THE BULLET FRAGMENTS IN
GOVERNOR JOHN CONNALLY
GOVERNOR JOHN CONNALLY
MANY/MOST CONSPIRACY THEORISTS SEEM TO BE OF THE OPINION THAT THE STRETCHER BULLET (CE399) COULD NOT HAVE POSSIBLY DEPOSITED ALL OF THE FRAGMENTS THAT WERE SEEN INSIDE GOVERNOR JOHN CONNALLY'S BODY ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963. ARE THOSE CONSPIRACISTS CORRECT? HARDLY. HERE'S WHY:
Warren Commission Exhibit #CE399 (the "Stretcher Bullet" found by
Darrell Tomlinson inside Parkland Hospital prior to 2:00 PM on the
afternoon of November 22nd, 1963) has been a major focus of
controversy since JFK's murder in Dallas.
Conspiracy advocates claim that the bullet's missing grains of lead
(which totalled approximately 2.2 grains, when an "average"/"median"
weight of an unfired WCC/MC 6.5mm bullet like CE399 is used as a
comparison) are less than the weight of the bullet fragments that were
discovered inside the body of Texas Governor John B. Connally (JBC) on
But is this a reasonable conclusion for anyone to come to? In other
words, did Governor Connally really have MORE than approximately 2.2
grains of bullet lead/fragments inside his body prior to being
operated on by Parkland physicians on November 22nd?
Well, let's examine the official record concerning that important
With respect to Connally's wrist injury, there is the following Warren
Commission testimony from the doctor at Dallas' Parkland Hospital who
was in charge of that particular wound (Dr. Charles F. Gregory):
ARLEN SPECTER -- "Will you describe, as specifically as you can, what
those metallic fragments are by way of size and shape, sir?"
DR. CHARLES GREGORY -- "I would identify these fragments as varying
from five-tenths of a millimeter in diameter to approximately two
millimeters in diameter. And each fragment is no more than a half
millimeter in thickness. They would represent, in lay terms,
flakes...flakes of metal."
MR. SPECTER -- "What would your estimate be as to their weight in
DR. GREGORY -- "I would estimate that they would be weighed in
micrograms, which is [a] very small amount of weight. I don't know how
to reduce it to ordinary equivalents for you. It is the kind of
weighing that requires a micro-adjustable scale; which means that it
is something less than the weight of a postage stamp."
MR. SPECTER (Later in Gregory's testimony session) -- "For the purpose
of this consideration, I am interested to know whether the metal which
you found in the wrist was of sufficient size so that the bullet which
passed through the wrist could not have emerged virtually completely
intact or with 158 grains intact, or whether the portions of the
metallic fragments were so small that that would be consistent with
having virtually the entire 6.5-millimeter bullet emerge?"
DR. GREGORY -- "Well, considering the small volume of metal as seen by
X-ray, and the very small dimensions of the metal which was recovered,
I think several such fragments could have been flaked off of a total
missile mass without reducing its volume greatly."
Regarding Governor Connally's chest injuries:
ARLEN SPECTER -- "Was any metallic substance from the bullet left in
the thoracic cage as a result of the passage of the bullet through the
DR. ROBERT SHAW -- "No. We saw no evidence of any metallic material in
the X-ray that we had of the chest, and we found none during the
Regarding Connally's superficial thigh wound:
DR. CHARLES GREGORY -- "A fragment of metal, again microscopic,
measuring about five-tenths of a millimeter by two millimeters, lies
just beneath the skin, about a half-inch on the medial aspect of the
ARLEN SPECTER -- "What is your best estimate of the weight of that
DR. GREGORY -- "This again would be in micrograms, postage stamp
weight thereabouts. Not much more than that."
In addition, we have this very interesting comment from Dr. Gregory:
DR. GREGORY -- "I think again that bullet, Exhibit 399, could very
well have struck the thigh in a reverse fashion and have shed a bit of
its lead core into the fascia immediately beneath the skin, yet never
have penetrated the thigh sufficiently so that it eventually was
dislodged and was found in the clothing. I would like to add to that we
were disconcerted by not finding a missile at all. Here was our patient
with three discernible wounds, and no missile within him of sufficient
magnitude to account for them, and we suggested that someone ought
to search his belongings and other areas where he had been to see if
it could be identified or found, rather."
