Farewell, President Kennedy

I joined the National Guard at the armory on South Street in Hyannis in June 1963. In September, along with 68 other Massachusetts Guardsmen, I was sent to basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. As it happened, bivouac, a week camping out in the woods, occurred in the seventh week of the training cycle.
Friday of that week we had finished our last training exercise, they had broken us up into company-sized groups, and we were marching through paths in the woods back to the barracks area. While at a rest area someone turned on a little transistor radio and heard the news about the assassination. Word spread like wildfire and soon 60 soldiers were all crowding around that one little radio in the woods.
Once back at the barracks we put our field gear away, and most of the company headed over to the Day Room where the only television in our area was. The next day those who wanted to were marched to the chapel of their choice for a memorial service. The mood everywhere was very somber, as I think we were all in shock and disbelief. The loss hit those of us from the Cape especially hard as most of us had rubbed shoulders with the Kennedys over the years. In fact, I still get out and look at the grainy old photo I took of Jack and Jackie at the Hyannis Airport when they returned from accepting the presidential nomination and afterward spoke at the Armory on South Street, that has since been placed on the National Register of Historical Places.

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