Nov. 20 - Firecrackers, a motorcycle backfiring and the ''sound you don't forget.'' Eyewitnesses remember the moments when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Produced by Nathan Frandino. Display (no reporter narration).
DISPLAY (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, arrived in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 to spring-like weather and crowds of cheering spectators that lined the street waiting for their first glimpse of the 35th president. Journalists who reported on the presidential visit describe the festive scene that belied the grim turn of events barely an hour into the Kennedys' visit. "I was absolutely captivated by Jackie, who was the nearest, she was on the left side of me, the president to the other side - and I thought - that's what a first couple ought to look like," said Pierce Allman, then a program director with WFAA radio, who was the reporter from Dealey Plaza to report the assassination. "They were just absolutely splendid and I was carried away and hollered out something like 'welcome to Dallas, Mr. President' and they turned the corner and boom, that first shot, that's a sound you don't forget," Allman recalls. The cars moved along streets lined with cheering crowds and at around 12:30 local time (CST) turned from Main Street onto Elm Street in front of the Texas School Book Depository at Dealey Plaza. Moments later shots rang out and both President Kennedy and Governor John Connally were struck by bullets. Tina Towner Pender, then a 13-year-old, remembers standing across the Texas School Book Depository with her father's home movie camera. Pender had just finished filming the presidential motorcade as it turned around the corner into Dealey Plaza when she heard three gunshots. "As the first gunshot sounded I looked up to the building, thinking somebody was throwing firecrackers out of the window but I only had a split second before some stranger, and I still don't know who it was, pulled me to the ground," Pender said. "I heard what I thought was a motorcycle backfiring, only it wasn't - it was the first shot and then in a few seconds, another shot and a third," said former Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth. Kennedy was hit in the neck and head while the Connally suffered a wound to the chest. The limousine sped away under escort to nearby Parkland Memorial Hospital where a team of surgeons rushed to Trauma Room 1. At 1 p.m. local time, the president was dead.