FROM: SAIC Youngblood -- Vice Presidential Detail
Statement of SAIC Rufus W. Youngblood, Vice Presidential Detail (office 1-22), concerning details of events occurring in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
At 11:35 am, AF-2 plane arrived at Love Field airport, Dallas, Texas. The Vice President, Mrs. Johnson, and others were aboard this plane including ATSAIC Thomas L. Johns, SA Warren W. Taylor, and myself of the Vice Presidential Detail (office 1-22). SA Jerry D. Kivett of the Vice Presidential Detail was on the ground in Dallas ahead of us. We arrived before the Presidential aircraft, and the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson were met by numerous dignitaries when they disembarked from the plane.
ATSAIC Johns, SA Taylor and myself were staying in the immediate vicinity of Vice President and Mrs. Johnson. SA Kivett was working intermittently with us and also keeping up with location of cars, the other airplane, etc. Prior to the arrival of the Presidential aircraft, I led the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson to the reception line, and when AF-I was in position and the ramp was in place, led them to the foot of the ramp. They greeted the President and the First Lady upon their arrival. We later followed the Presidential couple and when the Presidential couple went along the fence to greet the public, we did likewise but in a separate group. During this time, I was always in close proximity to the Vice President; Warren Taylor was in close proximity to Mrs. Johnson- and we were both being assisted by Johns and Kivett. When the President took his position in the Presidential vehicle, we did likewise in the Vice Presidential vehicle. The following persons were in the Vice Presidential vehicle when the motorcade departed from the airport at approximately 11:50 am CST.
In the front seat: The driver, Herschel Jacks, Texas Highway Patrol
Other side front seat: ASAIC Youngblood
Rear seat, behind driver: Senator Ralph W. Yarborough
Rear seat, middle: Mrs. Johnson
Rear seat, behind ASAIC Youngblood: The Vice President
The above vehicle was a 4-door Lincoln convertible with the top down. I had a shoulder strap (DCN) portable 2-way radio with me on "Baker" frequency.
The following persons loaded into the Vice Presidential follow-up car:
SA Warren W. Taylor
Mr. Cliff Carter, member of the Vice President's staff
ATSAIC Johns had a portable radio which was the companion of the one I had -- also on "Baker" frequency. This Vice Presidential follow-up car also had a portable, 2-way radio set on "Charlie" frequency. When we departed from the airport, the motorcade order was:
Presidential follow-up car
Vice Presidential car
Vice Presidential follow-up car
Other cars -- press, dignitaries, buses, etc.
During the motorcade, the order listed above was not changed and remained so until we arrived at the hospital.
Upon leaving the airport, we were proceeding to the Trade Mart and were due to arrive there at 12:30 pm. We were proceeding at a slow pace to this destination, which was entirely normal due to the large crowds of people along both sides of the motorcade route. During our motorcade, the Presidential vehicle made some stops to greet well-wishers. Our speed and the stops were naturally controlled by the Presidential car. I was working both in and out of the Vice Presidential car on these stops. To my recollection, the Vice President did not leave the vehicle during the motorcade. Several times during the motorcade, I was in radio contact with the Vice Presidential follow-up car concerning times, distances, etc.
During the motorcade, I instructed our driver to keep some distance (about two or three car lengths) behind the Presidential follow-up car while we were going at slow speeds.
The motorcade had just cleared the congested downtown area and made a right turn. I recall observing an illuminated clock sign on a building -- the time was 12:30 p.m., which was the time we were due to be at the Trade Mart. The motorcade then made a left turn, and the sidewalk crowds were beginning to diminish in size. I observed a grassy plot to my right in back of the small crowd of bystanders on the sidewalk -- some tall buildings -- a downhill grade ahead where the street went under what appeared to be a railroad overpass. We were about two car lengths behind the Presidential follow-up car at this time.
I heard an explosion -- I was not sure whether it was a firecracker, bomb, bullet, or other explosion. I looked at whatever I could quickly survey, and could not see anything which would indicate the origin of this noise. I noticed that the movements in the Presidential car were very abnormal and, at practically the same time, the movements in the Presidential follow-up car were abnormal. I turned in my seat and with my left arm grasped and shoved the Vice President, at his right shoulder, down and toward Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough. At the same time, I shouted "get down!" I believe I said this more than once and directed it to the Vice President and the other occupants of the rear seat. They all responded very rapidly.
