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Pallbearer for Kennedy to speak in Salisbury


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(QUOTE)

Pallbearer for Kennedy to speak in Salisbury

PHOTO

James Felder, right, carries the casket of John F. Kennedy.

SALISBURY — When he thinks back to the night of Nov. 22, 1963,

James L. Felder sees Jacqueline Kennedy getting off Air Force One

at Andrews Air Force Base still wearing the blood-stained dress

from her husband's assassination in Dallas.

Early the next morning, back at the White House, Felder watches

the widow cutting a piece of her husband's hair as a keepsake

before the casket's lid is closed again.

Or Felder is standing over the slain president's gravesite, taking

the folded American flag, checking it to make sure no red is

showing and solemnly passing it on.

These images have stayed with Felder, an Army sergeant who

headed the casket team (pallbearers) for President John F. Kennedy.

Felder stood close by as the president's body, embalmed and

restored by a Washington mortician after an autopsy, was moved

from a table at Bethesda Naval Hospital into a mahogany casket.

He guarded the casket and carried it with seven other men into the

White House, up and down the Capitol steps, and in and out of St.

Matthew's Cathedral.

He marched beside the caisson bearing the casket to Arlington

National Cemetery, where his team took Kennedy to his grave.

PHOTO

James Felder checks the flag for red at the funeral for John F. Kennedy.

PHOTO

(JAMES LEROY FELDER sometime after his service, wearing a business suit)

Wherever he goes, even 48 years after the assassination, Felder

still answers questions about his duties during those four dark

days in November 1963, from JFK's killing in the Dallas motorcade to

his burial three days later in Arlington.

"I never boasted about it (but) I kept getting these questions of,

'How were you selected?' " says Felder, now 72 and living in

Columbia, S.C.

After his two years in the Army, Felder became an attorney and a

strong figure in civil rights and voter education activities, forging

friendships with men such as Vernon Jordan and the Rev. Jesse

Jackson. He settled in Columbia, S.C., served briefly as a state

legislator and retired several years ago as chairman of the

Department of Business and Economics at Allen University.

Today, Felder has come full circle and is president and chief

executive officer of the S.C. Voter Education Project. He will be the

speaker at Friday's Salisbury-Rowan NAACP Harvest Banquet,

where the focus of his talk will be four historical leaders of the civil

rights movement.

His role as a pallbearer for President Kennedy is a lesson in how

circumstances — so random at the time — conspire to put a person

in an unexpected spot, such as on the lead left handle of a slain

president's casket.

A native of Sumter, S.C., Felder attended Clark College in Atlanta

where he was the football team's quarterback and president of the

Student Government Association. He participated in civil rights

protests and sit-ins, spending time in Atlanta jails and courtrooms

as a result.

Graduating from Clark in 1961, Felder hoped to enter Officers

Training School for the Air Force in March 1962 — the first available

opening — but the Army drafted him before that could happen.

He went "kicking and screaming" — his words — to basic training at

Fort Jackson, S.C., and eventually was one of 10 men from the

base chosen to try out for the Army Honor Guard stationed at Fort

Myer, Va., near Washington.

He survived a tough, two-week elimination process and was one of

only two from Fort Jackson to make the Honor Guard, part of

Company E of the Third Infantry. Nicknamed the Old Guard, because

it is the oldest military unit on active duty in the country, the

company is charged with defending the nation's capital in case of

attack.

All the men are infantry trained and combat ready. Otherwise, they

conduct ceremonial duties in and around Washington, including

burials at Arlington National Cemetery and the guarding of the

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Felder served with the second platoon — casket bearers for funeral

services. Over 19 months, he participated in more than 1,000

funerals at Arlington.

During Kennedy's inaugural parade in 1961, the new president

noticed there were no black soldiers in the Army Honor Guard, and

he sent a verbal order that men of color should be added to the

unit.

When Felder joined the Honor Guard in 1962, he was only the 10th

African American to be part of the company, which had some 200

soldiers.

