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17 November 2013


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William R. Cumming

I walked out of a PM history seminar my Junior Year with the Professor and while we stood on the library steps another student ran by and yelled JFK shot and killed. I thought my Professor was going to die right there of a heart attack. After waiting to see if he could walk I left for my dorm.

In Robert Caro's 4th volume on LBJ while he does not state it flat out he strongly suggests LBJ would not have been on the ticket with LBJ in 1964! Bobby Baker was indicted the day JFK
was killed.

The Twisted Genius

I'll probably make you feel old. I was in 5th grade, in Mr. Honan's class in the Algonquin School in Prospect, Connecticut. He was called to the office and when he returned, he told us that President Kennedy has been shot. We were released immediately. I walked home not believing the news. When I got home, my mother confirmed that the Kennedy was shot. I began watching the news on our TV. I don't think we went to school the next day, Friday, and don't remember what it was like when classes did start. It's all kind of a unbelievable blur.

There was a picture of Kennedy outside the principal's office and the quote, "Ask now what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," was displayed in large letters on the wall. This sentiment figured largely in this small New England town which started as a separatist Puritan settlement.

FB Ali

I was sitting on a sand hillock in the desert artillery range in Muzaffargarh observing an artillery practice shoot. Someone called on the field telephone from the gun position saying they'd just heard on the news that Kennedy had been killed. It was quite a shock.

A few months earlier I'd returned from Canada after spending two years at the Canadian Staff College. During the course we'd participated in the 'love fest' that engulfed North America over the Kennedys. He had seemed to be a symbol of hope for a new era.

It was a sad ending to all that.


7th grade algebra class with Mrs. Stahl.

Our classroom intercom was out, but we could hear some "noise" coming from the other classes' intercoms.

Mrs. Stahl went to another class to figure out what was going on, came back, and told us.

Next up was PE with Coach Wilson who informed us that some sick person had killed the president.


Dad and I came back from my swimming lesson to find Mom waiting for us in the driveway in tears.


As I recall, that "cold weather gear" was not that warm. About a decade after you were at Greely, I was at Pickle Meadows going through Marine cold-weather/mountain training- with largely the same gear, Mickey Mouse boots and all. The skis and gear did not work that well.

I was in high school on 23 November, 1963- I recall students coming back from lunch with transistor radios- something strictly forbidden in our school. I asked one classmate what he thought he was doing and he replied that the President had been shot- I didn't believe him at first and gradually, when I saw other students with transistors and heard the programming it sunk in. Later, they made the announcement of the President's death over the school speaker system. Everyone was quiet, except for an upperclassman sitting in front of me who exclaimed, "That means Lyndon Johnson will be President!" Shortly afterwards, there was a school assembly and classes were cancelled for the day.

John Minnerath

I was standing with a few others waiting for our mess hall to open for breakfast in our barracks. Company D 1st SFG at Machinato, Okinawa.
A guy cam running down the hall saying he'd heard Kennedy had been shot on KOMA, some may remember that AM radio station in Oklahoma City that beamed powerful signals all over the world back then and was often our only live connection to things back in the states.

At morning formation after chow things were still in confusion, we were told that unless we had other duties we were all restricted to barracks till what happened was known. Rumors flew and it was several hours before we actually learned he had been assassinated and was dead.

We went on full alert and the recall went out for people scattered all over the island while we drew arms and ammunition and tried to prepare an unknown immediate threat. The PRC was the big black cloud at the time.

I was a Catholic and after things settled down got volunteered to stand in an Honor Guard at a High Mass that seemed to last forever.
For us in Special Forces with our Patron gone our independence ended and we came under the direct command of USARYIS immediately.
A very unwelcome status and the world changed.

robt willmann

I was in elementary school, and class was interrupted by an announcement over the intercom -- the wooden box on the wall back then -- that President Kennedy had been shot. I was too young at that time to realize that politics spawns more violence than anything else both domestically and against other political structures and "foreign" peoples, that even the president can be shot down in broad daylight in front of many witnesses and the legal system can be subverted about that event, that physicians can be intimidated or compromised into testifying falsely about what they know, and the various other expressions of the bad side of human nature that reveal themselves to us as we grow older.



