Historia Discordia: Meet Kerry Thornley, The Second Oswald b

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Re: Historia Discordia: Meet Kerry Thornley, The Second Oswa

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Testimony of Kerry Wendell Thornley
by Warren Commission Hearings, Volume XI



The testimony of Kerry Wendell Thornley was taken at 9:40 a.m., on May 18, 1964, at 200 Maryland Avenue N.E., Washington D.C., by Messrs. John Ely and Albert E. Jenner, Jr., assistant counsel of the President's Commission.

MR. JENNER: Mr. Thornley, in the deposition you are about to give, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


MR. JENNER: You are Kerry Wendell Thornley, spelled K-e-r-r-y W-e-n-d-e-l-l T-h-o-r-n-l-e-y?

MR. THORNLEY: That is correct, sir.

MR. JENNER: Mr. Thornley, where do you reside now?

MR. THORNLEY: At 4201 South 31st Street in Arlington, Va.

MR. JENNER: Did you at one time reside at 1824 Dauphine Street in New Orleans?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: What is your present occupation?

MR. THORNLEY: I am a doorman at the building where I reside, Shirlington House.

MR. JENNER: Doorman.

MR. THORNLEY: At the building where I reside.

MR. JENNER: What is the name of that building?

MR. THORNLEY: Shirlington House. I also work on the switchboard there three nights a week.

MR. JENNER: I see. By the way, Mr. Thornley, you received, did you not, a letter from Mr. Rankin, the general counsel of the Commission in which he enclosed --

MR. THORNLEY: Confirming this appointment --

MR. JENNER: Copies of the legislation, Senate Join Resolution No. 137, authorizing the creation of the Commission and President Johnson's Order 11130, bringing the Commission into existence and fixing its powers and duties and responsibilities?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: And also a copy of the rules and regulations of the Commission for the taking of depositions:

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: I take it you understand the basic obligation placed upon the Commission is to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding and bearing upon the assassination of President Kennedy, and events collateral thereto.

In the course of doing that the Commission and its staff, and I, Albert E. Jenner, Jr., a member of the Commission legal staff, have been interviewing and taking the testimony of various persons who, among other things, came in contact with a man named Lee Harvey Oswald. We understand that you had some contact with him, fortuitous or otherwise as it might be. Are we correct in that?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: Would you tell us the -- may I ask you this first. Were you born and reared in this country?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: Are you married or unmarried?

MR. THORNLEY: Unmarried

MR. JENNER: Unmarried you said?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: What is your age?

MR. THORNLEY: I am 26.

MR. JENNER: When was your birthday?

MR. THORNLEY: April 17, this last month.

MR. JENNER: April 17 of this last month? I am poor in mathematics, what year was your birath?


MR. JENNER: When did you first become acquainted with him?

MR. THORNLEY: I was -- it was around Easter of 1959, either shortly before or shortly after.

MR. JENNER: Let's see. He was in the Marines at that time?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: I take it you also were?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: How long had you been in the Marines?

MR. THORNLEY: At that time I had been in the Marines over half a year. I had been in the Reserve for many years. I had been on active duty for over half a year.

MR. JENNER: You were then 21 years of age?

MR. THORNLEY: About; yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: Tell me about what your occupation and activity had been up to the time you enlisted in the Marines.

MR. THORNLEY: Well, the year before I was a student at the University of Southern California,. and before that I was a student at California High School in Whittier, Calif.

MR. JENNER: I take it then that you are a native Californian?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: Did you receive your degree?

MR. THORNLEY: No. I was -- I completed my freshman year and then I went on active duty to serve my 2-year obligation in the Marine Reserve.

MR. JENNER: You did not return to college after you were mustered out of the Marines?

MR. THORNLEY: No, sir.

MR. JENNER: Was your discharge honorable?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: Where were you based when you first met Lee Harvey Oswald?

MR. THORNLEY: At a subsidiary of El Toro Marine Base, referred to as LTA, Santa Ana, Calif., or just outside of Santa Ana.

MR. JENNER: What was your rank at that time?

MR. THORNLEY: At that time I was acting corporal.

MR. JENNER: What was your assignment then?

MR. THORNLEY: I was an aviation electronics operator. I was working in an aircraft control center reading radarscopes and keeping track of ingoing and outgoing flights.

MR. JENNER: What was Lee Harvey Oswald's assignment and activity servicewise at that period?

MR. THORNLEY: At that time his assignments and activities were primary janitorial. He was -- he had lost his clearance previously, and if I remember, he was assigned to make the coffee, mow the lawn, swab down decks, and things of this nature.

