"Accidental victim" in JFK assassination remembers day of shooti - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

"Accidental victim" in JFK assassination remembers day of shooting

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A lot of folks, even those who think they know a lot about the Kennedy assassination, have missed or forgotten the key role played by James Tague, a north Texas man who's still talking about and still writing about what happened to him that day in Dealey Plaza.

Tague has come to be called "the accidental victim" in the Kennedy assassination. Fifty years ago, he was there -- in the line of fire.

A grainy photograph from moments after the shooting captures a faint image of Tague on Commerce Street, just outside the triple underpass. He was a 27-year-old car salesman at the time, barely aware of the president's visit and late for a lunch date when traffic stopped in front of him.

"I'm standing there maybe four or five seconds, and somebody throws a firecracker," said Tague. "And I'm thinking, 'What kind of idiot would be throwing a firecracker with the president going by?' Course, that was the first shot. Then the crack, crack, quick shots in a row, and something stings me in the face."

Tague's wound was so superficial that at first, he didn't know he'd been hit.

He and a deputy sheriff were trying to make sense of what had happened.

"We walked across the street just in time to hear this man sobbing, 'His head exploded. His head exploded,'" said Tague "And the policeman said, 'Who's head?' And he said, 'The president's.'"

Amid the chaos in Dealey Plaza, it was the deputy who first pointed out the wound on Tague's cheek.

"[The deputy sheriff] says, ‘You have blood on your face,'" said Tague. "And that's when I remembered something had stung me in the face. And I reached up, and there was three or four drops of blood on my hand."

A police officer called in that Tague had possibly been injured by a bullet's ricochet, and Tague was taken to police headquarters to make a statement.

There, he says that Lee Harvey Oswald was brought in while he was waiting.

"That evening, I set down and wrote in a spiral notebook everything I could remember about that day," said Tague. "And I've kept it all these years."

Tague and his wound warranted barely a mention in the newspaper, but six months later, a longer piece in the Times Herald was picked up by the Associated Press and became a major story.

Until that time, investigators had assumed three shots had all struck either the president or Texas Governor John Connally.

Tague's wound forced a reexamination, and he was called to testify in Washington.

"They had to go back and rewrite the Warren Commission," he said. "That's where the magic bullet came from. That's the only thing they could come up with. That's the only thing they could come up with. That one bullet went through two people."

In fact, the Warren Commission would conclude that one shot missed and ricocheted, with a fragment striking James Tague, that a second bullet wounded both JFK and Connally, and that the last shot caused the fatal head wound.

Nine months after the assassination, using picks and a jackhammer, physical evidence of the shot that missed and ricocheted was removed, and a chunk of the curb from Dealey Plaza was taken back to Washington.

These days, Tague is retired and living outside of Bonham, Texas.

He's still immersed in all things JFK, and he's written a book called Why We Will Never Know the Truth About the JFK Assassination. He says he's also in the process of writing another.

Tague promises the new book will solve all the mysteries of the assassination, and that he's making the case that the real killer was a hit man hired by Lyndon B. Johnson.

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