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Assassination: George Lincoln Rockwell and the 116th INTC Group

By David E. Mann, CWO4 USA (Ret)


A few minutes past Noon, August 25th, 1967, George Lincoln Rockwell, the self-styled “Commander of the American Nazi Party” and “Leader of the World Union of National Socialists” was murdered at Arlington, VA,2. A Counterintelligence Special Agent, SGT Hugh Grey Willard3, assigned to the 116th INTC Group, was an eye witness.


The Scene and the Murder


Shortly before noon on Friday, 25 August 1967, George Lincoln Rockwell left his home and headquarters of his National-Socialist White People's Party, at 6150 Wilson Boulevard to do his laundry. The Econ-o-wash laundromat in the Dominion Hills Centre at 6013 to 6035 Wilson Boulevard was his final living destination. The location was described by the Associated Press as "across the busy highway from the old frame house that served as Rockwell's home -- and the barracks of his 'troopers'". At the laundromat a witness, 60-year-old Ruby Pierce, said that Rockwell, "a tall, charming man," came in and talked about which washing machine to use. "He put his clothes in the washer and put his detergent in, and then he said, 'I forgot something’ … '"


Rockwell exited the laundromat, got into his 1958 Chevrolet, and began to back out. Two loud shots pierced the windshield of Rockwell's car, one of them striking him in the chest. Rockwell made a brief and futile attempt to seek cover. His backward-moving car struck another car and stalled. Rockwell either lurched out or fell out of the passenger-side door, landing face-up on the pavement with feet still in the car; one report stated he pointed to the rooftop before dying. Witnesses said that he had been shot in the head and chest. The medical examiner, Dr. John Judson, found only a chest wound, according to an Associated Press story. The Washington Post published this crime scene photograph:

When the shots rang out, people inside the laundromat rushed to the window. A laundry attendant, Robert Hancock, went out the door and looked upwards to where he believed the shots originated. Hancock told police that he saw “a gunman on the roof of the beauty salon”, next door to the laundromat. A few moments later, James Cummings, who worked at the Hair Stylist Salon stated that he saw “a man jump from the South end of the shopping center”. Cummings told police that he tried to chase the unidentified man, but “lost him” S/A Willard, meanwhile, after hearing the shots and seeing the scene returned to the laundromat. Special Agent Hugh Grey Willard, 116th INTC Group PSI Team, using the laundromat coin telephone, called the 116th INTC Group Duty Agent, making his first telephonic Agent Report of the day. When police officers arrived, they found Rockwell, deceased, laying partially out of his automobile, a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Aire. His feet were still inside the car but his body had turned face up and was sprawled at an angle out of the car and onto the pavement. It first appeared that Rockwell had been struck with two bullets.

A reporter from The Washington Post draw a sketch map of the scene, which was printed in the newspaper the day after the murder.

The Associated Press and UPI teletype bells were still ringing “big story” (3 bells) when the New York Daily News published this sensational photograph:

Rockwell’s corpse was still warm and draining fluids when the 116th INTC Group sent off an “IMMEDIATE” message via the dial-up teletype system linking all CONUS MI units with Fort Holabird, advising that Rockwell had been murdered. Rockwell’s Nazi uniforms were forgotten inside the Laundry. The uniforms, possibly still unwashed due to the lack of whatever detergent or bleach Rockwell forgot, were never found. The 116th INTC Group investigators made a trip to the laundry and returned with negative results.


The Killer and his Weapon


John Christ Patsalos (AKA John Patler) was born in Bronx, New York. His family was interwoven with a tapestry of criminality, abuse and sub-normal intelligence. Lots of murders in that family: His father served a term in prison for murdering John Patsalos' mother in 1943. Patsalos was five years old at the time and probably witnessed the crime take place.14 In 1996 the brother, Christ George Patsalos, was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida for having murdered his girlfriend. The Broomhandle Mauser was stolen by Patsalos from another “storm trooper” living in the Arlington Nazi Headquarters “barracks”. After Patsalos was arrested by the Arlington Police, a search was made and the weapon recovered from a shallow stream bed nearby the shopping mall. It was a 7.63mm model C-96 “Broomhandle” Mauser pistol with attached rifle stock.15 Whereabouts of the weapon are unknown.

Patsalos received an Unsuitability Discharge from the US Marine Corps in 1960, and after that gravitated to full-time membership in Rockwell’s American Nazi Party. After his arrest and trial, he claimed a conspiracy, theories about which continue to this day within the American Nazi Movement. After a short trial he was convicted and sentenced to prison; he served eight years of a twenty-year term.


