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1963: 'I was injured by Kennedy killer'

Dallas car salesman James Tague was late for a lunch date when he was caught in traffic in Dealey Plaza on 22 November 1963.

Seconds after the 27-year-old got out of his car, two shots were fired into the presidential limousine.

A third bullet hit the kerb near Mr Tague, exploding debris into his face. His evidence was ignored, but his eventual testimony to the Warren Commission proved at least one shot missed President Kennedy.

The traffic in front of me was stopped and I got out of my car to see what was going on.

I thought maybe there'd been an automobile accident or something.


" With those last two shots I felt something sting me in the face "

I was standing there at the east edge of the triple underpass and noticed a big crowd around the Schoolbook Depository.

About that time the president's limousine turned the corner. I noticed the two flags and it dawned on me I had read in the paper a few days before that the president was in town.

So I stood there for a moment and then heard the pop of what I thought was a firecracker - but was actually the first shot.

I looked up into the crowd and wondered what kind of fool would let off a firecracker with the president coming by. Then I heard the crack of a couple of rifle shots.

And with those last two shots I felt something sting me in the face.

Sobbing man

I felt in danger and ducked back behind the concrete in the triple underpass.

I stayed there for a couple of seconds and there were no more sounds so I walked out, standing there trying to figure out what had happened.

A guy came running up to me in a suit and asked me what had happened and I said, "I don't know." I later learnt it was a deputy-sheriff named Buddy Walthers.

We'd noticed a motorcycle policeman over by the grassy knoll and so we walked over there just in time to here a man sobbing to the policeman, "His head exploded! His head exploded!"

Blood

The policeman said, "Whose head?"

And the man answered, "The president's."

I remember the deputy-sheriff turned to the grass right beside the sidewalk and kicked the grass with his toes as hard as he could and said, "Damn, damn, damn!"

As we were talking the deputy-sheriff looked at my face and said, "You've got blood on your face."

I reached up and on the palm of my hand there were two or three drops of blood. I remembered then that something had stung me during the shooting.


" I learnt later that other people had seen debris fly up as the bullet hit the kerb "

He asked me were I was standing and I told him. So we walked back over there and waited for the traffic to clear before we crossed the street and Buddy Walthers said, "Look! What's that mark on the kerb?"

You could see it through three lanes of traffic.

We went over there, looked at the mark and eyeballed where it might have come from. It came from the direction of the Schoolbook Depository.

I learnt later that other people had seen debris fly up as the bullet hit the kerb.

Prime suspect

I went onto Dallas police station and they sent me to Homicide. I sat there for 30 or 40 minutes. A detective named Gus Rose came in and started taking my statement.

We were about through with giving the statement when there was a commotion. A couple of policemen brought a guy in handcuffs in.

Detective Rose asked, "Who is that guy?"

And a policeman said, "This is the man who killed a policeman over in Oak Cliff section of Dallas."

That night on TV they showed Oswald and that was they same guy they'd brought in.

Cover-up

He passed within three feet of me. There were glassed-in cubicles and they put him in the cubicle right next to me. I could have touched him if the glass hadn't been there.

I do not know why the FBI tried to cover up the missed shot. The only thing I can think of was that Hoover [the head of the FBI] in his report to President Johnson a few days after the assassination said the first shot hit Kennedy, the second hit Connally and the third hit Kennedy in the head.

If you go back and talk to some of the old FBI agents they will tell you that you didn't question Hoover. If he said something, that was it.

If you look at the Zapruder film when Kennedy is hit in the head there's a slight move forwards and then a violent move backwards. His head moves so violently back it throws his shoulders into his seat.

And of course you see his head does explode.


" We will never know the truth about the Kennedy assassination "

He could have been hit simultaneously by two shots, one from the front and one from the rear. There's definitely one from the rear because there was over 40 fragments of bullet in the frontal part of the head.

When Malcolm Killduff, the assistant White House press secretary announced to the public at Parklands [Hospital] the president had died, he pointed to his right temple as a point of entry for a bullet.

And the doctors at Parklands all testified the back of the President's head had blown out, but the Warren Commission ignored that for some reason. I do not know why.

I don't know the answers - this is one of the reasons I wrote my book. We will never know the truth about the Kennedy assassination.

In Context
James Tague still lives in Dallas. He has been researching the Kennedy assassination since the early 1970s.

His book about the events in Dealey Plaza on 22 November 1963 - Truth Withheld: A Survivor's Story - has just been published.


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