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Doctor remembers JFK assassination

Jessica Born

Published 11/26/2008 - 1:43 p.m. CST


Dr. Phillip E. Williams, neurosurgeon, at the Highland Shores Community Center luncheon.


Jessica Born



Highland Village had a very special guest last week at the Highland Shores Community Center. Dr. Phillip E. Williams, Jr., M.D. a neurosurgeon at the Presbyterian Medical Center in Dallas spoke to senior citizens at a luncheon sponsored by the Highland Village Senior All-Stars and Home Helpers. Dr. Williams was a young intern at Parkland Memorial Hospital when John F. Kennedy was shot. The physician told his story through a series of slides and photographs of his account on that tragic day. This past Saturday was the 45th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, so Williams called his lecture, “An Assassination Remembered.”

Many people can recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the assassination of our 35th president. Some were on the front lawn of the Dealey Plaza watching JFK roll by in the motorcade; others were in school, at home, or at work. However, Dr. Williams was at the very hospital that JFK would be taken to, minutes after the fatal gunshot was sounded in downtown Dallas.

Williams was in a conference that afternoon in 1963, on the floor above the trauma rooms, making a presentation on a patient, when one of his professors received a page. Williams thought nothing of the interruption until his professor said the president had just been shot. Williams recalled a blur of motion and activity as the doctors piled into the elevator to go downstairs to the emergency ward. Before he realized it, he was standing right in front of Trauma Room 1, where President Kennedy was. Williams remembered Kennedy’s agonal breathing and the fatal wound in the back of the president’s head. When asked what went through his mind when all of this happened, Williams said, “I wasn’t scared because I didn’t know what kind of impact this was going to have on our country, none of us did.”

Two days later, when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who was said to have been responsible for the assassination, Williams recalled being at home. The intern went back up to the hospital as soon as he saw the report on the news, but since his shift was over, wasn’t allowed entry into the room. Listening to Williams was like having a piece of history in the room with you. He described how he spoke with Jackie Kennedy outside of the trauma room, and offered her a seat and some water. He relived what it was like to have John Connally, the Texas Governor, who was also shot while riding in the motorcade, in Trauma Room 2 at the same time. Williams said Jackie was very calm and composed, as one would expect of a First Lady, since tragedies are always possible.

He showed slides of the events leading up to the shooting, slides of JFK’s autopsy and some of the medical documents. The group found it intriguing to hear the JFK story from the viewpoint of a doctor who was a close-up witness to history. Williams is a native of Dallas, having attended SMU for his bachelor’s degree and Tulane for his medical degree. Williams had his internship at Parkland in 1963-64. He was drafted in 1966, sent to Japan, and finished his internship upon his return in 1971. As the lecture came to a close he remembered other major happenings that Dallas-Fort worth is known for. However, none of them had quite the impact on the country and on his memory as that fateful day in Dallas. “It’s a part of history, and unfortunately it’s a part of Dallas Texas history,” said Williams. The lunch and speaker were provided by Renovo Healthcare & Lakeview Rehabilitation Hospital, the new Rehab coming to Lewisville.


Best Regards in Research,


Don Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, "Big John," Plank Walker

Sooner, or later, The Truth emerges Clearly

Discovery: ROSEMARY WILLIS's Zapruder Film Documented 2nd Headsnap:

West, Ultrafast, & Directly Towards the "Grassy Knoll"


Dealey Plaza Professionally-surveyed Map Detailing 11-22-63 Victims precise

locations, Witnesses, Photographers, Evidence, Suspected bullet trajectories, Important

information & Considerations


President Kennedy "Men of Courage" Speech, & JFK Assassination

Research & Discoveries, Don Roberdeau, 1975 to Present


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Hello Don

I hope that you and your family had a great Thanksgiving. I wanted to bring to everyone's attention, the statement that Dr. Williams made about "the fatal wound in the back of the president’s head".

My question is: Is Dr. Williams one of the Doctors that was pictured in an article (which I cannot find today) shown with their hand on the back portion of their head indicating where they had seen a massive wound. The one that I am referencing has each doctor pictured with his hand in an almost identical location as do the others , on the back of their head. I did find, however, an article where Doctors Jenkins, McClellan and Peters,among others, said many years later, when shown the autopsy photos, that the wounds depicted on those photos correlated with what they saw in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, seemingly changing their previous positions as to where the large head wound actually was.

I suppose what I am asking is this Doctor telling (retelling) his story and sticking to it?


Edited by Terry Adams
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