Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, November 22, 2008 3:09 am

“The President’s been shot”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 3:09 am

Forty-five years ago today, when I was not yet 4, Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy to death in Dallas. Reporters’ Notebook has gathered the recollections of 12 journalists who covered that story or had other memories of the day. I haven’t read them all yet, but the first one, by then-CBS News correspondent Lew Wood, provides a chilling answer to the question of how it could have happened:

It was later determined that the shots were fired from the sixth floor window of the School Book Depository by Lee Harvey Oswald, who worked there. The sniper’s perch directly overlooked the motorcade route in Dealey Plaza, and Oswald who once was a Marine rifleman, had an easy shot. I know. I was an expert shot in the Marines.

So Dan Rather suggested I try to borrow a rifle at a pawn shop (easy to do then in Texas) and recreate the Oswald sniper’s perch. I actually rented a Mannlicher-Carcano .30 (or 7.62) caliber rifle in a pawn shop, (the same model weapon Oswald used) had it fixed with a four power telescopic sight, and waltzed into the School Book Depository with it slung on my shoulder, along with my crew.

We were not challenged. The Secret Service had not even sealed off the building, but had scoured it after the shooting, discovering the discarded rifle and empty cartridge casings.

The cartons of schoolbooks that Oswald arranged to provide a support were still in place. The window was still open wide. The target sight picture was a going-away target, not a crossing target, so, while moving, it remained in the sights. The range was no more than 100 yards. The President’s head (judging from other passenger cars that morning) must have appeared as big as a melon through the telescopic sight.

Some have questioned how Oswald could have fired three shots in such a few seconds. Remember, one round was already in the chamber of the bolt-action rifle. Once he squeezed off the first shot, he only had to work the bolt twice more. Take my word for it. It was an easy shot.

We are fortunate that the man who shot Ronald Reagan, and the two people who tried to kill Gerald Ford, were not expert shots in the Marines.


1 Comment

  1. I remember that day all too well. I was in Mrs. Campbell’s 2nd grade classroom at Bessemer Elem and as each grade only had 1 television they moved all the 2nd graders into our room to watch. (The only other times this happened was for NASA space shots.) The signal was very clear as the school is in line of sight with the old WFMY tower.

    A few days later we all watched Kennedy’s funeral on the same TV.

    Comment by Billy The Blogging Poet — Saturday, November 22, 2008 7:09 am @ 7:09 am

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