James 'Red' Duke, Doctor Who Treated Connally After JFK Was Shot, Dies At 86 | KERA News

James 'Red' Duke, Doctor Who Treated Connally After JFK Was Shot, Dies At 86

Aug 25, 2015

Dr. James "Red" Duke, a trauma surgeon who attended to Texas Gov. John Connally on the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination, has died in Houston. He was 86.

After the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Duke went on to become a prominent Houston trauma surgeon and familiar television doctor.

In a statement, Dr. Richard Andrassy, surgery department chairman at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, said Duke died Tuesday at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston of natural causes.

During the 1980s, Duke became familiar for his thick Texas drawl and bushy red mustache featured in his nationally syndicated medical segment.

A day like no other

In 2013, Duke talked about treating Connally, who was wounded after bullets struck Kennedy's motorcade. KERA's BJ Austin reported back in 2013:

Dr. Duke recalled going downstairs to the Emergency Room, seeing crowds of people, as well as Jacqueline Kennedy, sitting on a chair outside Trauma Room 1 – her pink suit stained with blood. He entered, saw the president’s devastating head wound, and was quickly shifted to Trauma Room 2 to take care of the governor. 

“He had this big chest wound. His lung was flopping in and out," Duke recalled. "So I stopped it up and put a chest tube in him – just like you do any other gunshot wound.”

But it was the governor of Texas, and it was a day like no other.  Dr. Duke says after he stabilized Connally, the governor was rushed into surgery. And, for the first time ever, they had a radio in the operating room.

“We heard all the things. The president’s been pronounced dead.  And all the other events that followed. We heard about the officer being shot over in Oak Cliff,” Duke said.

Videos: Watch Duke's medical reports through the years