David Blackburst Archive:
Oswald and Ferrie in the CAP - 1955



Subject: Oswald and Ferrie in the CAP - 1955
From: blackburst@aol.com (Blackburst)
Date: 2/12/01 12:44 AM Eastern Standard Time
Message-id: <20010212000342.28465.00000634@ng-cn1.aol.com>

A short excerpt on Lee Oswald and David William Ferrie in the Moisant Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol in the summer of 1955, from my manuscript.

Ferrie spent most of his time in the CAP in the larger New Orleans Cadet Squadron at Lakefront Airport (1951-5, 1958-60), but after alienating the Wing Commander, he was bounced out in 1955. He was invited to spend three months in the summer of 1955, unofficially lecturing the cadets of the smaller Moisant Squadron. One of the cadets in that squadron was Lee Harvey Oswald. Keep in mind that this excerpt covers only Ferrie's time with the Moisant Squadron; his time with the New Orleans Cadet Squadron is covered in another section.

"The 15-year old Lee Harvey Oswald did not make much of an impression in the Moisant Cadet Squadron of the CAP. Anthony William Atzenhoffer was the unit's Platoon Sergeant and the person who called the roll of the cadets who attended the meetings. Atzenhoffer "remembered Oswald's name being on the roll. He has no recollection of ever training with him or speaking with him, and remembers him being a quiet guy...He remembered Voebel as the man that Oswald was close to and stayed with at the meetings". George E. Boesch Jr., who followed Ferrie from the New Orleans Lakefront Squadron to the Moisant Squadron for 2 or 3 months in the summer of 1955, "remembers seeing Lee Harvey Oswald there. He can remember because there were only 12-15 people at those meetings as opposed to 60-80 at Lakefront. Boesch did not have any social contact with Oswald but remembers him as quiet". Collin Hamer recalls that young Oswald attended 10 or 12 meetings of the Moisant Squadron. He remembers that Oswald "was a real quiet kid" and that David Ferrie "treated Oswald just like the rest of us. He was just the teacher". Hamer also recalls calling Oswald's home on one occasion to determine if he was going to attend a meeing. Oswald's friend Eddie Voebel recalled that Oswald was so quiet that "no one even realized he was there". Roy Tell "remembered the name Oswald as being in the Civil Air Patrol but could not place him". Thomas Nation Compton III "stated that he had never met Lee Harvey Oswald and also that he could not connect him in any way with the C.A.P." George Piazza "stated that he could not recall whether Oswald was in his squadron, although conceding that his face was familiar". Gladys Durr "does not remember Lee Harvey Oswald at the meetings" but was told later by some of the cadets that he had been in the Moisant Squadron. Finally, Ferrie himself would later say that he did not remember "any individual named Lee Harvey Oswald, nor has he ever known the individual represented by photographs presented to him as that of Lee Harvey Oswald in the CAP...The profile view of the photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald has a very vague familiarity to him...He has no recollection of knowing or having met Lee Harvey Oswald in the Civil Air Patrol". To this, Ferrie added "If I ever did meet him it was very casual".

"In contrast to the lack of detailed recollections of Oswald's time in the Moisant Cadet Squadron, several people had decidedly more vivid memories of David William Ferrie's association with the group. One of the leaders of the group, Mrs. Gladys Durr, recalled that "Ferrie was a very intelligent man and had [a] strong following among the kids. He was magnetic and could get them to do almost anything for training...His instructions were good...Ferrie seemed to have a small group that did attend social functions at his home...Ferrie was opposed to Durr or any girls learning anything about flying. That was for men only." Anthony William Atzenhoffer, who took his first plane flight with Ferrie, does not recall any overt indication of homosexuality on his part, but recalls Ferrie unsuccessfully trying to recruit the cadets for some unspecified medical experiment to be conducted by the Medical School of Tulane University. George Boesch, who likewise saw no indication of homosexuality, remembers that "Ferrie did not like the idea of girls learning anything about flying. He was even against them being in the CAP". Charles Holiday recalls that "Ferrie was a weird character...Ferrie mentioned several times that he had a drug or a combination of drugs that he could take and no doctor could say he didn't die a natural death...Captain Ferrie would tell them that they were training for guerrilla warfare because this was the most effective way to take over a country. The group had rifles to train with that had lead poured into the barrels." Morris Lovetin Brownlee was so "fascinated by his eloquence and intelligence " that he "was later baptized a convert to the Catholic faith. Ferrie was present at the ceremony, in the capacity of Brownlee's godfather". Roy Tell remembered that "Ferrie was a devout Catholic and insisted that the boys attend their church. Ferrie often referred the boys to Father Sebastian Argonella" as candidates for the priesthood. But at the same time "Ferrie also referred to the Catholic Church as being communistic and talked about the merits of communism." Whatever else might be said about him, Ferrie was a hard character to forget."

David Blackburst


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