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November 14th, 2013
05:55 PM ET

Listen to newly found Air Force One tapes of day JFK was assassinated

"Give me all available information on president, over."

As history was unfolding at Dealey Plaza, radio and telephone communications squawked between the Air Force command center, the White House, and Air Force One.

"Wayside, this is Situation Room. I read from the AP bulletin. Kennedy apparently shot in head, he fell face down in the backseat of his car. Blood was on his head. Mrs. Kennedy cried "Oh no," and tried to hold up his head."

Earlier this year, these rare audio recordings were discovered in the personal effects of Gen. Chester Clifton, Jr., a military aide to President John F. Kennedy.

"... postmortem that has to be done by law, under God, performed at Walter Reed."

"Its' spine tingling. It gives you goose bumps to listen to it especially being alive when this happened," said forensic audio and video expert Ed Primeau, tasked with re-mastering and piecing together the new tape with older incomplete copies.

Watch or listen to the incomplete Air Force One tape on Primeau’s website.

The result is an unflinching account of history unfolding in real time.

"The president is dead. Is that correct?"

"That is correct. That is correct."

"We're hearing several commanders, radio operators, generals, an admiral a doctor, communicating logistical operations – interrupting everybody's plans because the president has been assassinated. And what it's going to take for them all to come together and deal with this disaster," said Primeau.

"The president is on board, the body is on board, and Mrs. Kennedy is on board."

On the tapes, you can hear the military using code names: LBJ is "volunteer."

"We are waiting for the swearing in at the plane before take-off."

"Of the ... That's volunteer?"

"Yes, sir."

"Say again, Roy, say again."

"We are waiting for a judge to appear for a swearing in."

"That is for volunteer, is that right?"

That swearing in aboard Air Force One produced an iconic image of then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson as he takes the oath of office with a shaken Jackie Kennedy by his side.

Once in the air, you can hear crews scrambling to sort out logistics.

"The casket is in the rear compartment, and we suggest, because it is so heavy, that we have a fork lift, a fork lift back there to remove the casket. But if this is too awkward, we can go along with a normal ramp and several men. Over."

"Volunteer wants a patch with Mrs. Rose."

"With Mrs. Rose Kennedy, roger."

And you hear Johnson passing on condolences to Kennedy's mother, Rose Kennedy.

"I wish to God there was something I could do. And I want to tell you that we are grieving with you," says Johnson.

"Yes, well thank you very much. Thank you very much. I know, I know that you loved Jack and that he loved you," Rose Kennedy says.

For Primeau, just as interesting as what is on the tapes, is what is not. There are a number of obvious edits.

"Whoever recorded these, there were certain parts of the conversation they didn't want anyone to hear," said Primeau.

"It's good for people to listen for themselves and see how things develop. Sometimes see the roughness of history," said Marquette University political science professor John McAdams.

These recordings are not likely to be the last pieces of history to surface, even 50 years after the assassination, McAdams said.

"Truth is a lot of stuff fell between the cracks. This particular tape in the possession of General Clifton took almost half a century to show up," said McAdams. "The historical record on all kinds of fronts is a bit more ragged than one might think. More ragged than one might hope."

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