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Recovered history: Top kennedy military aide says lbj was badly shaken after assassination
This month will mark the 46th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A recently declassified oral history by Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh, President Kennedy's military aide on the Dallas trip, sheds new light on the critical hours after the shooting. McHugh makes startling claims about Lyndon Johnson's behavior in the wake of the assassination.
The interview with McHugh, originally conducted for the John F. Kennedy Library in 1978, remained closed for 31 years. It was finally declassified in the spring of 2009. I just happened to be working at the Kennedy Library on the day the interview was opened to the public and have used it for the first time in my new book, The Kennedy Assassination -- 24 Hours After.

After being informed at Parkland Hospital that Kennedy was dead, Johnson raced back to Air Force One, where he waited for Mrs. Kennedy and the body of the slain president, and made preparations to take the Oath of Office. Back at the hospital, the Kennedy group loaded the body into a coffin, forced their way past a local justice of the peace, and hurried back to Love Field for the long ride back to Washington.
It was standard practice for the plane to take off as soon as the commander-in-chief was onboard. Even after McHugh had ordered the pilot to take off, however, "nothing happened." According to the newly declassified transcript, Mrs. Kennedy was becoming desperate to leave. "Mrs. Kennedy was getting very warm, she had blood all over her hat, her coat...his brains were sticking on her hat. It was dreadful," McHugh said. She pleaded with him to get the plane off the ground. "Please, let's leave," she said. McHugh jumped up and used the phone near the rear compartment to call Captain James Swindal. "Let's leave," he said. Swindal responded: "I can't do it. I have orders to wait." Not wanting to make a scene in front of Mrs. Kennedy, McHugh rushed to the front of the plane. "Swindal, what on earth is going on?" The pilot told him that "the President wants to remain in this area."
McHugh, like most members of the Kennedy entourage, did not know that Johnson was onboard. They believed that the new president was on his own plane flying back to Washington. If LBJ was on the plane, McHugh wanted to see for himself. Since he had not seen Johnson in the aisle -- and at 6'4" Johnson would be tough to miss -- McHugh assumed that he must then be in the bedroom. When he checked there Johnson was nowhere to be seen. The only place on the plane he had not inspected was the bathroom in the presidential bedroom.
What McHugh claimed to have witnessed next was shocking. "I walked in the toilet, in the powder room, and there he was hiding, with the curtain closed," McHugh recalled. He claimed that LBJ was crying, "They're going to get us all. It's a plot. It's a plot. It's going to get us all.'" According to the General, Johnson "was hysterical, sitting down on the john there alone in this thing."
I soon discovered that McHugh had told a similar story when he spoke by phone with Mark Flanagan, an investigator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Ironically, McHugh gave the interview to the HSCA a week before he sat down with the Kennedy Library in May 1978. "McHugh had encountered difficulty in locating Johnson but finally discovered him alone," Flanagan wrote in his summary to the Committee. Quoting McHugh, the investigator noted that the General found Johnson "hiding in the toilet in the bedroom compartment and muttering, 'Conspiracy, conspiracy, they're after all of us.'"
Author Christopher Anderson claimed that McHugh shared a similar, although slightly more dramatic, version of this story when he interviewed the General for his book Jackie after Jack, published in 1998.
If true, the story is explosive and reveals a completely different side of Johnson than the collected, calm presence he otherwise managed to convey throughout the hours and days following Kennedy's death.
But how credible is McHugh's account?
It is, of course, impossible to confirm or deny whether a private encounter took place between the two men, both of whom are now dead. There are a number of reasons to doubt McHugh's claim. The General intensely disliked Johnson and was fiercely loyal to JFK, and therefore had some reason to invent such a story. Most glaring, McHugh made no mention of what was surely a very memorable encounter in his long interview with William Manchester in 1964. It also stands to reason that if McHugh had witnessed Johnson in a state of utter breakdown, he would have told the story to others within the Kennedy camp. Surely, given how potentially damaging the story would be to LBJ, Kennedy partisans would have leaked it to the media at some point.
Although it is impossible to prove, my gut reaction is that McHugh is telling the truth. We know that Johnson was a man capable of dramatic mood swings, and occasional fits of hysteria were not unusual. McHugh's account of LBJ's behavior is similar to RFK's description of a trembling and tearful Johnson at the 1960 Democratic Convention when it appeared that JFK might renege on his promise to include him on the ticket. It was not surprising behavior to those who knew him best.
We also know from some eyewitnesses that LBJ's secret service agent, Rufus Youngblood, stood outside the door to the bedroom and controlled the traffic into the room. Aides went in and out, but it is possible that McHugh could have found LBJ alone in the bedroom suite.

