TESTIMONY OF MRS. JOHN BOWDEN CONNALLY, JR.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Connally, would you mind telling us the story of this affair as you heard it, and we will be brief, and we will start right with the shooting itself, and Mr. Specter will also examine you.
Would you raise your right hand and be sworn, please? Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give before this Commission will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mrs. CONNALLY. I do.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you sit, please?
Mr. SPECTER. Are you the wife of Governor John C. Connally?
Mrs. CONNALLY. No, I am the wife of Governor John B. Connally.
Mr. SPECTER. Mrs. Connally, tell us what happened at the time of the assassination.
Mrs. CONNALLY. We had just finished the motorcade through the downtown Dallas area, and it had been a wonderful motorcade. The people had been very responsive to the President and Mrs. Kennedy, and we were very pleased, I was very pleased.
As we got off Main Street--is that the main thoroughfare?
Mr. SPECTER. That is the street on which you were proceeding through the town, yes.
Mrs. CONNALLY. In fact the receptions had been. so good every place that I had showed much restraint by not mentioning something about it before.
I could resist no longer. When we got past this area I did turn to the President and said, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."
Then I don't know how soon, it seems to me it was very soon, that I heard a noise, and not being an expert rifleman, I was not aware that it was a rifle. It was just a frightening noise, and it came from the right.
I turned over my right shoulder and looked back, and saw the President as he had both hands at his neck.
Mr. SPECTER. And you are indicating with your own hands, two hands crossing over gripping your own neck?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes; and it seemed to me there was--he made no utterance, no cry. I saw no blood, no anything. It was just sort of nothing, the expression on his face, and he just sort of slumped down.
Then very soon there was the second shot that hit John. As the first shot was hit, and I turned to look at the same time, I recall John saying, "Oh, no, no, no." Then there was a second shot, and it hit John, and as he recoiled to the right, just crumpled like a wounded animal to the right, he said, "My God, they are going to kill us all."
I never again----
Mr. DULLES. To the right was into your arms more or less?
Mrs. CONNALLY. No, he turned away from me. I was pretending that I was him. I never again looked in the back seat of the car after my husband was shot. My concern was for him, and I remember that he turned to the right and then just slumped down into the seat, so that I reached over to pull him toward me. X was trying to get him down and me down. The jump seats were not very roomy, so that there were reports that he slid into the seat of the car, which he did not; that he fell over into my lap, which he did not.
I just pulled him over into my arms because it would have been impossible to get us really both down with me sitting and me holding him. So that I looked out, I mean as he was in my arms, I put my head down over his head so that his head and my head were right together, and all I could see, too, were the people flashing by. I didn't look back any more. The third shot that I heard I felt, it felt like spent buckshot falling all over us, and then, of course, I too could see that it was the matter, brain tissue, or whatever, just human matter, all over the car and both of us.
I thought John had been killed, and then there was some imperceptible movement, just some little something that let me know that there was still some life, and that is when I started saying to him, "It's all right. Be still."
Now, I did hear the Secret Service man say, "Pull out of the motorcade. Take us to the nearest hospital," and then we took out very rapidly to the hospital.
Just before we got to Parkland, we made a right-hand turn, he must have been going very fast, because as he turned the weight of my husband's body almost toppled us both.
Mr. SPECTER How fast do you think he was going?
Mrs. CONNALLY. I don't know; very rapidly. The people I could see going by were just rushing. We were just rushing by very fast. We arrived at the hospital and sat there what seemed to me like an interminable time, and from what I know was just a few minutes, but the thoughts that went through my mind were how long must I sit here with this dying man in my arms while everybody is swarming over the President whom I felt very sure was dead, and just when I thought I could sit and wait no longer, John
just sort of heaved himself up. He did not rise up in the car, he just sort of heaved himself up, and then collapsed down into the seat.
Mr. SPECTER. At that time you and Governor Connally were still on the jump seats of the car?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes, and they had not--the President was still--and Mrs. Kennedy were still in the back. I still had not ever looked back at the back seat after the second shot. I could hear, you know, hear them talking about how sad, and lamenting the fact that the President was in such poor shape and, of course, they didn't know whether he was--I guess they didn't know whether he was alive or dead.
Mr. SPECTER. Did President Kennedy say anything at all after the shooting?
Mrs. CONNALLY. He did not say anything. Mrs. Kennedy said, the first thing I recall her saying was, after the first shot, and I heard her say, "Jack, they have killed my husband," and then there was the second shot, and then after the third shot she said, "They have killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand," and she repeated that several times, and that was all the conversation.
Mr. SPECTER. From that point forward you say you had your eyes to the front so you did not have a chance----
Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes, because I had him, and I really didn't think about looking back anyway, but I could just see the car rushing along, and people and things rushing past us. I remember thinking what a terrible sight this must be to those people, to see these two shot-up men, and it was a terribly horrifying thing, and I think that is about as I remember it.
