John F. Kennedy is perhaps America's most admired President. He was an intelligent, charismatic, mesmerizing public figure. Watching his speeches gives us, and future generations, an idea of how great of a leader he was. Undeniably steadfast as our Nation's commander and chief, the events surrounding JFK's assassination in 1963 are marked with asterisks.
Sadly, a large number of U.S. citizens believe that President Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy. That piece of information shows you how differently Americans feel about their government today than they once did. Was JFK's murder a devious plan or an act of lunacy? Either way, the world lost a great man.
Today, the closest we can get to JFK and the fateful moments leading up to his death is to read about him in history books. Well, that's not entirely true... there are some excellent movies/documentaries that chronicle JFK's life. Each story and each movie provides us with as many questions as answers.
Another way of learning about JFK's assassination on November 22, 1963, is to read witness confessions, testimonies, and recollections of that day. Who better knows what happened the afternoon that JFK was assassinated than the people who were there? Maybe their eyewitness accounts can tell us more about John F. Kennedy's last drive through Dealey Plaza.
15 Eugene Boone - Deputy Sheriff
Eugene Boone in 1963 was a young, 25-year-old Dallas County Deputy Sheriff. Eugene's the man who's credited with finding Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle in the Texas School Book Depository. Mr. Boone has spoken about that day's events many times. Eugene watched as John F. Kennedy, the first lady, Governor John Connally and Nellie Connally drove by, then traveled out of sight down Elm Street. That's when Boone heard the shots. Once he and his men separated into teams, they entered the Depository. Boone said about the staged scene, "It looked like someone had moved some of the boxes over slightly, to make a sort of hiding spot. I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald created this pre-made spot to hide his rifle." Boone added, "the Dallas Police Department was called, and they photographed the firearm before taking it away."
14 Pierce Allman - News Manager
In 2013, an article from The LA Times reveals what Pierce Allman, a news manager at a local radio and television station in Texas, recalled about John F. Kennedy's assassination. He said, "It's a distinct sensation because everything is vivid," he admitted. "It's timeless; there's no concept of 50 years. It's as if it was yesterday or a few days ago. You can hear all the sounds. Sometimes it's in slow motion," Allman said. Anybody who's been in a situation that terrible can understand how something horrific can remain with a person throughout their life. Allman remembered thinking, "I really don't know how they could secure all this (the motorcade route)," the day of the murder. He remembers seeing Kennedy's arms clinch and spring towards his chin. Allman also heard Jackie scream, "Oh, my God!" as he watched her crawl onto the back of the limousine to help her husband.
13 Tina Towner Pender
Tina Towner Pender was 13 years old the afternoon that President Kennedy lost his life. Towner attended the motorcade with her father that day, who happened to have his camera ready to capture the motorcades events. Pender recalls her father telling her, "There's not a whole lot of film left in there (the camera), but there's enough for this." They had no idea what was in store as the President's motorcade approached. Recalling seeing the first lady Pender said, "She seemed to be looking right at us." A second later Pender's father yelled, "Someone just tried to shoot the President!" He quickly ran off with his camera towards the grassy knoll, to see what had happened.
12 Abraham Zapruder
Abraham Zapruder, like many people on November 22, 1963, left his office early in hopes of getting a good look at President Kennedy's motorcade. Only, Mr. Zapruder had no clue he was going to claim his spot in history that day as well. Abraham Zapruder shot the famous film of what is known as the most credible live footage of John F. Kennedy's assassination that exists. The 26-second home movie he recorded has also been written about by his granddaughter, Alexandra Zapruder, in her book called Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film. Mr. Zapruder not only saw JFK's assassination, but he caught it all on tape.
If you'd like to learn more about what Mr. Zapruder saw the day that President Kennedy was assassinated you can look up his footage online.
11 James Tague - Car Salesman
James Tague was a witness to John F. Kennedy's assassination and was injured in the process. A bullet that was shot at President Kennedy's motorcade missed and hit the concrete a few feet from Mr. Tague. The force of the stray bullet ricocheted off the curb causing concrete spatter to spray into his face. Authorities were unaware of Mr. Tague and knew nothing about the stray bullet that caused his injuries at first. Tague discusses the events following JFK's death recalling his conversation with the FBI after he contacted them. "I told [the FBI] my story, they came up with their theory of the magic bullet that passed through Kennedy’s body and then hit Connally,” Tague said. If you haven't read the theory about the 'magic bullet', just know it must have been the most magical bullet ever.
10 Phyllis Hall - Nurse
Just 28 years old at the time, Phyllis Hall, a nurse at Parkland Hospital, was present the day JFK was shot and killed. Speaking in an interview, Hall recalls one of her superiors at the hospital telling her, "there's been an accident in the President's motorcade, and they're on their way!" Hall continued, "I thought the doors exploded (when the motorcade arrived)," she confessed. "I don't think we had time to think about it... there was just a lot of confusion and yelling." Dr. William Kemp Clark later pronounced Kennedy's death at 1.pm. saying,"Call it," then he left the hospital room barely stopping to say to Jackie, "Madam, your husband is dead." Jean Hall then passed by the first lady and said, "I am sorry for your loss," but she stared ahead blankly not appearing to hear her.
9 Hugh Aynesworth - Reporter
Hugh Aynesworth is the man credited for witnessing Lee Harvey Oswald's escape route. Aynesworth remembers being shocked as he watched Oswald run up Elm St. commenting, "I didn’t believe it either. But that’s what he did (Oswald). He came rushing up Elm here, and the bus was the first place he could melt into a crowd. No one would look for the man who had killed the President on a bus. Assassins don’t jump on buses. Oswald, however, didn’t know how to drive. He had only three choices. One, someone could drive him away. That didn’t check out. The other choices were a bus or a cab. He took the first of those two alternatives that came along."