116th INTC Group Actions


COL Howard W. Gilmore, the 116th INTC Group Commander, was directed by Teletype and telephone to determine “the circumstances” of S/A Willard’s Spot Report. S/A Willard had returned to the HQ, 116th INTC Group, located in Tempo “C” Building, next to Fort McNair, immediately after calling the Duty Officer. Upon his return he related to 116th INTC staff what he had witnessed. That verbal report was put into Spot Report format and sent by courier to Ft. Holabird.18 19 The courier, driving one of the 116th INTC Group’s 1963 Fords, made the trip from Ft. McNair to Ft. Holabird in record time, including being stopped for speeding by Baltimore police. Within a few days after Rockwell’s death, the corpse was moved from the Arlington County Coroner’s Morgue to a Funeral Home in Suitland, MD. At some point, the 116th INTC Group FBI and National Liaison officer, John Stratford (LTC CIC, Ret), relayed a request from the Director of Arlington National Cemetery to COL Gilmore. What transpired was a tasking from INSCOM to the 116th INTC to determine “what’s going on with those Nazi’s who want him buried at Arlington?”. As it turned out, Rockwell’s Executor, Matthias Koehl, had been contacted by the mortuary. He allegedly informed the funeral director that Rockwell was a veteran of the US Navy, had served and been discharged honorably from the US Navy as a Commander (O-5). Koehl demanded a funeral and burial at Arlington National Cemetery. A 116th INTC Special Operations Section investigator, S/A Freeberger, was assigned to find out and report back “what’s going on with those Nazi’s who want him buried at Arlington?” And thus, the investigation began.


Was Rockwell Really Dead?


Dead or un-dead, that was the vital question. Two S/A’s from the 116th, S/A Freeberger and the Author, then an Sergeant and Special Agent, visited the Funeral Home. There, the plain wooden casket was opened and George Lincoln Rockwell was, indeed, dead. He was covered only with a white shroud and when that was moved aside, the usual “Y” shaped autopsy scar was revealed. Photographs were taken and the handy “decedent fingerprint kit” used to make fingerprints of the corpse. The casket was finally closed and the investigative task force returned to base. The fingerprint card and undeveloped film was passed to the FBI by liaison at Ft Holabird for comparison with their files. By this time J. Edgar Hoover had become personally involved.


The Elusive Death Certificate


But, nameless colonels and generals asked, what about the death certificate? What about his military records? The 116th INTC Group once again marched ahead, securing Rockwell’s military files from the Department of the Navy. But the Death Certificate was elusive. The Arlington County Registrar would only release the Death Certificate upon presentation of a subpoena or direct request of next-of-kin. Neither were to be found and if they had been the Army’s “Investigation” would have been revealed. A potentially embarrassing situation for some. Thus, the tireless investigators returned once again to the funeral home and obtained temporary access to Rockwell’s death certificate. But there was no copy machine, nor could the certificate leave the mortuary. The IMDSO “Covert Copy Kit” was brought into action, fortuitously carried to the scene by the Author, the 116th’s assigned Investigative Photographer.


Gadgetry and Copying the Death Certificate


The Intelligence Material Science Development office, based at Ft Holabird, produced some amazing gadgets for Army Counterintelligence. One of the less successful was the “IMDSO Copy Kit”. Contained in an ordinary briefcase, there was an aluminum collapsible frame. On the frame were mounted two strobe lights with Wratten Infrared Filters. The filters made the “flash” invisible to the unaided eye. The camera platform provided a sturdy cross-member mount. The camera was a wretched failure prone single lens reflex of dubious Japanese manufacture. All of this was hooked together, attached to 510 volt batteries, and provided to each Field Office as a tool to collect covert copies. In the case of the Author’s IMDSO “Copy Kit” both cameras failed to work properly. I had carried along an extra camera body having seen failure with the Copy Kit in a previous Black Bag Job. After taking the death certificate in hand, I exposed the film using a variety of iris diaphragm settings – as taught by the Photo Course at Holabird. I mounted the second camera body and exposed another roll of film. Upon return to the 116th and the Photo Lab, the negatives was absolutely clear in one case – showing no exposure whatsoever, and totally black in the second case, showing total overexposure. I so advised the S/A in charge of the operation and was told “we have got to get that picture before we go home today!” This time, I took my personal camera, a Leica IIIf with macro lens – the finest one could purchase in those days before digital was even imagined. No flash attachment, no flash bulbs (we had #25’s which would light up a room and #105’s which were industrial sized and would light up Carlsbad Cavern). I chose to use the newly released Kodak Royal-X Panchromatic film which had a rating of 1200 ASA. Twice as “fast” as Kodak Tri-X. I zoomed back to the mortuary where one of the Senior Agents was standing outside tapping his foot. No matter that the laws of D.C. Traffic and physics forbade me traveling from 2nd and R Streets, SW, to Suitland, MD in less than 30 minutes. Photos were made of the Death Certificate, exposing the film using a variety of iris diaphragm settings – as taught by the Photo Course at Holabird. Popping the camera back into my pocket, I rushed back to the 116th INTC Photo Lab where I had all kinds of great and expensive equipment. First, into the dark room, unspooling the film canister and spooling the exposed film onto a spiral metal frame which fit into a light-proof canister. Then the development began: First, D-76, a tried and true developing fluid, then after a few minutes of gentle shaking, the fluid was poured back into the large container and the stop-bath added. This chemical caused the developing action to cease. Finally, the fixer, a chemical which “fixed” the negative stopping all chemical processes and allowing the film strip to be brought into the light. Holding my breath and praying failure wouldn’t send me back to the Infantry, I unscrewed the can, and unspooled the film to examine it. Perfect! A strip of 35mm film, with 36 exposures in gradations of very light to very dark. In the middle of the strip, a perfect image. Now, into the wash, where the film would be washed for about 10 minutes. From there it was all over but for the making of 8x10” glossy prints. The photo lab was equipped with several enlargers, including one to which a huge 8x10 inch negative could be fitted. We could develop and enlarge every type of negative from Minox miniature size up to and including the 8x10 inch negative from the Photo Lab’s roll-around Sinar View Camera. The prints were made and the Author hurried into the CO’s office to present COL Gilmore with the finished product: The mortuary original copy of George Lincoln Rockwell’s death certificate. Everyone seemed to be blasé that it had taken only the efforts of three agents, the photo lab personnel, the FBI Liaison Officer, the TELEX system, and countless hours of other sub-Rosa maneuvers.


The Funeral


However, there still remained the issue of Rockwell’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. According to the Cemetery Director, Rockwell's Nazi associates wanted to give Rockwell a final Nazi grave-side salute. Full dress Storm Trooper uniforms, and a 21-shot salute using a collection of the Nazi’s personally-owned firearms. The local FBI office advised that the Nazi inventory included: “At least three Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles; at least two Mauser C96 (Construktion 96) Luger pistols with “broomhandle” extensions”, a Sturmgewehr Model 44 automatic rifle, and an unknown number of miscellaneous pistols.” At some point in the fandango between Arlington Cemetery management and the mortuary, the mortal remains of George Lincoln Rockwell, traveled by an unmarked hearse to The Culpeper National Cemetery. Where the Cemetery Manager set forth rules for burial. This article tells the story: “ … After his family refused to claim the remains or go to any funeral services, the Nazis were allowed to make funeral arranges [sic] they wanted. Since Rockwell was an honorably discharged veteran who served in both the Second World and Korean Wars, he was allowed to be buried at Culpepper National Cemetery with full Military Honors. Cemetery Officials would allow the funeral as long as no Nazi insignias or uniforms were present. When the 50 mourners disobeyed these conditions, their entrance to the cemetery was blocked in a standoff which lasted about five hours. The day after the aborted funeral service (August 30, 1967), his body was cremated.” The Rockwell case was finally closed; location of the cremated remains are unknown; George Lincoln Rockwell has properly faded into obscurity.


Agent’s Notes


Careful reading of the initial news reports reveal inconsistencies:


1. Rockwell’s car stalled after his foot left the clutch and rolled into a parked car. However, once the clutch is abruptly removed from action, the car, even at idle, will lurch forward, not backward. Was it proven that the car had a manual clutch?


2. The laundry attendant, Mr. Hancock, said that he ran out and looked up to the roof of the laundry building. Notice that there existed a broad overhang which would have prevented him from viewing the roof except for the middle of the parking area – where Rockwell lay dead.


3. The barber, Mr. Cummings, stated that he saw a man jump from the South end of the building. Unless Cummings was in the center of the parking lot, he could not have seen the South end of the building.


4. The killer, John Christ Patsalos (AKA John Patler), must have known that Rockwell would be present at the laundry. During the investigation, I paced off the distance at a normal walking gait from the sidewalk in front of the Nazi Headquarters to the South wall of the strip mall. Including time to dodge the traffic on busy Wilson Blvd., it took less than 5 minutes to go from point to point.


5. Climbing onto the roof, would have been fairly easy, there was a large air handling unit at the back of the small strip mall. Patler could have climbed up that way to the tar roof. The back of the mall presented to a stream and trees. The stream is still there today although running into an underground conduit.


6. How did Patler know when Rockwell was going to the laundry? There are conspiracy theories, as usual. One is that the FBI had an informant inside the “barracks” who was nudged by his Case Officer to point Patler towards the target. Another is that Patler, who was estranged from Rockwell and most of the other Nazi Party members, had his own source who tipped him off. After several earlier episodes of “disloyalty” Patler was expelled from the group. However, as for Patler’s “disloyalty”, Rockwell explained in an interview: "A political guerrilla band is what we are. And under such conditions, the struggle for power is almost cannibalistic. What happened is Patler rebelled against the leadership-- he thought he could do it better. He went up to New York and tried and he fell on his face. He's ashamed of what he did. He's apologized for it publicly. And he's worked his head off. He's a fine member right now."