I quickly looked all around again and could see nothing to shoot at, so I stepped over into the back seat and sat on top of the Vice President. I sat in a crouched position and issued orders to the driver. During this time, I heard two more explosion noises and observed SA Hickey in the Presidential follow-up car poised on the car with the AR-15 rifle looking toward the buildings. The second and third explosions made the same type of sound that the first one did as far as I could tell, but by this time I was of the belief that they definitely were shots--not bombs or firecrackers. I am not sure that I was on top of the Vice President before the second shot--he says I was. All of the above related events, from the beginning at the sound of the first shot to the sound of the third shot, happened within a few seconds.
In my crouched position, I observed the people on the streets to scatter; heard some shouts; saw the motorcade increase speed, and I knew we were making a rapid evacuation. I shouted to the driver to stick with them and stay close. We then began moving very fast. I then called on my portable radio, which I had with me, to the Vice Presidential follow-up car and ordered them to switch to "Charlie" frequency. As I switched to "Charlie," I heard some transmission from the Presidential follow-up car. From fragments of what I heard and what I saw, I knew that the President had suffered injury. I could see an agent (who had previously run from the Presidential follow-up car, although I did not observe this when it happened) lieing across the trunk turtle of the Presidential car above the President and Mrs. Kennedy. I heard enough radio transmission to know we were headed for a hospital. I could also see the agents in the Presidential follow-up car waving our car to come up close, and I told our driver to stay as close and go as fast as he could without having a wreck.
This driver wasn't talkative and he wasn't excitable. He responded to everything I said. He did an excellent job.
During this ride to the hospital, I had some brief conversations with the Vice President and Senator Yarborough in response to their questions. I told the Vice President that the President must have been shot or wounded, but I did not know his condition. I told the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson to follow me and the agents as closely and quickly as possible when we got to our destination. They agreed to do this.
When we got to the hospital, my agents (SA's Kivett and W. Taylor) from the Vice Presidential follow-up car were on the ground by the time we stopped. Also some agents from the Presidential follow-up car were coming back to assist us. We left the car immediately (Vice President and Mrs. Johnson and myself) and surrounded by agents, went into the hospital and quickly into a corner of a large room with partitions. We did not stop to look at or for the Presidential car occupants. Senator Yarborough did not go with us. I told one agent (Glen Bennett Protective Research Section) to stop any traffic into the room unless he knew the person to be a member of our party. Vice President and Mrs. Johnson and myself were in the corner of the room while SA's Kivett and W. Taylor were securing the room by evacuating a couple of occupants and closing blinds, shades, etc. They remained in our immediate proximity. We were shortly joined by ATSAIC Johns, Congressman Thornberry, Congressman Brooks, and Cliff Carter. ATSAIC Roberts, White House Detail, came in and told us that the President was badly wounded and probably would not live. I advised the Vice President that we should evacuate the hospital and go to the airplane and return to Washington, DC and the White House.
At this time I had no knowledge of whether the actions that caused the President to be shot were the work of one man, a small group, or what. I felt that the safest place for him, and in the best interests of all concerned, was in the White House. Others who were present also concurred. We were later joined by ASAIC Kellerman who reported the President's condition was very critical. Ken O'Donnell came to the room and told us the same thing, and said we should return to Washington.
During all of this time, many things occurred and I don't recall now the exact order. I talked to Mrs. Johnson and obtained information about Lynda and Lucy and told SA Kivett to make the necessary calls to have them placed under Secret Service protection. Mrs. Johnson left the room briefly on two occasions, accompanied by SA's Kivett and W. Taylor. I had several conversations with the Vice President about moving the airplane, and at one time he considered moving it to Carswell Air Force Base and driving this distance. We also considered just moving it to another location at Love Field, and this is what I told SA Kivett to have them do, and to have enough fuel for cross-country flight. I told the Vice President that we would drive to the airport with he and Mrs. Johnson in separate cars; that I wanted him to stay down below window level; and that Mrs. Johnson would be accompanied by agents.
I had previously told ATSAIC Johns in the presence of the Vice President that he should go out of the hospital and get two cars on a stand-by, preferably unmarked police cars with police drivers who were familiar with Love Field, etc. I told him we would not return to the motorcade cars. I also 'old him that we would take an unknown route, and to make sure the drivers were thoroughly familiar with the area. ATSAIC Johns reported back that he had this set up.
The Vice President and I were both questioning the feasibility of leaving the hospital by the same way in which we had entered it. I told ATSAIC Johns to check on the various exits from which we might enter the cars and make a hasty evacuation, and to get cars at other exits if this could be worked out. While he was gone, ASAIC Kellerman and Mr. Ken O'Donnell came into the room. We learned that the President had died.
