JFK Goes West: President Kennedy’s June 1963 Trip to Western States

KN-C29109. President John F. Kennedy Arrives at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, California

By Laura Kintz, Audiovisual Metadata Cataloger

In early June of 1963, President John F. Kennedy embarked on a whirlwind tour through several locations in the Southwestern United States. Over the course of five days, from June 5 to June 9, he visited Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, California, and Hawaii. We are pleased to announce that all White House Photographs documenting this trip–numbering over 250–are now digitized in full. They are accessible online through the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s digital archives.

President Kennedy’s activities during this trip were varied—and hurried. After departing from Washington, D.C., around 9:30am on June 5, the President landed in Colorado Springs, Colorado—where it was still morning, in Mountain Time. He delivered the commencement address at the United States Air Force (USAF) Academy and toured the school’s campus, before making a brief stop at the headquarters of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).

KN-C29113. President Kennedy at USAF Academy Commencement Ceremony


KN-C29040. President Kennedy’s Motorcade Drives by USAF Academy Interfaith Chapel


KN-C29086. President Kennedy Greets Canadian Military Officials at NORAD

From Colorado Springs, the President flew to New Mexico to view demonstrations at White Sands Missile Range—a visit that lasted less than three hours. After a short helicopter ride, he landed in El Paso, Texas, and by the next morning, he was on his way to San Diego, California.

ST-C206-5-63. President Kennedy and General J. Frederick Thorlin View Demonstrations at White Sands Missile Range


ST-C206-19-63. View of Nike Zeus Acquisition Radar Receiver at White Sands Missile Range


KN-C29074. President Kennedy Arrives in El Paso via Helicopter


KN-C29075. President Kennedy Receives Gifts from Mayor of El Paso, Judson Williams

The President had a full agenda in San Diego on June 6. In the morning, he delivered the commencement address at San Diego State College and received an honorary degree. In the afternoon, he inspected facilities and recruits at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) and viewed training exercises. In the evening, he boarded a helicopter and flew a short distance out to sea, landing aboard the USS Oriskany aircraft carrier. Just an hour later, he was back on the helicopter, headed for another ship: the USS Kitty Hawk.

ST-C206-43-63. President Kennedy Greets Crowds after Arriving in San Diego


KN-C29010. President Kennedy at San Diego State College Commencement


KN-C29031. President Kennedy Leaves Pendleton Hall at MCRD


KN-C29017. President Kennedy Visits MCRD Barber Shop


ST-C206-47-63. President Kennedy Views Training Exercises at MCRD


KN-C29060. President Kennedy Arrives Aboard USS Oriskany


KN-C28948. President Kennedy Greets Crew Members Aboard USS Kitty Hawk

After a night spent on board the Kitty Hawk, President Kennedy flew back to dry land to deliver remarks at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, near Oxnard, California. Less than an hour later, he was back in the air, this time heading for the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) in China Lake, California. After viewing weapons demonstrations and touring the facility, the President flew via helicopter to Los Angeles. He closed out June 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where he attended a fundraiser and joined comedian Jack Benny to greet students attending their high school prom.

KN-C29096. President Kennedy Delivers Remarks at Naval Air Station Point Mugu


ST-C206-80-63. President Kennedy Views Weapons Demonstrations at NOTS in China Lake


ST-C206-76-63. President Greets Navy Pilot Following Weapons Demonstrations at NOTS in China Lake


KN-C29081. President Kennedy at Beverly Hilton Hotel Rooftop Heliport in Los Angeles


ST-C206-60-63. President Kennedy Receives Gift from Students at John Burroughs High School Senior Prom

On Saturday, June 8, President Kennedy attended a breakfast hosted by the Women’s Division of the Democratic State Central Committee of California at the Hollywood Palladium, then spent the afternoon at the home of his brother-in-law, Peter Lawford, along the Pacific Coast Highway. After this brief respite, he returned to the Beverly Hilton to prepare for the final leg of his journey, to Honolulu, Hawaii.

KN-29138. President Kennedy Attends Democratic State Committeewomen’s Breakfast in Los Angeles

The President departed Los Angeles on Saturday evening and touched down in Honolulu around 9pm, in the Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone. After an airport arrival ceremony, he stayed the night at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, where he attended mass at Makalapa Chapel on Sunday morning. Over the course of the next 8 hours, he visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, rode in a motorcade through Honolulu, attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, and at the end of the day, bid farewell to the Aloha State.

