RIGHT PLACE –RIGHT TIME – Leonard Sullivan
I graduated from the U.S. Army Basic Officers’ School at Ft. Lee. Virginia in 1959. I got that first leave and I was eager to get back to Oklahoma to see my wife and new baby girl. I hitched a ride on an AF plane from Bolling AFB in Washington, D.C. to Tinker AFB, in Oklahoma City. Beggars can’t be choosers, so the return flight from Tinker took me to Andrews AFB near Washington, D.C. An AF taxi was requested to take me back to Bolling AF Base. I sensed something “big” was happening at Andrews. Everything was being painted and/or polished. I asked the AF driver what was going on and he said Premier Nikita Khrushchev was coming to Andrews the next day.
I spent the night at Bollings VOQ with plans to return to Andrews the next morning to see Mr. Khrushchev. I arrived at Pennsylvanian Avenue in my little blue Ford when a motorcycle cop pulled in front of me and blocked access. Seconds later a caravan of black limousines being escorted by vehicles with flashing lights and sirens went screaming past me. The motorcycle cop sped away to the next cross street as soon as the last vehicle in the caravan had past. I pulled in behind the last vehicle and sped across town at about 75 mph, stopping for nothing. When the caravan arrived at Andrews AFB I kept my position behind the last vehicle and was soon on the “inside” of the roped off area. My blue Ford was the only non-black vehicle on the tarmac.
I took photos of Premier Khrushchev’s plane as it circled Andrews AFB. There was something ominous about the Hammer & Sickle on the fuselage of the Premier’s plane.
I was near the portable stairs when Khrushchev came down. He had a big smile and I think he waved his hat.
This could not happen today with all of the heavy security provided our President and particularly with another world leader in an open convertible.
The photographs taken with my three dollar Instamatic camera were never of good quality. The subject matter can be identified, but the quality is poor. The best photo was President Eisenhower and Premier Khrushchev sitting in the open convertible. Sadly, this photo has been lost or misplaced.
I will “chalk this up” as one of the occasions when I was in the right place at the right time.
Incidentally, I have been up close to every United States President, beginning with Hoover and including President Trump, with the exception of President Obama.
Thanks Leonard, A Very interesting article. Pat