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CLOSURE

 

chiefrotunda

We all have heard the term many times (Closure) in our lives due to various circumstances.
 

Some of you might recall that I was on President Kennedy's funeral detail November 22-25, 1963.  My 16 year old granddaughter, Taylor Puckett, encouraged me that her and I make the trip to Dallas, Texas for the 50th Anniversary of the President's assassination.   Now this is coming from a teenager that wasn't even born until 34 years after the assassination.

(Chief is at the head of the casket, on the right)

 Taylor and I made the trip to Dallas from Nov 20-24.  The sights and sounds we made were be etched in our memories forever. On Nov 21st we made drive to Dealy Plaza and the 6th floor museum (Texas School Book Depository).  I was asked previously to give an oral interview in their studio where over 1100 previous interviews have been given since the assassination. That went pretty well, but was very emotional as my granddaughter sat in on the process.  

From the moment JFK was brought to the White House, at approx. 4:30 am on Nov 23rd, I was third in line and my eyes wondered down at Jackie Kennedy's pink suit and her legs, covered with the President's blood.  To this day that part is the most difficult part of the funeral detail and I have a hard time talking about. That was the blood of my President.

 

We took about a two hour self guided tour of the 6th floor, and observed the very window that Oswald knelt at. Seeing quite a bit of photos of the funeral etc. and knowing that I had the very same photos at home.  There even were a couple of exhibits on the 7th floor.  One gets to stand in the very same corner from the floor below and look out at the same view of Oswald had.
 

The next few hours were spent at Dealy Plaza, going over and over the 8mm film that Mr. Zapruder filmed of the assassination. Taylor even climbed on the pedestal that he filmed from, the only film of its kind. There were people from all over the country, judging by the license plates in the parking lot and listening to people from all over the world. Great Britain, Italy, Germany.

 

Standing on the grassy knoll, it appears that no changes have been made and I doubt if there ever will be to the Plaza area.  There were at least a dozen or so satellite trucks parked behind the grassy knoll.  As the debate goes on after these 50 years, one has to wonder what, if anything, took place on that grassy knoll on Nov 22, 1963. Taylor and I took this opportunity on this day to visit as preparations were being made for the ceremony on the following day.

 

While we were there, Homeland Security arrived in a couple of SUV's and a  HUGE command post vehicle.  In the plaza area there is a building called the Red Brick museum.  What a wonderful place to visit, it was a 1800's court house before it was a living history of Dallas.  Guide suggested we visit the 1st and 2nd floor and nothing else.  Getting off the elevator, several Dallas policemen got off before us and, sure enough that was their headquarters on the 3rd and 4th floor for the next day ceremony.

 

Taylor and I went back the day after the ceremony, to purchase tickets for a different tour, and had one more chance to observe the Plaza area and the cleanup that took place for such a history making event.

 

Some side trips were to the Texas Rangers Stadium, South Fork Ranch (TV Series Dallas) tour of the city on a trolley, to a fire hall to inquire about a T-shirt for my grandson, when a live fire call came in !!! Had dinner at one of Dallas well know establishments, Bob's Steak House.  Bob Kwiecinski, sneaky fellow that he is, and fellow VVA member, called the steak house with Bobski offering to pay for our meal!  Bob's Steak House said lets see what we can do.  We were treated royally.  Lets put in this way, the most expensive steak was 59.00.  Check was delivered and one entire meal off of it with management saying Thank You For Your Service.  Thank you to both Bob's.

 

Our last visit was to Lee Harvey Oswald s graveside.  It had been visited quite a bit as numerous flowers and coins were placed at the simple stone that said Oswald.

 

Having come full circle for me, and hoping a great history lesson for my granddaughter, Taylor Puckett.  I have stood watch over JFK both in the White House and the Capitol Rotunda. I have visited Arlington cemetery and the  JFK grave just days after his burial and lastly visiting the entire area of that dreadful event in Dallas which occurred on Nov 22, 1963 as well as the sight of seeing where the alleged assassin is buried.

 

With the recent press articles, I have been put in touch with a daughter of a Army Officer that stood at the head of the casket in the very first watch in the Rotunda as well as one of Coast Guard Pallbearers that carried the casket wherever it went.

 

I now have put closure on the items that I have talked about for the last 50 years. Having talked to many a school children, civic groups, sharing things with fellow VVA 310 members and the like.  It is not only old age that makes one mellow, I have been very emotional when it has come time when one asks what was your most memorable time on the "Death Watch".  Forever it will be the sight of my President's and Commander In Chief's blood on the President's wife clothing and body.

                                                                                                

Regards,
George Perrault
U. S. Nay 57-82
President John F. Kennedy's
Honor Guard "Death Watch"
Nov 22-25, 1963