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the Wanderling

The following is how Roselli's military service is recorded as found in the Federal Bureau of Investigation John Roselli Excerpts, PART 8 of 12, page 174 of 204. The pages within the Excerpts, reportedly done by the FBI's Special Investigation Division, cover a period of their information gathering from 8/2/76 - 3/1/77, with a date stamp indicating it having been received May 24, 1977. The section on Roselli's military service reads thus:

Roselli was inducted into the United States Army on December 4, 1942, at Fort McArthur, California and had Army Serial Number 39 54 7191. On December 23, 1942, he was transferred to the Fifth Armored Division, Camp Cooke, California, and on May 25, 1943, he was transferred to Governor's Island, New York City. He remained at Governor's Island until he was confined by civil authorities on December 30, 1943. He received a discharge, other than honorable, on June 30, 1945, at Fort McPherson, Georgia, under the provisions of Section III, AR 615-366, because of his conviction of crime by a civil court.

The above quote was dug out of Federal Bureau of Investigation accounts. In the general public arena, regarding Roselli's actual real-time military service, not a whole lot shows up and what does, a good part of it is not accurate and/or based on hearsay. Most can be negated by a little research, to wit:

After being transferred from Fort McArthur to Camp Cooke, California, Roselli was assigned to Headquarters Company of the First Battalion, 81st Armored Regiment, with the rank of private, receiving a king's ransom monthly sum of $50.00, the pay for privates having doubled from $21.00 a month to $50 a month in September 1942. The 81st Armor Regiment had been activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky on October 1, 1941, as part of the nucleus that formed Fifth Armored Division. In early 1942 it was moved to the Camp Cooke Military Reservation (now Vandenberg Air Force Base) only just constructed at the time on a portion of the old Will Rogers Ranch near Lompoc, California. While stationed there, his unit was redesignated as the 81st Tank Battalion.

There is a continuing controversy whether Roselli joined the Army or if he was drafted. As shown in the charts below his Army serial number clearly indicates he was drafted. Now true, he may have avoided being drafted in the classical sense by volunteering after receiving his draft notice, but his serial number doesn't reflect such an action. So too, once in awhiile it shows up that in February the 81st was transferred to Fort McPherson, Georgia, with Rosselli traveling with his regiment. There is no record of the 81st being transferred to Fort McPherson or Georgia.

In late July 1942, six months before Roselli was inducted, it was learned that full blown desert-type maneuvers involving armored units forming to division level were being put into place. On August 11, 1942 the Battalion boarded a train for the Mojave Desert in southern California to join in those maneuvers. At the completion of the maneuvers the battalion formed up in an assembly area near Needles, California, waiting for an unspecified period of time for orders to return to Camp Cooke, of which they did. It was then that Private Roselli began showing up on the duty rosters.

In the spring of 1942, General George S. Patton Jr. had moved into the Indio and Brawley area and put into place a desert training center for his tanks and armored equipment hindering any further small scale attacks from the desert or Mexico. Near the end of April or early May of 1942, U.S. Military Intelligence learned the Japanese had put to sea the small but fast Japanese 5th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Hosagaya Boshiro and consisting of two light carriers and a seaplane carrier at its core, along with support ships; two strike forces, and his flagship group, comprising a heavy cruiser and two destroyers, protecting supply ships --- configured in what appeared to be a potential invasion force. By June 3, 1942 Patton was convinced the fleet's final destination was to invade Mexico by landing on the beaches of Baja California, then move north into California. Patton positioned almost his full compliment of officers and men, albeit not yet anywhere near fully trained, within striking distance right on top of the border to move south within minutes to meet any invading Japanese force. The suspected Japanese invasion fleet eventually landed on Kiska Island in the Aleutian Chain on June 6, 1942.

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The following year, around the middle of March, 1943, with the fortunes of war increasingly shifting from the deserts of North Africa to continental Europe with all of its forests and urban areas, the entire battalion once again boarded a train from Camp Cooke, and again done so for maneuvers, only this time not to the desert, but a trip nearly across the U.S. to Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, Tennessee --- with no mention of Fort McPherson or Georgia being in the picture. Since Roselli didn't arrive at Camp Cooke from Fort McArthur until December 23, 1942, he wasn't there for the Mojave Desert maneuvers. Then, on May 25, 1943, he was transferred to Governor's Island in New York City and with the amount of lead time and all required before being sent there, time wise, most likely he wasn't able to participate in the Tennessee maneuvers either. See:


Several things stand out. One, that Roselli was inducted, i.e., drafted and proven as such through his serial number (see below). Two, he went in on December 4, 1942 and did not receive his discharge from active duty until June 30, 1945, a full three and a half years later. Now, while it is true he received a less than honorable discharge, it was because of a conviction of a crime in civil court, an alleged crime done during a period of time while he was still a civilian, i.e., prior to his induction, with his sentence metered while he was still in. Nowhere is it mentioned, stated, or implied that he received his discharge because of any sort of misconduct or dereliction of duty by him while serving in the U.S. Army under the rules of the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Even so, according to Thomas Reppetto in his quote above, the U.S. attorney's office obtained a court order stripping him of his uniform.

