60 Years Ago Today, John F. Kennedy Visited CHINA LAKE: Seven Days That Changed the Course of History

November 22, 2021 (First published)

Lt. John F. Kennedy, U.S. Navy, Hero

War or Peace? June 5-11, 1963

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea. Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. — President Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Speech, January 17, 1961

Publisher’s Note June 7, 2023: The information in “Seven Days That Change The Course of History” is as pertinent today as it was 60 years ago. China Lake is making history again:

In June of 1963, President John F. Kennedy traveled from Washington D.C. to Hawaii during a whirlwind five day tour of military installations in Colorado, New Mexico, California and Hawaii. His last stop before returning to Washington would be his first and only visit to Pearl Harbor, where he laid a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial. For a complete photographic tour of the President’s stops in the southwest, see JFK Goes West: President Kennedy’s June 1963 Trip to Western States by Laura Kintz, Audiovisual Metadata Cataloger (The JFK Library Archives: An Inside Look blog).

Kennedy gave three major speeches over the course of a seven day period, beginning with a commencement address to graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and a visit to NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command. Over the next four days, Kennedy would witness the full capabilities of the United States Air Force and the Navy. He watched live-fire demonstrations of what would become a prelude to “shock and awe” in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, complete with missle launches at White Sands and an aerial demonstration that included napalm drops from F-4’s. A massive formation of dozens of Navy aircraft covered the skies when his motorcade traveled through the secretive Navy base in the Mojave Desert called NOTS. Also known as the “Secret City”, NOTS had something no other military base had going for it:

It was a government-owned laboratory, operated by the Navy, but it had the heart of a Silicon Valley startup. Under the tenacious leadership of Bill McClean, the lab was a hotbed of budding technical talent, leadership, and innovation. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit that defied the bureaucratic norms of the military acquisitions process defined the success of China Lake. Ron Westrum. Naval Institute Press

The Navy base was the brainchild of Rear Admiral Sherman E. Burroughs, a Naval aviator and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism during the war against Japan. Recognizing the need for support from a civilian population of scientists and engineers in the development of weapons for the Navy’s carriers and their aircraft, he was the reason the concept of a government laboratory for ordnance research and development work became a reality in 1943. “His inspirational leadership, dedication to and enthusiasm for his work established an atmosphere for a successful civilian-military team approach and laid the groundwork for developing a facility of great importance to the Navy, the Department of Defense, and the nation”, as well to the development of the Atomic Bomb.

First use: August 6, 1945, Nagasaki Japan. Courtesy of China Lake Museum Foundation

“The Grand Experiment”

China Lake was “The Grand Experiment” and it become, for better or worse, the test bed for a concept that was later described by Eisenhower as “The Military Industrial Complex”:

KN-C29108. View of Weapons Demonstrations at NOTS China Lake, June 7, 1963 – John F. Kennedy Library

Upon his return to Washington D.C. from Hawaii, the President set the course for “peace in our day”, and gave two famous speeches on successive days. The first was his “Peace Speech” to graduates of American University on June 10. The next day, Kennedy gave his “Civil Rights” speech, which was a live televised address to the nation triggered when Kennedy federalized National Guard troops and deployed them to the University of Alabama to force its desegregation.

Who Killed JFK?

The decision to kill Kennedy was likely a business and economics decision as much as it was a political or military assassination. We still don’t know the full truth 58 years later. The reasons why he was killed are still important today, and they’re why the Trump Adminstration delayed the scheduled release in 2017 and why the Biden Administration delayed the final release of documents in October. It’s not “due to Covid”.

“It’s an outrage. It’s an outrage against American democracy. We’re not supposed to have secret governments within the government,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told Politico. “How the hell is it 58 years later, and what in the world could justify not releasing these documents?”

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., cousin to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., told Politico that “for the good of the country, everything has to be put out there so there’s greater understanding of our history.”

Pax Americana

Rear Admiral Burroughs was the godfather of modern naval aviation and weapons systems in the same spirit that a mathematics teacher named Grace Hopper became Rear Admiral Hopper in the Naval Reserves and the godmother of the computer. Modern warfare and aviation technology would require the best scientists and engineers to lead the way, along with the most powerful corporations on earth.

Japan Surrenders, September 2, 1945, USS Missouri

Coup In Saigon, was the CIA to blame?

