Bay area man met Kennedy a day before Dallas - WFLA News Channel 8

Bay area man met Kennedy a day before Dallas

Posted: Updated:
Philip "Flip" Jameson Philip "Flip" Jameson
As a 17-year-old airman, Philip "Flip" Jameson was called on by his commanders in the United States Air Force to participate in a top secret experiment. Jameson was a recent graduate of the Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg and the assignment was pretty interesting for him in 1963.

In fact, it would pave the way for other men with interested in aeronautical research who would follow him. Jameson was tasked with staying for 42 days in a pressurized container, breathing 100 percent oxygen. That may sound simple now, but in 1963 it wasn't known what the long term health impact would be. The information was vital for the U.S. Government to plan space exploration.

Jameson's was assigned to Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for the duration of the experiment. His contact with anyone on the outside was very limited. He was under quarantine for his entire stay in the pressurized facility.

On Nov. 21, 1963 Jameson and the other airman in the experiment received word they might get a VIP visitor. There was no confirmation, but they got new clothing and orders to "be on their best behavior."

At that time, President John F. Kennedy needed votes in the south. Kennedy had not filed for reelection, but it was no secret that if he did run, he would need votes in Florida and in Texas. Kennedy traveled to Tampa on Nov. 18, 1963.

He then planned a trip through Texas. One of his stops was to Brooks Air Force Base, when Kennedy would dedicate the School of Aerospace Medicine. During his visit, Kennedy was asked if he would like to visit the men involved in the top secret experiment that was part of the space program.

Kennedy was running behind schedule that day, but he indicated he would like to find out more about the experiment.

Fifty years later, "Flip" Jameson still recalls hearing the words, "He's here!" From behind a glass widow, Jameson looked out and could see a group of dignitaries and generals walk into the room. He quickly went from isolation to being the center of attention.

Jameson says, "We heard, he's here and you see him coming around the corner and it's oh my God, this is the President."

Newsreel cameras rolled, flash bulbs went off and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy walked up to the glass separating Jameson and the other men in the experiment from the rest of the world. The President put on a set of headphones.

The headphones would allow him to have a conversation with the men on the inside of the experiment. "He was asking us all kinds of interesting questions for him. And of course we just wanted to stay and talk, no matter how long it took," said Jameson.

The conversation would last about thirty minutes.

Jameson recalls Kennedy being friendly and personable and he vividly recalls one remarkable sentence.

"And then he said, thank you very much and he, just before he left he said that we were the model of ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the country. And that was pretty overwhelming," said Jameson.

In the days leading up to the 50th Anniversary of the President's death, those words have been played over and over again from Kennedy's inauguration speech.

Related: coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Jameson doesn't have to rely on a recording, President Kennedy said the words, in person, to him. Less than 24 hours later, while driving through Dallas, the President would be killed.

"Flip" was watching TV in the pressurized chamber.

The thrilling moments of visiting with the President were just a day old and Jameson watched as news interrupted his programming. He watched in disbelief as the announcer said the President had been shot and then later as it was announced the President was dead.

Now 50 years later as he talked about the events of those 24 hours, tears welled up in his eyes. Many people of a certain age can recall where they were the moment they heard that President Kennedy was killed.

"Flip" Jameson knows where he was, what he was doing, and exactly what he'd been doing in the 24 hours before the President was murdered. Jameson is now part of a documentary on the last 24 hours of the President's life.

Do you tweet? We do! Join us on http://8.wfla.com/1dsYrjS


  • NewsMore>>

  • Mrs. Obama to appear on May episode of 'Nashville'

    Mrs. Obama to appear on May episode of 'Nashville'

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:22 PM EDT2014-04-19 23:22:39 GMT
    Michelle Obama is going a little bit country.
    Michelle Obama is going a little bit country.
  • Creeping landslide devouring part of Wyoming town

    Creeping landslide devouring part of Wyoming town

    Saturday, April 19 2014 5:52 PM EDT2014-04-19 21:52:46 GMT
    A sudden lurch in a creeping landslide in the northwest Wyoming resort town of Jackson split a house in two and forced workers to abandon efforts to stabilize the hillside.
    No one can say precisely when the mountainside collapsing into this Wyoming resort town will give way. But it appears increasingly likely that when it does, it's going to take a piece of Jackson with it.
  • Man drowns taking part in triathlon

    Man drowns taking part in triathlon

    Saturday, April 19 2014 5:44 PM EDT2014-04-19 21:44:33 GMT
    A Michigan man participating in a triathlon at Fort De Soto State Park has died.Donald Bautel, 64, was visiting Florida to take part in the "Escape from Fort De Soto" triathlon at the park 3500 Pinellas Bayway S. in St. Petersburg.During the swimming portion of the triathlon, Bautel appeared to be drowning, a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office news release stated.The sheriff's office was contacted,and deputies responded to the park about 8:16 a.m.Swimmers in the area pulled Bautel from the wate...
    A Michigan man participating in a triathlon at Fort De Soto State Park has died.Donald Bautel, 64, was visiting Florida to take part in the "Escape from Fort De Soto" triathlon at the park 3500 Pinellas Bayway S. in St. Petersburg.During the swimming portion of the triathlon, Bautel appeared to be drowning, a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office news release stated.The sheriff's office was contacted,and deputies responded to the park about 8:16 a.m.Swimmers in the area pulled Bautel from the wate...
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Arcadia dog set on fire improving, could be released early

    Arcadia dog set on fire improving, could be released early

    Tuesday, April 1 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-04-02 03:26:55 GMT
    "Hope" was doused with kerosene and set on fire. BluePearl Veterinary photo"Hope" was doused with kerosene and set on fire. BluePearl Veterinary photo
    A 1-year-old DeSoto County dog that was set on fire is improving and could be released from 24-hour care to a primary care veterinarian next week.
    A 1-year-old DeSoto County dog that was set on fire is improving and could be released from 24-hour care to a primary care veterinarian next week.
  • Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations April 7-13

    Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations April 7-13

    Saturday, April 19 2014 6:47 AM EDT2014-04-19 10:47:28 GMT
    We’ve gathered details about the Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from April 7 to 13, 2014.
    We’ve gathered details about the Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from April 7 to 13, 2014.
  • Gainesville authorities investigate arrest of UF football player

    Gainesville authorities investigate arrest of UF football player

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:55 AM EDT2014-04-19 15:55:51 GMT
    Authorities in Gainesville say Purifoy was arrested last month on drug-related charges. Authorities in Gainesville say Purifoy was arrested last month on drug-related charges.
    The Gainesville Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the quashing of an arrest warrant for a former University of Florida football star and current NFL draft prospect.The Gainesville Sun reports that Loucheiz Purifoy was allegedly caught by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office last month in possession of both marijuana and bath salts.
    The Gainesville Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the quashing of an arrest warrant for a former University of Florida football star and current NFL draft prospect.The Gainesville Sun reports that Loucheiz Purifoy was allegedly caught by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office last month in possession of both marijuana and bath salts.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.