Therefore, in total, we have the following "Connally Bullet Fragments
1.) The very small fragments removed from Governor Connally's wrist
(of microscopic "postage stamp" weight). The preoperative X-ray of
Connally's wrist (CE690) shows the fragments and reflects the very
small nature of all the fragments that were deposited by the bullet in
the wrist (remember, this is PREoperative, so all TOTAL fragments are
visible in the wrist):
CE691 (another preoperative X-ray) shows the wrist fragments from a
different angle. Again, the fragments are very small in size:
2.) Zero metallic fragments discovered in Governor Connally's chest/
thorax. CE681 is the 11/22/63 chest X-ray of JBC:
3.) One extremely tiny bullet fragment in JBC's thigh (again "postage
stamp" type of weight). CE694 shows the thigh (preoperative):
Dr. John Lattimer did an experiment with a WCC/MC bullet (just like
CE399), whereby he squeezed the bullet in a vise to extrude approx. 2
grains of lead from the base of the missile (to match the approximate
amount of lead that was missing from CE399, which, in point of fact,
was slightly more than 2 grains).
Lattimer's two grains of Mannlicher-Carcano bullet yielded 41 separate
small, sliced fragments (any one of which looks larger than ANY of the
fragments that were deposited in John Connally's body by the bullet
that struck him on November 22, 1963).
Have a look:
Via Dr. Lattimer's book:
"Some critics have contended that the four bullet fragments in
Governor Connally are too many to be accounted for by the two grains
of lead missing from bullet 399. In our experiments we were able to
make forty-one such fragments from the two-grain piece of lead that
extruded from our test bullet. It can safely be said, therefore, that
four fragments are by no means too many to be accounted for by the two
grains missing from bullet 399." -- John K. Lattimer; "Kennedy And
Lincoln"; Pages 276-277
Given the above evidence, which verifies beyond all reasonable doubt
that the total amount of bullet fragments that existed in all of John
Connally's body on 11/22/63 most certainly did not (and COULD NOT)
have exceeded the missing 2.2 grains of Bullet CE399, I cannot
understand why so many JFK conspiracy proponents continue to soldier
on in their efforts to prove that Bullet CE399 is a missile that could
not possibly have been inside Governor Connally based on the "Amount
Of Missing Lead" factor.
But, then too, I've never been able to figure out the (il)logic of
CTers as a whole either. So, there's nothing new there I guess. ;)
David Von Pein
Related to the discussion about the Connally metal fragments, the following text comes from a portion of my full-length review of Vincent Bugliosi's 2007 book on the JFK assassination, "Reclaiming History")........
"In support of his position, which I concur with, that the bullet
fragments removed from Connally's wrist did not weigh more than the
2.4 grains lost from the stretcher bullet [CE399], Gerald Posner
writes in "Case Closed" that Dr. Charles Gregory testified before the
Warren Commission that the bullet fragments he removed from Connally's
wrist were "flakes of metal" weighing "something less than the weight
of a postage stamp."
"But Dr. Gregory was not referring to the bullet fragments he removed
from Connally's wrist, which definitely were not flakes of metal, but
to the bullet fragments left in Connally's wrist, which were never
removed yet show up on X-rays." -- Vince Bugliosi; Page 441 of
"Reclaiming History's" endnotes
DVP: I'm very nearly certain that Mr. Bugliosi is incorrect in the above
statement. Because when we look at Dr. Gregory's Warren Commission
testimony [at 4 H 120] there is no question at all that when Gregory said
this to WC counsel Arlen Specter --- "I would estimate that they [the
metal fragments] would be weighed in micrograms, which is [a] very
small amount of weight. .... It is the kind of weighing that requires a
micro-adjustable scale, which means that it is something less than the
weight of a postage stamp" --- Gregory was specifically referring to
the fragments which are visible on two PRE-operative X-rays taken of
Governor Connally's wrist (CE690 and CE691).
Which means that Gregory was referring to ALL of the metal fragments
(or "flakes") that were in Connally's wrist BEFORE Gregory ever
operated on the Governor to retrieve any bullet fragments.
