News / USA

Eyewitnesses Remember Kennedy Assassination 50 Years Later

50 Years Later, Eyewitnesses Remember Kennedy Assassinationi
November 19, 2013 10:52 PM
The events that took place in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, and in the days that followed are some of the most analyzed and controversial moments in American history. And as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports -- for those in Dallas who witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, those moments are permanently seared in their minds, and changed their lives forever.
The events that took place in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, and in the days that followed are some of the most analyzed and controversial moments in American history.  And for those in Dallas who witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, those moments are permanently seared in their minds, and changed their lives forever.

Nurse Phyllis Hall remembers that day as a typical, sunny North Texas Friday morning.

“As I stood there looking at the window something started to come into view here on the right side," she recalled, "and as I turned my head, it was the President's airplane, and I know that because it was close enough, it was within two blocks of the hospital, and I could see the Presidential seal on the side.”

The arrival of Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas on that day, marked the beginning of a flurry of activity for news reporters covering the President’s visit, including reporter Bob Huffaker.

“My assignment was to go to Main and Ackerd and to broadcast the motorcade as KRLD’s last stop, the last reporter on the motorcad," Huffaker explained. “I showed up and was gratified to see that it looked as though the whole city turned up.”

The crowds swelled as the Presidential motorcade made its way through Dallas.  Jim Tague was on his way to a lunch date when he became stuck in traffic.  He parked his car and looked for the source of the backup.

“As I no more looked at the crowd, here came a car through it with flags on the fenders, then I remembered reading in the papers that President Kennedy was going to be in town today," Tague said.

He eventually found himself at the end of Dealey Plaza, standing on a curb just before the triple underpass.

“I no more than see the President’s car, then a couple seconds later somebody throws a firecracker, I thought.  Turns out it was the first shot.  Then there’s a pause, then the crack crack of two rifle shots," he recalled.  "Something stung me in the face during the two rifle shots.  And I’m standing there dumbfounded, trying to figure out what happened, and I’m thinking did someone just fire a shot at the President?”

Dallas Deputy Sheriff Gene Boone was one of the first law enforcement officers outside the motorcade to react.

“There was no mistaking what it was," Sheriff Boone noted. “There were two people laying here on the ground, and as I came around, I said there’s two dead ones to myself, but as I got closer around and closer to them they started to get up.”

Meanwhile, the Presidential motorcade sped towards Parkland hospital, where nurse Phyllis Hall was just wrapping up her duty shift.

“And the doors just exploded open.  I didn’t have time to think what was going on,” she recalled.

Hall could just make out the President’s head and chest on a medical cart rushing towards Trauma Room One.

“I didn’t have a stethoscope with me, but I couldn’t feel any pulses,” she said.

As doctors and nurses tended not only to President Kennedy but also Texas Governor John Connolly, a large crowd began to gather outside.

“The dignitaries who had been in the motorcade were just milling around in shock.  The conversations were quiet, subdued, uncertain,” Huffaker remembered.

He was outside the emergency room near his vehicle, intently listening to his station's radio updates on the President’s condition -- while frantically trying to gather interviews with eyewitnesses.

As medical workers tried in vain to save the President’s life, Associated Press Reporter Mike Cochran made his way inside the hospital to get an update on the President’s condition.

“And almost the first thing we saw was just a group, almost a wave of nurses coming down the hallway, and crying hysterically.  And we knew immediately that the President was dead," he said.  "Malcolm Kilduff [Assistant White House Press Secretary] had just announced that the President had died at 1:00 p.m.”

“As the time went on the word obviously spread through the crowd and there were more tears," added Huffaker. "And I would have been crying too if I had leave to do so.”

For many in Texas, November 22, 1963, forever changed their lives.  It marked the beginning of a long shadow that was cast over this region of the country for years to come, which city leaders have struggled to change in the 50 years since the assassination.

Kane Farabaugh

Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Pandera from: Dallas
November 21, 2013 4:39 PM
Parkland Hospital is not only the place where JFK died, but where his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, died two days later, and also where Oswald's own assassin, Jack Ruby, also died four years later.

Was it a conspiracy that all these people died in the same place, or was it something about Parkland that caused all these people to coincidentally die in the same place?

Parkland has come under fire recently from government regulators, at one point losing its Medicare status, and is currently on 7 straight years of federal probation for patient care lapses and fraud. Many patients who come to Parkland die for no reason at all.

It’s no coincidence. You can read about the intriguing back story about Parkland and the JFK assassination on the website, "The Parkland Orgy of Death."

by: Margaret from: Kennedy
November 19, 2013 10:03 PM
Kane: Terrific Report. I was a senior in high school at the time, living in Palm Beach. I saw Air Force One on the side tarmac at the airport going to school just before Kennedy went off to Texas. You captured some important reactions from some real people.

by: Mrs. Witkin from: Manhattan, NY
November 19, 2013 6:37 PM
Be good little Sheeple, or VOA won't print your comment. You must go along with, and embrace the establishments ludicrous story of the "lone gunman". Be good little Sheeple!

by: Iwork@WhiteHouse from: District of Criminals
November 19, 2013 5:56 PM
Why is the establishment so desperate to reinforce the official narrative behind the assassination of JFK 50 years later?

If the lone gunman conspiracy theory is so watertight, as the establishment argues, then why, five decades after the event, are thousands of pages concerning the investigation into the assassination of JFK still classified???

by: Janet Kennedy from: Boston
November 19, 2013 5:48 PM
Notice in this so-called "article" by Kane Farabaugh, that there is ZERO mention of the CIA, and how they were behind the whole thing?? VERY IRONIC.

by: Markt from: Virginia
November 19, 2013 5:06 PM
I was just shy of being 7 months old on that fateful day (so I knew nothing about it when it happened), having been born on 26 April of that year. I have seen a good bit of footage since then, however.
As far as what I was doing at exactly 1:00 pm (3:00 pm east coast time) on 22 November? Either napping, or getting a diaper change, or being fed....

by: Allan Smith from: n/a
November 19, 2013 3:47 PM

by: Scotty Cherryholmes from: Huntsville, Texas
November 19, 2013 3:39 PM
Two announcements were made in my classroom over the public address system at my elementary school in Northeast Louisianna. The first "Three shots fired in Dallas at the President." And then an hour later. "The President is dead." It was surreal. The next three days were like no other time in my memory. We spoke in hushed tones. As children we knew not to misbehave. All three networks ceased all programing and there was a lot of dead air. No one was prepared for this tragedy. We were angry at LBJ because he was not handsome, he was not young, he spoke slowly and didn't seem to be smart. That was my impression as an 11 year old.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs