Landmark 1963 Army – Navy Game; JFK & Instant Replay

TODAY IN HISTORY, DECEMBER 7, 1963:

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a US Navy Veteran of the Second World War. He had served in the Pacific Theater, commanding PT-109, a “Patrol-Torpedo” boat about 77 feet in length. His boat was sunk in the Solomon Islands and he became a war hero for his efforts in his crew’s rescue. But that is another story.

As President it was his habit to attend the annual Army-Navy game to unabashedly root for Navy. He planned to attend the game on December 1, 1963. However he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

Out of respect for their commander in chief the services postponed the game. Kennedy’s widow asked that the game be played in his honor.

On December 7 the game was held in Philadelphia. It would become a landmark game because when Army scored a touchdown, the producers decided to use a new technology for the very first time. They used their new machinery to instantly replay the touchdown for viewers. Their phones immediately lit up as viewers were confused as to whether Army had scored twice! Of course this technology has advanced markedly since and is frequently utilized to decide debated plays.

Navy Quarterback Midshipman Roger Staubach led “The President’s Team” to a 21-15 victory over Army. Staubach would receive the Heisman Trophy and go on to lead the Dallas Cowboys in a remarkable career.

On the Brink of Armageddon

Today in History, October 22, 1962:  President Kennedy announces in a speech from the Oval Office that the Soviet Union has placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida.  Any city within the United States could be destroyed within moments.

President Kennedy announced the US Navy was conducting a “Quarantine” of Cuba, another name for a Blockade, which “could” be considered an act of war.  He also made clear that any missile launched from Cuba upon any nation in the Western Hemisphere would result in an attack on the Soviet Union.  Could this be interpreted as enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine?

Today we are experiencing stressful times, a showdown with North Korea.  We’ve been here before, even worse.  We are made nervous by the rhetoric voiced by our government.  President Kennedy kept us safe by letting the Soviets and Cuba know the consequences would be dire if they acted in bad faith.  At that time Castro and the Soviet government were viewed as “madmen” much as Kim is today.

PT 109


Today in History, August 2: 1943 – Lt (jg) John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the crew of torpedo boat PT-109 are on patrol in Blackett Strait of the Solomon Islands when they are rammed by a Japanese destroyer, IJN Amagiri. The destroyer continued on her way; the crew of the plywood patrol boat began a days long ordeal of survival at sea. Kennedy, in spite of a bad back, towed a wounded crewman by a strap for two miles to a nearby island. He and another officer took turns swimming out into the strait attempting to flag down help. Eventually they encountered natives who were working with an Australian Coast Watcher, who arranged rescue. There was no doubt JFK’s actions were heroic, but heroes were everywhere during those years. His exploits were used during his presidential campaign to great success. He kept the coconut upon which he had written a message to the coast watcher.