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William Greer

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William Greer
JFK limousine.png
The Presidential limousine shortly before Kennedy's assassination. Greer is in the driver seat. Agent Roy Kellerman is in the front passenger seat.
Born
William Robert Greer

(1909-09-22)September 22, 1909
DiedFebruary 23, 1985(1985-02-23) (aged 75)
Waynesville, North Carolina, U.S.
Resting placeGreen Hill Cemetery, Waynesville

William Robert Greer (September 22, 1909 – February 23, 1985) was an agent of the U.S. Secret Service, best known as being the driver of President John F. Kennedy's presidential limousine in the motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, when the president was assassinated.

History

Greer was born on a farm in Stewartstown, County Tyrone, Ireland, and emigrated to the United States in 1929.[1] After working for over a decade as a chauffeur and servant to several wealthy families in the Boston and New York areas, including the Lodge family and several years with a family in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Greer enlisted in the U.S. Navy in World War II, was assigned to the presidential yacht in May, 1944, was discharged on September 18, 1945 and joined the United States Secret Service on October 1, 1945.

Greer's duties brought him into close contact with Kennedy, and he can be seen in several pictures with the Kennedy family. He chauffeured the president on many occasions, including in Dallas. As with all agents involved, there has much speculation about, and criticism of, his actions on that day. Greer testified before the Warren Commission on March 9, 1964.[2]

Greer retired on disability from the Secret Service in 1966 due to a stomach ulcer that grew worse following the Kennedy assassination.[3][4] In 1973 he relocated to Waynesville, North Carolina,[5] where he died of cancer.

Analysis and criticism

Secret Service procedures in place at the time did not allow Greer to take action without orders from senior agent Roy Kellerman, who sat to Greer's right. Kellerman has stated that he shouted, "Let's get out of line, we've been hit," but that Greer apparently turned to look at Kennedy before accelerating the car.[6][7]

No agents were disciplined for their performance during the shooting, but privately, Jackie Kennedy was bitterly critical of the agents' performance, Greer's in particular, comparing him to the Kennedy children's nanny.[8] Greer later apologized to her.[specify][9]

References

  1. ^ "Did Stewartstown native kill JFK?". Tyrone Times. Dungannon, Northern Ireland. July 17, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "Testimony Of William Robert Greer, Special Agent, Secret Service". Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Volume II. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1964. pp. 61, 112–132.
  3. ^ Lewis, Alfred E. (July 2, 1966). "Kennedy Death Car Driver Is Retiring With His Memories". The Washington Post. p. A5.
  4. ^ "Article 1–No Title". The Washington Post. February 28, 1985. p. C6.
  5. ^ Ohnesorge, Steve (2013). "Secret Service agent: I was in the front seat when Kennedy was assassinated". WBTV. Raycom Media. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Philip H. Melanson, with Peter F. Stevens, The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, (Carroll & Graf, 2002), p. 74.
  7. ^ The Death of a President by William Manchester (Perennial Edition, 1988), page 160.
  8. ^ Mary Gallagher, My Life With Jacqueline Kennedy, McKay, 1969, pp. 343, 351
  9. ^ William Manchester, The Death of a President, Harper & Row, 1967, p. 290.

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