Ron Ripley
Ron Ripley

VAN WERT – The date of Sept. 3, 1963 is a day that will forever be etched in the mind of Van Wert’s Ron Ripley. It was the day when, as a military policeman, he guarded President John Kennedy in Bonn, Germany.

“It was during the Berlin Crisis for three months,” said Ripley. “They drafted 25,000 soldiers into service. My unit was pulled over into Germany because of the presence of Kennedy.

“It was such an honor to guard the commander-in-chief of the United States military. Who would have imagined at the time that less than three months later he was going to be assassinated in the United States,” said Ripley.

“For sure, 1963 was different times than now,” continued Ripley. “When I heard of his assassination, I was actually stunned. This was a repeat of Abraham Lincoln to me. Why are people this way? I couldn’t visualize it.”

Ripley was drafted in 1961 to Baumholder, Germany. His service occurred between the Korean Conflict and the beginning of the Vietnam War. He was placed in the 382 Military Police Battalion, Company C.

He noted that in anticipation of the Berlin Crisis, 25,000 troops were trained.

His assignment as a military policeman included strategic guarding of various events and being on duty at various military sites and activities. In the case of guarding President Kennedy, Ripley noted that there were rotations and various shifts going on the military guarding of the President.

Ripley said that through the years, citizens approach him and ask him if he would do it all over again.

“I wouldn’t trade anything for the military experience I had,” said Ripley. “I was married six months and I was drafted.”

“It was difficult to leave my young bride behind, but I also had a sense of pride to serve my country and my God,” continued Ripley.

When he returned from service, Ripley worked at Kennedy-Kit Manufacturing Company for six years. He eventually switched over to Chrysler Corporation and retired from there.

Ripley praised local military leaders and businesses that made Veteran’s Day at the fair possible. He noted that it is always good to get together with other military personnel, many of which went through some of the same experiences.

“We are thankful for the community’s appreciation and support for the veterans,” said Ripley.