Friday, March 16, 2012

Tom Slick & JFK?

March 17th and the CIA

The date of March 17th is important in intelligence circles, and especially as associated with Tom Slick. It does not seem to be a coincidence this is the date covertly known as the anniversary of the CIA's removal of the Dalai Lama from Tibet. (See here.)

Tom Slick and his family worked closely with the OSS and the CIA for years, anywhere there was oil, air freight to ship, or adventures to serve as covers (like hunting for Yetis in Nepal/Tibet).  But was there more sinister activities afoot? Ones that Slick might have tried to stop?

You all know there are books where you can find out more about the cryptozoological part of his life. Today, let's explore a segment of the Yankee-Cowboy Texan's adventures that are a bit more covert, the cryptopolitics of Tom Slick.

Slick Airways (a CIA proprietary airline, per US Supreme Court, 1993 case: "Until 1956," Mr. [Erwin] Rautenberg explained, "the C.I.A. proprietary worked through a company called Slick Airways.")

Tom Slick had an interesting circle of friends.

Another man mentioned in the correspondence between Prescott Bush, Neil Mallon and Allen Dulles has also been linked to U.S. intelligence. Tom B. Slick of San Antonio, an oil heir and mutual friend of Mallon and Prescott Bush, Slick was entered in [George] de Mohrenschildt's address book in 1954-55.

The correspondence touts Slick as a potential government or political appointee in late 1952 and early 1953. In a reply to Bush to Allen Dulles, before the founding of Zapata, Dulles wrote Prescott Bush, Dec. 10, 1952: "If Slick should be interested in our line of
work here, I will be glad to talk with him."
* * *
Slick was a world traveler and adventurer and was also a member of Dresser's board of directors. Like John Mecom, Slick was known to sell his specially-bred cattle to Senator Robert Kerr of Oklahoma. Democrat Senator Kerr, as a favor to his Republican Senator colleague Prescott Bush, asked W.C. "Jim" Savage to give George a tour of Kerr-McGee's offshore oil rigs.  ~
Bruce Campbell Adamson

George de Mohrenschildt (April 17, 1911 – March 29, 1977) was a petroleum geologist and professor who befriended Lee Harvey Oswald in the summer of 1962 and maintained that friendship until Oswald's death two days after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. He had personal acquaintance with the Bush family, including George H. W. Bush, with whose nephew, Edward G. Hooker, he had been roommates at Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts. He also had personal acquaintance with the Bouvier family, including Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, the president's wife, when she was still a child. His testimony before the Warren Commission investigating the assassination was one of the longest of any witness.

Dresser Industries was a multinational corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas, United States, which provided a wide range of technology, products, and services used for developing energy and natural resources. In 1928 the Wall Street investment-banking firm of W. A. Harriman and Company, Inc., converted the firm into a public company by issuing 300,000 shares of stock. H. Neil Mallon was selected as president and chief executive officer; holding that position until his retirement in 1962. 

George H. W. Bush got his start in the Texas oil business through his father's friend Henry Neil Mallon, the president of Dresser Industries. Mallon offered George his first job at Dresser subsidiary International Derrick and Equipment Company (Ideco), in Odessa, Texas. Brown Brothers Harriman had underwritten Dresser’s transition from a private company to a publicly traded one. Years later, George named a son after Mallon (Neil Mallon Bush).

In 1953, Bush got money from Brown Brothers Harriman and, with partners Hugh and Bill Liedtke, formed Zapata Petroleum. By the late 1950s they were millionaires. Bush bought subsidiary Zapata Off-Shore from his partners and went into business on his own in 1954. By 1958, the new company was drilling on the Cay Sal Bank in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. These islands had been leased to Nixon supporter and CIA contractor Howard Hughes the previous year and were later used as a base for CIA raids on Cuba. Tom Slick and Howard Hughes became such close friends that they had adjoining cottages at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Slick was Director on the Board for Dresser, until his death on October 6, 1962.

The CIA was using companies like Zapata to stage and supply secret missions attacking Fidel Castro’s Cuban government in advance of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The CIA’s codename for that invasion was “Operation Zapata.” In 1981, all Securities and Exchange Commission filings for Zapata Off-Shore between 1960 and 1966 were destroyed. In other words, the year Bush became vice president, important records detailing his years at his drilling company disappeared. In 1969, Zapata bought the United Fruit Company of Boston, another company with strong CIA connections. The history of Dresser is an intriguing one. 

In 1998, Dresser merged with its main rival Halliburton. (Dick Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company from 1995 to 2000, and later served as the 46th Vice President of the United States, 2001–2009, under George W. Bush.)

