From the Marvin files
I don’t know why I feel compelled to write this blog entry. But after ten years, several related questions keep nagging at me, badly enough to dig up a box of old files by flashlight and comb through at least six inches of ice-cold pages for clarification. I am looking at an 8-by-10 black-and-white photo of a very young-looking Dan Marvin and Master Sergeant Joe Hill at the Army’s Natick, Massachusetts labs, modeling what appear to be parachutes and other packs. The photo is dated January 1965.
I have already written here and elsewhere about Lt. Col. Dan Marvin, a decorated Army Special Forces veteran with whom I became fairly well acquainted (and whose appearance on the History Channel documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy led to the writing of my book, Without Smoking Gun), and who I found to have a very complicated relationship with “the truth.” His ghost haunts me from time to time, metaphorically speaking. What basis in reality did his tales of intrigue have? Were there any secrets which he took to his grave? Sometimes it seems easy to dismiss any of his claims which are not supported by documentary proof, but there is one matter on which he seemed to exercise an uncharacteristic reticence, pertaining to his former acquaintance with a mafia don and his son in the Boston area and having been offered work as a contract killer to eliminate their competition. This story was mentioned in Marvin’s article on the Kennedy assassination, published in the May, 1995 issue of The Fourth Decade. I don’t think that it is mentioned in my book’s review of Marvin’s career.
Marvin would not identify the don, saying that he, Hill, and the two mafiosi had each sworn to protect the others’ identities. A skeptical person would readily conclude that no such person did in fact exist, and that this was simply one of Marvin’s tall tales. But this story nags at me. Maybe I want it to be true, because I think I have puzzled out the identity of Marvin’s secret contacts and deep down I need to show off, even though it could incur the displeasure of the megacorporation which the family now runs. These are the kind of unhealthy thoughts that must motivate many proponents of conspiracy theories. I thought I had put the paranoia behind me, but there it is. It could be a long night. You can see my need to show off in my other writings, can’t you? Or is it something other than that: a need to matter, a need to make sense of the world?
Dan opened all his files to me and I have copies of most of them. I have stored them chronologically along with my own work. I am leafing through the earliest correspondence Dan had been able to preserve from his years of “crusading for truth.” I notice and recall a very judgmental missive written to his earliest collaborator who was living in sin. I see dim patterns emerging, leading up to his 1995 public revelation that he was asked by the CIA to eliminate a key witness to the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. I see former allies referred to as enemies. This is a man who saw in black and white. Once again, I am unable to find the letter I am looking for, even by doing a keyword search in my electronic copies of Dan’s files. It’s frustrating because I know I saw it at one time, probably in 2003 when I visited Dan in New York. Every couple of years, I go looking for it, hoping that maybe this time I will be successful. The only remaining evidence I have in hand of actually having seen such a letter and not having fabricated the memory over the years is some internet search results I subsequently saved in October 2004.
What was in this all-important letter, you must be wondering. Dan was not the kind of man who used the word “Google” as a verb. When there was something he wanted to find out on the internet, he would ask for help. It was one of the first things he asked of me when I made his acquaintance. In the letter I am once again searching for, Dan (to the best of my recollection) asked one of his confidantes to see what he can find out about the last name Perini in the Boston area. He doesn’t make a big deal of it; he is just asking a casual favor in a private letter, some time in the late 1990s. Of course, when I saw this letter I was certain that Dan was making a discreet inquiry regarding the current status of his former mafia contacts. So of course I did a search on “Perini Boston.”
What I found was very unsettling. Result number one, from BusinessWire.com, May 2004: “Boston Globe Ranks Perini as Massachusetts’ #2 Company.” Result number two, from Boston Business Journal, July 2004: “Perini wins $52M Afghanistan project.” Result number three, from casinovendors.com: “Perini Building Company provides general contracting, construction management and design/build services to private clients and public agencies nationwide. Areas of specialty include gaming and lodging, entertainment, sport and public assembly, correctional, health care, warehousing and manufacturing, office, retail and parking structures.” Even now, I feel a knot in my stomach reviewing these results. Perini’s Massachusetts headquarters are in Framingham, the town neighboring Natick.
From time to time, I am reminded of all this, for example when a New England relative mentions to me some enormous Boston public works project which is being defrauded my the mob, fifty years after Dan first went to the Natick labs to test out gear. When I dare to stop and think about it, I am troubled at the prospect that Dan was right and that I didn’t give him enough credit. Horrified that I was right in my thesis that dirty money rules this country as the illegitimate child of high finance and thuggery. Good night and sleep tight.
P.S.: Couldn’t sleep after posting this, and did more internet browsing instead. Found this: http://www.nationalbcc.org/news/beyond-the-rhetoric/1283-when-the-federal-government-embraces-a-gangster-corporation
And this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lou_Perini