald had a "very vague familiarity to him."
Ferrie started to call around and see if he could find out more about Oswald being in CAP. Here is a statement from Roy Tell:
Ferrie did call Edward Voebel and here is Voebel's statement to the Garrison investigation:
Interesting that Ferrie told Voebel he wanted information so he could be of assistance to the Warren Commission, and to be of assistance to the D.A.'s office.
So, there you have it. Ferrie and Oswald were very briefly in CAP together. It's not unusual for a teacher, eight years later, to forget a student who only attended a few classes.
This was all known before the picture above was shown on PBS Frontline in 1993. Conspiracy authors try to make this all into something far bigger than it was. Here is a headline in Probe Magazine from July-August 1998.
But, the witnesses quoted in the article don't really deviate from what Ferrie said in 1963. For instance, Jerry Paradis said that "he does not know of any relationship between Ferrie and Oswald other than their contact at CAP meetings, and recalls that there was nothing unusual about their relationship there." Paradis couldn't say how many times Oswald was at CAP meetings but that he would guess "at least ten or fifteen meetings." He also added that "I am not saying that they may have been there together."
Jerry Paradis said that "he does not believe the relationship between Oswald and Ferrie "meant anything really," and does not think that Ferrie "was a bad guy or anything like that."
Anthony Atzenhoffer said that "I can't remember seeing the two of them together. I don't have that detailed a memory. But I'm sure they were there together at the same time."
James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, brings up the witness statement of Thomas Lewis Clark: (page 85)
So in 1964, David Ferrie told Clark he taught Lee Harvey Oswald. This is totally consistent with what David Ferrie knew back then. He probably just briefly noted that they were in the same CAP unit for a very short period of time. I don't know if Thomas Clark was really a roommate of David Ferrie - but, it's interesting that he knew that Ferrie was quite sick at the time, and it's quite telling that Ferrie told him nothing of any assassination plot, no mention of Clay Shaw, Clay Bertrand, or anything that might have been of interest to the Garrison investigation. And no mention of Ferrie knowing Oswald in 1963.
Thomas Clark testified before the New Orleans grand jury on March 16. 1967. He was not asked about Lee Harvey Oswald, and he admitted stealing a credit card belonging to a Dave Martin from Ferrie's apartment.
Coming Soon: A blog post on whether Lee Harvey Oswald had David Ferrie's library card.
Patricia Lambert notes in her excellent book, False Witness, that the photo of Ferrie and Oswald at a CAP meeting was taken by cadet John Ciravolo. She spoke to him in 1997 and he said, "I'm in the picture and I'm sure David Ferrie wouldn't remember me either."