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April 30, 2012

“JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE”: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The End of the Beginning V

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Chapter 1 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy.  It is published by Little, Brown & Company.

The title of Chapter 1 is “The End of the Beginning”.

Kenneth O’Donnell continues to describe the aftermath of the assassination of President Kennedy.

 He writes:

“I knew….that Jackie would not leave Dallas until she could bring her husband’s body with her.”

O’Donnell says that LBJ agreed that he should stay with Mrs. Kennedy at Parkland.  LBJ said: ‘You take care of that fine lady.’

Ken tells how Jackie took off her wedding ring & slipped it on JFK’s finger.*

*Jackie wanted to give her husband something, but it was decided later at Bethesda to retrieve the ring.

Mr. O’Donnell explains how they had difficulty leaving the hospital because the medical examiner, Dr. Earl Rose, wanted the autopsy done there.**

**While Dr. Rose proved to be a nuisance to both the Kennedy staff & Secret Service, he was legally correct.  The assassination of a President was not a federal crime at the time, so local laws would have applied.

Kenny explains that when they boarded AF1 at Love Field, he was shocked to learn that LBJ was on board.***

***Kenny assumed LBJ was already on his way back to Washington on board AF2, the duplicate jet that the Vice-President used.

Mr. O’Donnell also discusses the misunderstanding regarding LBJ taking the oath of office on AF1 in Dallas.  LBJ gave the impression that Bobby Kennedy suggested he go ahead, but Bobby later said he “was too surprised to say anything about it.”****

****According to Kenneth O’Donnell, he never suggested to LBJ that he board AF1 instead of AF2 or recommended the oath be taken before leaving Dallas.

Ken writes that the Kennedy staff felt that LBJ had “used” Mrs. Kennedy when he asked her to attend the swearing-in ceremony in the cabin of Air Force One.

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