The Norman Transcript

Breaking News

Nation/World

November 9, 2013

JFK assassination items on display

DAYTON, Ohio — Many items that make up the searing images from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — from the ill-fated presidential limousine, to the gravesite eternal flame, to the historic Air Force One plane where Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office — are available for public viewing 50 years later.

In some cases, officials had to scramble to make that happen.

Aboard the plane, now in a hangar at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, visitors squeeze down a narrow walkway to stand where people packed into its sweltering state room to watch Johnson, Kennedy’s vice president, sworn in, with Jacqueline Kennedy alongside in the suit stained by her husband’s blood.

“It’s getting hotter and hotter, people are crammed in, emotions are getting higher and higher,” explained Jeff Underwood, historian of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, reflecting the famous images from the plane.

As on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, it wasn’t clear in the first hours after the shooting what was unfolding, he said. Johnson wanted to show the nation that a constitutional transfer of power had been made, and Mrs. Kennedy insisted upon being there, Underwood said.

Visitors can also see the saw cuts in a rear wall hastily made by Air Force crew members who didn’t want the late president’s coffin carried in the cargo hold. They removed two rows of seats for the coffin, which Mrs. Kennedy sat across from on the flight back to Washington.

Experiencing history in a personal way by being where it happened goes beyond reading it, Underwood said Friday during a news media tour.

“Sometimes I see the looks on the faces (of visitors), and it all comes back to me,” said Underwood, a fourth-grader in 1963. “The story is so visceral.”

The federal spending reductions of the sequester had in May halted shuttle bus trips from the museum to the hangar, but museum officials decided to resume the tours on a trimmed schedule with the anniversary approaching. The Boeing jet — built specially in 1962 for presidential use — was retired by the Air Force in 1998, having flown eight presidents starting with Kennedy.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall for failed power steering

    DETROIT — General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Landslide devouring part of Wyoming town

    JACKSON, Wyo. — A slow-motion disaster continued unfolding in the Wyoming resort town of Jackson on Saturday, as a creeping landslide that split a hillside home threatened to swallow up more houses and businesses. The ground beneath the ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

    Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers. Samuel Rogers is a 20-year-old ...

    April 20, 2014

  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs....

    April 20, 2014

  • Hostage French journalists in Syria freed

    PARIS — Four French journalists held hostage in Syria for 10 months have been released, officials said Saturday, the latest batch of reporters to be freed in what has become the world’s deadliest conflict for the media....

    April 20, 2014

  • 13th body found in Everest avalanche

    KATMANDU, Nepal — Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides Another three guides remained ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    WORCESTER, Mass. — All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway....

    April 20, 2014

  • Study: Half of jailed youths have injury

    NEW YORK — About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City’s jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that’s the latest in a growing body of ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Senate to debate rideshare regulations

    PHOENIX — Among the major issues left to cover at the Arizona Legislature before the session ends is how to regulate the increasingly popular ridesharing programs like Uber and Lyft. The contentious debate has pitted traditional taxi ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Quake shakes Mexican capital

    ACAPULCO, Mexico — A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties....

    April 19, 2014