Hearing about President John F. Kennedy

John Lambie was one of the first in Carnarvon to hear the news of President Kennedy’s assassination – in the early hours (West Australian Standard Time) of Saturday 23rd November 1963 –

I was working overtime in the Teletype room and planning to take a M28 ASR out of service for scheduled maintenance, I was waiting for an incoming message to finish. It seemed to go on for ever! I approached the machine to read the page copy.

John Lambie

The Teletype room during the Gemini missions, showing Model 28 teletypes, equipment racks and cabinets with power supplies, loop switchboards, and line interface units. Photo: John Lambie.

It was a shock! A message announcing the assassination of President Kennedy.

It was followed by a large head and shoulder portrait of JFK. Made up of different characters selected for shading. Someone at Goddard Space Flight Center had either emotionally created it, (or maybe had it ready) and broadcast the message to all addresses on the NASA network.

There was a cabinet of typing reperforators, and large tape spools that logged all incoming traffic. I was able to retrieve the message and made multiple tape copies. I had a copy for ages. Later when I was a Technical Instructor, (and on Parents night) I would run the tape and copies were a popular give away. I wonder if that tape still exists somewhere?

Apart from the wave of shock and emotion that encircled the world at the time, John F. Kennedy, was the visionary leader that set the goal for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Man-in-Space and to-the-Moon program.

The townspeople did not know until the following day. There was no radio service in Carnarvon at that time. ABC service from a new radio station 6CA came about six month later (The transmitter was installed and maintained by the PMG.)

Further the daily paper, The West Australian, did not arrive till about 11:00am, when the McRobertson Miller Airways (MMA) DC3 arrived on the (milk run) from Perth, to Geraldton, Carnarvon, and other ports further north.

John Lambie

President John F Kennedy at Rice University, Houston, Texas, September 12, 1962.

“We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”

Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.