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AIR FORCE RETIRES PLANE THAT TOOK JFK TO DALLAS

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (Reuters) -- The aircraft that flew President John F. Kennedy to Dallas on the fateful day of Nov. 22, 1963, and brought his dead body back to Washington was retired from active service today.

Special Air Mission 26000, as it was designated by the Air Force, made its last operational flight today, carrying Vice President Gore to South Carolina.

The first jet designated exclusively for presidential use, the Boeing 707 came into service in November 1962 when it flew Kennedy to the funeral of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in New York.

A year later it flew Kennedy on his last journey.

"Everyone on the crew (for the last Kennedy trip) was happy," said retired Chief Master Sgt. Joe Chappell, who escorted Gore on a tour of the plane.

"The president's staff was expecting the trip to Texas to be a disappointment but everything went well in San Antonio and Houston and that really took the pressure off the crew," he recalled.

Then came the news of Kennedy's assassination.

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