“My first instinct was that it was the backfire of a car,” he said. “And then I heard the second one and I said, ‘Doggone it, some goofy guy is trying to fire a 21-gun salute!’ But when I heard the third shot, I realized that the cadence was just off so I knew it wasn’t that.”
In seconds, Wright’s car had passed beneath the sixth floor window of the Texas Book Depository building from which authorities say Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed Kennedy.
“I didn’t see him, but there were several others in the motorcade who claimed he was leaning out with the rifle in his hands,” Wright said.
Wright recalled a secret serviceman running beside the president’s car — which was carrying JFK, wife Jackie, Connally and his wife Nellie — and observing the agent diving inside the convertible to push the president down.
A few minutes later, said Wright, he and others were informed that Kennedy had died.
“A man came up to me with a microphone and wanted me to make a comment, but I just couldn’t express myself,” he said. “I’ve been in war, been overseas, been in combat missions, and that was bad, but something about this was just devastating.
“I’ve never experienced anything quite like that.”
Three days later, Wright attended the Requiem Mass held for Kennedy at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.
“He was so vivacious and full of life and upbeat. He truly was a beloved president,” said Wright. “I truly believe that Kennedy may have been the most inspirational of all of our presidents.”
Then, as if a last thought, Wright added: “It’s very hard to believe that it has been 50 years.”
Sally Sexton writes for The Weatherford (Texas) Democrat.