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Before JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald Tried to Kill an Army Major General

Seven months before he shot President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald tried to kill Major General Edwin Walker

Major General Edwin Walker. Photo: U.S. War Department / Wikimedia Commons

Seven months before Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy, he took his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle to Major General Edwin Walker‘s house, stood by the fence, aimed towards the window, and shot at him. Walker was a stark anti-communist voice and an increasingly strident critic of the Kennedy’s, whose strong political stances had him pushed out of the army in 1961. In an excerpt, published at the Daily Beast, from a new book, Dallas 1963, Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis tell the story of how Walker found himself in the sights of Lee Harvey Oswald.

On April 10, 1963, Oswald left his wife a note and made for Walker’s house. He took aim, ready to carry out his thoroughly researched plan.

Oswald lifts his rifle and stares into the window. Surrounding Walker are folders, books, and stacks of packages wrapped in brown shipping paper. The walls are decorated with panels of foil wallpaper embossed with an Asian-style flower motif. Walker’s head is in profile. He has a pencil in hand, and he is perfectly still, focused on something at his desk. From outside looking in, it must look a bit like a painting—as if Walker is caught in thought with the right side of his face clearly visible.

Oswald squints into his telescopic sight, and Walker’s head fills the view. He looks so close now, and he’s sitting so still, that there’s no possible way to miss. Drawing a tight bead on Walker’s head, he pulls the trigger. An explosion hurtles through the night, a thunder that echoes to the alley, to the creek, to the church and the surrounding houses.

Walker flinches instinctively at the loud blast and the sound of a wicked crack over his scalp—right inside his hair. For a second, he is frozen. His right arm is still resting on the desk alongside his 1962 income tax forms. He doesn’t know it, but blood is beginning to appear.

Oswald missed his shot and escaped into the night. “The Warren Commission, relying on testimony from Oswald’s widow, Marina, said Oswald tried to kill the general because he was “an extremist,”” says the New York Times. The next day, Walker was interviewed about the attempted assassination:

Edwin Walker died in 1993 of lung cancer.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Kennedy Assassin Who Failed

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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