L. Fletcher Prouty

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L. Fletcher Prouty
Birth nameLeroy Fletcher Prouty
Born(1917-01-24)January 24, 1917
Springfield, Massachusetts
DiedJune 5, 2001(2001-06-05) (aged 84)
McLean, Virginia
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Years of service1941–1964
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsLegion of Merit
Joint Service Commendation Medal

Leroy Fletcher Prouty (January 24, 1917 – June 5, 2001)[1] served as Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President John F. Kennedy. A former colonel in the United States Air Force, he retired from military service to become a bank executive. He subsequently became a critic of U.S. foreign policy, particularly the covert activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) about which he had considerable inside knowledge. Prouty was the inspiration for the character "Mr. X" in Oliver Stone's film JFK.[2]


Prouty was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on January 24, 1917. In 1941, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (then known as Massachusetts State College).[3] Prouty also graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Graduate School of Banking.[4]

World War II[edit]

Prouty was commissioned as a reserve 2nd lieutenant in the cavalry on June 9, 1941 and began his military career with the 4th Armored Division in Pine Camp, New York. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on February 1, 1942. He transferred to the United States Army Air Forces on November 10, 1942 and earned his pilot wings that same month. He arrived in British West Africa in February 1943 as a pilot with Air Transport Command.[5]

In the summer of 1943 he was the personal pilot of General Omar Bradley, General John C. H. Lee and General C. R. Smith (Founder and President of American Airlines), among others. He flew the U.S. Geological Survey Team in Saudi Arabia, October 1943, to confirm oil discoveries in preparation for the Cairo Conference. He was assigned to special duties at the Cairo Conference and the Tehran Conference November–December 1943. He flew Chiang Kai-shek's Chinese delegation (T. V. Soong's delegates) to Tehran.

An important mission he was involved in was the evacuation of the British commandos made famous by the novel Guns of Navarone involved in the Battle of Leros from Leros to Palestine. He was promoted to captain on February 1, 1944. In 1945 he was transferred to the Southwest Pacific and flew in New Guinea, Leyte and was on Okinawa at the end of war. He landed near Tokyo at the time of the surrender with the first three planes carrying General Douglas MacArthur's bodyguard troops. He flew out with American POWs.

Post-war years[edit]

Between 1946–49 he was assigned by the U.S. Army to Yale University, where he also taught, to begin the first USAF ROTC program.[5] From 1950–52 he transferred to Colorado Springs to establish Air Defense Command.[5] From 1952–54 he was assigned to Korean War duties in Japan where he served as Military Manager for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) during the US Occupation. Prouty was assigned to coordinate operations between the USAF and the CIA in 1955.[1] As a result of a CIA Commendation for this work he was awarded the Legion of Merit by the US Air Force, and was promoted to Colonel being assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.[citation needed]

With the creation of the Defense Intelligence Agency by Secretary Robert McNamara and the termination of the OSO, he was transferred to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to create a similar worldwide office. He was the Chief of Special Operations with the Joint Staff all during 1962–1963. He received orders to travel as the Military Escort officer for a group of VIPs who were being flown to the South Pole, November 10–28, 1963, to activate a nuclear power plant for heat, light and sea water desalination at the United States Navy Base at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.[citation needed]

Retiring as a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force in 1964, he was awarded one of the first three Joint Service Commendation Medals by General Maxwell D. Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[citation needed]

Post retirement[edit]

He was a Senior Director of Public Affairs for Amtrak during the 1970s, and a director of the National Railroad Foundation and Museum. Prouty authored books including The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World and JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy and numerous articles on railroads including the entries on Railroad Engineering and Foreign Railroad Technology for McGraw-Hill's encyclopedias.

Prouty served as a technical adviser to Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK. He was the inspiration for the mysterious "X" (played by Donald Sutherland), who assists Jim Garrison in the movie.[6]

Colonel Prouty died on June 5, 2001 at Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. His funeral service was held the next day at the Fort Meyer Chapel. He was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.[5]

Controversial claims[edit]

As a critic of the CIA, Prouty pointed out its influence in global matters, outside the realm of U.S. congressional and government oversight. His works detailed the formation and development of the CIA, the origins of the Cold War, the U-2 incident, the Vietnam War, and the John F. Kennedy assassination. Prouty wrote that he believed Kennedy's assassination was a coup d'etat, and that there is a secret, global "power elite," which operates covertly to protect its interests—and in doing so has frequently subverted democracy around the world.[2]

Alexander Butterfield[edit]

On July 12, 1975, prior to closed-door questioning by the staff of the House Select Intelligence Committee, Prouty told reporters that Alexander Butterfield was a contact for the CIA at the White House.[7] He said he had learned the information over four years earlier from E. Howard Hunt while doing work for the National League of Families.[7][8] Prouty said that most federal government departments, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department, had similar CIA contacts and that he assumed that former President Richard Nixon was aware of Butterfield's role.[7][8] Senator Frank Church said the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities had found no evidence that the CIA planted an undercover agent within the White House or other government agencies.[7]

