A Day to Remember
By: Garland Davis
Everyone who was old enough to remember can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. It happened at 1:30 PM CST November 22nd. It is the once in a lifetime event that one does not easily forget. The country went into shock. Some schools closed. Some companies shut down for a few days. People as a whole were stunned.
I was half a world away. It was 1:30 AM on the morning of November 23rd in the Western Pacific. I was aboard the USS Vesuvius, an ammunition replenishment ship, anchored in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. At 3:00 AM, the crew was awakened and the Commanding Officer made an announcement over the ship’s announcing system. He told us that the president had been killed and as a precautionary measure, the fleet would sortie at first light. The warships would go first and us supply ships would follow once they had cleared the bay.
At the time, no one knew the circumstances of the assassination. There was speculation that the Soviets had been involved in reprisal for the Cuban Crisis. The fleet went to sea expecting Soviet Submarines to be waiting. I stood on deck and watched the warships leave. I counted 18 cruisers and destroyers. I can assure you that they went to sea locked and loaded. As soon as we cleared port, the destroyers were lining up to top off their magazines from us and their fuel tanks from the tankers.
Later that day, one of the carriers that had been inbound for Subic Bay, came along side to top off her stores of five hundred pound bombs.
We stayed on alert for a week or two and then settled back into routine operations.
A day to remember.