7. There always existed a power struggle among Rockwell’s group. One of the individuals who vied for leadership may have sent Patler out with a mission to kill Rockwell. Hadding stated that Dan Borros, Matt Koehl, and Karl Allen, et. al. all fought over leadership.


8. Harold Covington, a White Separatist, opined:


“ … On August 25th, 1967 this authentic American hero was murdered in Arlington, Virginia, under circumstances which have never been satisfactorily cleared up but which point very heavily towards the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, and also to at least some involvement on the part of the man who seized control of the Nazi headquarters and "succeeded" Rockwell. The trigger man was later convicted and received a short prison term; his accomplices in the corridors of power and the traitor within the headquarters who made the phone call telling the gunman where Rockwell would be were never charged or punished."


9. Another discrepancy is the reporting about what time Rockwell was shot. Robert Hancock, the 17-year-old laundry attendant says 12:20. Other reports say slightly before noon. As close as the laundromat was to Rockwell's home, if Rockwell left at about 11:50 as Koehl later testified, the time of the killing seems unlikely to have been significantly later than noon unless Rockwell spent 20 minutes or so in the laundromat chatting before leaving. Since no one is known to have their eye on the clock, “approximately Noon” is about as accurate as it can be. One month later, I departed for Vietnam; A few months later, my friend Special Agent Hugh Grey Willard was also in Vietnam. He was killed in Action.



Bibliography


A Warning about some of these sources: Many of them are “White Power”, “White

Supremacist”, White Separatist, and American Nazi movement web sites. Read their

articles with healthy skepticism. These people are fractious, and engage in endless

bickering among themselves and anyone whose opinions are against their own. I used

an anonymous capability for searching and reading these web sites.


Drabble, John, “From White Supremacy to White Power: The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE, and the Nazification of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s” ; American Studies, 48:3 (Fall 2007): 49-74


Scott, Hadding, “Setting the Record Straight”, Internet Blog,

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/author/hadding-scott/


Associated Press, http://news.google.com/newspapers?

id=NO5dAAAAIBAJ&sjid=El8NAAAAIBAJ&pg=1455,6238069&dq=george-lincoln-rockwell&hl=en


United Press International http://news.google.com/newspapers?

id=Nn1JAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lwsNAAAAIBAJ&pg=3018,6198338&dq=matt-koehl&hl=en


Brimmel, George, The Calgary Herald, August 25, 1967, http://news.google.com/newspapers?

id=jGNkAAAAIBAJ&sjid=jXwNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1909,1589059&dq=george-lincoln-rockwell&hl=en


Anon., The Free Lance-Herald, September 30, 1967 http://news.google.com/newspapers?

id=ktRNAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ZIoDAAAAIBAJ&pg=7368,3432238&dq=patler+koehl&hl=en


Covington, Harold A., “Who is George Lincoln Rockwell,” 2005

http://downwithjugears.blogspot.com/2005/08/who-is-george-lincoln-rockwell.html


Anon, (attributed to Covington, Harold A.), “A Brief history of the White Nationalist Movement”,

Web Site, 2007


Personal Conversations, Ft. McNair NCO Club: Hugh G. Willard and David E. Mann, August-September 1967.


The Author:

David E. “Dave” Mann enlisted in 1961 as an Armor Reconnaissance Crewman. In 1965 he attended the Counterintelligence Agent’s Course, at Ft Holabird, MD. He served in a variety of CI jobs and cross-trained in Investigative Photography, Defense Against Methods of Entry (DAME) and Defense Against Sound Equipment (DASE). Assignments included the 116th INTC Group, 902d MI Group, 135th MI Bn (CI), 524th MI Det, 2d MI Det, 7th Radio Research Field Station (ASA) as the S-2 CI Agent; after the Far East, he returned to the 902d MI Group; Then to Europe with assignments with the 8th MI Det and 66th MI Group (Berlin). He concluded his US Army Career as a CWO4 with the US Army Special Security Group as the US Army’s SCIF Accreditation Officer and then the Defense Intelligence Agency OS-2a. After retirement in 1988 he worked with a non- DoD US Government organization in the Caribbean. He holds earned college degrees (SUNY and The American University) in Latin American Studies and Criminal Justice Administration. Military education includes Parachutist, Warrant Officer Advanced and Senior Courses, and several National Security Agency CY courses. He authored 43 articles for “MI Magazine” while on active duty.

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