New Bern man remembers guarding JFK

New Bern man remembers guarding JFK

NEW BERN - A New Bern man and former Washington, DC police officer shares some of his memories of guarding President John F. Kennedy.

Chuck Rettew's beat in Fall 1960 included the city's Georgetown area.  The Kennedys lived at 3307 N Street in Georgetown and when Senator Kennedy was elected president, Rettew was put on a special detail around the Kennedy home.

He met the young president elect on several occasions and even went inside the house at JFK's invitation.

Rettew also remembers a Sunday morning after the inauguration when he helped secure the presidential limo route from the White House to church.  He says JFK recognized him standing in the middle of an intersection, ordered the driver to stop the car, and got out to say hello.

"That's the kind of guy I thought he was," Rettew says.  "I really liked the guy.  I thought he was a down to earth, really good person.  He cared about the policemen and he would always stop and talk to you and visit with you."

"One time I was visiting in his kitchen with him and he was reading the newspaper.  I didn't know it--he was a speed reader and he was flying through the newspaper.  I couldn't believe it."

Rettew then remembers the day a caisson took the president's body through the streets of Washington, DC, to Arlington National Cemetery.

"It was sad.  It's still very sad just to think about it," he says.

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