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Eyewitness, a journalist, describes day JFK was killed

November 20th, 2013
02:46 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

On the day that the American president was shot, the Dallas sky started cloudy but soon turned a brilliant blue.

It was a “wonderful November day,” recalls Hugh Aynesworth, who was a young reporter at the Dallas Morning News.

Incredibly, Aynesworth was witness to all three major events that frightful November: The president’s brutal assassination, the arrest of his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Oswald’s own murder by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby.

He has written a book about his experience, “November 22, 1963: Witness to History.”

Aynesworth hadn’t been assigned to cover the trip of President John F. Kennedy – he was on the science and aerospace beat – but he decided to go down to Dealey Plaza just the same.

“You don’t see a president that often in your city, and I just wanted to see,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

The plaza was full of excited onlookers, packed “six, seven, eight deep” with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the charismatic young president in his open-top limousine.

“As they passed by me, I saw Jackie was waving and so pleased,” he said. “And a lady behind me said, ‘Oh she’s wearing my dress’ – they had the same color dress on.”

“That made her day – momentarily, anyway.”

President Kennedy’s motorcade had passed Aynesworth when he heard what sounded like a motorcycle backfire.

“A few seconds later – two or three – a shot, and then another shot two or three seconds after that.”

It was then that he realized they were rifle shots.

“It caused complete pandemonium almost immediately because nobody knew who was shooting, how many people were shooting, or where they were shooting from.”

The crowd’s euphoria had been brought ruthlessly back to earth. People started running into each other, Aynesworth said.

“I didn’t have a pencil or paper since I didn’t have an assignment to be there,” he recalled, “so I found a little boy that had a big jumbo pencil, and I sort of took it from him – gave him a couple quarters and moved on.”

“And I had two utility bills in my back pocket that I hadn’t mailed, so that gave me something to write on, and I started interviewing many, many people around the repository building” from which Oswald took his fateful shots.

The fact that Aynesworth would later be witness at the movie theater where Oswald was arrested – and after that in the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters when Oswald was shot while being led through a crowd of journalists – was “pure, dumb luck,” he said.

“There’s no kind of quality of journalism here, I just happened to be there,” he told Amampour. “A couple of hunches along the way, but really it was just lucky.”

The assassination of President Kennedy, more than almost any other historical event save the moon landing, is enveloped by conspiracy theories, and the idea that something just isn’t quite right with the story we have been told.

Aynesworth, a first-hand witness, has no tolerance for it.

He’d “love to” break the story of a conspiracy, he said, and keeps an “open mind, but there are no facts.”

“I don’t care how much you want it, need it, or believe it – at some point you have to be honest and say, ‘I don’t have it.’”

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. hanernaliz

    By this, I mean can formulas be used to create similar questions for students with different numbers?

    November 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  2. hanernaliz

    By this, I mean can formulas be used to create similar questions for students with different numbers? Firs ı have seen it on

    November 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  3. manijeh

    what happened to the video

    November 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  4. sallyedelstein

    The NY Times reported that very Sunday morning that Dallas police had plenty of evidence to convict Oswald. The shocking shooting of Oswald that same day on live TV forever changed television landscape and spawned conspiracy industry. In a weekend filled with tragic images emanating from our TV sets the Oswald shooting was so nightmarish so immediate because we saw it happen.Like millions of others, I will forever recall November 22, 1963 and the days that followed as a childhood weekend transfixed by TV. Television would never be the same ; neither would we.

    November 21, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
  5. j.nolan

    Funny how we raise those who are known to have ties to crime and make them national hero's. Rise to power with money made illegally and revered. No wonder no one went to jail for the collapse of our economy. Tell me crime does not pay, lol.

    November 22, 2013 at 9:37 am | Reply
  6. Asadullah khan

    The topic of JFK s theses was WHILE EUROPE SLEPT for which purpose he went to london where his father was ambassador for it available anywhere what it deals with.

    November 23, 2013 at 12:09 am | Reply
  7. from beyond the arc

    The three most debated conspiracies, in order of most discussed:

    1) JFK assassination
    2) World Trade Center attack
    3) moon landings

    November 25, 2013 at 4:34 am | Reply
  8. Akanbi Abiodun.S.

    JFK,the speech he made in his life time,after 50 years that he died,the words in those speech,still making air waves all over the world.May his soul rest in perfect peace.God bless America.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
    • Glora J. Riepma

      What a kind and thoughtful response. Thank you for that It's refreshing to hear someone who understands the impact JFK had on so many. God bless him, and you!

      November 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  9. Nathanael Robbinson

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    January 10, 2021 at 11:49 pm | Reply

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