The Vice President was concerned about wanting to leave quickly as he had been advised to do, and which he now felt that he should, but he was also very much concerned about leaving without Mrs. Kennedy. It was finally agreed, at the advice of Mr. O'Donnell and others of us, that we would leave the hospital and go to AF-1 (President Kennedy's former airplane), with Mr. O'Donnell and others bringing Mrs. Kennedy as soon as they could remove the body. We were told that Mrs. Kennedy would not leave without President Kennedy's body.
While we were in this room, we were visited by Malcolm Kilduff of the White House Press Secretary's office. I also recall other White House staff people coming in, among whom I think were Mr. Larry O'Brien and, I believe, Mr. Dave Powers. I remained in the room with the Vice President at all times. Mrs. Johnson made some notes regarding the situation.
We started to leave the room and to evacuate the hospital, and since ATSAIC Johns had not returned, I grabbed one of the agents and told him to run ahead and get the cars ready, and we started out.
As soon as we got outside, we loaded into an unmarked police car -- the driver of which was Jesse Curry, Chief of Police, Dallas. The Vice President and I got into the back seat. He got in first and slumped below window-level, and I got in after him. Congressman Homer Thornberry got in the front seat. I was seated behind Congressman Thornberry.
Mrs. Johnson was in the company of SA's Kivett and W. Taylor, and also Congressman Brooks. SA Glen Bennett had also been working very closely with our group since our arrival at the hospital, and he got in the car with Mrs. Johnson.
I ordered the driver (Chief Curry) to drive out and head for Love Field. Congressman Albert Thomas was walking, and seeing Congressman Thornberry, he called out for us to stop and pick him up. I don't believe he saw the Vice President. I told the driver to continue but by this time Congressman Thomas was by the side of the car. The Vice President ordered the driver to stop, whereupon we immediately took the Congressman aboard and proceeded again. Congressman Thomas got in the front seat with Congressman Thornberry being moved over closer to the driver. The Vice President then requested that Congressman Thornberry climb over into the back seat, which he did. Congressman Thornberry took a position on the window side behind the driver. We then had the Vice President in the middle of the back seat.
We were momentarily blocked by traffic which was coming onto the hospital access road--a delivery truck, I believe. Rapid police assistance got us through this obstacle, and we continued to the airport. We had motorcycle escort which began using sirens. We asked Chief Curry to stop them from using sirens, which he did by use of his radio.
When we approached the apron at Love Field, I called on my portable radio that we would board AF-1 rapidly and to be ready to receive us aboard. They replied that the plane was ready.
The Vice President and I practically ran up the ramp, followed by the others. I gave several orders to agents and Air Force crewmen about checkpoints at front and rear of plane, and pulling down all shades.
The Vice President went to the stateroom area, and Mrs. Johnson joined us there. Congressmen Thornberry, Brooks, and Thomas were also there. The Vice President told me to observe all of the events that I could, and to tell my agents to make notes, and also to tell any of his staff to do likewise. I passed these instructions on to my agents. I went everywhere the Vice President did, and was present when he called Attorney General Kennedy. He asked the Attorney General about the legal aspects of taking the oath of the President, such as when, where, and who should administer it. The Vice President placed calls to the office of Federal Judge Hughes, and he received a call from the Justice Department. He instructed Marie Fehmer to take down the wording of the oath. The Vice President had another phone conversation with the Attorney General. The Vice President advised me and others that Judge Sara Hughes would be coming to the plane, and I advised other agents and had them pass the word to local security officials. He also asked me to check on the status and location of Mrs. Kennedy and the President's body, and inform him of their estimated time of arrival.
Mrs. Kennedy and the President's body arrived at the plane ahead of Judge Hughes. The Vice President and Mrs. Johnson went to Mrs. Kennedy's bedroom to comfort her.
When Judge Hughes arrived, the oath was administered, and Cecil Stoughton, White House photographer, took photos of this event. His photos show most of those who witnessed this event within the stateroom and through the passageway door leading to the front of the plane. There were some other witnesses who were not in the pictures since we were on the side of the stateroom where the photographer was. These persons included myself, an Air Force steward, and an agent who was stationed at the rear of the plane with the President's body.
The oath of office was administered at approximately 2:40 pm CST. Judge Hughes and Chief Curry disembarked from the plane, and the plane was airborne from Love Field, Dallas, at 2:47 pm CST, enroute to Andrews Air Force Base.
The foregoing account of events is true and accurate to the best of my recollections.
/s/ Rufus W. Youngblood Special Agent in Charge, 1-22
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