WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Most who were alive the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 learned the news either on TV or by radio.
89-year-old Sid Davis was there. As a member of the White House press corps, it was his responsibility to cover President Kennedy’s trip to Dallas and let other reporters know what happened.
Monday, he shared his story during a trip to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
“I’ve not forgotten any part of what took place on the airplace,” Davis said. “It’s as fresh in my mind today as it was back then.”
Davis was one of three reporters to witness the swearing in of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One. He saw that plane again Monday morning at the museum.
“I never believed when I was a young reporter in Youngstown, Ohio that I would ever cover a story of this magnitude,” Davis said.”
On Nov. 22, 1963, Davis was covering President Kennedy’s trip to Dallas, Texas.
“I was on press bus number one in the motorcade,” Davis said. “I heard three distinct shots. Within seconds, we looked up ahead of our bus and saw commotion at the presidential limosine area.”
It was about 12:30, Dallas time. President Kennedy had been shot. Davis worked his way to Parkland Memorial Hospital, just a few minutes away.
“I heard the priest, Father Oscar Huber was his name, he said, ‘He’s dead all right. I just gave him the last rites,'” Davis said.
Davis and his boss decided to wait to report the news until President Kennedy’s office made an announcement.
“When you’re sitting on a story of that magnitude, it seemed like an eternity waiting for the official announcement to be made,” Davis said.
President Kennedy died of a gunshot wound to the head at 1 o’clock Central Standard Time. His casket was brought back to Washington, D.C. on Air Force One. His wife, Jackie Kennedy, by his side.
“They got the casket through here, and then of course, she sat with the casket for the whole flight back to Washington,” Davis said.
At 2:38 p.m., Johnson took the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One. The First Lady attended the ceremony.
“At that point, I realized what she’d been through and how much courage it took for her to come forward and be in the picture,” Davis said.
The 89-year-old Davis traveled thousands of miles with nine presidents. He’s also a graduate of Ohio University.