Picture of President Kennedy in the limousine in Dallas, Texas, on Main Street, minutes before the assassination. Also in the presidential limousine are Jackie Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally, and his wife, Nellie.

John Connally - The Real Target?

John Bowden Connally, Jr was born on a cotton farm in Floresville, Texas where, due to his hard, labour intensive lifestyle, he earned the status of “a barefoot boy of mule-plowed furrows”. After earning his law degree at the University of Texas in Austin in 1941, Connally was commissioned into the United States Naval Reserve serving in many major battles in the Pacific Theater. Upon returning to civilian life, the future governor got his start in his political career as a legislative assistant to then Representative Lyndon B. Johnson. During the 1960 presidential campaign, Connally worked for the Kennedy-Johnson ticket and earned the position of Secretary of the Navy after Kennedy was elected. Less than a year later he resigned to run for governor of Texas, winning by 54 votes. It was during his tenure as Secretary of the Navy that John Connally received an unexpected envelope from Minsk, U.S.S.R (modern day Belarus). Inside the envelope was a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald.

Having joined the Marine Corp in October of 1956, Oswald was required to serve on active duty until December of 1959. However, Lee’s mother had been injured at work which prompted him to request a discharge from service to take care of his mother. Lee had sent her a dependency allowance to help her with expenses in August of 1959. By September, his discharge from active duty had been granted though he was required to serve in the Reserves until December 8, 1962. On the 14 of September, 1959, Lee arrived in Fort Worth where he registered his dependency discharge and entry into the Marine Reserve. He also visited his family and gave his mother $100. Lee then booked passage on board the Marion Lykes, which departed on the 20th from New Orleans, bound for France. From Le Havre, France, Lee disembarked to England then took a flight to Helsinki, Finland where he applied for a visa at the Russian consulate then took a train to Moscow arriving on the 16 of October. Oswald was met at the train station by a state tourist agent from “Intourist”, and taken to the Hotel Berlin. Later that day he met Rima Shirokova, the guide that “Intourist” assigned to him. The two went sightseeing; almost immediately he told her he wanted to defect.

Almost exactly 1 year later, on September 13, 1960, Oswald was given an "undesirable discharge"

... reliable information which indicated that he had renounced his U.S. citizenship with the intentions of becoming a permanent citizen of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Further, that petitioner brought discredit to the Marine Corps through adverse newspaper publicity, which was generated by the foregoing action, and had thereby, in the opinion of his commanding officer, proved himself unfit for retention in the naval service.

In January of ‘61 Lee wrote to John Connally pleading his case that his discharge should not have been downgraded. However, John Connally had resigned from his position as Secretary of the Navy to run for governor, but did let Oswald know that he would pass his request along to his successor, Fred Korth.

On November 21, 1963, 10 months after taking office, Connally accompanied Kennedy to events in San Antonio and Houston then flew out to Fort Worth. The following day, after a breakfast with the Forth Worth Chamber of Commerce, they took a ten minute flight to Dallas. “We’d had tremendously enthusiastic, warm crowds,” Connally said later. “Everyone was in extremely good spirits.” The mood changed drastically around 12:30 p.m. when shots rang out in Dealey Plaza.  As Connolly turned to look back at the president one of the bullets struck him.  Lee Harvey Oswald’s second shot went through Kenndy’s back, exited out of his throat, then pierced through the governor’s fifth right rib, right wrist, and finally lodged into his left thigh. “My God, they are going to kill us all,” he yelled. A split second later, a third shot fatally wounded the president.

Was Connally the target? Did Lee have every reason to kill Connally after the former Secretary of the Navy gave him the diplomatic brush off? Perhaps this often overlooked detail holds the key to Oswald’s motive.

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