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Mason Lankford

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Mason Lankford

Post by Admin on Mon 31 Oct 2011, 10:02 pm

John Mason Lankford Jr. (1921-1997), better known as Mason Lankford, is best known as a firefighter and Fire Marshal of Tarrant County (Fort Worth), Texas. His dedication, service and promotion of the firefighter’s agenda are legendary. In fact, the prestigious Fire Service Leadership Award of the Congressional Fire Services Institute is named for him.

https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.2/C65F-GPZ/p_12979762014

http://www.cfsi.org/awards/awards_lankford.cfm

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 19 June 1997, p 8,9 METRO
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=ST&s_site=dfw&p_multi=ST&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EAF91196288655D&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=Goo

But Lankford is of interest to Kennedy assassination researchers as well, for the following reasons:

From 1948 to 1972, he was employed by either General Dynamics or its Convair Division as Director of Security, or in other security related positions. GDs security division was probably a nexus for DISC – the Defense Industrial Security Command – a central organ of the military-industrial complex.

In this capacity Lankford would certainly have been acquainted with two other GD Security officers who figure prominently in the Lee Harvey Oswald story – I B Hale and Max Clark. In fact, there is an interesting incident associating Max Clark with Lankford’s mother, Grace, and his sister, Catherine Russell:

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=136635&relPageId=2

There is also a link between Lankford and Roscoe White. In his capacity at the security office, Lankford provided verification of employment at Convair for White on his 1963 application with the Dallas Police Department. White had been employed at Convair from 8 May 1956 to 28 July 1956, and was eligible for rehire – implying a positive recommendation. For unknown reasons, White did not list this employment in his application; rather, the DPD investigator got the information from White’s stepfather, and contacted Lankford directly for the verification.

http://contentdm.baylor.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/15poage-arm&CISOPTR=52245&REC=1 (go to page 146).

It is interesting that Robert Oswald was employed at Convair during this period in 1956 as well, suggesting the possibility that Robert and Lankford may have known each other long before their interactions of 1963. Also, although of course Convair was one of the largest employers in Fort Worth at the time, it is at least possible that Roscoe White and Robert knew each other then also. Further, there is some overlap between White’s period of employment and Lee Harvey Oswald’s presence in Fort Worth prior to his Marine Corps enlistment. Is it possible that all four – Lankford, Roscoe White, Robert Oswald and LHO – knew each other in 1956?

Lankford’s investigative and intelligence roots ran deep. In addition to his occupations of firefighter and director of security, he had a role as board chairman of the Texas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies.

The Victoria Advocate, 24 August 1972, p. 1. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=J41HAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SX8MAAAAIBAJ&pg=2490,3403630&dq=mason-lankford&hl=en

More importantly, in November of 1963, and likely long before that, Lankford was a Special Agent for the Office of Naval Intelligence in Dallas, reporting directly to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rufus Taylor.

http://contentdm.baylor.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/15poage-arm&CISOPTR=13197&REC=1 (go to page 5 and following).

Furthermore, Lankford had an association with the Secret Service. He was on “old acquaintance” of Texas-based SS agent Mike Howard. In fact, Lankford assisted Howard in securing Fort Worth for JFKs November 21-22 visit. Other SS-ONI cooperation might have been effected through William Greer and Forrest Sorrels.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 23 November 1993, p 15 METRO.
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=ST&s_site=dfw&p_multi=ST&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EAF8F4846223408&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

Lankford’s actions following the assassination, detailed in the above article, are interesting. “Frustrated and worn out, heartsick and physically ill, Lankford tumbled into bed that Friday night. For two days he refused to even get up to eat.”

Several interpretations come to mind. First, maybe Lankford was just overworked. Second, maybe he was overwhelmed by grief. Third, perhaps he was just sick. Or fourth, maybe he was very, very worried.

At any rate, by Sunday morning, November 24th, Lankford seems to have recovered. Mike Howard called him to request that he accompany him along with the security team protecting Marina and Marguerite Oswald. The site of their seclusion, the Inn of the Six Flags at Arlington, was chosen by Lankford (implying, perhaps, that Lankford was more in control than the official story relates?).

Also present at the time, or shortly thereafter, was Robert Oswald. Interestingly, in his notes dealing with this period, Robert refers to Lankford familiarly as “Mason”, suggesting that maybe the two had, indeed, known each other in the past (although Robert misspells Mason’s last name as “Langford”).

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=95751&relPageId=30

Lankford was also involved with LHOs funeral and burial. He seems to have been a “prime mover” in an attempt to have LHOs body cremated, rather than buried. This is reported by morticians Paul Groody and Allen Baumgardner, as well as by Robert Oswald. In fact, the process went so far that cremation forms were actually typed up, although the family members finally decided against it. Why, it must be asked, was Lankford so eager for cremation?