On November 1st 1963, the President of South Vietnam and his brother were both executed during a coup. Whether or not the coup was orchestrated by the CIA with Kennedy’s approval is still questioned by some. Presidents Johnson and Nixon both blamed Kennedy, who after months of debate within the Administration, allowed the coup to take place without interference from the United States.

Was JFK Behind the Assassination of Diem? by David Kaiser, Thomas Schwartz, Eric Bergerud

“Johnson did feel, with some justification in my view, that the Kennedy’s Administration should have anticipated Diem’s murder given his history of surviving coup attempts and taking revenge on his opponents. But this is a long way from believing that Kennedy explicitly ordered Diem’s assassination. What we know of Kennedy’s reaction – and admittedly JFK was a good actor at time – is that he expressed shock and regret. But he was also relieved that Diem was gone and congratulated Lodge on his achievement, so the story is a bit mixed.” — Thomas Schwartz

On only one occasion did President Kennedy refer to Diem’s possible fate in a coup. At that time–during the last week of August 1963–he definitely said that Diem should be exiled and that nothing more should happen to him.” — David Kaiser

It has been well known for many, many years that Lyndon Johnson opposed the coup from the beginning, and that he (and Nixon) liked to blame the coup for the war.” — David Kaiser

Over 10,000 SVRN and 30,000 NVA were killed in Vietnam during the year prior to the coup, and Kennedy had already planned to remove 1,000 military advisors from the country.

Diem was overthrown by Vietnamese for Vietnamese reasons.” — Eric Bergerud

Will There Be Peace?

Update May 3, 2023: RFK Jr and the CIA (By Greg Reese via banned.video)

The Kennedy family offensive against the criminal cabal known as the Central Intelligence Agency


Kennedy was assassinated three weeks later in a well-planned coup that had all the markings of a CIA operation. For more information, see “What the CIA is Hiding in the JFK Assassination” by Jacob Hornberger of the Future Freedom Foundation, October 29, 2021.

The “Peace Speech” is perhaps the most important speech ever given by an American President:

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women—not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. — John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963

There Will Be War

John F. Kennedy Funeral Procession, November 25, 1963

On August 10, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed what is known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. “It is a day that should live in infamy”, said Leonard Steinhorn, professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University. 50 Years Ago Congress Gave the President a Blank Check for War:

“On that day, the President gave himself the power “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed forces,” to fight the spread of communism in Southeast Asia and assist our ally in South Vietnam “in defense of its freedom.”

Secret Societies and the U.S. Military

As Kennedy said, the very nature of a secret society is repugnant to Americans. The names may change, but “they” never went away. Listen to the speeches, and you’ll know why John F. Kennedy became a martyr in the cause for peace and civil rights, and why he came to the southwest to review the military and to thank the military and civil service employees for their service. Historians may disagree, but Pax Americana, if it ever really existed, died on November 22, 1963.

For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence—on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

President John F. Kennedy April 27, 1961 “Secret Societies” Speech to the New York Press Club

The “Grand Experiment” would be the way forward for the U.S. Military, with the Air Force leading what Kennedy saw as the necessary merger of military and commercial development in aviation, weapons and new computer technology. In spite of Kennedy’s support for the military, the generals didn’t support Kennedy. See “Official Pentagon history: Top generals resisted JFK’s peace policies in 1963” for more information.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.” — President Dwight Eisenhower, January 17, 1961

In October, the USS Connecticut nuclear submarine hit an underwater mound somewhere in the South China Sea. Taiwan remains as a standoff weapon from World War Two and is still a bastion of anti-communism and a reminder that an all-out war could begin anytime with a command-level failure, as the recent collisions at sea have shown.

What follows below is a video compilation of Seven Days That Changed the Course of History. As we await the release of over 15,000 documents that are still kept a secret from the American people and the world, it’s hard to say we’ve learned anything since the President of the United States was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

You’ll find two more videos at the bottom of the page, one is the famous speech Kennedy gave at the Berlin Wall in Germany, and the second is known as the “Secret Societies” speech, but first listen to the series of speeches Kennedy gave during those seven days in June, and think about where we are today as a nation. Pray that the United States will restore itself as a beacon of freedom in the world and that we will remain one nation under God. We are a generous people and a nation of goodwill. The world needs us now more than any time in our history. The enemy is at the gate.

