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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. V - Page 566« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Mark Lane Resumed)

myself face to face with Jackie in a small hall. I think it was right outside the operating room. You always think of her--or someone like her--as being insulated, protected; she was quite alone. I don't think I ever saw anyone so much alone in my life. I went up to her, put my arms around her, and said something to her. I'm sure it was something like, "God, help us all," because my feelings for her were too tumultuous to put into words.
And then I went in to see Nellie. There it was different because Nellie and I have gone through so many things together since 1938. I hugged her tight and we both cried and I said, "Nellie, it's going to be all right." And Nellie said, "Yes; John's going to be all right." Among her many other fine qualities, she is also tough.
Then I turned and went back to the small white room where Lyndon was. Mr. Kilduff and Kenny O'Donnell were coming and going. I think it was from Kenny's face and Kenny's voice that I first heard the words, "The President is dead." Mr. Kilduff entered and said to Lyndon, "Mr. President."
It was decided that we would go immediately to the airport. Quick plans were made about how to get to the car, who to ride in what. It was Lyndon who said we should go to the plane in unmarked cars. Getting out of the hospital into the cars was one of the swiftest walks I have ever made. We got in Lyndon said to stop the sirens. We drove along as fast as we could. I looked up at a building and there already was a flag at half-mast. I think that is when the enormity of what had happened first struck me.
When we got to the airplane, we entered airplane No. 1 for the first time. There was a TV set on, and the commentator was saying, "Lyndon B. Johnson, now President of the United States." They were saying they had a suspect. They were not sure he was the assassin. The President had been shot with a 30-30 rifle. On the plane, all the shades were lowered. Lyndon said that
were going to wait for Mrs. Kennedy and the coffin. There was discussion about when Lyndon should be sworn in as President. There was a telephone call to Washington--I believe to the Attorney General. It was decided that he should be sworn in in Dallas as quickly as possible because of international implications, and because we did not know how widespread this incident was as to intended victims. Judge Sarah Hughes, a Federal judge in Dallas--and I am glad it was she was called to come in a hurry.
Mrs. Kennedy had arrived by this time and the coffin, and there--in the very narrow confines of the plane with Jackie on his left with her hair falling in her face, but very composed, and then Lyndon, and I was on his right, Judge Hughes with the Bible in front of her and a cluster of Secret Service people and Congress-men we had known for a long time Lyndon took the oath of office.
It's odd at a time like that the little things that come to your mind and a moment of deep compassion you have for people who are really not at the center of the tragedy. I heard a Secret Service man say in the most desolate voice and I hurt for him, "We never lost a President in the Service," and then Police Chief Curry, of Dallas, came on the plane and said to Mrs. Kennedy, "Mrs. Kennedy, believe me, we did everything we possibly could."
We all sat around the plane. We had at first been ushered into the main private Presidential cabin on the plane but Lyndon quickly said, "No, no" and immediately led us out of there; we felt that is where Mrs. Kennedy should be. The casket was in the hall. I went in to see Mrs. Kennedy and, though it was a very hard thing to do, she made it as easy as possible. She said things like, "Oh, Lady Bird, it's good that we've always liked you two so much." She said, "Oh, what if I had not been there? I'm so glad I was there." I looked at her. Mrs. Kennedy's dress was stained with blood. Her right glove was caked--that immaculate woman--it was caked with blood, her husband's blood. She always wore gloves like she was used to them. I never could. Somehow that was one of the most poignant sights---exquisitely dressed and caked in blood. I asked her if I couldn't get someone in to help her change, and she said, "Oh, no. Perhaps later I'll ask Mary Gallagher, but not right now."
She said a lot of other things, like, "What if I had not been there? Oh, I'm so glad I was there," and a lot of other things that made it so much easier for us. "Oh, Lady Bird, we've always liked you both so much." I tried to express something of how we felt. I said, "Oh, Mrs. Kennedy, you know we never even

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