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John F. Kennedy's Air Force One bomber jacket sells for $665,500 at auction

The bomber jacket worn by President John F. Kennedy on Air Force One sold for $665,500 on Sunday, according to the auction house. That price comprises a $570,000 bid and a buyer's premium of just over $95,000.

The jacket was among hundreds of auctioned items that belonged to David Powers, a longtime aide of the president.


After Powers died in 1998, his family discovered the treasure trove of history he'd acquired over the years, CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reported.

For the entirety of JFK's political life, from his first campaign for Congress in 1946 through his presidency, Powers was at his side.

"They were literally together every day," said auction appraiser Dan Meader. "They traveled together on every campaign trip. Dave was with him every day."

Powers joined Kennedy for his first political campaign for Congress in 1946 and was with him when he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. He collected keepsakes and documents spanning his years of friendship with the Kennedy family.

On Sunday, 50 years after the president's assassination, Powers' collection of about 2,000 photographs, documents, gifts and other JFK items were auctioned at John McInnis Auctioneers in Amesbury. The bomber jacket was initially expected only fetch between $20,000 and $40,000.

Powers' family is keeping some memorabilia and may give other items to the Kennedy Library.

The collection drew hundreds from New York, New Jersey, New England and elsewhere to assess the items in the days leading up to the auction, Meader said.

No one was closer to President John F. Kennedy than his longtime aide, Dave Powers.
No one was closer to President John F. Kennedy than his longtime aide, David Powers.

The items include Powers' copy of the presidential itinerary on the day he was assassinated in Dallas. The documents contain handwritten details of Kennedy's final hours, including the time he was shot, how Powers helped carry him in a stretcher to the operating room, the time of death and the aftermath.

The collection also features a leather-bound book of presidential inaugural addresses containing a poignant message written by Mrs. Kennedy to Powers.

"For Dave Powers, The President was going to give you this for Christmas. Please accept it now from me. With my devotion always for all you did to give Jack so many happy hours. You and I will miss him the most, Jackie," the message, written weeks after Kennedy's assassination, reads.

"It's really emotional," Meader said. "There are tears in people's eyes ... when they look at the schedule, when they look at notes from Jackie."

The collection also includes items illustrating light hearted moments of the Kennedy presidency. They include a President's Special Award that Kennedy offered to Powers during a surprise celebration he arranged at the White House to mark the aide's 50th birthday.

The tongue-in-cheek award is signed by Kennedy and reads: "Presented to David F. Powers on his 50th Birthday. In recognition of your athletic ability in hiking to my icebox to drink my Heikens," a reference to Heineken beer.

A red ribbon on the award reads: "Physical fitness program walking 50 miles per month from TV to refrigerator and back."

The JFK Library, which is charged with promoting the life and legacy of Kennedy, says it is working with Powers' family to figure out whether some of the items actually belong to the institution and should be returned.

At the request of Robert F. Kennedy, Powers in 1964 began assembling and collecting Kennedy memorabilia that was to become part of the library's permanent exhibit, the library says on its website. He also traveled around the world with an exhibit to raise money for the library's construction, the website says.

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