wFrom:  John Thomas

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

Well, I got out of high school in 1961. So I was walking across the parking lot at college when one of our carpool guys hollered the news.  It took a few minutes to really sink it.

wFrom:  Bob Peetz

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

Freshman (High School) Algebra Class.   Sunny day that went grey fast in the suburbs of Chicago. Winds,

Bob

Black Pony Webkeeper


From:  Dick Ellis

Date:  November 23, 2013

Subject:  Where were you....

Everybody around the Court [where Dick works] is playing..."Where were you?"....this morning.  Of course, I am old enough to play....! I was a young booth announcer at WITN-TV in Washington, NC and a part-time student at East Carolina College.  I was in the barber shop sitting in the chair when it came over the radio.  “Shots have been fired at the presidential motorcade in Dallas”….   The barber, whom I later learned was a member of the KKK in 1963, said…”I sure hope they got the Son-of-a-Bitch!”  I rushed back to the station and started pulling the bulletins from the UPI and AP teletype machines.  I still have two of them in my scrap-book today.  One said…”Shots fired….and the other says….

FLASH   FLASH   FLASH The President is dead.

I heard an interview this morning with a guy on the side of the street who said….”His head exploded!” and the second guy said…”who?” and he said….”The President!”

Later when I went to Washington to work for Reagan…I used to go over to the Kennedy grave at Arlington Cemetery when guests were in town and show them the flame on his grave.  One night in 1982 a homeless guy wandered into the cemetery late one night when it was freezing and curled up next to the flame.  They found him dead the next day frozen and his clothes had caught on fire in the front. You never hear these things.

I saw Kennedy at the Greenville airport in 1961 I think it was.  I was in the High School band and we were invited down to play for his arrival.  He was a nice looking man and even walking in a crowd of VIP’s it looked like there was a spotlight just on him with the wind blowing his hair and always his hand in his suit jacket pocket.  I learned that day the meaning of the word “charisma.”

Dickie

wFrom:  Randy Kafka

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  November 22, 1963 Well done my friend, well done.

Randy

wFrom:  Forrest Brandt

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

My eight and nine o'clocks over, I raced from Derby Hall back up to the apartment I shared on Dodridge and Neil.  I quickly packed my suitcase and headed back down Neil.  It was just before noon and I was right in front of the Varsity Club when I stuck my thumb out.

What luck!  The first car, a dark green 57 Plymouth coup with two fellow students in it, pulled over.  The passenger jumped out, threw back the front seat and hollered, "Pile in."  I no more than settled in the back seat when the driver spoke over his shoulder, "Someone took a shot at the President in Dallas.  Just came on the news before we picked you up." I don't know if my memory is playing tricks with me, but I recall having a great deal of concern over JFK's decision to go to Dallas.  I believe that the apprehension was shared by other students and even by some reporters.  Maybe that's why I wasn't shocked at the driver's words.

We motored along Lane Ave., through Upper Arlington, made the jump onto Olentangy River Road and then the quick right onto Rome-Hillard, passing the stone quarry and heading into open country.  By now the news had taken over the regular programing. Walter Cronkrite was confirming that the President had been taken to a hospital and it was believed he had been shot.  We slowed down for the traffic light in London as the Cronkrite confirmed that JFK had been shot, as had fellow passenger, Gov. John Connelly. Just outside Cedarville we learned that the Bishop of Dallas was on his way.  We were in the middle of Xenia when Cronkite choked up, "It has now been confirmed that President Kennedy is dead."

That's when the shock finally set in on me. I was twenty, and though I had already lost some friends through car accidents and an undiagnosed heart condition, I believed I was immortal.  By extension, Kennedy, who seemed to speak directly to us - the youth of America - seemed immortal too.

I don't know what we had for dinner. Mom, Dad and I sat silently watching as Air Force One touched down.  Jackie, still wearing her blood-drenched pink suit, and President Johnson did an awkward dance as they stepped down the ramp and waited for the casket.  Protocol had been thrown into a tin cup for the moment, the roles of Former First Lady and newly sworn-in President did not come naturally to either.

Protocol was the story for all of Saturday.  The Buckeye game with Michigan was postponed, indeed all college games were pushed back. Pete Rozelle, the NFL commissioner, stutter-stepped all day, until finally deciding that Kennedy, being a great fan of football, would want the games to be played on Sunday.  By noon Ohio State had cancelled classes for Monday.  My roommate, who decided to drive home on Friday night, called to offer me a ride back late Monday afternoon giving both of us the chance to watch the funeral.