Via comparison, when looking at CE692 and CE693 (which are POST-
operative wrist X-rays which were taken after Connally was operated
on), it can easily be determined that Exhibits 692 and 693 depict
FEWER fragments within the X-ray than are shown in 690 and 691.
It's possible that Dr. Gregory misspoke when he said that ALL of the
fragments visible in Exhibits 690 and 691 represented only "flakes of
metal", which is positively what he said, and, as I mentioned, he was
definitely referring to the PRE-operative wrist X-rays, even though
Gregory said that he, himself, removed "two or three" of the largest
fragments from Connally's wrist, and had a chance to determine at that
time whether the term "flakes of metal" really applied to those
In any event, that is what the official Warren Commission record
reveals with respect to Dr. Gregory's testimony in 1964 when he was
looking directly at CE690 and CE691.
And to my (layperson's) eyes, the visible hunks of metal that can be
seen in 690 and 691 certainly don't look very big at all. Perhaps the
word "flakes" would, indeed, describe them fairly well (at least when
looking at the X-rays only).
Later in Gregory's WC testimony -- after Arlen Specter asked,
"Approximately how large were those fragments [that were removed from
Connally's wrist], Dr. Gregory?" -- we find these words being spoken
"Rather thin...their greatest dimension would probably not exceed one-
eighth of an inch. They were very small."
Another semi-important point to all of this talk about the size of
Governor Connally's wrist fragments (which is a point I don't think
Mr. Bugliosi mentions anywhere in his book) refers to a portion of Dr.
Gregory's testimony where he, in effect, is saying that ALL of the
fragments that were seen in Connally's wrist (INCLUDING THE TWO OR
THREE FRAGMENTS THAT WERE REMOVED FROM THE GOVERNOR'S WRIST)
were located during surgery "by chance", and ALL of these metal fragments
could have been left inside Connally's body without causing the Governor
further physical problems in the future.
Here is exactly what Dr. Gregory said to the Warren Commission
regarding this matter:
"We know from experience that small flakes of metal of this kind do
not ordinarily produce difficulty in the future, but that the
extensive dissection required to find them may produce...consequences
and so we choose to leave them inside unless we chance upon them. And
on this occasion, those bits of metal recovered were simply found by
chance in the course of removing necrotized material [i.e., dead
David Von Pein
July 17, 2007
ANTHONY MARSH SAID:
There may be tons of fragments still in Connally's body.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Not unless you want to pretend that all of Connally's post-operative
X-rays are phony.
In actuality, the distinct possibility exists that John B. Connally
went to his grave with a mere TWO tiny bullet fragments left in his
whole body (one in the thigh and one in his wrist).
The latter part about the wrist is slightly speculative, but comes
from a good source: the WC testimony of Dr. Charles F. Gregory.
DR. GREGORY -- "Before the operation, you will note a large fragment
of metal visible here, not visible in this one [wrist X-ray]. You will also
note a small satellite fragment not visible here. A second piece of
metal visible preoperatively is still present postoperatively."
Now, it's possible that there could have been more than just the one
fragment left in JBC's wrist that Gregory discussed in his testimony
above, but the above testimony does exist and does suggest the
possibility that just one metal fragment was left inside Connally's
wrist after his wrist was operated on. And via Dr. Shaw's testimony,
there was NO metal at all left inside JBC's chest/thorax.
CTers love to talk about a large amount of bullet material being left
in Connally's body, but the testimony of Gregory and Shaw, plus the
post-operative X-rays of Connally certainly do not suggest that a
large number of bullet fragments were left inside Connally's body at
all. Quite to the contrary, in fact. The amount of lead left in his
body was extremely small. And, as mentioned, it could have been as few
as two tiny fragments.
David Von Pein
December 18, 2011
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
The National Archives [NARA] color photo of CE842 clearly shows 4 fragments of metal. And one of those fragments was weighed by Robert Frazier of the FBI, and he said it weighed one-half of a grain [5 H 72].
There has been confusion over the years as to exactly how many bullet fragments were removed from Governor Connally's right wrist. Bob Frazier only talks about CE842 containing a SINGLE metal fragment when he received that evidence from Vincent Drain on 11/22/63:
ROBERT A. FRAZIER -- "This [CE842] is a small fragment of metal which weighed one-half a grain when I first examined it in the laboratory. It is a piece of lead, and could have been a part of a bullet or a core of a bullet."
