SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Next month marks a milestone anniversary of a tragedy that changed world history. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy died by an assassin’s bullet while riding in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas.
A Sioux Falls man had a close brush with history, having been in Dallas at the very same time.
Myron Wachendorf says he was even close enough to hear the fatal shots being fired. A photo from that day has now surfaced showing Wachendorf in the crowd as Kennedy’s limousine passed by.
Wachendorf is considered South Dakota’s founding father of rock & roll. He and his group, Myron Lee & The Caddies, were part of a national concert tour involving other performers that took them to Texas in 1963.
“So we pulled into Dallas about on the 22nd of November about, oh golly, I’m going to say 9:30-10 a.m. after driving all night,” Wachendorf said.
After checking into the hotel, Wachendorf learned that Kennedy’s motorcade would soon be passing by.
“I got excited. In those days, how often do you get to see a president of the United States?” Wachendorf said.
So Wachendorf and another singer, Bryan Hyland, took their place in the crowd to see Kennedy and his wife pass by.
“I could see the Kennedys coming in that limousine, probably a couple of blocks away down the street because he had so much hair, we thought in those days,” Wachendorf said.
Afterward, Wachendorf and Hyland went to the nearby Neiman Marcus store where he became an earwitness to a national tragedy.
“So, as we were opening the door to go in, we heard what we thought were firecrackers and by then, they were a couple blocks down the street and had made the curve down there,” Wachendorf said.
But Wachendorf would soon learn those firecrackers were the gunshots that targeted the president.
“We couldn’t believe it. All we heard was sirens for the rest of that day and all night long. And of course, our concert was cancelled,” Wachendorf said.
Memories of that tragic day remain fresh in Wachendorf’s mind all these years later.
“When people bring it up, it’s one of those things they remember exactly where they were when they heard about it,” Wachendorf said.
Wachendorf’s longtime friend Cordell Brooks shares a keen interest in Kennedy’s legacy.
“And I always thought JFK was the president you wanted to look up to. Even as a seven-year-old at the time,” Brooks said.
Brooks even came across a photo in a book about the JFK assassination that he says shows Wachendorf and Brian Hyland in the crowd as the president’s limousine drove by, moments before the gunshots rang out.
“And I know what Myron looked like in ’63 and I looked at that, and I thought, ‘I think that’s him,'” Brooks said.
Wachendorf is convinced it’s him because the photo was taken at the very location he and Hyland were standing.
“And sure enough, amongst all those people, there Brian and I were. Isn’t that amazing? After all these years,” Wachendorf said.
Even though the official Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman, there’s been speculation throughout the decades of a conspiracy and such talk remains strong even to this day, 60 years later.
“I think people distrust, sometimes, what comes out, whether it’s the CIA, the FBI and I don’t want to sound like some person that doesn’t believe anything, but I think it did change the way people think of their government,” Brooks said.
You can count Wachendorf among the skeptics.
“It’s like they’re trying to cover up something. Or, I don’t know,” Wachendorf said.
The coincidence in a concert schedule that brought Wachendorf to Dallas 60 years ago has left him reflecting up that fateful day with few satisfying answers.
“I’ll be thinking about it. That’s about all I can do,” Wachendorf said.
Wachendorf says one of his biggest regrets from that day was not bringing his movie camera to film the president.
The National Archives released new documents from the assassination investigation earlier this year.