TESTIMONY OF DR. HOMER WOOD
The testimony of Dr. Homer Wood was taken at 3 p.m., on April 1, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
Mr. LIEBELER. Dr. Wood, would you please rise and raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God
Dr. WOOD. I do.
Mr. LIEBELER. Please be seated. My name is Wesley J. Liebeler. I am a member of the legal staff of the President's Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.
I have been authorized to take your testimony by the Commission pursuant to authority granted to it by Executive Order No. 11130, dated November 29, 1963, and joint resolution of Congress No. 137. I understand that Mr. Rankin wrote to you last week. Did you get a letter from him?
Dr. WOOD. We each had an airmail letter from Washington, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. I understand that Mr. Rankin included a copy of the Executive order to which I have first referred as well as a copy of the joint resolution of Congress and the rules of procedure relating to the taking of testimony by the Commission, is that correct?
Dr. WOOD. That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER We want to question you about the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald was at the Sports Drome Rifle Range at 8000 West Davis Street in Dallas, Tex., sometime during November 1963---before going into the details of that particular incident, please state your full name for the record.
Dr. WOOD. Homer Wood.
Mr. LIEBELER. You are a dentist, is that correct?
Dr. WOOD. That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER. Would you state briefly for us your educational background.
Dr. WOOD. Well, I had 2 years of predental at Southern Methodist University and 4 years at Baylor University College of Dentistry, Dallas, Tex.
Mr. LIEBELER. Are you a native Texan?
Dr. WOOD. I am a native Texan, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Born here in Dallas?
Dr. WOOD. Born in Besse May, Tex. It is a dead town now.
Mr. LIEBELER. When were you born?
Dr. WOOD. July 4, 1910.
Mr. LIEBELER. How long have you been practicing dentistry?
Dr. WOOD. Since 1938.
Mr. LIEBELER. The Commission is, advised that sometime during November of 1963, you and your son, whose name I understand is Sterling Charles Wood, went to the Sports Drome Rifle Range, is that correct?
Dr. WOOD. That is correct. If I recall correctly, it was on November 16. That was a Saturday afternoon.
Mr. LIEBELER. Are you clear in your own mind that it was a Saturday that you went to the range?
Dr. WOOD Yes
Mr. LIEBELER. Was that the only time that you went to the rifle range during November?
Dr. WOOD. That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER. What time of day did you go out there?
Dr. WOOD. I was listening to the Southwest Conference football game. My boy kept asking me to "Hurry, daddy, I want to go to try my scope out on my gun," and I listened to half of the game. I presume when we got out there it was around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. At the rifle range, I am not definite, but it was between 3 and 5. We left before 5.
Mr. LIEBELER. Left the range before 5?
Dr. WOOD. Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you get an opportunity to finish listening to the game?
Dr. WOOD. No; we didn't hear any more of the game.
Mr. LIEBELER. Tell us what happened after you arrived at the range?
Dr. WOOD. Well, the range was pretty busy because it was just before deer season and most of the fellows out there was sighting in their scope, and we waited a short while to get a place for my boy to sit down to sight in his scope. Then when he did--now do you want me to start here with Oswald?
Mr. LIEBELER. I want you tell me just what happened.
Dr. WOOD. Okay. My boy was shooting his rifle, and there was a fellow sitting to his right. I thought it was an offbrand gun. It wasn't shooting like the other rifles there. When he would fire the rifle, at the end of the barrel there would be a ball of fire coming out at the end of the barrel, and that is what attracted my attention to this fellow.
When I said to my son, I said, "Son, be careful, I am afraid that gun is going to blow up." And I was kind of laughing and joking around with the other fellow that was waiting in--waiting to sight in their scope and I would hand him cotton and I would say, "Get ready, this fellow is getting ready to shoot this 105 howitzer." And I said to my son, step back, or lean over, or be careful, and he said, "Daddy, that is all right, it is an Italian carbine."
So they fired several rounds, and after they would fire three or four rounds, then the keeper out there would say let's go look at our targets, and we would go down and I would look at my boy's target and he wasn't doing so good, but the second round we went down there and we noticed this fellow's target to our right, and my boy made a statement, "Daddy, this fellow is not having much trouble." So I did notice his target, and most of his shots was within the target, but there were a few that was outside the target, from an inch to 2 inches outside of it.
Mr. LIEBELER. Outside the bulls-eye?
Dr. WOOD. Bulls-eye. And that is as far as--do you want me to get into the Oswald deal now, or you just want me to go on and tell what he did, or are you going to ask me some questions?
Mr. LIEBELER. I want to ask you first of all, did you talk to this fellow at all?
Dr. WOOD. I didn't say a word to him, but my son did.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did your son tell you at that time what he had said to the fellow?
Dr. WOOD. He didn't tell me at that time, no, sir. He told me later on.
Mr. LIEBELER. He told you after the assassination, is that correct?
Dr. WOOD. Yes; after the assassination he told me that. Yes, sir; that is true.
Mr. LIEBELER. He told you what he said to the fellow after the assassination. Now you mentioned previously that when you warned your son to be careful of that rifle because of your fear that it would blow up and that your son had told you, don't worry, it is an Italian carbine, is that correct?
Dr. WOOD. Well----
Mr. LIEBELER. And that is substantially what he had mentioned to you at the range that it was Italian?
Dr. WOOD. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you know whether or not your son spoke to this man before he told you it was an Italian carbine, or not?
Dr. WOOD. I feel sure he did not speak to the man before.
Mr. LIEBELER. Your son's statement was based only on his observation of the rifle, is that correct?
Dr. WOOD. On his observation of the rifle and what he knows about guns, which is quite a bit. He studies about guns a lot.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you think your son would be qualified to make a statement in this regard?
Dr. WOOD. I feel sure more so than I am. I know very little about guns, but he knows quite a bit.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you observe this fellow leave the rifle range before you?
Dr. WOOD. I did not, but I didn't notice when the change was made, but my son said he did. He noticed that the fellow came there after my boy had sat down and this fellow had left before my boy had finished. The reason for that was, that my boy was having some trouble sighting in his scope, and he asked the keeper to help him. This fellow was there less than most of the fellows that was out there.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you remember the name of the keeper?
Dr. WOOD. I do not. He was a tall fellow; all I know.
Mr. LIEBELER. Slender?
Dr. WOOD. Slender, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you know Mr. Floyd Davis?
Dr. WOOD. No, sir; he might have been the fellow that was he!ping my son, I don't know. But I recognized his picture later in the paper when it came out, and--that this fellow was there practicing, and I recognized the fellow as the fellow that helped my son.
Mr. LIEBELER. Helped your son sight in his scope?
Dr. WOOD. Helped my son sight in his scope, and I don't know who owned the range. I have no idea.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did there come a time subsequent to that that you were able to identify this man that you had seen there as Lee Harvey Oswald?
Dr. WOOD. Would you repeat that?
Mr. LIEBELER. After you saw this man, you left the rifle range. Then later on the next Friday the President was assassinated, and at sometime subsequent to that time, did you connect up Lee Harvey Oswald with this man that you saw at the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. I did.
Mr. LIEBELER. Tell me when and how you did that?
Dr. WOOD. I saw him flashed on the television screen at home several times. They would interrogate him and bring him down the hall and bring him back to his cell. This particular time I mentioned to my wife, I said to her, "Honey, that looks exactly like the fellow that was sitting next to Sterling at the rifle range. But I am not going to say anything to Sterling because I want to see if he recognizes him and if he thinks it was."
Well, I would say within 30 minutes or an hour he was flashed back on the screen and he said to me, "Daddy, that is the fellow that was sitting next to me out on the rifle range."
Mr. LIEBELER. So that you, independently of your son, first noticed the resemblance between Oswald.
Dr. WOOD. And mentioned it to my wife.
Mr. LIEBELER. And Sterling was not in your presence at that time?
Dr. WOOD. No, sir; he was not in the room.
Mr. LIEBELER. Then later he came into the room, saw Oswald's picture on the television, and said to you that that was the guy that was out at the rifle range that previous Saturday, is that correct?
Dr. WOOD. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. You did not mention to Sterling in any way the resemblance between Oswald and the fellow at the rifle range prior to the time he mentioned it himself?
Dr. WOOD. No. They mentioned on the newscast that he was an ex-Marine. Well, I figured an ex-Marine would be a husky sort of fellow, and I kept watching him, and he didn't look like a Marine to me. But he was a Marine but he didn't seem to me to have the build.
