Gov. Connally's son recalls day of dad, JFK's shooting

The governor's son was in school when he received word that his father and the president had been shot during a motorcade
November 22, 2013 3:04:34 AM PST
Fifty years ago, in addition to President John F. Kennedy, Gov. John Connally was shot. His son, John Connally Jr., still remembers that day like it was yesterday.

"I was in class, and I got called to the principal's office," John Connally Jr. said. "I walked into his office. Just about the time I sat down, he got a signal and the announcer said there had been shots fired at the motorcade in Dallas and it appears that both President Kennedy and Gov. Connally have been shot in the head."

Without a word, John Connally Jr. bolted out the door. DPS officers were waiting to take him to his family at the governor's mansion in Austin. Once there, the 17-year-old got on the phone to find out what was happening. And after a quick conversation with his mother, he knew he had to get to Dallas.

"I went to the guard desk and I said, 'Arrange for a DPS plane to take me to Dallas. I need to go right now,'" Connally Jr. said.

By the time he arrived at Parkland Hospital, the president was dead. His dad had just gotten out of surgery.

"And I was there and got there in time to hear most of that briefing," Connally Jr. said.

With Gov. Connally in the hospital recovering, it was decided that Connally Jr. would represent the family at the president's funeral.

"I said ok, I will do that. I said I think you should write a note to Mrs. Kennedy and I will take it up there and somehow get it to her," Connally Jr. said.

Connally Jr. would make his way to Washington DC as a guest of now President Lyndon B. Johnson and his family.

"President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson and Lucy were in a line and I walked right off the president's shoulder," Connally Jr. said.

After the service ended, Connally Jr. would meet face-to-face with Mrs. Kennedy, a moment to offer his condolences, hand Mrs. Kennedy the note from his mother. But it was her words that have stuck with him his entire life.

"She kept holding on to me and she said, 'Well you tell you mother that I'm so glad your father is going to be all right. That's the only good thing that's come of this,'" Connally Jr. said.

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