If true, though, why did McHugh wait until 1978 to tell this story? When Manchester interviewed him in May 1964, McHugh was still in the military, although only a few months away from retirement. Is it possible that he worried the story would be too damaging to his commander-in-chief?
We will never know for sure, but McHugh's account is sure to add to the controversy surrounding that tragic November day in Dallas.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Thanks for posting this Maggie. I saw this story (and I do mean "story") on Huffington Post. The only other place I've seen it is David Talbot's book "Brothers."

I find the story completely absurd and lacking in context. For example, was LBJ supposed to have cowered before or after his swearing in ceremony on Air Force One during which he was utterly composed. He was even smug and smiling during the infamous "wink" with Albert Thomas (i.e., the man used to lure JFK to Dallas) immediately after the swearing in. See a photo of the wink here, but make sure you have a strong stomach first:

To paraphrase: bullshit.
The interview with McHugh, originally conducted for the John F. Kennedy Library in 1978, remained closed for 31 years. It was finally declassified in the spring of 2009.sheesh......31 years that's all.......and this is just for an interview......doesn't say much about the jfk library imo,,or perhaps too much.....:ahhhhh:,b
Discrepancies from scene to scene are the responsibilty of the continuity person on the set.

Lyndon Johnson was now president as he'd wanted above all else.

He was no longer in danger of prison time behind the Billy Sol Estes and Bobby Baker scandals.

He was a friend of long standing of J. Edgar Hoover with whom he shared an animus towards the Kennedys as well as dinner conversation on Wednesdays.

The wink, yes, of course. Also the rapid scrapping of JFK trappings noted by Evelyn Lincoln.

The man arranged bootlickers as a screen so he could urinate in the Rose Garden--he was not suffering the vapors in the aftermath.

He was in fine shape to sign NSAM 273 on the Tuesday following the funeral procession.
If I remember correctly, the late Mary Ferrell mentioned
that it was rumored that Gen. McHugh and Jackie were
having or had had an affair.

The most important aspect of this story relates to the LBJ-ordered delay on the ground and, by extension, to the body alteration scenario.

I had not realized LBJ held the departure for the purpose you mentioned, but the hypothesis opens another possible venue for alteration.

Ridicule and denial to the contrary notwithstanding, David Lifton posited the transference of the body from the casket in the cabin to parts unknown of the aircraft. Drop shipment to Walter Reed to follow.

In Craig Roberts' Kill Zone: A Sniper Looks at Dealey Plaza the author prints two page-size diagrams of the aircraft type of tail number 26000, Air Force One in that era.

Roberts shows a floor hatch from the compartment where the casket was, to the rear cargo compartment with its hatch on the right side.

Mary Ferrell ( relates a very interesting paragraph:

Military chatter aboard Air Force One made repeated reference to the need for a forklift to be brought to the right front of the plane, where the "first lady" would depart. But Mrs. Kennedy left the plane with everyone else from the left rear.

Roberts claims a helicopter made a hot pickup from the right side of 26000 while attention was focused on the left and the party in the scissors-lift truck.

Now your comment has opened Dallas as a possible venue for what, since Lifton, I believe occurred, namely, "surgery. . .to the head".
Phil Dragoo Wrote:Discrepancies from scene to scene are the responsibilty of the continuity person on the set.


"Continuity person on the set"! Big Grin LaughLaughLaugh

I guess that would be budding Hollywood mogul/LBJ toady, literally at his right hand during the swearing in (see attachment), and Propaganda Minister Jack Valenti. He did such a good job during and after Dallas that he was rewarded with the extremely lucrative post of President of the Motion Picture Association of America. He no doubt insured continuity in the cinematic realm as well.

Not that propaganda was left entirely to Valenti. LBJ boot-licker and hatchet man Bill "born-again-PBS-saint" Moyers did his part during the big event as Special aide, and soon became Press Secretary to President Winky.

Attached Files
.jpg   voc_ling_abbr_l_pic_lbj.jpg (Size: 68.55 KB / Downloads: 15)
.jpg   lbj_wink.jpg (Size: 25.47 KB / Downloads: 7)
Charles Drago Wrote:The most important aspect of this story relates to the LBJ-ordered delay on the ground and, by extension, to the body alteration scenario.

GOOD point Charlie. Any theatrics from LBJ would have been useful in killing time so the killed president's body could be stealthily removed from Air Force One for the post-kill, evidence altering, surgery.

Mortician John Liggett may have done the honors according to TMWKK.
Phil Dragoo Wrote:...
Lyndon Johnson was now president as he'd wanted above all else.

He was no longer in danger of prison time behind the Billy Sol Estes and Bobby Baker scandals.

Exactly. The timing of the assassination was dictated by the congressional investigation into Bobby Baker, and by association LBJ. That is absolutely no coincidence. The investigation was in session November 22, 1963. I believe they heard testimony about LBJ taking bribes. It never again convened after the new president was sworn in. The scandal was big enough to be featured on the cover of the November, 1963 Life magazine.

Attached Files
.jpg   JFKbakerB3.jpg (Size: 29.65 KB / Downloads: 3)

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