The JFK assassination 60 years on: Oswald shot Kennedy then killed a cop, hid ... trends now
By November 1963, 46-year-old President John F. Kennedy, the youngest elected leader in American history, had been in office for almost three years. He had won admiration for his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis and brought glamour to the White House but for many he was a divisive and hated figure.
His assassination in Dallas gave birth to hundreds of conspiracy theories that are argued over today. As the 60th anniversary of JFK's murder approaches, Jonathan Mayo tells the story of the day that shook the world.
Friday, November 22, 1963
President Kennedy is asleep in Suite 850 in the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth. Today he will make two speeches in the city and then fly to Dallas. JFK is in Texas because he needs to win friends in the South — his support for civil rights has severely dented his popularity and the election is just a year away. Also with him on the trip is his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.
George Thomas, his valet, knocks on the door to wake Kennedy. 'Mr President, it's raining out.' He hears him stir and reply: 'That's too bad.'
JFK's wife Jackie, 34, is happy that it's raining, as that means the bubbletop cover will be on the presidential limousine and it'll keep her hair from blowing about. This trip is Jackie's first extended appearance in public since losing a baby in August.
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy smile at the crowds lining their motorcade route in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Minutes later the President was assassinated as his car passed through Dealey Plaza
Lee Harvey Oswald holds a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle and newspapers in a backyard
Thirty miles away in Irving, 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald kisses his sleeping children, Rachel and June, and says to his wife Marina: 'I've left some money on the bureau. Take it and buy everything you and Junie and Rachel need.'
Oswald was briefly a U.S. Marine, who in 1959 defected to the Soviet Union where he married 19-year-old Marina. Within two years they were back in the U.S. Oswald beats her and so a few months ago Marina left him and moved in with her friend Ruth Paine.
Last night he failed to persuade her to come home to him in Dallas, where he is living temporarily in a boarding house. Oswald dislikes Ruth, but she did help him find his current job as a stockboy at the Texas Book Depository in Dallas.
Oswald takes off his wedding ring and puts it in a china cup then walks to the garage, where he picks up a long paper package containing an Italian World War II rifle.
In his hotel room JFK attaches a large back brace around his middle and ties its laces tightly. He then slips large stretchable bandages up over his hips to support the bottom of his torso. Since he was a teenager Kennedy has suffered from a chronic bad back, which means for much of the time he's in pain. Sometimes it's so bad he uses crutches or a walking stick — but never in public.
The speeches in Fort Worth over. Air Force One lands at Love Field on the outskirts of Dallas. In the crowd waiting for the President are people holding placards.
Some say: 'We love Jack' but others say, 'Your a traitor' (sic) and less concisely, 'Mr President, because of your socialist tendencies and because of your surrender to communism I hold you in complete contempt'. Earlier, Kennedy warned Jackie they were heading into 'nut country'.
Oswald was briefly a U.S. Marine, who in 1959 defected to the Soviet Union where he married 19-year-old Marina
The motorcade is travelling through downtown Dallas. In the car with JFK and Jackie are Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie. The sun is shining so the car's protective bubbletop has been removed.
In the vehicle behind are eight Secret Service agents concerned about the motorcade, as the President has asked them not to ride on the steps of the back of his limousine as they block his view of the crowd. Jackie has her sunglasses on because of the noonday sun but the President asks her to take them off, as they'll make her look aloof. Marina Oswald is at home watching live TV coverage of the motorcade with Ruth Paine.
The Dallas crowd suddenly surge forward towards the President's car and driver Bill Greer has to slow down to a crawl, forcing the police motorcyclist on Jackie's side to drop back. Clint Hill, the agent responsible for the First Lady's safety, ignores the President's order and gets on the rear step of the car, crouching as low as he can. He's concerned that someone might try to grab Jackie or throw something into the car.
Alone on the sixth floor of the Book Depository, Oswald is moving some boxes to the south-east corner, close to a window with an unobstructed view of the motorcade route. He places a box by the window on which to rest his rifle. He only has four bullets.
Onlookers Arnold Rowland and his wife Barbara are standing on the sidewalk opposite the Book Depository. Arnold can see a man at a sixth-floor window holding a rifle. He discusses with his wife whether they should tell the policeman standing near them, but they reckon the man must be a Secret Service agent.
Sitting in front of Jackie Kennedy, Nellie Connally is listening to the President saying: 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'
Whenever Jackie waves her white-gloved hand, the crowd goes wild. As the crowds are thinner as they near the end of Main Street, Clint Hill jumps off the back of the President's limo and heads to the follow-up car.
Nellie Connally turns to Kennedy and says: 'You certainly can't say that the people of Dallas haven't given you a nice welcome.' 'No, you certainly can't,' he replies. Looking through the telescopic sight on his rifle, Oswald sees the limo emerge from behind a tree and squeezes the trigger.
Jackie thinks the bang is a car that's backfired. Sparks fly off the pavement behind the limousine. Oswald has missed and so fires again. The second bullet hits the President in the back, passing through his throat and hitting Governor Connally, going through his chest and shattering a rib.
Now travelling backwards, the bullet hits Connally's wrist and ends up embedded in his left thigh. Connally cries: 'My God! They are going to kill us all!' and slumps towards Nellie. Kennedy doesn't fall — his back brace keeps him upright and so an easy target.
Just 8.4 seconds after his first shot, Oswald fires for a third time and hits the President in the head.
Jackie said later: 'As I turned and looked at him, I could see a piece of his skull and I remember it was flesh coloured. I remember thinking he just looked as if he had a slight headache. Then he put his hand to his forehead and fell in my lap. And then I just remember falling on him and saying: 'Oh, no, no, no! Oh, my God, they have shot my husband'.'
Fragments of Kennedy's head fall at the feet of Press photographer Ike Altgens. Secret Service agent Clint Hill jumps onto the back of the car and sees Jackie crawling towards him, he thinks to catch something that's falling from the back of the car. He grabs her arm and pushes her back into the seat.
Oswald drops his rifle between some packing cases, puts another box on top to conceal it and heads down the stairs of the depository. Some people are pointing to the railway yard nearby where they think they heard shots and a motorcycle policeman runs, gun in hand, up a grassy knoll towards the tracks.
The Dallas Police Department mug shots of Lee Harvey Oswald following his arrest for possible involvement in the John F. Kennedy assassination
The President's limo screeches to a halt outside the Emergency Room of Parkland Hospital. The hospital isn't ready so there is no one outside to help.
Secret Service agents surround the car, some with submachine guns. Kennedy is finally wheeled in on a trolley with Jackie holding his hand. A nurse suggests that she wipe the blood off her clothing. 'Absolutely not. I want the world to see what Dallas has done to my husband.'
In Trauma Room One, surgeon Dr Malcolm Perry rushes in from the canteen, still chewing his lunch. His first thought is that the President looks taller than he thought he would be; his second is: 'Here is the most important man in the world'. The President's face is blue-white and his breathing spasmodic, his eyes are open and staring. Soon there are six doctors trying to keep the President alive.
In the CBS studios in New York, the soap opera As The World Turns is being transmitted live.
Suddenly a caption appears on the screen saying, 'CBS News Bulletin', followed by the voice of news anchor Walter Cronkite. 'In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas.' When he finishes, the network cuts