ST-C206-40-63. President Kennedy Arrives in Honolulu, Hawaii


ST-C206-23-63. President Kennedy Greets Crowds in Honolulu


ST-C206-30-63. President Kennedy Walks to Mass at Makalapa Chapel


ST-C206-26-63. View of USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor


KN-C29033. President Kennedy at Naval Station Pearl Harbor


ST-C206-34-63. President Kennedy’s Motorcade in Honolulu


ST-C206-32-63. View of Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel


KN-C28999. President Kennedy Greets Man Wearing Traditional Hawaiian Garments before Departing Honolulu


KN-C28973. President Kennedy Departs Honolulu, Hawaii

To view other photographs from this trip, visit the online catalog using the links below:

Trip to Western States: President Kennedy at U.S. Air Force (USAF) Academy, Colorado

Trip To Western States: President Kennedy visits NORAD Headquarters, Ent Air Force Base, Colorado

Trip to Western States: White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

Trip to Western States: El Paso, Texas

Trip to Western States: San Diego, California, arrival at Lindbergh Field, motorcade, and commencement address at San Diego State College

Trip to Western States: San Diego, California, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, tour of barracks, inspection of recruits, and address at Hall Field

Trip to Western States: San Diego, California, visit with Joey Renzi and parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Renzi

Trip to Western States: Visit to the Pacific Fleet, President Kennedy aboard the USS Oriskany, 4:00PM

Trip to Western States: Visit to the Pacific Fleet, President Kennedy aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, 5:00PM

Trip to Western States: Point Mugu, California, Naval Air Station (NAS)

Trip to Western States: China Lake, California, (Naval Air Facility) NAF

Trip to Western States: Los Angeles, California, arrival at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for a fundraising dinner, 3:40PM

Trip to Western States: Los Angeles, California, Beverly Hilton Hotel, President Kennedy and Jack Benny visit the John Burroughs High School senior prom, 10:22PM

Trip to Western States: Los Angeles, California, Hollywood Palladium, President Kennedy attends Breakfast given by Women’s Division, Democratic State Central Committee of California, 9:50AM

Trip to Western States: Honolulu, Hawaii, arrival at Honolulu International Airport, 9:10PM

Trip to Western States: Honolulu, Hawaii, President Kennedy attends mass at Makalapa Naval Base chapel, 10:05AM

Trip to Western States: Honolulu, Hawaii, visit to USS Arizona Memorial, 2:40PM

Trip to Western States: Honolulu, Hawaii, motorcade, 3:15PM

Trip to Western States: Honolulu, Hawaii, address to U.S. Conference of Mayors at Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, 4:33PM

Trip to Western States: Honolulu, Hawaii, departure from Honolulu International Airport, 5:35PM

Trip to Western States: Honolulu, Hawaii, Press Secretaries Pierre Salinger, Andrew Hatcher, and Malcolm Kilduff brief news media


  1. My great wish has been to see a PBS rebroadcast of the JFK Press Conferences. The President was a magical speaker. His memory is being lost and this would allow so many to witness and appreciate President Kennedy at his finest and funniest.

    • So get them broadcast. I was a school kid and was mad at him every time he would have a press conference during the school day. I wanted to tell him, “Mr President, It’s not fair! I’m in school during your press conferences and can’t see them.” There was no recording of videos back then.

      Even as a kid I enjoyed his humor and the obvious relish he showed chatting with reporters. In those days of nuclear saber rattling, his voice and demeanor in those press conferences made me feel safer. Just his smile was a comfort.

      I’ve always wondered if we still have copies of the press conferences and why we’ve never seen them again. Can’t you at least put them on YouTube? Then, when some pseudo-president breaks our hearts, we could see Jack on TV to renew our hope and faith.

      And Jack, drawing aside the veil of clouds, would see our courage and smile.

  2. From the day before I was born President John F. Kennedy had begun his five tour. And on the day I was born he left on a flight from Texas to San Diego California. He rode in a motorcade along El Cajon Boulevard and arrived SDSU where he delivered an address. He continued on with the rest of his tour trip around until 9th June.

    • All the press conferences are on You Tube on David Von Pein’s JFK Channel. This is the first link. Yes. They are a wonder and a brilliant time capsule.

  3. Oops. They won’ t allow a link. Again, the channel on You Tube is David Von Pein’s JFK Channel. Enjoy.

  4. I was an AO2 with VA-196, a Squadron of A1 H/J Sky Raiders in June 1963. I, and three or four others in the Squadron were sent aboard the USS Oriskany with 1 of our Aircraft. No one would tell us anything about what we were doing, just that we could not be told. When we went to bed that night were were alone at sea with our normal escort. In the Morning I went on the flight deck and could see ships of several types all over the place. We were told to get the aircraft cleaned up, which was just a wipe down with hydraulic fluid to make it shine and to be on the hanger deck at a certain time and stand by the plane. As we were standing there, in formation in front of the Aircraft, this crowd of people came walking down the hanger deck to where we were. They stopped for a moment then continued on. That was my meeting of JFK.

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