In the footprint of history, J.D. Tippit is but a footnote to the assassination of a president.

The Dallas patrolman was on duty the day President John F. Kennedy was killed.

I was fortunate enough to meet his family and friends on my first assignment as a reporter for The Paris News in November 2001.

It was 38 years after his murder when all his remaining family and his former Dallas police colleagues gathered to pay homage to the man with a historical marker on the side of the road at the intersection of County Road 1280 and Texas Highway 37 in Red River County, outside Clarksville.

Tippit was killed after he stopped his squad car within a mile of Lee Harvey Oswald's rooming house. Oswald either was called over to Tippit or voluntarily came over, and a brief conversation took place before Oswald pulled a gun and shot Tippit four times across the hood of the car. The Dallas officer was hit three times in his chest and once in his head, instantly killing him, according to my original story.

Oswald was eventually caught and faced the rest of the Dallas police as not only the killer of a president but also a cop killer.

That first encounter with the JFK story was dumbfounding, having met the man in the big white photographed handcuffed to Oswald as Jack Ruby killed him.

James R. Leavelle, that lawman, and the other Dallas officers were all incredible men who told stories of how much of a good partner Tippit was, describing scenarios of Tippit wrestling suspects to the ground during arrests.

Many Americans don't consider the importance of Tippit after the Kennedy assassination, but to the men and women of the Dallas Police Department, his actions are markedly incredible.

As part of the 50th anniversary observation of the Kennedy assassination, members of the Dallas Police Department will be wearing a commemorative badge in tribute to Tippit during the month of November.

The memorial badge bears the inscription: "Patrolman J.D. Tippit No. 848, E.O.W. 11-22-63." E.O.W. stands for "End of Watch." It also bears the name, rank and badge number of the officer who ordered it, as well as an honor bar with the tribute to Tippit.


Jamie L. Bridges is the assistant news editor for the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Recommended for you