The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois on November 24, 1963 · Page 2
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The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 2

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Bloomington, Illinois
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Sunday, November 24, 1963
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Page 2
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I Pantaicraph, Bloomlngton, HI., Sunday, Nov. U, 1963. DEVOTED COVERAGE 1 - . - I Vol ann vAhito Hnnco Srrino -sl Writes Chief to Threshhold By MERRIMAN SMITH UPI White House Reporter WASHINGTON (LTD - It was a balmy, sunny noon as we motored through downtown Dallas behind President Kennedy. The procession cleared the center of the business district and turned into a handsome high- . .;f vi r-"-;7 frit' F a. t , " - . ' i n fay 'vH-'V , s EDITOR'S NOTE: Merriman Smith, UPI White House re porter since 1941, was on the scene in Dallas Friday when President Kennedy was assas sinated. Smith was in the mo torcade not far from Kennedy when the shooting took place. He followed the President's car to the hospital and the death. He was there for the swearing-in of President Johnson in an Air Force jet and came on back to Washington aboard the aircraft bearing the new President and the body of the slain Kennedy. He was the only news agency reporter on the aircraft. way that wound through what appeared to be a park. I was riding in the so-called White House press "pool" car, a telephone company vehicle equipped with a mobile radiotelephone. I was in the front seat between a driver from the telephone company and Malcolm Kildurff, acting White House press secretary for the President's Texas tour. Three other pool reporters were wedged into the back seat. Suddenly we heard three loud, almost painfully loud cracks. The first sounded as if it might have been a large fire cracker. But the second and third blasts were unmistakable. Gunfire. The President's car, possibly as much as 150 or 200 yards ahead, seemed to falter briefly. We saw a flurry of activity in the Secret Service follow-up car behind the Chief Executive's bubble-top limousine. Fourth In Line Next in line was the car bearing Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson. Behind that, another follow-up car bearing agents assigned to the vice-president's protection. We were behind that car. Our car stood still for probably only a few seconds, but it seemed like a lifetime. One seeg history explode before one's eyes and for even the most trained observer, there is a limit to what one can comprehend. I looked ahead at the Preslr dent's car but could not see him or his companion, Gov. John B. Connally of Texas. Both men had been riding on the right side of the bubble-top limousine from Washington. I thought I saw a flash of pink which would have been Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy. Everybody in our car began shouting at the driver to pull up closer to the President's car. But at this moment, we saw the big bubble-top and a motorcycle escort roar away at high speed. We screamed at our driver, "get going, get going." We careened around the Johnson car and its escort and set out down the highway, barely able to keep in sight of the President's car and the accompanying Secret Service follow-up car. Then Saw Hospital They vanished around a curve. When we cleared the same curve we could see where we were heading Parkland Hospital, a large brick structure to the left of the arterial highway. We skidded around a sharp left turn and spilled out the hospital driveway. I ran to the side of the bubble-top. The President was fare down on the back seat. Mrs. Kennedy made a cradle of hor arms around the President's head and bent over him as if she were whispering to him. Gov. Connally was on his back on the floor of the car, his head and shoulders resting in the arms of his wife, Nellie, who kept shaking her head and shaking with dry sobs, Blood oozed from the front of the governor's suit. I could not see the President's wound. But I could see blood spattered around the interior of the rear seat and a dark stain spreading down the right side of the President's dark gray suit. Radioed Firt Report From the telephone car, I had radioed the Dallas bureau of UPI that three shots had been fired at the Kennedy motorcade. Seeing the bloody scene in the rear of the car at the hospital entrance, I knew I had to get to a telephone immediately. Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent In charge of the detail hr:'r -r'vj? M Ml i ) fa-It'' ' , ', :A- 'v? ;! The fatal shooting of President Kennedy recalled the assassination of President William McKinley which is depicted in Ihis painting. President McKinley, white shirt at. right of center, was shot by Leon Czolgosz, 25, at left of McKinley, who held a gun in his bandaged right hand. Czolgosz fired two shots point blank at the President who was visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 9, 1001. McKinley died eight days later and Czolgosz was executed on Oct. 29, 1901. This painting was made by a Leslie Magazine artist of the time. assigned to Mrs. Kennedy, was leaning over into the rear of ; the car. "How badly was he hit Clint?" I asked. "He's dead," Hill replied curtly. I have no further clear memory of the scene in the driveway. I recall a babble of anxious voices, tense voices "Where in hell are the stretchers. . .get a doctor out here . . .he's on the way. . .come on easy there." And from somewhere, nervous sobbing. I raced down a short stretch of sidewalk into a hospital cor-1 ridor. The first thing I spotted; was a small clerical office, j more of a booth than an office.' Inside, a bespectacled man stood shuffling what appeared to be hospital forms. At a wicket much like a bank teller's cage, I spotted a telephone on the shelf. "How do you get outside?" I gasped. "The President has been hurt and this is an emergency call." "Dial nine," he said, shoving the phone toward me. Dictated Fast Bulletin It took two tries before I successfully dialed the Dallas UPI number. Quickly I dictated a bulletin saying the President had been seriously, perhaps fatally, injured by an assassin's bullets while driving through the streets of Dallas. Litters bearing the President and the governor rolled by me as I dictated, but my back was to the hallway and I didn't see them until they were at the entrance of the emergency room about 75 or 100 feet away. I knew they had passed, however, from the horrified expression that suddenly spread over the face of the man behind the wicket. Outside the door of the emergency room, I watched a swift and confused panorama sweep before me. I Kilduff of the White House' press staff raced up and down the hall. Police captains barked at each other, "clear this area." Two priests hurried in behind a Secret Service agent, their narrow purple stoles rolled up tightly in their hands. A police lieutenant ran down the hall with a large carton of blood for the transfusions. A doctor ciine in and said he was responding to a call for "all neurosurgeons." Given Last Sacrament The priests came out and said the President had received the Last Sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church. They said he was still alive, but not conscious. Kilduff and Wayne Hawks of the White House staff ran by me, shouting that Kilduff would make a statement shortly in the so-called nurses room a floor above and at the far end of the hospital. I threw down the phone and sped after them. We reached the door of the conference room and there were loud cries of "quiet!" Fighting to keep his emotions under control. Kilduff said "President John Fitzgerald Kennedy died at approximately one o'clock." I raced into a nearby office, eyed. Friendly hands stretched The telephone switchboard at j toward her as she stumbled the hospital was hopelessly slightly. Johnson took both of jammed. I spotted Virginia her hands in his and motioned Payette, wife of UPI's South- her to his left side. Lady Bird western Division manager and stood on his right, a fixed half-a veteran reporter in her own smile showing the tension, right. I told her to try getting ! Johnson nodded to Judge through on pay telephones on Hughes, an old friend of his the floor above. J family and a Kennedy ap- Frustrated by the inability to pointee. get through the hospital switch-1 "Hold up your right hand board, I appealed to a nurse. 'and repeat after me," the She led me through a maze of: woman jurist said to Johnson, corridors and back stairways to! Outside a jet could be heard another floor and a lone pay booth. I got the Dallas office Virginia had gotten through before me. Selected For Pool I ran back through the hospl tal to the conference r o o m where Jiggs Fauver of the tone the constitutional oath, "I White House transportation do solemnly swear I will faith-staff grabbed me and said Kil-, fully execute the office of Presi-duff wanted a pool of three men dent of the United States. . ." immediately to fly back to The brief ceremony ended Washington on Air Force One, when Johnson in a deep, firm the presidential aircraft. "He wants you downstairs, and he wants you right now," Fauver said. Charles