54 years ago…

John F. Kennedy was shot this morning, November 22, 1963 in Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

I was in the 7th grade, sitting in math class, when the teacher came in, in tears. She had a transistor radio with her, and turned it on. We heard those words no American ever wants to hear, “The President has been shot.”

A couple of weeks ago, more data was released on that fateful day, and I’m sure the conspiracy theorists are combing it to prove their crackpot theories…

A number of years ago, I met a TV producer/director who was with NBC back in the day, and he told me a rather interesting story concerning the arrival back at Andrews of Air Force One. He had been told to get out to Andrews, and a camera crew would be sent ASAP.

He got out there to find it was just him and a cameraman from ABC, who had his gear set up, and¬†nobody else. Then Air Force One landed…

Max said he and the cameraman huddled and decided what the hell, at least they would get some stock footage that could be shared later. So the cameraman followed the airplane in, focused on the door, and they saw Jackie come down the steps, still in the blood stained pink dress.

He told the cameraman to follow her, as the ambulance backed up to the cargo area, and captured the casket being removed from the airplane and placed in the ambulance. He then told to cameraman to follow the ambulance as it disappeared in the distance…

Now what, asked the cameraman, and Max told him to pan back to the door of the airplane. A couple of seconds later, Lyndon Johnson appeared in the door, the first time he’d been seen in public as the President. They followed him down the stairs, and when he was gone, they left.

It wasn’t till Max got back to the studio that he found out all the networks had been broadcasting the feed they had provided. He said he asked LBJ later (when he appeared on Meet the Press), why he stepped into the door of Air Force One when he did. He said he was stunned to hear LBJ say, “I figured that was my cue.”

All I could do was shake my head in wonder, and thank him for doing what he did. Those video clips are a part of the visual history of that day, and one my generation will never forget.



54 years ago… — 20 Comments

  1. Your TV producer friend was certainly a witness to history. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Yup, still remember that day very clearly. I was in 5th grade and the teacher told us after we came in from recess. We were all shocked to say the least.

  3. Showing my age and nerd-dom. I remember November 23, 1963 because that was when Doctor Who first aired in the UK, and it was delayed because of the JFK coverage. That’s how I remember the date of the assassination – from reading the history of sci-fi.

    My two first critical memory moments are the handshake at Camp David, and the release of the hostages from Iran, followed closely by the “Challenger” and watching the Berlin Wall come down.

  4. I was on the Flight Line wrenching on B-52’s. We were already on Alert for another reason (ORI), but we cranked it up another notch!! Our “birds” were definitely ready to go to the Soviet Union.

  5. I was stationed at Stead AFB in Reno.
    The whole military, worldwide went on alert.
    I was on a roof with a M-2 and no ammo.

  6. Hey Old NFO;

    We lost a bit of our innocence that day. And LBJ got us into Vietnam and the “Great Society” program. I keep wondering how different our history would be if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed.

  7. I was in 4th grade, outside at recess (remember those?) when Mrs. Terry came out, and asked me if I knew who the president was. I told her it was Mr. Kennedy, and she told me that he’d been shot, in Dallas Texas, and was dead, and that Mr. Johnson was now president.

    Lotta things changed for all of us that day.

  8. The winds of fate are not tempered by the passing of time.
    Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

  9. I was up at the SERE school in Rangeley Maine running a class through its paces when we got the word. Wondered if we ought to go downtown and buy a few thousand rounds of .30-06 for our BFA equipt M-1’s to take care of all those Russians that would be storming us from Alaska/Canada! I was 24!

  10. I was also in 7th grade, in my science classroom at a junior high school in Dallas. I remember it being a beautiful day, just perfect weather wise – we had the school windows open. School was dismissed, so I got on my bike and pedaled home to find my mother in tears, dismayed not only that it happened, but that it happened in our town. Even then there was speculation that it was the doing of the far right (John Birch Society types). But as most of the time, turned out to be a violent leftist.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  11. And I was in a radio studio, broadcasting, in Minnesota — all I really remember is the Superflash alarm going off on the teletype, and how stunned we all were…

  12. I was sitting on watch in front of a radar scope two days out of Yokosuka. We were alone and went to GQ (no drill) for about two hours. We thought we were at war with USSR, Cuba, New York or somebody. We got the all clear and secured. I didn’t get to see the films until late 1965.

  13. My mother and grandmother were watching their soap operas when it was interrupted that the president had been shot. I was in my playpen.

  14. I was in 2nd Grade and my teacher started crying and walked us all home. Since I lived across the street from school I was one of the first home. Mom was crying when I got home so I started crying too. After a while I got tired of crying and stopped, then I wondered why I had to cry.