JFK Goes West: President Kennedy’s June 1963 Trip to Western States
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To view other photographs from this trip, visit the online catalog using the links below: