Dr. Ronald Jones called the operator to learn why.
“Dr. Jones, the president’s been shot ...,” she said. “They need physicians.” The cafeteria cleared.
Through the open door of the trauma room, Jones saw a stoic Jackie Kennedy, moving from a folding chair placed for her outside the room to standing quietly inside as doctors assessed her husband.
“His eyes were open, they were not moving,” Jones says.
As he located a vein to insert an IV, other physicians worked frantically.
Dr. Malcolm Perry, who’d been at lunch with Jones, was examining the wound in the president’s neck. Perry asked Dr. Robert McClelland to stand at the head of the gurney and hold the retractor.
“As soon as I got into that position,” McClelland recalled recently, “I was shocked ... I said to Dr. Perry, ‘My God, have you seen the back of his head?’ I said, ‘It’s gone.’”
Dr. Kemp Clark, professor of neurosurgery, was standing by a heart monitor at one point, McClelland recalls. Kennedy’s heartbeat had flatlined.
“Dr. Clark said to Dr. Perry — and I remember the exact words — ‘He said, ‘Mac, you can stop now because he’s gone,’” McClelland says.
The trauma room door opened, admitting the Rev. Oscar Huber, who anointed the president’s head with oil and administered Roman Catholic last rites.
When the end came, eyes turned to Jackie Kennedy at her husband’s side. McClelland recalls a kiss. Dr. Kenneth Salyer, who had done external cardiac massage, says, “She sort of laid on his chest ... in a sort of compassionate motion.”