Fascinating article from Chris Jones and Esquire on the hours after the assassination of JFK. Grab a coffee, this is worth reading in full.
Back in the communications shack, Swindal hears the first in a series of puzzling radio calls. The Secret Service agents refer to one another by code names, all starting with D. “Dusty to Daylight,” the radio crackles. “Have Dagger cover Volunteer.” Dagger, Swindal knows, is a laconic agent named Rufus Youngblood, a thirty-nine-year-old native of Georgia. Volunteer is the code name for Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The radio suddenly drops out. Swindal worries that President Kennedy’s notoriously tricky back has leveled him—he was wearing his cumbersome brace when he left the plane—and the motorcade, on its way to the Dallas Trade Mart for a luncheon, has needed to stop.
Outside on the tarmac, radio operator John Trimble is stretching his legs when a member of the White House Communications Agency, listening to the same Secret Service feed on his portable radio, waves him over. He tells Trimble that someone in the presidential motorcade has been hurt. The plane needs to be readied for takeoff immediately. “My first reaction was that one of the Secret Service agents had fallen from a car,” Trimble says later.
He runs up the ramp and onto the plane. In his wake, the crews from two nearby passenger jets—Air Force Two, the vice-president’s plane, and the Pan American charter for the accompanying press—stream past Air Force One’s wheels, under its shining silver belly. They had been grabbing lunch inside the terminal when they were interrupted by a PA announcement: Time to move.