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Guilt Haunted Secret Service Agent Who Planned JFK's Motorcade

Winston Lawson was in the car ahead of the president's in Dealey Plaza
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2019 9:55 AM CST
President John F. Kennedy rides in a motorcade with his wife, Jacqueline, moments before he was shot in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – "I'm the only agent in the history of the Secret Service as advance that had the president of the United States killed," Winston Lawson said in 2013. "At times I wish I had never been born." Lawson, who has died at 91, chose the route of President John F. Kennedy's motorcade through Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, CNN reports. He said he had been told to find a route through downtown that would permit large crowds to see the president. Kennedy was shot as the motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza; Lawson was in the car just ahead of Kennedy's. Later that day, he watched investigators question Lee Harvey Oswald. It was Lawson who carried Oswald's rifle to Washington. "My father felt very, extremely guilty," his son said. Other witnesses in Dealey Plaza were haunted, as well. "It was a horrible day I can't seem to forget," one told the New York Post in 2013. "It just won’t go away."

Lawson regularly visited Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery on the anniversary of his death. After 22 years in the Secret Service, serving seven presidents, Lawson worked in intelligence for a decade, his obituary says. He always regretted not having a chance to express his condolences to Kennedy's children, Caroline and John, per KTVR. "I wish I had been able to talk to them about how sorry I was that it happened," Lawson said. (An interactive map of the motorcade is here.)

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