As a college student, Felder had campaigned for Kennedy's

election. As a soldier, he first stood near him as part of the Honor

Guard greeting a foreign dignitary at Washington's National Airport

and later on the White House's South Lawn.

As he rose in seniority, Felder sometimes served as "presidential

orderly," whose main duties involved running short errands for

Kennedy or holding his umbrella in the rain. Felder says he and the

president sometimes indulged in small talk while they waited for

the next thing to happen.

Felder describes himself as a "short-timer" by Nov. 22, 1963, the

day President Kennedy was killed. He had only 57 days left in the

Army, and most of those days he planned to eat up with leave.

Interestingly, about a month before the assassination, Felder

belonged to a specially assembled honor guard — representing

each branch of the military — that was preparing for the expected

death of former President Herbert Hoover.

But the unit quit its rehearsals when Hoover's health improved,

never guessing a similar honor guard would be needed soon for

Kennedy.

Two weeks before the assassination, the senior ranking soldier of

the casket-bearing platoon left the company, making young Felder

the ranking sergeant.

Military protocol called on the Army to head the special honor guard

for Kennedy, and because Felder had just become the ranking

sergeant, it was up to him to lead the casket team.

"If Kennedy had been assassinated two weeks earlier, I would not

have been in that position," Felder says.

Felder was taking a leave day Nov. 22, 1963, and went to a job

interview at the Department of Interior. He and his wife, working at

the Federal Power Commission, then planned to leave for

Thanksgiving vacation in Sumter.

The assassination canceled Felder's leave. His casket team met Air

Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, then followed the body to

Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the autopsy was performed.

Felder and his men provided security at the hospital morgue, where

he had to bodily throw out two intrusive photographers and keep

reporters at bay.

A new casket arrived with the funeral home attendants who

embalmed the body and put Kennedy back together again. Felder

and his men rolled the casket down the hospital corridor into a

waiting Navy ambulance about 3:45 a.m. Nov. 23, and the body

arrived at the White House by 4:30 a.m.

In the East Room, Jacqueline Kennedy, with Sargent Shriver and

Robert F. Kennedy by her side, opened the casket to view the body

of her husband and to retrieve a lock of his hair.

Felder says he can swear to this day that the president's body was

in the casket, despite many rumors to the contrary at the time.

Felder personally stayed on watch at the East Room until 1 p.m.

that Saturday, when he was relieved and able to catch a two-hour

nap in the White House's theater.

At first the casket team consisted of six men — two from the Army

and one each from the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Because of the half-ton weight of the new casket, Felder saw that

two more men (from the Navy and Marines) were added.

Worried about navigating the 36 Capitol steps leading into the

Rotunda Sunday morning, Nov. 24, the team practiced for hours on

the Arlington Cemetery steps leading to the Tomb of the Unknown

Soldier.

A couple of soldiers sat on top of the dummy casket to simulate the

weight of the president's mahogany version.

Felder used silent commands such as nods and winks to guide his

casket team, and he instructed these pallbearers to saturate their

white gloves with water for better two-handed grips.

On the day of the funeral, the casket team marched 3 miles next to

the caisson — the same one that bore President Franklin D.

Roosevelt's body in Washington 18 years earlier.

A million people stood along the route between the cathedral and

the cemetery. An additional 75 million watched on television. At

Arlington, Felder's team called on all of its reserve strength for

carrying the casket up the hill to the gravesite.

At the end of Taps, Felder tugged on the flag to initiate its folding.

His final check for red led to the flag's delivery to Jacqueline

Kennedy, who would be buried beside the president many years

later.

Not long after Felder had returned from the Thanksgiving holiday,

his 28-year-old company commander died unexpectedly, and Felder

had to again lead a special honor guard.

Spent emotionally, he made it his last funeral at Arlington.

It took 30 years, but Felder transferred his memories from 1963

into a book titled, "I Buried John F. Kennedy." He says he did it for

his children and grandchildren and for history's sake.

By now, he guesses that he has given hundreds of talks to civic

clubs, churches and veterans groups about those dark days.

