It was 55 years ago that my hero, President John F. Kennedy visited Tampa and I saw him for the first and last time.
I read in the newspaper he was coming so I put all my energy into getting press credentials, not an easy task for a 16-year-old high school junior, but I managed to get a pass from the chamber of commerce with the help of letters from school.
Air Force One landed at 11:25 a.m. After the National Press Corps exited the plane the president, ever charismatic, walked out as the band played Hail to the Chief.
I walked up to his limousine where he sat with MacDill Base Commander, Paul D. Adams. I shook his hand, took his photo and welcomed him to Tampa.
After lunch and a briefing at the Macdill officers club he was flown by helicopter to Al Lopez Field, followed by a drive south on Dale Mabry Highway to Grand Central Avenue, then east to downtown Tampa.
I waited on Franklin Street north of Twiggs as his motorcade came by fast.
At the end of the day I returned with the president to MacDill Air Force Base where he shook hands with police officers who had worked during his visit.
I watched Air Force One fade into the clouds.
Four days later I learned he had been assassinated. I felt numb. I often think of that day and although subsided, the shock has yet to disappear.