In my reading, Harry Dean is one of the most interesting living witnesses of the JFK Assassination drama. Harry was not in Dealey Plaza on 11/22/1963, but his story is interesting insofar as it has parallels with the story of Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO).
I know more about Harry's story than most readers because Harry invited me to meet him personally in Southern California in 2012. I found Harry to be a down to earth guy, a very intelligent and well-read man, a patriot, a Navy Veteran of World War 2, and a political activist. I want to say a few words here about Harry.
Harry's dad was an American merchant marine living in Canada where Harry was born in 1927. The family was far from wealthy, and in Canada, non-British students in those days were treated as second-class citizens. As soon as Harry could move to the USA he did so -- by joining the Navy during World War Two.
I add in passing that Harry didn't go to high school -- I say this because the many fictions told about Harry Dean in CIA-did-it CTer nonsense literature, claims that Harry was a CIA officer. The CIA only hires college graduates. The same is true of the FBI -- so much for the additional fiction that Harry Dean was an FBI agent. (By the way, in Harry's generation, many Americans didn't go to high school, including folks like Walt Disney. You can look that up.)
The story gets interesting around 1959, when Fidel Castro was rising in Cuba, and many Americans were supporting him (including people like Ed Sullivan, for example). Harry decided to help Fidel in the early days with fund-raising events in Chicago. After Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, Harry was happy to be recognized in Chicago as a member of the 26th of July Movement.
In 1961, however, Harry was unhappy to be recognized in Chicago as a Secretary of the newly formed "Fair Play for Cuba Committee" (FPCC) which officially replaced the 26th of July Movement, as he saw it. This is where the parallels with LHO begin, since LHO is also considered widely (to this day) as an FPCC officer.
Anyway, in 1961, Harry was stunned to find several Communists in the FPCC in Chicago, and he didn't like that. Harry immediately went to the FBI to volunteer information about the FPCC. The FBI, says Harry, welcomed that volunteer information, and verbally encouraged Harry to continue to keep bringing it. Harry did so, despite personal danger.
I'll make a long story short. The pressures of navigating between the FPCC and the FBI became too much for Harry Dean, so by 1962 he moved his family to Southern California. He was bitterly disappointed in himself for being hoodwinked into cooperating with Communists. Partly based on that experience, when Harry encountered the Anticommunist organization, the John Birch Society (JBS) in Southern California, he liked it very much and he joined.
While inside the JBS in 1962, Harry was also invited to join the Minutemen organization -- a paramilitary group of Anticommunists who would meet in the hills of Hemet, California, using real weapons and practicing war games, just in case the Communists happened to invade America.
It was also around this time that Harry Dean met four interesting persons connected with the JBS and the Minutemen -- and also with the JFK Assassination, as he came to sincerely believe. These four people were: (1) WW2 hero Guy Gabaldon; (2) California Congressman John Rousselot; (3) US Army veteran Larry Howard; and (4) Loran Hall.
Fast forward to mid-September 1963. This Southern California JBS chapter featured a special speaker, Ex-General Edwin Walker. After his speech, a select cadre of the JBS met upstairs with Congressman Rousselot (who owned the building in which the JBS met). While in that meeting, General Walker boasted of his plot to assassinate JFK, and he told the group there that he had selected a Communist to be the patsy -- namely -- Lee Harvey Oswald. LHO, said Walker, was not only a defector to Russia, returned to Texas with a Russian wife, but he was also currently an officer of the FPCC in New Orleans.
Harry's ears lit up. "I was an officer for the FPCC two years ago," said Harry, "and I have seen for myself that the FPCC is a dangerous group of Communists. We had better beware." The group gathered there joked about making a Communist the patsy for assassinating a Communist.
After the meeting was over, Harry Dean didn't think much more about it -- after all, Minutemen were always making jokes about assassinating JFK. It was a running joke. They were just letting off steam, thought Harry. When General Walker echoed the same old sentiment, Harry thought very little of it at the time.
When JFK was actually assassinated two months later, however, Harry was stunned. The most stunning part was the name of Lee Harvey Oswald, an alleged officer of the FPCC. It all came back to him. General Walker had openly stated the name of LHO to a group of JBS members, and Harry was there.
There is far more to the story of Harry Dean, including his relationships with Guy Gabaldon, Larry Howard and Loran Hall, as well as later with Marguerite Oswald and the unethical writer, W.R. Morris. But for today, this will do.