Lee Harvey Oswald was born in New Orleans on 18 October 1939, two months after the death of his father. His mother, Marguerite Claverie Oswald, had two older children.
Oswald enlisted in the US Marine Corps on 24 October 1956, six days after his 17th birthday. During his final year in the Corps, he was stationed for the most part in Santa Ana, California, where he showed a marked interest in the Soviet Union and sometimes expressed politically radical views with dogmatic conviction.
During this period he expressed strong admiration for Fidel Castro and an interest in joining the Cuban army.
Oswald’s Marine service ended on 11 September 1959. A few weeks before his discharge he had applied for a passport, listing the Soviet Union as one of the countries which he planned to visit.
He arrived in Moscow by train on 16 October 1959, crossing the border from Finland.
On 31 October, Oswald appeared at the American Embassy, announced that he wished to renounce his US citizenship and become a Russian citizen.
He never formally complied with the legal steps necessary to renounce his American citizenship and the Soviet government did not grant his request for citizenship, but in January 1960 he was given leave to remain in the Soviet Union on a year-to-year basis.
In February 1961 he expressed a desire to return to the United States but married a Russian girl (Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova) on 30 April 1961. He arrived in Fort Worth, Texas with his new wife on 1 June 1962.
Oswald lost his job with a photography firm on 6 April 1963 and a few days later attempted to kill Major General Edwin A Walker (resigned US Army) using a rifle which he ordered by mail under an assumed name.
He went to Mexico in September where he visited the Cuban and Russian embassies, returning to Dallas on 3 October 1963.
Now working as an order filler at the Texas School Book Depository building, Oswald assassinated President John F Kennedy at 12:30 pm Central Standard Time on Friday 22 November 1963 as the President rode in an open-topped motorcade through Dealey Plaza, Dallas – directly in front of the Book Depository building.
About 45 minutes after assassinating Kennedy, Oswald shot and killed Dallas police officer J D Tippit on a local street. He then slipped into a movie theatre where he was arrested for Tippit’s murder.
Shortly after 1:30 am on Saturday 23 November he was formally charged with the assassination of President Kennedy. By 10 pm on the day of the assassination, the FBI had traced the rifle found on the sixth floor of the Book Depository to a mail-order house in Chicago who confirmed the rifle had been shipped to a Post Office Box in Dallas, – a box rented by Oswald.
On Sunday 24 November at approximately 11:20 am, Oswald emerged from the basement of the City Jail flanked by detectives on either side and at his rear – he was being transferred to Dallas County Jail about a mile away.
He took a few steps toward a transfer vehicle (an unmarked police car) and was in the glaring light of the television cameras when a man (later identified as 52-year-old Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby) suddenly darted out from an area to the right of the cameras, moved quickly to within a few feet of Oswald and fired one shot into Oswald’s abdomen.
Within seven minutes, Oswald was at Parkland Hospital where, without having regained consciousness, he was pronounced dead at 1:07 pm.