November 22, 1963. Even prior to President Kennedy’s around-lifeless system was taken off from the presidential limousine at Parkland Medical center, United Push International’s original studies that “a few pictures had been fired at President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade currently” was racing throughout teletype equipment nationwide. Keeping a transistor radio to his ear, a single among the the tens of millions of People who monitored the breaking information was Vernon B. Oneal, a Dallas funeral director whose enterprise also included an ambulance provider.
At approximately 12:46 CST, only sixteen minutes following JFK was shot, and 47 minutes right before Assistant White Residence Secretary Malcolm Kilduff officially introduced the President’s dying to the globe, Oneal’s telephone rang. It was Key Assistance agent Clint Hill calling from Parkland Clinic, advising Oneal to find his very best casket and transport it to the healthcare facility “as before long as possible.”
“Is it for the President?” Oneal questioned.
“Yes,” Hill replied, “it is for the President of the United States.”
Greedy the urgency of Hill’s directive, Oneal bolted into his showroom and picked his signature model, an eight hundred pound sound bronze casket named the “Brittania”. Manufactured by the Elgin Casket Corporation, it was double-walled and could be hermetically sealed. In shape for a president or king, Oneal’s price tag was $3,995.
As his occupation dictated, Vernon Oneal was organized to discreetly convenience and assist the bereaved Kennedy spouse and children in just about every way possible. At Parkland, he whispered words of sympathy to Jacqueline Kennedy. He and two of his associates had been then assisted by nurses in meticulously wrapping JFK’s continues to be in many sheets and plastic, hoping the blood and mind subject even now seeping from the substantial wound in the President’s head would not stain the casket’s plush satin shirring.
In advance of departing Parkland Oneal dutifully stood by Mrs. Kennedy and the casket as the late President’s White Household aides and Key Provider agents endured an ugly shouting match with a area formal named Dr. Earl Rose, who insisted that JFK’s physique will have to, by law, be held for autopsy in Dallas County. Oneal experienced each individual ideal to think that his solutions would go on to be essential all the way to President Kennedy’s burial site, and he desired Mrs. Kennedy to be certain of his loyalty and respect the total scope of his establishment’s expert services have been at her solicitation, and the person was identified to go to any avail, no matter whether the funeral be held in Washington or Massachusetts, to fulfill her just about every would like.
Then, quickly, Oneal’s hopes were being dashed. The Secret Company brokers and JFK’s most loyal aides experienced no quicker brushed Dr. Rose aside when the casket that contains the assassinated President was precipitously loaded into the rear of his Cadillac hearse, the same automobile he and his personnel utilised to provide the bronze coffin to Parkland Healthcare facility. It had been Oneal’s intention to push Kennedy’s human body directly to his funeral residence for embalming and the scheduling of funeral arrangements, but the Key Support commandeered the hearse and an agent recommended him to comply with in one more motor vehicle, neglecting to explain to Oneal that their real location was Air Pressure 1 at Like Subject airport.
Together with a police bike escort, three cars began pulling out of Parkland’s company street: Oneal’s hearse, a vehicle full of Top secret Company brokers and JFK’s aides, and the past carrying Oneal and two of his workers. The funeral director sensed anything significant was amiss when he observed his hearse flip remaining in the route of the airport somewhat than suitable to his mortuary. Agents in the 2nd car or truck radioed their counterparts at Love Industry, instructing them to permit “the very first two cars only” past the airport fence in the vicinity of Air Force A single. Beneath no circumstances would Oneal and his workforce, or any other auto, be allowed to enter the region near the presidential jet.
Confident ample, brokers enable the 1st two automobiles pass through a fence inside of see of the plane, but halted Oneal’s sedan. The undertaker was furious, and justifiably so. The martyred President was inside his casket and his coach, both of those supposedly bound for his funeral home. The brokers dismissed his protests, leaving Dallas law enforcement officers to assure the beleaguered businessman that the hearse would be returned to him the second Air Drive Just one took flight. Vernon Oneal felt like a spare tire. The United States government experienced made use of him to the extent their most important prerequisites ended up glad – later dumping him at the gate.
Potentially the top insult to Vernon Oneal associated payment of the coffin itself. He repeatedly despatched a $3,900 invoice to Jacqueline Kennedy for practically a year but she under no circumstances replied. Last but not least, fourteen months right after JFK’s assassination, in January 1965, the federal govt compensated him a sum of $3,160. But by then Oneal was dwelling a general public relations nightmare his attempts to gather payment from Mrs. Kennedy have been commonly released and his mortuary endured an agonizing 50 per cent drop in small business.
Interestingly, Oneal’s casket was not utilised in the interment of John Fitzgerald Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery. Its handles and end were being destroyed at Enjoy Subject as the Solution Service agents hurriedly struggled to maneuver via Air Power One’s narrow doorway. In addition, blood from Kennedy’s head wound did ooze as a result of the protective sheets and plastic, ruining the casket’s satin interior. The flaws have been famous prior to the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Clinic, ensuing in JFK’s closest aides buying out a new, more pricey casket at Gawler Funeral Property in Washington’s Georgetown district, remaining a extra exquisite example made of 5-hundred-calendar year-previous African mahogany. Gawler also prepared the late President’s human body for burial next an autopsy at Bethesda.
For many several years the whereabouts of the Oneal casket remained a carefully-guarded magic formula. Understandably, the Kennedy family members failed to want the artifact to fall into the incorrect hands and come to be a grotesque sideshow relic. It was at some point disclosed that, in 1966, the casket was purposely loaded aboard a C-130 Air Force transportation airplane and unceremoniously deposited into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, by no means to be seen again.