"Pickle Meadows?" This is up in the California mountains? The Army used to have a place like that at Camp Hale, Colorado. This is quite different from what used to be called the "Northern Warfare Training Center" at Fort Greely. At Greely the training temperature is rarely above - 40 degrees and often is at -60 degrees. At those temperatures you are living in something that resembles a different, snow blasted planet. Machinery stops operating the way it normally does, tires freeze square on the bottom, flesh freezes instantly to metal, etc. I think that a different level of cold weather gear was issued there. we wore the white "mouse boots," not the black ones, long underwear, field pants with liners, heavy wool shirts, arctic parkas with liners, arctic mittens. Basically you had half a dozen layers of clothes on. you wore all of these when not in motion and started taking them off to put in your rucksack as you warmed up. the one thing you needed to avoid was sweating because it would freeze on you. The graduation exercise was a 100 mile ski march. There were bears and wolves everywhere. By the end of the course you knew how to survive and operate in that environment but you needed the right gear. The instructors were professionals and they beat into your head the idea that you can't overcome that kind of environment with will power. you have to know what you are doing. pl


I was home sick from 3rd grade watching tv while mom made a quick dash to the store. When mom came back through the door I said "the president was shot". I think that was the first time I saw her upset.

steve g

I was a senior in high school that day.
Was assigned to run the school four page
weekly newspaper on an ancient roto-gravure
press. When we were informed of the incident
we went back to our respective classes and sat
there quietly until the school days end and
returned home.

Watched the coverage the next day on black and
white TV. We sat incredulous at the shooting
of Oswald live. Every time they show this it
seems like yesterday. During the funeral pro-
cession the whole family cried. First time I
ever saw my dad shed a tear.

Re cold weather training. Many of us in the
north wore those surplus "bunny boots" as we
called them in the 60s and 70s. Worked well
if you changed the liners daily. We dont get
those extreme Siberian blasts like we used to.
25 to 30 below with windchills in the 50 to 60
degree range. No margin for error. Those
conditions could kill you in 30 minutes if you
are not dressed properly. As an old Nordic
axiom proclaimed "The North wind made the Vikings"

The Twisted Genius


I still have a set of those old white skis and a parka with liner and wolf ruff hood in my cellar. And those arctic mittens with trigger fingers were marvelous.

When Dick Potter was 10th Group commander, he oversaw the development of the new Army cold weather gear in the early 80s. A few of our mountain teams directed the development and testing of the mostly commercial gear including the now ubiquitous polypropylene/fleece/gortex clothing. When the Falklands war started, Potter, who served an exchange tour with the SAS, sent the entire first batch of that gear to the Brits. After the war, the 22d SAS commander said that gear saved a lot of lives and preserved his men's combat effectiveness in that cold wet environment. You are absolutely right. When the right honorable Winslow T. Hawkins, aka "The Hawk," comes knocking, you need the right gear and the right know how.

Charles I

5 years old at Kenollie P.S, for some reason a picture of self outside doors of school understanding we were being let out in awful circumstances is one of my most distinct recurring childhood memories.


Just an announcement over the Beverly, Ma High School loudspeaker (sophomore) letting school out early. Everyone was a bit confused as you could hear....hey why we getting out...Mr. Kennedy died....oh, Peters Dad....I don't know, maybe....and so it went. Knew something was up but not till I got home and Ma was crying watching the TV. Whole family was either watching TV or in church for days on end it seemed. What a great loss then and even today as it still seems the man had so much potential to do good for this country. "What could have been" is always my thoughts when thinking of JFK.