Roberts of Newsweek magazine, Sid Davis of West- cheek. Then he turned to Ken-inghouse broadcasting rind I nedy's widow, put his left arm implored a police officer to around her and kissed her take us to the airport in his cheek. squad car. I As others in the group some As we piled out of the canTexas Democratic House mem-about 200 yards from the presi-jbers, members of the Johnson dential aircraft, Kilduff spotted and Kennedy staffs moved to-us and motioned for us to hur-jward the new President, he ry. We trotted to him and he seemed to back away from any said the plane could take two expression of felicitation, pool men to Washington; that I The two-minute ceremony Johnson was about to take the concluded at 3:38 p.m., EST oath of office aboard the plane and seconds later, the President and would take off immediately said firmly, "Now, let's get air-thereafter, borne." I saw a bank of telephone' Col. James Swindal, pilot of booths beside the runway and the plane, a big gleaming silver asked if I had time to advise and blue fan-jet, cut on the star-my news service. He said, "but board engines immediately, for God's sake, hurry." , Several persons, including Sid Then began another telephone Davis of Westinghouse, left the nightmare. The Dallas office plane at that time. The White rang busy. I tried calling Wash- House had room for only two ington. All circuits were busv. pool reporters on the return Then I called the New York bureau of UPI and told them about the impending installa- lion of a new president aboard the airplane. I Aboard Air Force One on1 which I had made so many trips as a press association re- porter covering President Ken- nedy. all of the shades of the larger mam cabin were drawn and (he interior was hot and dimly lighted. Mimm propeiieu us to tne President's sink Room Wa Crowded I wedged inside the door and Kennedy left her bedchamber began counting. There were 27 and walked to the rear corn-people in this compartment, partnient of the plane. This was Johnson stood in the center the so-called family living with his wife, Lady Bird. U.S. room, a private area where she District Judge Sarah T. and Kenned y, family and Hughes, 67, a kindly faced friends had spent many happy woman stood with a small airhorne hours chatting and din- black Bible in her hands, waiting to give the oath. iMrs. Kennedy, who was composing herself in a small bed- room in the rear of the plane, appeared alone, dressed in the Mrs. Kennedy went into the same pink wool suit she had rear lounge and took a chair worn in the morning when she beside the coffin. There she reap p e a r e d so happy shaking mained throughout the flight, hands with airport crowds at Her vigil was shared at times the si'e of her husband. She was while-faced but dry-, droning into a landing. Takes Solemn Oath Judge Hughes held out the Rihle and Johnson covered it with his large left hand. His right arm went slowly into the air and the jurist began to in- voice, repeated after the judge, . . .and so help me God. Johnson turned first to his wife, hugged her about the shoulders and kissed her on the flight and these posts were filled by Roberts and me, al- though at the moment we could find no empty seats. ; Took High Altitude At 3:47 p.m., EST, the wheels ,,f Air Force One cleared the runway. Swindal roared the big s,jp up to an unusuallv high truising altitude of 41,000 feet wncre flt 625 miles an hour,; KP0Und spPPi tne jrt j,urlied toward Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington. When the President's plane reached operating altitude, Mrs. ing together. Kennedy's casket had been placed in this compartment, carried aboard by a group of Secret Service agents. by four staff members dose to the slain Chief Executive Da- Those are the four U.S. Presidents who have been assassinated while in office. From left: Abraham Lincoln, died April 15, lXffi after he was shot in a Washington theater. William McKinley, died Sept. 14, 1901, was shot eight days earlier at Pan Amer vid Powers, his buddy and personal assistant; Kenneth P. O'Donnell, appointments secretary and key political adviser; Lawrence O'Brien, chief Kennedy liaison man with Congress and Brig. Gen. Godfrey Mc-Hugh, Kennedy's Air Force aide. Makes First Statement As the flight progressed, Johnson came up to the table where Roberts and I were trying to record the history we had just witnessed. "I'm going to make a short statement in a few minutes and give you copies of it," he said. "Then when I get on the ground I'll do it over again." It was the first public utterance of the new Chief Executive, brief and moving: "This is a sad time for all ! people. We have suffered a loss ! that cannot be weighed. For me it is a deep personal tragedy. L Know tne wona snares me sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her ) family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help and God's." When the place was about 45 minutes from Washington, the new President got on a special radio-telephone and placed a call to Mrs. Rose Kennedy, the late President's mother. "I wish to God there was something I could do," he told her. "I just wanted you to 'know that." "We feel like the heart has been cut out of us," Mrs. Johnson told the elder Mrs. Kennedy. Then she broke down for a moment and began to sob. Recovering in a few seconds, she added, "Our love and our prayers are with you." In 1M KENNEDY Kennedy 4th President To Fall to Assassins By United Press International John F. Kennedy was the fourth president of the United States to die by assassination. His death came 128 years after the first attempt on a president's life. Andrew Jackson was attending the state funeral of Rep. Warren R. Davis of South Carolina on Jan. 10, 1835, when a Washington house painter stepped from behind a pillar at the capitol and fired two pistols at the President. The bullets missed. Thirty years later, John Wilkes Booth entered President Abraham Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater April 14, 1865, and shot the Civil War leader in the back of the head. Lincoln died the next day. Only 16 years later, President James A. Garfield died from a bullet in the back fired by a disappointed office seeker, Charles J. Guiteau. Garfield was shot while walking through a Washington railroad station. President William McKinley, at the head of a reception line at the 1901 Pan American Exposition at Buffalo, N.Y., was shot in the chest as he extended his hand to a visitor. Between Lincoln and Kenne Respect to the Memory of Our Late President Fitzgerald BLOO TAIL fill EE ALL DAY (Open Tiaesalay Night HJcafiH 9 p.nsD. Bloomington ll Lata! &Jt &mikJI ican Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y. James A. Garfield, died Sept. 19, 1881, was shot on July 2 of that year in a Washington railroad station. John F. Kennedy assassinated Friday while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Tex. dy, a number of presidents have been the target of assassins. Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt was wounded in Milwaukee during the 1912 election campaign when a New York saloon keeper fired at him. President - elect Franklin D. Roosevelt narrowly escaped death when an assassin's bullet intended for him killed Chicago Mavor Anton J. Cermak in 1933 in Florida. President Harry S. Truman watched from a second story window of the Blair House in Washington in 1950 while police and Secret Service agents The Pantagraph Tiltphoni All Dtpirtmints, 114-1041 Published daily and Sunday by THE DAILY PANTAGRAPH, 301 W. Waihlnfr Ion St., BloomiTioton, III. Ttrm of Subscription By Carrier! 45c a week. By Mall: Inside Illinois, dally and Sunday: Year, S15.50) 4 mo SB.50; 1 mo., $1.60. Daily only: Year, $12.50; 6 mo., $7.00) 1 mo., $1.35; Outside Illinois sold only as Daily and Sunday combination) Year, $21.00; 6 mo., $11.50) 1 mo., $2.25. Mall subscriptions to members of Armed Forces In Illinois: Year, $10.50; 3 mo., $3.00; outside Illinois, Year, $16.00; 3 mo., $4.50. Sunday only mall subscriptions In Illinois: 60c per month, $6.00 per year; outside Illinois: 75c per month, $7.50 per year. (No mall subscriptions taken where there Is carrier service.) Second-class postage paid at Bloomlns-ton, III. Member of The Associated Presa, which ll entitled exclusively to the use for republication of all tha local news printed In this newspaper as well M all AP news dispatches. STORE Kennedy CLOSED OMY Retail Bureau killed two Puerto Rican nationalists who sought their way Into the mansion. Kennedy was the first president to be killed from a rifl bullet and while moving. President Chose Own Death Route DALLAS (UPI) -President Kennedy himself made tha decision that gave an assassin the chance to kill him. The original plans for the Dallas tour called only for a fast ride from the airport to a lunch at the Trade Mart. But Democratic leaders urged him to ride In a motorcade through the heart of the city, to give the voters a smile and a wave. Some advisors had misgivings remembering the violence that greeted U.N. Ambassador Adlai .Stevenson last month. The final decision was up to Kennedy. He approved the slow-moving motorcade that carried him to a date with a sniper's bullet. 4 1

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