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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did Herbert Wagner See Shaw and Ferrie Together?

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

In early 1971, Garrison filed a response, in U.S. District Court, to Clay Shaw's complaint regarding the upcoming perjury charges. He listed a variety of witnesses that would support "the probability of Shaw's association on some occasions with Ferrie, on some occasions with Oswald, and on some occasions with both parties at the same time."

One witness on the list was Herbert Wagner, a friend of David Ferrie's.

New Orleans States-Item, April 24, 1961

Here is Wagner's statement to the D.A.'s office from December 1967:

Point #1 reads: "A CPT. VON MAYER who lived at 6942 Canal Boulevard, as a personal friend."

The last sentence reads "This is the only loan ARCACHA made with me. At that time I did see a United States government Diplomatic I.D. card with his picture and so forth on it. I verified his employment by calling..."

The second to last paragraph ends "I told him, "How in the hell can you make money, DAVE. Just tell me that." And he said, "We're taking people in and out of Cuba at nighttime." I didn't want any part of it."

A couple of things worth noting. Wagner clearly did not identify Clay Shaw. Had he been a witness at a Shaw perjury trial, and had the defense known about this memo, his value as a witness would have been zero.

Wagner had loaned money to Ferrie and was very patient with repayment. He even once refinanced the loan in a way to put money into Ferrie's pocket, even though it seemed clear that Ferrie did not have the resources to pay him back.

Ferrie also bragged to Wagner about some of his activities. It is doubtful that he flew to Cuba. Ferrie was asked about flying to Cuba in his first interview with the D,A.'s office on December 15, 1966:

"I have spent many years examining the life of David Ferrie and his role in the New Orleans milieu. I have conducted numerous interviews with primary sources and obtained or read many thousands of pages of documents relating to these matters.
Ferrie's period of activity with the Cubans was very brief, beginning in late 1960 and abruptly ending in the fall of 1961 after his morals arrests. Throughout most of this period, his whereabouts are established by his employment and other records. He had very little opportunity to fly any missions."

Roy also added:

"Having looked very closely into the career of David Ferrie, while I cannot rule out the possibility that he may have made such flights at some juncture, I make the following observations:
1) Prior to September 1961, Ferrie was flying for Eastern Air Lines three times a week from New Orleans to Houston and other Texas cities, including two overnighters. There would not have been a great deal of opportunity for him to have made such flights from Florida. (And the flight log on his Stinson contains no indication of any such flights.)
2) Prior to April 1961, Ferrie was not fully accepted as an active participant by the anti-Castro Cubans.
3) After his August 1961 morals arrests, Ferrie was soon ostracized by the Cubans. Further, his Stinson soon entered a long period of inactivity.
Ferrie denied ever going to Cuba. However, he did tell a friend about one sojourn into Cuba in August 1960, which he said was for the CIA. He said he was wounded in the process, but his friends doubted this.
So the assertion that Ferrie made "flights" or extensive flights into Cuba is not strongly supported by the evidence."
"The capper to it all is that Litwin writes that Ferrie’s anti-Castro activities ended in 1961, when, in fact, Ferrie admitted he was involved with Operation Mongoose, which began in 1962. (NODA Interview with Herbert Wagner 12/6/67)"

But, the Wagner memo above references an Operation Mosquito, which DiEugenio believes is really Operation Mongoose. But Wagner definitely heard 'mosquito' - he even made a joke about it. Furthermore, Operation Mongoose took place in 1962 which is after Ferrie left his Cuban activities to focus on his problems with Eastern Airlines, and a morals charge. As mentioned above, Ferrie was ostracized by the Cubans after his August 1961 morals arrest.

New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 26, 1961

Stephen Roy writes in his unpublished manuscript, Perfect Villain: David Ferrie and the JFK Mystery:

While the sources on Ferrie's anti-Castro activities from, at the earliest, summer 1959 to about October 1961 are many, detailed, mutually corroborative and reliable, there are no reliable sources for significant anti-Castro activities on his part after October 1961. This is an important point missed in most studies of Ferrie's life and career. The single thread of Al Landry's runaway, pulled by New Orleans area police, led to the virtual collapse of Ferrie's life: his job, his Falcon [CAP] group, his position in the anti-Castro group and his standing in the community. While he would have loved to have continued on in the fight against Castro, nobody would have him. What scattered reports there are of anti-Castro activities by Ferrie in 1962 and 1963, such as running training camps, all come from sources of questionable reliability and are impossible to corroborate. Ferrie had other battles to fight."

If you want to claim Ferrie was associated with Operation Mongoose, well, Herbert Wagner's statement is not sufficient to prove the point.


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