Pearl Harbor survivor witnesses history — twice





For 65 years, Jim Levealle has treated his role in the attack on Pearl Harbor much like many of his fellow survivors — with grace and humility. In fact, until a few years ago, only a few friends and family even knew he had been at Pearl Harbor.

That's because Levealle was too busy talking and giving interviews about another infamous event in American history.

For Pearl Harbor survivors, the 65th anniversary of the attack represents a chance to reflect on the defining moment of their lives.

For Leavelle, Pearl Harbor would be only the first of two Sundays that would change his life, and the course of American history....

Leavelle left the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor and headed for Dallas -- and his second date with destiny.

November 22, 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald assassinates President John F. Kennedy, then guns down Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit less than an hour later.

Homicide detective Jim Leavelle is the first to interrogate the suspect.

“Of course he denied any connection to it whatsoever,” recalls Leavelle.

Within a few hours, detectives tie Oswald to the JFK assassination. The ensuing media frenzy forces police to move Oswald out of police headquarters on Sunday, Nov. 24

“I said, ‘Lee, if anybody shoots at you, I hope they're as good a shot as you are,’” remembers Leavelle. “He kind of smiled and said, ‘Nobody’s going to shoot at me.’”

Wearing a light suit and hat, Leavelle is handcuffed to Oswald when Jack Ruby fires his fatal shot on live television. A photographer captures the moment in a Pulitzer prize-winning picture that makes Leavelle famous around the world.





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