On Sunday morning I was watching the news, live coverage of Lee Harvey Oswald being transferred from the Dallas Police Station into custody of the county Sheriff . Suddenly a man in a flip brim hat and an overcoat pushed his way in front of guards and the unmistakable sound of a hand gun roared from the TV set.

By now my sense of invincibility was taking on a much more mature perspective.

Monday came.  The sounds of muffled drums, death knells, footsteps and hoof beats filled the background.  Black Jack, a magnificent, spirited black stallion, pranced and shook his head fiercely as he followed the caisson and the flag draped casket.  The stirrups held the backward facing boots of the deceased Commander in Chief.  It was as if Kennedy's spirit was stirring inside Black Jack's flanks.

It was about this point that I glanced over at my dad.  He was a burly World War II veteran and solid Republican who firmly believed that to spare the rod - in this case his leather belt - was to spoil the child.  In all my years of living with him I had never once heard the words, "I love you," pass his lips.  Not to Mom.  Not to my older sister and certainly not to me.  But on this day tears began to slide down his cheeks, a sob or two escaped from his mouth.

I'd like to tell you of how reverently I went about the whole long weekend.  How I sat and contemplated the end of JFK's life, the loss of a husband and a father, and tried to connect to the great sorrow of the nation and the Kennedy family. In truth I was no better than Pete Rozelle.  Life was for the living I decided as I snuggled up with my girlfriend in the basement of her home.  Our only fear was that her mom might grow suspicious and suddenly throw the door open.  The understanding of the events and the sorrow would come to me much later in life.

wFrom:  Jim White

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

CALL FOR INPUT!

May I suggest that everyone possible send in a short note on where they were and what they were doing when they heard of Kennedy's assassination.   Regardless of your beliefs or feelings towards the event, it should make for some rather interesting reading.

I, for one, was on US Forces Japan overnight Staff Duty Officer/NCO duty when we got an 0300 call from our J-2 (Intelligence) Colonel saying that he had been told that Kennedy had been shot.  He asked what we knew--the answer was "Nothing."  I immediately went to the message center and they didn't have anything either.  But a message did come in confirming his death about 30 minutes later.  The Staff Duty Officer called the Chief of Staff who called the Commanding General of USFJ, and we were told to call all of the service headquarters in Japan and tell them to go on full alert.  Then we started calling our entire staff in at about 0400.  I called my wife to tell her about his death at 0800 and then, after being on duty from 0700 the previous day, was allowed to go home at around noon.  Exciting times!

I know that some of you were already broadcasters at that time so everyone's stories (except for those age 50 and below--if any of us are and I doubt it--unless you with AFVN when you were not yet a teenager) should make for interesting reading.

Jim

wFrom:  Mike McNally

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

This link should open the 1964 David Wolper documentary [NB: 2 hours, 2 min.] about the death of JFK. The film should help to remind you of where you were on 22 Nov 1963.  I was in the tenth grade in Cincinnati.  The principal announced over the PA system that something had happened to the President in Dallas.  He turned on the radio news, then finally sent the school home early. Mike McNally

President John F. Kennedy's Assassination

November 2013

Where were you and what were you doing on November 22, 1963?

AFVN Group Conversations

wFrom:  Bob Morecook

wtDate:  November 26, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was in third period jr year of high school.  Marjorie Codd's government class.  The principal made the announcement on the speaker system about JFK being shot but wounded, later reported the assassination.  Mr. Hoofnagle cancelled his 6th period journalism test because we were too upset.  Another fellow and I lowered the school's flag to half staff after word of his death came in.

Bob M

wFrom:  Frank Rogers

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was on duty at the Ft McPherson (Atlanta) PAO when an SP4 speechwriter came in to say the wires reported the President had been shot.  We had the TV on but there had been no news about it, raising some doubt.  We began flipping through channels.  Finally Cronkite came on with the report of a shooting, and later that Kennedy was dead.

That day I had purchased some new items for a full gear inspection the next day.  The inspection was cancelled, and I still have the new boots, never worn, in my garage.  The base movie was "PT109", which was cancelled and the Atlanta papers showed the marquee.

I also saw Oswald being transferred on live TV and wondered why they were showing it on TV, with little security. Then I saw Ruby shoot him.

During JFK's funeral, Howard K. Smith (ABC) was so overcome with emotion, he went off the air and someone took over the reporting.