A few days later, Prouty partially walked back his comments in a telephone interview: "They may have told me the wrong name in order to cover up the real informer."[8] In a telephone statement to UPI that same day, Butterfield called the allegations "wholly false and defamatory" and stated had never met nor seen Hunt and had just recently heard of Prouty.[8] In an interview with CBS News from Eglin Air Force Base where he was serving his prison term for his involvement in the Watergate scandal, Hunt denied the allegation calling it an "unfortunate invention on Mr. Prouty's part."[9] Also interviewed by CBS, Prouty again stated it was Hunt who told him about Butterfield.[9]

On July 19, Church said that his committee found that there was "no scintilla of evidence" to support Prouty's allegations, and that his committee had ruled out the possibility that Butterfield served as a liaison officer for the CIA.[10] Church also stated, "on close interrogation, Mr. Prouty is unable to substantiate his earlier statement and acknowledges this to be the case."[10]

Kennedy assassination[edit]

According to Prouty, people within the intelligence and military communities of the United States government conspired to assassinate Kennedy.[1] He maintained that their actions were a coup d'état to stop the President from taking control of the CIA after the Bay of Pigs Invasion.[1] Prouty stated that the assassination was orchestrated by Edward Lansdale ("General Y" in Oliver Stone's film JFK) and that Lansdale appeared in photographs of the "three tramps."[1]

In 1975, Prouty appeared with Richard Sprague at a news conference in New York to present what they believed was photographic evidence of a conspiracy.[11] According to Prouty, the movement of Kennedy after a bullet struck his head was consistent with a shot from the grassy knoll.[11] He also suggested that the actions of a man with an umbrella, the "Umbrella Man", were suspicious.[11]

Church of Scientology[edit]

In the 1980s, Prouty was hired by the Church of Scientology as a consultant to investigate L. Ron Hubbard's military record.[12] Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, had said that he had sustained combat injuries during his military service in World War II and that he healed himself through measures that would become Dianetics.[13] However, Hubbard's military record does not show that he was wounded in combat. Church officials have stated that those records were incomplete and may have been falsified.[13] Prouty, according to Church of Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis, reported that Hubbard was an intelligence agent, and because of this his military discharge papers were "sheep dipped," meaning two sets of government records were created documenting Hubbard's service.[12][14]

Anti-semitic organization controversy[edit]

Prouty was a featured speaker at the 1990 convention of the Liberty Lobby. Prouty was also named to the advisory board for the Lobby's Populist Action Committee. Prouty also sold the reprint rights for The Secret Team of the Noontide Press, the publishing arm for the Institute for Historical Review, a holocaust denial organization.[15][16]

Prouty denied having known of the racist and antisemitic associations of the Lobby, noted that he also spoke at a ceremony at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and assured Oliver Stone "... that he was neither a racist nor an anti-Semite... but merely a writer in need of a platform." In a response to an article about Prouty in Esquire,[17] which he labeled a "character assassination", Stone lamented Prouty's association with the Liberty Lobby but questioned its relevance to Prouty's reliability as a source. In an obituary in The Guardian, Michael Carlson wrote that "[a]lthough Prouty himself never espoused such [anti-semitic] beliefs, the connection enabled critics to dismiss his later writings."[1]


Decorations awarded to Prouty during his career:[18]





Book chapters

Articles by other authors


  1. ^ a b c d e f Carlson, Michael (June 21, 2001). "L Fletcher Prouty: US officer obsessed by the conspiracy theory of President Kennedy's assassination". The Guardian. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy". Publishers Weekly. August 31, 1992.
  3. ^ "L. Fletcher Prouty." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Biography in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.
  4. ^ Prouty, L. Fletcher (1981). "Transportation at the Crossroads". Traffic Quarterly. Eno Transportation Foundation. 35 (3): 385. ISSN 0041-0713. OCLC 33850586.
  5. ^ a b c d Arlington National Cemetery website
  6. ^ Toplin, Robert Brent (1 January 1996). "JFK". History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-0-252-06536-1.
  7. ^ a b c d "Butterfield called CIA contact in White House". Chicago Tribune. 129 (193) (Final ed.). July 12, 1975. Section 1, page 2. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d "Ex-CIA contact alters story on Butterfield". Chicago Tribune. 129 (196) (Final ed.). UPI. July 15, 1975. Section 1, page 2. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Hunt Denies Linking Butterfield, C.I.A." The New York Times. July 17, 1975. p. 14. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Find No CIA Tie to Butterfield; Senate Panel Clears Him". Chicago Tribune. 129 (200) (Final ed.). July 19, 1975. Section 1, page 3. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c "2 Claim Conspiracy Proof in JFK's Death". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. September 4, 1975. p. 3. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Wright, Lawrence (February 14, 2011). "The Apostate; Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Sappell, Joel; Welkos, Robert (June 24, 1990). "The Making of L. Ron Hubbard: Creating the Mystique." Los Angeles Times, p. A38:1
  14. ^ "The Church Of Scientology, Fact-Checked". NPR. February 8, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  15. ^ Anson, Robert Sam (November 1991). "The Shooting of JFK". Esquire.
  16. ^ Berlet, Chip (November 22, 1993). "RIGHT WOOS LEFT: Populist Party, LaRouchian, and Other Neo-fascist Overtures To Progressives, And Why They Must Be Rejected". Political Research Associates. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  17. ^ Stone, Oliver (December 1991). "Esquire Letter: Stone Shoots Back". Esquire.
  18. ^ http://www.apfn.net/dcia/prouty.html

Further reading[edit]

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