"President Kennedy Has Been Shot"

  • Thursday, December 7, 2023
  • Jerry Wilson
Airman 3rd Class Jerry Wilson, Air Police, Izmir, Turkey, 1963
Airman 3rd Class Jerry Wilson, Air Police, Izmir, Turkey, 1963

I was stationed in Izmir, Turkey, in November of 1963. One of my roommates had gone to the NCO Club to hear a popular comedian that night. When he returned to our apartment, he told me that President Kennedy had been shot. Knowing that he had just heard the comedian, and no doubt had partaken of several adult beverages, I said, “Yeah, ok, what is the joke?” He kept insisting that the president had been shot. I finally, went to my shortwave radio and tuned into a station in the U.K. and confirmed that, indeed, the president had been assassinated!

The next morning all personnel had been put on alert by the base commander at Cigli (chili) Air Base just a few miles outside of Izmir. The commander declared that all activities were curtailed for the duration of the alert.

As an Air Policeman just out of basic training, my job was to enforce the shutdown of various activities; the BX, the commissary, and the hobby shop.

The hobby shop was where I met resistance from a Lt. Colonel who thought the whole idea of the alert and closing of the shop was just ridiculous. He continued to argue with me. I don’t mind telling you this young Airman 3rd class, fresh out of basic training, had never had the chance to confront a high-ranking officer. As I stood there, somewhat intimidated by his rank, I suggested he call the base commander and argue with him. But in the meantime, I was closing the shop and he had to leave. Finally, he left. Whew!

As the next several days passed, many of the U.S. military were approached by Turkish citizens who offered their condolences as they, too, mourned the death of President John F. Kennedy.

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