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Listen: Long-lost audio from Air Force One on day of JFK assassination released

“I wish to God there was something I could do,” the newly-sworn in President Johnson tells JFK’s mother Rose Kennedy.

President Kennedy waves to the crowds during his visit to Co Wexford in June, 1963.
President Kennedy waves to the crowds during his visit to Co Wexford in June, 1963.
Image: PA/PA Archive

US PRESIDENT John F Kennedy was shot and fatally wounded while visiting Dallas, Texas on 22 November, 1963.

After almost four decades, audio recorded on the Air Force One flight as Kennedy was declared dead has been released by the US National Archives.

The recording includes conversations between the pilots and others on the official presidential plane and people in Washington. Conversations were also recorded from a second presidential aircraft which was carrying members of the cabinet to Tokyo at the time of the assassination.

The audio includes a call from Lyndon Johnson, having just been sworn in as the president, and JFK’s mother Rose Kennedy. “I wish to God there was something I could do,” he tells her.

The Archives say that the original two-hour-and-20-minute recording was donated by the Raab Collection, which had recently discovered two open-reel recordings containing identical excerpts from that Air Force One flight among the memorabilia of JFK’s senior military aide General Chester Clifton Jr.

Clifton has been given the tapes by the White House Communications Agency, which routed all phone calls and radio traffic.

Nathan Raab of the Raab Collection said he hopes the tapes will help the public to build “a more complete view of the chaotic circumstances following the assassination of President Kennedy”.

The recordings have been released by the US National Archives and are available on Wikimedia Commons and on the US Government Printing Office site. Some of the audio is garbled and difficult to discern, while in places there are references to new code names:

(Video via AviationExplorer)

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