MR. JENNER: What were the circumstances as you learned of them, or knew of them at the time, as to how or why he lost his clearance as you put it.

MR. THORNLEY: Well, I asked somebody, and I was told, and I don't remember who told me, it was a general rumor, general scuttlebutt at the time, that he had poured beer over a staff NCO's head in an enlisted club in Japan, and had been put in the brig for that, and having been put in the brig would automatically lose his clearance to work in the electronics control center.

MR. JENNER: I was going to ask you what losing clearance meant. You have indicated that -- or would you state it more specifically.

MR. THORNLEY: Well, that meant in a practical sense, that meant that he was not permitted to enter certain areas wherein the equipment, in this case equipment, was kept; that we would not want other unauthorized persons to have knowledge of. And on occasional information, I imagine, would also come to the man who was cleared, in the process of his work, that he would be expected to keep to himself.

MR. JENNER: I assume you had clearance?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir; I was, I think, cleared for confidential at the time.

MR. JENNER: Cleared for confidential. I was about to ask you what level of clearance was involved.

MR. THORNLEY: I believe it was just confidential to work there at El Toro on that particular equipment.

MR. JENNER: That is the clearance about which you speak when you talk about Oswald having lost it?

MR. THORNLEY: Oswald, I believe, had a higher clearance. This is also just based upon rumor. I believe he at one time worked in the security files, it is the S & C files, somewhere either at LTA or at El Toro.

MR. JENNER: Did you ever work in the security files?

MR. THORNLEY: No, sir.

MR. JENNER: And that was a level of clearance --

MR. THORNLEY: Probably a secret clearance would be required.

MR. JENNER: It was at least higher than the clearance about which you first spoke?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: The clearance that you had in mine of which you first spoke was the clearance to operate radar detection devices?


MR. JENNER: And your knowledge of his loss of clearance was by hearsay or rumor. As I understand it the circumstances took place off base one day?

MR. THORNLEY: No; this was on base as I understand it. It was in an enlisted club or staff sergeant's club, something of that nature.

MR. JENNER: He had gotten into difficulty with a staff sergeant and had poured beer on the person of a staff sergeant and gotten into some kind of an altercation?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: As a result of that he was court-martialed and had been subjected to the loss of clearance?

MR. THORNLEY: That is correct.

MR. JENNER: Was that clearance of his restored?

MR. THORNLEY: I doubt it very much, because 3 months afterwards, after I had left the outfit -- I know it wasn't restored while I was in the outfit.

MR. JENNER: When did you leave the outfit?

MR. THORNLEY: I left in June and went overseas.

MR. JENNER: Up to that time his clearance had not been restored?

MR. THORNLEY: Definitely not. And shortly thereafter he got out of the service.

MR. JENNER: So that as far as you have any personal knowledge Oswald never operated any radar equipment while he was at El Toro, did you say?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes; El Toro, LTA. As far as my personal knowledge goes, he didn't.

MR. JENNER: Would you state the circumstances under which you became acquainted -- let me put it this way first. What was the extent of your acquaintance with Lee Harvey Oswald, and here at the moment I am directing myself only to whether you were friends, were you merely on the base together? Indicate the level of friendship first or acquaintanceship.

MR. THORNLEY: I would say we were close acquaintances in the sense that we weren't friends in that we didn't pull liberty together or seek each other out, yet when we were thrown together in an assignment or something, moving equipment, something of that nature, we spoke and when we were on the base and happened to be in the same area and were not required to be working, we would sometimes sit down and discuss things. That would be my statement there.

MR. JENNER: So there was a degree of affinity in the sense that you were friendly in performing your military tasks together whenever you were thrown together in that respect. You felt friendly toward each other. You were never off base with him on liberty?

MR. THORNLEY: No, sir.

MR. JENNER: There were times when you were at liberty on the base, I assume, and you and he fraternized?


MR. JENNER: Now, did you live in the same quarters?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, not actually. We lived in quonset huts there, and he lived in a different hut than I did. We did live in the same general area, however.

MR. JENNER: This acquaintance arose in the spring of 1959, is that correct?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: Can you fix the time a little more definitely than merely the spring?

MR. THORNLEY: I really can't, sir. I have been racking my brain on that one since November, and I can't fix the time. I do remember having taken some time off that year around Easter and going on a trip with some civilian friends of mine, who were out of school for Easter vacation, and I know I was in the outfit that Oswald was in at that time, and I know that either shortly before that trip or shortly afterwards, I can remember from the books I was reading at the time and things like that, that I met him.

