Surgeon recounts JFK operation

Dr. Robert McClelland recounts to the Rotary Club of McKinney what happened Nov. 22, 1963 in the Parkland Memorial Hospital operating room where former President John F. Kennedy took his final breaths. McClelland, who spoke to the Rotarians the past two Fridays, was on the surgical team that operated on Kennedy and his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Was Lee Harvey Oswald the real shooter? If so, was he the only one? There is someone who knows the truth about what happened on that November day in Dallas -- at least part of it. "It was not just a single shooter," said Dr. Robert McClelland, one of the surgeons who operated on Kennedy at Parkland Memorial Hospital. "It wasn't just some crazy young man who wasn't connected to anything." Such a conclusion, shared by millions across America, came to McClelland long before Friday, when he recapped his experience to the Rotary Club of McKinney. Though he admittedly "kept a distance from all of it," McClelland's personal connection to the event was hard for anyone else to ignore. Just moments after Kennedy slunk to his left, sending horror through thousands of spectators, he was fighting for every breath inside a Parkland operating room, his head inches away from McClelland. "He was in terrible shape; the right side of his brain had been blown out," McClelland said. "We worked on him for only eight or 10 minutes, from the time they made the incision to the time he lost all of his cardiac activity. "There was no chance of saving him." But memories of the futile operation, and the surrounding chaos, were never lost. McClelland spoke to Rotarians the past two Fridays about his recollections. His story dropped jaws and drew curious silence. He reignited the wonder of any listeners who'd pushed the conspiracy theories away, out of mind. That's what McClelland said he tried to do, but the mysterious pieces always found him. Some pieces seemingly fell from the gun -- or guns -- of Kennedy's killer. "My supposition, and that of a lot of people, is that the first shot probably was fired from the sixth floor of the [Texas School Book Depository]...whether by Oswald or someone else, I don't know," McClelland told Rotarians. "The next shot apparently came from behind the picket fence by the grassy knoll -- all kinds of things indicate that is indeed what happened." One glaring indicator, to which McClelland was uniquely close, was Kennedy's neck wound. Dr. Malcolm Perry, the chief surgeon for Kennedy and Oswald, cut an incision into Kennedy's neck to explore the wound. Perry told reporters minutes later that it looked like an entrance wound -- meaning the shot had come from somewhere other than the sixth floor of the Depository. Referencing a recently published book about the assassination, McClelland said Secret Service agents allegedly accosted Perry after his statement and told him never to say it again. Continue reading

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