Marvin Recht actually met – or almost met – President John Kennedy twice, once when he visited Fort Bragg in California and once when Kennedy, touring Germany, visited Wiesbaden.
At Fort Bragg, Kennedy had his picture taken with a horde of soldiers, and Recht, being short, got to stand in the front row, not far from Kennedy. The Wiesbaden visit took place after Kennedy had given his I am a Berliner speech in Berlin.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Recht was still in Germany, where he was based in some old barracks in an American section of a German military base. His job was to pack parachutes.
Back then, when you were in the Army, Recht said, They didnt tell us anything. When youre on an Army base, you dont get the news.
Late in the afternoon of Nov. 22, Recht left his post and went out into the base, where he was stunned to see people crying, Soldiers, Germans, he said.
When he tried to find out what was going on, he was told that Kennedy, who was immensely popular in Germany, had been assassinated.
Just think, if the German president died, would we cry? Recht, 73, asked.
Recht actually sent a sympathy card to Jacqueline Kennedy, and sometime later he received a card in the mail.
It was from Jacqueline Kennedy, thanking him for his card.