The first two digits of Roselli's Army serial number are 3 and 9. There is a meaning to the first two numbers assigned in the serial number. If you refer to the chart below you will see that the first number, number 3, means that he was drafted. The second number indicates the location where he was when he joined or drafted. Roselli's second number is 9, meaning, according to the chart, he was drafted from an area that encompassed the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington.

WWII US Army Serial Numbers: Meaning of the First Digits:

1 = Enlisted in the Army (in other words, volunteered rather than drafted)
2 = Federally recognized National Guard
3 = Drafted
4 = Drafted
O (the letter O, not a zero) = Male commissioned officers
W = Male Warrant officers
T = Flight officers (Army Air Force)
L = Commissioned officers of the Women's Army Corps (WAC)
V = WAC Warrant officers
A = WAC enlisted women
R = Hospital dietitians
M = Physical therapy aides

The Second Number shows the location where the person enlisted or drafted:

1 = Connecticut Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
2 = Delaware, New Jersey, New York
3 = Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia
4 = Alabama, Florida, Georgia Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
5 = Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia
6 = Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin
7 = Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
8 = Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
9 = Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington
0 = When the first number is 3, the zero means he was drafted outside the U.S. (301 indicates Panama; 302 indicates Puerto Rico)
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Within minutes, if not hours, of Fidel Castro's successful 1959 military takeover of Cuba, followed then by a quick, total remaking of the island nation into almost nothing but a proxy Soviet or Russian satellite, all done under the nose of the U.S., and less than 90 miles from the continental United States at that, high ranking members of the American government began developing a number of serious steps to remove him, even eliminate him if necessary. Thus entered the CIA, an American agency that had a track record of a number of attempts at the same thing in Latin America over the years, albeit mostly unfavorable.

A decision was reached that when dealing with Castro those doing so would buffer or distance themselves by inserting a third party, or as might possibly be seen, a fall guy, between themselves and any attempt. The most high profile third party that had similar interests in the removal of Castro and an alleged background in removal, was the Mafia. When Castro took over it was said organized crime, i.e., the mob, who had their fingers in casinos, skimming, brothels, and drugs, lost millions of dollars, not only upfront but in future potential earnings. The top dogs selected to steer the CIA plans to completion initially was Richard Bissell, CIA Deputy Director of Plans to be joined by Sheffield Edwards, CIA Director of Security. As found in the Johnny Roselli Dossier and elsewhere it was set into motion thus:

1. In August 1960, Mr. Richard M. Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards to determine if the Office of Security had assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action. The mission target was Fidel Castro.

2. Because of its extreme sensitivity, only a small group was made privy to the project. The DCI was briefed and gave his approval. Colonel J. C. King, Chief, WH Division, was briefed, but all details were deliberately concealed from any of the JMWAVE officials. Certain TSD and Communications personnel participated in the initial planning stages, but were not witting of the purpose of the mission.

3. Robert A. Maheu, a cleared source of the Office of Security, was contacted, briefed generally on the project, and requested to ascertain if he could develop an entree into the gangster elements as the first step toward accomplishing the desired goal.

4. Mr. Maheu advised that he had met one Johnny Roselli on several,occasions while visiting Las Vegas. He only knew him casually through clients, but was given to understand that he was a high-ranking member of the "syndicate."


Roselli, at roughly age 57, because of having connections in certain highly sensitive areas, was recruited to serve the U.S. government, participating in a series of highly covert related activities put into place against Fidel Castro and his regime. Towards the end of May 1962 the CIA had constructed a small base for Roselli's unit on Point Mary, Key Largo to operate out of, clearing an acre or more of thick mangrove forest to build a couple of sheds along with a couple of more habitable structures as well fueling facilities and a floating dock anchored to a coral reef. Apparently having been given or commissioned with the actual military rank of colonel, using and known by either name or code name Colonel Rawlston, Roselli made midnight raids to the northern coast of Cuba, offloading U.S. trained anti-Castro Cuban commandos and weapons using twin V-bottom double-hulled aluminum high speed powerboats. On one of his raids a Cuban patrol boat caught the boat Roselli was on in its searchlights, blowing a hole in the bottom and sinking the boat almost immediately. Roselli was pulled out of the water by the other boat as they machine gunned the searchlights, slipping away into the night.(source)

Although it has been vigorously denied in some quarters because he would somehow be breaching security, several accounts have placed Rosselli physically, while wearing tailored well starched U.S. Army fatigues clearly marked with subdued full bird colonel insignia, at the JM/WAVE headquarters in Florida. Re the following from the works of John William Tuohy Johnny Roselli, Gangster:

"By day, Roselli frequented the JM/WAVE headquarters compound, sometimes attending the staff briefings but more often engaging demolitions expert Ed Roderick in rounds of cribbage, or heading off with Dave Morales for drinking bouts at the local watering holes. At night, on at least half a dozen occasions by his own account, Roselli joined with the proliferating groups of Cuban exiles in dodging Castro’s patrols on midnight dashes across the Windward Passage."









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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.


THE WASHINGTON POST: Tuesday, February 23, 1971, Page B-11

Roselli made midnight dashes to
Cuba with his hired assassins in
twin powerboats. Once a Cuban
patrol ship turned its guns on
the darkened boat, tore a hole
in the bottom and sank the boat.
Roselli was fished out of the
water by the other boat, which
escaped into the shadows.

------------------(original source for the above quote)