Not too long ago, Arlington National Cemetery remodeled its

visitors center. It includes a huge mural showing Felder carrying

JFK's casket.

"That really touched me," he says, "and my grandchildren were

there to see it."

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or

mwineka@salisburypost.com. Felder will have copies of his book

available for sale at the NAACP Harvest Banquet Friday night at the

Holiday Inn.

(END QUOTE)

Best Regards in Research,

Don

Donald Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, plank walker

Sooner, or later, The Truth emerges Clearly

For your considerations....

Homepage: President KENNEDY "Men of Courage" speech, and Assassination Evidence, Witnesses, Suspects + Outstanding Researchers Discoveries and Considerations.... http://droberdeau.bl...ination_09.html

Dealey Plaza Map Detailing 11-22-63 Victims precise locations,

Witnesses, Films & Photos, Evidence, Suspected bullet trajectories, Important

information & Considerations, in One Convenient Resource.... http://img831.images...dated110110.gif

Visual Report: "The First Bullet Impact Into President Kennedy: while JFK was Hidden Under the 'magic-limbed-ricochet-tree' ".... http://img504.images...k1102308ms8.gif

Visual Report: Reality versus C.A.D. : the Real World, versus, Garbage-In, Garbage-Out.... http://img248.images...ealityvscad.gif

Discovery: "Very Close JFK Assassination Witness ROSEMARY WILLIS Zapruder Film Documented 2nd Headsnap: West, Ultrafast, and Directly Towards the Grassy Knoll".... http://educationforu...?showtopic=2394

T ogether

E veryone

A chieves

M ore

For the United States:

advisory7regional.gif

http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/

Edited by Don Roberdeau
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Good Day.... FYI....

http://www.salisbury...ed-JFKw-pix-qcd

(QUOTE)

Pallbearer for Kennedy to speak in Salisbury

PHOTO

James Felder, right, carries the casket of John F. Kennedy.

SALISBURY When he thinks back to the night of Nov. 22, 1963,

James L. Felder sees Jacqueline Kennedy getting off Air Force One

at Andrews Air Force Base still wearing the blood-stained dress

from her husband's assassination in Dallas.

Early the next morning, back at the White House, Felder watches

the widow cutting a piece of her husband's hair as a keepsake

before the casket's lid is closed again.

Or Felder is standing over the slain president's gravesite, taking

the folded American flag, checking it to make sure no red is

showing and solemnly passing it on.

These images have stayed with Felder, an Army sergeant who

headed the casket team (pallbearers) for President John F. Kennedy.

Felder stood close by as the president's body, embalmed and

restored by a Washington mortician after an autopsy, was moved

from a table at Bethesda Naval Hospital into a mahogany casket.

He guarded the casket and carried it with seven other men into the

White House, up and down the Capitol steps, and in and out of St.

Matthew's Cathedral.

He marched beside the caisson bearing the casket to Arlington

National Cemetery, where his team took Kennedy to his grave.

PHOTO

James Felder checks the flag for red at the funeral for John F. Kennedy.

PHOTO

(JAMES LEROY FELDER sometime after his service, wearing a business suit)

Wherever he goes, even 48 years after the assassination, Felder

still answers questions about his duties during those four dark

days in November 1963, from JFK's killing in the Dallas motorcade to

his burial three days later in Arlington.

"I never boasted about it (but) I kept getting these questions of,

'How were you selected?' " says Felder, now 72 and living in

Columbia, S.C.

After his two years in the Army, Felder became an attorney and a

strong figure in civil rights and voter education activities, forging

friendships with men such as Vernon Jordan and the Rev. Jesse

Jackson. He settled in Columbia, S.C., served briefly as a state

legislator and retired several years ago as chairman of the

Department of Business and Economics at Allen University.

Today, Felder has come full circle and is president and chief

executive officer of the S.C. Voter Education Project. He will be the

speaker at Friday's Salisbury-Rowan NAACP Harvest Banquet,

where the focus of his talk will be four historical leaders of the civil

rights movement.

