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Del Quentin Wilber

The Situation Room, located in the ground floor of the West Wing of The White House, was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion was attributed to a lack of real-time information. After the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, his staff officials congregated here to keep up to date on the situation and to manage the harrowing crisis.

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Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber - Photo of George Bush

George Bush

George Bush served as the 43rd Vice President of The United States, and later as the 41st President of The United States. After John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, Bush, second in command by the presidential line of succession, was in Dallas, Texas, and flew back to Washington immediately. Reagan’s cabinet convened in the White House Situation Room, where they discussed various issues, including the availability of the nuclear football. When Bush’s plane landed, his aides advised him to proceed directly to the White House by helicopter, as an image of the government still functioning despite the attack. Bush rejected the idea, responding, “Only the President lands on the South Lawn.”


Before issuing a statement to the press shortly after eight p.m. that evening, Vice President George H.W. Bush (left) conferred with top Reagan administration advisers. Clockwise from Bush’s left are Edwin Meese, James Baker, Caspar Weinberger, Fred Fielding and William French Smith. (Courtesy George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Vice President George Bush and several aides watched television reports of the assassination attempt while flying back to Washington on Air Force Two on March 30, 1981. (Courtesy George Bush Presidential Library)

Transcript of George Bush’s
Interview on Air Force 2

A transcript of Vice President George Bush’s conversation with aide Chase Untermeyer aboard Air Force Two.  Bush’s handwritten notes appear on the United States Air Force flight plan.


Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber - Photo of Richard V. Allen

Richard V. Allen

Richard V. Allen was the United States National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan until January 1982. He served as a senior staff member of President Nixon’s National Security Council in 1968 and served various Republican administrations up to and including that of President Reagan.


Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber - Photo of Alexander Haig

Alexander Haig

A United States Army general, Haig served as the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He also served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, the second-highest ranking officer in the Army, and as Supreme Allied Commander Europe commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe.


Photographs

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The atmosphere in the Situation Room—a secure conference room on the ground floor of the White House—was tense throughout the afternoon, and the attention of the country’s leaders was often riveted on slow-motion replays of the shooting on the conference room’s single television. (Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

Before issuing a statement to the press shortly after eight p.m. that evening, Vice President George H.W. Bush (left) conferred with top Reagan administration advisers. Clockwise from Bush’s left are Edwin Meese, James Baker, Caspar Weinberger, Fred Fielding and William French Smith. (Courtesy George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Vice President George Bush and several aides watched television reports of the assassination attempt while flying back to Washington on Air Force Two on March 30, 1981. (Courtesy George Bush Presidential Library)

After ricocheting off the back quarter panel of the presidential limousine, John Hinckley’s sixth and final shot slipped through a small space between the limousine’s door and its frame before striking President Reagan in the left side. (Courtesy U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)




The flattened .22-caliber Devastator bullet extracted from President Reagan’s chest.

Watch Alexander Haig’s Press Conference


Documents

Succession Letters to
Transfer Presidential Power

Succession letters to transfer tresidential tower

Transcript of George Bush’s
Interview on Air Force 2

A transcript of Vice President George Bush’s conversation with aide Chase Untermeyer aboard Air Force Two.  Bush’s handwritten notes appear on the United States Air Force flight plan.

Haig to VP Bush –
Telex Received on Air Force 2

 


Reports on the Assassination Attempt

FBI and Secret Service Reports
on the Assassination Attempt

Secret Service reports on the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt

William Casey summarizes the events in the Situation Room

CIA director William Casey summarizes the events in the Situation Room following the attempt to assassinate Ronald Reagan in this memo to James Baker, Reagan’s chief of staff.

Weinberger’s Report to James
Baker and Michael Deaver

Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger’s memo to James Baker and Michael Deaver summarizing the shooting and the events that took place in the Situation Room.

Frank Ursomarso’s Report on the Assassination Attempt

Frank Ursomarso's Report on the Ronald Reagan Assassination Attempt