Mr. SPECTER What happened then after you got to the hospital?
Mrs. CONNALLY. We got to the hospital and, like I said, John heaved himself over. They still could not seem to get Mrs. Kennedy or the President out of the back of the car, but someone scooped him up in their arms and put him on a stretcher. There were two stretchers there, and then they took him off immediately to the emergency room, and they ran down the hall with the stretcher, and I just ran along with them.
They took him into the emergency room, and right behind us came the President on a stretcher, and they took. him and put him in a room to the right. There was much commotion and confusion. There were lots of what I assumed were Secret Service men rushing in with machine guns, I guess, or tommyguns. I am not real sure, they were big arms of some sort. There was no one there were lots of people across the hall. There was no one with me and, of course, my thoughts then were, I guess like any other woman, I wondered if all the doctors were in the room on the left, and they were not taking too good care of my husband on the right. I shouldn't have worried about that, should I?
I knew no one in the hospital and I was alone. Twice I got up and opened the door into the emergency room, and 1 could hear John and I could see him moving, and I knew then that he was still alive.
I guess that time was short, too. It seemed endless. Somebody rushed out, I thought it was a nurse, and handed me one cuff link. I later read that it was a lady doctor.
They took him out of there very soon up to surgery, and I just left with him and waited in an office. Do you know whose office I was in? It was where you came to me.
Dr. GREGORY. Dr. Jenkins' office.
Dr. SHAW. Yes. You were either in the anesthesia office or in the room that is part of the recovery room. Was it the same place where you later stayed, Mrs. Connally?
Mrs. CONNALLY. No.
Dr. GREGORY. I think it was back in Dr. Jenkins' office. That is where I believe I first saw you.
Mrs. CONNALLY. I believe that is right.
As soon as Dr. Shaw found that he had some encouraging news, that the wounds were not as extensive as he had thought they could be or might be, he sent that word to me from the operating room, and that was good news.
I then asked if I couldn't go see Mrs. Kennedy, and they told me that she had left the hospital.
Mr. SPECTER. Were you visited at the hospital by Mrs. Johnson?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes, I was. But I assume that was before, since they left together, not much of a visit. She came by and we didn't have to say much, and then they left.
Mr. SPECTER. Mrs. Connally, what was your impression, if any, as to the source of the shots?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Well, I had no thought of whether they were high or low or where. They just came from the right; sounded like they were to my right.
Mr. SPECTER. How many did you hear in all?
Mrs. CONNALLY. I heard three.
Mr. SPECTER. What is your best estimate on the time that passed from the first to the last shot?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Very short. It seemed to me that there was less time between the first and the second than between the second and the third.
Mr. SPECTER. About how fast do you think the car was going then?
Mrs. CONNALLY. I don't really know. Not too fast. It was sort of a letdown time for us. We could relax for, we thought we could, for just a minute.
Mr. SPECTER. And you mean by that since the major part of the crowd had been passed?
Mrs. CONNALLY. We had gone by them. The underpass was in sight, and I knew that as soon as we passed through the underpass that then we would be going straight to the Trade Mart for the luncheon, and I felt, like we would then be moving fast and not have people on all sides of us.
Mr. SPECTER. Did you see the films this morning here in the Commission office?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes, I did.
Mr. SPECTER. Did you have an opinion as to which frame it was that Governor Connally was shot?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes. I was in agreement with the Governor. I am not sure I remember the numbers so correct me, but I thought at the time that it was that 229--it could have been then through the next three or four frames.
Mr. SPECTER. Do you have anything----
Mrs. CONNALLY. They were blurred.
Mr. SPECTER. With respect to the source, you say you thought it was to the right---did you have any reaction as to whether they were from the front, rear or side?
Mrs. CONNALLY. I thought it was from back of us.
Mr. SPECTER. To the rear?
Mrs. CONNALLY. To the right; that is right.
Mr. SPECTER. Did you have any reaction as to the question of elevation or level?
Mrs. CONNALLY. No, I didn't.
Mr. SPECTER. Do you have anything else to add which you think would be helpful to the Commission in any way?
Mrs. CONNALLY. I don't think so.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other questions? Senator, do you have any? Do you have any, Mr. Dulles?
Mr. DULLES. I just have one question. Mrs. Connally, on one point your testimony differs from a good many others as to the timing of the shots. I think you said that there seemed to be more time between the second and third than between the first and the second; is that your recollection?
Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes.
Mr. DULLES. That is, the space between the first and the second was less than between the second and the third? You realize I just wanted to get whether I had heard you correctly on that.
Mrs. CONNALLY. You did.
Mr. DULLES. Thank you very much.
Mrs. CONNALLY. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Connally, thank you very much. We hate to have you review all this in your mind's eye again, but it was necessary to have your testimony, and you were very kind to come.
Mrs. CONNALLY. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. We appreciate it very much, indeed.
(Whereupon, at 5:45 p.m., the President's Commission adjourned.)