Galveston Daily News, 22 November 1981, p 5A.
http://www.newspaperarchive.com/FlashViewer/FreeArticlesPreview.aspx?img=112857505

Bangor Daily News, 8 September 1980, p 23.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2457&dat=19800908&id=ZXM-AAAAIBAJ&sjid=rFkMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4750,3133122

One way to interpret Lankford’s role is that he was a mid-level ONI operative, responsible for implementing and coordinating directives from above, and handling lesser operatives below. It is not unreasonable to infer that he may have been a true ONI handler for both Roscoe White and LHO – as opposed to caretakers like DeMohrenschildt or the Paines – for whom Lankford may also have been a handler or at least a coordinator. Thus his concern while LHO was still alive, and seeming relief when he died. But even in death, LHO was dangerous.

That is it insofar as the assassination is concerned. But a couple of other associations might be of significance.

First of all, Mason Lankford’s father, John Mason Lankford Sr., was an employee of Temco in the early 1950s, suggesting a possible relationship with David Harold Byrd.

Dallas Morning News, 20 November 1953, p 14. Available at genealogybank.com

Also, there is an association with Amon Carter, whose wife at one point employed Marguerite Oswald.

http://books.google.com/books?id=UXO1AAAAIAAJ&q=%22mason+lankford%22&dq=%22mason+lankford%22&hl=en&ei=YeWBTuWcKYyEtgfk9ojoAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CFMQ6AEwBw

Finally, it should be noted, whether a coincidence or not, that according to the1947 Fort Worth city directory, the Ekdahl/Oswald/Pic family was … well… nearly a neighbor of the Lankford family. At any rate they lived about a half-mile apart: theEkdahl/ Oswalds at 1505 8th Avenue, and Mason Lankford at 2211 West Magnolia.

Even closer was Oswald’s school. Had he been so inclined, Lankford would have needed to walk only 3 or 4 blocks to see first-grader Lee Harvey Oswald playing at the Lily B. Clayton Elementary School yard.

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Re: Mason Lankford

Post by greg parker on Mon 31 Oct 2011, 10:18 pm

Stig,

I'm still having some problems giving this the attention it deserves, so rather than delay any longer, I have posted what you put together. I am hopeful others will jump in and help get it moving.

Your pieces, and research and other contributions from people like Lee and Richard make running the forum worthwhile.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: Mason Lankford

Post by Admin on Sun 13 Nov 2011, 5:52 pm

More from "Stig"

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
1993-11-23
Section: METRO
Edition: FINAL AM
Page: 15

GUARDING the OSWALDS
An ex-security supervisor recalls preparing for Kennedys' visit to Fort Worth - then having to watch over the family of his assassin Mike Cochran Associated Press

FORT WORTH - Mason Lankford, a security supervisor at General Dynamics, was in his office when he got the telephone call in early November 1963. It was an old acquaintance named Mike Howard, a Secret Service agent with local ties.

Howard explained that President John F. Kennedy would be in Texas in two weeks on a political fence-mending foray. "I'm going to be arranging security for his visit to Fort Worth," Howard said. "And I need your help."

As Tarrant County's fire marshal, Lankford, then 42, knew his way around Fort Worth as well as anyone.

For two weeks, he worked day and night with Howard, setting up meetings with city and county law enforcement agencies and other groups.

The president would speak at a chamber-sponsored breakfast before flying to Dallas for a luncheon at the Trade Mart.

Howard's duties included checking out the known "loonies" around Fort Worth who might pose a danger to President Kennedy or Vice President Lyndon Johnson.

There were more than two dozen on his list and he handled them, he conceded later, in a very unprofessional manner that probably was also illegal.

"I had their butts thrown in jail," he said.

Lankford's planning paid off, and the president's Fort Worth visit went smoothly. He spoke to a huge crowd gathered in a drizzle outside the Hotel Texas, then another group inside the hotel's grand ballroom. Then it was off to Dallas.

During lunch later that day, Lankford recounted for his buddies at General Dynamics his experiences as a pseudo federal agent.

As Lankford picked up the lunch tab, a woman burst into the restaurant, sobbing uncontrollably.

"What's wrong?" Lankford asked.

"Somebody's killed my president!" she cried.

Lankford raced back to his office and tracked down Howard by radio in Dallas. He asked what he could do.

"Nothing right now," said Howard, who once served as police chief in Saginaw. "But hang loose. I'll call you."

Frustrated and worn out, heartsick and physically ill, Lankford tumbled into bed that Friday night. For two days he refused to even get up to eat. He was still in bed when the call came Sunday morning from the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.

"Mike Howard wants you to meet him at Howard Johnson's on the Turnpike in Arlington," a deputy reported. "He said to bring clothes for a week and be there in one hour."

