November 22, 2013

Holding onto history: JFK teletype preserved

Man kept original teletype advising Kennedy had been shot.

By Amie Sites

---- — Chuck Spradling was working in a Military Assistance Command, Vietnam communication center when a teletype advising John F. Kennedy had been shot.

Spradling, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was working a 12-hour shift in the communication center that received operation and military intelligence when the teletype arrived.

"We were right in the heart of Saigon," Spradling said.

"Everyone was shocked and surprised," Spradling said. "Because of where we were, we had no knowledge of where he [Kennedy] was and what he was doing."

Knowing the importance of the teletype, the Logansport native has held on to the original teletype for 50 years.

"I knew it was something significant," Spradling said. "I had to save it."

At the time, his wife and children were with him at their home in Saigon, Spradling said. He spent 15 months at the headquarters. Spradling recalls his wife calling him because she heard the news on the radio and he had to confirm it was true.

"It was different experiencing it overseas," Spradling said. "Back here it would have been all over the television."

Spradling spent 20 years in the U.S. army. He entered in to the army in 1953 and 10 years later, in 1963, he received the teletype of Kennedy's assassination. He continued to serve until 1973.

"I'm glad I hung onto it," Spradling said.

Today the teletype sits on Spradling's bookshelf next to "The Torch Is Passed," a book memorializing Kennedy's death.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.

This teletype was received in the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) communication center in Saigon when Kennedy was shot. The following teletype is printed verbatim from the original. TDBPDALLS, TEXAS------- Kennedy was shot through the head and neck as he rode through Dallas in the presidential limousine in what had been a trygmphal motorcade. When the shots were fired at about 12:30 p.m. CST and the chief executive slumped forward, Mrs. Kennedy turned in the seat ahead of him and cried, "oh, no," in anguish and horror. She tried to cradle his head in her arms as the limousine took off at top speed for Parkland Hospital where Kennedy died about half an hour later. Johnson, who was Kennedy's bice president, automatically succeeded to tethe presidency. The new chief executive took the oath of office at about 2:30 p.m. CST. For the first time in history, the oath was administered by a woman--US District Judge Sarah T. Hughes. Johnson was sworn in aboard the presidential jet transport--Air Force One--at Dallas' Love Field. He then flew to Washington to take over the government which Kennedy had directed since Jan 20, 1961. Kennedy's body was aboard th plane. The same volley of shots that skilled the president struck Gov. John Connally of Texas, who was riding beside Kennedy. Like Kennedy, the stricken Connally was sped to Parkland Hospital and wheeled into surgery for an emergency operation. The democratic governor was struck in the body and srist. Dennedy, who was 46, was cut down by a flurry of bullets hortly after his ol- n-topped car had left the Dallas Business District, where thousands had massed 10 and 12 deep along each curb to cheer him and Mrs. Kennedy. This was the first presidential assassination since 1900 when a half-crazed gunman shot William McKinley at close range during a reception in Buffalo . Kennedy as the first president to die in office since Rranklin D. Roosevelt succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage in April 1945. The Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Dallas Police swung in to acihvion within seconds and launched what ywas perhaps the biggest, determined manhunt in the nation's history. A nuxeer of suspect were picked up during the next few hours. Charles Brehn, 38, of Dallas, was standing in the big crowd at the curbside about 15 feet away as the president's car approached. "He was waving and the first shot hit him and then that awful look crossed his face," Brehm said. There were at least three bursts of gunfire. Kennedy slumped over on the seat and Mrs. Kennedy screamed. Connally fell back forward to the floor. Police charged up a grassy knoll into a nearby park. Secret Service men unlimbered automatic rifles and drew pistols. But it was too late. Kennedy's and other limousines sped to the hospital while polie and secret service agents fanned out lookingeo for the killer or killers. The suspected assassin was chased into the Texas Theater in the Oak Cliff section and seized after he had shot and killed a police officer. The man, who sore a brown shirt, was capture by the policeman's partners after a struggle. The suspect was quoted as saying: "it's all over now."