A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember

By: Garland Davis

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. in Dallas, Texas while riding in a presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza. Kennedy was riding with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife, Nellie, and was fatally shot by former U.S. Marine[2] Lee Harvey Oswald. A ten-month investigation by the Warren Commission from November 1963 to September 1964 concluded that Oswald acted alone in shooting Kennedy, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial.Kennedy’s death marked the fourth (following that of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and most recent assassination of an American President. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson automatically became President upon Kennedy’s death.

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 12:30 PM CST November 22nd. It is one of two lifetime events that I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when I was told its circumstances. The other was the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. The country went into shock on that day fifty-three years ago. Schools closed. Some companies shut down for a few days. The United States and the world 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 serving in 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 Vesuvius, the oiler USS Cacapon and the stores ship Pollux would follow once the fighting ships had cleared the bay.

At the time, no one knew the circumstances of the assassination. There was speculation that the Soviets may have been involved in reprisal for the Cuban Missile 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 tanker.

Later that day, one of the carriers that had been inbound for Subic Bay, came alongside to top off her stocks 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…


8 thoughts on “A Day to Remember

  1. Mike Gardiner says:

    I was at sea off the coast of So Cal on the 0-6 level of “The Tall Lady”, the USS COLUMBUS (CG-12), when the word was passed over the ships 1MC by then Captain Gideon M. Boyd, our Commanding Officer. It was a stunning moment in my new naval career. I reenlisted on the 26th of November.


  2. I had been discharged in July, 1963. Served 3 years 5 months on USS Twining (DD 540) and was a rookie cop in a town between Dallas and Ft Worth. Very dark and confusing days for us, will never forget.

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Glenn Stang says:

    I was a young Fireman on USS Southerland DDR743. We were refueling at Pearl on our way back to San Diego from Westpacers. Memories of liberty in fascinating places were still running around in my young Fireman mind. Mostly Subic to be truthful. Total shock for all. The world stood still then. Sadly to fueling pumps didn’t. Over flowed the after tanks into berthing. Guess what we were doing all the way back home. Especially this non designated Fireman in B division.


  4. We had just returned to SubBase at Groton for upkeep as Blue Noses. My second son, Tony, had been born while on patrol and I couldn’t get my 57 Ford started. I troubled shot it to an intermittent open in the coil and hiked over to New London’s Western Auto on Bank Street to get a replacement. The store sold everything for the household, including televisions. I walked in shortly after the announcement that JFK had been shot. The store was soon packed with people watching the breaking news on live TV. Some civilians were crying. I might have been as well. I just stood there in shock holding that coil and watching the live feed.


  5. Gerald Surette says:

    I was in boot at Great Lakes. My company was due to graduate that day. Company 439. We were in the barracks and a couple guys had transistor radios that had stayed hidden for the whole 12 weeks. One of them was on and got turned up with the announcement that the president had been shot. That occurred just before our company commander walked into the space. The chew out never got out of his mouth. He asked who else had a radio and said to turn them all on so we could all hear the announcement.
    We marched over to the drill hall for graduation and just stood at parade rest until and admiral came in and made the announcement that Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Some of the woman in the stands fainted and grown men were crying. We marched out and returned to the barracks.


  6. Michael G Barrett CDR, USN (ret) says:

    I was in 6th grade at a small town elementary school in Iowa. Our teacher marched in, told us that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. We then started on our next assignment. Was watching live TV when Oswald was shot by Ruby.


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