8 Jean Hill - Teacher
Jean Hill is a person you'll find in many conspiracy theory conversations surrounding JFK's assassination. She claims that she and her friend (Mary Moorman) were only a few feet away from President Kennedy when he was killed on November 22, 1963. What makes Jean Hill's story different is that she and her friend claim that they heard the shots come from behind them on the Grassy Knoll. Hill's testimony to the Warren Commission launched a considerable amount of speculation into her credibility as a witness. Amongst her claims is that she and Moorman were confronted by two FBI agents and ordered to turn over the film from their camera. The two FBI agents then took the film and destroyed it.
7 Beverly Oliver - Dancer
Beverly Oliver worked as a dancer at the Colony Club. Next to the Carousel Club that Jack Ruby owned. Oliver, who's been captured in that day's footage, claims she was standing on the south side of Elm St. when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. She would have been located right next to the President's limousine when he was shot. That's not all she's said either. Beverly Oliver also claims that she met Lee Harvey Oswald through Jack Ruby before JFK's assassination. Jack introduced them and said, "Bev, this is my friend Lee Oswald of the CIA.” Oliver also reported that she filmed the motorcade with a Super-8 Yashica movie camera, but it was taken from her by an FBI agent (Regis Kennedy) and destroyed. Naturally, testimonies like hers are often discredited.
6 Roger Craig
The Warren Commission called police officer Roger Craig to testify at their hearing. He was present at the assassination of John F. Kennedy and says he "was standing on Main St. near Dealey Plaza at the time of the shooting. He heard three shots total." Mr. Craig also testified that he "heard a shrill whistle and saw Oswald run from the direction of the Depository and get into a Rambler station wagon on Elm Street." His story conflicts with Aynesworth's story of Oswald getting onto a bus. When Oswald was arrested, he was seemingly caught with a transfer slip that showed he was on a bus as well. I suppose it's up to you which eyewitness account you believe. Roger Craig died under mysterious circumstances in 1975 after he had been involved in a serious car accident two years prior. He was also shot in the shoulder six months before his death.
5 Dr. Charles Crenshaw
Dr. Charles Andrew Crenshaw, one of the multiple doctors who treated John F. Kennedy's gunshot wounds over 50 years ago, went to his grave claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald was in no way the lone gunman. Before passing away in 2001, Dr. Crenshaw recounted that he "placed him [Kennedy] in a coffin. But before we did, I looked at the wound again," Crenshaw stated on ABC's 20/20 in April 1992. That was shortly after Crenshaw's controversial book, JFK: Conspiracy of Silence, was published. He continued in the interview saying, "I wanted to know and remember this for the rest of my life. And the rest of my life I will always know he was shot from the front." If Dr. Crenshaw's confession is true, then there must have been two shooters the day President Kennedy was killed.
4 Ed Hoffman
Ed Hoffman ended up being a semi-valuable witness to the assassination of JFK. Hoffman said, "He was standing a few feet south of the railroad on Stemmons Freeway when the motorcade passed him taking President Kennedy to Parkland Hospital." Mr. Hoffman added that "He observed two white males, clutching something dark to their chests with both hands, running from the rear of the Texas School Book Depository building. The men were running north on the railroad, then turned east, and Hoffman lost sight of both of the men." Hoffman then partially retracted his story after returning to the FBI office later saying, "He could not have seen the men running because of a fence west of the Texas School Book Depository building. He said it was possible that he saw the two men climbing the fence or something else."
3 Jenyce Gush
Jenyce Gush, who was just 14 years old at the time, ditched school with her girlfriend on November 22, 1963. They wanted to see President Kennedy's motorcade drive down Lemmon Ave. Gush recalls how close they were to the President and the first lady, "We could have reached out and touched them if we wanted to" she said. Gush adds, "It was like a moment frozen in time." After the shooting, she remembers things being "so quiet and then I looked at a store manager, and had tears running down my face. I remember putting my hands on my face and felt the tears. How could that have happened? I was heartsick." Undoubtedly a haunting eyewitness account that has remained with Gush ever since the day JFK was assassinated.
2 Dr. Robert N. McClelland
Dr. Robert N. McClelland is a surgeon that not only tried to save JFK's life, but he also was tasked with trying to save his assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's life less than 48 hours later. Dr. McClelland also questioned the validity of the Warren Commissions finding that John F. Kennedy was shot from the 6th-floor of the Texas Book Depository. The Dr. recounts, "I was about 18 inches above the wound. I got a better look at it than anybody in that room. It was way back in the back of the head, which may lead to the thought that he was shot not only from the back but also from the front,” he added. “In other words, there was more than one gunman, and therefore a conspiracy of some sort. I looked into that wound for a long time, and there is no doubt what I saw."
1 Howard Brennan
It was apparent at the time of JFK's death that the Warren Commission was having difficulty placing Lee Harvey Oswald on the 6th-floor of the Texas School Book Depository. That's where Howard Brennan comes into the picture with his eyewitness account. He was one of four witnesses who claimed to see a man leaning out the window of the Texas Book Depository the day Kennedy was killed. Mr. Brennan testified that he saw a man who looked much like Oswald leaning out of the 6th-floor window. In his Warren Commission testimony, Brennan said, "A white man in his early 30s, slender, nice looking, and would weigh about 165 to 175 pounds. He had on light colored clothing." Do you believe Brennan's eyewitness confession?