JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

JFK's Motorcade Winds Through Dallas

By Frank Heinz
|  Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013  |  Updated 7:58 AM PDT
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JFK's Motorcade Winds Through Dallas

NBC 5 News

At 11:55 a.m., the presidential motorcade leaves Love Field for it's 9.5 mile journey to the Dallas Trade Mart, where President Kennedy was scheduled to speak at about 1 p.m.

The motorcade was to carry the presidential party out of Love Field on Lemmon Avenue toward Cedar Springs Road. From there, it would follow Cedar Springs to Harwood Street into downtown.  The motorcade would turn onto Main Street from Harwood before arriving in Dealey Plaza and taking a right on Houston Street and a left on Elm Street to reach the access road to Stemmons Freeway.

The motorcade, according to the Warren Report, consisted of the following:

  • Motorcycles - Dallas police motorcycles lead the motorcade
  • The Pilot Car - Manned by Dallas police officers, the Pilot Car preceded the main party by about a quarter of a mile and was to alert stationary officers along the route that the motorcade was coming.
  • Motorcycles - The Pilot Car was followed by four to six Dallas police officers on motorcycles whose main function was crowd control.
  • The Lead Car - A rolling, unmarked Dallas police car that was the command vehicle. In the JFK motorcade, it was driven by Dallas Chief of Police Curry and occupied by Dallas County Sheriff J.E. Decker and Secret Service Agents Sorrels and Lawson. Those in the lead car were scouting for trouble ahead of the presidential limousine.
  • The Presidential Limousine - A specially-designed 1961 Lincoln convertible that carried the presidential party, including JFK, the first lady, Gov. John Connally, Mrs. Connally, the driver Secret Service Special Agent William R. Greer and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Roy Kellerman.  It was outfitted with a clear bubble-top that was neither bulletproof or nor bullet resistant. Due to clear skies on Nov. 22 in Dallas, the top was removed.  The car had running boards for Secret Service to ride on, when necessary.
  • Motorcycles - Behind the Presidential Limousine were four motorcycles, two flanked on each side whose main purpose was crowd control.
  • Presidential Follow-Up Car - A 1955 eight-passenger Cadillac convertible especially outfitted for the Secret Service.  It carried eight agents, two in the front, two in the rear and two on each of the right and left running boards.  Each agent was armed and the car also carried additional weaponry. The agents in the car watched for trouble along the route while those on the running boards moved into positions near the President and first lady when the President's car slowed or when he would stop to greet a crowd.
  • Vice Presidential Car - A four-door Lincoln obtained locally that carried the Vice President, his wife, Sen. Yarborough and Rufus Youngblood, special agent in charge of the Vice President's detail. A Texas State Trooper was the driver.
  • Vice Presidential Follow-Up Car - A Dallas police officer drove three additional Secret Service Agents as well as the Vice President's assistant, Clifton C. Garter.
  • Remainder of the Motorcade - The rest of the motorcade consisted of five cars for other dignitaries including the Mayor of Dallas and Texas Congressmen, a White House communication car and press photographers.  Following the cars were buses for White House staff and the press.
  • Motorcycles and Police Cars - Dallas police rounded out the end of the motorcade to keep unauthorized vehicles from joining the procession.

The President's motorcade left Love Field and, at Kennedy's direction, stopped twice before arriving in downtown so that he could shake hands with people along the motorcade route.

JFK first stopped at 12:06 p.m. at the corner of Lemmon Avenue and Lomo Alto Drive after seeing children holding a sign asking him to stop and shake their hands.

A few blocks down the road, Kennedy again orders the motorcade to stop when he spots a Catholic nun and a group of small children.

At about 12:23 p.m., just seven minutes from arriving in Dealey Plaza, the motorcade turns onto Main Street and slows to a crawl as the motorcade entered the heart of downtown. The crowd quickly became very dense and, according to the Warren Report, "spectators gave the President a tremendous reception."

At 12:29 p.m., the lead motorcycles turn the corner from Main Street onto Houston Street and JFK's limousine soon followed.

Bugliosi, Vincent. Reclaiming History, pg. 34-37.

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