Lankford, who knew Lee Harvey Oswald was in custody, also was told to bring a recorder, a camera and his gun.

Meanwhile, Howard and another agent had picked up Marina Oswald and her mother-in-law, Marguerite Oswald. They swung by a home in Irving where Marina Oswald picked up clothes and diapers for the girls and a note her husband had left in a cookbook. It instructed her what to do if he were ever arrested.

Then came a crackling radio message: Lee Harvey Oswald had been shot. Marina and Marguerite Oswald insisted on going to the hospital, only to learn that Lee was dead.

There was little conversation as the group drove to the Inn of the Six Flags in Arlington. Lankford had chosen the location because it was in a wooded area and he trusted a friend's vow of secrecy.

Once settled in, officers were sent to pick up Oswald's brother Robert, a brick company employee who lived near Denton.

The brother moved in with Lankford. Agent Charles Kunkel and Howard shared a room, as did Marguerite and Marina Oswald and the girls. A fourth served as an interrogation area.

Soon, another deputized officer was dispatched for a Russian interpreter, Peter Gregory, a friend of Marina Oswald. The formal interrogation began that Sunday night.

Marina Oswald was frightened, and Lankford thought she seemed overwhelmed and lost. But she relaxed somewhat and became cooperative after a minor flare-up with Howard.

"She wants a six-pack of beer," he was told.

"Let her buy her own beer," Howard snapped.

The interpreter interceded: "She needs it for buildup of the milk, for the baby."

"Oh," said Howard. "Get her beer."

From that moment on, Marina Oswald came to Howard with every request. And she told Howard how she met Lee Harvey Oswald, how they became romantically involved and how they decided to marry.

Marguerite Oswald, meanwhile, was growing angrier and more abrasive by the hour. She perceived that nobody wanted to hear what she had to say.

On Monday, Lee Harvey Oswald was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, between Fort Worth and Arlington. Lankford bought clothes for Marina and the kids while others tried, without success, to find a minister to conduct the service.

Even Robert Oswald's pastor refused.

Reporters were recruited as pallbearers. At the last minute, the director of a ministers alliance agreed to say a few words at the grave site.

"Why no funeral?" Marina Oswald kept asking Howard, who had no answer.

He accompanied Marina Oswald to the open coffin, where she removed her ring and put it on Lee Harvey Oswald's hand. It was that ring Marina would recover 18 years later when Oswald's body was exhumed for tests by forensic pathologists.

Armed with a rifle, Lankford watched the grim ceremonies from a nearby hilltop.

Back at the motel, the interrogation of Marina Oswald resumed. Her friend was replaced as an interpreter by a Russian-speaking Secret Service agent flown in from San Francisco.

The agents finally got Marina and Marguerite Oswald to bed. Fully dressed and armed with a pistol, Howard stationed himself on a couch outside their bedroom.

There had been rumors that someone wanted to "destroy" the Oswald family and a cab driver had threatened to blow them up with a hand grenade.

In the middle of the night, Howard was awakened by someone grabbing him. It was Marina Oswald. She was pointing to the bedroom and whispering, "Ma, Ma."

Howard ran to the room, only to find Marguerite Oswald snoring away. But sticking out from under her pillow was a knife handle.

Howard delicately removed what turned out to be a World War I bayonet.

Weapon in hand, he sneaked out of the room. But Marina Oswald was soon right behind him. Pointing to the couch, she said in broken English, "I stay here."

If he slept that night, he did so in a chair.

On Friday, five unforgettable days after Lee Harvey Oswald's slaying, the Six Flags command post was dismantled. Lankford, weary but no worse for his exposure to governmental intrigue, returned to Fort Worth with memories to last a lifetime.

Not all were pleasant, of course, and he shared them with no one but family and close friends until 30 years had passed.

"You could have the best screenwriter, director and producer trying to dream this up and they couldn't do it," he says now. "It was like a fairy tale."

Albeit, a dark and melancholy one.

Mason Lankford stands in an Arlington hotel room used as sanctuary for Lee Harvey Oswald's family.

Marina Oswald, left, in a 1963 photograph, leaves the Dallas city jail with her mother-in-law, Marguerite Oswald, and two children after being questioned by officers. Lee Harvey Oswald, her husband, was being held as a suspect in President Kennedy's
assassination.

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Re: Mason Lankford

Post by greg parker on Sun 20 Nov 2011, 7:55 pm

This goes into a bit more detail on all the people/agencies trying to get the body cremated.

Bangor Daily News Sep 8 1980

It also has Lankford stating that there was a lot of pressure to get the body out of there...

I do not find the excuse that they were worried about vandalism at all credible. They couldn't have given a tinker's cuss about Oswald, let alone his rotting body.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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