In November of 1963 I was stationed on Okinawa as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
We were out on bivouac at a place called the Northern Training Area, living in 10 man tents. Roughing it. It was wet and rainy and walking guard duty at night was miserable.
I remember, as vividly as if it happened yesterday, a feeling growing in me that there was something wrong. I walked past the tent where my squad leader was supposed to be sleeping, and I could see, in the light of the Coleman lantern next to his bunk, that he was awake and reading. The feeling of dread was so strong in me, that I walked into his tent and asked him if I was in some sort of trouble. He reassured me that there wasn't any trouble brewing that he was aware of, and that I should get back to my post before that changed.
I went back to walking guard, and a short time later, as I walked past one of the Weapons Platoon tents, I heard Walter Cronkite's voice, thinly, on someone's transistor radio, announce that President Kennedy was dead, and had been for 38 minutes.
I suddenly knew where that feeling of dread had come from.
The whole camp was awake in a matter of minutes. I went to the Company Commander's tent, woke him, and told him what I had heard. At first I don't think he was willing to believe it, but then I told him that the voice I heard was Walter Cronkite. He got up, got his radio, in fact, everybody found themselves gathered around the few radios we had in the camp, and we spent the rest of the night listening for more news - trying to make sense of what had happened. We waited for more word from Walter Cronkite.
Walter Cronkite died yesterday. A voice I listened to, and respected, all my life, is now silent, as we must all go to silence. His voice, however, will be missed by millions. And by me.