Former Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck was a medical student at the Parkland Hospital ER the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated and decided to speak publicly about that day for the first time with FOX4 on the 53rd anniversary of JFK’s death.
Cluck remembers November 22, 1963 vividly -- traveling to Dallas Love Field to see the president and first lady in person. He remembers shaking President Kennedy's hand and was so close he could smell his cologne.
"It was really a magical moment for me,” Cluck said.
It wasn't long before that magic turned to madness.
"I heard this commotion on the radio something had happened to the motorcade. Wasn't sure what it was but it wasn't good.”
Cluck, then a third year medical student, was assigned to the ER at Parkland Hospital.
"I walked in the emergency room and there was all this activity, and all the sudden the door burst open and he was right behind that -- clearly fatally injured.”
Cluck says he watched helplessly in the trauma room.
"I stood there breathlessly, not believing what I was seeing,” Cluck said. “They quickly started IV's, started getting blood pressure readings and then they started taking his brace off."
Cluck says the president was wearing a very tightly lashed back brace.
"Once they got it off I could see his injuries much better, not that I wanted too, I wish I hadn't.”
He says doctors did everything they could for the mortally wounded president.
"So, finally we got so many people in the room and doctors I walked out of the room and she was sitting right there,” Cluck said.
A half century later, cluck finds it impossible to hide the pain of recalling what he told Mrs. Kennedy.
"She said, ‘How is he?’ I said ‘They are doing everything they can for him. The most important thing is the doctors are going to come out here, the ones that are taking care of him are going to come out here as a group and talk to you,’” Cluck said.
Jackie Kennedy was emotional, but responded to Cluck.
"She was crying, not heavily, and she said, ‘Thank you so much for the information.’ That was it and turned and left."
As Cluck walked outside the ER, he could see the president's car parked next to the hospital entrance.
"The set up with the roses on the concrete, the car with the top down and just the massive scale of what was going on in that room and what was going on around her -- it wasn't pandemonium, but it was earth shaking,” Cluck said.
The former Arlington mayor said it was very difficult for him to speak publicly about what happened that day and what he saw. For him, every year for the past 53 years, the week before the anniversary brings with it a certain amount of reflection and sadness.
Cluck said he finally went public to essentially to get it off his chest and onto the historical record.
"I just felt totally bad that came to Dallas, my city at the time and somebody shot him and killed him and I still have trouble with that concept,” Cluck said.