His role as a pallbearer for President Kennedy is a lesson in how

circumstances so random at the time conspire to put a person

in an unexpected spot, such as on the lead left handle of a slain

president's casket.

A native of Sumter, S.C., Felder attended Clark College in Atlanta

where he was the football team's quarterback and president of the

Student Government Association. He participated in civil rights

protests and sit-ins, spending time in Atlanta jails and courtrooms

as a result.

Graduating from Clark in 1961, Felder hoped to enter Officers

Training School for the Air Force in March 1962 the first available

opening but the Army drafted him before that could happen.

He went "kicking and screaming" his words to basic training at

Fort Jackson, S.C., and eventually was one of 10 men from the

base chosen to try out for the Army Honor Guard stationed at Fort

Myer, Va., near Washington.

He survived a tough, two-week elimination process and was one of

only two from Fort Jackson to make the Honor Guard, part of

Company E of the Third Infantry. Nicknamed the Old Guard, because

it is the oldest military unit on active duty in the country, the

company is charged with defending the nation's capital in case of

attack.

All the men are infantry trained and combat ready. Otherwise, they

conduct ceremonial duties in and around Washington, including

burials at Arlington National Cemetery and the guarding of the

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Felder served with the second platoon casket bearers for funeral

services. Over 19 months, he participated in more than 1,000

funerals at Arlington.

During Kennedy's inaugural parade in 1961, the new president

noticed there were no black soldiers in the Army Honor Guard, and

he sent a verbal order that men of color should be added to the

unit.

When Felder joined the Honor Guard in 1962, he was only the 10th

African American to be part of the company, which had some 200

soldiers.

As a college student, Felder had campaigned for Kennedy's

election. As a soldier, he first stood near him as part of the Honor

Guard greeting a foreign dignitary at Washington's National Airport

and later on the White House's South Lawn.

As he rose in seniority, Felder sometimes served as "presidential

orderly," whose main duties involved running short errands for

Kennedy or holding his umbrella in the rain. Felder says he and the

president sometimes indulged in small talk while they waited for

the next thing to happen.

Felder describes himself as a "short-timer" by Nov. 22, 1963, the

day President Kennedy was killed. He had only 57 days left in the

Army, and most of those days he planned to eat up with leave.

Interestingly, about a month before the assassination, Felder

belonged to a specially assembled honor guard representing

each branch of the military that was preparing for the expected

death of former President Herbert Hoover.

But the unit quit its rehearsals when Hoover's health improved,

never guessing a similar honor guard would be needed soon for

Kennedy.

Two weeks before the assassination, the senior ranking soldier of

the casket-bearing platoon left the company, making young Felder

the ranking sergeant.

Military protocol called on the Army to head the special honor guard

for Kennedy, and because Felder had just become the ranking

sergeant, it was up to him to lead the casket team.

"If Kennedy had been assassinated two weeks earlier, I would not

have been in that position," Felder says.

Felder was taking a leave day Nov. 22, 1963, and went to a job

interview at the Department of Interior. He and his wife, working at

the Federal Power Commission, then planned to leave for

Thanksgiving vacation in Sumter.

The assassination canceled Felder's leave. His casket team met Air

Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, then followed the body to

Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the autopsy was performed.

Felder and his men provided security at the hospital morgue, where

he had to bodily throw out two intrusive photographers and keep

reporters at bay.

A new casket arrived with the funeral home attendants who

embalmed the body and put Kennedy back together again. Felder

and his men rolled the casket down the hospital corridor into a

waiting Navy ambulance about 3:45 a.m. Nov. 23, and the body

arrived at the White House by 4:30 a.m.

In the East Room, Jacqueline Kennedy, with Sargent Shriver and

Robert F. Kennedy by her side, opened the casket to view the body

of her husband and to retrieve a lock of his hair.

Felder says he can swear to this day that the president's body was

in the casket, despite many rumors to the contrary at the time.

Felder personally stayed on watch at the East Room until 1 p.m.

that Saturday, when he was relieved and able to catch a two-hour

nap in the White House's theater.

