Where Were You
A True Story
Robert A. Chapin
I traveled from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Western Massachusetts last October (2010), for our 45th High School class reunion. It evoked so many memories, but none as heartbreaking as the day we were in drivers education class and abruptly sent to the auditorium.
Walter Cronkit’s announcement: “From Dallas; the flash - apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1:00 PM Central Standard Time - 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago. Vice President Lyndon Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know to where he has proceeded, but presumably he will be taking the oath of office shortly and become the 36th President of The United States.”
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It was April,1968 when the Pan American plane touched down in Vietnam where the coolness of the cabin gave way to the extremely humid blast furnace when we disembarked. It was somewhere around 8:00 PM and the temperature had to have been at least 100 degrees.
There were three airliners on the ground, refueling and either arriving with replacement troops or those returning home. I noticed an enormous industrial tractor resembling a fork lift - one of those extremely huge and powerful machines you see with a whole skid of plywood back in the states used by construction companies. I lost view until it re-appeared this time with metal boxes being lifted from a pile and into the belly of the plane.