Air Force One Death Call to Rose Kennedy Released

National Archives release recording of conversations day JFK was killed

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 1, 2012 1:37 AM CST | Updated Feb 1, 2012 5:47 AM CST

(Newser) – A heart-wrenching call from Lyndon Johnson placed to Rose Kennedy from Air Force One has finally been released more than 48 years after her son was assassinated. "I wish to God there was something I could do," says Johnson the day John F. Kennedy was killed. "I wanted to tell you that we are grieving with you." Rose responds: "Thank you very much. I know you loved Jack. And he loved you." Johnson's wife adds: "We just want to ... we feel like we've lost ..." "Thank you," says Kennedy.

The exchange was captured on a tape, over two hours long, of conversations recorded aboard Air Force One Nov. 22, 1963, as the plane headed from Dallas back to Andrews Air Force Base with the newly sworn-in president, notes USA Today. It also includes talk between pilots and other individuals on the flight, as well as with White House officials. Discussions involve the logistics of delivering the late president's body with a suggestion that a forklift meet the plane to transport Kennedy's coffin. The conversations were captured by the White House Communications Agency, which routed all phone calls and radio traffic. The tape was donated to the National Archives by the Raab Collection, and was one of two identical tapes discovered recently among the memorabilia of Army General Chester Clifton, Jr., who served as senior military aide to Kennedy. The entire tape can be heard at Wikimedia here.

Lyndon Johnson is sworn in aboard Air Force One following John F. Kennedy's assassination, Nov. 22, 1963.
Lyndon Johnson is sworn in aboard Air Force One following John F. Kennedy's assassination, Nov. 22, 1963.   (AP Photo/Bonhams, Cecil Stoughton)
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