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Former Hotel Busboy Recalls RFK's Last Moments in 1968

On June 5, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was riding a high after a victory in the California primaries. The politician went through the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California greeting his supporters and shaking hands.

His bodyguard told Kennedy to avoid the kitchen, but for unknown reasons, Kennedy decided to go through a crowded kitchen passageway, greeting people along the way. He turned to shake the hand of a major supporter, a hotel busboy, when a Palestinian assassin open fired and shot him three times. That busboy still agonizes over the tragic moment today.

It's been 50 years since the assassination of Kennedy, but Juan Romero remembers it like it was yesterday. He was a mere teenager, a Mexican immigrant working as a busboy at the hotel restaurant, when he got the opportunity to shake Kennedy's hand. Romero was a huge supporter of the senator.

Romero was so excited to meet his hero, and first encountered Kennedy the day before. "When I listened to Robert Kennedy, I felt he wasn't talking at us, but talking to you personally," he said to "I will never forget the handshake and the look ... looking right at you with those piercing eyes that said, 'I'm one of you. We're good,'"

"He wasn't looking at my skin, he wasn't looking at my age ... he was looking at me as an American," said Romero.

The next day, when Kennedy came through the hotel kitchen, he made his way over to Romero again. The excited young man wondered if Kennedy even remembered him, and was elated.

Then, tragedy struck as 24-year-old Sirhan Bishara Sirhan open fired, injuring several people, and fatally injuring Kennedy.

Photos of the fateful event show Romero next to a bleeding Kennedy. The young man never forgot his moments with the senator.

"Is everybody OK?" Kennedy asked.

Romero told him, "Yes."

"Everything will be OK," Kennedy said, and then he lost consciousness.

Romero was carrying a set of rosary beads. He took them out of his pocket and put them in Kennedy's hand.

Ethel Kennedy then ran to her husband's side. At the time, she was pregnant with their 11th child. She pushed Romero away. At that point. Romero turned around and saw a group of men beating the assassin.

"I felt my hand making a fist to join in," Romero admits. "Then I thought, what's the point?"

Kennedy's assassination in 1963 changed the course of history. Robert Kennedy was extremely popular with the minority voters, and some historians believe he had a real shot of winning the presidential election.

Romero is still heartbroken about the events. He has carried the guilt for all these years, wondering if he could have done anything differently. He wonders if Kennedy hadn't stopped to walk toward him, would Kennedy be alive today?

"I still have the fire burning inside of me," he says in an interview for the Netflix film 'Bobby Kennedy for President'. He believes Kennedy would have dealt effectively with poverty and discrimination, and would have put the country on a better track.

Kennedy passed away from his injuries, possibly changing the course of history, just as his brother John F. Kennedy.

Years later, conspiracy theorists pointed to Romero in the photos of a dying Kennedy and suggested he was a plant there to help kill the candidate. He won't even dignify these claims with a response.

He still harbors major regret over that day. "People often say I was at the right place at the right time," he says. "No, the right place at the right time would have been me ... taking that bullet."

Source: Yahoo
Photos: Hola Arkansas, YouTube Screenshot, IISG/Wikimedia, Facebook

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