He looked to me as a fairly frail man, not too strong, and that is the reason I wasn't thinking too much about it until he was flashed on the screen and then his profile just came to me that that was the man that was out at the rifle range.
Mr. LIEBELER What did you do then after you had had this conversation and Sterling's observation?
Dr. WOOD. I said I think I should report that to either the Dallas police or FBI.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you do so?
Dr. WOOD. I did not until the following Monday. On Sunday, the next morning--this was Saturday night--on Sunday morning we went to church and my wife said after church, let's go down and look at the place where the President was assassinated. We haven't been down, so we went down there and we looked over the area and we walked back to our car, and I would say it was between 12 and 1 o'clock, and I turned on the radio in the car and it said Oswald had been shot.
So I said to my wife, well, I don't know whether it will do any good now to turn it in or not, and I didn't turn it in. But later on, on Monday I had a fellow in my office who works for the State comptroller's office and told him about this incident and he said, "Dr. Wood, I certainly would turn it in. Any thing that you could do will help."
So after he left the office, I called the FBI and told them I thought I had some information that might be of importance to them concerning the Oswald case, and they talked to me, and this was on Monday. And told them I was leaving town. I think I told them, I am not positive, but we went out, me and my wife and son went out to Uvalde deer hunting, and while we were out there--this was on, we went out Tuesday, and we were there Wednesday night, and Will Fritz of the Dallas police force called me and questioned me about my son and me and were we sure, and I said we were fairly sure that it was, and he wanted to know when we were coming back, and I said that me and my wife were thinking about going to Mexico so it will be Sunday before we return. And he said, when you return would you please call me.
Well, that was on the following Monday, and I called Will Fritz and he had two men from homicide come out and talk to me. And on my lunch hour, two FBI agents came out and talked with me.
Mr. LIEBELER. Was this on Monday, too?
Dr. WOOD. It was on Monday. I believe. I am fairly sure it was on because I called as soon as I came back, and I recall that when I called, there was the homicide, two officers from Will Fritz' office came, and as well as I remember, they called my office girl, the FBI called my office girl and asked could they come out to see me, and they came out around my lunch hour, and I talked to the FBI at that time.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you remember the names of the agents that spoke to you?
Dr. WOOD. I don't remember the agents, sure don't.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you observe the rifle that this fellow was firing closely enough so that you could be able to identify it?
Dr. WOOD, I don't think I could identify it.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did the FBI or the Dallas police show you any pictures of Oswald when they interviewed you?
Dr. WOOD. Both the Dallas police and the FBI, I think, showed me the same photograph that each showed me as they came out.
Mr. LIEBELER. And you identified that man in that photograph as the fellow you had seen at the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. I put it in this category that I couldn't be absolutely positive, but in my mind I was positive that it was Oswald that I saw out at the rifle range.
Mr. LIEBELER. They showed pictures also to your son, did they not?
Dr. WOOD. He said they did; yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. You weren't there when they did?
Dr. WOOD. They interviewed my son at school. The Secret Service came out to his school, I think, a couple of times to see him, and an officer from Will Fritz' office came out once or twice to school to see him, and the FBI
came out, I think, at the house on two occasions just before I got off from the office, and I never was there when my son saw either of them.
Mr. LIEBELER Do you know that the FBI subsequently showed your son a picture of the rifle used to assassinate the President?
Dr. WOOD. I knew this.
Mr. LIEBELER. Were you aware of the fact that your son indicated that the picture that the FBI showed them was not the same rifle that was in possession of this man at the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. I am not aware of that. I am aware of the fact that he--he thinks he said that the rifle they first showed him was the rifle, but the scope was not the same scope that he showed them. I think that is what my boy said. I don't know for sure whether they showed him two different pictures or not, but one time they came out, the FBI come and stayed a very short while and said is this the scope. That is the way I understood my wife to say, and my boy said no, that is not the scope.
Mr. LIEBELER. I want to show you some pictures that have previously been marked as Commission Exhibits 451 and 453 through 456, and ask you if any of the pictures I show you resemble the men who you saw at the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. I pick out someone nearest resembling--is that what you are asking me? Or is the likeness of either of these to him?
Mr. LIEBELER. Yes, is this the fellow you saw at the rifle range, do you think? Are any of these pictures of the man you saw at the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. May I ask this, that the profile that I got of the man, as I told the FBI, was not a profile like this. It was a lateral side profile, because I was facing in this angle, and I said I could only describe him from a lateral view and from the shoulder up, even though I walked down to the rifle range to the target with him. I did not pay a bit of attention to him.