At first the casket team consisted of six men two from the Army

and one each from the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Because of the half-ton weight of the new casket, Felder saw that

two more men (from the Navy and Marines) were added.

Worried about navigating the 36 Capitol steps leading into the

Rotunda Sunday morning, Nov. 24, the team practiced for hours on

the Arlington Cemetery steps leading to the Tomb of the Unknown

Soldier.

A couple of soldiers sat on top of the dummy casket to simulate the

weight of the president's mahogany version.

Felder used silent commands such as nods and winks to guide his

casket team, and he instructed these pallbearers to saturate their

white gloves with water for better two-handed grips.

On the day of the funeral, the casket team marched 3 miles next to

the caisson the same one that bore President Franklin D.

Roosevelt's body in Washington 18 years earlier.

A million people stood along the route between the cathedral and

the cemetery. An additional 75 million watched on television. At

Arlington, Felder's team called on all of its reserve strength for

carrying the casket up the hill to the gravesite.

At the end of Taps, Felder tugged on the flag to initiate its folding.

His final check for red led to the flag's delivery to Jacqueline

Kennedy, who would be buried beside the president many years

later.

Not long after Felder had returned from the Thanksgiving holiday,

his 28-year-old company commander died unexpectedly, and Felder

had to again lead a special honor guard.

Spent emotionally, he made it his last funeral at Arlington.

It took 30 years, but Felder transferred his memories from 1963

into a book titled, "I Buried John F. Kennedy." He says he did it for

his children and grandchildren and for history's sake.

By now, he guesses that he has given hundreds of talks to civic

clubs, churches and veterans groups about those dark days.

Not too long ago, Arlington National Cemetery remodeled its

visitors center. It includes a huge mural showing Felder carrying

JFK's casket.

"That really touched me," he says, "and my grandchildren were

there to see it."

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or

mwineka@salisburypost.com. Felder will have copies of his book

available for sale at the NAACP Harvest Banquet Friday night at the

Holiday Inn.

(END QUOTE)

Best Regards in Research,

Don

Donald Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, plank walker

Sooner, or later, The Truth emerges Clearly

For your considerations....

Homepage: President KENNEDY "Men of Courage" speech, and Assassination Evidence, Witnesses, Suspects + Outstanding Researchers Discoveries and Considerations.... http://droberdeau.bl...ination_09.html

Dealey Plaza Map Detailing 11-22-63 Victims precise locations,

Witnesses, Films & Photos, Evidence, Suspected bullet trajectories, Important

information & Considerations, in One Convenient Resource.... http://img831.images...dated110110.gif

Visual Report: "The First Bullet Impact Into President Kennedy: while JFK was Hidden Under the 'magic-limbed-ricochet-tree' ".... http://img504.images...k1102308ms8.gif

Visual Report: Reality versus C.A.D. : the Real World, versus, Garbage-In, Garbage-Out.... http://img248.images...ealityvscad.gif

Discovery: "Very Close JFK Assassination Witness ROSEMARY WILLIS Zapruder Film Documented 2nd Headsnap: West, Ultrafast, and Directly Towards the Grassy Knoll".... http://educationforu...?showtopic=2394

T ogether

E veryone

A chieves

M ore

For the United States:

advisory7regional.gif

http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

"Better to light a candle, than, curse the darkness."

(Chinese proverb)

"If you want to get 'even' with someone, start first with the Ones who have been Good to You."

THANK YOU Don;; and there's the answer, to the question asked so many times about the rehersal..''''Interestingly, about a month before the assassination, Felder belonged to a specially assembled honor guard representing each branch of the military that was preparing for the expected death of former President Herbert Hoover.

But the unit quit its rehearsals when Hoover's health improved, never guessing a similar honor guard would be needed soon for Kennedy.'''

Edited by Bernice Moore
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Among the records of the Sixth Floor Museum Oral History Project are the recollections of most of the pallbearers and those who were part of the honor guard.

It would be nice if someone could obtain these records and post them so everyone can read them.

The commander of the honor guard died of mysterious circumstances shortly after the service.

BK

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