The Col. Daniel Marvin Story

Letter to Dr. J.D. Rose, editor of The Fourth Decade, 22 July 1997

The May 1995 issue of TFD has an article by Lt. Col. Daniel Marvin (now full Colonel) entitled "Bits & Pieces, A Green Beret on the Periphery of the JFK Assassination." That article was submitted to TFD as a result of encouragement and editorial assistance from us; a similar article, "Bits and Pieces, the JFK Assassination.. A Viewpoint From the Periphery," was published in the Spring 1995 issue of Unclassified with our names on the byline.

A major thrust of these articles is Col. Marvinís description of his being solicited by a CIA agent, in August 1965, to "terminate" Lieutenant Commander William B. Pitzer who was then on active service at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. Lt. Cmdr. Pitzer may have been in possession of a 16-mm movie film of President Kennedyís autopsy (see, for example, Harrison E. Livingstoneís Killing Kennedy, published by Carrol & Graf, p. 336). In October 1966, Pitzer was found dead at BNH of a gunshot wound to the head - officially ruled a suicide.

In the TFD article, Col. Marvin states that he was instructed to meet the CIA agent in an area adjacent to the 6th Special Forces Group HQ at Fort Bragg, NC. Green Beret Captain David Vanek, according to Marvinís account, met with the Company man immediately after Marvin declined the mission to terminate Lt. Cmdr. Pitzer. Quoting from the article:

"Whether or not that agent offered Vanek the same mission or whether or not he accepted the mission is only for him to say; I have neither seen nor heard of him these past twenty-nine years."
Col. Marvin was featured prominently in the most recent episode of The Men Who Killed Kennedy, produced for television by Nigel Turner and shown numerous times on The History Channel since November 1995. On camera, Col. Marvin was similarly definite as to the identity of the man who he claims also spoke to the CIA agent and who may have been asked to murder Lt. Cmdr. Pitzer: Capt. D. Vanek.

A copy of the TFD article was sent to Mr. Timothy Wray, Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board, by Col. Marvin. Mr. Wray traced and contacted ex-Capt. (now Dr.) Vanek who produced an affidavit denying acquaintance with Marvin and denying knowledge of the meeting with the CIA agent. After receiving a copy of the affidavit, Col. Marvin wrote to Mr. Wray (17 February 1970), as follows:

"I have gone back over what I recall of that day and I can tell you that I still believe, no matter what David Vanek says he recalls, that I saw who I thought to be David Vanek in jungle fatigues approached by the same CIA agent immediately after I refused the mission. I do not know what the agent and the man who I thought was Vanek discussed."

This represented a significant retreat: from certainty of identification to "who I thought to be David Vanek."

The Colonel sent us copies of the 17 February letter to Mr. Wray. We met with him and took him to task on how clear was his memory of Capt. Vanek. Although he maintained that his recall was a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10, he was otherwise evasive and left us unconvinced. He now told us that the closest he had been to Capt. Vanek was a distance of 40 ft, as Vanek stood in the shade of trees dressed in fatigues. This new version amazed us; his account of this meeting had always been that he and Vanek had approached the CIA agent together. On rechecking the wording of the TFD article we found:

"Another Green Beret Captain named David H. Vanek (with whom I had taken assassination training) joined me outside the building and we walked together, asking each of the other what this was all about. Neither of us had an inkling except that it must be a covert mission of some sort."
Three days later we discussed the matter again with him by telephone, encouraging him to call Dr. Vanek in our presence. He was evasive again, denied the need to call Dr. Vanek, and brought the conversation rapidly to an end.

Soon thereafter, one us (AE) went to Europe for work. Eaglesham wrote immediately:

"Please be frank with us Ė about the strength of your recollections of the events of that hot afternoon in August í65."
Col. Marvinís response was a 1,000-word letter in which he failed to accommodate this simple request for clarification. Instead:
"Perhaps we should remember that, from the beginning, the primary value of reaching Vanek was to obtain corroboration of assassination training."
We do not share this view, and never have. Dr. Vanek'ís value lay in the possibility of his confirming that the CIA wanted to "terminate" Lt. Cmdr. Pitzer. There was the further possibility that Capt. Vanek was responsible for a "mysterious death."

For more recent developments in the "Marvin/Pitzer" affair, see Allan Eaglesham's essay "The Untimely Death of Lieutenant Commander William B. Pitzer: II. The Case for Homicide Reconsidered"

The Untimely Death of Lieutenant Commander William B. Pitzer: III. Opinion -- The Wound was Self-Inflicted


On 24 February, Palmer called Dr. Vanek at his home, and spoke with him for approximately a half-hour. As in his three-page affidavit to Mr. Wray, Dr. Vanek stated that he did "not recognize Daniel Marvin from the videotape" and had "no recollection of him from Special Forces duty at Ft. Bragg." He categorically denied all of Marvin'ís charges concerning him, characterizing them as ludicrous.

We do not know whether or not Dr. Vanek is telling the truth, but we are now certain that Col. Marvin has been lying in crucial elements of his story. We know also that Col. Marvin continues to insist that his contradictory versions of key events are not mutually exclusive.

We have come full circle. From working closely with Daniel Marvin, seeing him regularly and talking frequently on the telephone - planning to write a book together - now we are convinced that he has been dishonest with us. Where lie the limits of this deceit? It is pointless to speculate. But the implications of what he wrote in his TFD article and what he said on The Men Who Killed Kennedy are so important that we feel obliged to alert the research community of his duplicity, hence this letter.

R. Robin Palmer
206 Oak Hill Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Allan R.J. Eaglesham
300 Hayts Road
Ithaca, NY 14850


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