Mr. LIEBELER. So would the picture here, Commission Exhibit 454, be a lateral view of the type you describe.
Dr. WOOD. No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. That is too much from the front?
Dr. WOOD. Well, now, that is a right lateral view. I assume his was a left lateral view. But still I would say that wasn't.
Mr. LIEBELER. You would say what?
Dr. WOOD. That was not the man that I saw.
Mr. LIEBELER. That was not the man you saw?
Dr. WOOD. Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. I show you a photograph that has been previously marked as Pizzo. Exhibit 453-A and ask you if you recognize any of the individuals in that photograph as the man you saw in the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. Yes. The man holding the paper facing me with a green mark above his head.
Mr. LIEBELER. With the green mark, with two marks above him? There are two different marks and you indicated the----
Dr. WOOD. The green marking above this fellow right here [pointing].
Mr. LIEBELER. That has an "X"-shaped mark.
Dr. WOOD. Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. I show you another picture which has been marked Pizzo Exhibit 453-B, and ask you if any of the individuals there appear to be the same as the man you saw at the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. Yes. The man with one green marking above the top of his head is the--I would identify as the man.
Mr. LIEBELER. I show you another picture that has been marked as Pizzo Exhibit 453-C, and ask you if you recognize that individual as the man you saw at the rifle range?
Dr. WOOD. I do.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you have any doubt about it?
Dr. WOOD. In my mind there is no doubt. If I just had to swear on a Bible, I couldn't, but in my mind, it is him.
Mr. LIEBELER. Well, of course, you realize that you are testifying under oath.
Dr. WOOD. I know he is a dead man and all that, but I must say in my own mind it is him, I am positive.
Mr. LIEBELER. Now I show you two pictures which have been marked Exhibits 3 and 4, on the deposition of Mr. Greener, and ask you if you recognize either of those pictures as the rifle in the possession of the man at the range?
Dr. WOOD. I didn't observe the rifle close enough to say either one of these was or wasn't. I only observed the way the rifle was fired, so I couldn't identify either one as being the rifle that assassinated, or the man that was shooting out at the rifle range.
Mr. LIEBELER. You are unable to identify that as being the rifle either one way or the other?
Dr. WOOD. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Do you know of anybody else that was at the range when you observed this fellow who also observed him?
Dr. WOOD. Yes. I told the FBI of Kenney Longley. Dr. Longley's son, a dental surgeon, a friend of mine, was talking to me at the time they were shooting. He was getting ready to take over one of the booths, and I understand that later the FBI went out to interview him.
And he had two friends with him. They interviewed them too, but I have forgotten their names.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did they observe this individual also?
Dr. WOOD. Other than what I have said, the conversation that I was concerned about, and I handed them each cotton to put in their ears when he fired this rifle, and I don't know how much observation they made of the man.
Mr. LIEBELER. Have you discussed with them the question of whether or not this man was Lee Harvey Oswald?
Dr. WOOD. I haven't seen--I will retract that statement. I had seen Dr. Longley's son. He had a front tooth knocked out and Dr. Longley brought him over to my office, but nothing was mentioned about Oswald or this man at the rifle range.
Mr. LIEBELER. Longley and those two friends are the only two men that you know of that were also at the range at that time?
Dr. WOOD. The only people I know. I couldn't identify another soul that was out there.
Mr. LIEBELER. You haven't discussed this either with Longley or his two friends?
Dr. WOOD. No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. I don't think I have any more questions at this point. If you can think of anything else that you think ought to be on the record about this matter, I want you to feel free to go right ahead and say it. We want to get everything that you know about this.
Dr. WOOD. You mean help you out in the case or any feelings in the case?
Mr. LIEBELER. No; on the question of whether this was Oswald out there at the rifle range, or anything else, if you know any other facts about the case we want to know those, too.
Dr. WOOD. I have elaborated pretty much to you about what I saw. I was a great admirer of the President and I felt that if there was anything I could do to help clarify or clear up the case, I was willing to do it, and that is why I reported.
Mr. LIEBELER. On behalf of the Commission I want to thank you very much for the cooperation you have shown us, Dr. Wood. Thank you, sir.