MR. JENNER: Do you associate the books you were reading at that time with anything Oswald may have been reading?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes. Oswald was not reading but did advise me to read George Orwell's "1984" which I read at that time.

MR. JENNER: Was he on the base when you came there?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, I was on the base in a different outfit before I came into MACS9, the outfit I was in.

MR. JENNER: Marine Air Control Squadron.

MR. THORNLEY: I was in MACS4 which was right next door to MACS9 or was at that time, on the base.

MR. JENNER: Were you aware of his presence when you were in the other MACS?

MR. THORNLEY: No; not until I came into his outfit. And only sometime after I came into that outfit did I become aware of his presence.

MR. JENNER: Were you -- I will withdraw that. Was Oswald as far as you knew on the base before you came over to his unit?

MR. THORNLEY: I would assume so, but I wouldn't know for sure. I know he was recently back from Japan as were most of the men in Marine Control Squadron 9 when I came into it. How long he had been back I don't know. I certainly didn't know at that time. And thinking on what knowledge of him I have gained since then, I still couldn't say.

MR. JENNER: Well, in any event you first became acquainted with or aware of his presence around Easter time in 1959?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: And you transferred from that base when?


MR. JENNER: In June. So likely it was that you knew him in April, May, and in June until you were transferred out?


MR. JENNER: When in June were you transferred out?

MR. THORNLEY: Once again the exact date would be available in my military record, but offhand --

MR. JENNER: Give it to me as best you recall it, forepart, latter part, middle?

MR. THORNLEY: Let's see, it was the latter part. In fact, I can give you pretty close to the exact date. It was around June 25, because we arrived in Japan on July 4 and it took 11 days to get over there. It took us some time to get debarked or to get embarked, rather.

MR. JENNER: All right. I take it from the remark you have made in your reflecting on this matter that you were -- you devoted yourself to some fairly considerable extent to reading?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: And in what fields?

MR. THORNLEY: Completely omniverous. Anything that I would happen to get a hold of I would read. At that time I was reading, well, at Oswald's advice I rad "1984." At someone else's advice I was reading a book called "Humanism," by Corliss Lamont, as I remember, and I was reading either "The Brothers Karamazov" or the "Idiot" by Dostoevsky, I forget which, at that time.

MR. JENNER: But your reading had some reasonable amount of organization or direction?

MR. THORNLEY: None whatsoever; no sir. It never had.

MR. JENNER: You weren't engaged in any organized reading at that time, were you?


MR. JENNER: But there were areas which did draw your attention by and large?

MR. THORNLEY: Definitely; yes.

MR. JENNER: What were those areas?

MR. THORNLEY: Philosophy, politics, religion.

MR. JENNER: Did you find that Oswald had reasonably similar interests?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes; I would say.

MR. JENNER: In his reading?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes; I would say particularly in politics and philosophy.

MR. JENNER: Was it those mutual interests that brought about your acquaintance with him or some other fashion?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir; it was those interests. My first memory of him is that one afternoon he was sitting on a bucket out in front of a hut, an inverted bucket, with some other Marines. They were discussing religion. I entered the discussion. It was known already in the outfit that I was an atheist. Immediately somebody pointed out to me that Oswald was also an atheist.

MR. JENNER: Did they point that out to you in his presence?


MR. JENNER: What reaction did he have to that?

MR. THORNLEY: He said, "What do you think of communism?" and I said --

MR. JENNER: He didn't say anything about having been pointed out as being an atheist?

MR. THORNLEY: No; he wasn't offended at this at all. He was -- it was done in a friendly manner, anyway, and he just said to me -- the first thing he said to me was with his little grin; he looked at me and he said, "What do you think of communism?" And I replied I didn't think too much of communism, in a favorable sense, and he said, "Well, I think the best religion is communism." And I got the impression at the time that he said this in order to shock. He was playing to the galleries, I felt.

MR. JENNER: The boys who were sitting around?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: Engaged in scuttlebutt?

MR. THORNLEY: Right. He was smirking as he said this and he said it very gently. He didn't seem to be a glass-eyed fanatic by any means.

MR. JENNER: Did you have occasion to discuss the same subject thereafter?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: From time to time?

MR. THORNLEY: From time to time.

MR. JENNER: Was it reasonably frequent?

MR. THORNLEY: I would say about a half dozen times in that time period.