Tom Slick and the JFK Assassination?

How deeply was Tom Slick involved with the people who may have circled around the conspiracy leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

One wonders if Slick's peace work was rubbing people the wrong way. After all, President John F. Kennedy would be killed in Texas, Slick's home state, only fourteen months after Slick died. Maybe the conservative forces in America were trying to send someone a message with a special Texas flare?

One of the more interesting linkages Slick had was through his role as a member of the Advisory Board of the United World Federalists,(Coleman, 1989). Founded in 1947, the United World Federalists' was the intellectual Cord Meyer. Suddenly, in 1950 around the time China was advancing on Tibet, Meyer left the organization's head post in the hands of liberal Alan Cranston [formerly the senior United States Senator from California] and joined the CIA's covert operations division. A close associate was quoted as saying: "It was a great surprise to all his friends. He was not the CIA type. He was a world government man." (Smith, 1972) 

In 1954, Meyer was named Chief of the CIA's Covert Action operations. Hardened by political battles with Joseph McCarthy and by personal tragedies, years later a friend would say that Cord Meyer "got Cold Warized" (Smith, 1972).

JFK and Mary Pinchot Meyer

Tragedies haunted Cord Meyer. One of Meyer's sons died in an automobile accident. Then there's the story of his former wife, Mary Pinchot Meyer, JFK's last lover. Mary Meyer was killed by an unknown assailant on October 12, 1964 on a C&O towpath in Washington D.C. 

Mary Pinchot Meyer, in life (above) and in death (below)

Much darkness surrounds Mary Pinchot Meyer's death, but it appears dozens of people connected to the JFK inner and outer circles were killed. JFK Assassination researcher John Gooch III of New Orleans has wondered aloud if perhaps Tom Slick was in on some early planning meetings regarding the Kennedy killing, backed out and was killed for knowing too much.Then theres that mysterious meeting of 14 individuals and Tom Slick that the FBI was watching in 1962. There's the hints and informants claims that "everyone knew Slick was helping run guns to Cuba." A deeper level of involvement between Slick and several figures in the JFK drama keep cropping up.  

~ excerpt from Loren Coleman's chapter, "Tom Slick - Mystery Man." in Kenn Thomas' Popular Alienation: A Steamshovel Press Reader, 1995 (pp. 305-19). Source "Smith" refers to OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency by R. Harris Smith (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972).

In 1954 a disillusioned Meyer was trying to leave the CIA and Operation Mockingbird. In the summer of that year Meyer family's golden retriever was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed. The dog's death worried Cord. He told colleagues at the CIA he was afraid the same thing might happen to one of his children. 

Meyer continued to try and get out of the CIA by joining a publishing firm. He had made some good contacts in this field during Operation Mockingbird. On 18th December, 1956, Cord's nine-year-old son, Michael, was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed. It was the same spot where the family's golden retriever had been killed two years earlier. Meyer got the message and he stopped applying for other jobs. This incident also made Mary Pinchot Meyer extremely hostile to the CIA. ~ John Simkin, The Education Forum

Who Was Tom Slick?

SLICK, THOMAS BAKER, JR[b]. (1916-1962). Thomas Baker Slick, Jr., oilman, rancher, philanthropist, and founder of the Southwest Research Institute and the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, was born at Clarion, Pennsylvania, on May 6, 1916, the son of Thomas Baker and Berenice (Frates) Slick. His father, one of the most famous independent oil operators in the Southwest, was known as "Lucky Tom" and "King of the Wildcatters." When Tom Slick, Sr., died in 1930 at the age of forty-six, he left his children approximately $15 million. Tom, Jr., used his wealth to support activity in a variety of fields, including scientific research, oil drilling, cattle breeding, exploration, and collections of modern art. When Slick was twelve, his family moved from San Antonio to Oklahoma City. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy from 1931 to 1934. In 1938 he earned a premedical degree in biology from Yale University, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa. He later took graduate courses at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During the first part of World War II, he was a "dollar-a-year" man for the War Production Board in Washington and a cargo officer in Chile for the Board of Economic Warfare. He later served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific and Japan.

