Rayburn native led JFK funeral procession
By Brigid Beatty
Published: Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, 12:26 a.m.
On Nov. 25, 1963, as national and international leaders gathered in Washington for the state funeral of President John F. Kennedy, a Rayburn Township man lined up with 20 other Washington Metropolitan Police officers to lead the funeral procession.
Ron Crytzer, a graduate of Kittanning High School's Class of 1956, said he vividly recalls the drum beat that accompanied the procession along the funeral route up to the cemetery entrance.
“As an individual, I wasn't thinking of what an honor it was. I was thinking of it as an assignment,” he said. “We were on the alert. It was only afterward I realized the significance of the part of history I was involved with.”
For Crytzer, the most moving part of the presidential funeral was witnessing Kennedy's casket being loaded onto the caisson and seeing the president's son, John Kennedy Jr., give his now famous farewell salute.
Crytzer served in the military as a paratrooper from 1956 to 1958 before becoming a Washington police officer in 1960.
“I was assigned to the Third Precinct, which encompasses The White House,” Crytzer said, adding that the White House became like a second home.
“My first assignment was providing security for President Kennedy's inauguration,” he said. “Afterward, I was assigned for security for the first family. I crossed paths with the Kennedys many times.”
Crytzer recalled that when Kennedy went to Texas and was shot and killed, there was speculation among the police officers about whether the assassination was the result of a conspiracy.
Forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht of Pittsburgh said that at the time of the president's assassination, he was working with colleague Dr. Thomas Noguchi in the Los Angeles Coroner's Office.
“His (Noguchi's) secretary whispered in his ear, and we immediately adjourned to a nearby restaurant to watch the TV news coverage,” Wecht said.
Since that day, Wecht has become known for his criticism of the Warren Commission's findings and opposes the single-bullet theory.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.