MR. JENNER: In those subsequent discussions were some of them private in the sense you were not gathered around with others?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, I don't recall us ever having a private serious discussion. A couple of times we were working together. There would be others around, not on a constant basis anyway, but coming and going, and as I recall a couple of times we were thrown together. Working together, we weren't having a serious discussion; we were joking.

MR. JENNER: Did you have occasion in those additional half dozen instances of discussions with him, the viewpoint you have just expressed, that is, that his initial raising of the issue was more by way of provoking or shocking those about him rather than any utterances on his part of sincerity in a belief that communism was itself a religion?

MR. THORNLEY: It became obvious to me after a while, in talking to him, that definitely he thought that communism was the best -- that the Marxist morality was the most rational morality to follow that he knew of. And that communism was the best system in the world.

I still certainly wouldn't -- wouldn't have predicted, for example, his defection to the Soviet Union, because once again he seemed idle in his admiration for communism. He didn't seem to be an activist.

MR. JENNER: Would you explain what you mean by idle in his admiration of the communistic system?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, it seemed to be theoretical. It seemed strictly a dispassionate appraisal -- I did know at the time that he was learning the Russian language. I knew he was subscribing to Pravda or a Russian newspaper of some kind from Moscow. All of this I took as a sign of his interest in the subject, and not as a sign of any active commitment to the Communist ends.

MR. JENNER: You felt there was no devotion there. That it was somewhat of an intellectual interest, a curiosity. But I don't want to put words in your mouth, so tell me.

MR. THORNLEY: I wouldn't put it quite that weakly. While I didn't feel there was any rabid devotion there, I wouldn't call it a complete idle curiosity either. I would call it a definite interest.

MR. JENNER: A definite interest.

MR. THORNLEY: But not a fanatical devotion.

MR. JENNER: You said you knew at that time that he was studying Russian. How did you become aware of that?

MR. THORNLEY: Probably by hearsay once again. I do remember one time hearing the comment made by one man in the outfit that there was some other man in the outfit who was taking a Russian newspaper and who was a Communist and when I said, "Well, who is that?" he said, "Oswald," and I said, "Oh, well." That is probably where I learned it.

MR. JENNER: How did you learn that he was a subscriber to Pravda and the other Russian publications you have mentioned?

MR. THORNLEY: Well. I don't think -- it was either Pravda or some other Russian publication.

MR. JENNER: I see.

MR. THORNLEY: The way I learned that was a story that I believe Bud Simco, a friend of mine in the same outfit, in the outfit at the same time, told me that one time a lieutenant, and I forget which lieutenant it was (I do remember at the time I did know who he was talking about) found out that Oswald, by -- he happened to be in the mailroom or something, and saw a paper with Oswald's address on it.

MR. JENNER: That is the officer happened to be in the mailroom?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes; and that it was written -- he noticed this paper was written in Russian and at the time got very excited, attempted to draw this to the attention of Oswald's section chief, the commanding officer, and, of course, there was nothing these people could do about it, and at the time the story was related to me. I remember I thought it was rather humorous that this young, either second or first lieutenant should get so excited because Oswald happened to be subscribing to a Russian newspaper.

MR. JENNER: Was this lieutenant's name Delprado?

MR. THORNLEY: I will bet it was. That is very familiar. I think so.

MR. JENNER: Have you ever subscribed to a Russian language newspaper or other publications?

MR. THORNLEY: Other Russian publications?

MR. JENNER: Yes, sir.

MR. THORNLEY: No, sir.

MR. JENNER: Have you ever subscribed to a publication that was printed in the Russian language?

MR. THORNLEY: No, sir.

MR. JENNER: Have you ever subscribed to a publication that was printed in the Russian language?

MR. THORNLEY: No, sir.

MR. JENNER: Have you ever been a subscriber to any literature by way of news media or otherwise, published by any organization reputed to be communistic or pink or that sort of thing? I don't want to get it too broad.

MR. THORNLEY: Only I. F. Stone's newsletter and that certainly --

MR. JENNER: Whose?

MR. THORNLEY: I. F. Stone's newsletter and I wouldn't say --

MR. JENNER: Tell me about that.

MR. THORNLEY: He is a Washington reporter who is a rather extreme leftist, but certainly within the bounds of what is accepted in this country as non-subversive.

MR. JENNER: Describe yourself in that respect. Where are you, a middle-of-the-roader?

MR. THORNLEY: I would say I am an extreme rightist. I call myself a libertarian, which is that I believe in the complete sovereignty of the individual, or at least as much individual liberty as is practical under any given system.

MR. JENNER: You don't have to be an extreme rightist to believe in the sovereignty of the individual.

