President John F. Kennedy inspects Army HAWK missile units during a visit to the Naval Air Station, Key West, Florida. The date of the photograph is November 26, 1962. The 6th Bn (HAWK) 65th Arty (ADA) was awarded a meritorious unit citation by President Kennedy.(US Navy Photo)

At 3:35 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, 1962, the president arrived in Air Force One at Boca Chica. He had flown to the naval air station from Homestead Air Force Base, where the plane picked up Rear Adm. R.Y. McElroy, who would be the host of the president's two-hour visit of military facilities at Key West. Accompanying Kennedy were Florida Gov. Farris Bryant, U.S. Rep. Dante Fascell and all the four-star admirals and generals in the Pentagon, including Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Gen. Curtis LeMay and Adm. George Anderson. Among those greeting the president at Boca Chica was Key West Mayor C.B. Harvey, who told reporters that the nationally publicized tour would do "a world of good for Key West." A chartered aircraft arrived with Pierre Salinger and 75 members of the White House press corps. The Navy ordered up 30 extra typewriters for their use. Local lawmen recruited by the Secret Service to assist in security included Monroe County Sheriff John M. Spottswood, Key West Police chief George G. Gomez, plus Keys' FBI agent Ralph Jensen and Marvin W. Smoot, a naval intelligence officer.

The guests in Key West heard a speech from Kennedy thanking the Marine, Air Force and Navy fliers whose reconnaissance flights over Cuba during the missile crisis "played the most important and most critical part ... in the most dangerous days that America has faced since the end of World War II." The president then visited U.S. Army HAWK anti-aircraft missile sites at the base, after which a motorcade of 10 automobiles, led by the president's Lincoln Continental convertible (acquired at a Miami dealership) sped from the air station to the Presidential Gates at NAS Key West on Whitehead Street.

On Duval Street, the fast-moving motorcade was greeted by crowds of onlookers and flag-wavers, though the mood of the crowd was somber. The convoy of cars finally arrived at the Little White House on a road that had been paved since Kennedy's previous visit.

At sunset, the president and his party snapped to attention at the lowering of colors on all the ships.

Then he was gone.

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photo from Florida Photographic Collection

Air Force One lands at NAS on Boca Chica

Kennedy tours Homestead AFB

unidentified ARADCOM Soldier salutes as Kennedy passes by at Homestead AFB

Kennedy inspecting the troops


Kennedy reviews the troops from motorcade

ARADCOM troops at Casa Marina HQ stand in formation as Kennedy passes by

Troops of B/6/65 load missiles on launcher for display during Kennedy visit

More photos of historic significance


The Secretary of the Army takes delivery of the first production HAWK missile, serial number 0001 from Raytheon officials.


(19 June 1959) Lt. Col Anderson Bn Commander of 5th Missile Bn 57th Arty 6th Arty Group at Ft. Bliss receives orders of activation, making it the 1st HAWK Bn in the United States.

Taken at A Battery in July of 1967, this is the only known photo of Key West personnel wearing the then experimental "Jungle Jim" hats. . (Richard Whitt Collection)
Photo taken at B Battery is the only photo of the only Hawk launcher in the whole Army to be fitted with the experimental "all weather inflatable dome". (Russell Library)