Frank

wFrom:  Nancy Smoyer

wtDate:  November 23, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

When the Twin Towers fell, I watched TV non-stop, went to NYC with Red Cross Disaster Relief, bought 2 photograph books.  Now I can barely force myself to glimpse stories and pictures of it.

I feel the same way about seeing the news reports about Kennedy's death.  Too painful and still too raw and too much lost. My story:  I was in Bordeaux, France, for my junior year abroad.  We had gone to the opera Carmen and during the intermission, we heard exclamations from the people and gathered what had happened.  We watched the rest of the opera and then went to the USO because we wanted to be around Americans.  The French were actually nice to us for about a week after that.

Nancy

wFrom:  Robert Tucker

wtDate:  November 26, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was in first year Latin class, a high school freshman (Ferndale Junior High, High Point, NC) when the announcement came over the PA.  If memory serves, our remaining classes were also cancelled.  One of the days I will never forget.

Robert Tucker

wFrom:  Craig Prosser

wtDate:  November 23, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was in Vietnam then...sleeping late after my night shift at AFRS.  I awoke to a ringing phone answered by my roommate (the Majestic had phones) and when he hung up he asked if I'd heard about the assassination.  Thinking it must've been some third world dictator, he said "no somebody shot Kennedy."  The terrible news was waiting on the wires when the morning guys came in and as Rick Fredericksen reported in his recent piece in Vietnam Magazine they were so shaken by the tragedy they forgot to turn the transmitter on before they began reporting the story.  I went in about noon and began my turn at reporting the news in between stretches of somber music which we continued for several days.

wFrom:  T. Jerry Williams (via Dick Ellis)

wtDate:  November 23, 2013

Subject:  Where were you?

Here is a friend who is now retired as the Executive Director of the NC Restaurant Association....He was the longest serving restaurant lobbyist in the country when he retired...T. Jerry Williams.  T. Jerry has also dabbled a bit in radio back in the day.

Dickie


"There is also a long standing NC story about JFK.  When he was a young naval officer they were running their new PT boats out of Norfolk all down the east coast to NC.  Even inland into the Pamlico Sound and up the Pamlico river as far east as Bath which was once the home of Blackbeard the pirate.  Across the river from Bath was Aurora where a friend's father was a small-small down doctor.  Often people would come 50-miles by boat to see him.  The PT's were running in the area and apparently young Ensign Kennedy had the flu.  They brought him up to Doctor Boner and he made an entry in his medical journal that said..'Treated young Navy Ensign Jack Kennedy from Boston....etc.....Commander of the US Navy PT boat on maneuvers.' "Where were you?  When JFK came to Greenville, running for President, as an ECC student, I was invited by Rosaland Ralston, WWWS Campus Radio Radio, to assist her on the Stadium Field to broadcast the event.  With her guidance I went on to become 'TJ the DJ' for some great years on commercial radio.  Then when JFK was shot I was still a student.  But I had two part-time jobs.  One at a radio station in Greenville and one with J. P. Morgan, Printers, selling on commission.  I walked into Jack Morgan's office while on a long class break and he told me Kennedy had been shot so I ran down the street a few blocks to the radio station.  I went to the teletype for the news on AP. Today I still have one article in my files that I tore off the teletype that day.  It reads: 'BULLETIN: THE PRESIDENT IS DEAD.'  That's my memory of that day.  I have relived those events in my mind every November 22nd since 1963.  Also, two Bethel, NC citizens were with JFK in his PT Boat Days. Dennis Hardy (who then owned the Da-Nite) and Joe Butterworth, one of Bethel's fine mayors for a long time."

T. J. Williams

wFrom:  Ann Kelsey

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was a senior in high school in Riverside, CA in Latin IV class when the announcement came over the PA that the President had been shot.  Classes changed just after the initial announcement, a little before 11 Pacific time.  I went to my next class and very shortly after, the announcement came that Kennedy was dead.  School shut down and everyone went home.  We were all silent, many were crying.

Ann

wFrom:  Jean Leroy (to Jim White)

wtSent:  July 5th, 2005  [NB:  This was written long before the about "Discussion" was started.]  