MR. THORNLEY: Well, it is getting that way in this country today. At least most people who listen to me talk call me a rightist. I wouldn't say so either. I think the political spectrum was fine for France at the time of the revolution. I don't think it applies to the United States of America today in any respect whatsoever. I don't think you can call a man an extreme leftist, rightist, or middle-of-the-roader and have him classified that simply.

MR. JENNER: Do you have any brothers and sisters?

MR. THORNLEY: I have two brothers.

MR. JENNER: What do they do?

MR. THORNLEY: They go to, one of them goes to junior college, I believe, and the other one goes to high school. They are in Whittier, Calif.

MR. JENNER: Are your folks alive?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: What does your father do?

MR. THORNLEY: He is a photoengraver.

MR. JENNER: Let's get back to Oswald. Describe this individual to me. First describe him physically.

MR. THORNLEY: Physically, I would say he was slightly below average height. Had, as I recall, gray or blue eyes. Always had, or almost always had a petulant expression on his face. Pursed-up lip expression, either a frown or a smile, depending on the circumstances. Was of average build, and his hair was brown, and tending to, like mine, tending to bald a little on each side.

MR. JENNER: Above the temple. What would you say he weighed?

MR. THORNLEY: I would say he weighed about 140 pounds, maybe 130.

MR. JENNER: How tall was he?

MR. THORNLEY: I would say he was about five-five maybe. I don't know.

MR. JENNER: How tall are you?

MR. THORNLEY: I am five-ten.

MR. JENNER: Was he shorter than you?


MR. JENNER: What habits did he have with respect to his person -- was he neat, clean?

MR. THORNLEY: Extremely sloppy.

MR. JENNER: Extremely sloppy?

MR. THORNLEY: He was. This I think might not have been true of him in civilian life.

MR. JENNER: You don't know one way or the other?

MR. THORNLEY: No; but I do have reason to believe that it wasn't true of him in civilian life.

MR. JENNER: You don't know one way or the other?

MR. THORNLEY: No; but I do have reason to believe that it wasn't true of him in civilian life because it fitted into a general personality pattern of his: to do whatever was not wanted of him, a recalcitrant trend in his personality.

MR. JENNER: You think it was deliberate?

MR. THORNLEY: I think it tended to be deliberate: yes. It was a gesture of rebellion on his part.

MR. JENNER: Did you ever discuss that matter with him, as dress.


MR. JENNER: The attitude of rebellion?

MR. THORNLEY: No; because this attitude of rebellion was a fairly common thing in the service.

MR. JENNER: On the part of others as well as Oswald?

MR. THORNLEY: As well as Oswald. Oswald did carry it to -- was the most extreme example I can think of stateside. However, overseas, in the outfit he had been in before, as I discovered later, this was quite common.

MR. JENNER: How much later?

MR. THORNLEY: Three months -- well, immediately, as soon as I left, as soon as I got overseas. I walked in to the barracks on the Fourth of July over there and saw beer bottles spread all over, and some character sitting in the back of the barracks with a broken beer bottle cutting his arm, for what reason I don't remember. They found beer cans in a trash can in MACS9 and there was a drastic investigation; so there is an indication of a difference between stateside and overseas. Oswald was typical, very typical of the outfit he had just left overseas.

MR. JENNER: So that is your impression, you would say. I gather, that as of that particular time when you first knew him that he was still carrying some of his experience personal attentionwise from what he had experienced overseas?


MR. JENNER: And he was still following the habits he had acquired overseas?


MR. JENNER: Did you think it went beyond that, this unkemptness or this sloppiness?

MR. THORNLEY: It did go beyond that, because he seemed to be a person who would go out of his way to get into trouble, get some officer or staff sergeant mad at him. He would make wise remarks. He had a general bitter attitude toward the Corps. He used to pull his hat down over his eyes so he wouldn't have to look at anything around him and go walking around very Beetle Bailey style.

MR. JENNER: What is Beetle Bailey?

MR. THORNLEY: Beetle Bailey is a comic strip character who walks around with his hat over his eyes very much as Oswald did.

MR. JENNER: You want to keep in mind, Mr. Thornley, I am an old man and these are things I don't pick up or get hep to.

MR. THORNLEY: This is nothing recent. This is a comic strip that has been around quite a few years now.

MR. JENNER: You go on and tell us about his personality.

MR. THORNLEY: All right.

MR. JENNER: Including any physical characteristics or habits.

MR. THORNLEY: I think I have covered all physical characteristics. His shoes were always unshined. As I mentioned, he walked around with the bill of his cap down over his eyes and you got the impression that he was doing this so he wouldn't have to look at anything around him.