I was in first grade, Catholic school, Temple Texas, not far south from Dallas. An announcement came over the loud speaker that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas and taken to Parkland Hospital. We all got down on our knees next to our little desks and said a prayer for the President. The only other thing I remember from that day is my mother picking me up from school and telling me that the president was dead.

Alba Etie

I was in fifth grade as well - we were released immediately to go home. It was a terrible & horrifying day .


steve G

"Worked well if you changed the liners daily." The white mouse boots had no liners. They were like a thermos bottle and had an air escape valve on the side. You could fall into water just about at the freezing temperature and within a minute the water in the boot would be at room temperature. pl

William Fitzgerald

Coincidentally, I was also in an officer's club.This one was at a kaserne near Straubing in Bavaria. Roger McLeod, a Norwich grad from Boston came into the dining room and announced that President Kennedy had been killed. The memory remains quite vivid.


Maureen Lang

A little late to this thread, but here it is:

I was on the playground at my Catholic grammar school hanging from the gym bars by my knees (used to love doing this for some odd reason). Our 8th grade teacher Sister Claire came out ringing a large hand bell- we were being called in early. Mother Gertrude, the principal, told each classroom individually that our parents were being phoned to pick us up, or to let them know we were riding our bikes/walking home. We were told there had been a national emergency. Frightened, I rode home with a friend. We put our bikes in the back yard- my mother greeted us both at the front door with, "They shot Kennedy. He's probably dead."

steve g

I was thinking of the felt exterior
version of those boots. A co-worker
did have the type you mentioned. Had
forgotten the difference of the two.


US Air Force Security Service, Cudjoe Key, FL, Getting ready to go work a swing shift. You can guess our target.

All that night, all over Cuba came the words, "he is dead." Cubana Airlines held their Havana flight from Mexico City for a "special passenger." The passenger never came, the flight took off around midnight. I always wondered about that.


I was working in a darkroom, of course listening to rock and roll at that age, when they broke into the music and made the announcement. I came out of the room with I guess a shocked look on my face because my Chief took one look at me and asked me what was wrong. I told him the President had been shot and he of course did not believe me. While listening to further radio reports we watched several tin cans exiting the port at full speed, the bone in their teeth and black smoke billowing out of their stacks, something that was just not ever done in that narrow channel.

But I was standing on Ford Island just a few hundred yards from the USS Arizona monument and events like that are taken very seriously there.

Spent the next couple of days confined to the island and standing watch with a trusty 45 strapped to my waist. Not sure what I was going to do with it but it apparently made some one happy to have me doing that.

We listened to all the following days events on the radio then watched them a few hours later on the TV as the tapes had to be flown in from the West Coast. I remember the drums.

old gun pilot

I was a student at Ole Miss and had slept late that morning because my first class was a late physics lab. Driving to campus in my VW bug with it's AM only radio, all I could find was patriotic music. There was nothing said about the president being shot and I had no idea what was going on. As I drove by the student union some jackass was waving a giant Confederate battle flag. When I pulled into the parking lot the music stopped and the announcer said the President had died from a gunshot wound.

Norbert M Salamon

I was at university in Nelson, BC, where a large % of students were form NW USA. There were many tears shed in the auditorium, having the only TV for students. Next Morning there was a special Mass at the Chapel, somewhat longer than the usual 30 minutes with a speech by a USA citizen Professor [of philosophy].



When we did training exercises up at Greeley my section chief told me "The weather at Greeley does whatever the f-ck it wants to." And he was right on that note.

When the 501st was still part of the 172nd Infantry Brigade, we'd do an exercise called "Cold Steel" up there, where it'd be us against their two leg infantry battalions (1-17 and 2-1). I remember one year, we jumped into Greeley right before a hellacious snow storm rolled in. The other two infantry battalions had apparently decided not to show up. Long story short I spent the night spooning with my gunner in full ECWS wrapped in a parachute. My coldest night until Afghanistan.

So yes Greeley was a whole different kettle of fish than anything down in the lower 48.

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