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50 Years Later, Minneapolis Man Remembers Riding in JFK Motorcade

Updated: 11/22/2013 2:43 PM
Created: 11/19/2013 7:29 PM KSTP.com
By: Tom Hauser

Just about anyone over the age of eight at the time JFK was assassinated remembers where they were when they heard the tragic news. 

For a Minneapolis man, the memory remains vivid even at age 87. Jack Puterbaugh was an "advance" man for Kennedy, riding in the motorcade about six cars ahead of the president's limousine. He was selected to help with the president's trip to Dallas after doing similar advance work for Kennedy on trips to Minneapolis in 1960 and Duluth in 1963. 

After 10 days in Dallas helping plan details of the visit, the motorcade through downtown Dallas and a luncheon speech were supposed to be the culmination of a successful trip. Then came the fateful gunshots.  "Earth shattering," recalls Puterbaugh. "You just can't really describe it. All of your emotions came into play."

Puterbaugh was riding in an unmarked Dallas Police car ahead of the president when a call came over the radio. First asking for officers to return to Dealey Plaza, then changing that to alerting Parkland Hospital to prepare for the president.  That's where Puterbaugh's car ended up. "It started to fill up with vehicles from the motorcade and the press bus showed up," Puterbaugh recalled of the scene at the hospital. "So it was chaotic."

Less than an hour later, Puterbaugh returned to Dealey Plaza with a Secret Service agent. "It was again chaos," he says. "Just pandemonium. People running here and there. It still hadn't sunk in what the gravity of the event was."

Puterbaugh says it has certainly sunk in 50 years later. "I think our country is a much different country as a result of the assassination."


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