Now Online: National Archives Accessions Newly Discovered Post-JFK Assassination Tape Recording
Today the National Archives announced that The Raab Collection, which deals in historical autographs, has donated to the National Archives an original audiotape recording described as “Radio Traffic involving AF-1 in flight from Dallas, TX, to Andrews AFB on November 22, 1963.” A digitized version of the two-hour-and-twenty-two minute recording is now available on the National Archives web site.
The Raab Collection recently discovered two ¼˝ open-reel audiotapes containing identical excerpts from the November 22, 1963, Air Force One flight among the papers and other memorabilia of Army Gen. Chester “Ted” Clifton Jr., who served as senior military aide to President John F. Kennedy. Although the tapes were labeled by date and title, their contents were unknown. General Clifton was provided both tapes by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA).
Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero expressed his gratitude to The Raab Collection: “The Raabs have done a great service in discovering and donating this important historical audiotape to the National Archives. It provides additional documentation concerning the immediate response of the U.S. Government on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination.”
“Our search for important history has led us to some fascinating places, but this is a particularly exciting find,” said Nathan Raab, Vice President of The Raab Collection and expert on historical documents. “The discovery of these tapes will allow the public a more complete view of the chaotic circumstances following the assassination of President Kennedy. We are honored to be part of that process.”
The recording includes taped conversations between pilots and individuals on President Kennedy’s official airplane known as “Air Force One,” and various individuals in Washington, DC, during the return flight following the assassination of President Kennedy. The conversations were captured by the WHCA, which routed all phone calls and radio traffic. The tape also includes communication between the WHCA and a second aircraft of the Presidential fleet, known as 86972 (by its tail number), which was en route to Tokyo at the time of the assassination with members of the President’s cabinet.
The recording includes references to new code names and incidents; a private conversation between Jerry Behn, the head of the Secret Service, and an unidentified individual about the disposition of the President’s body; an urgent effort by an aide to Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay to reach General Clifton; and attempts to locate various members of Congress from the Texas delegation.
The National Archives’ Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library has a different version of the recording, which is approximately 40 minutes shorter.
Additional Details: Post-JFK Assassination Air Force One Flight Deck Recording
Read the Complete NARA Announcement
Direct to Audio Files (via GPO)
Direct to Audio Files (via Wikimedia Commons)
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Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.