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was in bed early on a Saturday morning on a day I was to go downtown dubbing when I was awakened and told the President has been shot.  In my groggy state I said I don't care I will see the re-run.  There was to be a live feed on the satellite pass from Dallas and that is what I referred to.  The kid waking me told me to "get the fuck up, they need you at the station Kennedy has been shot.  This time I went bolt upright grabbed a shirt and ran barefoot across the grass to the station in my skivvies.  I went on the air immediately and Tom Korzenowski and I broadcast continuously until it was all over.  Alternating with the passing satellite feeds, we also could watch parts on TV in the lobby.  We rejuvenated ourselves by lying upside down on the couch with our feet up the wall to get the blood rushing through our heads.  Food was brought in from the North Camp Drake Mess Hall continuously.  It was an amazing experience.

wFrom:  Haarvey Geminder 

wtDate:  November 25, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November I

t was early afternoon and I was sitting at my desk in my dorm room at Rutgers University, waiting to go off to my next class. Suddenly, someone came running down the hallway alerting everyone to the events unfolding in Dallas.  None of us had a TV in our room so I ran down to the student center to watch the news with several dozen (or hundred) other students.  Word came soon that classes had been cancelled.

Harvey Geminder

wFrom:  Ken Kalish

wtDate:  November 23, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I had enlisted in the Navy Reserve in 1962, and attended boot camp before going back to high school for my senior year.   JFK came to Duluth that late summer.  Like all Seniors I was open to testing school rules and regularly smuggled a small transistor radio in my shirt pocket and listened to the radio while in really boring classes.  I was listening to the radio in study hall when the news broke.  I forgot about keeping the radio secret and shouted out “Someone shot the President!  It’s on the radio.”  There was instant pandemonium.

The teacher riding herd on we lapsed scholars came to confiscate my radio, but before she got there our Principal, Mr. Beck, came on the school speaker system and routed a CBS radio feed over the PA.  At about that same time, the bell rang for moving to our next class and all 1,500 of us crammed the halls moving on to “fourth hour” classes.  Mister Beck came on the PA once more and told everyone to go into the nearest classroom to listen to the feed.  For the rest of the day I sat in one classroom and listened to what was being reported.  Mr. Beck sent us all home at 2:30, an hour early, after the reports of President Kennedy’s death were coming in.  As I made my way to the exit, I saw several school employees--and not just teachers--crying at the news. I spent the next two days living at the Navy Reserve center.  They fed us burgers and fries from a nearby drive-in and we did little but muster twice a day and watch the news while gathered on the drill floor.  When we were released from that standby watch, the officers and chiefs gave all of us rides home so the scruffiest gathering of young sailors ever seen would not pollute the streets of Duluth.

Ken

wFrom:  Steve Pennington

wtDate:  November 22, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was just getting out of PE at Edmonds Junior High School in Edmonds, WA.  The PA system was turned on and I don't remember a word being spoken by any student during the rest of the school day.

SLP

wFrom:  Bob Morecook

wtDate:  November 26, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was in third period jr year of high school.  Marjorie Codd's government class.  The principal made the announcement on the speaker system about JFK being shot but wounded, later reported the assassination.  Mr. Hoofnagle cancelled his 6th period journalism test because we were too upset.  Another fellow and I lowered the school's flag to half staff after word of his death came in.

Bob M

From:  Joe Ciokon

Date:  November 23, 2013

Subject:  Four Days in November

I was an E-5 (JO2) TV News Anchor at Southern Command Network (SCN) at Fort Clayton, CZ (Panama).  Army PFC Freddie Poulous was making the daily mail run to SouthCom HQ at Quarry Heights and I decided to ride along to pick up the daily news releases.  Our portable radio picked up the announcement and we hurried back to the station to begin the “live” coverage all the way through the funeral.  Those were the days of AFRTS Shortwave and weekly film shipments.  We strung audiotape from the control room across the TV studio to radio control in order to set up a 6-sec delay while I went on set and winged the coverage combining stock footage, pics, and what I was hearing in my headset and receiving in wire copy from the floor manager.  What a time.  We did the same thing for the Mercury spaceflights.

Sidebar:  The Catholic priest in Balboa, Canal Zone, was Rev. John F. Kennedy.  GEN Andrew P. O’Meara. CINCUSSOUTHCOM, was a personal friend of the Kennedy family and was visited earlier by Bobby Kennedy.  I had to go up to his quarters with a recorder and an engineer to record his official message of grief and condolence.  We couldn’t get the AMPEX reel-to-reel tape recorder to work and in frustration he kicked us out.  As the Army SP5 and I were walking down the driveway feeling depressed and angry with ourselves and the equipment, the General’s aide ran out and called us back.  He said the General apologizes and wants us to try again.  This time the machine worked and we got through it without a hitch.

JoeC