William Robert Greer (September 22, 1909 – February 23, 1985) was an agent of the U.S. Secret Service, best known for having driven President John F. Kennedy's automobile in the motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, when the president was assassinated.
2 Analysis and criticism
4 External links
HistoryGreer was born on a farm in Stewartstown, County Tyrone, Ireland, and emigrated to the United States in 1929. After working for over a decade as a chauffeur and servant to several wealthy families in the Boston area, including the Lodge family, Greer enlisted in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and then joined the United States Secret Service on October 1, 1945.
Greer took a role close to Kennedy, and can be seen in several pictures with the Kennedy family. He chauffeured the president on many occasions, including the day of the assassination. Like all agents involved, he has been the target of much speculation and criticism for his actions on that day. He testified before the Warren Commission regarding the incident.
Greer retired on disability from the Secret Service in 1966 due to a stomach ulcer that grew worse following the Kennedy assassination. In 1973 he relocated to Waynesville, North Carolina, where he eventually died of cancer. Greer's son Richard told author Vince Palamara in 1991 that his father "had absolutely no survivor's guilt."
Analysis and criticismSome commentators have criticized Greer's actions during the assassination, noting that he did not accelerate the vehicle to get the president out of danger as soon as he could have. In the confusion after the first shot was fired, the limousine's brake lights can be seen coming on briefly, slowing the car to almost a walking pace. The vehicle accelerated several seconds later, but by then the fatal shot had been fired (since that time, Secret Service agents have been trained to accelerate rapidly out of the area if they even think they hear gunfire.)
Greer did not discuss slowing the car in his statement to the FBI on the night of the assassination, nor did he mention this aspect to the Warren Commission during the official investigation. His testimony seems to deny that he turned to look directly at Kennedy during the shooting, although the Zapruder film shows him doing so. Secret Service procedures in place at the time did not allow Greer to take action without orders from senior agent Roy Kellerman, who sat to Greer's right. Kellerman has stated that he shouted, "Let's get out of line, we've been hit," but that Greer apparently turned to look at Kennedy, initiating a fatal delay, before accelerating the car out of the danger zone. As Roy Kellerman told author William Manchester, "Greer then looked in the back of the car. Maybe he didn't believe me."
No agents were reprimanded or disciplined for their actions during the shooting, but privately, Jacqueline Kennedy was bitterly critical of the agents' performance, Greer's in particular, comparing his efforts to those of "Maud Shaw" (the Kennedy children's nanny). Greer later delivered a heartfelt apology to her.
References1.^ Tyrone Times, 17 July 2008.
2.^ Obit, The Washington Post, February 28, 1985
3.^ Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye by Dave Powers & Kenneth O'Donnell, page 44; The Death of a President, page 290; Please see: http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v4n1/v4n1chapter08.pdf
4.^ Philip H. Mellanson, with Peter F. Stevens, The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, (Carroll & Graf, 2002), p. 74.
5.^ "The Death of a President" by William Manchester (Perennial Edition, 1988), page 160. Please see: http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v4n1.html
6.^ Mary Gallagher, My Life With Jacqueline Kennedy, McKay, 1969, pp. 343, 351
7.^ William Manchester, The Death of a President, Harper & Row, 1967, p. 290.
External linksWilliam Greer at Find a Grave
Warren Commission testimony
"Survivor's Guilt", Chapter 8, by Vince Palamara
Stabilized Zapruder Film
Video of casket arrival at Andrew's Air Force Base
FBI Agent O'Neils Report