Local man recalls his roll in JFK's funeral - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local man recalls his role in JFK's funeral

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As the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination approaches, many Channel 3 viewers may remember watching his funeral on TV. However, one local man wasn't watching it on TV, he was there as a part of the funeral.

"It brings back memories, you were there, you lost your Commander-in-Chief, you participated in the funeral those four days," Montie Wagner recalls.

Wagner still has his Old Guard uniform, he keeps it pressed and clean. That's what he was trained to do.

Established in 1784, the Old Guard is a ceremonial unit that represents the Army. They've appeared in countless parades, processions and funerals, including that of President JFK.

"Our role was to do the security court arms, which you would see alongside the street," says Wagner.

Wagner had just gotten back to D.C. when news spread of the President's death, he was 24-years-old at the time.

"When the assassination happened, everything in D.C. shut down completely," says Wagner.

To hear him tell it, this was more than a murder. It was an attack on the nation's top military officer.

"You couldn't believe that your Commander-in-Chief was assassinated by a sniper," explains Wagner.

Wagner had participated in a number of funerals, but he admits this one was particularly difficult to get through.

"It was an emotional situation, you lost your leader," Wagner says with tears in his eyes. "Plus the fact the people behind me, they were crying, they were emotional."

However, Wagner stood emotionless as he watched the President's casket pass. After all, that's what he was trained to do.

"You would be grilled and asked questions, could you do that, no matter what the situation was? That's how you ended up there," Wagner says.

In October Wagner was reunited with 30 members of the Old Guard at Kennedy's grave in Washington D.C. 

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