MR. JENNER: And he was doing that so that he would not be assigned additional work or --

MR. THORNLEY: No; he was just doing that -- this was just an attempt, I think, on his part, to blot out the military so he wouldn't have to look at it; he wouldn't have to think about it. In fact, I think he made a comment to that effect at one time; that when he had his bill of his cap over his eyes so he would see as little as possible, because he didn't like what he had to look at.

He had, as I remember, he had a sense of humor, and I can only think of a couple of examples of it. I have only been able to think of a couple of examples of it over the past few months, but I have a strong general impression in my mind that there were more examples that I just don't remember.

MR. JENNER: Well, you draw on your recollection as best you can and you just keep telling us now in your own words and I will try to not interrupt you too much.

MR. THORNLEY: All right. One example was, that I remember -- of course, it was well known in the outfit that, or popularly believed that Oswald had Communist sympathies --

MR. JENNER: You didn't share that view?

MR. THORNLEY: Not as much as some did, and while this was popularly believed, I mention this as kind of a framework for the significance of Oswald's comment: Master Sergeant Spar, our section chief, jumped up on the fender one day and said, "All right, everybody gather around," and Oswald said in a very thick Russian accent, "Ah ha, collective farm lecture," in a very delighted tone.

This brought him laughs at the time, and he had gotten me to read "1984," as I mentioned earlier, and this was one of his favorites --

MR. JENNER: Tell me what "1984" was.

MR. THORNLEY: This was a book about -- it is a projection into the future, supposed to take place in 1984 in England under a complete police state. It is, I would say, an anti-utopian novel, by George Orwell, a criticism of English socialism and what it might lead to, based upon Orwell's experiences with communism and nazism, his observations about a society in which a mythical leader called Big Brother dominates everybody's life. Where there are television cameras on every individual at all times watching his every act, where sex is practically outlawed, where the world is perpetually at war, three big police states constantly at war with one another, and where thought police keep every, all of the citizens in line. Oswald would often compare the Marine Corps with the system of government outlined in "1984."

I remember one day we were loading equipment --

MR. JENNER: By way of protest against the Marine Corps?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes; humorously, satirically. One day we were unloading, moving a radarscope off the truck and it slipped, and he said, "Be careful with Big Brother's equipment."

It was things like this. He did a lot of that.

I remember one day he -- I was walking along with my hands in my pocket, which is something you don't do in the service if you are -- certainly if you are in an infantry outfit you don't dare. Things were a little lax in our outfit, so we could get away with it once in a while, so I happened to be walking along with my hands in my pockets and suddenly I heard a voice: "Hey, Smith, Winston," and rattle off a serial number, "get your hands out of your pockets," which was a direct quote from the book "1984."

These are the only examples of Oswald's, that particular aspect of Oswald's character that I recall.

MR. JENNER: I am stimulated to ask you this question by something you just said. Did he have a good memory?

MR. THORNLEY: I think he must have had a good memory; yes. If he wanted to remember something, he could. I think he also had good ability to blot out unpleasant thoughts in his mind.

MR. JENNER: What about his powers of assimilation of what he read, and his powers of critique?

MR. THORNLEY: I certainly think he understood much more than many people in the press have seemed to feel. I don't think he was a man who was grasping onto his particular beliefs because he didn't understand them. I don't think he was just trying to know something over his head, by any means. I think he understood what he was talking about.

Sometimes I think there were gaps in his knowledge. I think there were many things he didn't know, and this came from a haphazard education.

MR. JENNER: You became acquainted with the fact that he had had a somewhat haphazard education?

MR. THORNLEY: It was obvious. I didn't become acquainted with it specifically until recently in the news. But --

MR. JENNER: You had that impression at the time?

MR. THORNLEY: I had that impression; yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: How did the impression arise? Because of the lack of analysis or real critique on his part of that which he was reading? Inability to assimilate the thrust of a work?

MR. THORNLEY: No; I wouldn't say that. I would say he could analyze what he read very well, but it was a very subjective impression, and the idea I got was that there were a lot of things he didn't know, and just a lot of facts that he wasn't familiar with. I guess sometimes, probably in discussions, I would run into something. I would mention something and he would say, "What is that?"

I know we did have a couple of very hot arguments and I am sure we were throwing facts at one another, and he was certainly able to belt them out when he wanted to, facts that suited his purpose in arguing.

MR. JENNER: What was your impression of his -- the extent of his formal education and the extent of any private education of his; that is, reading -- self-education.

