Local man reflects on marching in JFK's funeral

Lee James Turner
Lee James Turner
Reported by Paula Johnson

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Forty-five years ago today, we lost one of our nation's most beloved leaders.

Lee James Turner - from Toledo - not only met John F. Kennedy, he was part of the Honor Guard that escorted Kennedy's casket from the plane in D.C.

His memories of that day are painful but also prideful.

Like many others, Lee James Turner remembers exactly when he heard the news.

He was serving in the Naval Honor Guard -- a group that helped bury as many as 800 people in one year.

"We were sitting on a bus to go do another funeral, waiting for a hearst," Turner said. "A guy had a little radio, and they announced on the radio that the president had been shot."

Turner's was part of the group selected to take the casket off the plane from Dallas.

They waited in the theatre of the White House, and that's when they saw Jackie Kennedy.

"When we got back to the White House, Mrs. kennedy was there and she still had that blood stained dress on."

Turner remembers a cold, sad day when he marched in the funeral procession.

"That is a long march to the Arlington Cemetary from Rotunda," Turner said. "Just people were sad all over, there was just total silence."

He has kept several items from that day and his time in the Honor Guard, but each year on the anniversary of the assasination, he remebers the one chance he got to speak with Kennedy.

"President Kennedy came by and actually asked me where I was from and everything and actually talked to me, so I do feel honored that I did talk to a president."