Smith: Kilduff came out of the plane and motioned wildly toward my booth. I slammed down the phone and jogged across the runway. A detective stopped me and said, “You dropped your pocket comb.”… Kilduff propelled us to the President’s suite two-thirds of the way back in the plane…. I wedged inside the door and began counting. There were 27 people in this compartment.

Davis: …the Judge, Mrs. Sarah Hughes, of Dallas, told the President to raise his right hand and repeat after her. Then he repeated the oath. At that moment, I started the second hand on my watch and I clocked it at 28 seconds.

Smith: The two-minute ceremony concluded at 3:38 p.m. EST and seconds later, the President said firmly, “Now, let’s get airborne.” Col. James Swindal, pilot of the plane, a big gleaming silver and blue fanjet, cut on the starboard engines immediately. Several persons, including Sid Davis of Westinghouse, left the plane at that time. The White House had room for only two pool reporters on the return flight and these posts were filled by Roberts and me, although at the moment we could find no empty seats. At 3:47 p.m. EST the wheels of Air Force One cleared the runway.

Wicker: As we arrived at a back gate along the airstrip, we could see Air Force One, the Presidential jet, screaming down the runway and into the air.

Dugger: The details were given to us by a pool reporter, Sid Davis…. I shall not soon forget the picture in my mind, that man standing on the trunk of a white car, his figure etched against the blue, blue Texas sky, all of us massed around him at his knees as he told us what had happened in that crowded compartment in Air Force One…

Wicker: He and Roberts—true to his promise—had put together a magnificent “pool” report on the swearing-in. Davis read it off, answered questions, and gave a picture that so far as I know was complete, accurate and has not yet been added to.

The Reporter: [In Washington], reporters at a loss to “cover” the event, hung around the White House pressroom and concentrated partly by habit and partly by duty on trivial details. Lyndon Johnson, they were informed by a briefer in Pierre Salinger’s office, had left Dallas at 2:47 Central Standard Time. Was that 2:47? Yes, 2:47. He had been sworn in to office aboard the plane by U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes. Could the briefer spell that? Yes, Sarah had an “h.” In midafternoon Senator Hubert Humphrey stopped in at the White House and consented to an informal chat with newsmen. There was almost nothing to ask him. Did he see any significance in the fact that it had happened in Dallas? came one idiotic try. Humphrey was taken aback. He shook his head abruptly and he left. Those White House aides familiar to reporters were too stricken to be questioned, even if there had been questions to ask. “I’m sorry,” was the most anyone could say. Everywhere there was silent unease at the inability to locate the source of government, to know even where government was. It was reflected in the compulsive scuttling of reporters from one place to another where they could only observe arrivals and departures.

Wicker: Kiker and I ran a half-mile to the terminal, cutting through a baggage-handling room to get there. I went immediately to a phone booth and dictated my 500-word lead, correcting it as I read, embellishing it too. Before I hung up I got [Harrison] Salisbury and asked him to cut into my story whatever the wires were filing on the assassin. There was no time left to chase down the Dallas police and find out those details on my own. Dallas Love Field has a mezzanine running around its main waiting room; it is equipped with writing desks for travelers. I took one and went to work. My recollection is that it was then about 5 p.m. New York time.

Smith: It was dark when Air Force One began to skim over the lights of the Washington area, lining up for a landing at Andrews Air Force Base. The plane touched down at 5:59 p.m. EST. I thanked the stewards for rigging up the typewriter for me, pulled on my raincoat and started down the forward ramp. Roberts and I stood under a wing and watched the casket being lowered… [we] were given seats on another ‘copter bound for the White House lawn.

The Editors