MR. THORNLEY: Self-education. I was certainly surprised that -- when I read in the papers that he had not graduated, I think they said he had not graduated from high school

MR. JENNER: That is correct.

MR. THORNLEY: I thought he had graduated from high school. I assumed that. I would say that his self-education certainly must have been -- perhaps, in fact, he took USAFI courses, U.S. Armed Forces Institute courses, or something along that line, because he was one who gave the impression of having some education, certainly.

MR. JENNER: Do you have an impression of his intellect?

MR. THORNLEY: Yes; I think he was --

MR. JENNER: I am speaking in the abstract.

MR. THORNLEY: I think he was extremely intelligent, with what information he had at hand he could always do very well and in an argument he was quick. He was quick to answer, and it was not a matter of just grabbing at something. It was a matter of coming back with a fairly precise answer to your question or to your objection to his argument.

MR. JENNER: I take it then it was your impression -- I will change my question because I don't want to ask a leading question here.

What was your impression as to whether his learning, in the sense we are talking about now, was superficial or was he able to master that which he read, and engage in personal self-critique of that which he read, discover its weaknesses, and apprehend its major thrust?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, I would say as I have said before, he certainly understood what he read. How much he had read, I don't know, but I do know that when he got on a subject in which he was interested, he showed a grasp of it. This is true with the book "1984" for example. It is true with Marxism.

MR. JENNER: Now that interests me also. You mentioned that before; that is, his espousal of or interest in Marxism as such. What was his ability, if he had any, and I am talking now idealistically only, to compare Marxism, communism, democracy?

MR. THORNLEY: I understand. I think --

MR. JENNER: And did he understand the distinctions?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, I think he understood the distinctions as well as most reasonably educated people do. I think he certainly had a Marxist bias in how -- where he drew the lines.

For example, he could look upon the Soviet system today as a democracy by, of course, giving a completely different definition to the word "democracy" than I, for example. He would give --

MR. JENNER: Can you remember some discussions or incidents that explain that? Would he use objectivism?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, I remember one in particular that always reminded me of his general outlook.

One day we got into an argument and I thought I was really going to pin him to the wall, I thought I was going to win this argument.

MR. JENNER: On what subject.

MR. THORNLEY: On Marxism. On the theory of history.

MR. JENNER: Reconstruct the argument for me.

MR. THORNLEY: Well, all right. Let me add this.

When I was in my freshman year in college, in my English class, I believe it was, perhaps it was a history class we had been required to read, it was a history workshop, we had been required to read the Communist manifesto which presents an outline of the theory of the Marx-Engels outlook on past and future history. The dialectical outlook. Oswald was also familiar with this outlook. As to what it constituted we both agreed. Oswald had argued previously that communism was a rational approach to life, a scientific approach to life, Marxism.

MR. JENNER: This was in argumentation with you?


MR. JENNER: All right.

MR. THORNLEY: With me. I challenged him to show me any shred of evidence to support the idea that history took place in the manner described by Engels and Marx (this was not just an arbitrary system looted as many suspect, from Hegel) and he, after some attempt to give me a satisfactory answer, which he was unable to do, became aware of that and he admitted that there was no justification, logically, for the Communist theory of history or the Marxist theory of history, but that Marxism was still, in his opinion, the best system for other reasons that there was --

MR. JENNER: Best as against what?

MR. THORNLEY: As against, well primarily as against religions. He did -- that first comment of his always sticks in my mind, about communism being the best religion. He did think of communism as, not as a religion in the strict sense but as an overwhelming cultural outlook that, once applied to a country, would make it much better off than, say the Roman Catholic Church cultural outlook or the Hindu cultural outlook or the Islamic cultural outlook, and he felt that, as I say, to get back to this argument, he felt that there were enough other things about communism that justified it that one could accept the theory of history on faith.

MR. JENNER: What other things?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, for one thing; the idea that he felt -- as did Marx -- that under capitalism workers are exploited, that in some way they are robbed of their full reward for their work by means of entrepreneurs' profits, and he felt that Marxism took his money but instead of taking it away from the worker spent it on the worker.

He felt that under a Soviet -- under the present Soviet system, for example, that the money was spent for the benefit of the people rather than going to the individual who happened to be running the enterprise, and he thought this was a juster situation.

MR. JENNER: Did you raise with him the price the individual had to pay for the material accommodation accorded the worker under the Communist system; for the substance or money, of which you speak, being returned to the worker? The price paid in terms of individual liberty as against the capitalistic or democratic system?

