JFK’s Irish driver on the day of the assassination was a secret member of the anti-Catholic Orange Order it has been revealed.
County Tyrone native William Greer has been cited in several conspiracy books for his alleged role and for not speeding away from the scene after the first shot.
Now conspiracy theorists have a new angle given his anti-Catholic background. Some researchers have claimed anti-Catholic elements were behind Kennedy’s killing. As the first Catholic president he had aroused tremendous opposition from some extreme Protestant leaders.
Greer’s Orange Order ties were revealed by the Unionist Belfast Newsletter newspaper on the 50th anniversary of the shooting.
As part of his initiation to the arch purple degree Greer would have sworn that he “should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Popish worship; he should, by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power.”
Greer had emigrated to the US at the age of 19 and joined the Navy and later the Secret Service. He had worked for both Truman and EIsenhower before taking over as Kennedy’s driver.
Drumbonaway, Tyrone Orange lodge secretary Edgar Kirkpatrick said he was shocked to see Greer’s name on their membership when asked to check by the News Letter.
“I have it all here in the lodge books. We have the records right the way to when the lodge was formed. We don’t have any Greers nowadays but I always remember my father talking about Richard Greer (Bill’s father) who was a servant man around here working for the farmers.
“But I didn’t know about his son at all until I read up in the books. There were a lot of people emigrating around that time and I notice from the lodge records that they were bought presents by the lodge – the man got a walking stick and the lady got an umbrella,” Kirkpatrick said.
“I couldn’t believe he’d come from here and went on to drive for Kennedy,” Mr Kirkpatrick added.
Greer has been sharply criticized for his actions that day in not immediately speeding up.
Kenneth O'Donnell (special assistant to Kennedy), who was riding in the motorcade, later wrote: "If the Secret Service men in the front had reacted quicker to the first two shots at the President's car, if the driver had stepped on the gas before instead of after the fatal third shot was fired, would President Kennedy be alive today?"
He also stated that after the death of the president "Greer had been remorseful all day, feeling that he could have saved President Kennedy's life by swerving the car or speeding suddenly after the first shots."
After his father’s death from stomach cancer Greer’s only son Richard was asked by an American author: “What did your father think of JFK?”
He stated: “Well, we’re Methodists – and JFK was Catholic.”