June 5, 1968: ‘Is everybody OK?

Before the shots rang out…

12:15 a.m. (PDT); June 5, 1968: I was waiting in a holding barracks for the order to embark. Several hours earlier as I sat on a bunk bed I began to write a letter to Carole. I wrote to her regarding what I was seeing on the faces of many of my cohorts also waiting for the order – fear, trepidation, concern – and I guess that some didn’t even care.

Shortly after midnight, the word came on the radio that Robert F. Kennedy had been shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after a campaign speech. It shook me hard that night for several reason. Bobby Kennedy had announced his running for the Office of the Presidency on April 1 of that year. Three days later, April 4 – Martin Luther King was assassinated. This was a tough way for a 20 year old to enter a war.

Minutes after the announcement of Kennedy’s shooting, we were ordered to embark our plane, but I wondered – was I dreaming what I had heard? No one else boarding the plane seemed to have heard a thing about the shooting in the kitchen at the Ambassador. You see – we were on a mission – a mission that no one knew whether one would return or not. Destination: the Republic of South Viet Nam.

While in the air, I asked the flight attendant (we called them ‘stewardesses‘ back then) if she could ask the pilot if there was any word about Kennedy and his condition. She returned moments later in tears as she told me that Bobby had died. I would land in Cam Ranh Bay later that same day – on the 24th anniversary of D-Day. ~ Jeffrey Bennett, Editor

Busboy who cradled dying Robert F. Kennedy reveals the senator’s last words, and admits he is still shaken by the 1968 shooting

The busboy who held Robert F. Kennedy after the senator was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in California has been speaking about the senator’s final moments in 1968.

Juan Romero still struggles with everything that happened 50 years ago.

He had hoped to shake hands with RFK but ended up cradling the mortally-injured politician’s head on the floor of the hotel’s kitchen.

‘I remember extending my hand as far as I could, and then I remember him shaking my hand,’ Romero said on NPR’s Morning Edition. ‘And as he let go, somebody shot him.’

In an instant, he had Kennedy in his arms as both of them fell to the floor.

Photojournalists managed to captured the horrific moment as Kennedy lay dying while 17-year-old Romero searched for help and tried to make the senator more comfortable.

‘I kneeled down to him and I could see his lips moving, so I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, ‘Is everybody OK?’ I said, ‘Yes, everybody’s OK,’ Romero said. ‘I put my hand between the cold concrete and his head just to make him comfortable.’

‘I could feel a steady stream of blood coming through my fingers,’ he continued. ‘I remember I had a rosary in my shirt pocket and I took it out, thinking that he would need it a lot more than me.’

He added, ‘I wrapped it around his right hand and then they wheeled him away.’

After the event Romero said letters began to flood into the Ambassador Hotel, many of them addressed to ‘the busboy’ and some of them angry that he hadn’t been able to prevent the assassination.

‘One of them event went as far as to say that, ‘If he hadn’t stopped to shake your hand, the senator would have been alive,’ so I should be ashamed of myself for being so selfish,’ he said.

Romero said that he can’t help but get emotional when he thinks of the late senator, adding he paid he respects to Kennedy in 2010 when he visited his grave at the Arlington National Cemetery.

‘I felt like I needed to ask Kennedy to forgive me for not being able to stop those bullets from harming him,’ Romero said.

. . . . .

Written by various reporters for The Daily Mail ~ June 2, 2018.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

One thought on “June 5, 1968: ‘Is everybody OK?

  1. Ron Ewart

    I can only imagine the fear and anxiety that each of you felt on your way to a future that was way less than certain. Those experiences scarred many a man. But then all wars leave permanent scars.

    Three days later, on the day that Martin Luther King was assassinated, I was in a small two-seat piper airplane flying from Whitehorse, NW Territory to Northway, Alaska when it came over the radio that the border between Canada and Mexico had been closed for security reasons. We had to return to Whitehorse but were able to get out later that day. But I knew where I was going that day and I had no fear that I wouldn’t get there, in contrast to what each of you must have felt on that fateful day that Bobby Kennedy was killed at the Ambassador Hotel.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *