"Give me all available information on President, Over."
As history was unfolding at Dealey Plaza, in Dallas, radio and telephone communications squawked between the Air Force command center, the White House, and Air Force One.
"Wayside, this is Situation Room. I read from the AP bulletin. Kennedy apparently shot in head, he fell face down in backseat of his car. Blood was on his head. Mrs. Kennedy cried "Oh no," and tried to hold up his head."
Earlier this year, these rare audio recordings were discovered in the personal affects of General Chester Clifton, Jr., a military aide to President John F. Kennedy.
"We want a post mortuem at Walter Reed is what Clifton is asking for."
Forensic audio and video expert Ed Primeau was tasked with remastering and piecing together the new tape with older incomplete copies. "It's spine tingling, it gives you goose bumps when you listen to it especially being alive when this happened," he says.
The result is an unflinching account of history unfolding in real time.
"The President is dead. Is that correct?" "That is correct. That is correct."
"We're hearing several commanders, communicating logistical operations - interrupting everybody's plans because the president has been assassinated. And what it's going to take for them all to come together and deal with this disaster."
"The President is on board, the body is on board, and Mrs. Kennedy is on board."
On the tapes, you can hear the military using code names: Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) is Volunteer.
"We are waiting for the swearing in at the plane before take-off."
"Of the...That's Volunteer?"
"Say again, Roy, say again."
"We are waiting for a judge to appear for a swearing in."
"That is for Volunteer, is that right?"
That swearing in aboard Air Force One, produced the iconic image of LBJ with a shaken Jackie Kennedy by his side. Once in the air, you can hear crews scrambling to sort out logistics.
"The casket is in the rear compartment, and we suggest, because it is so heavy, that we have a fork lift, a fork lift back there to remove the casket. But if this is too awkward, we can go along with a normal ramp and several men. Over."
"Volunteer wants a patch with Mrs. Rose."
"With Mrs. Rose Kennedy, rodger."
And, you can even hear LBJ passing on condolences to JFK's mother, Rose Kennedy:
LBJ: "I wish to God there was something I could do. And I want to tell you that we are grieving with you."
Rose Kennedy: "Yes, well thank you very much. Thank you very much. I know, I know that you loved Jack and that he loved you."
To Primeau, just as interesting as what is on the tapes is what is not. There are a number of obvious edits. "I think it's pretty simple, Whoever recorded these there were certain parts of the conversation they didn't want anyone to hear," he says. "It's good for people to listen for themselves and see how things develop. Sometimes see the roughness of history," he adds.
John McAdams is a political science professor at Marquette University. He says these recordings are not likely to be the last pieces of history to surface, even 50 years after the assassination. "Truth is a lot of stuff fell between the cracks. This particular tape in the possession of General Clifton took almost 1/2 a century to show up. The historical record on all kinds of fronts is a bit more ragged than one might think," he says.
1336 Augusta West Parkway
Can't find something?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.