President Kennedy Knew About Hornell, NY

October 21, 2017


HORNELL, NY – During an interview on WLEA this morning, Hornell Industrial Development Agency Director Jim Griffin, who served in the U.S. Army in the 1960’s, recalled how while stationed at Fort Aberdeen, Maryland, in the early months of 1963, he met President John Kennedy. “The Ordinance Corp was testing the AR-15 at the time, to be the replacement for the M-14 and M-1, and Armalite was developing the weapon,” Griffin told Wlea News. “Colt manufacturing bought out Armalite, and they (Colt) were further developing the AR-15, which turned out to be the M-16 also. We went through the testing, and Congress had to go through the appropriation and the change, and we got a call when we were out on the range, that President Kennedy wanted to see the weapons. We had a couple of them out on the range, at that time, I was a general’s aide. The general and I got two of the weapons and they got us in a helicopter and sent us to Washington. Of course, at that time, that wasn’t that easy, because in the meantime, they had to ramp up security, a plane picked us up outside of Baltimore, and escorted us down to the south yards of the White House. We landed, and the Secret Service came out, took the two weapons, cleared them and walked us into the White House.

“We walked in with them, and it was a meeting between a four star general, General Besson, and Cyrus Vance the Secretary of the Army, Robert MacNamara the Secretary of Defense, and President Kennedy. They all were in this room, and I sat out in the hall with a full bird colonel, who was the aide to the four star general, and we talked. Pretty soon, the door opened up and out came the president and we stood at attention. He said ‘Oh, here’s a lieutenant whose got a good start on the military, he’s an aide here, are you going to make the military a career?'” Griffin said that he replied that he was about to get out, in about another two months. Then Kennedy said, ‘Well where is home?’ Griffin replied that he was from Hornell, New York. ‘Well isn’t that where Bobby is working on the Southern Tier Expressway?'”

Griffin noted that Robert Kennedy was working to get money for highways. “For him to know that, to me, I’ll never forget, how would he know and associate Hornell with the Southern Tier Expressway.” Several authors and political writers have noted that President John Kennedy was known for having a remarkable memory.