But Dr. Charles Gregory, who operated on Connally's wrist and removed some bullet fragments, told the Warren Commission that he retrieved "two or three" pieces of metal from Connally's wrist during surgery (even though he told the FBI on November 23, 1963, that he removed only ONE fragment of metal from the Governor's wrist [see Commission Document No. 5, Page 154]).
The envelope which is part of Warren Commission Exhibit 842 clearly says the words "bullet fragments" (plural) on it, even though that very same exhibit seems to show only one single piece of metal in the plastic container to the right of the envelope -- CLICK HERE.
And then there's this previously mentioned NARA color photo of Commission Exhibit No. 842, which shows FOUR distinct metal fragments:
And in the above picture, the biggest of the four fragments is just slightly more than 2 millimeters in size. The NARA photo has been greatly enlarged in order to show the fragments in more detail, and the ruler in the photograph is clearly displaying MILLIMETERS. The remaining three fragments in the above photo are about one-tenth the size of the biggest fragment.
In other words, all of the bullet fragments that were removed from John Connally's wrist were extremely small.
As to why there is only one single fragment seen in the Warren Commission's photo of CE842, even though the accompanying envelope plainly indicates that more than one fragment was taken from the "right arm" of Governor Connally, I haven't the foggiest idea. It would seem to suggest, however, that three of the fragments somehow got separated from the one fragment that was examined by Bob Frazier, with Frazier apparently not seeing or examining the other three pieces of metal that were recovered from Connally's wrist at Parkland Hospital.
Now, with the confusion and uncertainty that exists concerning the Connally fragments, I suppose a conspiracy theorist can argue that the fragment that was weighed by the FBI's Robert Frazier was NOT the largest of the four fragments we see in the NARA picture above, but was one of the three smaller fragments visible in the picture.
I would contend, however, that it is likely that Frazier weighed the biggest of those four fragments, with that fragment weighing only 0.5 of a grain. And when comparing the biggest fragment seen in the NARA photo with the one fragment visible in the CE842 picture published by the Warren Commission, a similarity in the "triangular" shape of the fragments is readily apparent. Whereas, the three much smaller fragments seen in the NARA photo, when compared with the fragment seen in CE842, are not the same shape at all [see photo comparison below].
Therefore, via the scenario I just described, it's pretty clear that the four fragments seen in the NARA photo do not weigh more than a TOTAL of one grain (and probably even less than that).
And when we factor in the weight of all of the other bullet fragments that were left inside Governor Connally's body after surgery, the total weight of all bullet material deposited in his body on November 22, 1963, most certainly does not exceed TWO grains of metal.
And the stretcher bullet (CE399) has lost approximately 2.2 to 2.4 grains of its total mass. So the conspiracy theorists are once again wrong when they insist that CE399 could not possibly be the bullet that struck Governor Connally based on the "Too Many Fragments Left In Connally" argument.
The number of bullet fragments that John Connally took with him to his grave is not a definitive number, and I'll readily admit that fact. But I think a good case can be made for only TWO tiny fragments of metal being left in Connally's whole body when combining the testimony of all the doctors involved in Governor Connally's treatment--Drs. Charles Gregory, Robert Shaw, and Tom Shires.
David Von Pein
July 15, 2014
ROBERT HARRIS SAID:
The FBI also claimed that Bell said the envelope she processed only held a single fragment. But they lied about that, just as they lied claiming that she passed the envelope to Nolan. In fact, Bell flatly denied saying either of those things.
The FBI's problem was that they needed to convert Nolan's envelope, which held the bullet (singular) that fell from Connally's gurney and was recovered by a different nurse. In fact, the envelope appeared in DPD records as containing just one fragment. Pretty strange, considering that CE-842 clearly described multiple fragments, eh?
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
The official November 1963 FBI interviews with Audrey Bell and Bobby Nolan, which Robert Harris thinks are filled with lies created by the FBI, do not contain any reference to any "whole bullet". Only a single "fragment" is mentioned in the two FBI reports linked below.
Now, yes, CE842 does contain more than just a SINGLE metal fragment. I'm not denying that fact at all. But Bob Harris' theory about a WHOLE BULLET being handled by an unknown nurse (not Audrey Bell) and Officer Nolan suffers a pretty big setback when we have a look at these two FBI documents from November 22 and 23, 1963 [Commission Document No. 5].....
CD5, Page 155
CD5, Page 156
The error that exists in the FBI reports concerning the fragment being taken from Connally's THIGH, instead of his ARM/WRIST, is explained in this part of CD5.
ROBERT HARRIS SAID:
That [picture of CE842] shows exactly FOUR tiny fragments. Frazier lied. .... Obviously he was lying. We know for a fact that there were four [fragments], and that the envelope was labelled as containing "fragments". There is no way that could have been an honest mistake. He was trying to be sure that he could pull off the switch. Nolan's envelope contained ONE object, so Frazier decided that he had to claim that Bell's envelope contained ONE object also.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Which means you must also think that Arlen Specter lied too, right? Because it was SPECTER, not FRAZIER, who first uttered the word "fragment" (singular) in connection with the Warren Commission exhibit that was to soon become CE842.
As a matter of fact, Arlen Specter used the word "fragment" (singular) FIVE separate times before that same word ("fragment") ever came out of the mouth of Bob Frazier. Let's look and see--and count (emphasis added by DVP):
ARLEN SPECTER -- "Was a fragment of metal brought to you which was identified as coming from the wrist of Governor Connally?"
ROBERT A. FRAZIER -- "It was identified to me as having come from the arm of Governor Connally."
SPECTER -- "Will you produce that fragment at this time, please?"
FRAZIER -- "This one does not have a Commission number as yet."
SPECTER -- "May it please the Commission, I would like to have this fragment marked as Commission Exhibit 842."
(Commission Exhibit No. 842 was marked for identification and received in evidence.)
SPECTER -- "Now, referring to a fragment heretofore marked as Q9 for FBI record purposes, and now marked as Commission Exhibit No. 842, will you describe that fragment for us, please?"
FRAZIER -- "Yes, sir; this is a small fragment of metal which weighed one-half a grain when I first examined it in the laboratory. It is a piece of lead, and could have been a part of a bullet or a core of a bullet."
Did Specter nudge Frazier before Frazier testified and whisper to him:
"Now remember, Bob, when we get to the part where I want to introduce Exhibit 842, remember to follow my lead when I say to you FIVE different times that CE842 consists of just one single fragment. That way, we'll both be on the same page when it comes to this blatant lie we're both going to be telling in your Warren Commission testimony. Got it, Bob? Okay, good."
The fact that Arlen Specter and Robert Frazier only refer to ONE single bullet fragment existing as part of CE842 is, indeed, quite strange. Because we can see that the "foreign body envelope" that was marked by Audrey Bell clearly indicates that "fragments" (plural) were placed into that envelope which later became part of Commission Exhibit 842, which is an envelope that was ALSO initialled by Robert Frazier of the FBI. His "RF" initials are plainly visible on the front of the envelope. And, as mentioned before, the National Archives color photo of CE842 is obviously depicting the presence of four separate metal fragments.
But to think that Specter and Frazier (in that order) were lying their heads off during Frazier's testimony in order to conceal the existence of additional metal fragments that were removed from Governor Connally's body is something I do not believe at all.
And one of the reasons we can know that Specter was certainly not on a mission to "cover up" the existence of additional Connally bullet fragments is because we have Specter HIMSELF bringing out the information of MULTIPLE metallic fragments being removed from Connally's right wrist during his questioning of Parkland Hospital doctor Charles Gregory. Let's have a gander:
ARLEN SPECTER -- "Did you observe any foreign objects identifiable as bits of fragments or portions of a bullet missile?"
DR. CHARLES F. GREGORY -- "A preliminary X-ray had indicated that there were metallic fragments or at least metallic fragments which cast metallic shadows in the soft tissues around the wounded forearm. Two or three of these were identified and were recovered and were observed to be metallic in consistency. These were turned over to appropriate authorities for further disposition."
So Specter wasn't hiding the fact that more than just one fragment was retrieved from John Connally's wrist. Specter himself elicited that information from Dr. Gregory.
For some inexplicable reason, it would seem as though CE842, when it was first introduced into evidence during Robert Frazier's testimony, contained only one of the four fragments that were removed from Connally's body by Dr. Gregory. The other three fragments were evidently not examined by Bob Frazier of the FBI at all.
But we must also keep in mind that the three smallest fragments from CE842 were also not examined by the HSCA in 1978 either. Those three tiny fragments were said to be "too small to weigh" [see 7 HSCA 367].
Do you, Robert Harris, really think that both Specter and Frazier would feel the need to hide or cover up the existence of three very tiny metal fragments that the HSCA later said were "too small to weigh"?
How much total weight or mass could those three tiny fragments possibly amount to? Do you think the (unknown) weight of those small fragments was enough to tip the scales in favor of "conspiracy" in the JFK assassination, is that it? And is that why Frazier and Specter didn't want to reveal the fact that more than one fragment existed in CE842?
If that is (at least in part) what you believe, I beg to differ.
There would have been no good reason for either Specter or Frazier to want to start lying about the existence of three extremely tiny fragments removed from Governor Connally's body.
I cannot explain why Robert Frazier seemed to think that CE842 contained just one single fragment. But, as I just explained, to think it was something "shady" or "sinister" on the part of Mr. Frazier (or Mr. Specter) is to believe something that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either, given the incredibly small size of those other three bullet fragments in question.
Let me also add....
Bob Frazier's Warren Commission session is not the only time Mr. Frazier used the word "fragment" (singular) to describe the contents of Commission Exhibit No. 842. He also used that same word during his testimony at the Clay Shaw trial in 1969:
QUESTION -- "What other projectiles or portions of the projectiles did you have?"
ROBERT A. FRAZIER -- "In addition to those there were two bullet fragments, the nose section and base section, recovered by the secret police and delivered to me at the laboratory. Then there were additional other fragments, another two fragments from the President's head and one fragment from the arm of Governor Connally."
David Von Pein
July 16, 2014
BEN HOLMES SAID:
Dr. Gregory worked on Connally's wrist, and gave five reasons that the bullet that went through Connally's wrist did so from the outside to the palm side:
1. The general ragged appearance of the dorsal wound is typical of an entrance wound.
2. Bits of thread and cloth were carried into the wound on the dorsal side and these corresponded with a tear in the jacket sleeve.
3. Two or three fragments were shed after the bullet had hit the radius. The three fragments taken from the wrist were more volar and caused by the radius flaking them off.
4. The distortion of the soft tissues shows the pathway to be dorsal to volar.
5. Air in the wound is more visible on the dorsal side of the X-ray which is typical of entrance wound.
It's not a surprise that believers absolutely REFUSE to debate this issue, or to explain it away...
But it demonstrates that the SBT is just a bunch of hooey.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
This is just another meaningless excuse used by CTers to sidestep the obvious --- i.e., that John B. Connally was struck by just ONE BULLET, with that ONE BULLET entering Connally's upper back FROM BEHIND.
So all the talk about the "volar" and "dorsal" sides of JBC's wrist is just useless and empty talk, because it was determined by the doctors (and Dr. Robert Shaw said this to the press on Day 1) that all of Connally's wrist injuries were caused by the bullet that EXITED FROM HIS CHEST. And the Warren Commission and HSCA concluded that fact as well.
Ergo, CTers (as usual) can go NOWHERE with the "volar/dorsal" argument, because regardless of any confusing aspects about the "entry" and "exit" wounds in John Connally's wrist, the fact remains his wrist was hit by a bullet that had just exited his chest. Which is totally consistent with the bullet coming from the Sniper's Nest in the Book Depository.
CTers lose (again), because this is yet another "Goes Nowhere" type of argument put forth by desperate conspiracy theorists.
This is similar to the "CONNALLY COULDN'T POSSIBLY HAVE HELD ONTO HIS HAT WITH THAT BROKEN WRIST" argument. Even though we know, via Nellie Connally's remarks plus the Zapruder Film itself, that Governor Connally DID, indeed, hold onto his Stetson hat long after his wrist was shattered by Lee Harvey Oswald's bullet.
David Von Pein
January 29, 2017
Posted By: David Von Pein