Slick established a number of research organizations, beginning in 1941 with the Foundation of Applied Research (now the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research; see also Argyle Hotel). He also founded the Institute of Inventive Research (1944; liquidated 1953), designed to develop and promote the ideas of independent inventors; the Southwest Research Institute (1947); the Southwest Agricultural Institute (1957); the Mind Science Foundation (1958), which investigates the human mind; and the Human Progress Foundation (1960), was intended to promote better conditions through science, education, and the advancement of peace. The first three of these-the SFRE, IIR, and SR-became units of the Southwest Research Center, which Slick endowed with 3,800 acres of land and $2 million. Slick helped to develop Brangus cattle, and his herd of registered Anguses was one of the three largest in the country. His oil activities included the discovery in 1947 of the Benedum Field in West Texas, one of the most significant oil finds in the United States after World War II. Slick was co-inventor of the lift-slab method of building construction. He wrote The Last Great Hope (1951) and Permanent Peace: A Check and Balance Plan (1958). He was a collector of modern art and sculpture. As an avid adventurer and world traveler, he spent two weeks with a Waiwai tribe in the jungles of British Guiana in 1956, after his plane made a forced landing during a diamond-hunting trip. He also organized several expeditions to search for the "Abominable Snowmen" in the Himalayan Mountains and led one of the expeditions himself, in 1957. Later his attention shifted to the Pacific Northwest, where there were reports of Bigfoot/Sasquatch, and Giant Salamanders.

Slick was a trustee and governor of the Texas Research Foundation, the Worchester Foundation for Experimental Biology (Massachusetts), the Stanford Research Institute (Palo Alto), Trinity University, and the San Antonio Medical Foundation. He was a member of numerous organizations, including the United World Federalists, the National Planning Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Explorers Club. He also served on the board of directors of a number of companies, including Slick Airways (associated with the CIA) and Dresser Industries (sponsored by Preston Bush and Neil Mallon for membership), and was a founder of the TexStar Corporation. In 1953, he received an honorary doctor of science degree from Trinity University. Slick was married and divorced twice and had four children. He died in a private airplane crash (an air explosion) on October 6, 1962, near Dell, Montana, and was buried in Mission Burial Park, San Antonio.

Sources: Loren Coleman, Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1989). Loren Coleman. Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology (Fresno: Craven Street Books, 2002). Robert Lubar, "The Adventures of Tom Slick," Fortune, July 1960. San Antonio Express, October 8, 1962. San Antonio Express-News, December 24, 1989. Harold Vagtborg, The Story of Southwest Research Center (San Antonio: Southwest Research Institute, 1973). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. 


Michael said...

Loren, your recent series of posts have been thought provoking. Perhaps Tom Slick was a bit like Gus Grissom, the astronaut who wouldn't tow the line and paid the price.

The whole Cowboy vs. Yankee thing seems plausible, except, the spawn of Prescott Bush went to Texas. So maybe that was when they came together. A Yankee wearing a cowboy hat.

Jason said...

Great post. Interesting piece in there regarding biomedical research - in the 40s/50s!

Was Slick a member of the Cosmos Club (founded by John Wesley Powell)? His interests certainly make it very plausible.

For inquiring readers, the Cosmos Club was founded by 33 "explorers" in the late 19th century and was the cornerstone of the National Geographic Society. And, if Mr. Coleman doesn't know this already, was located at Lafayette Square in DC for a time.

Take a look at the Cosmos Club Foundation's list of Trustees and you will find connections to modern day enthusiasts of biomedical research.

leegomez said...

I just found your post, but enjoyed it immensely. Especially given my family's longstanding friendship with the Slicks and the Urschels. Thanks for this.

Rick said...

I just found your Blog. My dad was a pilot for Slick. After he died we found a CIA ID Badge. It has been a mystery, he never said a word about it. However, flying for Slick and then Airlift International (also a CIA connection) he flew to well over 100 countries. Very interesting. By the way, dad did not like JFK and on November 22, 1963 he was flying somewhere, I need to find his log book.

Seth Sklarey said...

Slick on one of his Yeti searches took a side tour to snatch the Dalai Lama to safety out of Tibet, a little known CIA caper.

Mary said...

Hi Lee, found article interesting also. My grandmothers brother was married to Betty Slick,& recall meeting Tom , must have been the third, being I was only 3 yrs.old in 1952,at Argyle, where my grandparents resided untill age 5-6. Knew stories about the snowman & urshals kidnapping, ,involving Machine Gun Kelly. But this article held lots of unknown info., I never was told about. And the mystery still unravels for myself, anyways. Mary

Mary said...

Hi Lee, found article interesting also. My grandmothers brother was married to Betty Slick,& recall meeting Tom , must have been the third, being I was only 3 yrs.old in 1952,at Argyle, where my grandparents resided untill age 5-6. Knew stories about the snowman & urshals kidnapping, ,involving Machine Gun Kelly. But this article held lots of unknown info., I never was told about. And the mystery still unravels for myself, anyways. Mary

patricia said...

Very interesting article. Thank you!
You might also be interested in the occult ritual
that was held before the JFK assassination.
I believe the story is from Kerth Barker's book on Cannibalism.