Commander of the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) at Naval Air Facility (NAF) China Lake in California, Captain Charles Blenman, Jr. (left), presents President John F. Kennedy with a model of the AGM-45 Shrike missile during his visit to NOTS’ Michelson Laboratory; NOTS Technical Director, Dr. William B. McLean, stands at right. A portrait of jphysicist, Albert A. Michelson, hangs on the wall in the background. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Seven Days That Changed The Course of History

June 5, 1963 Commencement Address, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs Colorado

June 5, 1963 Kennedy visits White Sands Missle Range, New Mexico

June 6, 1963 Kennedy visits the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego California

June 6, 1963 Kennedy arrives aboard the USS Oriskany (Music)

June 6, 1963 Kennedy remarks aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, San Diego California

June 7, 1963 Kennedy visits the China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station, California

June 8, 1963 Kennedy remarks to the Democratic State Central Committee, Hollywood California

June 8, 1963 Kennedy remarks upon arrival in Hawaii

June 9, 1963 Kennedy lays wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor Hawaii

June 10, 1963 Commencement Address, American University, “The Peace Speech”

June 11, 1963 Televised Address to the Nation, “Civil Rights Speech”

Before and After

April 27, 1961, John F. Kennedy “The President and the Press” aka “Secret Societies Speech”

June 23, 1963, John F. Kennedy’s Speech at the Berlin Wall “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”

John F. Kennedy: Seven Days That Changed The Course of History

June 5, 1963 Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs Colorado

June 5, 1963 Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs Colorado

Full Speech from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

June 5, 1963, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

The existence of mutual nuclear deterrents cannot be shrugged off as stalemate, for our national security in a period of rapid change will depend on constant reappraisal of our present doctrines, on alertness to new developments, on imagination and resourcefulness, and new ideas. 

President John F. Kennedy, June 5, 1963

I am announcing today that the United States will commit itself to an important new program in civilian aviation. Civilian aviation, long both the beneficiary and the benefactor of military aviation, is of necessity equally dynamic. Neither the economics nor the politics of international air competition permits us to stand still in this area. 

President John F. Kennedy, June 5, 1963

June 5, 1963: Remarks at U.S. Air Force Academy

June 5, 1963 White Sands Missle Range, New Mexico

June 5, 1963 White Sands Missle Range, New Mexico

June 6, 1963 Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego California

June 6, 1963 Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego California

June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy Arrives Aboard the USS Oriskany (Music)

Flag of the U.S. Navy

June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy remarks aboard the USS Kitty Hawk

June 7, 1963 John F. Kennedy Visits the China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station in California

June 7, 1963 Kennedy visits China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station in California
U.S. Navy F-4 Phantom – China Lake Alumni Association

China Lake NOTS Search Catalog, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

June 8, 1963 Democratic State Central Committee, Hollywood California

June 8, 1963 Democratic State Central Committee Meeting, Hollywood California

June 8, 1963 President John F. Kennedy Remarks Upon Arrival in Hawaii

June 8, 1963 Honolulu Hawaii

JFK remembered: A look back at the President’s Hawaii visit

June 9, 1963 President John F. Kennedy Visits the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

June 9, 1963 Kennedy lays wreath at USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Hawaii

June 10, 1963: American University Commencement Speech

“The Peace Speech”

June 10, 1963 American University, Washington DC “Peace Speech”

Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable—that mankind is doomed—that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable—and we believe they can do it again.

John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963

June 10, 1963: American University Commencement

June 11, 1963 Televised Address to the Nation,

“Civil Rights Speech”

June 11, 1963 Televised Address to the Nation, “Civil Rights Speech”

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case.

John F. Kennedy, June 11, 1963

We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives.

John F. Kennedy, June 11, 1963

June 11, 1963: Address on Civil Rights

April 27, 1961, John F. Kennedy “The President and the Press” in New York City aka “Secret Societies Speech”

The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society

There is a very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security—and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.

John F. Kennedy, April 27, 1961

April 27, 1961: “President and the Press” Speech

June 23, 1963, John F. Kennedy’s Speech at the Berlin Wall

“Ich bin ein Berliner”

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. All free men wherever they may live are citizens of Berlin, and therefore as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

John F. Kennedy, June 23, 1963 speech at the Berlin Wall in West Germany

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country

President John F. Kennedy

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