JFK Bible

To Orwell Today,

I read with interest your article on the photographs taken of the LBJ swear-in aboard Air Force One. I am aware of several versions of the chosen photo, one with a man's face obscured by Johnson's raised hand, another in which the man's eye is seen to the left of the hand. Could you tell me which photo was released to the national press that day?

I understand that the photos were developed and sent out from "The Dallas News." Would you know the earliest time (hour) when the chosen photo would have appeared in a US newspaper after the photo had appeared on the wire?

This would help a lot for a school paper I'm doing.

Thank you,

Greetings Duane,

You may recall that the photographer, Cecil Stoughton, took sixteen shots of the swearing-in ceremony and left the airplane immediately afterwards to develop his film. Air Force One's engines were already revving up and it lifted off at 2:47 p.m. Dallas time (3:47 Eastern time) for the 1,300-mile flight.

By the time Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington two hours and twenty minutes later (at 6:05 Eastern time) the swearing-in photos (with sound from the tape made with JFK's dictaphone machine) were being broadcast on television worldwide.

One of the photos probably appeared in the evening editions of most newspapers that Friday as well, although which one was chosen I do not know. I don't think the sixteen photos would have varied much as the photographer didn't have any room to maneouver. The stateroom where the swearing-in was performed was 15' by 17' and contained 26 human beings each giving off the heat of a 100-watt light bulb.

JFK Plane

The photographer was standing on the sofa as he took the pictures. See photo above for its location.

I can't name any of the people in the photo by heart as most of them were LBJ's aides and supporters. The only representative of JFK's entourage visible in the photo is Jackie.

All the best with your school paper,
Jackie Jura

PS - As in all major catastrophes some news articles slip through the censors before they can be squashed and this was the case with the first news bulletins appearing after JFK's assassination. For example, "less than an hour after JFK had been pronounced dead the Associated Press declared that he had been shot 'in the front of the head.' This report became one of the chief sources for the conviction of millions that all subsequent investigtions of the tragedy were fraudulent." [from Death of a President by William Manchester, page 354]


(took only photo of LBJ swear-in on AF-1; filmed Bobby Kennedy funeral train)
by Pam Harbaugh, Florida Today, Nov 3, 2008

In 2003, Merritt Island resident Cecil Stoughton shared with FLORIDA TODAY his first person account about getting the iconic photograph of LBJ being sworn in aboard Air Force One. What follows in his own words first published 5 years ago. “First, I had to get there. I had to use my sensibilities knowing that Johnson, being the new president, would have to have an oath of office taken someplace. Standing in the lobby of the hospital, I saw him leave the building. I asked a colleague where he was going. He said, ‘The President is going to Washington,’ which indicated Kennedy had just expired.“I said, ‘So am I.’ I went outside to get wheels to get to Air Force One. Fortunately, I got a car driven by one of the state troopers. We drove rather madly to the airstrip to where Air Force One was parked. The driver didn’t know exactly how to get there. He took a turn that allowed us access to the active airway. We were driving the car about 40 or 50 miles per hours, madly toward Air Force Once.

Jim Swindall, the pilot of Air Force One, who lives in Cocoa Beach now, said ‘Yeah, you can ride here if you need to.’ Then, I went into the cabin. Malcolm Kilduff, the assistant press secretary to Pierre Salinger, who was not there, because he was with cabinet members on a trip to Tokyo, came running up the aisle and said, ‘Thank God you’re here, Cecil. Johnson is going to have to take his oath on the plane, and you’re going to have to release photos to the press.’ “The first thing I did was take the color film out of my Hasselblad camera. I knew wire services weren’t taking color. So I had to switch to black and white. Having done that, I went into the cabin where Johnson and all the people who had arrived there with them were waiting for the arrival of Mrs. Kennedy and the arrival of the coffin.

“When the ambulance came into the area where Air Force One was parked, I saw it out of the little window. I ran up on the front of the plane, got to the platform and made pictures of the casket being loaded into the rear of the plane. Then I went back inside, and it was at this point where Johnson said, ‘Where do you want us, Cecil?’ I said the only thing I can do is stand over there on the couch, with my back up against the wall. “When Mrs. Kennedy came, she was directly in front of me. I could reach out and touch her on the shoulder, she was so close.

“Fortunately, I had a wide-angle lens on my Hasselblad, and I was able to get the four people in the photograph, which became iconic. I was aware that a swearing-in of a president was important to let the world to know the power had been transferred. I took about 20 snaps. I had a 35mm black-and-white camera around my neck. I would intersperse with 35mm photographs. It took 38 seconds to read the oath. “There was a little bit of milling around. They were hugging Jackie. I sprayed around and took pictures of them all. Looking at Jackie’s face, you can imagine everything that happened. Her dress was covered in blood. Fortunately for me, the blood was out of view of my camera. “Then began the four-day coverage of the event.”

Jackie Jura
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