FROM: ASAIC Thomas L. Johns--Vice Presidential Detail
SUBJECT: Statement regarding events in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, November 22, 1963.
This personal statement is being submitted at the direction of SAIC Rufus W. Youngblood, Vice Presidential Detail, office 1-22.
On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was assigned to the Vice Presidential Detail, office 1-22, and was working the movements of Vice President Johnson during his travels on this date with ASAIC Youngblood. ASAIC Youngblood was riding the Vice President's car on all movements and I worked the Vice Presidential follow-up car. Special Agent Warren W. Taylor was also working all Vice Presidential movements on this date, and was assigned to Mrs. Johnson. SA Taylor rode the Vice Presidential follow-up car when Mrs. Johnson rode in the car with the Vice President.
On this same date, the Vice President and party arrived Love Field, Dallas Texas, at 11:35 am, CST. President Kennedy and party arrived Love Field at 11:38 am, CST, and at 11:50 am, CST, the Presidential and Vice Presidential motorcades departed Love Field en route to the Trade Mart where the President was to speak.
The motorcade and security personnel were as follows:
Secret Service follow-up car
Vice President's car: ASAIC Youngblood
Vice Presidential security car: ATSAIC Johns, and SA's Taylor and Kivett
The Vice Presidential security car was a 1963 or 1964 Mercury 4-door sedan driven by a man whom I believe to be an employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Mr. Cliff Carter, Aide to Vice President Johnson, was seated in the middle front seat; SA Kivett, who was the Vice Presidential Detail's advance man for Fort Worth-Dallas, was seated in the right front seat; SA Taylor was seated in the left rear seat; and I was seated in the right rear seat of this car.
The motorcade had passed through the downtown section of Dallas, and at approximately 12:35 pm CST, I heard two "shots," not knowing whether they were firecrackers, backfire, or gun shots. These two shots were approximately two or three seconds apart, and at this time we were on a slight downhill curve to the right. On the right-hand side of the motorcade from the street, a grassy area sloped upward to a small 2 or 3-foot concrete wall with sidewalk area. When the shots sounded, I was looking to the right and saw a man standing and then being thrown or hit to the ground, and this together with the shots made the situation appear dangerous to me. I estimate that the motorcade was going approximately 12 to 14 miles per hour at this time, and I jumped from the security car and started running for the Vice President's car. I felt that if there was danger due to the slow speed of the motorcade, I would be of more assistance and in a more proper location with the Vice President's car. Before I reached the Vice President's car a third shot had sounded and the entire motorcade then picked up speed and I was left on the street at this point. I obtained a ride with White House movie men and joined the Vice President and ASAIC Youngblood at the Parkland Hospital
I did not have any trouble keeping my balance when getting out of the security car, and it is on this that I base the estimated speed of the motorcade. Also, as the door of the security car opened to the rear, I lost some time in getting out and starting to run for the Vice President's car.
At no time did I see any details concerning persons in President Kennedy's car as his security car was a large one with agents standing on the running boards and this obscured my view of the President's car.
I arrived at Parkland Hospital at approximately 12:45-12:50 pm and immediately joined ASAIC Youngblood with Vice President Johnson. In a few minutes I was directed by ASAIC Youngblood (at the request of Vice President Johnson) to go to ASAIC Kellerman and ask him to give a report on the condition of President Kennedy to Vice President Johnson. I found ASAIC Kellerman and conveyed this message to him, and then I returned to close proximity of Vice President Johnson. Mr. Ken O'Donnell came to the Vice President and advised that President Kennedy was in a "bad way" and advised Vice President Johnson to return to Washington D.C. Those present with Vice President Johnson were Mrs. Johnson, Congressman Homer Thornberry, ASAIC Youngblood and, most of the time, Congressman Jack Brooks and Special Agents Jerry Kivett and Warren Taylor.
ASAIC Youngblood then requested that I obtain transportation (cars) for the Vice President, and to have drivers who were thoroughly familiar with any and all routes from the hospital to Love Field, and to have added police protection placed at Love Field. I went outside the hospital and spoke to an inspector--highest ranking police Officer. We discussed cars for use of the Vice President, and possibly other members of his party, and he offered the use of several unmarked police cars. Chief Curry, Dallas Police, then joined us, and in further discussion they stated that they would send a large police detail to Love Field and "completely secure it." The Police Inspector himself then stated that he would drive Vice President Johnson to the airport. I returned to the Vice President and ASAIC Youngblood and heard Ken O'Donnell inform Vice President Johnson that President Kennedy had died. To the best of my knowledge I believe that the Vice President learned from Mr. O'Donnell that Mrs. Kennedy was getting a casket, and would proceed as soon as she could to AF-I for return to Washington, D.C., with President Johnson on the same plane. At the request of ASAIC Youngblood, I then went and got the hospital building superintendent, and with him started looking and checking out another exit to use from the hospital. I was gone about ten minutes, and when I returned to last location in the hospital of the Vice President and ASAIC Youngblood, I learned that they had just departed the hospital en route to AF-1. I went outside the hospital, and with Mr. Cliff Carter and Mr. Jack Valenti, staff member and friend of Vice President Johnson, respectively, and Captain Cecil Stoughton, I obtained a police car and driver, and all of us drove to Love Field, and I went aboard AF-I and rejoined the Vice President and ASAIC Youngblood. I then conferred with Col. James Swindal, pilot of AF-I, and a decision was made to remove seats from small rear compartment of AF-I for use of Mrs. Kennedy and the casket containing President Kennedy's body. Also, passengers on board were identified and a manifest started at front entrance to AF-I, the rear entrance being reserved for Mrs. Kennedy. Via radio-telephone, I then talked with SAIC Behn, White House Detail, Washington, D.C., and informed him that Mrs. Kennedy and the body of President Kennedy would accompany the Vice President back to Washington, D.C. At approximately 2:30 p.m., Federal Judge Sarah Hughes came aboard AF-I, and gave the Presidential Oath of Office to Vice President Johnson, witnessed by all at the request of the Vice President.
AF-I then departed Love Field, Dallas, Texas, immediately following the above at 2:50 pm CST, en route for Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, and I was aboard the plane.
/s/ Thomas L. Johns
Back to JFK Reports and Documents
Back to JFK menu
Dave Reitzes home page