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Gov. Sanders & the Assassin 11-22-63 | News

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Gov. Sanders & the Assassin 11-22-63

ATLANTA -- It is the most repeated question of the week. "Where were you when JFK died?"

For those old enough to remember November 22, 1963, it is easily answered.

Governor Carl Sanders has never forgotten that day or the night.

As Georgia's 74th governor, he was JFK's friend, and a political ally. And he too was being threatened by a would-be assassin because of his connection to the president.

"President Kennedy was a good friend of mine and a good friend to the state of Georgia," said Sanders.

Hanging on the wall in his Atlanta office of Troutman Sanders, two pictures of the then 37 year old Georgia governor and the 44 year old president from November of 1962. Both men were young, handsome, stylish leaders who served bravely in WWII.

Their friendship was immediate.

"Every time I asked him to give us some help he responded positively."

Gov. Sanders was playing golf at Augusta National the afternoon of November 22nd, 1963, when he was approached by the Georgia State Patrol on the course.

"The state patrol rode up and said, 'Governor, we have to take you to Atlanta -- the President and the Vice President have been assassinated'."

Golf game over.

The governor learns from his security detail, he too is the target of an assassin.

"We're going to take you back to Atlanta because we have had a threat on your life. I said where did you get that from? They said he got a threat from someone in Macon, Georgia.'

The threat occurred in the afternoon.

So the governor returns to the old mansion in Ansley Park near Montgomery Ferry Road. Only the carriage house remains there by 2013.  Gov. Sanders tells his wife of the threat, she is nervous, both retire and go to bed. Then around 2 am, the phone rings.

"About an hour later, they woke me up and they say we caught the guy on the premises. And I said, do you have him in the troopers shop?"

That's right -- the assassin is on the grounds scoping out the mansion looking to to kill Carl Sanders. The intruder is arrested and taken inside the building, the carriage house which serves as the state patrol post.

As a former B-17 wing commander, the governor said he wants to see what the guy looks like.

"I went down and looked at him, he was a nice looking Marine discharged from the Corps for mental reasons."

The former Marine had a plan to kill the 74th Governor of Georgia. 

"I said how are you going to kill me? He said he was going to engage in hand to hand combat, I'm glad to know that."

Gov. Sanders has led one of the most amazing lives ever in this state.

He was also very good friends for years with Texas Governor John Connolly and his wife Nelly -- who were both in the limousine in Dallas with President and Mrs. Kennedy.