Editor’s Note: Dale Huffman, long-time Dayton Daily News columnist, writes occasionally for the newspaper in his retirement. Recently, he submitted this column about his recollections of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. If you would like to send your wishes to Dale Huffman, please send mail to Dale Huffman c/o Arundi Venkayya, Cox Media Group Ohio, 1611 S. Main St., Dayton, OH 45409.
I was just 29-years-old and — with my college degree from Wittenberg University and four years of service in the U.S. Army completed — was a rookie reporter on my new civilian job.
I remember well that fateful day, Nov. 22, 1963, when President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was critically shot while visiting Dallas.
The president’s death, so sudden and unexpected, sent the nation into a dark spiral as the charismatic young president, the nation’s youngest at 46, was mourned.
Around 1:30 p.m., as the president’s motorcade moved through Dallas, shots rang out and startled the hundreds of fans and thousands who watched on television. President Kennedy collapsed in front of his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy.
Back here in Ohio, I was alone in WCPO-TV newsroom in downtown Cincinnati. The rest of the news staff was at lunch, and I was the sole newsman on duty.
I went to our wire room nearby as I heard repeated bells clanging indicating a news bulletin was being sent by United Press International editors.
I must admit my knees were weak, and I was shaking as I gathered the messages from the news machines.
The first message at 1:34 p.m. read, “Three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade today in downtown Dallas.”
Within five minutes came, a second news flash, which indicated that President Kennedy had been “shot and wounded, perhaps fatally,” by a gunman.
I gathered some of the UPI newsprint and ran down a long hallway to the announcer’s booth.
I couldn’t find an announcer on duty, so I flagged down a director and indicated to him I had a news bulletin to broadcast and was given clearance to go on the air live with the sketchy news that the President had been shot in Dallas.
Within a short time, our news staff began to gather and took over.
But for a moment, I was the voice that carried the horrendous bulletin to those who watched Channel 9 that day.