By Ed McCarthy
An odyssey that began 5 decades ago by Abraham Bolden continues to this day. Bolden was the first African-American to serve The White House Presidential Protection detail. He was hand-picked personally by President John F. Kennedy to serve on the detail. President Kennedy affectionately referred to Bolden as "The Jackie Robinson of The Secret Service". Bolden had been a Pinkerton National Detective and an Illinois State Police Investigator prior to joining the U.S. Secret Service in October 1960.
In the course of his duties, he found laxity in the security for the president and also some agents deep concerns as to President Kennedy’s safety. He also told of the severe racism that he encountered from some of the agents. (In current history there is a class action lawsuit by Black agents of the Secret Service alleging basically the same conditions exist. The case even refers to Bolden’s plight).
Bolden then was assigned to the Chicago SS office where he worked counterfeit cases. On November 1, 1963, the Chicago SS office had received a teletype warning of a "Cuban" hit team in Chicago to Assassinate the President on his trip to Chicago, on November 2nd, to see the Army-Navy football game. Other agents, as well as Bolden, were made aware of the situation. A tip was received from a rooming house landlady who said her tenant, Thomas Arthur Vallee, was threatening the president and arranged to have off from work the next day. Chicago police and the Secret Service stopped a car driven by former U.S. Marine Vallee for a headlight that was out. The ticket is still sealed as classified at the national archives. Vallee’s car was found to contain explosives an M-1 Rifle and 3000 round of ammunition. Vallee was briefly detained and released. Simultaneously the SS agents had surveillance on two of the alleged Cuban Hitmen who managed to slip away. The President’s trip was cancelled.
The license plate and registration on the 1962 Ford Falcon that Vallee was driving on November 1st in Chicago was New York Registration License plate # 311-ORF and was registered in the name of Lee Harvey Oswald. This is 21 days prior to President Kennedy’s assassination and the world knowing the name Oswald.
Bolden shortly thereafter was back in Washington on assignment and spoke to Secret Service Director James J. Rowley and as he had with U.B. Baughman the previous director had told him of his observations and knowledge of the Chicago incidents. Bolden tried to contact Warren Commission Counsel J. Lee Rankin. The very next day Bolden was arrested and falsely accused of soliciting a bribe from counterfeiter. This put Bolden through two trials and wound up in prison for more than 3 years before the witnesses broke down under oath in Federal Court and told that they were forced by the Government to lie against Bolden. The Prosecutor in the case was called before the judge and took the 5th amendment when asked if the frame up were true. The ordeal of Bolden is well documented in his new book "The Echo from Dealey Plaza".
In research at The National Archives in Washington of The Assassination files of 25 Million documents it turned up that in fact NY plate 311-ORF at the Vallee Traffic stop was registered in the Name of Lee Harvey Oswald. Documents declassified also state that same car in Dallas Texas at the time of the assassination. The detailed information with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is still withheld by order of The US Secret Service and The FBI. In the 1960’s license plate in the Hudson Valley were coded OR for Orange County, UL which meant Ulster County, SU was Sullivan County and DU was Dutchess County. Of the 25 Million documents in The JFK Assassination archives, there is a 6 page Secret Service report about a trip of President Kennedy to Stewart Air Force Base, (Newburgh, NY) and of him being shadowed by two member of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party.
Bolden has never received an apology for what he was put through. This man is truly an American Hero. In this writer’s opinion, he should be given an apology publicly and Awarded either "The Presidential Medal of Freedom" or "The Congressional Gold Medal" which is awarded for "An especially meritorious Contribution to the security or National Security." Abraham Bolden today is as patriotic as they come and deeply believes in the American way. He is a true patriot and for him the dream’s not over. Let’s not disappoint him. This is a chance for America to make it right.