1. Various Ambassador Hotel victory rally 1968 Democratic presidential primary.
STORYCORPS - AP CLIENTS ONLY/MUST COURTESY: "STORYCORPS, AS HEARD ON NPR"
Modesto, California - 2018
2. STILL IMAGE Juan Romero holding a picture where he's kneeling next to Robert Kennedy moments after he was shot (STILL covers audio for soundbite #4)
PASADENA STAR NEWS-AP CLIENTS ONLY/MUST COURTESY: PASADENA STAR NEWS
Los Angeles - 5 June 1968
3. STILL IMAGE of Romero and others next to Kennedy
STORYCORPS - AP CLIENTS ONLY/MUST COURTESY: "STORYCORPS, AS HEARD ON NPR "
Unknown - 2018
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Voice of Juan Romero, busboy at JFK's assassination:
++AUDIO OVERLAID BY STILL IMAGES++
"So they came down the service elevator which is behind the kitchen.
I remember extending my hand as far as I could. And then I remember him shaking my hand. And as he let go, somebody shot him.
I kneeled down to him and put my hand between the cold concrete and his head, just to make him comfortable.
I could see his lips moving.
So I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, "Is everybody Ok?" I said "Yes, everybody's Ok."
I had a rosary in my shirt pocket, I took it out, thinking that he would need it a lot more than me. I wrapped it around his right hand and they wheeled him away.
The next day I decided to go to school. I didn't want to think about it but this woman was reading the newspaper. And you can see my picture in there with the Senator on the floor.
I remember looking at my hands and there was dried blood in between my nails.
Then I received bags of letters addressed to "The Busboy." There was a couple of angry letters. One of them even went as far as to say that, "if he hadn't stopped to shake my hand, the Senator would've been alive." so I should be ashamed of myself for being so selfish.
It's been a long 50 years and I still get emotional; tears come out. But I went to visit his grave in 2010.
I felt like I needed to ask Kennedy to forgive me for not being able to stop those bullets from harming him.
And I felt like, you know, it would be a sign of respect to buy a suit. I never owned a suit in my life. And so when I wore the suit and I stood in front of his grave.
I felt a little bit like that first day that I met him.
When Robert F. Kennedy decided to duck through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after declaring victory in the 1968 Democratic presidential primary, Juan Romero reveled at his good fortune.
It meant the 18-year-old busboy might get to shake hands with his hero — the man he'd assured himself would be the next president of the United States — for the second time in two days.
Romero had just grasped Kennedy's hand when gunshots rang out, one of them striking the senator in the head.
Romero died Monday in a Modesto, California, hospital following a heart attack, Rigo Chacon, a longtime family friend and former TV newsman, told The Associated Press on Thursday. He was 68.
Romero, who moved from Los Angeles decades ago, spent most of his life in the Northern California cities of San Jose and Modesto, Chacon said.
He worked in construction, including concrete and asphalt paving, enjoying the often-grueling physical labor with no intention of retiring any time soon.
For decades, each time Romero saw black-and-white news photos of himself — a baby-faced busboy gently cradling Kennedy as he lay sprawled on the hotel's concrete kitchen floor — he would wonder what more he should have done to save Kennedy.
Only recently, he said during rare interviews this year, did he finally come to terms with that struggle.
He said he still carried the example Kennedy had set as he campaigned for equality and civil rights.
"I still have the fire burning inside of me," Romero said.
Born in the small town of Mazatan, in the Mexican state of Sonora, Romero lived in Baja California until his family received permission to bring him to the U.S. as a 10-year-old.
The family lived in blue-collar East Los Angeles and Romero was a student at Roosevelt High School in 1968, the year Chicano students started organizing walkouts to protest discrimination against Mexican-American students. As the son of a tough disciplinarian father, however, he said he was too afraid to take part.
He was working at the Ambassador Hotel the day before the June 1968 California primary when Kennedy was shot.
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