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Retired Jacksonville Secret Service agent graduated the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated

5:12 PM, Nov 22, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Secret Service agent graduated the day JFK assassinated

Mike Varenholt, retired Secret Service Agent in Jacksonville, Fla.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are moments in history people remember where they were and the assassination of President John Kennedy is one of them.

"It was amazing the death of this man had on people," said Mike Varenholt who is a retired Secret Service Agent who lives in Jacksonville.

Fifty years ago on November 22 he was graduating following agent training when he got the news.

"The boss has been shot in Dallas," is what Varenholt, 82, recalls his supervisor saying during luncheon after taking a phone call.

Varehnolt says the new agents were immediately pressed into action with his assignment being part of Kennedy's funeral detail.

Local journalists remember that day very well.

John Thomas was a police reporter new to television in Jacksonville when he heard the news while riding in a squad car with an officer.

"We were in front of Morrison's Cafe in Hemming Plaza," said Thomas who said remembered exactly where he was at the time.

"Tears, more than that just not knowing, unbelieving and just total shock," is how Thomas summed up reaction to the assassination.

Harry Reagan who for decades worked in television in Jacksonville was a reporter for the Miami Herald at the time working a bureau in Fort Meyers.

"I was at the courthouse covering local government," remembered Reagan who also noted it was a slow news day until word spread of the President's assassination.

"Some of the people that I was running into were not all that sad, I wouldn't say gleeful," recalled Reagan.

"They did not view it as our President who had been killed," he said.

Brent Staton remembers as a teenager hearing news of the assassination while at lunch.

"We were in the Green Mill Drug Store," said Staton who lived in Kentucky at the time and currently owns the Olde Time Hardware Store on Main Street.

"It was like something that kind of put you in limbo," said Staton.

All these are memories of one day, Nov. 22, 1963.  It's a day that for one generation doesn't go away. 

First Coast News

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