MR. THORNLEY: You couldn't say this to him. Because he would say: "How do you know? How do you know what is going on there."

MR. JENNER: First, did you raise it with him?

MR. THORNLEY: I raised it with him.

MR. JENNER: You being a libertarian as you say?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, at that time I was -- my ideas have changed since that time. At that time I was much to the left in my political thinking once again; well, I would say about in the same position that Mr. Stone who I spoke of earlier is now. I was on the "left-hand" side of the acceptable political spectrum in this country, and so, therefore, these issues, the issues I would now raise with him had I again the chance to speak to him, would be much different than the issues I raised with him at that time. I did not raise that issue particularly, I did not push it.

MR. JENNER: Was there much, if any, discussion at the time on the issue of individual liberty?

MR. THORNLEY: No; very little, because I wasn't too concerned about it at the time and neither was he. We were both concerned about what was the best for the greatest number of people. I don't think that concept was clear to either one of us.
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Re: Historia Discordia: Meet Kerry Thornley, The Second Oswa

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:07 am

MR. JENNER: In using his name, I don't wish to, I am not suggesting anything personal as to Sergeant Spar, but I am going to use him as a faceless Marine sergeant.

MR. THORNLEY: And a very good one.


MR. JENNER: That was a definite feeling?

MR. THORNLEY: I wouldn't say anything in my experience with him caused me to particularly notice that he felt superior because he did read. But except, yes, there is one time a friend of his, I don't know who it was, I haven't been able to recall the name at present, one morning looked over at our commanding officer who was walking by, Colonel Poindexter, an air ace in Korea --

MR. JENNER: A what?

MR. THORNLEY: An ace pilot in Korea, and made the comment, "There goes a mental midget" which drew glee from Oswald, as I remember.


MR. JENNER: What was your dexterity with Marine weapons?



MR. THORNLEY: I was a sharpshooter.


MR. JENNER: Did Oswald have a nickname?

MR. THORNLEY: Not that I know of except Oz sometimes.

MR. JENNER: Did you ever hear him referred to as "Ozzie Rabbit"?

MR. THORNLEY: Well, yes; I didn't realize that anybody else referred to him as such, but I always thought of him as such. He reminded me very much of a cartoon character at that time. It was kind of pathetic. There was something about this little smile of his, and his expression on his face and the shape of his head, just the general, his general appearance established a definite association in my mind with some Warner Bros. cartoon character, I believe Warner Bros. And I, very recently, in a discussion with someone, describing Oswald mentioned that he reminded you of -- I said: "I think there is a character called Oswald Rabbit who appears in movie cartoons." And they shook their head.

Now, I know where I got that particular example so I probably heard him referred to as "Ozzie Rabbit," though I don't recall specifically.


MR. JENNER: For further identification of the document which I will mark Thornley Exhibit No. 3, page 1 is entitled "Chapter 1, Gung Ho."

Page 4 is entitled "Chapter 2, Fallen Comrade."

Page 7, in the center, is entitled "Chapter 3, Hush Hush."

Page 11 is entitled "Chapter 4. Blue Marines."

Page 14, in the upper portion, is entitled "Chapter 5, Peace Gospel."

Page 21 is entitled, at the head, "Chapter 7, The Killer."

Page 24, near the center, is entitled "Chapter 8, Captain Kidd."

Page 27 at the bottom, "Chapter 9, Mutiny."

Page 31, "Chapter 10, John Henry."

Page 34, "Chapter 11, The Storms."

And page 37, "Chapter 12, The Chicken."

MR. JENNER: I take it, Mr. Thornley, that you commenced the preparation of Exhibit No. 3 subsequently to the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

MR. THORNLEY: Yes, sir.

MR. JENNER: And that Exhibit No. 3 reflects a course of events and their imprint upon you that occurred on and after November 22, 1963.

MR. THORNLEY: No, no; Exhibit No. 3 reflects the same course of events reflected in Exhibit No. 2.


MR. JENNER: All right. Now, Mr. Thornley, tell me something about Kerry Thornley. You obviously, to me, are not a doorman.

MR. THORNLEY: Oh, yes; I am a doorman.


MR. JENNER: We occasionally have been off the record, not often, and I have talked with you on the telephone. Is there anything that was said between us in the course of our telephone conversations or in any off-the-record discussions that you think is pertinent to the Commission's assignment of investigating the assassination of President Kennedy that I have failed to bring onto the record?

MR. THORNLEY: No, sir; I think we have very thoroughly covered it.

-- Testimony of Kerry Thornley to the Warren Commission
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