Final Flight: Quincy, Ill. native recalls JFK assassination

Ron Gaskill recalls days aboard Air Force One on the day JFK was shot

Friday is the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy.

A Quincy, Ill. native served as a flight attendant on Air Force One the day JFK was assassinated.

KHQA's Rajah Maples

sat down with Ron Gaskill about what he saw and heard.

Ron Gaskill left Quincy when he was 20 years old in 1950 to join the U.S. Air Force.

He went on to serve as what's called a flight traffic specialist for countless dignitaries in the United States and abroad.

The day JFK was assassinated is one he'll never forget.

Gaskill flew with JFK and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to Fort Worth, Texas the night before the murder.

Gaskill remembers the details before and during their flight from Ft. Worth to Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963.

"That morning, President Kennedy came over to the table, telling us how he would be bored waiting for Jackie to get her stuff together," Gaskill said.

Gaskill said he served cookies and milk to the Kennedys on the flight to Dallas. He ended up keeping the plates used for the couple's last snack aboard Air Force One.

KHQA asked Gaskill whether there was any premonition during the flight to Dallas that something bad was getting ready to happen.

"No, none whatsoever," he answered. "It was just a happy beautiful morning. He was very happy and always joked with you. They talked, asked questions, were just down-to-earth people."

Gaskill was playing cards with the other flight attendants aboard Air Force One when he heard the news from the chief pilot.

He remembers chaos, confusion, anger and sadness following the assassination.

"It was the most terrible thing that I can remember happening in my lifetime," he said.

He said seats had to be removed from Air Force One to make room for the presidential casket, and he'll never forget Jackie Kennedy on the flight back to Washington, D.C.

"She came back on the plane and stood by the body for a little bit," Gaskill recalls. "She didn't say much at all. She was just bewildered. She was almost like a mummy walking around. I never in my lifetime ever thought that I'd be with the president when he was shot when I left Quincy anyway."

Gaskill now lives in Arizona with his wife.

He said the Air Force has asked him to write down his accounts of what happened that day.

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